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Neoliberal rationality

News Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Recommended Links Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust The Iron Law of Oligarchy Animal Farm
Hypernormalization The Great Transformation Groupthink Short Introduction to Lysenkoism Disciplined Minds Belief-coercion in high demand cults What's the matter with Kansas
Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Neo-fashism The Deep State New American Militarism  Inverted Totalitarism  Totalitarian Decisionism
Neoliberalism and Christianity Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Anglican Church on danger of neoliberalism Reconciling Human Rights With Total Surveillance Anti-intellectualism The Great Transformation Predator state
Politico-media complex Crowd manipulation Agenda-setting theory Manufacturing Consent Lewis Powell Memo The Essential Rules for Dominating Population Propaganda
Two Party System Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism American Exceptionalism National Security State Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

Like Marxism before neoliberalism provides its own ethics and its own rationality.  Or may I say irrationality.   It enforces a new fake "economic rationalism", which should displace old, "outdated" and more humane rationality of the New Deal capitalism.

"Neoliberal rationality" is heavily tilted toward viewing people as "homo economicus".  Like Marxism (and Troskyism) it " articulates crucial elements of  the language, practice and subjectivity according to a specific image of the economics" Like Trotskyism before it directly assaults the idea of democratic governance and the rule of the law proving noting erringly similar to the ideas of "proletarian justice",  "proletarian media"  and "permanent revolution". 

It rejects the idea of social solidarity (emphasizing "individual responsibility")  replacing it with class solidarity of top 1% or even 0.1% (Transnational elite unite"). They also pervert the idea of the rule of the law, which animated so much of modernity, hollowing out democratic practices and institutions while at the same time catalyzing radical, brutal forces of the elite dominance, promoting Nietzsche separation of mankind into two caste: Undermensch ("despicables" in Hillary Clinton words) and Ubermensch  ("creative class").

In the book Undoing the Demos Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution   Professor Wendy Brown   shows how close  "neoliberal rationality" is to the rationality which governed communism parties of the USSR and Eastern Block. Here are some quotes from Wendy Brown interview What Exactly Is Neoliberalism  to  Dissent Magazine (Nov 03, 2015):

"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."
"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."
"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."
"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."
"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."
"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."
"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."

 

Neoliberalism and the end of liberal democracy by Wendy Brown

Reprinted from http://lchc.ucsd.edu/cogn_150/Readings/brown.pdf

It is a commonplace to speak of the present regime in the United States as a neoconservative one, and to cast as a consolidated “neocon” project present efforts to intensify U.S. military capacity, increase U.S. global hegemony, dismantle the welfare state, retrench civil liberties, eliminate the right to abortion and affirmative action, re-Christianize the state, deregulate corporations, gut environmental protections, reverse progressive taxation, reduce education spending while increasing prison budgets, and feather the nests of the rich while criminalizing the poor. I do not contest the existence of a religious-political project known as Neoconservatism or challenge the appropriateness of understanding many of the links between these objectives in terms of a neoconservative agenda. However, I want to think to one side of this agenda in order to consider our current predicament in terms of a neoliberal political rationality, a rationality that exceeds particular positions on particular issues and that undergirds important features of the Clinton decade as well as the Reagan-Bush years. Further, I want to consider the way that this rationality is emerging as governmentality—a mode of governance encompassing but not limited to the state, and one that produces subjects, forms of citizenship and behavior, and a new organization of the social.

Economic Liberalism, Political Liberalism, and What Is the Neo in Neoliberalism

In ordinary parlance, neoliberalism refers to the repudiation of Keynesian welfare state economics and the ascendance of the Chicago School of political economy—von Hayek, Friedman, and others. In popular usage, neoliberalism is equated with a radically free market: maximized competition and free trade achieved through economic deregulation, elimination of tariffs, and a range of monetary and social policies favorable to business and indifferent toward poverty, social deracination, cultural decimation, long-term resource depletion, and environmental destruction. Neoliberalism is most often invoked in relation to the Third World, referring either to NAFTA-like schemes that increase the vulnerability of poor nations to the vicissitudes of globalization or to International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies that, through financing packages attached to “restructuring” requirements, yank the chains of every aspect of Third World existence, including political institutions and social formations.

For progressives, neoliberalism is thus a pejorative not only because it conjures economic policies that sustain or deepen local poverty and the subordination of peripheral to core nations, but also because it is compatible with, and sometimes even productive of, authoritarian, despotic, para-militaristic, and corrupt state forms as well as agents within civil society.

While these referents capture important effects of neoliberalism, they also reduce neoliberalism to a bundle of economic policies with inadvertent political and social consequences: they fail to address the political rationality that both organizes these policies and reaches beyond the market. Moreover, these referents do not capture the neo in neoliberalism, tending instead to treat the contemporary phenomenon as little more than a revival of classical liberal political economy.

Finally, they obscure the specifically political register of neoliberalism in the First World: that is, its powerful erosion of liberal democratic institutions and practices in places like the United States. My concern in this essay is with these neglected dimensions of neoliberalism.

One of the more incisive accounts of neoliberal political rationality comes from a surprising quarter: Michel Foucault is not generally heralded as a theorist of liberalism or of political economy. Yet Foucault’s 1978 and 1979 Collège de France lectures, long unpublished,2 consisted of his critical analysis of two groups of neoliberal economists: the Ordo-liberal school in postwar Germany (so named because its members, originally members of the Freiburg School, published mainly in the journal Ordo) and the Chicago School that arose midcentury in the United States. Thanks to the German sociologist Thomas Lemke, we have an excellent summary and interpretation of Foucault’s lectureson neoliberalism; in what follows I will draw extensively from Lemke’s work.

It may be helpful, before beginning a consideration of neoliberalism as a political rationality, to mark the conventional difference between political and economic liberalism—a difference especially confusing for Americans for whom “liberal” tends to signify a progressive political viewpoint and, in particular, support for the welfare state and other New Deal institutions, along with relatively high levels of political and legal intervention in the social sphere.4 In addition, given the contemporary phenomena of both neoconservatism and neoliberalism, and the association of both with the political right, ours is a time of often bewildering political nomenclature.5 Briefly, then, in economic thought, liberalism contrasts with mercantilism on one side and Keynesianism or socialism on the other; its classical version refers to a maximization of free trade and competition achieved by minimum interference from political institutions. In the history of political thought, while individual liberty remains a touchstone, liberalism signifies an order in which the state exists to secure the freedom of individuals on a formally egalitarian basis. A liberal political order may harbor either liberal or Keynesian economic policies—it may lean in the direction of maximizing liberty (its politically “conservative” tilt) or of maximizing equality (its politically “liberal” tilt), but in contemporary political parlance, it is no more or less a liberal democracy because of one leaning or the other. Indeed, the American convention of referring to advocates of the welfare state as political liberals is especially peculiar, given that American conservatives generally hew more closely to both the classical economic and the political doctrines of liberalism—it turns the meaning of liberalism in the direction of liberality rather than liberty. For our purposes, what is crucial is that the liberalism in what has come to be called neoliberalism refers to liberalism’s economic variant, recuperating selected pre-Keynesian assumptions about the generation of wealth and its distribution, rather than to liberalism as a political doctrine, as a set of political institutions, or as political practices. The neo in neoliberalism, however, establishes these principles on a significantly different analytic basis from those set forth by Adam Smith, as will become clear below. Moreover, neoliberalism is not simply a set of economic policies; it is not only about facilitating free trade, maximizing corporate profits, and challenging welfarism. Rather, neoliberalism carries a social analysis that, when deployed as a form of governmentality, reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to education policy to practices of empire. Neoliberal rationality, while foregrounding the market, is not only or even primarily focused on the economy; it involves extending and disseminating market values to all institutions and social action, even as the market itself remains a distinctive player.

This essay explores the political implications of neoliberal rationality for liberal democracy—the implications of the political rationality corresponding to, legitimating, and legitimated by the neoliberal turn.

While Lemke, following Foucault, is careful to mark some of the differences between Ordo-liberal thought and its successor and radicalizer, the Chicago School, I will be treating contemporary neoliberal political rationality without attending to these differences in some of its source material. A rich genealogy of neoliberalism as it is currently practiced—one that mapped and contextualized the contributions of the two schools of political economy, traced the ways that rational choice theory differentially adhered and evolved in the various social sciences and their governmental applications, and described the interplay of all these currents with developments in capital over the past half century—would be quite useful. But this essay is not such a genealogy. Rather, my aim is to consider our current political predicament in terms of neoliberal political rationality, whose chief characteristics are enumerated below.

  1. The political sphere, along with every other dimension of contemporary existence, is submitted to an economic rationality; or, put the other way around, not only is the human being configured exhaustively as homo oeconomicus, but all dimensions of human life are cast in terms of a market rationality. While this entails submitting every action and policy to considerations of profitability, equally important is the production of all human and institutional action as rational entrepreneurial action, conducted according to a calculus of utility, benefit, or satisfaction against a microeconomic grid of scarcity, supply and demand, and moral value-neutrality. Neoliberalism does not simply assume that all aspects of social, cultural, and political life can be reduced to such a calculus; rather, it develops institutional practices and rewards for enacting this vision. That is, through discourse and policy promulgating its criteria, neoliberalism produces rational actors and imposes a market rationale for decision making in all spheres. Importantly, then, neoliberalism involves a normative rather than ontological claim about the pervasiveness of economic rationality and it advocates the institution building, policies, and discourse development appropriate to such a claim. Neoliberalism is a constructivist project: it does not presume the ontological givenness of a thoroughgoing economic rationality for all domains of society but rather takes as its task the development, dissemination, and institutionalization of such a rationality. This point is further developed in (2) below. 

  2. In contrast with the notorious laissez-faire and human propensity to “truck and barter” stressed by classical economic liberalism, neoliberalism does not conceive of either the market itself or rational economic behavior as purely natural. Both are constructed—organized by law and political institutions, and requiring political intervention and orchestration. Far from flourishing when left alone, the economy must be directed, buttressed, and protected by law and policy as well as by the dissemination of social norms designed to facilitate competition, free trade, and rational economic action on the part of every member and institution of society. In Lemke’s account, “In the Ordo-liberal scheme, the market does not amount to a natural economic reality, with intrinsic laws that the art of government must bear in mind and respect; instead, the market can be constituted and kept alive only by dint of political interventions. . . . [C]ompetition, too, is not a natural fact. . . . [T]his fundamental economic mechanism can function only if support is forthcoming to bolster a series of conditions, and adherence to the latter must consistently be guaranteed by legal measures” (193). 

    The neoliberal formulation of the state and especially of specific legal arrangements and decisions as the precondition and ongoing condition of the market does not mean that the market is controlled by the state but precisely the opposite. The market is the organizing and regulative principle of the state and society, along three different lines: 

    1. The state openly responds to needs of the market, whether through monetary and fiscal policy, immigration policy, the treatment of criminals, or the structure of public education. In so doing, the state is no longer encumbered by the danger of incurring the legitimation deficits predicted by 1970s social theorists and political economists such as Nicos Poulantzas, Jürgen Habermas, and James O’Connor.6 Rather, neoliberal rationality extended to the state itself indexes the state’s success according to its ability to sustain and foster the market and ties state legitimacy to such success. This is a new form of legitimation, one that “founds a state,” according to Lemke, and contrasts with the Hegelian and French revolutionary notion of the constitutional state as the emergent universal representative of the people. As Lemke describes Foucault’s account of Ordo-liberal thinking, “economic liberty produces the legitimacy for a form of sovereignty limited to guaranteeing economic activity . . . a state that was no longer defined in terms of an historical mission but legitimated itself with reference to economic growth” (196).

    2. The state itself is enfolded and animated by market rationality: that is, not simply profitability but a generalized calculation of cost and benefit becomes the measure of all state practices. Political discourse on all matters is framed in entrepreneurial terms; the state must not simply concern itself with the market but think and behave like a market actor across all of its functions, including law. 7

    3. Putting (a) and (b) together, the health and growth of the economy is the basis of state legitimacy, both because the state is forthrightly responsible for the health of the economy and because of the economic rationality to which state practices have been submitted. Thus, “It’s the economy, stupid” becomes more than a campaign slogan; rather, it expresses the principle of the state’s legitimacy and the basis for state action—from constitutional adjudication and campaign finance reform to welfare and education policy to foreign policy, including warfare and the organization of “homeland security.”
       
  3. The extension of economic rationality to formerly noneconomic domains and institutions reaches individual conduct, or, more precisely, prescribes the citizen-subject of a neoliberal order. Whereas classical liberalism articulated a distinction, and at times even a tension, among the criteria for individual moral, associational, and economic actions (hence the striking differences in tone, subject matter, and even prescriptions between Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and his Theory of Moral Sentiments), neoliberalism normatively constructs and interpellates individuals as entrepreneurial actors in every sphere of life. It figures individuals as rational, calculating creatures whose moral autonomy is measured by their capacity for “self-care”—the ability to provide for their own needs and service their own ambitions. In making the individual fully responsible for her- or himself, neoliberalism equates moral responsibility with rational action; it erases the discrepancy between economic and moral behavior by configuring morality entirely as a matter of rational deliberation about costs, benefits, and consequences. But in so doing, it carries responsibility for the self to new heights: the rationally calculating individual bears full responsibility for the consequences of his or her action no matter how severe the constraints on this action—for example, lack of skills, education, and child care in a period of high unemployment and limited welfare benefits. Correspondingly, a “mismanaged life,” the neoliberal appellation for failure to navigate impediments to prosperity, becomes a new mode of depoliticizing social and economic powers and at the same time reduces political citizenship to an unprecedented degree of passivity and political complacency. The model neoliberal citizen is one who strategizes for her- or himself among various social, political, and economic options, not one who strives with others to alter or organize these options.

    A fully realized neoliberal citizenry would be the opposite of public-minded; indeed, it would barely exist as a public. The body politic ceases to be a body but is rather a group of individual entrepreneurs and consumers . . . which is, of course, exactly how voters are addressed in most American campaign discourse.8 Other evidence for progress in the development of such a citizenry is not far from hand: consider the market rationality permeating universities today, from admissions and recruiting to the relentless consumer mentality of students as they consider university brand names, courses, and services, from faculty raiding and pay scales to promotion criteria.9 Or consider the way in which consequential moral lapses (of a sexual or criminal nature) by politicians, business executives, or church and university administrators are so often apologized for as “mistakes in judgment,” implying that it was the calculation that was wrong, not the act, actor, or rationale.

    The state is not without a project in the making of the neoliberal subject. It attempts to construct prudent subjects through policies that organize such prudence: this is the basis of a range of welfare reforms such as workfare and single-parent penalties, changes in the criminal code such as the “three strikes law,” and educational voucher schemes. Because neoliberalism casts rational action as a norm rather than an ontology, social policy is the means by which the state produces subjects whose compass is set entirely by their rational assessment of the costs and benefits of certain acts, whether those acts pertain to teen pregnancy, tax fraud, or retirement planning. The neoliberal citizen is calculating rather than rule abiding, a Benthamite rather than a Hobbesian. The state is one of many sites framing the calculations leading to social behaviors that keep costs low and productivity high. This mode of governmentality (techniques of governing that exceed express state action and orchestrate the subject’s conduct toward himor herself) convenes a “free” subject who rationally deliberates about alternative courses of action, makes choices, and bears responsibility for the consequences of these choices. In this way, Lemke argues, “the state leads and controls subjects without being responsible for them”; as individual “entrepreneurs” in every aspect of life, subjects become wholly responsible for their well-being and citizenship is reduced to success in this entrepreneurship (201). Neoliberal subjects are controlled through their freedom—not simply, as thinkers from the Frankfurt School through Foucault have argued, because freedom within an order of domination can be an instrument of that domination, but because of neoliberalism’s moralization of the consequences of this freedom. Such control also means that the withdrawal of the state from certain domains, followed by the privatization of certain state functions, does not amount to a dismantling of government but rather constitutes a technique of governing; indeed, it is the signature technique of neoliberal governance, in which rational economic action suffused throughout society replaces express state rule or provision. Neoliberalism shifts “the regulatory competence of the state onto ‘responsible,’ ‘rational’ individuals [with the aim of] encourag[ing] individuals to give their lives a specific entrepreneurial form” (Lemke, 202).

  4. Finally, the suffusion of both the state and the subject with economic rationality has the effect of radically transforming and narrowing the criteria for good social policy vis-à-vis classical liberal democracy. Not only must social policy meet profitability tests, incite and unblock competition, and produce rational subjects, it obeys the entrepreneurial principle of “equal inequality for all” as it “multiples and expands entrepreneurial forms with the body social” (Lemke, 195). This is the principle that links the neoliberal governmentalization of the state with that of the social and the subject.

Taken together, the extension of economic rationality to all aspects of thought and activity, the placement of the state in forthright and direct service to the economy, the rendering of the state tout court as an enterprise organized by market rationality, the production of the moral subject as an entrepreneurial subject, and the construction of social policy according to these criteria might appear as a more intensive rather than fundamentally new form of the saturation of social and political realms by capital. That is, the political rationality of neoliberalism might be read as issuing from a stage of capitalism that simply underscores Marx’s argument that capital penetrates and transforms every aspect of life—remaking everything in its image and reducing every value and activity to its cold rationale. All that would be new here is the flagrant and relentless submission of the state and the individual, the church and the university, morality, sex, marriage, and leisure practices to this rationale. Or better, the only novelty would be the recently achieved hegemony of rational choice theory in the human sciences, self-represented as an independent and objective branch of knowledge rather than an expression of the dominance of capital. Another reading that would figure neoliberalism as continuous with the past would theorize it through Weber’s rationalization thesis rather than Marx’s argument about capital. The extension of market rationality to every sphere, and especially the reduction of moral and political judgment to a cost-benefit calculus, would represent precisely the evisceration of substantive values by instrumental rationality that Weber predicted as the future of a disenchanted world. Thinking and judging are reduced to instrumental calculation in Weber’s “polar night of icy darkness”—there is no morality, no faith, no heroism, indeed no meaning outside the market.

Yet invaluable as Marx’s theory of capital and Weber’s theory of rationalization are in understanding certain aspects of neoliberalism, neither brings into view the historical-institutional rupture it signifies, the form of governmentality it replaces and the form it inaugurates, and hence the modalities of resistance it renders outmoded and those that must be developed if it is to be effectively challenged. Neoliberalism is not an inevitable historical development of capital and instrumental rationality; it is not the unfolding of laws of capital or of instrumental rationality suggested by a Marxist or Weberian analysis but represents instead a new and contingent organization and operation of both. Moreover, neither analysis articulates the shift neoliberalism heralds from relatively differentiated moral, economic, and political rationalities and venues in liberal democratic orders to their discursive and practical integration. Neoliberal governmentality undermines the relative autonomy of certain institutions—law, elections, the police, the public sphere—from one another and from the market, an independence that formerly sustained an interval and a tension between a capitalist political economy and a liberal democratic political system. The implications of this transformation are significant. Herbert Marcuse worried about the loss of a dialectical opposition within capitalism when it “delivers the goods”—that is, when, by the mid–twentieth century, a relatively complacent middle class had taken the place of the hardlaboring impoverished masses Marx depicted as the negating contradiction to the concentrated wealth of capital—but neoliberalism entails the erosion of oppositional political, moral, or subjective claims located outside capitalist rationality yet inside liberal democratic society, that is, the erosion of institutions, venues, and values organized by nonmarket rationalities in democracies. When democratic principles of governance, civil codes, and even religious morality are submitted to economic calculation, when no value or good stands outside of this calculus, then sources of opposition to, and mere modulation of, capitalist rationality disappear. This reminds us that however much a left analysis has identified a liberal political order with legitimating, cloaking, and mystifying the stratifications of society achieved by capitalism (and achieved as well by racial, sexual, and gender superordinations), it is also the case that liberal democratic principles of governance— liberalism as a political doctrine—have functioned as something of an antagonist to these stratifications. As Marx himself argued in “On the Jewish Question,” formal political principles of equality and freedom (with their attendant promises of individual autonomy and dignity) figure an alternative vision of humanity and alternative social and moral referents to those of the capitalist order within which they are asserted. This is the Janus-face or at least Janus-potential of liberal democracy vis-à-vis a capitalist economy: while liberal democracy encodes, reflects, and legitimates capitalist social relations, it simultaneously resists, counters, and tempers them.

Put simply, what liberal democracy has provided over the past two centuries is a modest ethical gap between economy and polity. Even as liberal democracy converges with many capitalist values (property rights, individualism, Hobbesian assumptions underneath all contracts, etc.), the formal distinction it establishes between moral and political principles on the one hand and the economic order on the other has also served to insulate citizens against the ghastliness of life exhaustively ordered by the market and measured by market values. It is this gap that a neoliberal political rationality closes as it submits every aspect of political and social life to economic calculation: asking not, for example, what liberal constitutionalism stands for, what moral or political values it protects and preserves, but rather what efficacy or profitability constitutionalism promotes . . . or interdicts. Liberal democracy cannot be submitted to neoliberal political governmentality and survive.

There is nothing in liberal democracy’s basic institutions or values — from free elections, representative democracy, and individual liberties equally distributed to modest power-sharing or even more substantive political participation — that inherently meets the test of serving economic competitiveness or inherently withstands a cost-benefit analysis. And it is liberal democracy that is going under in the present moment, even as the flag of American “democracy” is being planted everywhere it can find or create soft ground. (That “democracy” is the rubric under which so much antidemocratic imperial and domestic policy is enacted suggests that we are in an interregnum—or, more precisely, that neoliberalism borrows extensively from the old regime to legitimate itself even as it also develops and disseminates new codes of legitimacy. More about this below.) Nor is liberal democracy a temporary casualty of recent events or of a neoconservative agenda. As the foregoing account of neoliberal governmentality suggests, while post-9/11 international and domestic policy may have both hastened and highlighted the erosion of liberal democratic institutions and principles, this erosion is not simply the result of a national security strategy or even of the Bush administration’s unprecedented indifference to the plight of the poor, civil liberties, law valued as principle rather than tactic, or conventional liberal democratic criteria for legitimate foreign policy.10

My argument here is twofold. First, neoliberal rationality has not caused but rather has facilitated the dismantling of democracy during the current national security crisis. Democratic values and institutions are trumped by a cost-benefit and efficiency rationale for practices ranging from government secrecy (even government lying) to the curtailment of civil liberties. Second, the post-9/11 period has brought the ramifications of neoliberal rationality into sharp focus, largely through practices and policies that progressives assail as hypocrisies, lies, or contradictions but that may be better understood as neoliberal policies and actions taking shape under the legitimating cloth of a liberal democratic discourse increasingly void of substance.

The Bush administration’s imperial adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq clearly borrowed extensively from the legitimating rhetoric of democracy. Not only were both wars undertaken as battles for “our way of life” against regimes said to harbor enemies (terrorists) or dangers (weapons of mass destruction) to that way of life, but both violations of national sovereignty were justified by the argument that democracy could and ought to take shape in those places—each nation is said to need liberation from brutal and despotic rule. The standard left criticism of the first justification is that “our way of life” is more seriously threatened by a politics of imperialism and by certain policies of homeland security than by these small nations. But this criticism ignores the extent to which “our way of life” is being figured not in a classically liberal democratic but in a neoliberal idiom: that is, as the ability of the entrepreneurial subject and state to rationally plot means and ends and the ability of the state to secure the conditions, at home and abroad, for a market rationality and subjectivity by removing their impediments (whether Islamic fundamentalism or excessive and arbitrary state sovereignty in the figure of Saddam Hussein). Civil liberties are perfectly expendable within this conception of “our way of life”; unlike property rights, they are largely irrelevant to homo oeconomicus. Their attenuation or elimination does not falsify the project of protecting democracy in its neoliberal mode.

The Left criticized the second justification, that the United States could or ought to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban and Iraq from Hussein, as both hypocritical (the United States had previously funded and otherwise propped up both regimes) and disingenuous (U.S. foreign policy has never rested on the principle of developing democracy and was not serious about the project in these settings). Again, however, translated into neoliberal terms, “democracy,” here or there, does not signify a set of independent political institutions and civic practices comprising equality, freedom, autonomy and the principle of popular sovereignty but rather indicates only a state and subjects organized by market rationality.

Indeed, democracy could even be understood as a code word for availability to this rationality; removal of the Taliban and Baath party pave the way to that availability, and democracy is simply the name of the regime, conforming to neoliberal requirements, that must replace them. When Paul Bremer, the U.S.-appointed interim governor of Iraq, declared on May 26, 2003 (just weeks after the sacking of Baghdad and four days after the UN lifted economic sanctions), that Iraq was “open for business,” he made clear exactly how democracy would take shape in post- Saddam Iraq. Duty-free imported goods poured into the country, finishing off many local Iraqi businesses already damaged by the war. Multinationals tumbled over themselves to get a piece of the action, and foreign direct investment to replace and privatize state industry was described by the corporate executives advising the Bush administration as the “answer to all of Iraq’s problems.”11 The question of democratic institutions, as Bremer made clear by scrapping early plans to form an interim Iraqi government in favor of installing his own team of advisers, was at best secondary to the project of privatizing large portions of the economy and outsourcing the business of policing a society in rubble, chaos, and terror occasioned by the combination of ongoing military skirmishes and armed local gangs.12

It is not news that replacements for the Taliban and the Baath regimes need not be rights-based, formally egalitarian, representative, or otherwise substantively democratic in order to serve the purposes of global capitalism or the particular geopolitical interests of the United States. Nor is it news that the replacements of these regimes need not be administered by the Afghans or Iraqis themselves to satisfy American and global capitalist purposes and interests, though the residues of old-fashioned democracy inside the legitimation project of neoliberalism make even puppet or faux rule by an appointed governing council, or by officials elected in severely compromised election conditions, ideologically preferable to full-fledged directorship by the American occupation. What is striking, however, is the boldness of a raw market approach to political problem solving, the extent to which radical privatization schemes and a flourishing market economy built on foreign investment are offered not simply as the path to democracy but as the name and the measure of democracy in these nations, a naming and measuring first appearing in post-1989 Eastern Europe a decade earlier. Not only are democratic institutions largely irrelevant— and at times even impediments—to neoliberal governmentality, but the success of such governmentality does not depend on the question of whether it is locally administered or externally imposed. Market rationality knows no culture or country, and administrators are, as the economists say, fungible. Indeed, at this juncture in the displacement of liberal democracy by neoliberal governmentality, the question is how much legitimacy neoliberal governance requires from a democratic vocabulary—how much does neoliberalism have to cloak itself in liberal democratic discourse and work with liberal democratic institutions?

This is less a theoretical than a historical-empirical question about how deeply and extensively neoliberal rationality has taken hold as ideology, that is, how much and where neoliberal governance can legitimate itself in its own terms, without borrowing from other discourses. (Neoliberalism can become dominant as governmentality without being dominant as ideology—the former refers to governing practices and the latter to a popular order of belief that may or may not be fully in line with the former, and that may even be a site of resistance to it.) Clearly, a rhetoric of democracy and the shell of liberal democratic institutions remain more important in the imperial heartland than in recently “liberated” or conquered societies with few if any democratic traditions of legitimacy. However, the fact that George W. Bush retains the support of the majority of the American people, despite his open flaunting of democratic principles amid a failing economy and despite, too, evidence that the public justification for invading Iraq relied on cooked intelligence, suggests that neoliberalism has taken deep hold in the homeland. Particularly striking is the number of pundits who have characterized this willful deceit of the people as necessary rather than criminal, as a means to a rational end, thereby reminding us that one of the more dangerous features of neoliberal evisceration of a non-market morality lies in undercutting the basis for judging government actions by any criteria other than expedience.13

Just as neoliberal governmentality reduces the tension historically borne by the state between democratic values and the needs of capital as it openly weds the state to capital and resignifies democracy as ubiquitous entrepreneurialism, so neoliberalism also smooths an old wrinkle in the fabric of liberal democratic foreign policy between domestic political values and international interests. During the cold war, political progressives could use American sanctimony about democracy to condemn international actions that propped up or installed authoritarian regimes and overthrew popularly elected leaders in the Third World. The divergence between strategic international interests and democratic ideology produced a potential legitimation problem for foreign policy, especially as applied to Southeast Asia and Central and Latin America. Neoliberalism, by redefining democracy as thoroughgoing market rationality in state and society, a redefinition abetted by the postcommunist “democratization” process in Eastern Europe, largely eliminates that problem. Certainly human rights talk is ubiquitous in global democracy discourse, but not since Jimmy Carter’s ill-fated efforts to make human rights a substantive dimension of foreign policy have they served as more than window dressing for neoliberal adventures in democracy.

Mourning Liberal Democracy

An assault on liberal democratic values and institutions has been plainly evident in recent events: civil liberties undermined by the USA Patriot Acts and the Total Information Awareness (later renamed Total Terror Awareness) scheme, Oakland police shooting wood and rubber bullets at peaceful antiwar protesters, a proposed Oregon law to punish all civil disobedience as terrorism (replete with twenty five-year jail terms), and McCarthyite deployments of patriotism to suppress ordinary dissent and its iconography. It is evident as well in the staging of aggressive imperial wars and ensuing occupations along with the continued dismantling of the welfare state and the progressive taxation schemes already diluted by the Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations. It has been more subtly apparent in “softer” events, such as the de-funding of public education that led eighty four Oregon school districts to sheer almost a month off the school year in spring 2003 and delivered provisional pink slips to thousands of California teachers at the end of the 2002–03 academic year.14

Or consider the debate about whether antiwar protests constituted unacceptable costs for a financially strapped cities—even many critics of current U.S. foreign policy expressed anger at peaceful civil disobedients over the expense and disruption they caused, implying that the value of public opinion and protest should be measured against its dollar cost.15 Together these phenomena suggest a transformation of American liberal democracy into a political and social form for which we do not yet have a name, a form organized by a combination of neoliberal governmentality and imperial world politics, shaped in the short run by global economic and security crises. They indicate a form in which an imperial agenda is able to take hold precisely because the domestic soil has been loosened for it by neoliberal rationality.

This form is not fascism or totalitarian as we have known them historically, nor are these labels likely to prove helpful in identifying or criticizing it.16 Rather, this is a political condition in which the substance of many of the significant features of constitutional and representative democracy have been gutted, jettisoned, or end-run, even as they continue to be promulgated ideologically, serving as a foil and shield for their undoing and for the doing of death elsewhere. These features include civil liberties equally distributed and protected; a press and other journalistic media minimally free from corporate ownership on one side and state control on the other; uncorrupted and unbought elections; quality public education oriented, inter alia, to producing the literacies relevant to informed and active citizenship; government openness, honesty, and accountability; a judiciary modestly insulated from political and commercial influence; separation of church and state; and a foreign policy guided at least in part by the rationale of protecting these domestic values. None of these constitutive elements of liberal democracy was ever fully realized in its short history—they have always been compromised by a variety of economic and social powers, from white supremacy to capitalism. And liberal democracies in the First World have always required other peoples to pay—politically, socially, and economically—for what these societies have enjoyed; that is, there has always been a colonially and imperially inflected gap between what has been valued in the core and what has been required from the periphery. So it is important to be precise here. Ours is not the first time in which elections have been bought, manipulated, and even engineered by the courts, the first time the press has been slavish to state and corporate power, the first time the United States has launched an aggressive assault on a sovereign nation or threatened the entire world with its own weapons of mass destruction.

What is unprecedented about this time is the extent to which basic principles and institutions of democracy are becoming nothing other than ideological shells concealing their opposite as well as the extent to which these principles and institutions even as values are being abandoned by large parts of the American population. Elements in this transformation include the development of the most secretive government in fifty years (the gutting of the Freedom of Information Act was one of the quiet early accomplishments of the G. W. Bush administration, the “classified” status of its more than 1,000 contracts with Halliburton one of its more recent); the plumping of corporate wealth combined with the reduction of social spending for limiting the economic vulnerability of the poor and middle classes; a bought, consolidated, and muffled press that willingly cooperates in its servitude (emblematic in this regard is the Judith Miller (non)scandal, in which the star New York Times journalist wittingly reported Pentagon propaganda about Iraqi WMDs as journalistically discovered fact); and intensified policing in every corner of American life— airports, university admissions offices, mosques, libraries, workplaces— a policing undertaken both by official agents of the state and by an interpellated citizenry.

A potentially permanent “state of emergency” combined with an infinitely expandable rhetoric of patriotism overtly legitimates undercutting the Bill of Rights and legitimates as well abrogation of conventional democratic principles in setting foreign policy, principles that include respect for nation-state sovereignty and reasoned justifications for war. But behind these rhetorics there is another layer of discourse facilitating the dismantling of liberal democratic institutions and practices: a governmentality of neoliberalism that eviscerates nonmarket morality and thus erodes the root of democracy in principle at the same time that it raises the status of profit and expediency as the criteria for policy making. There is much that is disturbing in the emergence of neoliberal governmentality and a great deal more work to do in theorizing its contribution to the organization and possibilities in current and future political life in the United States. In particular, as I suggested at the outset of this essay, filling in the contemporary political picture would require mapping the convergences and tensions between a (nonpartisan) neoliberal governmentality on the one hand and the specific agendas of Clintonian centrists and Reagan-Bush neoconservatives on the other. It would require exploring the continued efficacy of political rhetorics of morality and principle as neoliberalism voids the substance of and undercuts the need for extramarket morality.

It would require discerning what distinguishes neoliberal governmentality from old-fashioned corporatism and old-fashioned political realism. It would require examining the contradictory political imperatives delivered by the market and set as well by the tensions between nationstate interests and globalized capitalism indifferent to states and sovereignty. And it would require examining the points at which U.S. imperial policies converge with and diverge from or even conflict with neoliberal governmentality.

By way of conclusion, however, I leave aside these questions to reflect briefly on the implications for the Left of neoliberalism’s erosion of liberal democracy. While leftists of the past quarter century were rarely as antagonistic to liberal democracy as the Old Left, neither did we fully embrace it; at times we resented and railed against it, and certainly we harbored an aim to transform it into something else—social democracy or some form of radical democracy. So the Left is losing something it never loved, or at best was highly ambivalent about. We are also losing a site of criticism and political agitation—we criticized liberal democracy not only for its hypocrisy and ideological trickery but also for its institutional and rhetorical embedding of bourgeois, white, masculinist, and heterosexual superordination at the heart of humanism. Whatever loose identity we had as a Left took shape in terms of a differentiation from liberalism’s willful obliviousness to social stratification and injury that were glossed and hence secured by its formal juridical categories of liberty and equality.

Still, liberalism, as Gayatri Spivak once wrote in a very different context, is also that which one “cannot not want” (given the other historical possibilities, given the current historical meaning of its deprivation). Even here, though, the desire is framed as roundabout and against itself, as Spivak’s artful double negative indicates. It indicates a dependency we are not altogether happy about, an organization of desire we wish were otherwise. What might be the psychic/social/intellectual implications for leftists of losing this vexed object of attachment? What are the possible trajectories for a melancholic incorporation of that toward which one is openly ambivalent; or perhaps even hostile, resentful, rebellious?\

Freud posits melancholy as occasioned by ambivalence, though the ambivalence may be more unconsciously sustained than I am suggesting is the case for the Left’s relationship to liberal democracy. More precisely, Freud’s focus in theorizing melancholy is love that does not know or want to avow its hostility, whereas the task before us is to consider hostility that does not know or want to avow its love or dependency. Still, Freud’s thinking about melancholia remains useful here as a theory of loss amid ambivalent attachment and dependence and a theory of identity formation at the site of an ungrievable passion or attachment. It reminds us to consider how left melancholia about liberal democracy would not just be a problematic affect but would constitute a formation of the Left itself.

Incorporating the death of a loathed object to which one was nonetheless attached often takes the form of acting out the loathed qualities of the object. I once had an acquaintance whose muchdespised and abusive father died. While my friend overtly rejoiced at his passing, in the ensuing months she engaged in extraordinary outbursts of verbal and physical abuse toward friends and colleagues, even throwing things at them as she had described her father throwing household objects during her childhood. Another friend buried, after years of illness, a childish, hysterical, histrionic, and demanding mother, one who relentlessly produced herself as a victim amid her own aggressive demands. Relieved as my friend was to have done with this parent, what should emerge over the following year but exactly such tendencies in her own relationships? So this is one danger: that we would act out to keep alive those aspects of the political formation we are losing, that we would take up and perform liberal democracy’s complacencies, cruelties, or duplicities, stage them in our own work and thinking. This behavior would issue in part from the need to preserve the left identity and project that took shape at the site of liberal democracy, and in part from ambivalence about liberal democracy itself. In response to the loss of an object both loved and loathed, in which only the loathing or contempt is avowed, melancholy sustains the loved object, and continues to provide a cover for the love—a continued means of disavowing it—by incorporating and performing the loathsomeness.

There are other ways ambivalently structured loss can take shape as melancholic, including the straightforward possibility of idealizing a lost object as it was never idealized when alive. Straightforward, perhaps, but not simple, for this affect also involves remorse for a past of not loving the object well enough and self-reproach for ever having wished for its death or replacement. As idealization fueled by guilt, this affect also entails heightened aggression toward challenges or challengers to the idealization. In this guilt, anxiety, and defensiveness over the loss of liberal democracy, we would feel compelled to defend basic principles of liberalism or simply defend liberalism as a whole in a liberal way, that is, we would give up being critical of liberalism and, in doing so, give up being left. Freud identifies this surrender of identity upon the death of an ambivalent object as the suicidal wish in melancholia,17 a wish abetted in our case by a more general disorientation about what the Left is or stands for today. Evidence for such a surrender in the present extends from our strikingly unnuanced defenses of free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties to the staging of antiwar protests as “patriotic” through the iconography of the American flag. Often explained as what the Left must do when public discourse moves rightward, such accounts presume a single political continuum, ranged from extreme left to extreme right, in which liberals and conservatives are nothing more than the moderate versions of the extremes (communists and fascists). Not only does the model of the continuum reduce the variety of political possibility in modernity to matters of degree rather than kind, it erases the distinctiveness of a left critique and vision. Just as today’s neoliberals bear little in common with traditional conservatives, so the Left has traditionally stood for a set of values and possibilities qualitatively different from those of welfare state liberals. Times of alliance and spheres of overlap obviously exist, but a continuum does not capture the nature of these convergences and tactical linkages any better than it captures the differences between, for example, a liberal commitment to rights-based equality and a left commitment to emancipating the realm of production, or between a liberal enthusiasm for the welfare state and a left critique of its ideological and regulatory dimensions. So the idea that leftists must automatically defend liberal political values when they are on the ropes, while sensible from a liberal perspective, does not facilitate a left challenge to neoliberalism if the Left still wishes to advocate in the long run for something other than liberal democracy in a capitalist socioeconomic order.

Of course, there are aspects of liberal democracy that the Left has come to value and incorporate into its own vision of the good society—for example, an array of individual liberties that are largely unrelated to the freedom from domination promised by transforming the realm of production. But articulating this renewed left vision differs from defending civil liberties in liberal terms, a defense that itself erases a left project as it consigns it to something outside those terms. Similarly, patriotism and flag-waving are surely at odds with a left formulation of justice, even as love of America, represented through icons other than the flag or through narratives other than “supporting the troops,” might well have a part in this formulation. Finally, not only does defending liberal democracy in liberal terms sacrifice a left vision, but this sacrifice discredits the Left by tacitly reducing it to nothing more than a permanent objection to the existing regime. It renders the Left a party of complaint rather than a party with an alternative political, social, and economic vision.

Still, if we are slipping from liberalism to fascism, and if radical democracy or socialism is nowhere on the political horizon, don’t we have to defend liberal democratic institutions and values? Isn’t this the lesson of Weimar? I have labored to suggest that this is not the right diagnosis of our predicament: it does not grasp what is at stake in neoliberal governmentality—which is not fascism—nor on what grounds it might be challenged. Indeed, the left defense of the welfare state in the 1980s, which seemed to stem from precisely such an analysis—“if we can’t have socialism, at least we should preserve welfare state capitalism”—backfired from just such a misdiagnosis. On the one hand, rather than articulating an emancipatory vision that included the eradication rather than regulation of poverty, the Left appeared aligned with big government, big spending, and misplaced compassion for those construed as failing to give their lives proper entrepreneurial shape. On the other hand, the welfare state was dismantled on grounds that had almost nothing to do with the terms of liberal democracy and everything to do with neoliberal economic and political rationality. We are not simply in the throes of a right-wing or conservative positioning within liberal democracy but rather at the threshold of a different political formation, one that conducts and legitimates itself on different grounds from liberal democracy even as it does not immediately divest itself of the name. It is a formation that is developing a domestic imperium correlative with a global one, achieved through a secretive and remarkably agentic state; through corporatized media, schools, and prisons; and through a variety of technologies for intensified local administrative, regulatory, and police powers. It is a formation made possible by the production of citizens as individual entrepreneurial actors across all dimensions of their lives, by the reduction of civil society to a domain for exercising this entrepreneurship, and by the figuration of the state as a firm whose products are rational individual subjects, an expanding economy, national security, and global power.

This formation produces a twofold challenge for the Left. First, it compels us to consider the implications of losing liberal democracy and especially its implications for our own work by learning what the Left has depended on and demanded from liberal democracy, which aspects of it have formed the basis of our critiques of it, rebellions against it, and identity based on differentiation from it. We may also need to mourn liberal democracy, avowing our ambivalent attachment to it, our need for it, our mix of love and hostility toward it. The aim of this work is framed by the second challenge, that of devising intelligent left strategies for challenging the neoliberal political-economic formation now taking shape and an intelligent left countervision to this formation. Ahalf century ago, Marcuse argued that capitalism had eliminated a revolutionary subject (the proletariat) representing the negation of capitalism; consequently, he insisted, the Left had to derive and cultivate anticapitalist principles, possibilities, and agency from capitalism’s constitutive outside. That is, the Left needed to tap the desires— not for wealth or goods but for beauty, love, mental and physical well-being, meaningful work, and peace—manifestly unmet within a capitalist order and to appeal to those desires as the basis for rejecting and replacing the order. No longer could economic contradictions of capitalism inherently fuel opposition to it; rather, opposition had to be founded in an alternative table of values. Today, the problem Marcuse diagnosed has expanded from capitalism to liberal democracy: oppositional consciousness cannot be generated from liberal democracy’s false promises and hypocrisies. The space between liberal democratic ideals and lived realities has ceased to be exploitable, because liberal democracy itself is no longer the most salient discourse of political legitimacy and the good life. Put the other way around, the politically exploitable hollowness in formal promises of freedom and equality has largely vanished to the extent that both freedom and equality have been redefined by neoliberalism. Similarly, revealed connections between political and economic actors—not merely bought politicians but arrangements of mutual profiteering between corporate America and its political elite—do not incite outrage at malfeasance, corruption, or injustice but appear instead as a potentially rational set of linkages between state and economy. Thus, from the “scandal” of Enron to the “scandal” of Vice President Cheney delivering Iraq to Halliburton to clean up and rebuild, there is no scandal. There is only market rationality, a rationality that can encompass even a modest amount of criminality but also treats close state-corporate ties as a potentially positive value—maximizing the aims of each—rather than as a conflict of interest. 18 Similarly, even as the Bush administration fails to come up with WMDs in Iraq and fails to be able to install order let alone democracy there, such deficiencies are irrelevant to the neoliberal criteria for success in that military episode. Indeed, even the scandal of Bush’s installation as president by a politicized Supreme Court in 2000 was more or less ingested by the American people as business as usual, an ingestion that represents a shift from the expectation that the Supreme Court is independent of political influence to one that tacitly accepts its inclusion in the governmentality of neoliberalism. Similarly, John Poindexter, a key figure in the Iran-Contra affair and director of the proposed “Terrorism Information Awareness” program that would have put all Americans under surveillance, continued to have power and legitimacy at the Pentagon until the flap over the scheme to run a futures market on political violence in the Middle East. All three of these projects are instances of neoliberalism’s indifference to democracy; only the last forced Poindexter into retirement.

These examples suggest that not only liberal democratic principles but democratic morality has been largely eviscerated—in neoliberal terms, each of these “scandals” is framed as a matter of miscalculation or political maneuvering rather than by right and wrong, truth or falsehood, institutional propriety or impropriety. Consequently, the Left cannot count on revealed deception, hypocrisies, interlocking directorates, featherbedding, or corruption to stir opposition to the existing regime. It cannot count on the expectation that moral principle undergirds political action or even on consistency as a value by which to judge state practices or aims. Much of the American public appeared indifferent to the fact that both the Afghan and Iraqi regimes targeted by Bush had previously been supported or even built by earlier U.S. foreign policy. It also appeared indifferent to the touting of the “liberation” of Afghan women as one of the great immediate achievements of the overthrow of the Taliban while the overthrow of the Baath regime set into motion an immediately more oppressive regime of gender in Iraq. The inconsistency does not matter much, because political reasons and reasoning that exceed or precede neoliberal criteria have ceased to matter much. This is serious political nihilism, which no mere defense of free speech and privacy, let alone securing the right to gay marriage or an increase in the minimum wage, will reverse.

What remains for the Left, then, is to challenge emerging neoliberal governmentality in Euro-Atlantic states with an alternative vision of the good, one that rejects homo economicus as the norm of the human and rejects this norm’s correlative formations of economy, society, state, and (non)morality. In its barest form, this would be a vision in which justice would center not on maximizing individual wealth or rights but on developing and enhancing the capacity of citizens to share power and hence to collaboratively govern themselves. In such an order, rights and elections would be the background rather than token of democracy; or better, rights would function to safeguard the individual against radical democratic enthusiasms but would not themselves signal the presence or constitute the principle of democracy. Instead, a left vision of justice would focus on practices and institutions of popular power; a modestly egalitarian distribution of wealth and access to institutions; an incessant reckoning with all forms of power—social, economic, political, and even psychic; a long view of the fragility and finitude of nonhuman nature; and the importance of both meaningful activity and hospitable dwellings to human flourishing. However differently others might place the accent marks, none of these values can be derived from neoliberal rationality or meet neoliberal criteria for the good. The drive to develop and promulgate such a counterrationality—a different figuration of human beings, citizenship, economic life, and the political—is critical both to the long labor of fashioning a more just future and to the immediate task of challenging the deadly policies of the imperial American state.


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[Jun 17, 2017] Trostyism and cultural marxism

Jun 12, 2017 | en.wikipedia.org
which sees the Frankfurt School as part of an ongoing movement to take over and destroy Western society . [53] [54] [55] [56]

Originally the term 'cultural Marxism' had a niche academic usage within cultural studies where it referred to the Frankfurt School's critiques of the culture industry , an industry they claimed was able to reify an individual's self-interests, diverting individuals away from developing a more authentic sense of human values . [57] [58] [59] [60] [61] [ excessive citations ] British theorists such as Richard Hoggart of The Birmingham School developed a working class sense of 'British Cultural Marxism' which objected to the "massification" and "drift" away from local cultures, a process of commercialization Hoggart saw as being enabled by tabloid newspapers, advertising , and the American film industry . [62]

However, the term remained niche and rarely used until the late 1990s when it was appropriated by paleoconservatives as part of an ongoing Culture War in which it is claimed that the very same theorists who were analysing and objecting to the "massification" and mass control via commercialization of culture were in fact in control and staging their own attack on Western society , using 1960s counter culture , multiculturalism , progressive politics and political correctness as their methods. [55] [63] [64] This conspiracy theory version of the term is associated with American religious paleoconservatives such as William S. Lind , Pat Buchanan , and Paul Weyrich , but also holds currency among alt-right / white nationalist groups and the neo-reactionary movement. [64] [56] [65]

Weyrich first aired his conception of Cultural Marxism in a 1998 speech to the Civitas Institute's Conservative Leadership Conference , later repeating this usage in his widely syndicated Culture War Letter . [64] [66] [67] At Weyrich's request William S. Lind wrote a short history of his conception of Cultural Marxism for The Free Congress Foundation ; in it Lind identifies the presence of homosexuals on television as proof of Cultural Marxist control over the mass media and claims that Herbert Marcuse considered a coalition of "blacks, students, feminist women and homosexuals" as a vanguard of cultural revolution. [55] [63] [68] Lind has since published his own depiction of a fictional Cultural Marxist apocalypse. [69] [70] Lind and Weyrich's writings on this subject advocate fighting what they perceive as Cultural Marxism with "a vibrant cultural conservatism " composed of "retroculture" fashions from the past, a return to rail systems as public transport and an agrarian culture of self-reliance modeled after the Amish . [55] [70] [71] [72] [73] [74] [75] [ excessive citations ] Paul Weyrich and his protégé Eric Heubeck later openly advocated for a more direct form of "taking over political structures" by the "New Traditionalist Movement" in his 2001 paper The Integration of Theory and Practice written for Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation . [76] [77] [78]

In 1999 Lind led the creation of an hour-long program entitled "Political Correctness: The Frankfurt School" . [53] Some of Lind's content went on to be reproduced by James Jaeger in his YouTube film "CULTURAL MARXISM: The Corruption of America" . [79]

The intellectual historian Martin Jay commented on this phenomenon saying that Lind's original documentary:

"... spawned a number of condensed textual versions, which were reproduced on a number of radical right-wing sites. These in turn led to a welter of new videos now available on YouTube, which feature an odd cast of pseudo-experts regurgitating exactly the same line. The message is numbingly simplistic: all the ills of modern American culture, from feminism, affirmative action, sexual liberation and gay rights to the decay of traditional education and even environmentalism are ultimately attributable to the insidious influence of the members of the Institute for Social Research who came to America in the 1930's." [53]

Dr. Heidi Beirich likewise claims the conspiracy theory is used to demonize various conservative "bêtes noires" including "feminists, homosexuals, secular humanists, multiculturalist, sex educators, environmentalist, immigrants, and black nationalists." [80]

According to Chip Berlet , who specializes in the study of extreme right-wing movements , the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory found fertile ground within the Tea Party movement of 2009, with contributions published in the American Thinker and WorldNetDaily highlighted by some Tea Party websites. [81] [82] [83]

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that William S. Lind in 2002 gave a speech to a Holocaust denial conference on the topic of Cultural Marxism. In this speech Lind noted that all the members of The Frankfurt School were "to a man, Jewish", but it is reported that Lind claims not to "question whether the Holocaust occurred" and suggests he was present in an official capacity for the Free Congress Foundation "to work with a wide variety of groups on an issue-by-issue basis". [84] [85]

Adherents of the theory often seem to mean that the existence of things like modern feminism , anti-white racism, and sexualization are dependent on the Frankfurt School, even though these processes and movements predate the 1920s. Although the theory became more widespread in the late 1990s and through the 2000s, the modern iteration of the theory originated in Michael Minnicino's 1992 essay "New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness'", published in Fidelio Magazine by the Schiller Institute . [53] [86] [87] The Schiller Institute, a branch of the LaRouche movement , further promoted the idea in 1994. [88] The Minnicino article charges that the Frankfurt School promoted Modernism in the arts as a form of Cultural pessimism , and shaped the Counterculture of the 1960s (such as the British pop band The Beatles ) after the Wandervogel of the Ascona commune . [86] The Larouche movement is otherwise mostly known for believing that the British Empire still exists, is trying to take control of the world (mostly, but not exclusively by economical means), and, among other things, also controls the global drug trade . [89] [90]

More recently, the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik included the term in his document "2083: A European Declaration of Independence" , which along with The Free Congress Foundation 's "Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology" was e-mailed to 1,003 addresses approximately 90 minutes before the 2011 bomb blast in Oslo for which Breivik was responsible. [91] [92] [93] Segments of William S. Lind's writings on Cultural Marxism have been found within Breivik's manifesto. [94]

Philosopher and political science lecturer Jérôme Jamin has stated, "Next to the global dimension of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, there is its innovative and original dimension, which lets its authors avoid racist discourses and pretend to be defenders of democracy". [54] Professor and Oxford Fellow Matthew Feldman has traced the terminology back to the pre-war German concept of Cultural Bolshevism locating it as part of the degeneration theory that aided in Hitler's rise to power . [95] William S. Lind confirms this as his period of interest, claiming that "It [Cultural Marxism] is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I." [85]

[May 25, 2017] Yes, Virginia (Dare) There is a Cultural Marxism–and Its Taking Over Conservatism Inc by Paul Gottfried

Notable quotes:
"... Spencer's ..."
"... Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym - which terminates his membership , ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... French election: American Conservatives Should Support Macron ..."
"... The Closing of the American Mind ..."
"... Gay Marriage vs. goodwill ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... Why John Podhoretz is Wrong on Gay Marriage ..."
"... First Things, ..."
"... The Power of Marriage ..."
"... New York Times, ..."
"... Why Putin's Defense of "Traditional Values" Is Really A War on Freedom ..."
"... Foreign Policy, ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... Ukrainians are still alone in their heroic fight for freedom ..."
"... , New York Post, ..."
May 25, 2017 | www.unz.com
Cultural Marxist commissars refusing to admit that dissidents are to be treated as fellow citizens is the crazed female professor who accosted the NPI's Richard Spencer while he was exercising at a Alexandria gym. She, recognizing him from coverage of the election campaign, started haranguing him and calling him a "Nazi."

Instead of having her ejected for this behavior, the gym's management terminated Spencer's membership. [ Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym - which terminates his membership , By Faiz Siddiqui May 21, 2017]

Back in 2011 VDARE posted a commentary of mine on the legitimacy of the "Cultural Marxist" concept. (I reluctantly accepted the term only because I couldn't think of a better one.)

As I pointed out, this ideology was very far from orthodox Marxism and was viewed by serious Marxists as a kind of bastard child. Yet many of those designated as "Cultural Marxists" still viewed themselves as classical Marxists and some still do.

Exponents of what the Frankfurt School called "critical theory"- like Herbert Marcuse , Theodor Adorno , and Erich Fromm -- were considered by orthodox Marxists to be fake or ersatz Marxists. But they did adopt orthodox Marxist-Leninist theory in key aspects:

These disciples of the Frankfurt School, like Marx, were eager to replace what they defined as bourgeois society by a new social order. In this envisaged new order, humankind would experience true equality for the first time. This would be possible because, in a politically and socially reconstructed society, we would no longer be alienated from our real selves, which had been warped by the inequalities that existed until now.

But unlike authentic Marxists, Cultural Marxists have been principally opposed to the culture of bourgeois societies -- and only secondarily to their material arrangements. Homophobia , nationalism , Christianity, masculinity , and anti-Semitism have been the prime villains in the Cultural Marxist script.

This is especially true as one moves from the philosophy of the interwar German founders of the Frankfurt school, like Theodore Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse, to the second generation. This second generation is represented by Jürgen Habermas and most of the multicultural theorists ensconced in Western universities.

For these more advanced Cultural Marxists, the crusade against capitalism has been increasingly subordinated to the war against "prejudice" and "discrimination." They justify the need for a centralized bureaucratic state commanding material resources not because it will bring the working class to power, but to fight "racism," "fascism," and the other residues of the Western past.

If they can't accomplish such radical change, Cultural Marxists are happy to work toward revolutionizing our consciousness with the help of Leftist moneybags– hedge fund managers, Mark Zuckerberg etc. Ironically, nationalizing productive forces and the creation of a workers' state, i.e. the leftovers from classical Marxism, turn out to be the most expendable part of their revolutionary program, perhaps because of the collapse of the embarrassing collapse of command economies in the Soviet bloc . Instead, what is essential to Cultural Marxism is the rooting-out of bourgeois national structures, the obliteration of gender roles and the utter devastation of "the patriarchal family."

Not only does Cultural Marxism exist, but it now appears to be taking over Conservatism Inc. Thus even with Paris burning , National Review was still attacking the Right . In the second round of the French election, Tom Rogan urged a vote for Emmanuel Macron on the grounds Marine Le Pen is insufficiently hostile to Vladimir Putin and is a "socialist" because she "supports protectionism." Macron's actual onetime membership in the Socialist Party, and his view that there was no such thing as French culture, apparently was not a problem [ French election: American Conservatives Should Support Macron , April 24, 2017].

Conservatism Inc. goes along because these goals are partially achieved through corporate capitalists, who actively push Leftist social agendas and punish entire communities if they're insufficiently enthusiastic about gay marriage, gay scout leaders, transgendered rest rooms, sanctuary cities etc.. Wedded as it is to a clichéd defense of the "free market," the Beltway Right not only won't oppose this plutocratic agenda, but instead offers tax cuts to the wealthiest and most malevolent actors.

It is because Cultural Marxism can co-exist with our current economic and political structure that our so-called "conservatives" are far more likely to align with the New Left than the Old Right. The behavior of our own captains of industry shows the rot is deep and that multiculturalism is very much part of American "liberal democratic" thinking, even informing our bogus conservatism. "Conservatism" is now defined as waging endless wars in the name of universalist values that any other generation would have called radically leftist. And Cultural Marxists themselves now define what we call "Western values"-for example, accepting homosexuality

The takeover is so complete, we might even say "Cultural Marxism" has outlived its usefulness as a label or as a description of a hostile foreign ideology. Instead, we're dealing with "conservatives," who are, in many ways, more extreme and more destructive than the Frankfurt School itself.

Many conservatives seem to believe Cultural Marxism is just a foreign eccentricity somehow smuggled into our country. Allan Bloom's " conservative " bestseller The Closing of the American Mind [ PDF ] contended that multiculturalism was just another example of "The German Connection." This is ludicrous.

Case in point: unlike Horkheimer, or my onetime teacher Herbert Marcuse, leading writers within Conservatism Inc. are sympathetic to something like gay marriage . These include:

Indeed, homosexual liberation is so central to modern conservatism that the Beltway Right's pundits urge American soldiers to impose it at bayonet point around the world. Kirchick complains we haven't pressed the Russian "thug" Vladimir Putin hard enough to accept such "conservative" features of public life as gay pride parades. [ Why Putin's Defense of "Traditional Values" Is Really A War on Freedom , by James Kirchick, Foreign Policy, January 3, 2014]

Another frequent contributor to National Review , Jillian Kay Melchior, expressed concern that American withdrawal from Ukraine might expose that region to greater Russian control and thereby diminish rights for the transgendered. [ Ukrainians are still alone in their heroic fight for freedom , New York Post, October 8, 2015]

If that's how our Respectable Right reacts to social issues, then it may be ridiculous to continue denouncing the original Cultural Marxists. Our revolutionary thinking has whizzed past those iconoclastic German Jews who created the Frankfurt Institute in the 1920s and then moved their enterprise to the US in the 1930s. Blaming these long-dead intellectuals for our present aberrations may be like blaming Nazi atrocities on Latin fascists in 1920. We're better served by examining those who selectively adopted the original model to find out what really happened.

At this point we should ask not whether the Frankfurt School continues to cast a shadow over us but instead ask why are "conservatives" acquiescing to or even championing reforms more radical than anything one encounters in Adorno and Horkheimer?

Admittedly, Conservatism Inc. has drifted so far to the Left that one no longer blinks in surprise when a respected conservative journalist extolls Leon Trotsky and the Communist Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Yet it's still startling to see just how far left the Beltway "Right" has moved on social issues. Even more noteworthy is how unwilling the movement is to see any contradiction between this process and the claim they are "conservatives."

And let's not pretend that Conservatism Inc. is simply running a "Big Tent." Those who direct the top-down Beltway Right are eager to reach out to the Left, providing those they recruit share their belligerent interventionist foreign policy views and do nothing to offend neoconservative benefactors, while purging everything on their right .

This post-Christian, post-bourgeois consensus is now centered in the US and in affiliate Western countries and transmitted through our culture industry, educational system, Deep-State bureaucracy, and Establishment political parties.

The Beltway Right operates like front parties under the old Soviet system. Like those parties, our Establishment Right tries to "fit in" by dutifully undermining those to its the Right and slowly absorbing the social positions and heroes of the Left .

Occasionally it catches hell for not moving fast enough to the Left. But this only bolsters the image of Conservatism, Inc. as defenders of traditional America against the Left-an image that it won't lose even as it veers farther in the direction of its supposed adversary.

In short, Conservatism Inc. is not just a scam-but it's become a Cultural Marxist puppet. And the Dissident Right consists of those who can see through it.

Paul Gottfried [ email him ] is a retired Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, PA. He is the author of Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America .

[Apr 27, 2017] Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service"

Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Chris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Years ago, while working in an Australian state public service department, we considered 'Yes Minister' to be a documentary, and used it amongst ourselves as training material.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

My favorite episode is "Jobs for the Boys." My favorite line: "Great courage of course. But whatever possessed you?"

(Messing about with the VPN to get the full page )

RUKidding , April 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Indeed. I have used it as such, myself! Not snark.

A most excellent book and series. Should be required viewing.

witters , April 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". It made the latter the "deep state", thereby tainting forever the welfare state as an evil hidden conspiracy that (mysteriously) pandered to the meritocratically worthless. If that is what you mean by "Deep State" then you can have it.

Huey Long , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

It is now known that a perfection of planned layout is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse . [P]erfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery or progress there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done. Perfection, we know, is finality; and finality is death.

Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed. Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here.

[Mar 25, 2017] What is Economism and why it is so damaging

Notable quotes:
"... Ugh what an awful display of pop economism. Globalization and technology are "impersonal forces." No mention of the rise of inequality or the SecStags. No mention of monetary policy fail in Europe. The biggest lies of economism are the lies of omission. ..."
"... Looks like this concept of "Economism" introduced by James Kwak in his book Economism is very important conceptual tool for understanding the tremendous effectiveness of neoliberal propaganda. ..."
"... When competitive free markets and rational well-informed actors are the baseline assumption, the burden of proof shifts unfairly onto anyone proposing a government policy. ..."
"... For example, the basic Econ 101 theory of supply and demand is fine for some products, but it doesn't work very well for labor markets. It is incapable of simultaneously explaining both the small effect of minimum wage increases and the small impact of low-skilled immigration. Some more complicated, advanced theory is called for. ..."
"... But no matter how much evidence piles up, people keep talking about "the labor supply curve" and "the labor demand curve" as if these are real objects, and to analyze policies -- for example, overtime rules -- using the same old framework. ..."
"... An idea that we believe in despite all evidence to the contrary isn't a scientific theory -- it's an infectious meme. ..."
"... Academic economists are unsure about how to respond to the abuse of simplistic econ theories for political ends. On one hand, it gives them enormous prestige. The popularity of simplistic econ ideas has made economists the toast of America's intellectual classes. ..."
"... It has sustained enormous demand for the undergraduate econ major, which serves, in the words of writer Michael Lewis, as a "standardized test of general intelligence" for future businesspeople. But as Kwak points out, the simple theories promulgated by politicians and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page often bear little resemblance to the sophisticated theories used by real economists. ..."
"... And when things go wrong -- when the financial system crashes, or millions of workers displaced by Chinese imports fail to find new careers -- it's academic economists who often get blamed, not the blasé and misleading popularizers. ..."
Jan 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. : January 20, 2017 at 04:35 AM

Noah Smith: The Ways That Pop Economics Hurt America - Noah Smith

"So I wonder if economism was really as unrealistic and useless as Kwak seems to imply. Did countries that resisted economism -- Japan, for example, or France [Germany?] -- do better for their poor and middle classes than the U.S.? Wages have stagnated in those countries, and inequality has increased, even as those countries remain poorer than the U.S. Did the U.S.'s problems really all come from economism, or did forces such as globalization and technological change play a part? Cross-country comparisons suggest that the deregulation and tax cuts of the 1980s and 1990s, although ultimately excessive, probably increased economic output somewhat."

Ugh what an awful display of pop economism. Globalization and technology are "impersonal forces." No mention of the rise of inequality or the SecStags. No mention of monetary policy fail in Europe. The biggest lies of economism are the lies of omission.

libezkova -> Peter K.... , -1
Thank you !

Looks like this concept of "Economism" introduced by James Kwak in his book Economism is very important conceptual tool for understanding the tremendous effectiveness of neoliberal propaganda.

I think it is proper to view Economism as a flavor of Lysenkoism. As such it is not very effective in acquiring the dominant position and suppressing of dissent, but it also can be very damaging.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-19/the-ways-that-pop-economics-hurt-america

== quote ==

...When competitive free markets and rational well-informed actors are the baseline assumption, the burden of proof shifts unfairly onto anyone proposing a government policy. For far too many years, free-marketers have gotten away with winning debates by just sitting back and saying "Oh yeah? Show me the market failure!" That deck-stacking has long forced public intellectuals on the left have to work twice as hard as those safely ensconced in think tanks on the free-market right, and given the latter a louder voice in public life than their ideas warrant.

It's also true that simple theories, especially those we learn in our formative years, can maintain an almost unshakeable grip on our thinking.

For example, the basic Econ 101 theory of supply and demand is fine for some products, but it doesn't work very well for labor markets. It is incapable of simultaneously explaining both the small effect of minimum wage increases and the small impact of low-skilled immigration. Some more complicated, advanced theory is called for.

But no matter how much evidence piles up, people keep talking about "the labor supply curve" and "the labor demand curve" as if these are real objects, and to analyze policies -- for example, overtime rules -- using the same old framework.

An idea that we believe in despite all evidence to the contrary isn't a scientific theory -- it's an infectious meme.

Academic economists are unsure about how to respond to the abuse of simplistic econ theories for political ends. On one hand, it gives them enormous prestige. The popularity of simplistic econ ideas has made economists the toast of America's intellectual classes.

It has sustained enormous demand for the undergraduate econ major, which serves, in the words of writer Michael Lewis, as a "standardized test of general intelligence" for future businesspeople. But as Kwak points out, the simple theories promulgated by politicians and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page often bear little resemblance to the sophisticated theories used by real economists.

And when things go wrong -- when the financial system crashes, or millions of workers displaced by Chinese imports fail to find new careers -- it's academic economists who often get blamed, not the blasé and misleading popularizers.

... ... ...

Russia and China have given up communism not because they stopped having working classes, but because it became obvious that their communist systems were keeping them in poverty. And Americans are now starting to question economism because of declining median income, spiraling inequality and a huge financial and economic crisis.

[Mar 23, 2017] Neoliberalism as a flavor of economism

Wikipedia

Economism is reduction of all social facts to economic dimensions. The term is often used to criticize economics as an ideology, in which supply and demand are the only important factors in decisions, and outstrip or permit ignoring all other factors.

It is believed to be a side effect of neoclassical economics and blind faith in an "invisible hand" or "laissez-faire" means of making decisions, extended far beyond controlled and regulated markets, and used to make political and military decisions.

Conventional ethics would play no role in decisions under pure economism, except insofar as supply would be withheld, demand curtailed, by moral choices of individuals. Thus, critics of economism insist on political and other cultural dimensions in society.

[Mar 11, 2017] Apparently, most Democrats are now defending the CIA [and bashing the US constitution] and trashing WikiLeaks

CIA and militarism loving Democrats are what is called Vichy left...
Notable quotes:
"... "Apparently, most Democrats are now defending the CIA [and bashing the US constitution] and trashing WikiLeaks (who have never had to retract a single story in all their years). The brainwashing is complete. Take a valium and watch your Rachel Maddow [read your poor pk]. I can no longer help you. You have become The Borg." ..."
"... There is a large amount of ground between being a Victoria Nuland neocon hawk going around picking unnecessary fights with Russia and engaging in aggression overt or covert against her or her allies ..."
"... I happen to support reasonable engagement with Russia on matters of mutual interest, and I think there are many of those. I do not support cheerleading when Russia commits aggression against neighbors, which it has, and then lies about it. There is a middle ground, but you and ilsm both seem to have let your brains fall out of your heads onto the sidewalk and then stepped on them hard regarding all this. ..."
"... US Deep state analogy to Stalin's machinations against his rivals seems reasonable. ..."
Mar 11, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Clinton wing of Democratic Party was always undistinguishable from Vichy left

ilsm : March 11, 2017 at 03:26 AM

pk love the dog, the rest is same-o-same, jumped the shark Stalinist rant except instead of Putin! it's Ryan!!

reading vox.....

feed your cognitive dissonance

standards.......

ilsm -> ilsm... , March 11, 2017 at 04:18 AM
"Apparently, most Democrats are now defending the CIA [and bashing the US constitution] and trashing WikiLeaks (who have never had to retract a single story in all their years). The brainwashing is complete. Take a valium and watch your Rachel Maddow [read your poor pk]. I can no longer help you. You have become The Borg."

[my edits]

ken melvin said in reply to ilsm... , March 11, 2017 at 09:13 AM
Actually - Prof Rosser said it to you

Barkley Rosser :

anne and ilsm,

I am going to make one more point, a substantive one. There is a large amount of ground between being a Victoria Nuland neocon hawk going around picking unnecessary fights with Russia and engaging in aggression overt or covert against her or her allies and simply rolling over to be a patsy for the worst fort of RT propaganda and saying that there is no problem whatsoever with having a president who is in deep financial hock to a murderous lying Russian president and who has made inane and incomprehensible remarks about this, along with having staff and aides who lie to the public about their dealings with people from Russia.

I happen to support reasonable engagement with Russia on matters of mutual interest, and I think there are many of those. I do not support cheerleading when Russia commits aggression against neighbors, which it has, and then lies about it. There is a middle ground, but you and ilsm both seem to have let your brains fall out of your heads onto the sidewalk and then stepped on them hard regarding all this.

If you find this offensive or intimidating, anne, sorry, but I am not going to apologize. Frankly, I think you should apologize for the stupid and offensive things you have said on this subject, about which I do not think you have the intimately personal knowledge that I have.
Reply Wednesday, March 08, 2017 at 12:36 AM

Paine -> ilsm... , March 11, 2017 at 08:19 AM
My dear interlocutor
As a once overt and future sleeper cell Stalinist
I'm perplexed by your artful use of Stalinist

In my experience that label was restricted to pinko circles notably
Trotskyists pinning the dirty tag on various shades of commie types
On the other side of the great divide of the early thirties

Buy you !

To you it seems synonymous with Orwellian demons of all stripes

A part can of course stand in for a whole

But can uncle joe really stand in for the DLC ?

Paine -> Paine... , March 11, 2017 at 08:21 AM
The new left extended fascist to fit Hubert Humphrey
So I confess the stretch is conceivable but is it catalytic
RGC -> Paine... , March 11, 2017 at 08:31 AM
US Deep state analogy to Stalin's machinations against his rivals seems reasonable.

Maybe you are more a Bukharinist than Stalinist.

[Mar 10, 2017] As Joan Robinson said you should study economics to protect yourself from the lies of economists

That's not so much about Eurocentric modernism as America-centric neoliberalism
Notable quotes:
"... He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish." To his amazement, his best teachers agreed. "Then why are we studying economics?" demanded the pupil. "To protect ourselves from the lies of economists," replied the great economist Joan Robinson. ..."
"... Kanth realized that people are not at all like Adam Smith's homo economicus , a narrowly self-interested agent trucking and bartering through life. Smith had turned the human race - a species capable of wondrous caring, creativity, and conviviality - into a nasty horde of instinctive materialists: a society of hustlers. ..."
"... how this way of thinking took hold of us, and how it delivered a society which is essentially asocial - one in which everybody sees everybody else as a means to their own private ends. ..."
"... he argues, consigned us to an endless and exhausting Hobbesian competition. For every expansion of the market, we found our social space shrunk and our natural environment spoiled. For every benefit we received, there came a new way to pit us against each other. Have the costs become too high? ..."
"... "That's our big dream," says Kanth. "Everyone and everything is a stepping stone to our personal glorification." When others get in our way, we end up with a grim take on life described succinctly by Jean Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people." ..."
"... Mr. Kanth makes some valid points, but his criticism of the European Enlightenment is mistaken. Many of the horrors of modernity had their origins in the Counter-Enlightenment and in the Church Inquisitions, not the Enlightenment. The modern police state is a refinement of and a descendant of the struggles against heresy. ..."
"... Agreed. Parramore's phrase 'history of a set of bad ideas' does seem a bit harsh for a description of the Enlightenment. ..."
"... Like most big ideas, the problem isn't with the original idea so much as the corruption of it over the years as it's put into practice. Massive reform is necessary for sure but I'll take the Enlightenment over nasty, brutish, and short any day. ..."
"... I read somewhere that some Native Americans looking down on the ruins of San Fransisco after the great quake of 1906, thought that at last the crazy white people would realize the folly of their ways, and become normal humans. ..."
"... So they were amazed that before the ruins even stopped smoking, the crazy white people, ignoring the obvious displeasure of the Great Spirit, were busy rebuilding the same mess that had just been destroyed. ..."
"... I have a strong suspicion that evil empires do not come to their senses, rather, one way or another, they get flattened. ..."
"... I can remember arguing over this in my philosophy classes way back in the 80's – that Objectivism and the Enlightenment were two sides of the same coin, and that those Enlightenment writers were writing tomes to justify their own greed and prejudices, while cloaking their greed and prejudices in "morality". ..."
"... At the time (I was young) it seemed to me that the Enlightenment was an attempt to destroy the basis of Jesus's and Buddha's philosophy – that the most moral position of humanity was to care for its members, just as clans, tribes, families, and other human societies did. ..."
"... "They didn't accomplish much" meaning they lost militarily to cultures with more aggression and better weapons. ..."
"... It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect. The trouble is in organizing all of society around this one struggle, forcing everyone into explicit competition and making the stakes too high. When the losers can't afford to buy food, when they and their little children live on the street and die in the cold, when their kids can never compete on an equal field to improve their own status, things have gone too far. And in addition to material needs, humans also have a need for independence, an escape from being constantly ordered around by the winners and under someone else's thumb. ..."
"... Note, as an aside, how granting economic rights to outgroups like women and Blacks brought them into the same market competition. Well, a lot of men don't want to compete with women for status. They want to compete with each other. The more competitors you add the harder it is to win. But when all resources ..."
"... I think you're right about that and if we do ever manage to abolish capitalism and develop a less violent and more egalitarian society, there will need to be an outlet for that innate desire. I propose hockey. Beats starting a war . ..."
"... When President Trump defeated his rival in the last election, among the many ways in which the event was captured was a representation of the President as Perseus carrying the head of Medusa (Clinton) in his outstretched left hand. Medusa was a monster gorgon of the Greek mythology; a representation in this case by Clinton (a woman) who dared to take real power in this essentially male world and silenced for trying to participate in the public discourse (election). ..."
"... The point is that what passes as Modernism has never entered modern life. In support of my proposition I cite an encounter between a journalist and Mahatma Gandhi in 1930s: The journalist asked Gandhi, "Mr. Gandhi, what is your opinion of the western civilization?" Gandhi replied instantaneously "It would be a good idea". ..."
"... I think he's right about Eurocentric modernism being incompatible with human civilization. But it can't be just an evolutionary accident that civilization is so aggressive. It served a purpose. We refer to it as 'survival'. I used to tell my daughter not to make fun of those 'dorky little boys' too much because they all had a way of growing up to be very nice men. And I told her women are the reason we have all survived, but men have made it so much easier! And etc. ..."
"... I believe that one element of modern life that should be removed forever is the infinite search for maximizing profits. ..."
"... On more than one occasion I've compared the rent-seeking profit mongers to Molocks that cultivate us milder Eloi and cannabalize us. ..."
"... But the economics profession's problem isn't "blind faith in science." It's a massive failure to apply the scientific method, combined with an expectation that we all put our blind faith in THEM anyway. ..."
"... Essentially a post-modern critique of modernism without all the jargon of p-m critical theory (yay!!). I don't think we have enough data from the pre-modern huddling societies to determine if that's how we want to live. Yes, my boss at work exploits me, but on the other hand, I can walk into an air-conditioned supermarket and survey row after row of steaks that I can afford to buy. I love to drive cars. The cinema is enchanting. Dying of a plague is a very remote possibility. We could give it all up, but there's no guarantee our lives would be richer or fuller–just different, at best. ..."
"... Just how dark were the Dark Ages? Or, to borrow Churchill's phrase, how dark would a NEW Dark Age be? ..."
"... Two possibles: the cargo cult children of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, or the society depicted in Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence. At least the Church in Rome and Constantinople provided some kind of lifeline of civilization during the collapse of the Roman Empire. What similar institution have we now? ..."
"... Sounds like bog-standard post-modernist tosh to me, just without the obscure ProfSpeak jargon that usually accompanies it. I fail to see how this is helpful. ..."
"... The only thing missing in this post is Bambi. Of course the Bushmen would kill Bambi dead with spears and roast her flesh over a fire. So would we, actually. hmmmm. ..."
"... I agree dude is right that the values now unraveling (democracy, pluralism, individualism, free speech, international-ism (in both the good and bad ways)) go all the way back to that time. ..."
"... But this article is a perfect example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Surely none of the third world cultures he praises got where they are by totally throwing out previous systems, the good parts and bad, every time they faced a crisis. ..."
"... IMO the problem is enlightenment values have been hollowed out, narrowed to only those superficial aspects of those values which benefit the marketplace. Like how real food got turned into Mosanto fast-food so gradually, nobody noticed that the nutrients are missing. ..."
"... Adam Smith had some good points that have been lost along the way, namely penalizing rent seeking. ..."
"... Smith has been seriously misrepresented. The Theory of Moral Sentiments shows a very different side to that presented by those who selectively quote from The Wealth of Nations. ..."
"... It's hard to tell from the rather incoherent summary of what looks like an incoherent argument, but the "everything went wrong after the Enlightenment" meme has been circulating for ages. It was speared pretty effectively by Domenico Losurdo in "War and Revolution" some years ago. The author seems to be jumbling all sorts of arguments together, some valid and some not, but the valid arguments are in general criticisms of liberalism, which is not the same of the Enlightenment. ..."
"... This is a very good point, as the Enlightenment was not merely a straight line connection to the blight of NeoLiberalism ..."
"... The naked embrace of selfishness, while never absent over these centuries, did have countervailing currents and forces with which to contend that were sometimes able to at least minimize the damage. But more recently, with supposedly scientific NeoLiberal economic thought sweeping the field throughout much of the first world, and with the overall decline of religious and moral systems as a counterpoise, things have reached an unlovely pass. ..."
"... homo economicus ..."
"... For further reading, I strongly recommend John Ralston Saul's "Voltaire's Bastards". ..."
"... I think that people who are interested in how the Enlightenment may or may not have contributed to the problems of modernity would do well to read Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity , by Darrin McMahon. Another book of value is The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters , by Anthony Pagden. ..."
"... I should have mentioned that the full title is "Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West". ..."
Mar 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Across the globe, a collective freak-out spanning the whole political system is picking up steam with every new "surprise" election, rush of tormented souls across borders, and tweet from the star of America's great unreality show, Donald Trump.

But what exactly is the force that seems to be pushing us towards Armageddon? Is it capitalism gone wild? Globalization? Political corruption? Techno-nightmares?

Rajani Kanth, a political economist, social thinker, and poet , goes beyond any of these explanations for the answer. In his view, what's throwing most of us off kilter - whether we think of ourselves as on the left or right, capitalist or socialist -was birthed 400 years ago during the period of the Enlightenment. It's a set of assumptions, a particular way of looking at the world that pushed out previous modes of existence, many quite ancient and time-tested, and eventually rose to dominate the world in its Anglo-American form.

We're taught to think of the Enlightenment as the blessed end to the Dark Ages, a splendid blossoming of human reason. But what if instead of bringing us to a better world, some of this period's key ideas ended up producing something even darker?

Kanth argues that this framework, which he calls Eurocentric modernism, is collapsing, and unless we understand why and how it has distorted our reality, we might just end up burnt to a crisp as this misanthropic Death Star starts to bulge and blaze in its dying throes.

A Mass Incarceration of Humanity

Kanth's latest book, Farewell to Modernism: On Human Devolution in the Twenty-First Century , tells the history of a set of bad ideas. He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish." To his amazement, his best teachers agreed. "Then why are we studying economics?" demanded the pupil. "To protect ourselves from the lies of economists," replied the great economist Joan Robinson.

Kanth realized that people are not at all like Adam Smith's homo economicus , a narrowly self-interested agent trucking and bartering through life. Smith had turned the human race - a species capable of wondrous caring, creativity, and conviviality - into a nasty horde of instinctive materialists: a society of hustlers.

Using his training in history and cultural theory, Kanth dedicated himself to investigating how this way of thinking took hold of us, and how it delivered a society which is essentially asocial - one in which everybody sees everybody else as a means to their own private ends. Eurocentric modernism, he argues, consigned us to an endless and exhausting Hobbesian competition. For every expansion of the market, we found our social space shrunk and our natural environment spoiled. For every benefit we received, there came a new way to pit us against each other. Have the costs become too high?

The Creed of Capture

The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has four planks: a blind faith in science; a self-serving belief in progress; rampant materialism; and a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends. In a nutshell, it's a habit of placing individual self-interest above the welfare of community and society.

To illustrate one of its signature follies, Kanth refers to that great Hollywood ode to the Western spirit, "The Sound of Music." Early in the film, the Mother Superior bursts into song, calling on the nun Maria to "climb every mountain, ford every stream."

Sounds exhilarating, but to what end? Why exactly do we need to ford every stream? From the Eurocentric modernist viewpoint, Kanth says, the answer is not so innocent: we secretly do it so that we can say to ourselves, "Look, I achieved something that's beyond the reach of somebody else." Hooray for me!

"That's our big dream," says Kanth. "Everyone and everything is a stepping stone to our personal glorification." When others get in our way, we end up with a grim take on life described succinctly by Jean Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people."

Sounds bad, but didn't Eurocentric modernism also give us our great democratic ideals of equality and liberty to elevate and protect us?

Maybe these notions are not really our salvation, suggests Kanth. He notes that when we replace the vital ties of kinship and community with abstract contractual relations, or when we find that the only sanctioned paths in life are that of consumer or producer, we become alienated and depressed in spirit. Abstract rights like liberty and equality turn out to be rather cold comfort. These ideas, however lofty, may not get at the most basic human wants and needs. .

... ... ...

Kanth, like many, senses that a global financial crisis, or some other equivalent catastrophe, like war or natural disaster, may soon produce painful and seismic economic and political disruptions. Perhaps only then will human nature reassert itself as we come to rediscover the crucial nexus of reciprocities that is our real heritage. That's what will enable us to survive.

... ... ...

DJG , March 10, 2017 at 10:27 am

Oh?

"The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has four planks: a blind faith in science; a self-serving belief in progress; rampant materialism; and a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends. In a nutshell, it's a habit of placing individual self-interest above the welfare of community and society."

Kanth hasn't dealt much with the wild skepticism of Enlightenment and modernist thinkers: That would put a strain on such simplistic thinking. He's never heard of Kant or Rousseau? Pascal? He's never even read Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach"? Dickens? A speech by Abraham Lincoln? The novels of Jane Austen? Maybe some articles by Antonio Gramsci? The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa? Anything about Einstein? Or even Freud for that matter? Looked at a painting or etching or work in ceramic by Picasso?

Just because economics has devolved into looting and excuse-making for looting isn't a critique of the cultural and scientific flowering that were part of the Enlightenment and Modernism. Are we really supposed to think that Milton Friedman and his delusions have destroyed all aspects of the enormous changes since 1600 or so? And I, for one, don't want to backslide into the Baroque–when states used their power for religious wars so virulent that Silesia and Alsace were depopulated.

kgw , March 10, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Alienation is not the name of a river in Egypt BTW, Did any of your examples lead to anything other than this?
The sum of individuals adds up to the bizarre creature we call "culture." A flower in the air, to be sure.

craazyman , March 10, 2017 at 12:12 pm

They didn't even have food delivery! This post isn't the best evah in the history of NC - I mean it shouldn't be censored or taken down or anything and everybody has a right to an opinion, but "Oy Vey what a shock to a reader's delicate intellectual sensibilities."

You wonder if it's Beer Goggles that are being looked through or if this is a case of transference and projection. The fact that the post author is a poet raises suspicion, since they aren't the most reliable sources when it come so sober factual analysis.

Vatch , March 10, 2017 at 10:35 am

Mr. Kanth makes some valid points, but his criticism of the European Enlightenment is mistaken. Many of the horrors of modernity had their origins in the Counter-Enlightenment and in the Church Inquisitions, not the Enlightenment. The modern police state is a refinement of and a descendant of the struggles against heresy.

If one is going to criticize societies for lacking "moral economies", it's not just the European (and American) based societies that need to be targeted. Other societies have deep failures that extend back for millennia, such as the caste system of India.

lyman alpha blob , March 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Agreed. Parramore's phrase 'history of a set of bad ideas' does seem a bit harsh for a description of the Enlightenment.

Been a while since I read Candide , but the end where he meets the world famous sage and asks for the secret of happiness in a terrible world only to be told 'Tend your own garden' and then having the gate slammed in his face has always stuck with me.

You could interpret that to mean isolate yourself from your fellow human beings and just look out for yourself, but I don't think that's what Voltaire was getting at.

Like most big ideas, the problem isn't with the original idea so much as the corruption of it over the years as it's put into practice. Massive reform is necessary for sure but I'll take the Enlightenment over nasty, brutish, and short any day.

Mark P. , March 10, 2017 at 1:53 pm

http://www.kashgar.com.au/articles/life-in-india-the-practice-of-sati-or-widow-burning

Widow-burning - a wonderful holistic Indian practice that those evil post-enlightenment European imperialists obstructed.

steelhead23 , March 10, 2017 at 10:43 am

Perhaps, beyond anthropology, there are lessons in evolutionary biology. Individual humans are fairly weak animals. Our ancestors were obligated to "huddle" to survive, or as Richard Dawkins might suggest, huddling, banding together in families and groups, was an evolutionarily successful strategy. Those well adapted to communal living were more likely to survive, so that tendency was selected for. However, "cheaters" can also survive. That is, it is not uncommon in the natural world to find individuals and groups of individuals who cheat the group – expend less energy to reproduce, such as male sunfish that display the secondary sexual characteristics of females, so are not driven off by nest building males, make a mad dash in to fertilize eggs when a real female shows up, but provides no protection for the young – the adult male does that. In human culture, there are also cheaters, those who provide little to the larger society, yet reap a disproportionate level of resources.

So, learning more of our cultural roots and adopting positive measures for social cohesion is a good idea, but much like Jesus' view that the poor will always be with us, cheaters, from banksters to dictators, will too.

MtnLife , March 10, 2017 at 10:43 am

As Kanth sees it, most of our utopian visions carry on the errors and limitations born of a misguided view of human nature. That's why communism, as it was practiced in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, projected a materialist perspective on progress while ignoring the natural human instinct for autonomy- the ability to decide for ourselves where to go and what to say and create. On flip side, capitalism runs against our instinct to trust and take care of each other.

I think this paragraph speaks volumes for transitioning to a society with a BGI with libertarian socialist leanings. Let people be free to create what they are passionate about while allowing humans to express their innate desire to care for one another without it signifying weakness or at their time own personal expense. I don't think this approach necessarily precludes rockets to Mars either. The engineers who are passionate will still get together and build one. It may take a little longer if they can't convince others to help but hopefully this will foster more cooperative approaches and less viewing of other humans as consumables.

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

JTMcPhee , March 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

And where does "libertarian socialism" end up taking us? Hmmm http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

No thanks. We're pretty well there already.

MtnLife , March 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Libertarianism and libertarian socialism are two different things. Libertarianism is a less authoritative conservatism while libertarian socialism is a less authoritative social democracy. Think Chomsky, not Ron Paul. Or think of it as a more relaxed Bernie who thinks things should be done on a smaller, more local scale.

Watt4Bob , March 10, 2017 at 10:44 am

Kanth, like many, senses that a global financial crisis, or some other equivalent catastrophe, like war or natural disaster, may soon produce painful and seismic economic and political disruptions. Perhaps only then will human nature reassert itself as we come to rediscover the crucial nexus of reciprocities that is our real heritage. That's what will enable us to survive.

I read somewhere that some Native Americans looking down on the ruins of San Fransisco after the great quake of 1906, thought that at last the crazy white people would realize the folly of their ways, and become normal humans.

So they were amazed that before the ruins even stopped smoking, the crazy white people, ignoring the obvious displeasure of the Great Spirit, were busy rebuilding the same mess that had just been destroyed.

I have a strong suspicion that evil empires do not come to their senses, rather, one way or another, they get flattened.

justanotherprogressive , March 10, 2017 at 10:45 am

Yes, yes, yes! THIS!

I can remember arguing over this in my philosophy classes way back in the 80's – that Objectivism and the Enlightenment were two sides of the same coin, and that those Enlightenment writers were writing tomes to justify their own greed and prejudices, while cloaking their greed and prejudices in "morality".

At the time (I was young) it seemed to me that the Enlightenment was an attempt to destroy the basis of Jesus's and Buddha's philosophy – that the most moral position of humanity was to care for its members, just as clans, tribes, families, and other human societies did.

The most frequent response from professors and classmates to my thesis? But those clans, tribes, families, etc., didn't accomplish much, did they? As if the only reason for humanity's existence was to compete against itself

Needless to say, I didn't stick with Philosophy ..

Darius , March 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm

And we need new syntheses, at which this is an attempt.

It's not a stretch to say the trend since the renaissance has been to exalt the individual. Kanth is aiming for a communitarian philosophy. An interesting departure point for discussion. I don't see what people find so offensive.

reslez , March 10, 2017 at 12:09 pm

"They didn't accomplish much" meaning they lost militarily to cultures with more aggression and better weapons.

It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect. The trouble is in organizing all of society around this one struggle, forcing everyone into explicit competition and making the stakes too high. When the losers can't afford to buy food, when they and their little children live on the street and die in the cold, when their kids can never compete on an equal field to improve their own status, things have gone too far. And in addition to material needs, humans also have a need for independence, an escape from being constantly ordered around by the winners and under someone else's thumb.

Capitalism made the stakes too high. But it was designed by the winners.

You might argue that there were plenty of "hopeless losers" in the systems that preceded capitalism - the orphans, elderly crones, and beggars without livelihoods who used to wander the hedgerows in medieval times. We have more resources now which also means no excuses.

Note, as an aside, how granting economic rights to outgroups like women and Blacks brought them into the same market competition. Well, a lot of men don't want to compete with women for status. They want to compete with each other. The more competitors you add the harder it is to win. But when all resources are restricted to the market, it's unjust to exclude any group from access. Once again the stakes are too high. Social democracies are better places to live for exactly this reason.

lyman alpha blob , March 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm

It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect.

I think you're right about that and if we do ever manage to abolish capitalism and develop a less violent and more egalitarian society, there will need to be an outlet for that innate desire. I propose hockey. Beats starting a war .

Hemang , March 10, 2017 at 10:50 am

When President Trump defeated his rival in the last election, among the many ways in which the event was captured was a representation of the President as Perseus carrying the head of Medusa (Clinton) in his outstretched left hand. Medusa was a monster gorgon of the Greek mythology; a representation in this case by Clinton (a woman) who dared to take real power in this essentially male world and silenced for trying to participate in the public discourse (election).

I take this example to point out that both Lynn Parramore and Rajni Kanth declaring in a version of mumbo-jumbo are sadly wrong-modernism has always been skin-deep excepting in accommodating the technological element in the tone of life. Voltaire and Rousseau aside, both Kanth and Parramore know which side of the mumbo-jumbo bread is their butter; even bemoaning the collapsing supposed ruins of modernism they do not fail to take advantage! "Eurocentric modernism has unhinged us from our human nature" asserts Kanth in his "book" but I would like to bluntly ask him: Please define your "us" and "our" in that proposition and clarify if poor Indians like Yours Truly find a dot in that set.

The point is that what passes as Modernism has never entered modern life. In support of my proposition I cite an encounter between a journalist and Mahatma Gandhi in 1930s: The journalist asked Gandhi, "Mr. Gandhi, what is your opinion of the western civilization?" Gandhi replied instantaneously "It would be a good idea".

Stephanie , March 10, 2017 at 11:04 am

"The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends."

I'm not entirely sure how this differentiates Eurocentric modernism from any other civilization.

Hemang , March 10, 2017 at 11:45 am

It does not at all. This is the price one pays as an innocent reader by reading social science mumbo jumbo which is so irksome. It lacks the grace of the real mumbo jumbo too. Kanth is bluffing; the author misunderstands his stupid linguistic constructions of Kanth and incomprehension and chaos follow. The whole article seems to be a bluff about a bluff(the book).

susan the other , March 10, 2017 at 11:15 am

I think he's right about Eurocentric modernism being incompatible with human civilization. But it can't be just an evolutionary accident that civilization is so aggressive. It served a purpose. We refer to it as 'survival'. I used to tell my daughter not to make fun of those 'dorky little boys' too much because they all had a way of growing up to be very nice men. And I told her women are the reason we have all survived, but men have made it so much easier! And etc.

We have been very successful as a species; surviving all of our own inquisitions, pogroms, hallucinations and yes, this is a serious situation we are in. We might even try to guide ourselves out of it, using science and technology, as we huddle.

JEHR , March 10, 2017 at 11:18 am

I believe that one element of modern life that should be removed forever is the infinite search for maximizing profits.

Art Eclectic , March 10, 2017 at 11:34 am

On more than one occasion I've compared the rent-seeking profit mongers to Molocks that cultivate us milder Eloi and cannabalize us.

readerOfTeaLeaves , March 10, 2017 at 11:56 am

I suspect there was a fatal error long, long ago: you lend me your ram so my ewe can have offspring. If there are twins, we each get one; if not, we agree upon future breeding rights and grazing areas. After generations of this sort of breeding activity, I have in my mind the notion that there is a 'natural increase' from lending or swapping.

Along comes a scribe with a tablet, whom I have now hired to list the number of my flocks (wealth on the hoof); I lend you forms of wealth (rams, ewes, oxen, axes, boats) , and the scribe assumes there must be some 'natural increase' as the outcome of this lending and swapping. Consequently, the scribe carves cuneiform markings to represent what we might call 'compound interest' that result from lending and swapping of non-biological resources - despite the fact that if you sit two clay tablets in the sun, they do not (and never will!) create an additional clay tablet. Ditto heaps of dollar bills; it's not the money that creates increase; it's the assumption of 'increase' (originating in breeding activity of flocks and herds) that makes the money generate surplus - not any property of those scraps of paper themselves.

BTW: FWIW, double entry bookkeeping seems to trace the earliest period of modernism, which IMVHO adds heft to Kanth's argument about something shifting probably earlier than 400 years ago.

It's possible that Michael Hudson has covered this; if so, I've not had time to read it yet. I hope to in future. David Graeber's work on redemption ('buying back' someone enslaved or indentured) and his anthropological findings also lend heft to Kanth's analysis.

Karen , March 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

I certainly agree with this:

"He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish.""

But the economics profession's problem isn't "blind faith in science." It's a massive failure to apply the scientific method, combined with an expectation that we all put our blind faith in THEM anyway.

I think our problems do not stem from any theories or ideologies, they are the predictable result of human nature – specifically of the fact that the balance between the loving side of human nature and the aggressive side is not evenly distributed among individuals. It is precisely the most aggressive among us who most desire, and work the hardest, to dominate and control others.

jrs , March 10, 2017 at 12:39 pm

I had the same experience as he had with economics with law, ok I only studied it when studying business and that does not a lawyer make, but it made no sense for me. But I do think I maybe just have the wrong kind of brain for it, expect a logic that isn't there.

Phil in KC , March 10, 2017 at 11:33 am

Essentially a post-modern critique of modernism without all the jargon of p-m critical theory (yay!!). I don't think we have enough data from the pre-modern huddling societies to determine if that's how we want to live. Yes, my boss at work exploits me, but on the other hand, I can walk into an air-conditioned supermarket and survey row after row of steaks that I can afford to buy. I love to drive cars. The cinema is enchanting. Dying of a plague is a very remote possibility. We could give it all up, but there's no guarantee our lives would be richer or fuller–just different, at best.

Just how dark were the Dark Ages? Or, to borrow Churchill's phrase, how dark would a NEW Dark Age be? I don't think you can get rid of Modernism very easily, for certain parts would survive. Science and tech, for example. Ideas of surveillance and control. But along with this, new prejudices, new superstitions, perhaps? What perverse new form of religion or philosophy might arise from the ashes of our civilization?

Two possibles: the cargo cult children of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, or the society depicted in Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence. At least the Church in Rome and Constantinople provided some kind of lifeline of civilization during the collapse of the Roman Empire. What similar institution have we now?

Anonymous , March 10, 2017 at 11:58 am

Sounds like bog-standard post-modernist tosh to me, just without the obscure ProfSpeak jargon that usually accompanies it. I fail to see how this is helpful.

craazyman , March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

The only thing missing in this post is Bambi. Of course the Bushmen would kill Bambi dead with spears and roast her flesh over a fire. So would we, actually. hmmmm.

Ivy , March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

To illustrate one of its signature follies, Kanth refers to that great Hollywood ode to the Western spirit, "The Sound of Music." Early in the film, the Mother Superior bursts into song, calling on the nun Maria to "climb every mountain, ford every stream."

Sounds exhilarating, but to what end? Why exactly do we need to ford every stream? From the Eurocentric modernist viewpoint, Kanth says, the answer is not so innocent: we secretly do it so that we can say to ourselves, "Look, I achieved something that's beyond the reach of somebody else." Hooray for me!

Many would part company with Kanth over the above characterization. There are many reasons why people climb mountains and ford streams that do not include, or even consider, that element of exclusive personal achievement. Some might even aver that climbing and fording and so many other human activities are done "because it is there", while others appreciate a spiritual or other inspirational aspect.

Will we climbers and forders be told that we are selfish or otherwise deficient or on the wrong side of history or whatever the mal du jour is because we like a little bit of hygge or Gemütlichkeit as we live our lives?

windsock , March 10, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Quite that is indeed the point where I stopped reading and started skimming someone who mistakes metaphors in a musical for physical actions is not going to enlighten my world (no matter how much I dislike the film).

jrs , March 10, 2017 at 12:48 pm

climbing every mountain and fording every stream is probably impossible in the literal sense (aren't there way too many streams for this? and mountains probably too), and certainly it is impossible in the metaphoric one.

So mostly it's completely unrealistic bilge.

Musicismath , March 10, 2017 at 1:49 pm

I don't see why poor Julie Andrews, of all people, has to be singled out here as exemplifying malign post-Enlightenment discourses of proprietorship and exploitation. That's just mean . Surely those ideologies are better examined through a close reading of the Shamen's inexcusable '90s electro hit "Move Every Mountain"?

schultzzz , March 10, 2017 at 11:45 am

I agree dude is right that the values now unraveling (democracy, pluralism, individualism, free speech, international-ism (in both the good and bad ways)) go all the way back to that time.

But this article is a perfect example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Surely none of the third world cultures he praises got where they are by totally throwing out previous systems, the good parts and bad, every time they faced a crisis.

IMO the problem is enlightenment values have been hollowed out, narrowed to only those superficial aspects of those values which benefit the marketplace. Like how real food got turned into Mosanto fast-food so gradually, nobody noticed that the nutrients are missing.

PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 11:47 am

While it's obvious how this thesis deflates modern capitalism, it would also appear to me that the idea of refocusing on "kinship and community" would present a challenge to the "global solidarity" mentality underlying most leftist thinking as well. You cannot simultaneously have an emphasis on the huddled community, while also arguing that workers worldwide have a deeper and more important connection than the business owner and his or her employees (assuming both are from within the same community, natch). Either you assume humans have a universal commonness, which effectively obliterates the notion of community, or you accept humans tend towards tribalism, which both discounts any notion of creating a global, uniform leftist economics, but also suggests a troubling tendency towards xenophobia.

cojo , March 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Good point, "kinship and community" are analogous to tribalism and nationalism on a larger scale unless you rephrase it to mean kinship with your family and neighbors on the local level, and with humanity on a national/global level. Unfortunately, some of our current liberal globalists seem to be forgetting the part about local kinship and community while embracing global humanity. I dunno, may have something to do with cheaper labor abroad.

PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Partly, but there's also an association in the minds of many liberals and leftists of localized control and thinking equating with oppression, historically. Things like segregation, discrimination, violations of the separation of church and state, anti-labor employment & worksite laws, etc.

cojo , March 10, 2017 at 11:48 am

I think Kanth is quick to criticize materialism and scientific progress for all our ills while seeming to have missed the horrid standards of living in his anthropological studies prior to scientific progress with enlightenment principles over theocracy. I'd like to know what the longevity of per-enlightenment citizens was compared to today. In fact, longevity in this country around 1900 was still in the mid 40's for most.

What I find would have been a better argument is to focus his critique not on scientific progress, but on how there always seems to be a certain small minority of the population which seems to have an out sized voice in how we choose to self govern. What we seem to be losing today is the silent majority of voices who are for universal health care, not eroding further entitlements, bodily security as well as economic security while still being able to encourage those who chose to take risks and put themselves through more work and strain to be fairly rewarded.

The problem as I see it today, is that the pendulum, both politically, and socially, has swung too far towards the selfish individualist.

PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 1:04 pm

The problem with how science is seen in a modernist context is two-fold. The "blind faith" leads people to see it as all-encompassing, all-powerful, and not recognizing its scope and where that scope ends. Ergo, anything that is successfully sold to the public and TPTB as "science" gets said treatment and is viewed as being unquestionable (like, say, neoclassical economics).

Don Midwest USA , March 10, 2017 at 11:50 am

Bruno Latour has been on this for decades in 1991 the book "We Have Never Been Modern" This has been followed by many other books, prizes, invited lectures, and thought exhibition called Reset Modernity. The book, published last year, is related to the exhibition with that title. Published by MIT press with 60 authors.

Reset Modernity

Reset Modernity!
Edited by Bruno Latour and Christophe Leclerc

Overview
Modernity has had so many meanings and tries to combine so many contradictory sets of attitudes and values that it has become impossible to use it to define the future. It has ended up crashing like an overloaded computer. Hence the idea is that modernity might need a sort of reset. Not a clean break, not a "tabula rasa," not another iconoclastic gesture, but rather a restart of the complicated programs that have been accumulated, over the course of history, in what is often called the "modernist project." This operation has become all the more urgent now that the ecological mutation is forcing us to reorient ourselves toward an experience of the material world for which we don't seem to have good recording devices.

Reset Modernity! is organized around six procedures that might induce the readers to reset some of those instruments. Once this reset has been completed, readers might be better prepared for a series of new encounters with other cultures. After having been thrown into the modernist maelstrom, those cultures have difficulties that are just as grave as ours in orienting themselves within the notion of modernity. It is not impossible that the course of those encounters might be altered after modernizers have reset their own way of recording their experience of the world.

At the intersection of art, philosophy, and anthropology, Reset Modernity! has assembled close to sixty authors, most of whom have participated, in one way or another, in the Inquiry into Modes of Existence initiated by Bruno Latour. Together they try to see whether such a reset and such encounters have any practicality. Much like the two exhibitions Iconoclash and Making Things Public, this book documents and completes what could be called a "thought exhibition:" Reset Modernity! held at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe from April to August 2016. Like the two others, this book, generously illustrated, includes contributions, excerpts, and works from many authors and artists.

Sam , March 10, 2017 at 11:51 am

Seems to me that the insight into the relevancy of anthropology vis a vis economics is a product of science. And Adam Smith had some good points that have been lost along the way, namely penalizing rent seeking.

Anonymous2 , March 10, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Smith has been seriously misrepresented. The Theory of Moral Sentiments shows a very different side to that presented by those who selectively quote from The Wealth of Nations.

David , March 10, 2017 at 12:01 pm

It's hard to tell from the rather incoherent summary of what looks like an incoherent argument, but the "everything went wrong after the Enlightenment" meme has been circulating for ages. It was speared pretty effectively by Domenico Losurdo in "War and Revolution" some years ago. The author seems to be jumbling all sorts of arguments together, some valid and some not, but the valid arguments are in general criticisms of liberalism, which is not the same of the Enlightenment.

JerseyJeffersonian , March 10, 2017 at 1:25 pm

This is a very good point, as the Enlightenment was not merely a straight line connection to the blight of NeoLiberalism. Rather, there were those, such as Burke, or some of our "Founding Fathers" who were students of history, and while discriminating observers of the deleterious elements of human nature, they were also cognizant of the more helpful elements of that same human nature.

They, however, tended toward the view that those helpful elements required deliberate nurturance in order to come to the fore. Some of this nurturance could be achieved by partially neutralizing the deleterious elements by balancing interests (you weren't going to get rid of the propensities, but you could limit the scope of their play by pitting societal forces one against the other in political structures, vide the doctrine of separation of powers), while nurturance could also be achieved through perpetuation of those societal institutions that address the individual conscience and behaviors like religious doctrine and examples.

The naked embrace of selfishness, while never absent over these centuries, did have countervailing currents and forces with which to contend that were sometimes able to at least minimize the damage. But more recently, with supposedly scientific NeoLiberal economic thought sweeping the field throughout much of the first world, and with the overall decline of religious and moral systems as a counterpoise, things have reached an unlovely pass.

But it would be incorrect to solely blame Enlightenment themes for where we are today. Much of what was presumed to be necessary to the proper, humane functioning of the ideal Enlightenment society has been pushed aside in favor of the degraded every-man-for-himself, homo economicus scourge that holds sway.

Fox Blew , March 10, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Great post. For further reading, I strongly recommend John Ralston Saul's "Voltaire's Bastards".

Vatch , March 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Joseph de Maistre, the conservative critic of Enlightenment values, deserves far more blame for the horrors of modernity than do Voltaire or his like minded colleagues. And I can't even find de Maistre mentioned in the index of Saul's book.

Since I haven't read Saul's book, I won't advise people against reading it. But I think that people who are interested in how the Enlightenment may or may not have contributed to the problems of modernity would do well to read Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity , by Darrin McMahon. Another book of value is The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters , by Anthony Pagden.

Fox Blew , March 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Thanks for mentioning Joseph de Maistre. I have never heard of him. I think you'd enjoy this book, nonetheless. Saul doesn't actually "blame" Voltaire. He blames those who came after Voltaire. For that matter, the bulk of the book is about the 20th century's (mis)interpretation of the Enlightment project. I should have mentioned that the full title is "Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West".

David , March 10, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Strongly recommend MacMahon's book – it's excellent.

Susan , March 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm

echoes: Marilyn Waring per his comment on women.
the book If Women Counted
the documentary: Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics

Interesting story Waring told when I heard her speak in Toronto – As she boarded a bus at the airport to travel to her hotel, and a young man (20s) recognized her because the film is shown to high school students throughout Canada.

And Capital Institute's John Fullerton FIELD GUIDE TO A REGENERATIVE ECONOMY Primarily due to reading George Monbiot's inane rejection of the work of Allan Savory and Capital Institute's work with Grasslands LLC. Brought to me this morning by Nicole Foss and the Guardian.

And for farmer's and lovers of the land, I couldn't help but hear Wendell Berry, "It all turns on affection."

Interesting to have these things intersect with this morning's coffee. Thank you.

[Feb 26, 2017] If one takes it as a matter of faith (religious or secular) that human activity inherently leads to good outcomes thatll be a huge influence on how you engage with the world. It blows away humility and restraint. It fosters a sense of entitlement

Notable quotes:
"... "Precarity" has become a popular way to refer to economic and labor conditions that force people-and particularly low-income service workers-into uncertainty. Temporary labor and flexwork offer examples. ..."
"... Such conditions are not new. As union-supported blue-collar labor declined in the 20th century, the service economy took over its mantle absent its benefits. But the information economy further accelerated precarity. ..."
"... ...Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products-the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies' free services. ..."
"... Consider phone answering services. Its simple speech recognition, which was once at the forefront of artificial intelligence, has made them ubiquityous. Yet Dante would need a new circle for a person who said "I just heard you say 5...3...7...is this correct?" ..."
"... Some of these adaptations subtract from our quality of life, as the article nicely describes. Some add to it, e.g we no longer spend time at the mall arranging when and where to meet if we get separated. Some are interesting and hard to evaluate, e.g. Chessplayers' relation to the game has changed radically since computers became good at it. ..."
"... And there is one I find insidious: the homogeneization of human activity and even thought. The information we ALL get on a subject will be what sorts to the top among google answers; the rest might as well not exist, much like newspaper articles buried in a back page. ..."
"... And on the economic front, the same homogeneization, with giant multinationals and crossmarketing deals. You'll be in a country with great food, like Turkey, get into your rented Toyota, say "I want dinner", and end up at a Domino's because they have a deal with Toyota. ..."
Feb 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris G : February 24, 2017 at 04:48 AM
On the Crooked Timber piece: Quiggin makes a very astute observation about 'propertarians' and Divine Providence in his concluding paragraphs. If one takes it as a matter of faith (religious or secular) that human activity inherently leads to good outcomes that'll be a huge influence on how you engage with the world. It blows away humility and restraint. It fosters a sense of entitlement.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris G ... , -1
Yep. All roads lead to scapegoating. The anti-social capabilities of base desires and greed are often paled in comparison to those of detached indifference supported by abstract high-mindedness. For example, both sides can blame the robots for the loss of decent blue collar jobs.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 24, 2017 at 04:58 AM
Not sure that there are "both sides" any more in elite circles. There are at least two types though. There is very little presence among elites on the progressive side.
Chris G -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 24, 2017 at 05:11 AM
Hard to call this related but worth reading, Why Nothing Works Anymore - https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/02/the-singularity-in-the-toilet-stall/517551/
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris G ... , February 24, 2017 at 05:54 AM
[THANKS! This was LOL funny:]

"...When spun on its ungeared mechanism, an analogous, glorious measure of towel appears directly and immediately, as if sent from heaven..."

[This was highly relevant to today's lead article "The Jobs Americans Do:"]

... "Precarity" has become a popular way to refer to economic and labor conditions that force people-and particularly low-income service workers-into uncertainty. Temporary labor and flexwork offer examples.

That includes hourly service work in which schedules are adjusted ad-hoc and just-in-time, so that workers don't know when or how often they might be working. For low-wage food service and retail workers, for instance, that uncertainty makes budgeting and time-management difficult. Arranging for transit and childcare is difficult, and even more costly, for people who don't know when-or if-they'll be working.

Such conditions are not new. As union-supported blue-collar labor declined in the 20th century, the service economy took over its mantle absent its benefits. But the information economy further accelerated precarity. For one part, it consolidated existing businesses and made efficiency its primary concern. For another, economic downturns like the 2008 global recession facilitated austerity measures both deliberate and accidental. Immaterial labor also rose-everything from the unpaid, unseen work of women in and out of the workplace, to creative work done on-spec or for exposure, to the invisible work everyone does to construct the data infrastructure that technology companies like Google and Facebook sell to advertisers...

[This was very insightful into its own topic of the separation of technology "from serving human users to pushing them out of the way so that the technologized world can service its own ends," but I would rather classify that as serving owners of proprietary technology rights.]


...Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products-the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies' free services. But things are bound to get even weirder than that. When automobiles drive themselves, for example, their human passengers will not become masters of a new form of urban freedom, but rather a fuel to drive the expansion of connected cities, in order to spread further the gospel of computerized automation.

If artificial intelligence ends up running the news, it will not do so in order to improve citizen's access to information necessary to make choices in a democracy, but to further cement the supremacy of machine automation over human editorial in establishing what is relevant...

[THANKS! It was an exceptionally good article in places despite that it wandered a bit off into the ozone at times.] ...

Julio -> Chris G ... , February 24, 2017 at 09:26 AM
Excellent article, thanks!

It hits on one of the reasons why I am less skeptical than Darryl that AI will succeed, an soon, in all kinds of fields: it may remain stupid in some ways, but we will adapt to it.

Consider phone answering services. Its simple speech recognition, which was once at the forefront of artificial intelligence, has made them ubiquityous. Yet Dante would need a new circle for a person who said "I just heard you say 5...3...7...is this correct?"

Some of these adaptations subtract from our quality of life, as the article nicely describes. Some add to it, e.g we no longer spend time at the mall arranging when and where to meet if we get separated. Some are interesting and hard to evaluate, e.g. Chessplayers' relation to the game has changed radically since computers became good at it.

And there is one I find insidious: the homogeneization of human activity and even thought. The information we ALL get on a subject will be what sorts to the top among google answers; the rest might as well not exist, much like newspaper articles buried in a back page.

On the political front, Winston will not be necessary, nobody will click through to the old information, we will all just know that we were always at war with Eurasia.

And on the economic front, the same homogeneization, with giant multinationals and crossmarketing deals. You'll be in a country with great food, like Turkey, get into your rented Toyota, say "I want dinner", and end up at a Domino's because they have a deal with Toyota.

Resist!

Paine -> Julio ... , February 24, 2017 at 09:55 AM
Humans are more contrarian then not

The middle third of the twentieth century was hysterical about the totalitarian state
And the erasure of micro scale cultural heritage

That seems laughable since at least 1965 as lots of old long dormant memes
Revived in these frightfully "totalized " civil societies

The Motions of human Society reveal underlying dialectics not mechanics

Paine -> Paine... , February 24, 2017 at 09:59 AM
"1984 " is way past it's sell by date. Much like Leviathan and the declaration of independence
cm -> Julio ... , February 25, 2017 at 12:01 AM
There was probably more than one movie about this topic - people not happy with their "peaceful" but bland, boring, and intellectually stifling environment.

Not too far from Huxley's "Brave New World" actually.

[Feb 20, 2017] Social contract is the key. And it was abolished with the ascendance of neoliberalism with its wolf eats wolf philosophy of individual responsibility read the law of jungles instituted in the job market

Feb 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ken melvin -> sanjait... February 20, 2017 at 02:21 PM , 2017 at 02:21 PM
One would think that a Berkeley Prof would be better at arithmetic, or counting. In the early days, companies did indeed create tech bureaucracies that offset any gains in reduction of work force, say back in the 70s, maybe 80s. Today, these groups number in the tens. Point being, these are indeed middle class jobs, just no where near the number of jobs replaced.
jonny bakho -> sanjait... , February 20, 2017 at 04:03 PM
Many working- and middle-class Americans believe that free-trade agreements are why their incomes have stagnated over the past two decades. So Trump intends to provide them with "protection" by putting protectionists in charge.

But Trump and his triumvirate have misdiagnosed the problem. While globalization is an important factor in the hollowing out of the middle class, so, too, is automation.

Trump and his team are missing a simple point: twenty-first-century globalization is knowledge-led, not trade-led. Radically reduced communication costs have enabled US firms to move production to lower-wage countries. Meanwhile, to keep their production processes synced, firms have also offshored much of their technical, marketing, and managerial knowhow. This "knowledge offshoring" is what has really changed the game for American workers.

The information revolution changed the world in ways that tariffs cannot reverse. With US workers already competing against robots at home, and against low-wage workers abroad, disrupting imports will just create more jobs for robots.

Trump should be protecting individual workers, not individual jobs. The processes of twenty-first-century globalization are too sudden, unpredictable, and uncontrollable to rely on static measures like tariffs. Instead, the US needs to restore its social contract so that its workers have a fair shot at sharing in the gains generated by global openness and automation. Globalization and technological innovation are not painless processes, so there will always be a need for retraining initiatives, lifelong education, mobility and income-support programs, and regional transfers.

By pursuing such policies, the Trump administration would stand a much better chance of making America "great again" for the working and middle classes. Globalization has always created more opportunities for the most competitive workers, and more insecurity for others. This is why a strong social contract was established during the post-war period of liberalization in the West. In the 1960s and 1970s institutions such as unions expanded, and governments made new commitments to affordable education, social security, and progressive taxation. These all helped members of the middle class seize new opportunities as they emerged.

Over the last two decades, this situation has changed dramatically: globalization has continued, but the social contract has been torn up. Trump's top priority should be to stitch it back together; but his trade advisers do not understand this.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-trade-policy-tariffs-by-richard-baldwin-2017-02

libezkova -> jonny bakho... , February 20, 2017 at 05:33 PM
Jonny,

Thank you ! Social contract is the key. And it was abolished with the ascendance of neoliberalism with its wolf eats wolf philosophy of "individual responsibility" (read the law of jungles in job market).

For some times, while neoliberalism was eating the carcass of New Deal there was almost no rebellion against it. Even in 2008 none of the top honchos of financial institutions who caused the disaster went to jail, although rank-and-file employees of major banks and investment firms did feel very insecure. "Jump suckers" was the slogan on the corner NYC cafe close to Wall Street.

This time probably ended now. The problems is that financial oligarchy does not want to share spoils of their stealing with anybody.

And yes, communication technologies + huge growth of the power of personal computers since 1986 are two very important factors here.

They allowed new level of centralization, which was impossible before. With the corporate headquarters on a different continent then factories (among other things) and teams consisting of members of different continents.

[Jan 24, 2017] One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings

Notable quotes:
"... People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded. ..."
"... As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface. ..."
Jan 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova -> jonny bakho... January 23, 2017 at 04:55 PM , 2017 at 04:55 PM
You are wrong. Your definition of neoliberalism is formally right and we can argue along those lines that Hillary is a neoliberal too (Her track record as a senator suggests exactly that), it is way too narrow.

"One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings." (see below)

"Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them."

"In the current election campaign, Hillary Clinton has been the most perfect embodiment of neoliberalism among all the candidates, she is almost its all-time ideal avatar, and I believe this explains, even if not articulated this way, the widespread discomfort among the populace toward her ascendancy. People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded.

This is the dark side of neoliberalism's ideological arm (a multiculturalism founded on human beings as capital), which is why this project has become increasingly associated with suppression of free speech and intolerance of those who refuse to go along with the kind of identity politics neoliberalism promotes.

And this explains why the 1990s saw the simultaneous and absolutely parallel rise, under the Clintons, of both neoliberal globalization and various regimes of neoliberal disciplining, such as the shaming and exclusion of former welfare recipients (every able-bodied person should be able to find work, therefore under TANF welfare was converted to a performance management system designed to enroll everyone in the workforce, even if it meant below-subsistence wages or the loss of parental responsibilities, all of it couched in the jargon of marketplace incentives)."

In this sense Hillary Clinton is 100% dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal and neocon ("neoliberal with the gun"). She promotes so called "neoliberal rationality" a perverted "market-based" rationality typical for neoliberalism:

See

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/01/links-for-01-23-17.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201bb09706856970d

== quote ==
When Hillary Clinton frequently retorts-in response to demands for reregulation of finance, for instance-that we have to abide by "the rule of law," this reflects a particular understanding of the law, the law as embodying the sense of the market, the law after it has undergone a revolution of reinterpretation in purely economic terms.

In this revolution of the law persons have no status compared to corporations, nation-states are on their way out, and everything in turn dissolves before the abstraction called the market.

One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings. Democracy becomes reinterpreted as the market, and politics succumbs to neoliberal economic theory, so we are speaking of the end of democratic politics as we have known it for two and a half centuries.

As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface.

Neoliberalism is often described-and this creates a lot of confusion-as "market fundamentalism," and while this may be true for neoliberal's self-promotion and self-presentation, i.e., the market as the ultimate and only myth, as were the gods of the past, I would argue that in neoliberalism there is no such thing as the market as we have understood it from previous ideologies.

The neoliberal state-actually, to utter the word state seems insufficient here, I would claim that a new entity is being created, which is not the state as we have known it, but an existence that incorporates potentially all the states in the world and is something that exceeds their sum-is all-powerful, it seeks to leave no space for individual self-conception in the way that classical liberalism, and even communism and fascism to some degree, were willing to allow.

There are competing understandings of neoliberal globalization, when it comes to the question of whether the state is strong or weak compared to the primary agent of globalization, i.e., the corporation, but I am taking this logic further, I am suggesting that the issue is not how strong the state is in the service of neoliberalism, but whether there is anything left over beyond the new definition of the state. Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them.

Of course the word hasn't gotten around to the people yet, hence all the confusion about whether Hillary Clinton is more neoliberal than Barack Obama, or whether Donald Trump will be less neoliberal than Hillary Clinton.

The project of neoliberalism-i.e., the redefinition of the state, the institutions of society, and the self-has come so far along that neoliberalism is almost beyond the need of individual entities to make or break its case. Its penetration has gone too deep, and none of the democratic figureheads that come forward can fundamentally question its efficacy.

[Jan 23, 2017] This is our neoliberal nightmare Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and why the market and the wealthy win every time - Salon.com

Notable quotes:
"... everything ..."
"... loves ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | www.salon.com
Neoliberalism has been more successful than most past ideologies in redefining subjectivity, in making people alter their sense of themselves, their personhood, their identities, their hopes and expectations and dreams and idealizations. Classical liberalism was successful too, for two and a half centuries, in people's self-definition, although communism and fascism succeeded less well in realizing the "new man."

It cannot be emphasized enough that neoliberalism is not classical liberalism, or a return to a purer version of it, as is commonly misunderstood; it is a new thing, because the market, for one thing, is not at all free and untethered and dynamic in the sense that classical liberalism idealized it. Neoliberalism presumes a strong state, working only for the benefit of the wealthy, and as such it has little pretence to neutrality and universality, unlike the classical liberal state.

I would go so far as to say that neoliberalism is the final completion of capitalism's long-nascent project, in that the desire to transform everything -every object, every living thing, every fact on the planet-in its image had not been realized to the same extent by any preceding ideology. Neoliberalism happens to be the ideology-unlike the three major forerunners in the last 250 years-that has the fortune of coinciding with technological change on a scale that makes its complete penetration into every realm of being a possibility for the first time in human history.

From the early 1930s, when the Great Depression threatened the classical liberal consensus (the idea that markets were self-regulating, and the state should play no more than a night-watchman role), until the early 1970s, when global instability including currency chaos unraveled it, the democratic world lived under the Keynesian paradigm : markets were understood to be inherently unstable, and the interventionist hand of government, in the form of countercyclical policy, was necessary to make capitalism work, otherwise the economy had a tendency to get out of whack and crash.

It's an interesting question if it was the stagflation of the 1970s, following the unhitching of the United States from the gold standard and the arrival of the oil embargo, that brought on the neoliberal revolution, with Milton Friedman discrediting fiscal policy and advocating a by-the-numbers monetarist policy , or if it was neoliberalism itself, in the form of Friedmanite ideas that the Nixon administration was already pursuing, that made stagflation and the end of Keynesianism inevitable.

It should be said that neoliberalism thrives on prompting crisis after crisis, and has proven more adept than previous ideologies at exploiting these crises to its benefit, which then makes the situation worse, so that each succeeding crisis only erodes the power of the working class and makes the wealthy wealthier. There is a certain self-fulfilling aura to neoliberalism, couched in the jargon of economic orthodoxy, that has remained immune from political criticism, because of the dogma that was perpetuated- by Margaret Thatcher and her acolytes-that There Is No Alternative (TINA) .

Neoliberalism is excused for the crises it repeatedly brings on-one can think of a regular cycle of debt and speculation-fueled emergencies in the last forty years, such as the developing country debt overhang of the 1970s , the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s , the Asian currency crisis of the 1990s , and the subprime mortgage crisis of the 2000s-better than any ideology I know of. This is partly because its very existence as ruling ideology is not even noted by the population at large, which continues to derive some residual benefits from the welfare state inaugurated by Keynesianism but has been led to believe by neoliberal ideologues to think of their reliance on government as worthy of provoking guilt, shame, and melancholy, rather than something to which they have legitimate claim.

It is not surprising to find neoliberal multiculturalists- comfortably established in the academy -likewise demonizing, or othering, not Muslims, Mexicans, or African Americans, but working-class whites (the quintessential Trump proletariat) who have a difficult time accepting the fluidity of self-definition that goes well with neoliberalism, something that we might call the market capitalization of the self.

George W. Bush's useful function was to introduce necessary crisis into a system that had grown too stable for its own good; he injected desirable panic, which served as fuel to the fire of the neoliberal revolution. Trump is an apostate-at least until now-in desiring chaos on terms that do not sound neoliberal, which is unacceptable; hence Jeb Bush's characterization of him as the "candidate of chaos. " Neoliberalism loves chaos, that has been its modus operandi since the early 1970s, but only the kind of chaos it can direct and control.

To go back to origins, the Great Depression only ended conclusively with the onset of the second world war, after which Keynesianism had the upper hand for thirty-five years. But just as the global institutions of Keynesianism, specifically the IMF and the World Bank, were being founded at the New Hampshire resort of Bretton Woods in 1944, the founders of the neoliberal revolution, namely Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and others were forming the Mount Pelerin Society (MPS) at the eponymous Swiss resort in 1947 , creating the ideology which eventually defeated Keynesianism and gained the upper hand during the 1970s.

So what exactly is neoliberalism, and how is it different from classical liberalism, whose final manifestation came under Keynesianism?

Neoliberalism believes that markets are self-sufficient unto themselves, that they do not need regulation, and that they are the best guarantors of human welfare. Everything that promotes the market, i.e., privatization, deregulation, mobility of finance and capital, abandonment of government-provided social welfare, and the reconception of human beings as human capital, needs to be encouraged, while everything that supposedly diminishes the market, i.e., government services, regulation, restrictions on finance and capital, and conceptualization of human beings in transcendent terms, is to be discouraged.

[Jan 23, 2017] January 23, 2017 at 04:55 PM

Notable quotes:
"... People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded. ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
, 2017 at 04:55 PM
You are wrong. Your definition of neoliberalism is formally right and we can argue along those lines that Hillary is a neoliberal too (Her track record as a senator suggests exactly that), it is way too narrow.

"One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings." (see below)

"Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them."

"In the current election campaign, Hillary Clinton has been the most perfect embodiment of neoliberalism among all the candidates, she is almost its all-time ideal avatar, and I believe this explains, even if not articulated this way, the widespread discomfort among the populace toward her ascendancy. People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded.

This is the dark side of neoliberalism's ideological arm (a multiculturalism founded on human beings as capital), which is why this project has become increasingly associated with suppression of free speech and intolerance of those who refuse to go along with the kind of identity politics neoliberalism promotes.

And this explains why the 1990s saw the simultaneous and absolutely parallel rise, under the Clintons, of both neoliberal globalization and various regimes of neoliberal disciplining, such as the shaming and exclusion of former welfare recipients (every able-bodied person should be able to find work, therefore under TANF welfare was converted to a performance management system designed to enroll everyone in the workforce, even if it meant below-subsistence wages or the loss of parental responsibilities, all of it couched in the jargon of marketplace incentives)."

In this sense Hillary Clinton is 100% dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal and neocon ("neoliberal with the gun"). She promotes so called "neoliberal rationality" a perverted "market-based" rationality typical for neoliberalism:

See

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/01/links-for-01-23-17.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201bb09706856970d

== quote ==
When Hillary Clinton frequently retorts-in response to demands for reregulation of finance, for instance-that we have to abide by "the rule of law," this reflects a particular understanding of the law, the law as embodying the sense of the market, the law after it has undergone a revolution of reinterpretation in purely economic terms.

In this revolution of the law persons have no status compared to corporations, nation-states are on their way out, and everything in turn dissolves before the abstraction called the market.

One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings. Democracy becomes reinterpreted as the market, and politics succumbs to neoliberal economic theory, so we are speaking of the end of democratic politics as we have known it for two and a half centuries.

As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface.

Neoliberalism is often described-and this creates a lot of confusion-as "market fundamentalism," and while this may be true for neoliberal's self-promotion and self-presentation, i.e., the market as the ultimate and only myth, as were the gods of the past, I would argue that in neoliberalism there is no such thing as the market as we have understood it from previous ideologies.

The neoliberal state-actually, to utter the word state seems insufficient here, I would claim that a new entity is being created, which is not the state as we have known it, but an existence that incorporates potentially all the states in the world and is something that exceeds their sum-is all-powerful, it seeks to leave no space for individual self-conception in the way that classical liberalism, and even communism and fascism to some degree, were willing to allow.

There are competing understandings of neoliberal globalization, when it comes to the question of whether the state is strong or weak compared to the primary agent of globalization, i.e., the corporation, but I am taking this logic further, I am suggesting that the issue is not how strong the state is in the service of neoliberalism, but whether there is anything left over beyond the new definition of the state. Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them.

Of course the word hasn't gotten around to the people yet, hence all the confusion about whether Hillary Clinton is more neoliberal than Barack Obama, or whether Donald Trump will be less neoliberal than Hillary Clinton.

The project of neoliberalism-i.e., the redefinition of the state, the institutions of society, and the self-has come so far along that neoliberalism is almost beyond the need of individual entities to make or break its case. Its penetration has gone too deep, and none of the democratic figureheads that come forward can fundamentally question its efficacy.

[Jan 22, 2017] Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit

Neoliberals seem very concerned not to have a label. I posit this is because the founders of the malign ideology didn't want their victims be able to reliably identify them. The deliberately and misleadingly promote the view of the economy as an isolated scientific subject, like the interior of a test tube, and treat politics and policy as a sort of exterior force, that can be isolated from the world of the chemist and pushed off-to-one side. Neoclassic economists consistently and deliberately blinds itself to politics and the dynamics of power, despite the deep entanglement of politics with everything economic. "I look at politics and the economy and see one thing, not two things, and I am astonished at the extent to which economists focus on the part they like to play with intellectually, while deliberately looking away from what is probably the more important part. "
Notable quotes:
"... when left-wing people say that economists are defenders and supporters of the current order of things, they have a point: ignoring power relationships and their impact on the world supports the continued existence of those relationships. ..."
"... Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit. ..."
"... Most people, esp. when young (still largely sheltered) or (still) successful, probably have an exaggerated assessment of their own merit (absolute and relative) - often actively instilled and encouraged by an "enabling" environment. ..."
"... It promises a lake Wobegon of sorts where everybody (even though not all!) are above average, and it is finally recognized. ..."
Jan 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

William Meyer, Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 12:49 PM

What Wren-Lewis misses, I think, is that something I've noticed in my roughly a decade of reading economic blogs on the Internet. Economists have blinkers on. They want to view the economy as an isolated scientific subject, like the interior of a test tube, and treat politics and policy as a sort of exterior force, that can be isolated from the world of the chemist and pushed off-to-one side. It seems fairly clear to me that the two elements--politics and the economy--are obviously continuously co-mingled, and have all sorts of feedback loops running between them.

The discipline really consistently and deliberately blinds itself to politics and the dynamics of power, despite the deep entanglement of politics with everything economic. Wren-Lewis admits that macroeconomists "missed" the impacts of very high financial sector leverage, but finds that now that economists have noticed it, and suggested remedies, that the power of bank lobby prevents those remedies from being enacted. But shouldn't the political power of the finance lobby been a part of economic analysis of the world along with the dangers of the financial sector's use of extreme leverage? Does he think the two phenomena are unrelated?

Shouldn't economics pay more attention to the ongoing attempts of various groups to orient government policy in their favor, just like they pay attention to the trade deficit and GDP numbers?

I look at politics and the economy and see one thing, not two things, and I am astonished at the extent to which economists focus on the part they like to play with intellectually, while deliberately looking away from what is probably the more important part. Its like economists obsessively focus on the part that can be studied via numbers (money) and don't' want to think about the part that is harder to look quantify (political policy). And there is a political issue there, which Mr. Wren-Lewis, keeps ignoring in his defense of "mainstream economics."

The neoclassical economics tendency of not looking at power relationships makes power imbalances and their great influence on economics seem like "givens" or "natural endowments", which is clearly an intellectual sin of omission.

Many people, even within the halls of mainstream economics, note economists are "uncomfortable" with distributional issues.

Whether they like the implication or not, economists need to acknowledge that this discomfort has a profoundly conservative intellectual bias, in the sense that it make the status quo arrangement of society seem "natural" and "normal", when it is obviously humanly constructed and not in any sense "natural." So when left-wing people say that economists are defenders and supporters of the current order of things, they have a point: ignoring power relationships and their impact on the world supports the continued existence of those relationships.

Mr. Wren-Lewis seems like a nice guy, but he needs to take that simple home truth in. I'm not sure why he seems to struggle so with acknowledging it.

KPl, January 21, 2017 at 11:37 PM

"...but failing to ignore their successes,..."

Oh you mean the success of being able to raise asset prices without the growth in wages, make education costly and unaffordable without student loans, not chargeable under bankruptcy, spruce up employment figures by not counting the people who have stopped look for jobs because they cannot find one, make people debt serfs, make savers miserable by keeping interest rates at zero and making them take risks that they may not want to take though it is picking pennies in front of a steamroller, keeping wages stagnant for decades and thus impoverishing people.

The list of successes is endless and you should be glad we are NOT talking about them. Because if we do, the clan called economists might well be torched.

cm -> cm... , January 22, 2017 at 08:40 AM
Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit.

Most people, esp. when young (still largely sheltered) or (still) successful, probably have an exaggerated assessment of their own merit (absolute and relative) - often actively instilled and encouraged by an "enabling" environment.

A large part is probably the idea that "markets" are "objective" or at least "impartial" in bringing out and rewarding merit - also technology and "data driven" technocratic management, which are attributed "objectivity". All in the explicitly stated or implied service of impartially recognizing merit and its lack.

It promises a lake Wobegon of sorts where everybody (even though not all!) are above average, and it is finally recognized.

libezkova : , January 22, 2017 at 07:11 PM
"Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit."

A very important observation. Thank you !

[Jan 21, 2017] Disillusioned in Davos

Jan 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Larry Summers:
Disillusioned in Davos : Edmund Burke famously cautioned that "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I have been reminded of Burke's words as I have observed the behavior of US business leaders in Davos over the last few days. They know better but in their public rhetoric they have embraced and enabled our new President and his policies.

I understand and sympathize with the pressures they feel. ... Businesses who get on the wrong side of the new President have lost billions of dollars of value in sixty seconds because of a tweet. ...

Yet I am disturbed by (i) the spectacle of financiers who three months ago were telling anyone who would listen that they would never do business with a Trump company rushing to praise the new Administration (ii) the unwillingness of business leaders who rightly take pride in their corporate efforts to promote women and minorities to say anything about Presidentially sanctioned intolerance (iii) the failure of the leaders of global companies to say a critical word about US efforts to encourage the breakup of European unity and more generally to step away from underwriting an open global system (iv) the reluctance of business leaders who have a huge stake in the current global order to criticize provocative rhetoric with regard to China, Mexico or the Middle East (v) the willingness of too many to praise Trump nominees who advocate blatant protection merely because they have a business background.

I have my differences with the new Administration's economic policies and suspect the recent market rally and run of economic statistics is a sugar high. Reasonable people who I respect differ and time will tell. My objection is not to disagreements over economic policy. It is to enabling if not encouraging immoral and reckless policies in other spheres that ultimately bear on our prosperity. Burke was right. It is a lesson of human experience whether the issue is playground bullying, Enron or Europe in the 1930s that the worst outcomes occur when good people find reasons to accommodate themselves to what they know is wrong. That is what I think happened much too often in Davos this week.

JohnH -> Peter K....
, January 20, 2017 at 03:24 PM
Larry Summers lecturing us about bullies! Precious!

"Larry Summers Is An Unrepentant Bully"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-s-goodman/larry-summers-bully-fed_b_3653387.html

Like so much of the tit-for-tat between Democrats and Republicans, what's OK for to do is NOT OK for you to do!!!

anne : , January 20, 2017 at 12:24 PM
https://books.google.com/books?id=SFNADAAAQBAJ&pg=PT951&lpg=PT951&dq=%22No+man,+who+is+not+inflamed+by+vainglory+into+enthusiasm%22&source=bl&ots=ufx9GiMtls&sig=jJgSGfaCuCQFzBa9KiNBKCoaYgQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjE7YCOxtHRAhWjLMAKHVmSDFAQ6AEIHDAB#v=onepage&q=%22No%20man%2C%20who%20is%20not%20inflamed%20by%20vainglory%20into%20enthusiasm%22&f=false

1770

Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents

No man, who is not inflamed by vainglory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

-- Edmund Burke

anne -> anne... , -1
Edmund Burke famously cautioned that "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

-- Lawrence Summers

[ Edmund Burke never cautioned this. ]

anne -> Chris G ... , January 20, 2017 at 06:42 PM
Notice the fear of association or community of Milton Friedman:

http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html

September 13, 1970

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits
By Milton Friedman - New York Times

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the "social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system," I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned "merely" with profit but also with promoting desirable "social" ends; that business has a "social conscience" and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preaching pure and unadulterated socialism. Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades....

Gibbon1 -> anne... , January 20, 2017 at 07:37 PM
When I used to read Delong's blog before Delong went off on Sanders because Delong thought that Hillary Clinton would give Delongs son a job...

There was economics student that penned a response where he mentioned that the economics profession generally dislikes models with negative externalities. But truly loath models that incorporate positive externalities.

A positive externality is where some action on your part benefits you _and_ benefits some third party.

One can assume Milton Friedman and his followers find that concept revolting indeed.

anne -> anne... , January 20, 2017 at 12:52 PM
While I was not in Davos, I read about the proceedings and meeting in the Western European and Chinese press and was impressed by the community emphasis placed on social justice. Possibly there was considerable individual resistance to the public theme, and Lawrence Summers would readily sense such resistance, but the public theme from the speech by Xi Jinping on was encouraging and portrayed in Western Europe and China as encouraging.
kthomas -> anne... , January 20, 2017 at 02:19 PM
The headline of his post is somewhat misleading. He was not really talking about Davos.
Chris G -> kthomas... , January 20, 2017 at 05:53 PM
Let me rephrase: Name me some Fortune 500 companies who consider potential societal impacts of their actions and, as a result, sometimes make decisions which don't maximize their profits but are the "right" thing to do for the community/their workers/the environment/etc.? What Fortune 500 companies are motivated by things beyond maximizing profits for shareholders?

My point is that corporate leaders who are charged to act to maximize profits will always be cowards when it comes to moral and ethical issues. If their job is to maximize profits. If they don't want to lose their job then that's what they'll do - act to maximize profits. Where would Summers get the idea that they would act any differently? Do the people he's referring to have a track record of choosing the moral high ground over profits? If they do then I could understand surprise and disappointment that they're folding. But they've never had to face that choice before let alone chosen moral high ground over money, have they?

anne -> Chris G ... , January 20, 2017 at 05:55 PM
My point is that corporate leaders who are charged to act to maximize profits will always be cowards when it comes to moral and ethical issues. If their job is to maximize profits. If they don't want to lose their job then that's what they'll do - act to maximize profits. Where would Summers get the idea that they would act any differently? Do the people he's referring to have a track record of choosing the moral high ground over profits? ...

[ Properly argued, sadly. ]

Winslow R. : , January 20, 2017 at 02:02 PM
I recall Summers/Romer with both houses and Obama blowing their chances to do something for the middle/working class.

Summers/Delong said if the stimulus was too small we could always get another later, yet that chance to do something never came and he did nothing.....

I'd like Larry to ponder whether it was he who did nothing.

[Jan 16, 2017] The Cost of Davos Man's Protectionism

Jan 16, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : January 16, 2017 at 06:13 AM , 2017 at 06:13 AM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/the-cost-of-davos-man-s-protectionism?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+beat_the_press+%28Beat+the+Press%29

January 15, 2017

The Cost of Davos Man's Protectionism

I blogged yesterday * on how "Davos Man," the world's super-rich, is very supportive of all sorts of protectionist measures in spite of his reputation as a free trader. I pointed out that Davos Man is fond of items like ever stronger and longer patent and copyright protections and measures that protect doctors, dentists, and other highly paid professionals. Davos Man only dislikes protectionism when it might benefit folks like autoworkers or textile workers.

I thought it was worth pointing out that the protectionism supported by the Davos set is real money. The chart below shows the additional amount we pay for prescription drugs each year as a result of patent and related protections, the additional amount we pay for physicians as a result of excluding qualified foreign doctors, and the total annual wage income ** for the bottom 50 percent of wage earners. (I added 5 percent to the 2015 wage numbers to incorporate wage growth in the last year.)

[Graph *** ]

As can be seen, the extra amount we pay for doctors as a result of excluding foreign competition is roughly one-third of the total wage bill for the bottom half of all wage earners. The extra amount we pay for drugs as a result of patent protection is roughly twenty percent more than the total wage bill for the bottom half of wage earners. Of course we would have to pay for the research through another mechanism, but we also pay higher prices for medical equipment, software, and a wide variety of other products as a result of patent and copyright protections. In other words, there is real money here.

Davos Man isn't interested in nickel and dime protectionism, he wants to rake in the big bucks. And, the whole time he will run around saying he is a free trader (and get most of the media to believe him).

* http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/davos-man-is-a-neanderthal-protectionist

** https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2015

*** http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

-- Dean Baker

anne -> anne... , January 16, 2017 at 06:14 AM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/davos-man-is-a-neanderthal-protectionist?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+beat_the_press+%28Beat+the+Press%29

January 14, 2017

Davos Man Is a Neanderthal Protectionist

The New York Times had an article * on the annual meeting of the world's super-rich at Davos, Switzerland. It refers to Davos Man as "an economic elite who built unheard-of fortunes on the seemingly high-minded notions of free trade, low taxes and low regulation that they championed." While "Davos Man" may like to be described this way, it is not an accurate description.

Davos Man is actually totally supportive of protectionism that redistributes income upward. In particular Davos Man supports stronger and longer patent and copyright protection. These forms of protection raise the price of protected items by factors of tens or hundreds, making them equivalent to tariffs of several thousand percent or even tens of thousands of percent. In the case of prescription drugs these protections force us to spend more than $430 billion a year (2.3 percent of GDP) on drugs that would likely cost one tenth of this amount if they were sold in a free market. (Yes, we need alternative mechanisms to finance the development of new drugs. These are discussed in my free book "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer." ** )

Davos Man is also just fine with protectionist barriers that raise the cost of physicians services as well as pay of other highly educated professionals. For example, Davos Man has never been known to object to the ban on foreign doctors practicing in the United States unless they complete a U.S. residency program or the ban on foreign dentists who did not complete a U.S. dental school (or recently a Canadian school). Davos Man is only bothered by protectionist barriers that raise the incomes of autoworkers, textile workers, or other non-college educated workers.

Davos Man is also fine with government regulations that reduce the bargaining power of ordinary workers. For example, Davos Man has not objected to central bank rules that target low inflation even at the cost of raising unemployment. Nor has Davos Man objected to meaningless caps on budget deficits, like those in the European Union, that have kept millions of workers from getting jobs.

Davos Man also strongly supported the bank bailouts in which governments provided trillions of dollars in loans and guarantees to the world's largest banks in order to protect them from the market. This kept too big to fail banks in business and protected the huge salaries received by their top executives.

In short, Davos Man has no particular interest in a free market or unregulated economic system. They only object to interventions that reduce their income. Of course, Davos Man is happy to have the New York Times and other news outlets describe him as a devotee of the free market, as opposed to simply getting incredibly rich.

* https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/14/business/world-economic-forum-davos-agenda-slap-in-the-face.html

** http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

-- Dean Baker

[Jan 13, 2017] Communitarianism or Populism The Ethic of Compassion and the Ethic of Respect

Notable quotes:
"... Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value. ..."
"... Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul. ..."
"... Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market. ..."
"... The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image. ..."
"... In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering. ..."
"... "The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction. ..."
"... The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control. ..."
Jan 13, 2017 | www.theworkingcentre.org

If terms like "populism" and "community" figure prominently in political discourse today, it is because the ideology of the Enlightenment, having come under attack from a variety of sources, has lost much of its appeal. The claims of universal reason are universally suspect. Hopes for a system of values that would transcend the particularism of class, nationality, religion, and race no longer carry much conviction. The Enlightenment's reason and morality are increasingly seen as a cover for power, and the prospect that the world can he governed by reason seems more remote than at any time since the eighteenth century. The citizen of the world-the prototype of mankind in the future, according to the Enlightenment philosophers-is not much in evidence. We have a universal market, but it does not carry with it the civilizing effects that were so confidently expected by Hume and Voltaire. Instead of generating a new appreciation of common interests and inclinations-if the essential sameness of human beings everywhere-the global market seems to intensify the awareness of ethnic and national differences. The unification of the market goes hand in hand with the fragmentation of culture.

The waning of the Enlightenment manifests itself politically in the waning of liberalism, in many ways the most attractive product of the Enlightenment and the carrier of its best hopes. Through all the permutations and transformations of liberal ideology, two of its central features have persisted over the years: its commitment to progress and its belief that a liberal state could dispense with civic virtue. The two ideas were linked in a chain of reasoning having as its premise that capitalism had made it reason able for everyone to aspire to a level of comfort formerly accessible only to the rich. Henceforth men would devote themselves to their private business, reducing the need for government, which could more or less take care of itself. It was the idea of progress that made it possible to believe that societies blessed with material abundance could dispense with the active participation of ordinary citizens in government.

After the American Revolution liberals began to argue-in opposition to the older view that "public virtue is the only foundation of republics," in the words of John Adams -- that proper constitutional checks and balances would make it advantageous even for bad men to act for the public good," as James Wilson put it. According to John Taylor, "an avaricious society can form a government able to defend itself against the avarice of its members" by enlisting the "interest of vice ...on the side of virtue." Virtue lay in the "principles of government," Taylor argued, not in the "evanescent qualities of individuals." The institutions and "principles of a society may be virtuous, though the individuals composing it are vicious."

Meeting minimal conditions

The paradox of a virtuous society based on vicious individuals, however agree able in theory, was never adhered to very consistently. Liberals took for granted a good deal more in the way of private virtue than they were willing to acknowledge. Even to day liberals who adhere to this minimal view of citizenship smuggle a certain amount of citizenship between the cracks of their free- market ideology. Milton Friedman himself admits that a liberal society requires a "minimum degree of literacy and knowledge" along with a "widespread acceptance of some common set of values." It is not clear that our society can meet even these minimal conditions, as things stand today, but it has always been clear, in any case, that a liberal society needs more virtue than Friedman allows for.

A system that relies so heavily on the concept of rights presupposes individuals who respect the rights of others, if only because they expect others to respect their own rights in return. The market itself, the central institution of a liberal society, presupposes, at the very least, sharp-eyed, calculating, and clearheaded individuals-paragons of rational choice. It presupposes not just self interest but enlightened self-interest. It was for this reason that nineteenth-century liberals attached so much importance to the family. The obligation to support a wife and children, in their view, would discipline possessive individualism and transform the potential gambler, speculator, dandy, or confidence man into a conscientious provider. Having abandoned the old republican ideal of citizenship along with the republican indictment of luxury, liberals lacked any grounds on which to appeal to individuals to subordinate private interest to the public good.

But at least they could appeal to the higher selfishness of marriage and parenthood. They could ask, if not for the suspension of self-interest, for its elevation and refinement. The hope that rising expectations would lead men and women to invest their ambitions in their offspring was destined to be disappointed in the long run. The more closely capitalism came to be identified with immediate gratification and planned obsolescence, the more relentlessly it wore away the moral foundations of family life. The rising divorce rate, already a source of alarm in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, seemed to reflect a growing impatience with the constraints imposed by long responsibilities and commitments.

The passion to get ahead had begun to imply the right to make a fresh start whenever earlier commitments became unduly burden some. Material abundance weakened the economic as well as the moral foundations of the "well-'ordered family state" admired by nineteenth-century liberals. The family business gave way to the corporation, the family farm (more slowly and painfully) to a collectivized agriculture ultimately controlled by the same banking houses that had engineered the consolidation of industry. The agrarian uprising of the 1870s, 1880s, and l890s proved to be the first round in a long, losing struggle to save the family farm, enshrined in American mythology, even today, as the sine qua non of a good society but subjected into practice to a ruinous cycle of mechanization, indebtedness, and overproduction.

The family invaded

Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value.

In the long run women were forced into the workplace not only because their families needed extra income but because paid labour seemed to represent their only hope of gaining equality with men. In our time it is increasingly clear that children pay the price for this invasion of the family by the market. With both parents in the workplace and grandparents conspicuous by their absence, the family is no longer capable of sheltering children from the market. The television set becomes the principal baby-sitter by default. Its invasive presence deals the final blow to any lingering hope that the family can provide a sheltered space for children to grow up in.

Children are now exposed to the out side world from the time they are old enough to be left unattended in front of the tube. They are exposed to it, moreover, in a brutal yet seductive form that reduces the values of the marketplace to their simplest terms. Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul.

Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market.

The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image.

Weakening social trust

In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering.

The main thrust of social policy, ever since the first crusades against child labour, has been to transfer the care of children from informal settings to institutions designed specifically for pedagogical and custodial purposes. Today this trend continues in the movement for daycare, often justified on the undeniable grounds that working mothers need it but also on the grounds that daycare centers can take advantage of the latest innovations in pedagogy and child psychology. This policy of segregating children in age-graded institutions under professional supervision has been a massive failure, for reasons suggested some time ago by Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, an attack on city planning that applies to social planning in general.

"The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction.

What the child learns is that adults unrelated to one another except by the accident of propinquity uphold certain standards and assume responsibility for the neighbourhood. With good reason, Jacobs calls this the "first fundamental of successful city life," one that "people hired to look after children cannot teach because the essence of this responsibility is that you do it without being hired."

Neighbourhoods encourage "casual public trust," according to Jacobs. In its absence the everyday maintenance of life has to be turned over to professional bureaucrats. The atrophy of informal controls leads irresistibly to the expansion of bureaucratic controls. This development threatens to extinguish the very privacy liberals have always set such store by. It also loads the organizational sector with burdens it cannot support. The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control.

The taxpayers' revolt, although itself informed by an ideology of privatism resistant to any kind of civic appeals, at the same time grows out of a well-founded suspicion that tax money merely sustains bureaucratic self-aggrandizement

The lost habit of self-help

As formal organizations break down, people will have to improvise ways of meeting their immediate needs: patrolling their own neighbourhoods, withdrawing their children from public schools in order to educate them at home. The default of the state will thus contribute in its own right to the restoration of informal mechanisms of self-help. But it is hard to see how the foundations of civic life can be restored unless this work becomes an overriding goal of public policy. We have heard a good deal of talk about the repair of our material infrastructure, but our cultural infrastructure needs attention too, and more than just the rhetorical attention of politicians who praise "family values" while pursuing economic policies that undermine them. It is either naive or cynical to lead the public to think that dismantling the welfare state is enough to ensure a revival of informal cooperation-"a thousand points of light." People who have lost the habit of self-help, who live in cities and suburbs where shopping malls have replaced neighbourhoods, and who prefer the company of close friends (or simply the company of television) to the informal sociability of the street, the coffee shop, and the tavern are not likely to reinvent communities just because the state has proved such an unsatisfactory substitute. Market mechanisms will not repair the fabric of public trust. On the contrary the market's effect on the cultural infrastructure is just as corrosive as that of the state.

A third way

We can now begin to appreciate the appeal of populism and communitarianism. They reject both the market and the welfare state in pursuit of a third way. This is why they are so difficult to classify on the conventional spectrum of political opinion. Their opposition to free-market ideologies seems to align them with the left, but 'their criticism of the welfare state (whenever this criticism becomes open and explicit) makes them sound right-wing. In fact, these positions belong to neither the left nor the right, and for that very reason they seem to many people to hold out the best hope of breaking the deadlock of current debate, which has been institutionalized in the two major parties and their divided control of the federal government. At a time when political debate consists of largely of ideological slogans endlessly repeated to audiences composed mainly of the party faithful, fresh thinking is desperately needed. It is not likely to emerge, however, from those with a vested interest in 'the old orthodoxies. We need a "third way of thinking about moral obligation," as Alan Wolfe puts it, one that locates moral obligation neither in the state nor in the market but "in common sense, ordinary emotions, and everyday life."

Wolfe's plea for a political program designed to strengthen civil society, which closely resembles the ideas advanced in The Good Society by Robert Bellah and his collaborators, should be welcomed by the growing numbers of people who find themselves dissatisfied with the alternatives defined by conventional debate. These authors illustrate the strengths of the communitarian position along with some of its characteristic weaknesses. They make it clear that both the market and the state presuppose the strength of "non-economic ties of trust and solidarity" as Wolfe puts it. Yet the expansion of these institutions weakens ties of trust and thus undermines the preconditions for their own success. The market and the "job culture," Bellah writes, are "invading our private lives," eroding our "moral infrastructure" of "social trust." Nor does the welfare state repair the damage. "The example of more successful welfare states ... suggests that money and bureaucratic assistance alone do not halt the decline of the family" or strengthen any of the other "sustaining institutions that make interdependence morally significant." None of this means that a politics that really mattered-a politics rooted in popular common sense instead of the ideologies that appeal to elites-would painlessly resolve all the conflicts that threaten to tear the country apart. Communitarians underestimate the difficulty of finding an approach to family issues, say, that is both profamily and profeminist.

That may be what the public wants in theory. In practice, however, it requires a restructuring of the workplace designed to make work schedules far more flexible, career patterns less rigid and predictable, and criteria for advancement less destructive to family and community obligations. Such reforms imply interference with the market and a redefinition of success, neither of which will be achieved without a great deal of controversy.

Back to Course Content

[Jan 13, 2017] Making America Great Again Isnt Just About Money and Power

Notable quotes:
"... Excellent article by an economist who understands that economic extends beyond markets and intersects with political enlightenment. Were more economists that inclusive and divorced from self promotion the study would have more effective application. ..."
"... For many today, greatness is simply a government in the business of actively governing, as opposed to shying away from it under one excuse or the other. One example: the meteoric rise of incomes for the wealthy, which is a direct result of less financial regulation. First discovered by Reagan, then perfected by Clinton, the method involves highlighting regulation as a dirty word and overstating its link to American Capitalism, and in the bargain achieving less work for government, plus bag brownie points for patriotism. ..."
"... But what it really was, was a reluctance to govern for almost thirty years. Thank goodness Trump called it out for the fraud it was, and Obama decided he would spend his last month making a show of "governing". ..."
"... So that's what greatness means to most today: Government, please show up for work every day and just do your job. Not draw lines in sand and unlock every bathroom in sight and let illegals in. Just your job please, that's all. Yes? Grrreaat, thank you Donald. ..."
"... I doubt many think that the greatness of America is just about money and power. But many corporations are run on exactly this limited idea of the greatness of corporations. ..."
"... And, unfortunately, these same misguided bottom-line corporations now control Congress and the GOP. Corporate control of Congress should not be primarily for increasing corporate profits. Part of the profits stemming from automation should be used to mitigate the tremendous disappearance of jobs that corporations are causing by introducing AI and automation. ..."
"... I have traveled overseas enough to have an idea of life in other countries. My father shared something with other veterans--a sense of belonging to something bigger than them based on being "in the service." ..."
"... That comradeship, born of intense experience while young, is rare. In terms of the sense of belonging to a city or state, the most successful of us move around and cities have lost most of what made them unique. ..."
"... there is no central cultural core to being American--as compared to being French or British--other than technology and the meritocracy of money, a personal sense of ownership in America on the part of a majority of Americans runs contrary to contemporary experience. ..."
"... The first step on this path is real social & economic justice for all in our wonderful country. The current economic inequality in the U.S. is a disgrace to any just & civil society. We must figure out a way to fairly deal with that & our other inequalities of education, opportunity & racial injustices, if we are to achieve our potential of being that 'shining city on the hill' that the rest of the world will want to follow. ..."
"... A Great Society cannot be great in any meaningful sense unless it is determinedly honest -- not just self-relievingly frank. Thus, although I was happy to see this article, which I judge to be 'exemplarily' honest, I had disappointment that, in an age when the term post-truth is being used to describe conversation in English-speaking society, it neglects to emphasize the essentiality of honesty in any debate about what being a great society entails. Adam Smith did his best to point that out, but the rich and powerful and especially those in public office and those of capitalistic ideological bent appear these days to be letting us all down in this respect. ..."
"... This article is long overdue. Mr Trump has never explained is what MADE America great in the past. If questioned, he demurred. His shallow approach to policy and his poor understanding of American history and civics makes any answer from him questionable. ..."
"... Our current Free Trade pacts make it too easy for employers to shift jobs abroad. Other countries protect their industries. We should do the same, by again placing tariffs on any goods which have been manufactured abroad which could be made here. This would not be "forcing employers to restore or maintain jobs". It would be saying that if you want to sell your products here, then you will either make them here or pay tariffs on them. ..."
"... The Free Trade pacts have an additional problem. They allow international corporations to sue us if they think that one of our laws or regulations is keeping them from making as much money as they otherwise could. These lawsuits are conducted in special courts whose decisions cannot be appealed. This allows international corporations to interfere with our democracy. They should not be allowed to sue us for enforcing our own laws. ..."
"... The issue isn't what the definition of "great" is. It's who America is great *for.* America is outstandingly great for a very slim slice at the tip-top of the economy. ..."
"... The GOP are now proving that they are traitors to the general welfare. They are determined to make this nation's chief goal be to protect the welfare of the wealthiest and best-connected. If we are depending on a free press or the voting booth to protect us, we are fooling ourselves. The forces that have seized our democracy are going to gut both the press, and our civil liberties, so that this country can never again be "of, for and by the people." It will henceforth be for the plutocrats. ..."
"... The rest of us should just go quietly, and die on our own. ..."
Jan 13, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

"Make America Great Again," the slogan of President-elect Donald J. Trump 's successful election campaign, has been etched in the national consciousness. But it is hard to know what to make of those vague words.

We don't have a clear definition of "great," for example, or of the historical moment when, presumably, America was truly great. From an economic standpoint, we can't be talking about national wealth, because the country is wealthier than it has ever been: Real per capita household net worth has reached a record high, as Federal Reserve Board data shows.

But the distribution of wealth has certainly changed: Inequality has widened significantly. Including the effects of taxes and government transfer payments, real incomes for the bottom half of the population increased only 21 percent from 1980 to 2014. That compares with a 194 percent increase for the richest 1 percent, according to a new study by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

That's why it makes sense that Mr. Trump's call for a return to greatness resonated especially well among non-college-educated workers in Rust Belt states - people who have been hurt as good jobs in their region disappeared. But forcing employers to restore or maintain jobs isn't reasonable, and creating sustainable new jobs is a complex endeavor.

Difficult as job creation may be, making America great surely entails more than that, and it's worth considering just what we should be trying to accomplish. Fortunately, political leaders and scholars have been thinking about national greatness for a very long time, and the answer clearly goes beyond achieving high levels of wealth.

Adam Smith, perhaps the first true economist, gave some answers in " An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations ." That treatise is sometimes thought of as a capitalist bible. It is at least partly about the achieving of greatness through the pursuit of wealth in free markets. But Smith didn't believe that money alone assured national stature. He also wrote disapprovingly of the single-minded impulse to secure wealth, saying it was "the most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments." Instead, he emphasized that decent people should seek real achievement - "not only praise, but praiseworthiness."

Strikingly, national greatness was a central issue in a previous presidential election campaign: Lyndon B. Johnson , in 1964, called for the creation of a Great Society, not merely a rich society or a powerful society. Instead, he spoke of achieving equal opportunity and fulfillment. "The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents," he said. "It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness."

President Johnson's words still ring true. Opportunity is not equal for everyone in America. Enforced leisure has indeed become a feared cause of boredom and restlessness for those who have lost jobs, who have lost overtime work, who hold part-time jobs when they desire full-time employment, or who were pushed into unwanted early retirement.

But there are limits to what government can do. Jane Jacobs , the great urbanist, wrote that great nations need great cities, yet they cannot easily create them. "The great capitals of modern Europe did not become great cities because they were the capitals," Ms. Jacobs said. "Cause and effect ran the other way. Paris was at first no more the seat of French kings than were the sites of half a dozen other royal residences."

Cities grow organically, she said, capturing a certain dynamic, a virtuous circle, a specialized culture of expertise, with one industry leading to another, and with a reputation that attracts motivated and capable immigrants.

America still has cities like this, but a fact not widely remembered is that Detroit used to be one of them. Its rise to greatness was gradual. As Ms. Jacobs wrote, milled flour in the 1820s and 1830s required boats to ship the flour on the Great Lakes, which led to steamboats, marine engines and a proliferation of other industries, which set the stage for automobiles, which made Detroit a global center for anyone interested in that technology.

I experienced the beauty and excitement of Detroit as a child there among relatives who had ties to the auto industry. Today, residents of Detroit and other fading metropolises want their old cities back, but generations of people must create the fresh ideas and industries that spawn great cities, and they can't do it by fiat from Washington.

All of which is to say that government intervention to enhance greatness will not be a simple matter. There is a risk that well-meaning change may make matters worse. Protectionist policies and penalties for exporters of jobs may not increase long-term opportunities for Americans who have been left behind. Large-scale reduction of environmental or social regulations or in health care benefits, or in America's involvement in the wider world may increase our consumption, yet leave all of us with a sense of deeper loss.

Greatness reflects not only prosperity, but it is also linked with an atmosphere, a social environment that makes life meaningful. In President Johnson's words, greatness requires meeting not just "the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community."

sufferingsuccatash ohio 3 hours ago

Excellent article by an economist who understands that economic extends beyond markets and intersects with political enlightenment. Were more economists that inclusive and divorced from self promotion the study would have more effective application.

TMK New York, NY 5 hours ago

For many today, greatness is simply a government in the business of actively governing, as opposed to shying away from it under one excuse or the other. One example: the meteoric rise of incomes for the wealthy, which is a direct result of less financial regulation. First discovered by Reagan, then perfected by Clinton, the method involves highlighting regulation as a dirty word and overstating its link to American Capitalism, and in the bargain achieving less work for government, plus bag brownie points for patriotism.

But what it really was, was a reluctance to govern for almost thirty years. Thank goodness Trump called it out for the fraud it was, and Obama decided he would spend his last month making a show of "governing".

But Reagan did not hesitate to govern on the international stage. That credit goes solely to Obama, a president who's turned non-governance into something of an art. From refusing to regulate bathroom etiquette, to egging people to have more casual sex (condoms on government, no worries, go at it all you want), to unleashing 5 million illegals on domestic soil with a stroke of the pen, this President has been the most ungoverning president in US history.

So that's what greatness means to most today: Government, please show up for work every day and just do your job. Not draw lines in sand and unlock every bathroom in sight and let illegals in. Just your job please, that's all. Yes? Grrreaat, thank you Donald.

John Brews Reno, NV 6 hours ago

I doubt many think that the greatness of America is just about money and power. But many corporations are run on exactly this limited idea of the greatness of corporations.

And, unfortunately, these same misguided bottom-line corporations now control Congress and the GOP. Corporate control of Congress should not be primarily for increasing corporate profits. Part of the profits stemming from automation should be used to mitigate the tremendous disappearance of jobs that corporations are causing by introducing AI and automation.

Duane Coyle Wichita, Kansas 7 hours ago

I was born in America in 1956 to native-born Americans. My father served starting right after the Berlin Blockade, up through the Korean Conflict. My political consciousness was formed by Vietnam, Kent State, the COINTELPRO Papers, the Pentagon Papers, the Church Committee reports.

My father had trust in the federal government, whereas I have none. I became a lawyer, and married a lawyer. My brothers and my wife's sisters are all college-educated professionals.

Financially speaking, America has been very good to me. But as far as having any intellectual or visceral concept of what America is, or what being an American means, I couldn't tell you.

I have traveled overseas enough to have an idea of life in other countries. My father shared something with other veterans--a sense of belonging to something bigger than them based on being "in the service."

That comradeship, born of intense experience while young, is rare. In terms of the sense of belonging to a city or state, the most successful of us move around and cities have lost most of what made them unique.

Given how very little we are expected to contribute to our city, state or country, or even our neighbors, and as there is no central cultural core to being American--as compared to being French or British--other than technology and the meritocracy of money, a personal sense of ownership in America on the part of a majority of Americans runs contrary to contemporary experience.

Wayne Hild Nevada City, CA 9 hours ago

I think this article touches on not only what will make America great, but also on how we should act in order to show the rest of the world why liberal democracies are truly the path to prosperity & peace in this oh so imperfect world.

How do we go about defeating ISIL & winning the smoldering economic/military contest with Russia & China & other authoritarian regimes? By living righteously & daily demonstrating that treating the planet & each other justly & humanely is the way to real happiness on Earth. & that we can at the same time create plenty of wealth & life-fulfilling opportunities for all our citizens.

The first step on this path is real social & economic justice for all in our wonderful country. The current economic inequality in the U.S. is a disgrace to any just & civil society. We must figure out a way to fairly deal with that & our other inequalities of education, opportunity & racial injustices, if we are to achieve our potential of being that 'shining city on the hill' that the rest of the world will want to follow.

If the great liberal democracies of Europe & North America & the southern pacific region can reinvigorate our optimism & our commitment to the communal values that have driven the world's prosperity since WWII, we can surely convince the rest of the world through the awesome leverage of 'social media' that our liberal values of education, fairness, & love for all of our fellow humans is the true path to happiness & peace on Earth.

Angus Cunningham Toronto 9 hours ago

As a Britisher, educated at Wharton by the grace of an American-owned company, I feel gratitude for American generosity; yet I am now a Canadian citizen, having decided that the US in the time of Nixon could never be a place where my family could be happy. So I write this with mixed feelings.

A Great Society cannot be great in any meaningful sense unless it is determinedly honest -- not just self-relievingly frank. Thus, although I was happy to see this article, which I judge to be 'exemplarily' honest, I had disappointment that, in an age when the term post-truth is being used to describe conversation in English-speaking society, it neglects to emphasize the essentiality of honesty in any debate about what being a great society entails. Adam Smith did his best to point that out, but the rich and powerful and especially those in public office and those of capitalistic ideological bent appear these days to be letting us all down in this respect.

Having made a modest livelihood as an executive coach, I do not pretend that being honest (without being self-relievingly so) is easy in high-level negotiations. Indeed it requires enormous courage, intellect, empathy, and articulation skills. So I have enormous grief and considerable anxiety for the state of US society today. But efforts like this one by the New York Times are certain to be helpful. Thank you. I hope my contribution will be valuable to this fine newspaper and its readers alike.

R Charlotte 9 hours ago

This article is long overdue. Mr Trump has never explained is what MADE America great in the past. If questioned, he demurred. His shallow approach to policy and his poor understanding of American history and civics makes any answer from him questionable.

FreedomAndJusticeForAll United States 9 hours ago

Hope and Change.

Tom is a trusted commenter Midwest 9 hours ago

Yet almost every policy and piece of legislation by Republicans seems aimed at making more money for business. They assume it will trickle down to the workers (and we have seen over 30 years of how good that is working). So Republicans will ignore your plea or denigrate it. Doing anything close to what you suggest gets in the way of making money.

ann Seattle 10 hours ago

"But forcing employers to restore or maintain jobs isn't reasonable, "

Our current Free Trade pacts make it too easy for employers to shift jobs abroad. Other countries protect their industries. We should do the same, by again placing tariffs on any goods which have been manufactured abroad which could be made here. This would not be "forcing employers to restore or maintain jobs". It would be saying that if you want to sell your products here, then you will either make them here or pay tariffs on them.

The Free Trade pacts have an additional problem. They allow international corporations to sue us if they think that one of our laws or regulations is keeping them from making as much money as they otherwise could. These lawsuits are conducted in special courts whose decisions cannot be appealed. This allows international corporations to interfere with our democracy. They should not be allowed to sue us for enforcing our own laws.

Let's restore our sovereignty.

Jack and Louise North Brunswick NJ, USA 10 hours ago

The issue isn't what the definition of "great" is. It's who America is great *for.* America is outstandingly great for a very slim slice at the tip-top of the economy.

It's great for the Trumps and his cabinet members. These people have so much wealth that they have bought our government. The gleeful look on McConnell's face last night after the GOP moved to get rid of health care for millions, and to turn it back to the whim of the insurance companies, said it all: America is great again for him. It's great for his owners.

The GOP are now proving that they are traitors to the general welfare. They are determined to make this nation's chief goal be to protect the welfare of the wealthiest and best-connected. If we are depending on a free press or the voting booth to protect us, we are fooling ourselves. The forces that have seized our democracy are going to gut both the press, and our civil liberties, so that this country can never again be "of, for and by the people." It will henceforth be for the plutocrats.

The rest of us should just go quietly, and die on our own.

[Jan 13, 2017] They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them.

Notable quotes:
"... For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Igor Biryukov on November 1, 2012

A cautionary tale

" In America there was once a popular but simplistic image of the Soviet Russia as the Evil Empire destined to fall, precisely because it was unfree and therefore evil. Ronald Reagan who advocated it also once said that the Russian people do not have a word for "freedom". Not so fast -- says Alexei Yurchak. He was born in the Soviet Union and became a cultural anthropologist in California. He employs linguistic structural analysis in very interesting ways. For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable.

Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together. According to Yurchak "In its first three or four years, perestroika was not much more than a deconstruction of Soviet authoritative discourse". This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit.

The demise of the Soviet Union was not caused by anti-modernity or backwardness of Russian people. The Soviet experiment was a cousin of Western modernity and shared many features with the Western democracies, in particular its roots in the Enlightenment project. The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives. These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important. For many "socialism" was a system of human values and everyday realities which wasn't necessarily equivalent of the official interpretation provided by the state rhetoric.

Yurchak starts with a general paradox within the ideology of modernity: the split between ideological enunciation, which reflects the theoretical ideals of the Enlightenment, and ideological rule, which are the practical concerns of the modern state's political authority. In Soviet Union the paradox was "solved" by means of dogmatic political closure and elevation of Master signifier [Lenin, Stalin, Party] but it doesn't mean the Western democracies are immune to totalitarian temptation to which the Soviet Union had succumbed. The vast governmental bureaucracy and Quango-state are waiting in the shadows here as well, may be ready to appropriate discourse.

It is hard to agree with everything in his book. But it is an interesting perspective. I wish Alexei Yurchak would explore more implications of Roman Jacobson's "poetic function of language" and its connection to Russian experiment in communism. It seems to me, as a Russian native speaker, that Russians put stress on form, sound, and poetics. The English-language tradition prioritizes content and meaning. Can we speak of "Hermeneutics" of the West versus "Poetics" of Russia? Perhaps the tragedy of Russia was under-development of Hermeneutics? How does one explain the feeble attempts to throw a light of reason into the loopy texts and theories of Marks, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin? Perhaps the Russians read it as a kind of magical text, a poetry, a bad poetry -- not Pasternak or Blok -- but kind of poetry nevertheless?

Nils Gilman on April 23, 2014

A brilliant account of the interior meaning of everyday life for ordinary soviet citizens

Just loved this -- a brilliant study of how everyday citizens (as opposed to active supporters or dissidents) cope with living in a decadent dictatorship, through strategies of ignoring the powerful, focusing on hyperlocal socialities, treating ritualized support for the regime as little more than an annoying chore, and withdrawal into subcultures. Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population. While his entire account is a tacit meditation on the manifold unpleasantnesses of living under the Soviet system, Yurchak also makes clear that it was not all unpleasantness and that indeed for some people (such as theoretical physicists) life under Soviet socialism was in some ways freer than for their peers in the West. All of which makes the book function (sotto voce) as an explanation for the nostalgia that many in Russia today feel for Soviet times - something inexplicable to those who claim that Communism was simply and nothing but an evil.

The theoretical vehicle for Yurchak's investigation is the divergence between the performative rather than the constative dimensions of the "authoritative discourse" of the late Soviet regime. One might say that his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them." Yurchak rightly observes that one can neither interpret the decision to vote in favor of an official resolution or to display a pro-government slogan at a rally as being an unambiguous statement of regime support, nor assume that these actions were directly coerced. People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29)

The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning. Soviet citizens would go to cafes and talk about music and literature, join a rock band or art collective, take silly jobs that required little effort and thus left room for them to pursue their "interests." The very drabness of the standardizations of Soviet life therefore created new sorts of (admittedly constrained) spaces within which people could define themselves and their (inter)subjective meanings. All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse.

[Jan 13, 2017] Hypernormalisation

Notable quotes:
"... Normalisation is what has historically happened in the wake of financial crises. During the booms that precede busts, low interest rates encourage people to make investments with borrowed money. However, even after all of the prudent investment opportunities have been taken, people continue borrowing to invest in projects and ideas that are unlikely to ever generate profits. ..."
"... Eventually, the precariousness of some of these later investments becomes apparent. Those that arrive at this realization early sell up, settle their debts and pocket profits, but their selling often triggers a rush for the exits that bankrupts companies and individuals and, in many cases, the banks which lent to them. ..."
"... By contrast, the responses of policy-makers to 2008's financial crisis suggest the psychology of hypernormalisation. Quantitative easing (also known as money printing) and interest rate suppression (to zero percent and, in Europe, negative interest rates) are not working and will never result in sustained increases in productivity, income and employment. However, as our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions, they have to pretend that they are working. ..."
"... Statistical chicanery has helped understate unemployment and inflation while global cooperation has served to obscure the currency depreciation and loss of confidence in paper money (as opposed to 'hard money' such as gold and silver) that are to be expected from rampant money printing. ..."
"... The recent fuss over 'fake news' seems intended to remove alternative news and information sources from a population that, alarmingly for those in charge, is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is . Just this month U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act into law. United States, meet your Ministry of Truth. ..."
"... Great article. I think it does describe the USSA at the present time. Everything works until it doesn't. ..."
"... The funny thing is I had almost identical thoughts just a few days ago. But I was thinking in comparison more of East Germany's last 20 years before they imploded - peacefully, because not a single non-leading-rank person believed any of the official facts anymore (and therefore they even simply ignored orders from high command to crush the Leipzig Monday demonstrations.) ..."
"... I'm ok with a world led by Trump and Putin. ..."
"... I recall the joke from the old Soviet Union: "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work." In the USSA these last few years, Barry pretends to tell the truth. Libtards pretend to believe him. ..."
"... Wrong. They believe him. Look at the gaggle of libtard/shiteaters at Soetero's Friday night bash at the White House. ..."
"... Reagan used to quip that in the Soviet Union, the people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them. We're not the Soviet Union, but we have become a farce. Next stop - the fall. Followed by chaos, then onto something new. The new elites will just be the old elites, well, the ones that escape the noose. ..."
"... The real ugly problem with the Soviet Union is that whatever they broke it into isn't working well either. ..."
"... Russia's problem post collapse was the good ol' USSA and its capitalist, plunderer banking mavens. ..."
"... The only way to normalize banking in a contemporary banking paradigm of QE Infinity & Beyond is to start over again without the bankers & accountants that knowingly bet the ranch for a short term gain at the expense of long term profitability. In Japan an honourable businessman/CEO would suicide for bringing this kind of devastation to the company shareholders. ..."
"... In America they don't give a shit because it is always someone else other than the CEO that takes the fall. ..."
"... This, after I'd point out his evasion and deflection every time I addressed his bias and belief in the MSM propaganda mantras of racism, misogyny, xenophobia - all the usual labeling bullshit up to insinuating Russia hacked the election ..."
"... I've been using the term Hypernormalisation to describe aspects of western society for the last 15 years, before Adam Curtis's brilliant BBC documentary Hypernormalisation , afflicting western society and particularly politics. There are lies and gross distortions everywhere in western society and it straddles/effects all races, colours, social classes and the disease is most acute in our politics. ..."
"... We all know the hypernoprmalisation in politics, as we witness stories everyday on Zerohedge of the disconnect from reality ..."
"... It is called COGNITIVE DISSONANCE .. ..."
"... "When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit with the core belief." ..."
"... During their final days as a world power, the Soviet Union allowed cognitive dissonance to rule its better judgment as so many Americans are doing in 2012. The handwriting on the wall was pretty clear for Gorbachev. The Soviet economy was failing. They did none of the necessary things to save their economy. In 2012, the handwriting on the wall is pretty clear for the American people. The economy is failing. The people and the Congress do none of the necessary things to save their economy. Why? Go re-read the definition of cognitive dissonance. That's why. We have a classic fight going on between those who want government to take care of them who will pay the price of lost freedom to get that care, and those who value freedom above all else. ..."
"... to me the PTB are "Japanifying" the u.s. (decades of no growth, near total demoralization of a generation of worker bees (as in, 'things will never get any better, be glad for what little you've got' etc... look what they've done to u.s. millenials just since '08... fooled (crushed) them TWICE already) ..."
"... But the PTB Plan B is to emulate the USSR with a crackup, replete with fire sale to oligarchs of public assets. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Submitted by Bryce McBride via Mises Canada,

This past November, the filmmaker Adam Curtis released the documentary Hypernormalisation.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-fny99f8amM

The term comes from Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation. The book argues that over the last 20 years of the Soviet Union, everyone knew the system wasn't working, but as no one could imagine any alternative, politicians and citizens were resigned to pretending that it was. Eventually this pretending was accepted as normal and the fake reality thus created was accepted as real, an effect which Yurchak termed "hypernormalisation."

Looking at events over the past few years, one wonders if our own society is experiencing the same phenomenon. A contrast with what economic policy-makers term "normalisation" is instructive.

Normalisation is what has historically happened in the wake of financial crises. During the booms that precede busts, low interest rates encourage people to make investments with borrowed money. However, even after all of the prudent investment opportunities have been taken, people continue borrowing to invest in projects and ideas that are unlikely to ever generate profits.

Eventually, the precariousness of some of these later investments becomes apparent. Those that arrive at this realization early sell up, settle their debts and pocket profits, but their selling often triggers a rush for the exits that bankrupts companies and individuals and, in many cases, the banks which lent to them.

In the normalisation which follows (usually held during 'special' bank holidays) auditors and accountants go through financial records and decide which companies and individuals are insolvent (and should therefore go bankrupt) and which are merely illiquid (and therefore eligible for additional loans, pledged against good collateral). In a similar fashion, central bank officials decide which banks are to close and which are to remain open. Lenders made freshly aware of bankruptcy risk raise (or normalise) interest rates and in so doing complete the process of clearing bad debt out of the system. Overall, reality replaces wishful thinking.

While this process is by no means pleasant for the people involved, from a societal standpoint bankruptcy and higher interest rates are necessary to keep businesses focused on profitable investment, banks focused on prudent lending and overall debt levels manageable.

By contrast, the responses of policy-makers to 2008's financial crisis suggest the psychology of hypernormalisation. Quantitative easing (also known as money printing) and interest rate suppression (to zero percent and, in Europe, negative interest rates) are not working and will never result in sustained increases in productivity, income and employment. However, as our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions, they have to pretend that they are working.

To understand why our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions such as interest rate normalization and banking reform one only needs to understand that while such policies would lay the groundwork for a sustained recovery, they would also expose many of the world's biggest banks as insolvent. As the financial sector is a powerful constituency (and a generous donor to political campaigns) the banks get the free money they need, even if such policies harm society as a whole.

As we live in a democratic society, it is necessary for our leaders to convince us that there are no other solutions and that the monetary policy fixes of the past 8 years have been effective and have done no harm.

Statistical chicanery has helped understate unemployment and inflation while global cooperation has served to obscure the currency depreciation and loss of confidence in paper money (as opposed to 'hard money' such as gold and silver) that are to be expected from rampant money printing.

Looking at unemployment figures first, while the unemployment rate is currently very low, the number of Americans of working age not in the labour force is currently at an all-time high of over 95 million people. Discouraged workers who stop looking for work are no longer classified as unemployed but instead become economically inactive, but clearly many of these people really should be counted as unemployed. Similarly, while government statistical agencies record inflation rates of between one and two percent, measures that use methodologies used in the past (such as John Williams' Shadowstats measures) show consumer prices rising at annual rates of 6 to 8 percent. In addition, many people have noticed what has been termed 'shrinkflation', where prices remain the same even as package sizes shrink. A common example is bacon, which used to be sold by the pound but which is now commonly sold in 12 ounce slabs.

Meanwhile central banks have coordinated their money printing to ensure that no major currency (the dollar, the yen, the euro or the Chinese renminbi) depreciates noticeably against the others for a sustained period of time. Further, since gold hit a peak of over $1900 per ounce in 2011, central banks have worked hard to keep the gold price suppressed through the futures market. On more than a few occasions, contracts for many months worth of global gold production have been sold in a matter of a few minutes, with predictable consequences for the gold price. At all costs, people's confidence in and acceptance of the paper (or, more commonly, electronic) money issued by central banks must be maintained.

Despite these efforts people nonetheless sense that something is wrong. The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump to the White House represent to a large degree a rejection of the fake reality propagated by the policymaking elite. Increasingly, people recognize that a financial system dependent upon zero percent interest rates is not sustainable and are responding by taking their money out of the banks in favour of holding cash or other forms of wealth. In the face of such understanding and resistance, governments are showing themselves willing to use coercion to enforce acceptance of their fake reality.

The recent fuss over 'fake news' seems intended to remove alternative news and information sources from a population that, alarmingly for those in charge, is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is . Just this month U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act into law. United States, meet your Ministry of Truth.

Meanwhile, in India last month, people were told that the highest denomination bills in common circulation would be 'demonetized' or made worthless as of December 30th. People were allowed to deposit or exchange a certain quantity of the demonetized bills in banks but many people who had accumulated their savings in rupee notes (often the poor who did not have bank accounts) have been ruined. Ostensibly, this demonetization policy was aimed at curbing corruption and terrorism, but it is fairly obvious that its real objective was to force people into the banking system and electronic money. Unsurprisingly, the demonetization drive was accompanied by limits on the quantity of gold people are allowed to hold.

Despite such attempts to influence our thinking and our behaviour, we don't need to resign ourselves to pretending that our system is working when it so clearly isn't. Looking at the eventual fate of the Soviet Union, it should be clear that the sooner we abandon the drift towards hypernormalisation and start on the path to normalisation the better off we will be.

DontGive Jan 7, 2017 9:03 PM

CB's printing is not a bug. It's a feature.

Long debt bitches.

Doña K TBT or not TBT Jan 8, 2017 12:05 AM

I did not learn anything from that movie. One man's collage of events.

We just take revenge on the system by living well.

Luc X. Ifer TBT or not TBT Jan 8, 2017 12:06 AM

Correct. I seen with sufficient level of comprehending consciousness the last 5 years of it - copy-cat perfection with the current times in US(S)A, terrifying how similar the times are as it is a clear indication of the times to come.

HRH Feant Jan 7, 2017 9:06 PM

Great article. I think it does describe the USSA at the present time. Everything works until it doesn't.

malek HRH Feant Jan 7, 2017 11:40 PM

The funny thing is I had almost identical thoughts just a few days ago. But I was thinking in comparison more of East Germany's last 20 years before they imploded - peacefully, because not a single non-leading-rank person believed any of the official facts anymore (and therefore they even simply ignored orders from high command to crush the Leipzig Monday demonstrations.)

navy62802 Jan 7, 2017 9:14 PM

I'm ok with a world led by Trump and Putin.

christiangustafson Jan 7, 2017 9:17 PM

Great piece!

I was just thinking that the whole economic world sees us in a sort of equilibrium at the moment. There will be some adjustments under Trump, but nothing serious. We shall see ..

Eeyores Enigma Jan 7, 2017 9:17 PM

Repeat something often enough and it becomes hypernormalised. With that in mind the number of eyes/minds/hits is all that matters. This has been known and exploited for hundreds of years.

That a handful of individuals can have a monopoly over the single most important aspect of whether you live or die is the ultimate success of hypernormalisation. CENTRAL BANKING.

Manipuflation Jan 7, 2017 9:22 PM

Mrs.M is of the last Soviet generation. Her .gov papers say so. There is never a day when I don't hear something soviet. She still has a her red pioneer ribbon. I have tried to encourage her to write about it on ZH so that we know. Do you think she will? No. She's says that we can't understand what it was like no matter what she says.

Mrs.M was born in 1981 so she has lived an interesting life. I married her in 2004 after much paperwork and $15000. I wanted that female because we got along quite well. She is who I needed with me this and I would do it all over again.

Needless to say, I do not support any aggression towards Russia. And to my fellow Americans, I advise caution because the half you are broke ass fucks and are already ropes with me.

That is the only news anyone needs to know.

wisebastard Jan 7, 2017 9:25 PM

the monkeys made me think ZH should make a post with monkeys evolving into humans that then de-evolve into Paul Krugman

GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 9:34 PM

I recall the joke from the old Soviet Union: "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work." In the USSA these last few years, Barry pretends to tell the truth. Libtards pretend to believe him.

BabaLooey GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 11:05 PM

Wrong. They believe him. Look at the gaggle of libtard/shiteaters at Soetero's Friday night bash at the White House.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2017/01/07/stars-obamas-white-hou...

Fucks. ALL of them.

max_leering GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 11:35 PM

Geezer, I'd change only one thing... I believe libtards bought Barry's bullshit hook, line and sinker... it was the rest of us who not-so-subtly were saying WTF!!!

Salzburg1756 Jan 7, 2017 9:35 PM

White Nationalists have lived in the real world for decades; the rest of you need to catch up.

JustPastPeacefield Jan 7, 2017 10:06 PM

Reagan used to quip that in the Soviet Union, the people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them. We're not the Soviet Union, but we have become a farce. Next stop - the fall. Followed by chaos, then onto something new. The new elites will just be the old elites, well, the ones that escape the noose.

evokanivo JustPastPeacefield Jan 7, 2017 10:23 PM

what noose? you think joe 6p is going to identify the culprits? i think not. "no one saw this coming!!!" is still ringing in my ears from the last time.

jm Jan 7, 2017 10:14 PM

I really don't know how people can keep on getting clicks with this tired crap. It didn't happen in 2008 just get over it. The delusional people are the people that think the world is going to end tomorrow.

wwxx jm Jan 8, 2017 6:08 AM

Maybe the world has ended, for 95 million? I haven't paid a single Fed income tax dollar in over 8 yrs., for a specific reason, I refuse to support the new normal circus, and quite frankly I would have gotten out during the GWBush regime, but I couldn't afford to at the time.

wwxx

EndOfDayExit Jan 7, 2017 10:17 PM

The real ugly problem with the Soviet Union is that whatever they broke it into isn't working well either. Same with the USSA. No one really knows what to do. Feudalism would probably work, but it is not possible to go back to it. My bet is that we will end up with some form of socialism, universal income and whatever else, just because there is no good alternative for dealing with lots and lots of people who are not needed anymore.

BingoBoggins EndOfDayExit Jan 8, 2017 6:15 AM

Do you mean useless eaters or fuckers deserving the guillotine? Russia's problem post collapse was the good ol' USSA and its capitalist, plunderer banking mavens.

NAV Jan 7, 2017 10:23 PM

The Soviet Union pushed its old culture to near destruction but failed to establish a new and better culture to replace it, writes Angelo M. Codevilla in "The Rise of Political Correctness," and as a result the U.S.S.R fell, just as America's current "politically correct" and dysfunctional "progressive utopia" will implode.

As such, Codevilla would agree that the US population " is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is."

As for the U.S.S.R., "this step turned out instead to destroy the very basis of Soviet power," writes Codevilla. "[C]ontinued efforts to force people to celebrate the party's ersatz reality, to affirm things that they know are not true and to deny others they know to be true – to live by lies – requires breaking them , reducing them to a sense of fearful isolation, destroying their self-esteem and their capacity to trust others. George Orwell's novel 1984 dramatized this culture war's ends and means : nothing less than the substitution of the party's authority for the reality conveyed by human senses and reason. Big Brother's agent, having berated the hapless Winston for preferring his own views to society's dictates, finished breaking his spirit by holding up four fingers and demanding that Winston acknowledge seeing five.

"Thus did the Soviet regime create dysfunctional, cynical, and resentful subjects. Because Communism confused destruction of 'bourgeois culture' with cultural conquest, it won all the cultural battles while losing its culture war long before it collapsed politically. As Communists identified themselves in people's minds with falsehood and fraud, people came to identify truth with anything other than the officials and their doctrines. Inevitably, they also identified them with corruption and privation. A nd so it was that, whenever the authorities announced that the harvest had been good, the people hoarded potatoes; and that more and more people who knew nothing of Christianity except that the authorities had anathematized it, started wearing crosses."

And if you want to see the ruling class's culture war in action today in America, pick up the latest issues of Vogue Magazine or O, The Oprah Magazine with their multitude of role reversals between whites and minorities. Or check out the latest decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court forcing people to acknowledge that America is not a Christian nation, or making it "more difficult for men, women and children to exist as a family" or demanding via law "that their subjects join them in celebrating the new order that reflects their identity."

As to just how far the ruling class has gone to serve the interests and proclivities of its leaders and to reject the majority's demand for representation, Codevilla notes, "In 2012 no one would have thought that defining marriage between one man and one woman, as enshrined in U.S. law, would brand those who do so as motivated by a culpable psychopathology called 'homophobia,' subject to fines and near-outlaw status. Not until 2015-16 did it occur to anyone that requiring persons with male personal plumbing to use public bathrooms reserved for men was a sign of the same pathology

"On the wholesale level, it is a war on civilization waged to indulge identity politics."

http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/the-rise-of-political-correctness/

Yen Cross Jan 7, 2017 11:11 PM

This article is so flawed! People[impoverished] aren't trying to jump over a wall patrolled by guards into Mexico -YET. Tyler, why do you repost shit like this?

daveO Yen Cross Jan 8, 2017 12:56 AM

That's because the Yankees, fleeing high taxes, can move to the sunbelt states w/o freezing. The USA went broke in 2008. Mexico got a head start by 22 years when oil prices collapsed in '86.

MASTER OF UNIVERSE Jan 7, 2017 11:28 PM

The only way to normalize banking in a contemporary banking paradigm of QE Infinity & Beyond is to start over again without the bankers & accountants that knowingly bet the ranch for a short term gain at the expense of long term profitability. In Japan an honourable businessman/CEO would suicide for bringing this kind of devastation to the company shareholders.

In America they don't give a shit because it is always someone else other than the CEO that takes the fall. 08 was proof that America is not equipped to participate in a Multinational & Multipolar world of business & investment in business. America can't get along in business in this world anymore. Greed has rendered America unemployable as a major market participant in a Globally run network of businesses.

America is the odd man out these days even though the next POTUS promises better management from a business perspective. Whilst the Mafia Cartel bosses trust TrumpO's business savvy the rest of the planet Earth does not.

Yen Cross Jan 7, 2017 11:53 PM

Are you kidding me??? >

Hypernormalisation I think we need a few MOAR syllables connected by fake verb/adjective < reverse /destruction- of the English language.

Manipuflation Yen Cross Jan 8, 2017 1:23 AM

Yen, I have a bottle of Bacardi rum here. It was on sale. Should I open it up? We could become experts....well at least I could.:-)

BingoBoggins Jan 8, 2017 8:12 AM

A liberal friend laid this movie on me to show me why he supported Hillary. A smart cookie, a PHd teaching English in Japan. A Khazarnazi Jew, he even spent time in Kyiv, Ukraine pre-coup, only mingling with "poets and writers". He went out of his way to tell me how bad the Russians were, informed as he was prior to the rejection of the EU's usurious offer.

He even quite dramatically pulled out the Anti-Semite card. I had to throw Banderas in his face and the US sponsored regime. I had respect for this guy and his knowledge but he just - could - not - let - go the cult assumptions. I finally came to believe Liberal Arts educators are victims of inbred conditioning. In retaliation, he wanted to somehow prove Putin a charlatan or villian and Trump his proxie.

This, after I'd point out his evasion and deflection every time I addressed his bias and belief in the MSM propaganda mantras of racism, misogyny, xenophobia - all the usual labeling bullshit up to insinuating Russia hacked the election. Excerpts from a correspondence wherein I go full asshole on the guy follow. Try and make sense of it if you watch this trash:

HyperNormalization 50:29 Not Ronald Rayguns, or Quadaffi plays along. Say what? They're, i.e. Curtis, assuming what Q thought?

1:15 USSR collapses. No shit. Cronyism in a centralized organization grown too large is inevitable it seems. So the premise has evolved to cultural/societal "management". Right. USSR collapses but let's repeat the same mistakes 'cause "it's different this time". We got us a computer!

Then Fink the failed Squid (how do Squids climb the corporate ladder?) builds one and programs historical data to,,,, forecast? I heard a' this. Let me guess. He couldn't avoid bias, making his models fallacious. Whoops. Well, he does intend to manipulate society, or was that not the goal? Come again? Some authority ran with it and ... captured an entire nation's media, conspired with other like-minded sycophants and their mysterious masters to capture an election by ... I may be getting ahead of myself.

Oh, boy, I have an inkling of where this is going. Perceptions modified by the word, advanced by the herd, in order to capture a vulnerable society under duress, who then pick sides, fool themselves in the process, miss the three hour tour never to live happily ever after on a deserted isle because they eschew (pick a bias here from the list provided). The one you think the "others" have, 'cause, shit, we're above it all, right? " Are we not entertained" is probably not the most appropriate question here.

Point being, Curtis, the BBC documentarian, totally negates the reality of pathological Imperialism as has been practiced by the West over the last half century, causing so many of the effects he so casually eludes to in the Arab Spring, Libya, Syria, Russia, the US and elsewhere. Perhaps the most blatant is this; Curtis asserts that Trump "defeated journalism" by rendering its fact-checking abilities irrelevant. Wikipedia He Hypernormalizes the very audience that believes itself to be enlightened. As for my erstwhile friend, the fucker never once admitted all the people *killed* for the ideals he supported. I finally blew him off for good.

To Hell In A Ha... Jan 8, 2017 7:06 AM

I've been using the term Hypernormalisation to describe aspects of western society for the last 15 years, before Adam Curtis's brilliant BBC documentary Hypernormalisation , afflicting western society and particularly politics. There are lies and gross distortions everywhere in western society and it straddles/effects all races, colours, social classes and the disease is most acute in our politics.

We all know the hypernoprmalisation in politics, as we witness stories everyday on Zerohedge of the disconnect from reality...

jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 7:44 AM

It is called COGNITIVE DISSONANCE ..

Allow me to quote something here ..

Enter Operation Stillpoint: William Colby, William Casey and Leo Emil Wanta.

At the time it started, President Reagan wanted to get a better handle on ways to keep the Soviets from expansionary tactics used to spread Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin's philosophy of communism around the world. He looked to his Special Task Force to provide a means of doing so. One thing was certain: The economy of the Soviets had never been strong and corruption, always present in government and always growing at least as fast as a government grows, made the USSR vulnerable to outside interference just as the United States is today.

According to Gorbachev's Prime Minister, Nikolai Ryzhkov, the "moral [nravstennoe] state of the society" in 1985 was its "most terrifying" feature: "[We] stole from ourselves, took and gave bribes, lied in the reports, in newspapers, from high podiums, wallowed in our lies, hung medals on one another. And all of this – from top to bottom and from bottom to top."

Again, it sounds like today's America, doesn't it?

Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze made equally painful comments about the lawlessness and corruption dominating the Soviet Union. During the winter months of 1984-85, he told Gorbachev that "Everything is rotten. It has to be changed."

"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong," Frantz Fanon said in his 1952 book Black Skin, White Masks (originally published in French as Peau Noire, Masques Blancs). "When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit with the core belief."

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

During their final days as a world power, the Soviet Union allowed cognitive dissonance to rule its better judgment as so many Americans are doing in 2012. The handwriting on the wall was pretty clear for Gorbachev. The Soviet economy was failing. They did none of the necessary things to save their economy. In 2012, the handwriting on the wall is pretty clear for the American people. The economy is failing. The people and the Congress do none of the necessary things to save their economy. Why? Go re-read the definition of cognitive dissonance. That's why. We have a classic fight going on between those who want government to take care of them who will pay the price of lost freedom to get that care, and those who value freedom above all else.

On one day we have 50 state attorneys general suing Bank of America for making fraudulent mortgages, and on the next we have M.F. Global losing billions upon billions of customer dollars because they got mixed with the firm's funds – which is against the law – or we have J.P. Morgan Chase losing $2 billion (or is it $5 billion?) in bad investments. As Eduard Shevardnadze said, "Everything is rotten. It has to be changed." As I would say it, "There is no Rule of Law in America today. There has been no real Rule of Law since George Herbert Walker Bush took office."

No one listened then; no one is listening in America now. The primary reason? Cognitive dissonance. -- Chapter 2, "Wanta! Black Swan, White Hat" (2013)

Okay then, forget what was said in 1985, that was later reported in 2013 ..

Let's fast forward to Oct. 30, 2016 ..

Shall we? I mean, it is a bit MOAR -- relevant!

https://youtu.be/8tYTSR9gheQ

And, for those that must have further amplification .. (And, some .......... fun!)

https://www.youtube.com/user/fooser77/playlists

BingoBoggins jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 8:20 AM

You reminded me I bookmarked this on Chrome, so I dared to venture there to retrieve it;

https://books.google.com/books?id=cbC_AwAAQBAJ&pg=PP21&lpg=PP21&dq=crony...

Vageling jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 9:16 AM

Lee Wanta. I've heard of him before. He was screwed over for some bullshit charges. And the CIA made a firm warning... How long did that dude spent in jail?

Just looked up his story as it was blurry. Cronyism at its finest. So now that I got my refreshing course. Trump stole/adopted (however you want to look at that) his plan and the project the gov (DOT) proposes sucks donkey balls compared to Wanta's.

So where are all the climate hoaxers now by the way? You'd figure they'd be all over this.

American Gorbachev Jan 8, 2017 10:10 AM

to me the PTB are "Japanifying" the u.s. (decades of no growth, near total demoralization of a generation of worker bees (as in, 'things will never get any better, be glad for what little you've got' etc... look what they've done to u.s. millenials just since '08... fooled (crushed) them TWICE already)

But the PTB Plan B is to emulate the USSR with a crackup, replete with fire sale to oligarchs of public assets. They will Japan as long as they can (so it will be difficult to forecast any crackup anymore than six months beforehand). Hope they have a Gorbachev lined up, to limit the bloodshed

[Jan 07, 2017] The results of November 2016 Presidential elections are yet another sign of the crisis of neoliberal ideology and, especially, Trotskyism (usually presented as neoconservatism) part of it (neoliberalism can be viewed as Trotskyism for the rich).

Notable quotes:
"... High level of inequality as the explicit, desirable goal (which raises the productivity). ..."
"... "Neoliberal rationality" when everything is a commodity that should be traded at specific market. ..."
"... Extreme financialization or converting the economy into "casino capitalism" ..."
"... The idea of the global, USA dominated neoliberal empire and related "Permanent war for permanent peace" ..."
"... Downgrading ordinary people to the role of commodity and creating three classes of citizens (moochers, or Untermensch, "creative class" and top 0.1%), with the upper class (0.1% or "Masters of the Universe") being above the law ..."
"... "Downsizing" sovereignty of nations via international treaties like TPP, and making transnational corporations the key political players, "the deciders" ..."
"... US Trotskyites gravitated mostly to neoconservatism, not "pure" neoliberalism. They were definitely contributors and players at later stage, but Monte Peregrine society was instrumental in creation of the initial version of the neoliberal ideology. And only later it became clear that neoconservatism is "neoliberalism with the gun". ..."
"... I think that after "iron law of oligarchy" was discovered, it became clear that the idea of proletariat as a new "progressive" class that destined to become the leading force in the society was a utopia. ..."
"... But if you replace "proletariat" with the "creative class" then Trotskyism ideology makes a lot of sense, as a "muscular" interpretation of neoliberalism. Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have "neoliberal elites of all countries unite". Instead of permanent revolution we have permanent "democratization" via color revolutions with the same key idea. In this case creating a global neoliberal empire that will make everybody happy and prosperous. So it makes perfect sense to bring neoliberal flavor democracy on the tips of bayonets to those backward nations that resist the inevitable. ..."
"... From this point of view neoliberalism is yet another stunning "economico-political" utopia that competes as for the level of economic determinism with classic Marxism... ..."
"... Consider Christopher Hitchens: the former Trotskyist wrote, following his 2002 resignation as a Nation columnist, that by not embracing things like the Iraq War, "The Nation joined the amoral side . I say that they stand for neutralism where no such thing is possible or desirable, and I say the hell with it." ..."
Aug 29, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
likbez said...

That's simply naïve:

It has recently become commonplace to argue that globalization can leave people behind, and that this can have severe political consequences. Since 23 June, this has even become conventional wisdom. While I welcome this belated acceptance of the blindingly obvious, I can't but help feeling a little frustrated, since this has been self-evident for many years now. What we are seeing, in part, is what happens to conventional wisdom when, all of a sudden, it finds that it can no longer dismiss as irrelevant something that had been staring it in the face for a long time.

This is not about "conventional wisdom". This is about the power of neoliberal propaganda, the power of brainwashing and indoctrination of population via MSM, schools and universities.

And "all of a sudden, it finds that it can no longer dismiss as irrelevant something that had been staring it in the face for a long time." also has nothing to do with conventional wisdom.


This is about the crisis of neoliberal ideology and especially Trotskyism part of it (neoliberalism can be viewed as Trotskyism for the rich). The following integral elements of this ideology no longer work well and are starting to course the backlash:

  1. High level of inequality as the explicit, desirable goal (which raises the productivity). "Greed is good" or "Trickle down economics" -- redistribution of wealth up will create (via higher productivity) enough scrapes for the lower classes, lifting all boats.
  2. "Neoliberal rationality" when everything is a commodity that should be traded at specific market. Human beings also are viewed as market actors with every field of activity seen as a specialized market. Every entity (public or private, person, business, state) should be governed as a firm. "Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices." People are just " human capital" who must constantly tend to their own present and future market value.
  3. Extreme financialization or converting the economy into "casino capitalism" (under neoliberalism everything is a marketable good, that is traded on explicit or implicit exchanges.
  4. The idea of the global, USA dominated neoliberal empire and related "Permanent war for permanent peace" -- wars for enlarging global neoliberal empire via crushing non-compliant regimes either via color revolutions or via open military intervention.
  5. Downgrading ordinary people to the role of commodity and creating three classes of citizens (moochers, or Untermensch, "creative class" and top 0.1%), with the upper class (0.1% or "Masters of the Universe") being above the law like the top level of "nomenklatura" was in the USSR.
  6. "Downsizing" sovereignty of nations via international treaties like TPP, and making transnational corporations the key political players, "the deciders" as W aptly said. Who decide about level of immigration flows, minimal wages, tariffs, and other matters that previously were prerogative of the state.

So after 36 (or more) years of dominance (which started with triumphal march of neoliberalism in early 90th) the ideology entered "zombie state". That does not make it less dangerous but its power over minds of the population started to evaporate. Far right ideologies now are filling the vacuum, as with the discreditation of socialist ideology and decimation of "enlightened corporatism" of the New Deal in the USA there is no other viable alternatives.

The same happened in late 1960th with the Communist ideology. It took 20 years for the USSR to crash after that with the resulting splash of nationalism (which was the force that blow up the USSR) and far right ideologies.

It remains to be seen whether the neoliberal US elite will fare better then Soviet nomenklatura as challenges facing the USA are now far greater then challenges which the USSR faced at the time. Among them is oil depletion which might be the final nail into the coffin of neoliberalism and, specifically, the neoliberal globalization.

Paine -> likbez... , Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 11:45 AM

Now the trots spawned neo liberalism as well as neo conservatism ?
likbez -> Paine... , Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 03:13 PM
This is a difficult question. They did not spawned neoliberalism and for some time neoconservatism existed as a separate ideology.

US Trotskyites gravitated mostly to neoconservatism, not "pure" neoliberalism. They were definitely contributors and players at later stage, but Monte Peregrine society was instrumental in creation of the initial version of the neoliberal ideology. And only later it became clear that neoconservatism is "neoliberalism with the gun".

I think that after "iron law of oligarchy" was discovered, it became clear that the idea of proletariat as a new "progressive" class that destined to become the leading force in the society was a utopia.

But if you replace "proletariat" with the "creative class" then Trotskyism ideology makes a lot of sense, as a "muscular" interpretation of neoliberalism. Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have "neoliberal elites of all countries unite". Instead of permanent revolution we have permanent "democratization" via color revolutions with the same key idea. In this case creating a global neoliberal empire that will make everybody happy and prosperous. So it makes perfect sense to bring neoliberal flavor democracy on the tips of bayonets to those backward nations that resist the inevitable.

From this point of view neoliberalism is yet another stunning "economico-political" utopia that competes as for the level of economic determinism with classic Marxism...

Also this process started long ago and lasted more then 50 years. The first who did this jump was probably James Burnham. The latest was probably Christopher Hitchens. https://www.thenation.com/article/going-all-way/

Consider Christopher Hitchens: the former Trotskyist wrote, following his 2002 resignation as a Nation columnist, that by not embracing things like the Iraq War, "The Nation joined the amoral side . I say that they stand for neutralism where no such thing is possible or desirable, and I say the hell with it."

It is the turncoat's greatest gift to his new hosts: the affirmation that the world exists only in black and white.

Lord -> likbez... ,
Boudreaux assures us it would be unethical and uneconomical to do otherwise, by those with the gold anyway.
likbez -> likbez...
Speaking of Christopher Hitchens:

Those are still pretty much current today as when they were written.

[Jan 03, 2017] Republicans in House Vote to Curtail Power of Ethics Office

Jan 03, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : , January 02, 2017 at 06:54 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/02/us/politics/with-no-warning-house-republicans-vote-to-hobble-independent-ethics-office.html

Januaty 2, 2017

Republicans in House Vote to Curtail Power of Ethics Office
By ERIC LIPTON

The vote came as a surprise and apparently without the support of the House speaker or the majority leader. The full House is scheduled to vote Tuesday.

The move would take away power and independence from an investigative body, and give lawmakers more control over internal inquiries.

anne -> anne... , January 02, 2017 at 06:57 PM
Brazil, the current Brazil, may unfortunately be a closer analogy than I had imagined.
anne -> anne... , -1
http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/brazil-clamps-down-on-civil-rights-doubles-down-on-failed-economics

December 22, 2016

Institutions, Rule of Law, and Civil Rights Deteriorate in Brazil as Government Doubles Down on Failed Economic Policies
By Mark Weisbrot

When Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in May and removed from office in August, many called it a coup.

The president was not charged with anything that could legitimately be called a crime, and the leaders of the impeachment appeared, in taped conversations, to be getting rid of her in order to cut off a corruption investigation in which they and their political allies were implicated.

Others warned that once starting down this road, further degradation of state institutions and the rule of law would follow. And that's just what has happened, along with some of the political repression that generally accompanies this type of regime change.

On November 4, police raided a school run by the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), in Guararema, São Paulo. They fired live (not rubber bullet) ammunition and made a number of arrests, bringing international condemnation. There had previously been eight arrests of MST organizers in the state of Paraná. The MST is a powerful social movement that has won land rights for hundreds of thousands of rural Brazilians over the past three decades, and has also been a prominent opponent of the August coup.

The politicization of the judiciary was already a major problem in the run-up to Rousseff's removal. Now we have seen further corrosion of institutions when a justice of the Supreme Court issued an injunction removing Senate President Renan Calheiros because he had been indicted for embezzlement.

Calheiros defied the order, whereupon the sitting president of the republic, Michel Temer, negotiated with the rest of the Supreme Court to keep Calheiros in place. The great fear of Temer and his allies was that Calheiros's removal could have derailed an outrageous constitutional amendment that would freeze real (inflation-adjusted) government spending for the next 20 years, which has now been passed by the Congress.

Given that Brazil's population is projected to grow by about 12 percent over the next 20 years, and the population will also be aging, the amendment is an unprecedented long-term commitment to worsening poverty. It will "place Brazil in a socially retrogressive category all of its own," noted Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, describing the measure as an attack on the poor.

The government's proposed public pension cuts would hit working and poor people the hardest....

[Jan 02, 2017] Neoliberals hate government policies, unless they increase thier ability to make profits

Free market is a neoliberal myth, the cornerstone of neoliberal secular region.
Notable quotes:
"... Well, duh. "Policy" and "Capitalism" don't go together and never have. When you enact policy, you destroy the ability to make profit and you get the 1970's. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Gibbon1 -> anne... , December 31, 2016 at 10:21 PM
Two of my criticisms about Krugman/Friedman, etc is that is 'free markets' are supposed to substitute for policy in the government sphere. Except very telling except when we're talking about funding the security state.

The other is that the real power of markets is that in a real free market (not a Potemkin one) decisions are made often at the point where needs, information, incentives, and economic power come together. But the large scale decisions the governments have to make, markets fail. Policy though doesn't.

But Neoliberals hate policy.

AngloSaxon -> Gibbon1...
Well, duh. "Policy" and "Capitalism" don't go together and never have. When you enact policy, you destroy the ability to make profit and you get the 1970's.
likbez -> Gibbon1... January 01, 2017 at 10:15 PM
Free market is a neoliberal myth, the cornerstone of neoliberalism as a secular religion. Somewhat similar to "Immaculate Conception" in Catholicism.

In reality market almost by definition is controlled by government, who enforces the rules and punish for the transgressions.

Also note interesting Orwellian "corruption of the language" trick neoliberals use: neoliberals talk about "free market, not "fair market".

After 2008 few are buying this fairy tale about how markets can operate and can solve society problems independently of political power, and state's instruments of violence (the police and the military). This myths is essentially dead.

But like Adventists did not disappear when the second coming of Christ did not occurred in predicted timeframe, neoliberals did not did not disappeared after 2008 either. And neither did neoliberalism, it just entered into zombie, more bloodthirsty stage. the fact that even the term "neoliberalism" is prohibited in the US MSM also helped. It is kind of stealth ideology, unlike say, Marxists, neoliberals do not like to identify themselves as such. The behave more like members of some secret society, free market masons.

Friedmanism is a flavor of economic Lysenkoism. Note that Lysenko like Friedman was not a complete charlatan. Some of his ideas were pretty sound and withstood the test of time. But that does not make his less evil.

And for those who try to embellish this person, I would remind his role in 1973 Chilean coup d'état ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_Chilean_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat ) and bringing Pinochet to power. His "Chicago boys" played a vital role in the events. This man did has blood on his hands.

http://www.bidstrup.com/economics.htm

=== quote ===
Of course, bringing a reign of terror to Chile was not why the CIA had sponsored him. The reason he was there was to reverse the gains of the Allende social democracy and return control of the country's economic and political assets to the oligarchy. Pinochet was convinced, through supporters among the academics in the elite Chilean universities, to try a new series of economic policies, called "neoliberal" by their founders, the economists of the University of Chicago, led by an economist by the name of Milton Friedman, who three years later would go on to win a Nobel Prize in Economics for what he was about to unleash upon Chile.

Friedman and his colleagues were referred to by the Chileans as "the Chicago Boys." The term originally meant the economists from the University of Chicago, but as time went on, as their policies began to disliquidate the middle class and poor, it took on a perjorative meaning. That was because as the reforms were implemented, and began to take hold, the results were not what Friedman and company had been predicting. But what were the reforms?

The reforms were what has come to be called "neoliberalism." To understand what "neoliberal" economics is, one must first understand what "liberal" economics are, and so we'll digress briefly from our look at Chile for a quick...
=== end of quote ===

[Dec 21, 2016] The widespread belief of neoliberals that they are entitled to a good hand in the market economy casino. This is reflected in the more or less universal belief of the affluent that

Krugman is a neoliberal stooge. Since when Social Security is an entitlement program. If you start contributing at 25 and retire at 67 (40 years of monthly contributions), you actually get less then you contribute, unless you live more then 80 years. It just protects you from "free market casino".
Notable quotes:
"... A "contribution" theory of what a proper distribution of income might be can only be made coherent if there are constant returns to scale in the scarce, priced, owned factors of production. Only then can you divide the pile of resources by giving to each the marginal societal product of their work and of the resources that they own. ..."
"... n a world--like the one we live in--of mammoth increasing returns to unowned knowledge and to networks, no individual and no community is especially valuable. Those who receive good livings are those who are lucky -- as Carrier's workers in Indiana have been lucky in living near Carrier's initial location. It's not that their contribution to society is large or that their luck is replicable: if it were, they would not care (much) about the departure of Carrier because there would be another productive network that they could fit into a slot in. ..."
"... If not about people, what is an economy about? ..."
"... I hadn't realized that Democrats now view Social Security and Medicare as "government handouts". ..."
"... Some Democrats like Krugman are Social Darwinists. ..."
"... PK is an ignorant vicious SOB. Many of those "dependent hillbillies" PK despises paid SS and Medicare taxes for many decades, most I know have never been on foos stamps, and if they are on disability it is because they did honest hard work, something PK knows nothing about. What an ignorant jerk. ..."
"... What is a very highly subsidized industry that benefits Delong and Krugman? Higher education. Damn welfare queens! :) ..."
"... No Krugman is echoing the tribalism of Johnny Bakho. These people won't move or educate themselves or "skill up" so they deserve what they get. Social darwinism. ..."
"... People like Bakho are probably anti-union as well. They're seen as relics of an earlier age and economically "uncompetitve." See Fred Dobbs below. That's the dog whistle about the "rust belt." ..."
"... Paul Krugman's reputation, formerly that of a a noted economic, succumbed after a brief struggle to Trump Derangement Syndrome. Friends said Mr Krugman's condition had been further aggravated by cognitive dissonance from a severely challenged worldview. ..."
"... He is survived by the New York Times, also said to be in failing health. ..."
"... For a long time DeLong was mocking the notion of "economic anxiety" amongst the voters. Does this blog post mean he's rethinking that idea? ..."
"... The GOP has a long history of benefitting from the disconnect where a lot of their voters are convinced that when government money goes to others (sometimes even within their own white congregations), then it is not deserved. ..."
Dec 21, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne : December 18, 2016 at 05:13 AM , 2016 at 05:13 AM

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/12/17/what-do-trump-voters-want/

December 17, 2016

What Do Trump Voters Want?
By Paul Krugman

Brad DeLong has an interesting meditation * on markets and political demands - inspired by a note from Noah Smith ** - that offers food for thought. I wonder, however, if Brad's discussion is too abstract; and I also wonder whether it fully recognizes the disconnect between what Trump voters think they want and reality. So, an entry of my own.

What Brad is getting at is the widespread belief by, well, almost everyone that they are entitled to - have earned - whatever good hand they have been dealt by the market economy. This is reflected in the more or less universal belief of the affluent that they deserve what they have; you could see this in the rage of rentiers at low interest rates, because it's the Federal Reserve's job to reward savers, right? In this terrible political year, the story was in part one of people in Appalachia angrily demanding a return of the good jobs they used to have mining coal - even though the world doesn't want more coal given fracking, and it can get the coal it still wants from strip mines and mountaintop removal, which don't employ many people.

And what Brad is saying, I think, is that what those longing for the return to coal want is those jobs they deserve, where they earn their money - not government handouts, no sir.

A fact-constrained candidate wouldn't have been able to promise such people what they want; Trump, of course, had no problem.

But is that really all there is? Working-class Trump voters do, in fact, receive a lot of government handouts - they're almost totally dependent on Social Security for retirement, Medicare for health care when old, are quite dependent on food stamps, and many have recently received coverage from Obamacare. Quite a few receive disability payments too. They don't want those benefits to go away. But they managed to convince themselves (with a lot of help from Fox News etc) that they aren't really beneficiaries of government programs, or that they're not getting the "good welfare", which only goes to Those People.

And you can really see this in the regional patterns. California is an affluent state, a heavy net contributor to the federal budget; it went 2-1 Clinton. West Virginia is poor and a huge net recipient of federal aid; it went 2 1/2-1 Trump.

I don't think any kind of economic analysis can explain this. It has to be about culture and, as always, race.

* http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/12/is-the-problem-one-of-insufficient-market-wages-inadequate-social-insurance-polanyian-disruption-of-patterns-of-life-.html

** https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-12-16/four-ways-to-help-the-midwest

anne -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 05:18 AM
http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/12/is-the-problem-one-of-insufficient-market-wages-inadequate-social-insurance-polanyian-disruption-of-patterns-of-life-.html

December 17, 2016

Regional Policy and Distributional Policy in a World Where People Want to Ignore the Value and Contribution of Knowledge- and Network-Based Increasing Returns

Pascal Lamy: "When the wise man points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger..."

Perhaps in the end the problem is that people want to pretend that they are filling a valuable role in the societal division of labor, and are receiving no more than they earn--than they contribute.

But that is not the case. The value--the societal dividend--is in the accumulated knowledge of humanity and in the painfully constructed networks that make up our value chains.

A "contribution" theory of what a proper distribution of income might be can only be made coherent if there are constant returns to scale in the scarce, priced, owned factors of production. Only then can you divide the pile of resources by giving to each the marginal societal product of their work and of the resources that they own.

That, however, is not the world we live in.

In a world--like the one we live in--of mammoth increasing returns to unowned knowledge and to networks, no individual and no community is especially valuable. Those who receive good livings are those who are lucky -- as Carrier's workers in Indiana have been lucky in living near Carrier's initial location. It's not that their contribution to society is large or that their luck is replicable: if it were, they would not care (much) about the departure of Carrier because there would be another productive network that they could fit into a slot in.

All of this "what you deserve" language is tied up with some vague idea that you deserve what you contribute--that what your work adds to the pool of society's resources is what you deserve.

This illusion is punctured by any recognition that there is a large societal dividend to be distributed, and that the government can distribute it by supplementing (inadequate) market wages determined by your (low) societal marginal product, or by explicitly providing income support or services unconnected with work via social insurance. Instead, the government is supposed to, somehow, via clever redistribution, rearrange the pattern of market power in the economy so that the increasing-returns knowledge- and network-based societal dividend is predistributed in a relatively egalitarian way so that everybody can pretend that their income is just "to each according to his work", and that they are not heirs and heiresses coupon clipping off of the societal capital of our predecessors' accumulated knowledge and networks.

On top of this we add: Polanyian disruption of patterns of life--local communities, income levels, industrial specialization--that you believed you had a right to obtain or maintain, and a right to believe that you deserve. But in a market capitalist society, nobody has a right to the preservation of their local communities, to their income levels, or to an occupation in their industrial specialization. In a market capitalist society, those survive only if they pass a market profitability test. And so the only rights that matter are those property rights that at the moment carry with them market power--the combination of the (almost inevitably low) marginal societal products of your skills and the resources you own, plus the (sometimes high) market power that those resources grant to you.

This wish to believe that you are not a moocher is what keeps people from seeing issues of distribution and allocation clearly--and generates hostility to social insurance and to wage supplement policies, for they rip the veil off of the idea that you deserve to be highly paid because you are worth it. You aren't.

And this ties itself up with regional issues: regional decline can come very quickly whenever a region finds that its key industries have, for whatever reason, lost the market power that diverted its previously substantial share of the knowledge- and network-based societal dividend into the coffers of its firms. The resources cannot be simply redeployed in other industries unless those two have market power to control the direction of a share of the knowledge- and network-based societal dividend. And so communities decline and die. And the social contract--which was supposed to have given you a right to a healthy community--is broken.

As I have said before, humans are, at a very deep and basic level, gift-exchange animals. We create and reinforce our social bonds by establishing patterns of "owing" other people and by "being owed". We want to enter into reciprocal gift-exchange relationships. We create and reinforce social bonds by giving each other presents. We like to give. We like to receive. We like neither to feel like cheaters nor to feel cheated. We like, instead, to feel embedded in networks of mutual reciprocal obligation. We don't like being too much on the downside of the gift exchange: to have received much more than we have given in return makes us feel very small. We don't like being too much on the upside of the gift exchange either: to give and give and give and never receive makes us feel like suckers.

We want to be neither cheaters nor saps....

ken melvin -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 05:32 AM
If not about people, what is an economy about?
Observer -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 05:59 AM
I hadn't realized that Democrats now view Social Security and Medicare as "government handouts".
Peter K. -> Observer... , December 18, 2016 at 09:25 AM
Some Democrats like Krugman are Social Darwinists. They're the "center-left" versus Bernie Sanders's leftwing supporters.
Tom aka Rusty -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 06:06 AM
PK is an ignorant vicious SOB. Many of those "dependent hillbillies" PK despises paid SS and Medicare taxes for many decades, most I know have never been on foos stamps, and if they are on disability it is because they did honest hard work, something PK knows nothing about. What an ignorant jerk.
Tom aka Rusty -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 06:31 AM
What is a very highly subsidized industry that benefits Delong and Krugman? Higher education. Damn welfare queens! :)
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 06:37 AM
Not LOL worthy, but still a good solid :<)
anne -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 06:53 AM

Education from elementary through college and professional levels is of course publicly supported in every reasonably advanced country in the world.

EMichael -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 07:18 AM
What is a very highly subsidized industry that benefits Rusty?

Healthcare.

Damn welfare queen!

Peter K. -> EMichael... , December 18, 2016 at 09:33 AM
Or Krugman's textbook industry.
BenIsNotYoda -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 10:49 AM
PK's rhetoric, together with shills like pgl and emichael, has deteriorated quite a bit. Nicely done Rusty.
anne -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 06:34 AM
"dependent hillbillies"

[ This is a false quote. A writer should never be falsely quoted. There is no such expression used in this or any other essay by Paul Krugman. ]

pgl -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 09:34 AM
It must be really cold where Rusty lives and he woke up in one foul mood.
DeDude -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 08:58 AM
Exactly the same could be said about many of those inner city minorities that the "dependent hillbillies" look down on as "welfare queens". That may be one of the reasons they take special issues with "food stamps", because in contrast to the hillbillies, inner city poor people cannot grow their own food. What Krugman is pointing out is the hypocrisy of their tribalism - and also the idiocy, because the dismantling of society would ultimately hurt the morons that voted GOP into power this round.
Peter K. -> DeDude... , December 18, 2016 at 09:31 AM
"What Krugman is pointing out is the hypocrisy of their tribalism "

No Krugman is echoing the tribalism of Johnny Bakho. These people won't move or educate themselves or "skill up" so they deserve what they get. Social darwinism.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 09:58 AM
People like Bakho are probably anti-union as well. They're seen as relics of an earlier age and economically "uncompetitve." See Fred Dobbs below. That's the dog whistle about the "rust belt."
Julio -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 10:53 AM
His tone is supercilious and offensive. But your argument is that they are not "dependent" because they earned every benefit they get from the government. I think his point is that "dependent" is not offensive -- the term jus reflects how we all depend on government services. DeLong makes the point much better in the article quoted by anne above.
Observer -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 06:07 AM
In Memorium

Paul Krugman's reputation, formerly that of a a noted economic, succumbed after a brief struggle to Trump Derangement Syndrome. Friends said Mr Krugman's condition had been further aggravated by cognitive dissonance from a severely challenged worldview.

He is survived by the New York Times, also said to be in failing health.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Observer... , December 18, 2016 at 06:38 AM
:<)
kthomas -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 06:52 AM
Judith Miller. Dowd. Doh!at. Broder. Brooks.

BS

anne -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 06:55 AM
The New York Times is easily the finest newspaper in the world, is broadly recognized as such and is of course flourishing. Such an institution will always have sections or editors and writers of relative strength but these relative strengths change over time as the newspaper continually changes.
Observer -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 07:36 AM
Flourishing?

NYT Co. to revamp HQ, vacate eight floors in consolidation

"In an SEC filing, New York Times Co. discloses a staff communication it provided today to employees about a revamp of its headquarters -- including consolidating floors.

The company will vacate at least eight floors, consolidating workspaces and allowing for "significant" rental income, the memo says."

http://seekingalpha.com/news/3231232-nyt-co-revamp-hq-vacate-eight-floors-consolidation

anne -> Dan Kervick... , December 18, 2016 at 07:17 AM
Brad DeLong's piece was thoughtful.

[ Importantly so, worth a couple of close readings. ]

Peter K. -> Dan Kervick... , December 18, 2016 at 09:30 AM
For a long time DeLong was mocking the notion of "economic anxiety" amongst the voters. Does this blog post mean he's rethinking that idea?
Peter K. -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 09:57 AM
Technocratic Democrats like DeLong and Krugman (or neoliberal centrists) are notoriously against economic democracy and unions and the like.

Maybe that's a factor here.

Dan Kervick -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 01:13 PM
I think he and others have finally reached a point where denial is not an option.
DeDude -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 08:37 AM
The GOP has a long history of benefitting from the disconnect where a lot of their voters are convinced that when government money goes to others (sometimes even within their own white congregations), then it is not deserved. But if that same government money goes to themselves (or their real close relatives), then it is a hard earned and well-deserved payback for their sacrifices and tax payments. So the GOP leadership has always called it "saving social security" and "cracking down on fraud" rather than admitting to their attempts to dismantle those programs. The Dems better be on the ball and call it what it is. If you want to save those programs you just have to prevent rich people from wiggling out of paying for them (don't repeal the Obamacare medicare taxes on the rich).
rjs -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 10:12 AM
What Do Trump Voters Want? for starters, they'd probably want people like Krugman to stop looking down their noses at them like they're lepers..
DeDude -> rjs ... , December 18, 2016 at 01:49 PM
Can we at least call those with the pointy white hats, despicable?
rjs -> DeDude... , December 18, 2016 at 02:29 PM

depends on how many of those people who voted for Obama in 2012 you figure to have joined the pointy white hat club since...


http://peakwatch.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83452403c69e201bb0960723f970d-pi

DeDude -> rjs ... , December 18, 2016 at 03:45 PM
Would they not be despicable regardless of what kind of wood they previously enjoyed burning?
RC AKA Darryl, Ron : , December 18, 2016 at 06:15 AM
Excellent post election commentary from Bloom County (comic).

http://www.gocomics.com/bloom-county/2016/11/27

David : , December 18, 2016 at 07:16 AM
On the Pk piece. I think it is really about human dignity, and the need for it. There were a lot of factors in this horrific election, but just as urban blacks need to be spared police brutality, rural whites need a dignified path in their lives. Everyone, united, deserves such a path.

This is a real challenge for economists; how do we rebuild the rust belt (which applies to areas beyond the literal rust belt).

If we do not, we risk Trump 2.0, which could be very scary indeed.

EMichael -> David... , December 18, 2016 at 07:36 AM
I agree to a point, but what the piece is about is that in search of a solution to the problems of the rustbelt (whatever the definition is),people voted for Trump who had absolutely no plan to solve such a problem, other than going back to the future and redoing Nafta and getting rid of regulations.

Meanwhile, that vote also meant that the safety net that helps all Americans in trouble was being placed in severe risk.

Those voters were fixed on his rhetoric and right arm extended while his left hand was grabbing them by the (in deference to Anne I will not say the words, but Trump himself has said one of them and the other is the male version).

Peter K. -> EMichael... , December 18, 2016 at 08:48 AM
"I agree to a point,"

Really? You didn't seem to before. You'd say what Duy or Noah Smith or DeLong were mulling about was off-limits. You'd ban them from the comment section if you could. "This is a real challenge for economists; how do we rebuild the rust belt (which applies to areas beyond the literal rust belt).

If we do not, we risk Trump 2.0, which could be very scary indeed." I don't see why this is such a controversial point for centrist like Krugman. How do we appeal to the white working class without contradicting our principles?

By promoting policies that raise living standards. By delivering, which mean left-wing policies not centrist tinkering. It's the Clinton vs. Sanders primary. Hillary could have nominated Elizabeth Warren as her VP candidate but her corporate masters wouldn't let her.

sglover -> EMichael... , December 18, 2016 at 06:08 PM
"Meanwhile, that vote also meant that the safety net that helps all Americans in trouble was being placed in severe risk."

That safety net is an improvement over 1930. But it's been fraying so badly over the last 20-30 years that it's almost lost all meaning. It's something people turn to before total destitution, but for rebuilding a life? A sick joke, filled with petty hassles and frustrations.

And the fraying has been a solidly bipartisan project. Who can forget welfare "reform"?

So maybe the yokels you're blaming for the 10,000-th time might not buy your logic or your intentions.

Fred C. Dobbs -> David... , December 18, 2016 at 08:07 AM
In the rustbelt, Dems are accustomed to
dealing with their supporters who are
union members. (Why the auto industry
was bailed out, dontchaknow.)

That obviously doesn't work so well
any more. In that region, recovery
was 'less than robust', no?

In New England, where unions are much
less of a factor, recovery has been
relatively successful. Dems remain
pretty strong here.

Why can't the rustbelt be more
like the northeast?

The ongoing new industrial revolution
would seem to have much to do
with such matters.

Peter K. -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 18, 2016 at 08:49 AM
"In New England, where unions are much less of a factor, recovery has been relatively successful. Dems remain pretty strong here."

Is that accurate?

Fred C. Dobbs -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 09:30 AM
unions don't have much to celebrate (in MA) http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/08/29/labor-day-but-there-little-for-labor-celebrate/e4MOhMsc5lf6rJkZdCPbKM/story.html?event=event25
via @BostonGlobe - August 2014

... At the height of their influence in the 1950s, labor unions could claim to represent about 1 of every 3 American workers. Today, it's 1 in 9 - and falling.

Some have seen the shrinking size and waning influence of labor unions as a sign that the US economy is growing more flexible and dynamic, but there's mounting evidence that it is also contributing to slow wage growth and the rise in inequality. ...


(Union membership) NY 24.7%, MA 12.4%, SC 2.1%

... Are unions faring any better here in Massachusetts?

While Massachusetts's unions are stronger than average, it's not among the most heavily unionized states. That honor goes to New York, where 1 in every 4 workers belongs to a union. After New York, there are 11 other states with higher union membership rates then Massachusetts.

Here too, though, the decline in union membership over time has been steep.

(From 1983 to 2013) US -42%, MA -44%

Fred C. Dobbs -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 09:44 AM
Union Members Summary - BLS - Jan 2016 https://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

... In 2015, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below
that of the U.S. average, 11.1 percent, and 20 states had rates above it. All states
in the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates
below the national average, and all states in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions
had rates above it. Union membership rates increased over the year in 24 states and
the District of Columbia, declined in 23 states, and were unchanged in 3 states.
(See table 5.)

Five states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2015: South Carolina
(2.1 percent), North Carolina (3.0 percent), Utah (3.9 percent), Georgia (4.0 percent),
and Texas (4.5 percent).

Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in
2015: New York (24.7 percent) and Hawaii (20.4 percent).

State union membership levels depend on both the employment level and the union
membership rate. The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.5 million)
and New York (2.0 million).

Roughly half of the 14.8 million union members in the
U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.5 million; New York, 2.0 million;
Illinois, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, Ohio, and New Jersey,
0.6 million each), though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and
salary employment nationally.

(It appears that New England union participation
lags in the northeast, and also in the rest of
the US not in the Red Zone.)

Table 5. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state https://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.t05.htm

Peter K. -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 18, 2016 at 09:56 AM
"In New England, where unions are much
less of a factor, recovery has been
relatively successful. Dems remain
pretty strong here."

I'm questionning the causation. B/c New England has fewer unions, they're doing better?

My bet is that most of these centrists like Krugman don't like unions and think they're ancient relics which hurt the economies "competitiveness."

Fred C. Dobbs -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 10:12 AM
I have noted before that New England
is doing better 'than average' (IMO)
because of high-tech industry & education.

Not necessarily because of a lack of
unionization, which is prevalent here
in public education & among service
workers. Note that in higher ed,
much here is private.

Private industry here traditionally
is not heavily unionized, although
that is probably not the case
among defense corps.

Fred C. Dobbs -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 10:21 AM
As to causation, I think the
implication is that 'Dems dealing
with unions' has not been working
all that well, recovery-wise,
particularly in the rust belt.

That must have as much to do with
industrial management as it does
with labor, and the ubiquitous
on-going industrial revolution.

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 18, 2016 at 10:24 AM
It may well be that in the
rust belt, corps are doing
reasonably well, but not as
much with labor. That is an
industrial revolution problem.
sglover -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 18, 2016 at 06:10 PM
"In the rustbelt, Dems are accustomed to dealing with their supporters who are union members. (Why the auto industry was bailed out, dontchaknow.)"

Uh huh. Sure.

Know how many times HRC visited UAW groups during her "campaign" in Michigan?

Zero.

Those autoworkers are real ingrates.

DeDude -> David... , December 18, 2016 at 09:35 AM
Everybody needs, and desperately crave, self-confidence and dignity. In white rural culture that has always been connected to the old settler mentality and values of personal "freedom" and "independence". It is unfortunate that this freedom/independence mythology has been what attracted all the immigrants from Europe over here. So it is as strongly engrained (both in culture and individual values) as it is outdated and counterproductive in the world of the future. I am not sure that society can help a community where people find themselves humiliated by being helped (especially by bad government). Maybe somehow try to get them to think of the government help as an earned benefit?
Fred C. Dobbs -> DeDude... , December 18, 2016 at 10:22 AM
Ok, that seems very quaint.

[Dec 16, 2016] Pope Francis has some sensible things to say

Dec 16, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
December 16, 2016 at 07:48 AM
I'm an environmental scientist, not an economist, but it seems to me that Pope Francis has some sensible things to say, as in the following from Laudato si:

IV. POLITICS AND ECONOMY IN DIALOGUE FOR HUMAN FULFILMENT

189. Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life. Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery. The financial crisis of 2007-08 provided an opportunity to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and new ways of regulating speculative financial practices and virtual wealth. But the response to the crisis did not include rethinking the outdated criteria which continue to rule the world. Production is not always rational, and is usually tied to economic variables which assign to products a value that does not necessarily correspond to their real worth. This frequently leads to an overproduction of some commodities, with unnecessary impact on the environment and with negative results on regional economies.[133] The financial bubble also tends to be a productive bubble. The problem of the real economy is not confronted with vigour, yet it is the real economy which makes diversification and improvement in production possible, helps companies to function well, and enables small and medium businesses to develop and create employment.

190. Here too, it should always be kept in mind that "environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces".[134] Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention. Moreover, biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor.

191. Whenever these questions are raised, some react by accusing others of irrationally attempting to stand in the way of progress and human development. But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. Efforts to promote a sustainable use of natural resources are not a waste of money, but rather an investment capable of providing other economic benefits in the medium term. If we look at the larger picture, we can see that more diversified and innovative forms of production which impact less on the environment can prove very profitable. It is a matter of openness to different possibilities which do not involve stifling human creativity and its ideals of progress, but rather directing that energy along new channels.

192. For example, a path of productive development, which is more creative and better directed, could correct the present disparity between excessive technological investment in consumption and insufficient investment in resolving urgent problems facing the human family. It could generate intelligent and profitable ways of reusing, revamping and recycling, and it could also improve the energy efficiency of cities. Productive diversification offers the fullest possibilities to human ingenuity to create and innovate, while at the same time protecting the environment and creating more sources of employment. Such creativity would be a worthy expression of our most noble human qualities, for we would be striving intelligently, boldly and responsibly to promote a sustainable and equitable development within the context of a broader concept of quality of life. On the other hand, to find ever new ways of despoiling nature, purely for the sake of new consumer items and quick profit, would be, in human terms, less worthy and creative, and more superficial.

193. In any event, if in some cases sustainable development were to involve new forms of growth, then in other cases, given the insatiable and irresponsible growth produced over many decades, we need also to think of containing growth by setting some reasonable limits and even retracing our steps before it is too late. We know how unsustainable is the behaviour of those who constantly consume and destroy, while others are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity. That is why the time has come to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth. Benedict XVI has said that "technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency".[135]
194. For new models of progress to arise, there is a need to change "models of global development";[136] this will entail a responsible reflection on "the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications".[137] It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress. Frequently, in fact, people's quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth. In this context, talk of sustainable growth usually becomes a way of distracting attention and offering excuses. It absorbs the language and values of ecology into the categories of finance and technocracy, and the social and environmental responsibility of businesses often gets reduced to a series of marketing and image-enhancing measures.

195. The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity or the increased pollution. In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. Yet only when "the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations",[138] can those actions be considered ethical. An instrumental way of reasoning, which provides a purely static analysis of realities in the service of present needs, is at work whether resources are allocated by the market or by state central planning.

196. What happens with politics? Let us keep in mind the principle of subsidiarity, which grants freedom to develop the capabilities present at every level of society, while also demanding a greater sense of responsibility for the common good from those who wield greater power. Today, it is the case that some economic sectors exercise more power than states themselves. But economics without politics cannot be justified, since this would make it impossible to favour other ways of handling the various aspects of the present crisis. The mindset which leaves no room for sincere concern for the environment is the same mindset which lacks concern for the inclusion of the most vulnerable members of society. For "the current model, with its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favour an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life".[139]

197. What is needed is a politics which is far-sighted and capable of a new, integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis. Often, politics itself is responsible for the disrepute in which it is held, on account of corruption and the failure to enact sound public policies. If in a given region the state does not carry out its responsibilities, some business groups can come forward in the guise of benefactors, wield real power, and consider themselves exempt from certain rules, to the point of tolerating different forms of organized crime, human trafficking, the drug trade and violence, all of which become very difficult to eradicate. If politics shows itself incapable of breaking such a perverse logic, and remains caught up in inconsequential discussions, we will continue to avoid facing the major problems of humanity. A strategy for real change calls for rethinking processes in their entirety, for it is not enough to include a few superficial ecological considerations while failing to question the logic which underlies present-day culture. A healthy politics needs to be able to take up this challenge.

198. Politics and the economy tend to blame each other when it comes to poverty and environmental degradation. It is to be hoped that they can acknowledge their own mistakes and find forms of interaction directed to the common good. While some are concerned only with financial gain, and others with holding on to or increasing their power, what we are left with are conflicts or spurious agreements where the last thing either party is concerned about is caring for the environment and protecting those who are most vulnerable. Here too, we see how true it is that "unity is greater than conflict".[140]

[Dec 05, 2016] The most powerful force in Presidential election 2016 is the sense of betrayal pervading our politics, especially among Democratic electorate

Notable quotes:
"... if neo-liberalism is partly defined by the free flow of goods, labor and capital - and that has been the Republican agenda since at least Reagan - how is Trump a continuation of the same tradition?" ..."
"... Trump is a conservative (or right populist, or whatever), and draws on that tradition. He's not a neoliberal. ..."
"... Trump is too incoherent to really represent the populist view. He's consistent w/the trade and immigration views but (assuming you can actually figure him out) wrong on banks, taxes, etc. ..."
"... But the next populists we see might be more full bore. When that happens, you'll see much more overlap w/Sanders economic plans for the middle class. ..."
"... There's always tension along the lead running between the politician and his constituents. The thing that seems most salient to me at the present moment is the sense of betrayal pervading our politics. At least since the GFC of 2008, it has been hard to deny that the two Parties worked together to set up an economic betrayal. And, the long-running saga of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also speak to elite failure, as well as betrayal. ..."
"... Trump is a novelty act. He represents a chance for people who feel resentful without knowing much of anything about anything to cast a middle-finger vote. They wouldn't be willing to do that, if times were really bad, instead of just disappointing and distressing. ..."
"... There's also the fact Reagan tapped a fair number of Nixon people, as did W years later. Reagan went after Nixon in the sense of running against him, and taking the party in a much more hard-right direction, sure. But he was repudiated largely because he got caught doing dirty tricks with his pants down. ..."
"... From what I can tell - the 1972 election gave the centrists in the democratic party power to discredit and marginalize the anti-war left, and with it, the left in general. ..."
"... Ready even now to whine that she's a victim and that the whole community is at fault and that people are picking on her because she's a woman, rather than because she has a habit of making accusations like this every time she comments. ..."
"... That is a perfect example of predatory "solidarity". Val is looking for dupes to support her ..."
Aug 12, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
Rich Puchalsky 08.12.16 at 4:15 pm 683
"Once again, if neo-liberalism is partly defined by the free flow of goods, labor and capital - and that has been the Republican agenda since at least Reagan - how is Trump a continuation of the same tradition?"

You have to be willing to see neoliberalism as something different from conservatism to have the answer make any sense. John Quiggin has written a good deal here about a model of U.S. politics as being divided into left, neoliberal, and conservative. Trump is a conservative (or right populist, or whatever), and draws on that tradition. He's not a neoliberal.

... ... ...

T 08.12.16 at 5:52 pm

RP @683

That's a bit of my point. I think Corey has defined the Republican tradition solely in response to the Southern Strategy that sees a line from Nixon (or Goldwater) to Trump. But that gets the economics wrong and the foreign policy too - the repub foreign policy view has not been consistent across administrations and Trump's economic pans (to the extent he has a plan) are antithetical to the Nixon – W tradition. I have viewed post-80 Dem administrations as neoliberals w/transfers and Repub as neoliberals w/o transfers.

Trump is too incoherent to really represent the populist view. He's consistent w/the trade and immigration views but (assuming you can actually figure him out) wrong on banks, taxes, etc.

But the next populists we see might be more full bore. When that happens, you'll see much more overlap w/Sanders economic plans for the middle class. Populists have nothing against gov't programs like SS and Medicare and were always for things like the TVA and infrastructure spending. Policies aimed at the poor and minorities not so much.

bruce wilder 08.12.16 at 7:47 pm 689

T @ 685: Trump is too incoherent to really represent the populist view.

There's always tension along the lead running between the politician and his constituents. The thing that seems most salient to me at the present moment is the sense of betrayal pervading our politics. At least since the GFC of 2008, it has been hard to deny that the two Parties worked together to set up an economic betrayal. And, the long-running saga of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also speak to elite failure, as well as betrayal.

These are the two most unpopular candidates in living memory. That is different.

I am not a believer in "the fire next time". Trump is a novelty act. He represents a chance for people who feel resentful without knowing much of anything about anything to cast a middle-finger vote. They wouldn't be willing to do that, if times were really bad, instead of just disappointing and distressing.

Nor will Sanders be back. His was a last New Deal coda. There may be second acts in American life, but there aren't 7th acts.

If there's a populist politics in our future, it will have to have a much sharper edge. It can talk about growth, but it has to mean smashing the rich and taking their stuff. There's very rapidly going to come a point where there's no other option, other than just accepting cramdown by the authoritarian surveillance state built by the neoliberals. that's a much taller order than Sanders or Trump have been offering.<

Michael Sullivan 08.12.16 at 8:06 pm 690

Corey, you write: "It's not just that the Dems went after Nixon, it's also that Nixon had so few allies. People on the right were furious with him because they felt after this huge ratification that the country had moved to the right, Nixon was still governing as if the New Deal were the consensus. So when the time came, he had very few defenders, except for loyalists like Leonard Garment and G. Gordon Liddy. And Al Haig, God bless him."

You've studied this more than I have, but this is at least somewhat at odds with my memory. I recall some prominent attackers of Nixon from the Republican party that were moderates, at least one of whom was essentially kicked out of the party for being too liberal in later years. There's also the fact Reagan tapped a fair number of Nixon people, as did W years later. Reagan went after Nixon in the sense of running against him, and taking the party in a much more hard-right direction, sure. But he was repudiated largely because he got caught doing dirty tricks with his pants down.

To think that something similar would happen to Clinton (watergate like scandal) that would actually have a large portion of the left in support of impeachment, she would have to be as dirty as Nixon was, *and* the evidence to really put the screws to her would have to be out, as it was against Nixon during watergate.

OTOH, my actual *hope* would be that a similar left-liberal sea change comparable to 1980 from the right would be plausible. I don't think a 1976-like interlude is plausible though, that would require the existence of a moderate republican with enough support within their own party to win the nomination. I suppose its possible that such a beast could come to exist if Trump loses a landslide, but most of the plausible candidates have already left or been kicked out of the party.

From what I can tell - the 1972 election gave the centrists in the democratic party power to discredit and marginalize the anti-war left, and with it, the left in general. A comparable election from the other side would give republican centrists/moderates the ability to discredit and marginalize the right wing base. But unlike Democrats in 1972, there aren't any moderates left in the Republican party by my lights. I'm much more concerned that this will simply re-empower the hard-core conservatives with plausbly-deniable dog-whistle racism who are now the "moderates", and enable them to whitewash their history.

Unfortunately, unlike you, I'm not convinced that a landslide is possible without an appeal to Reagan/Bush republicans. I don't think we're going to see a meaningful turn toward a real left until Democrats can win a majority of statehouses and clean up the ridiculous gerrymandering.

Rich Puchalsky 08.12.16 at 9:18 pm

Val: "Similarly with your comments on "identity politics" where you could almost be seen by MRAs and white supremacists as an ally, from the tone of your rhetoric."

That is 100% perfect Val. Insinuates that BW is a sort-of-ally of white supremacists - an infuriating insinuation. Does this insinuation based on a misreading of what he wrote. Completely resistant to any sort of suggestion that what she dishes out so expansively to others had better be something she should be willing to accept herself, or that she shouldn't do it. Ready even now to whine that she's a victim and that the whole community is at fault and that people are picking on her because she's a woman, rather than because she has a habit of making accusations like this every time she comments.

That is a perfect example of predatory "solidarity". Val is looking for dupes to support her - for people to jump in saying "Why are you being hostile to women?" in response to people's response to her comment.

[Dec 04, 2016] The Neoliberal State by John Gray

Notable quotes:
"... In practice, however, neoliberalism has created a market state rather than a small state. Shrinking the state has proved politically impossible, so neoliberals have turned instead to using the state to reshape social institutions on the model of the market - a task that cannot be carried out by a small state. ..."
"... The Neoliberal State ..."
"... Neoliberals are not anarchists, who object to any kind of government, or libertarians, who want to limit the state to the provision of law and order and national defense. A neoliberal state can include a welfare state, but only of the most limited kind. Using the welfare state to realize an ideal of social justice is, for neoliberals, an abuse of power: social justice is a vague and contested idea, and when governments try to realize it they compromise the rule of law and undermine individual freedom. The role of the state should be limited to safeguarding the free market and providing a minimum level of security against poverty. ..."
"... Plant's central charge against neoliberalism is that, when stated clearly, it falls apart ..."
"... Neoliberalism and social democracy are not entirely separate political projects; they are dialectically related, the latter being a kind of synthesis of the contradictions of the former. ..."
"... But it is one thing to argue that the neoliberal state is conceptually unstable, another to suggest that social democracy is the only viable alternative. Neoconservatives have been among the sharpest critics of neoliberalism, arguing that the unfettered market is amoral and destroys social cohesion. ..."
"... Immanent criticism can show that the neo­liberal theory of the state is internally contradictory. It cannot tell us how these contradictions are to be resolved - and in fact neoliberals who have become convinced that the minimal welfare state they favour is politically impossible do not usually become social democrats. Most opt for a conservative welfare state, which aims to prepare people for the labour market rather than promoting any idea of social justice. ..."
"... A more likely course of events is that social democracy will be eroded even further. ..."
"... The crisis is deep-rooted, and neoliberalism has no remedy for its own failure. ..."
"... Although the deregulated banking system may have imploded, capital remains highly mobile. Bailing out the banks has shifted the burden of toxic debt to the state, and there is a mounting risk of a sovereign debt crisis as a result. In these conditions, maintaining the high levels of public spending that social democracy requires will be next to impossible. ..."
"... Oxford University Press, 304pp, £50 ..."
Jan 01, 2007 | www.newstatesman.com
John Gray Neoliberals wanted to limit government, but the upshot of their policies has been a huge expansion in the power of the state. Deregulating the financial system left banks free to speculate, and they did so with reckless enthusiasm. The result was a build-up of toxic assets that threatened the entire banking system. The government was forced to step in to save the system from self-destruction, but only at the cost of becoming itself hugely indebted. As a result, the state has a greater stake in the financial system than it did in the time of Clement Attlee. Yet the government is reluctant to use its power, even to curb the gross bonuses that bankers are awarding themselves from public funds. The neoliberal financial regime may have collapsed, but politicians continue to defer to the authority of the market.

Hardcore Thatcherites, and their fellow-travellers in New Labour, sometimes question whether there was ever a time when neoliberal ideas shaped policy. Has public spending not continued to rise over recent decades? Is the state not bigger than it has ever been? In practice, however, neoliberalism has created a market state rather than a small state. Shrinking the state has proved politically impossible, so neoliberals have turned instead to using the state to reshape social institutions on the model of the market - a task that cannot be carried out by a small state.

An increase in state power has always been the inner logic of neoliberalism, because, in order to inject markets into every corner of social life, a government needs to be highly invasive. Health, education and the arts are now more controlled by the state than they were in the era of Labour collectivism. Once-autonomous institutions are entangled in an apparatus of government targets and incentives. The consequence of reshaping society on a market model has been to make the state omnipresent.

Raymond Plant is a rarity among academic political theorists, in that he has deep experience of political life (before becoming a Labour peer he was a long-time adviser to Neil Kinnock). But he remains a philosopher, and the central focus of The Neoliberal State is not on the ways in which neoliberalism has self-destructed in practice. Instead, using a method of immanent criticism, Plant aims to uncover contradictions in neoliberal ideology itself. Examining a wide variety of thinkers - Michael Oakeshott, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, James Buchanan and others - he develops a rigorous and compelling argument that neoliberal ideas are inherently unstable.

Neoliberals are not anarchists, who object to any kind of government, or libertarians, who want to limit the state to the provision of law and order and national defense. A neoliberal state can include a welfare state, but only of the most limited kind. Using the welfare state to realize an ideal of social justice is, for neoliberals, an abuse of power: social justice is a vague and contested idea, and when governments try to realize it they compromise the rule of law and undermine individual freedom. The role of the state should be limited to safeguarding the free market and providing a minimum level of security against poverty.

This is a reasonable summary of the neo­liberal view of the state. Whether this view is underpinned by any coherent theory is another matter. The thinkers who helped shape neoliberal ideas are a very mixed bag, differing widely among themselves on many fundamental issues. Oakeshott's scepticism has very little in common with Hayek's view of the market as the engine of human progress, for example, or with Nozick's cult of individual rights.

It is a mistake to look for a systematic body of neoliberal theory, for none has ever existed. In order to criticise neoliberal ideology, one must first reconstruct it, and this is exactly what Plant does. The result is the most authoritative and comprehensive critique of neoliberal thinking to date.

Plant's central charge against neoliberalism is that, when stated clearly, it falls apart and is finally indistinguishable from a mild form of social democracy. Plant is a distinguished scholar of Hegel, and his critique of neoliberalism has a strongly Hegelian flavour. The ethical basis of the neoliberal state is a concern for negative freedom and the rule of law; but when these ideals are examined closely, they prove either to be compatible with social democracy or actually to require it. Neoliberalism and social democracy are not entirely separate political projects; they are dialectically related, the latter being a kind of synthesis of the contradictions of the former. Himself a social democrat, Plant believes that the neoliberal state is bound as a matter of morality and logic to develop in a social-democratic direction.

But it is one thing to argue that the neoliberal state is conceptually unstable, another to suggest that social democracy is the only viable alternative. Neoconservatives have been among the sharpest critics of neoliberalism, arguing that the unfettered market is amoral and destroys social cohesion. A similar view has recently surfaced in British politics in Phillip Blond's "Red Toryism".

Immanent criticism can show that the neo­liberal theory of the state is internally contradictory. It cannot tell us how these contradictions are to be resolved - and in fact neoliberals who have become convinced that the minimal welfare state they favour is politically impossible do not usually become social democrats. Most opt for a conservative welfare state, which aims to prepare people for the labour market rather than promoting any idea of social justice.

If there is no reason in theory why the neoliberal state must develop in a social-democratic direction, neither is there any reason in practice. A more likely course of events is that social democracy will be eroded even further. The banking crisis rules out any prospect of a return to neoliberal business-as-usual. As Plant writes towards the end of the book: "It has been argued that the central cause of the banking crisis is a failure of regulation in relation to toxic assets . . . This, however, completely neglects the systemic nature of the problems - a systemic structure that has itself been developed as a result of liberalisation, that is, the creation of new assets without normal market prices and their diffusion throughout the banking system." The crisis is deep-rooted, and neoliberalism has no remedy for its own failure.

The upshot of the crisis is unlikely, however, to be a revival of social democracy. Although the deregulated banking system may have imploded, capital remains highly mobile. Bailing out the banks has shifted the burden of toxic debt to the state, and there is a mounting risk of a sovereign debt crisis as a result. In these conditions, maintaining the high levels of public spending that social democracy requires will be next to impossible. Neoliberalism and social democracy may be dialectically related, but only in the sense that when the neoliberal state collapses it takes down much of what remains of social democracy as well.

The Neoliberal State
Raymond Plant
Oxford University Press, 304pp, £50

John Gray is the New Statesman's lead book reviewer. His book "False Dawn: the Delusions of Global Capitalism", first published in 1998, has been reissued by Granta Books with a new introduction (£8.99) His latest book is The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom .

[Nov 21, 2016] Legutko On The Trump Moment by Rod Dreher

Notable quotes:
"... The Demon In Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations In Free Societies . ..."
"... Brave New World ..."
"... The Demon In Democracy ..."
"... he explains how Poland cast off the bonds of communism only to find that liberal democracy imposed similar interdictions on free thought and debate: ..."
"... Very quickly the world became hidden under a new ideological shell and the people became hostage to another version of the Newspeak but with similar ideological mystifications. Obligatory rituals of loyalty and condemnations were revived, this time with a different object of worship and a different enemy. ..."
"... The new commissars of the language appeared and were given powerful prerogatives, and just as before, mediocrities assumed their self-proclaimed authority to track down ideological apostasy and condemn the unorthodox - all, of course, for the glory of the new system and the good of the new man. ..."
"... Media - more refined than under communism - performed a similar function: standing at the forefront of the great transformation leading to a better world and spreading the corruption of the language to the entire social organism and all its cells. ..."
"... Trump's victory seems logical as a continuation of a more general process that has been unveiling in the Western World: Hungary, Poland, Brexit, possible political reshufflings in Germany, France, Austria, etc. ..."
"... More and more people say No ..."
"... What seems to be common in the developments in Europe and the US is a growing mistrust towards the political establishment that has been in power for a long time. People have a feeling that in many cases this is the same establishment despite the change of the governments. ..."
"... This establishment is characterized by two things: first, both in the US and in Europe (and in Europe even more so) its representatives unabashedly declare that there is no alternative to their platform, that there is practically one set of ideas - their own - every decent person may subscribe to, and that they themselves are the sole distributors of political respectability; second, the leaders of this establishment are evidently of the mediocre quality, and have been such long enough for the voters to notice. ..."
"... Because the ruling political elites believe themselves to steer the society in the only correct political course it should take, and to be the best quality products of the Western political culture, they try to present the current conflict as a revolt of the unenlightened, confused and manipulated masses against the enlightened elites. ..."
"... The new aristocrats are full of contempt for the riffraff, do not mince words to bully them, use foul language, break the rules of decency - and doing all this does not make them feel any less aristocratic. ..."
"... When eight years ago America elected as their president a completely unknown and inexperienced politician, and not exactly an exemplar of political virtue to boot, this choice was universally acclaimed as the triumph of political enlightenment, and the president was awarded the Nobel Prize in advance, before he could do anything (not that he did anything of value afterwards). The continuation of this politics by Hillary Clinton for another eight years would have elevated this establishment and their ideas to an even stronger position with all deplorable consequences. ..."
"... Many Christians are understandably relieved that the state's ongoing assault on the churches and on religious liberty in the name of sex-and-gender ideology, will probably be halted under the new president. ..."
"... Q: Trump is a politician of the nationalist Right, but he is not a conservative in any philosophical or cultural sense. ..."
"... Had the vote gone only a bit differently in some states, today we would be talking about the political demise of American conservatism. Instead, the Republican Party is going to be stronger in government than it has been in a very long time - but the party has been shaken to its core by Trump's destruction of its establishment. Is it credible to say that Trump destroyed conservatism - or is it more accurate to say that the Republican Party, through its own follies, destroyed conservatism as we have known it, and opened the door for the nationalist Trump? ..."
"... The new generations of the neocons gave up on big ideas while the theocons, old or new, never managed to have a noticeable impact on the Republican mainstream. ..."
"... The Demon in Democracy ..."
"... Today the phrase "more Europe" does not mean "more classical education, more Latin and Greek, more knowledge about classical philosophy and scholasticism", but it means giving more power to the European Commission. No wonder an increasing number of people when they hear about Europe associate it with the EU, and not with Plato, Thomas Aquinas or Johann Sebastian Bach. ..."
"... Considering that in every Western country education has been, for quite a long time, in a deep crisis and that no government has succeeded in overcoming this crisis, a mere idea of bringing back classical education into schools in which young people can hardly read and write in their own native language sounds somewhat surrealist. ..."
"... The results of the elections must have shaken the EU elites, and from that point of view Trump's victory was beneficial for those Europeans like myself who fear the federalization of the European Union and its growing ideological monopoly. There is more to happen in Europe in the coming years so the hope is that the EU hubris will suffer further blows and that the EU itself will become more self-restrained and more responsive to the aspirations of European peoples. ..."
"... The Demon In Democracy ..."
Nov 21, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Ryszard Legutko, Polish Catholic philosopher ( European Parliament/Flickr ) This summer, I told you that J.D. Vance was the man to listen to if you wanted to understand what was happening in contemporary American politics. Now, please hear me when I say that Ryszard Legutko is another critically important voice for our time.

Legutko is a Polish philosopher and politician who was active in the anti-communist resistance. He is most recently the author of The Demon In Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations In Free Societies . In this post from September, I said that reading the book - which is clearly and punchily written - was like taking a red pill - meaning that it's hard to see our own political culture the same way after reading Legutko. His provocative thesis is that liberal democracy, as a modern political philosophy, has a lot more in common with that other great modern political philosophy, communism, than we care to think. He speaks as a philosopher who grew up under communism, who fought it as a member of Solidarity, and who took part in the reconstruction of Poland as a liberal democracy. It has been said that the two famous inhuman dystopias of 20th century English literature - Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World - correspond, respectively, to Soviet communism and mass hedonistic technocracy. Reading Legutko, you understand the point very well.

In this post , I quote several passages from The Demon In Democracy . Among them, these paragraphs in which he explains how Poland cast off the bonds of communism only to find that liberal democracy imposed similar interdictions on free thought and debate:

Very quickly the world became hidden under a new ideological shell and the people became hostage to another version of the Newspeak but with similar ideological mystifications. Obligatory rituals of loyalty and condemnations were revived, this time with a different object of worship and a different enemy.

The new commissars of the language appeared and were given powerful prerogatives, and just as before, mediocrities assumed their self-proclaimed authority to track down ideological apostasy and condemn the unorthodox - all, of course, for the glory of the new system and the good of the new man.

Media - more refined than under communism - performed a similar function: standing at the forefront of the great transformation leading to a better world and spreading the corruption of the language to the entire social organism and all its cells.

And:

If the old communists lived long enough to see the world of today, they would be devastated by the contrast between how little they themselves had managed to achieve in their antireligious war and how successful the liberal democrats have been. All the objectives the communists set for themselves, and which they pursued with savage brutality, were achieved by the liberal democrats who, almost without any effort and simply by allowing people to drift along with the flow of modernity, succeeded in converting churches into museums, restaurants, and public buildings, secularizing entire societies, making secularism the militant ideology, pushing religions to the sidelines, pressing the clergy into docility, and inspiring powerful mass culture with a strong antireligious bias in which a priest must be either a liberal challenging the Church of a disgusting villain.

Read the whole book.

After the US election, Prof. Legutko agreed to answer a few questions from me via e-mail. Here is our correspondence:

RD: What do you think of Donald Trump's victory, especially in context of Brexit and the changing currents of Western politics?

RL: In hindsight, Trump's victory seems logical as a continuation of a more general process that has been unveiling in the Western World: Hungary, Poland, Brexit, possible political reshufflings in Germany, France, Austria, etc. What this process, having many currents and facets, boils down to is difficult to say as it appears more negative than positive. More and more people say No , whereas it is not clear what exactly they are in favor of.

What seems to be common in the developments in Europe and the US is a growing mistrust towards the political establishment that has been in power for a long time. People have a feeling that in many cases this is the same establishment despite the change of the governments.

This establishment is characterized by two things: first, both in the US and in Europe (and in Europe even more so) its representatives unabashedly declare that there is no alternative to their platform, that there is practically one set of ideas - their own - every decent person may subscribe to, and that they themselves are the sole distributors of political respectability; second, the leaders of this establishment are evidently of the mediocre quality, and have been such long enough for the voters to notice.

Because the ruling political elites believe themselves to steer the society in the only correct political course it should take, and to be the best quality products of the Western political culture, they try to present the current conflict as a revolt of the unenlightened, confused and manipulated masses against the enlightened elites. In Europe it sometimes looks like an attempt to build a new form of an aristocratic order, since a place in the hierarchy is allotted to individuals and groups not according to their actual education, or by the power of their minds, or by the strength of their arguments, but by a membership in this or that class. The new aristocrats are full of contempt for the riffraff, do not mince words to bully them, use foul language, break the rules of decency - and doing all this does not make them feel any less aristocratic.

It is, I think, this contrast between, on the one hand, arrogance with which the new aristocrats preach their orthodoxy, and on the other, a leaping-to-the-eye low quality of their leadership that ultimately pushed a lot of people in Europe and the US to look for alternatives in the world that for too long was presented to them as having no alternative.

When eight years ago America elected as their president a completely unknown and inexperienced politician, and not exactly an exemplar of political virtue to boot, this choice was universally acclaimed as the triumph of political enlightenment, and the president was awarded the Nobel Prize in advance, before he could do anything (not that he did anything of value afterwards). The continuation of this politics by Hillary Clinton for another eight years would have elevated this establishment and their ideas to an even stronger position with all deplorable consequences.

For an outside observer like myself, America after the election appears to be divided but in a peculiar way. On the one side there is the Obama-Clinton America claiming to represent what is best in the modern politics, more or less united by a clear left-wing agenda whose aim is to continue the restructuring of the American society, family, schools, communities, morals. This America is in tune with what is considered to be a general tendency of the modern world, including Europe and non-European Western countries. But there seems to exist another America, deeply dissatisfied with the first one, angry and determined, but at the same time confused and chaotic, longing for action and energy, but unsure of itself, proud of their country's lost greatness, but having no great leaders, full of hope but short of ideas, a strange mixture of groups and ideologies, with no clear identity or political agenda. This other America, if personified, would resemble somebody not very different from Donald Trump.

Q: Trump won 52 percent of the Catholic vote, and over 80 percent of the white Evangelical Christian vote - this, despite the fact that he is in no way a serious Christian, and, on evidence of his words and deeds, is barely a Christian at all. Many Christians are understandably relieved that the state's ongoing assault on the churches and on religious liberty in the name of sex-and-gender ideology, will probably be halted under the new president. From your perspective, should US Christians be hopeful about their prospects under a Trump presidency, or instead wary of being tempted by a false prophet?

A: Christians have been the largest persecuted religious group in the non-Western world, but sadly they have also been the largest victimized religious group in those Western countries that have contracted a disease of political correctness (which in practice means almost all of them). Some Western Christians, including the clergy, abandoned any thought of resistance and not only capitulated but joined the forces of the enemy and started disciplining their own flock. No wonder that many Christians pray for better times hoping that at last there will appear a party or a leader that could loosen the straitjacket of political correctness and blunt its anti-Christian edge. It was then to be expected that having a choice between Trump and Clinton, they would turn to the former. But is Trump such a leader?

Anti-Christian prejudices have taken an institutional and legal form of such magnitude that no president, no matter how much committed to the cause, can change it quickly. Today in America it is difficult even to articulate one's opposition to political correctness because the public and private discourse has been profoundly corrupted by the left-wing ideology, and the American people have weaned themselves from any alternative language (and so have the Europeans). Any movement away from this discourse requires more awareness of the problem and more courage than Trump and his people seem to have. What Trump could and should do, and it will be a test of his intentions, are three things.

First, he should refrain from involving his administration in the anti-Christian actions, whether direct or indirect, thus breaking off with the practice of his predecessor. Second, he should nominate the right persons for the vacancies in the Supreme Court. Third, he should resist the temptation to cajole the politically correct establishment, as some Republicans have been doing, because not only will it be a bad signal, but also display naïvete: this establishment is never satisfied with anything but an unconditional surrender of its opponents.

Whether these decisions will be sufficient for American Christians to launch a counteroffensive and to reclaim the lost areas, I do not know. A lot will depend on what the Christians will do and how outspoken they will be in making their case public.

Q: Trump is a politician of the nationalist Right, but he is not a conservative in any philosophical or cultural sense. Had the vote gone only a bit differently in some states, today we would be talking about the political demise of American conservatism. Instead, the Republican Party is going to be stronger in government than it has been in a very long time - but the party has been shaken to its core by Trump's destruction of its establishment. Is it credible to say that Trump destroyed conservatism - or is it more accurate to say that the Republican Party, through its own follies, destroyed conservatism as we have known it, and opened the door for the nationalist Trump?

A: Conservatism has always been problematic in America, where the word itself has acquired more meanings, some of them quite bizarre, than in Europe. A quite common habit, to give an example, of mentioning libertarianism and conservatism in one breath, thereby suggesting that they are somehow essentially related, is proof enough that a conservative agenda is difficult for the Americans to swallow. If I am not mistaken, the Republican Party has long relinquished, with very few exceptions, any closer link with conservatism. If conservatism, whatever the precise definition, has something to do with a continuity of culture, Christian and Classical roots of this culture, classical metaphysics and anthropology, beauty and virtue, a sense of decorum, liberal education, family, republican paideia, and other related notions, these are not the elements that constitute an integral part of an ideal type of an Republican identity in today's America. Whether it has been different before, I am not competent to judge, but certainly there was a time when the intellectual institutions somehow linked to the Republican Party debated these issues. The new generations of the neocons gave up on big ideas while the theocons, old or new, never managed to have a noticeable impact on the Republican mainstream.

Given that there is this essential philosophical weakness within the modern Republican identity, Donald Trump does not look like an obvious person to change it by inspiring a resurgence of conservative thinking. I do not exclude however, unlikely as it seems today, that the new administration will need – solely for instrumental reasons – some big ideas to mobilize its electorate and to give them a sense of direction, and that a possible candidate to perform this function will be some kind of conservatism. Liberalism, libertarianism and saying 'no' to everything will certainly not serve the purpose. Nationalism looks good and played its role during two or three months of the campaign, but might be insufficient for the four (eight?) years that will follow.

Q: Though the Republicans will soon have their hands firmly on the levers of political power, cultural institutions - especially academia and the news and entertainment media - are still thoroughly progressive. In The Demon in Democracy , you write that "it is hard to imagine freedom without classical philosophy and the heritage of antiquity, without Christianity and scholasticism [and] many other components of the entire Western civilization." How can we hope to return to the roots of Western civilization when the culture-forming institutions are so hostile to it?

A: It is true that we live at a time of practically one orthodoxy which the majority of intellectuals and artists piously accept, and this orthodoxy - being some kind of liberal progressivism - has less and less connection with the foundations of Western civilization. This is perhaps more visible in Europe than in the US. In Europe, the very term "Europe" has been consistently applied to the European Union. Today the phrase "more Europe" does not mean "more classical education, more Latin and Greek, more knowledge about classical philosophy and scholasticism", but it means giving more power to the European Commission. No wonder an increasing number of people when they hear about Europe associate it with the EU, and not with Plato, Thomas Aquinas or Johann Sebastian Bach.

It seems thus obvious that those who want to strengthen or, as is more often the case, reintroduce classical culture in the modern world will not find allies among the liberal elites. For a liberal it is natural to distance himself from the classical philosophy, from Christianity and scholasticism rather than to advocate their indispensability for the cultivation of the Western mind. After all, these philosophies – they would say - were created in a pre-modern non-democratic and non-liberal world by men who despised women, kept slaves and took seriously religious superstitions. But it is not only the liberal prejudices that are in the way. A break-up with the classical tradition is not a recent phenomenon, and we have been for too long exposed to the world from which this tradition was absent.

There is little chance that a change may be implemented through a democratic process. Considering that in every Western country education has been, for quite a long time, in a deep crisis and that no government has succeeded in overcoming this crisis, a mere idea of bringing back classical education into schools in which young people can hardly read and write in their own native language sounds somewhat surrealist. A rule that bad education drives out good education seems to prevail in democratic societies. And yet I cannot accept the conclusion that we are doomed to live in societies in which neo-barbarism is becoming a norm.

How can we reverse this process then? In countries where education is primarily the responsibility of the state, it is the governments that may - hypothetically at least - have some role to play by using the economic and political instruments to stimulate the desired changes in education. In the US – I suspect - the government's role is substantially more reduced. So far however the European governments, including the conservative ones, have not made much progress in reversing the destructive trend.

The problem is a more fundamental one because it touches upon the controversy about what constitutes the Western civilization. The liberal progressives have managed to impose on our minds a notion that Christianity, classical metaphysics, etc., are no longer what defines our Western identity. A lot of conservatives – intellectuals and politicians – have readily acquiesced to this notion. Unless and until this changes and our position of what constitutes the West becomes an integral part of the conservative agenda and a subject of public debate, there is not much hope things can change. The election of Donald Trump has obviously as little to do with Scholasticism or Greek philosophy as it has with quantum mechanics, but nevertheless it may provide an occasion to reopen an old question about what makes the American identity and to reject a silly but popular answer that this identity is procedural rather than substantive. And this might be a first step to talk about the importance of the roots of the Western civilization.

You have written that "liberalism is more about struggle with non-liberal adversaries than deliberation with them." Now even some on the left admit that its embrace of political correctness, multiculturalism, and so-called "diversity," is partly responsible for Trump's victory. How do Brexit and Trump change the terms of the political conversation, especially now that it has been shown that there is no such thing as "the right side of history"?

Liberalism, despite its boastful declarations to the contrary, is not and has never been about diversity, multiplicity or pluralism. It is about homogeneity and unanimity. [Neo]Liberalism wants everyone and everything to be [neo]liberal, and does not tolerate anyone or anything that is not liberal. This is the reason why the [neo]liberals have such a strong sense of the enemy. Whoever disagrees with them is not just an opponent who may hold different views but a potential or actual fascist, a Hitlerite, a xenophobe, a nationalist, or – as they often say in the EU – a populist. Such a miserable person deserves to be condemned, derided, humiliated and abused.

The Brexit vote could have been looked at as an exercise in diversity and, as such, dear to every pluralist, or empirical evidence that the EU in its present form failed to accommodate diversity. But the reaction of the European elites was different and predictable – threats and condemnations. Before Brexit the EU reacted in a similar way to the non-[neo][neo]liberals winning elections in Hungary and then in Poland, the winners being immediately classified as fascists and the elections as not quite legitimate. The [neo]liberal mindset is such that accepts only those elections and choices in which the correct party wins.

I am afraid there will be a similar reaction to Donald Trump and his administration. As long as the [neo]liberals set the tone of the public debate, they will continue to bully both those who, they say, were wrongly elected and those who wrongly voted. This will not stop until it becomes clear beyond any doubt that the changes in Europe and in the US are not temporary and ephemeral and that there is a viable alternative which will not disappear with the next swing of the democratic pendulum. But this alternative, as I said before, is still in the process of formation and we are not sure what will be the final result.

There will be elections in several key European nations next year - Germany and France, in particular. What effect do you expect Trump's victory to have on European voters? How do you, as a Pole, view Trump's fondness for Vladimir Putin?

From a European perspective, Clinton's victory would have meant a tremendous boost to the EU bureaucracy, its ideology and its "more Europe" strategy. The forces of the self-proclaimed Enlightenment would have gone ecstatic and, consequently, would have made the world even more unbearable not only for conservatives. The results of the elections must have shaken the EU elites, and from that point of view Trump's victory was beneficial for those Europeans like myself who fear the federalization of the European Union and its growing ideological monopoly. There is more to happen in Europe in the coming years so the hope is that the EU hubris will suffer further blows and that the EU itself will become more self-restrained and more responsive to the aspirations of European peoples.

... ... ...

Again, Prof. Ryszard Legutko develops these themes in his powerful new book The Demon In Democracy . Highly recommended. It is rare to find a book of political philosophy that is so sharply written, so accessible to the general reader, so relevant to its time, and so prophetic. Posted in All Things Trump , Conservatism , Culture war , Political Correctness , Weimar America . Tagged elites , Europe , [neo]liberal democracy , liberalism , philosophy , Ryszard Legutko , Trump .

[Nov 15, 2016] Yevgeny Rublev: Ideological weapon of globalism. Feminism

Nov 15, 2016 | eadaily.com

[Nov 15, 2016] Yevgeny Rublev: Ideological weapon of globalism. Multiculturalism

Nov 15, 2016 | eadaily.com

[Nov 03, 2016] I doubt that "Neolib/Neocon orthodoxy" that is really completely dominant in the USA can be viewed as a flavor of conservatism. IMHO it's actually more resembles Trotskyism with its idea of "world revolution" and classic Marxist slogan "Working Men of All Countries, Unite!"

Notable quotes:
"... In a sense Neoliberalism/Neoconservatism (neoconservatives are neoliberals with a gun) is recklessly revolutionary in old Marx's sense - it destroys the existing bonds that hold the society together. ..."
Nov 03, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 11.04.16 at 12:53 am 24

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

@DMC 11.03.16 at 7:27 pm #23

"the Left (or what passes for it in the US) is as much to blame as the Right in that they haven't offered real substantive alternatives to the NeoLib/NeoCon orthodoxy that seems to dominate US policymaking."

That's a very apt observation, especially in the part "the Left (or what passes for it in the US) is as much to blame as the Right ".

The key question here" "Is neoliberalism a flavor of conservatism or not?". Or it is some perversion of the left? I doubt that "Neolib/Neocon orthodoxy" that is really completely dominant in the USA can be viewed as a flavor of conservatism. IMHO it's actually more resembles Trotskyism with its idea of "world revolution" and classic Marxist slogan "Working Men of All Countries, Unite!"

The first slogan was replaced with "Permanent neoliberal revolution" and "New American Militarism" that we saw in action in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Georgia, Ukraine. They are eager to bring the neoliberal revolution into other countries on the tips of bayonets.

The second was replaced by the slogan "Transnational corporate and financial elites unite". Instead of Congresses of "Communist International" we have similar congresses of financial oligarchy and neoliberal politicians like in Davos.

In a sense Neoliberalism/Neoconservatism (neoconservatives are neoliberals with a gun) is recklessly revolutionary in old Marx's sense - it destroys the existing bonds that hold the society together.

Still in other sense it resembles " the ancien regime", especially in the USA :

The opening chapters of Maistre's Considerations on France are an unrelenting assault on the three pillars of the ancien regime: the aristocracy, the church, and the monarchy. Maistre divides the nobility into two categories: the treasonous and the clueless. The clergy is corrupt, weakened by its wealth and lax morals. The monarchy is soft and lacks the will to punish. Maistre dismisses all three with a line from Racine: "Now see the sad fruits your faults pro-duced, / Feel the blows you have yourselves induced."5

If we equate "ancien regime" with the neoliberalism, the quote suddenly obtains quite modern significance. It does have a punch. Now we see Trump supporters attacking neoliberalism with the same intensity. And we can definitely divide the USA financial oligarchy into "the treasonous" and "the clueless." While neoliberal MSM are as corrupt as "ancien regime" clergy, if not more.

Like in the past there is a part of the USA conservatives that bitterly oppose neoliberalism (paleoconservatives).

The key problem here is that as there is no real left (in European sense) in the USA, the challenge to neoliberalism arose from the right. Trump with all his warts is definitely anti-globalization candidate. That's why we see such a hysteria in neoliberal MSM about his candidacy.

[Oct 29, 2016] A Trotskyist in his student days, Kristol has moved in stages to the right, first becoming a liberal anticommunist, then a conservative antiliberal.

Essentially Bolsheviks tactics...
Oct 29, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... October 29, 2016 at 05:34 AM
https://www.princeton.edu/~starr/tnr-kris.html

1995

Nothing Neo
By Paul Starr

Neoconservatism
The Autobiography of an Idea
By Irving Kristol

Irving Kristol has been a formidable presence in American intellectual life for over forty years. After an early stint as an editor at Commentary, he helped to start three other influential magazines -- Encounter, in 1953; The Public Interest, in 1965; and The National Interest, in 1985.

A Trotskyist in his student days, Kristol has moved in stages to the right, first becoming a liberal anticommunist, then a conservative antiliberal. At one point in this evolution, in the early 1970s, he embraced the label "neoconservative," which the socialist Michael Harrington had introduced as a pejorative. Since then he has happily made himself so entirely synonymous with neoconservatism that he now offers his latest collection of essays as its, not his, "autobiography."

But a label is not necessarily evidence of a coherent philosophy, or of a living one. As Kristol himself acknowledges, neoconservatism has been swallowed by the larger conservative movement --[neoliberalism movement and ideology --NNB] . And his own views have evolved far beyond what he and others originally conceived as neoconservatism. Several of his early collaborators at The Public Interest, notably Daniel Bell and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, have long since parted ways. And well they might, considering the tone and substance of Kristol's writing in recent years.

When neoconservatism first took shape in the late 1960s and '70s, it seemed to be different from the older varieties of the American right. The Public Interest, and Kristol himself, accepted the New Deal, but rejected the political and cultural currents of the '60s.

Yet even with respect to the policies of that era, their stance was meliorism, not repudiation. They presented themselves as defending the achievements of a capitalist civilization, often positively described as liberal and secular, from the assaults of a radicalized liberalism. Nearly all were from New York, most were Jewish, and they carried with them a sensibility that was urban and modern, even when arguing on behalf of moral and cultural standards that were traditional or, to use Kristol's preferred term, "bourgeois."

People who know neoconservatism only from that era might therefore be surprised to read Kristol's recent fulminations against "secular humanism" and his praise of Christian fundamentalism. Remembering the calm civility of his earlier essays, they might especially fasten on the following passage from an article, written in 1993, with which Kristol concludes his new book: "So far from having ended, my cold war has increased in intensity, as sector after sector of American life has been ruthlessly corrupted by the liberal ethos.... Now that the other 'Cold War' is over, the real cold war has begun." ...

anne -> anne... , October 29, 2016 at 05:34 AM
http://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober-2016/the-myth-of-the-powell-memo/

September, 2016

The Myth of the Powell Memo
A secret note from a future Supreme Court justice did not give rise to today's conservative infrastructure. Something more insidious did.
By Mark Schmitt

At one end of a block of Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C., sometimes known as "Think Tank Row"-the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Brookings Institution are neighbors-a monument to intellectual victory has been under reconstruction for a year. It will soon be the home of the American Enterprise Institute, a 60,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts masterpiece where Andrew Mellon lived when he was treasury secretary during the 1920s. AEI purchased the building with a $20 million donation from one of the founders of the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm.

Right Moves
The Conservative Think Tank in American Political Culture Since 1945
By Jason Stahl

In the story of the rise of the political right in America since the late 1970s, think tanks, and sometimes the glorious edifices in which they are housed, have played an iconic role. The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the libertarian Cato Institute, along with their dozens of smaller but well-funded cousins, have seemed central to the "war of ideas" that drove American policy in the 1980s, in the backlash of 1994, in the George W. Bush era, and again after 2010.

For the center left, these institutions have become role models. While Brookings or the Urban Institute once eschewed ideology in favor of mild policy analysis or dispassionate technical assessment of social programs, AEI and Heritage seemed to build virtual war rooms for conservative ideas, investing more in public relations than in scholarship or credibility, and nurturing young talent (or, more often, the glib but not-very-talented). Their strategy seemed savvier. Conservative think tanks nurtured supply-side economics, neoconservative foreign policy, and the entire agenda of the Reagan administration, which took the form of a twenty-volume tome produced by Heritage in 1980 called Mandate for Leadership.

In the last decade or so, much of the intellectual architecture of the conservative think tanks has been credited to a single document known as the Powell Memo. This 1971 note from future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell to a Virginia neighbor who worked at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged business to do more to respond to the rising "New Left," countering forces such as Ralph Nader's nascent consumer movement in the courts, in media, and in academia....

DeDude -> anne... , -1
The part where the neo-con-men get the scientific process wrong is where they begin with the conclusion, before they even collect any facts. And then they whine that Universities are full of Liberals. No they are full of scientists - and they are supposed to be.

[Oct 29, 2016] The level of militarism in the current US society and MSM is really staggering. anti-war forces are completely destroyed (with the abandonment of draft) and are limited for

Oct 29, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
libertarians (such as Ron Paul) and paleoconservatives.

likbez -> Fred C. Dobbs... October 28, 2016 at 04:37 PM , 2016 at 04:37 PM

>"Plus, she's very nasty towards Vlad Putin."

What I do not get is how one can call himself/herself a democrat and be jingoistic monster. That's the problem with Democratic Party and its supporters. Such people for me are DINO ("Democrats only in name"). Closet neocons, if you wish. The level of militarism in the current US society and MSM is really staggering. anti-war forces are completely destroyed (with the abandonment of draft) and are limited for libertarians (such as Ron Paul) and paleoconservatives. There is almost completely empty space on the left. Dennis Kucinich is one of the few exceptions
(see http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2016/10/27/must-read-of-the-day-dennis-kucinich-issues-extraordinary-warning-on-d-c-s-think-tank-warmongers/ )

I think that people like Robert Kagan, Victoria Nuland and Dick Cheney can now proudly join Democratic Party and feel themselves quite at home.

BTW Hillary is actually very pleasant with people of the same level. It's only subordinates, close relatives and Security Service agents, who are on the receiving end of her wrath. A typical "kiss up, kick down personality".

The right word probably would not "nasty", but "duplicitous".

Or "treacherous" as this involves breaking of previous agreements (with a smile) as the USA diplomacy essentially involves positioning the country above the international law. As in "I am the law".

Obama is not that different. I think he even more sleazy then Hillary and as such is more difficult to deal with. He also is at his prime, while she is definitely past hers:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-putin-usa-idUSKCN12R25E

== quote ==
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday it was hard for him to work with the current U.S. administration because it did not stick to any agreements, including on Syria.

Putin said he was ready to engage with a new president however, whoever the American people chose, and to discuss any problem.
== end of quote ==

Syria is an "Obama-approved" adventure, is not it ? The same is true for Libya. So formally he is no less jingoistic then Hillary, Nobel Peace price notwithstanding.

Other things equal, it might be easier for Putin to deal with Hillary then Obama, as she has so many skeletons in the closet and might soon be impeached by House.

[Oct 28, 2016] Another example of Vichy left in Crooked Timber blog

Oct 28, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
Val 10.26.16 at 3:54 am 72 #70
But the problem is that Hillary with her failing health is our of her prime and with a bunch of neocons in key positions in her administration, she really represents a huge threat to world peace. She might not last long as the level of stress inherent in POTUS job make it a killing ground for anybody with advanced stage of Parkinson or similar degenerative neurological disease. But that might kale her more impulsive and more aggressive (and she always tried to outdo her male politicians in jingoism, real John McCain is the red pantsuit).

Does the new CT moderation regime have any expectations about the veracity of claims made by commenters? Because I think it would be useful in cases like this.

[Oct 28, 2016] Americas Vichy Regime

Notable quotes:
"... A few comparisons are in order. In their fine review of French history since 1870, Alice L. Conklin, Sarah Fishman, and Robert Zaretsky point out that French leaders at Vichy had several bargaining chips they could use against Hitler, but decided not to play them "because they had other priorities on their mind, including a 'National Revolution' to remake France, politically, socially, and economically." ..."
"... Petain was accompanied by legions of experts, administrators, and technocrats, who shared Petain's disdain for ordinary people and democratic processes, and by strident French fascists who even welcomed their country's defeat. Indeed, although fascists hated democracy, they also believed that Petain's measures did not go far enough to remake the country's institutions. The main thing this menagerie of "minorities" -- to use Stanley Hoffmann's phrase -- had in common was the loathing they shared of their own country. ..."
"... France was saved from its Vichy insanities by a country that was proclaimed, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, as the "last best hope on earth" -- that is, by the United States. The question is: Who will save America from its own Vichy regime? ..."
Apr 21, 2011 | www.americanthinker.com
For the French, revisiting the time period when the Vichy Regime ruled what was left of the country after its humiliating defeat by the Germans in 1940 involves trauma. But the lessons imparted by those dark years of Nazi occupation transcend historical era and nationality, touching upon equivalent circumstances in the United States for the past few years. Equivalent, not identical: clearly, phalanxes of Nazi troops aren't goose-stepping down Pennsylvania Avenue....

A few comparisons are in order. In their fine review of French history since 1870, Alice L. Conklin, Sarah Fishman, and Robert Zaretsky point out that French leaders at Vichy had several bargaining chips they could use against Hitler, but decided not to play them "because they had other priorities on their mind, including a 'National Revolution' to remake France, politically, socially, and economically."

France's new leader, the 84-year-old Marshall Petain, was a deeply reactionary veteran who loathed the Third Republic crushed by the Germans and vowed to take advantage of France's crisis to obliterate the past and install a centralized, authoritarian government. His rejection of liberalism, egalitarianism, and democracy prompted measures designed to return France to its pre-revolutionary roots: cities, industrial plants, and factories were rejected in favor of a return to nature, to villages and small shops. On top of this heap of nouveau-peasantry loomed the Marshall himself, whose grandfatherly physiognomy was plastered on buildings in public arenas all over the country to remind French subjects of who was in charge.

Petain was accompanied by legions of experts, administrators, and technocrats, who shared Petain's disdain for ordinary people and democratic processes, and by strident French fascists who even welcomed their country's defeat. Indeed, although fascists hated democracy, they also believed that Petain's measures did not go far enough to remake the country's institutions. The main thing this menagerie of "minorities" -- to use Stanley Hoffmann's phrase -- had in common was the loathing they shared of their own country.

... .. ..

Further, like his aged counterpart before him, President Obama took advantage of a crisis to "transform" American institutions instead of grappling with the country's main problems -- national debt, unemployment, recession, and burgeoning entitlement costs, to name a few. He made matters worse by augmenting entitlements, exploding federal deficits, exacerbating unemployment, and blaming others for the inevitable mess that ensued...

... ... ...

France was saved from its Vichy insanities by a country that was proclaimed, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, as the "last best hope on earth" -- that is, by the United States. The question is: Who will save America from its own Vichy regime?

Dr. Marvin Folkertsma is a professor of political science and Fellow for American Studies with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. The author of several books, his latest release is a high-energy novel titled "The Thirteenth Commandment."

[Oct 28, 2016] Vichy left in Crooked Timber blog

Notable quotes:
"... No. My point was it's very misleading. Misleading to set the parameters of discussion on U.S. posture toward Russia in such a way as to assume that Putin's actions against a purported Russian "democracy" have anything at all to do with USian antagonism of Russia. I'm sure you'll note current U.S. military cooperation with that boisterous hotbed of democratic activity, Saudi Arabia, in Yemen. Our allies in the house of Saud require help in defending their democratic way of life against the totalitarianism of Yemeni tribes, you see. The U.S. opposes anti-democratic forces whenever and where ever it can, especially in the Middle East. I guess that explains USian antipathy to Russia. ..."
Oct 28, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
Howard Frank in this blog provides a good example of Vichy left thinking...

Howard Frant 10.26.16 at 6:19 am 73

Stephen @58

Howard Frant 10.26.16 at 6:19 am ( )

Stephen @58

Yes, it was late and I was tired, or I wouldn't have said something so foolish. Still, the point is that after centuries of constant war, Europe went 70 years without territorial conquest. That strikes me as a significant achievement, and one whose breach should not be taken lightly.

phenomenal cat @64

So democratic structures have to be robust and transparent before we care about them? I'd give a pretty high value to an independent press and contested elections. Those have been slowly crushed in Russia. The results for transparency have not been great. Personally, I don't believe that Ukraine is governed by fascists, or that Ukraine shot down that jetliner, but I'm sure a lot of Russians do.

Russian leaders have always complained about "encirclement," but we don't have to believe them. Do you really believe Russia's afraid of an attack from Estonia? Clearly what Putin wants is to restore as much of the old Soviet empire as possible. Do you think the independence of the Baltic states would be more secure or less secure if they weren't members of NATO? (Hint: compare to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova.)

phenomenal cat 10.26.16 at 6:55 pm 84

"So democratic structures have to be robust and transparent before we care about them?"

No. My point was it's very misleading. Misleading to set the parameters of discussion on U.S. posture toward Russia in such a way as to assume that Putin's actions against a purported Russian "democracy" have anything at all to do with USian antagonism of Russia. I'm sure you'll note current U.S. military cooperation with that boisterous hotbed of democratic activity, Saudi Arabia, in Yemen. Our allies in the house of Saud require help in defending their democratic way of life against the totalitarianism of Yemeni tribes, you see. The U.S. opposes anti-democratic forces whenever and where ever it can, especially in the Middle East. I guess that explains USian antipathy to Russia.

"I'd give a pretty high value to an independent press and contested elections."

Yeah, it'd be interesting to see what the U.S. looked like with those dynamics in place.

"Those have been slowly crushed in Russia. The results for transparency have not been great."

If you say so. For now I'll leave any decisions or actions taken on these outcomes to Russian citizens. I would, however, kindly tell Victoria Nuland and her ilk to fuck off with their senile Cold War fantasies, morally bankrupt, third-rate Great Game machinations, and total spectrum dominance sociopathy.

"Personally, I don't believe that Ukraine is governed by fascists, or that Ukraine shot down that jetliner, but I'm sure a lot of Russians do."

There's definitely some of 'em hanging about, but yeah it mostly seems to be a motley assortment of oligarchs, gangsters, and grifters tied into international neoliberal capital and money flows. No doubt Russian believe a lot things. I find Americans tend to believe a lot things as well.

[Oct 26, 2016] The Vichy left – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their own prosperity and support the candidate who intends to protected it, everybody else be damned

Notable quotes:
"... Pretty consistent, I agree. IMHO Sanjait might belong to the category that some people call the "Vichy left" – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their 'own' prosperity and support the candidate who intends to protect it, everybody else be damned. ..."
"... Very neoliberal approach if you ask me. Ann Rand would probably be proud for this representative of "creative class". ..."
"... Essentially the behavior that we've had for the last 8 years with the king of "bait and switch". ..."
Oct 24, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

Sanjait -> Sandwichman ... October 24, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Some paranoid claptrap to go along with your usual anti intellectualism.

Interestingly, with your completely unrelated non sequitur, you've actually illustrated something that does relate to Krugmans post. Namely that there are wingnuts among us. They've taken over the Republican Party, but the left has some too. Fortunately though the Democratic Party hasn't been taken over by them yet, and is still mostly run by grown ups.

Sandwichman -> Sanjait... , October 24, 2016 at 10:42 AM

I am confident that what you say here is consistent with your methods and motivations.
likbez -> Sandwichman ...
"I am confident that what you say here is consistent with your methods and motivations."

Pretty consistent, I agree. IMHO Sanjait might belong to the category that some people call the "Vichy left" – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their 'own' prosperity and support the candidate who intends to protect it, everybody else be damned.

Very neoliberal approach if you ask me. Ann Rand would probably be proud for this representative of "creative class".

Essentially the behavior that we've had for the last 8 years with the king of "bait and switch".

[Oct 25, 2016] Krugman - a Vichy Left coward?

Jan 27, 2016 | larspsyll.wordpress.com

Paul Krugman's recent posts have been most peculiar. Several have looked uncomfortably like special pleading for political figures he likes, notably Hillary Clinton. He has, in my judgement, stooped rather far down in attacking people well below him in the public relations food chain

Perhaps the most egregious and clearest cut case is his refusal to address the substance of a completely legitimate, well-documented article by David Dayen outing Krugman, and to a lesser degree, his fellow traveler Mike Konczal, in abjectly misrepresenting Sanders' financial reform proposals

The Krugman that was early to stand up to the Iraq War, who was incisive before and during the crisis has been very much in absence since Obama took office. It's hard to understand the loss of intellectual independence. That may not make Krugman any worse than other Democratic party apparatchiks, but he continues to believe he is other than that, and the lashing out at Dayen looks like a wounded denial of his current role. Krugman and Konczal need to be seen as what they are: part of the Vichy Left brand cover for the Democratic party messaging apparatus. Krugman, sadly, has chosen to diminish himself for a not very worthy cause.

Yves Smith/Naked Capitalism

[Oct 15, 2016] That the economic system is being cannibalized to generate the outsized economic claims on income for capital and their minions among the executive classes

Notable quotes:
"... That the economic system is being cannibalized to generate the outsized economic claims on income for capital and their minions among the executive classes is worrying, as is the stagnation and the slow reaction to climate change and other similar issues. The 10% don't seem to be entirely ready to accept the parasitism in every detail. If you poison Flint's water or Well Fargo charges for fake accounts, there's some kind of reaction from at least some of the managerial / professional classes. We have Elizabeth Warren and she can be amazingly effective even if she seems like a lonely figure. ..."
"... But, mostly the parasitism of the financial sector affects the bottom 50%; the 10% get cash back on their credit cards. ..."
"... I personally know a guy who is an expert on the liver and therefore on the hazards posed by Tylenol (acetaminophen or paracetamol); it is quite revealing to hear about how he's attacked by interested corporations. ..."
"... The inverted totalitarianism that Bruce and Rich are referencing here is only apparently a successful marriage of the impulse to control complex processes and the technologies which promise the possibility of that control. ..."
"... Never mind how powerful their tools, managers who want to avoid catastrophic delusions will have to learn a little humility. My advice to them: feed that to your big data and your AI, right along with your fiat money, your global capital flows, and your commodified and devalued labor force. and see where you wind up. Where you're headed now is a dead end. ..."
"... it is not left neoliberalism versus right neoliberalism, but left neoliberalism versus something that is: a: worse b: a predictable consequence of neoliberalism. A being true makes B no less true, and vice versa. ..."
"... Trump is a dispicable human being…but he has touched those who are desperate for a change. Unfortunately for them, Trump could never be the change they need – whilst Clinton is just more of the same sh*t as we've had for the last 40 years or more. Bernie was the best hope for change…but the establishment made sure he could not win by the manipulation of the "super delegate vote"! ..."
Oct 15, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

bruce wilder 10.14.16 at 6:06 pm 159

Rich Puchalsky @ 155

But, isn't "boring" an argument too? A third way to dissolve all the noisier contention, make it meaningless and then complain of its meaninglessness?

I haven't quite recovered from merian challenging your argument from pattern and precedent as decontextualized and ahistorical or then announcing that she was not a supporter of Clinton after having previously justified her own unqualified (though time-limited) support for Clinton.

I see the rhetorical power of Luttwak's "perfect non-sequitur", which Adam Curtis explains as a basis for the propaganda of the inverted totalitarian state in some detail. I've long argued that the dominating power of neoliberalism - not just as the ideology of the managerial classes, but as the one ideology to rule them all at the end of history - has to do with the way (left) neoliberals argue almost exclusively with conservative libertarians (right neoliberals). It is in that narrow, bounded dynamic of one completely synthetic and artificial thesis with another closely related and also completely synthetic and artificial antithesis that we got stuck in the Groundhog Day, where history tails off after a few weeks and evidence consists of counterfactuals projected a few weeks into the future.

It is not a highly contested election. It just looks like one and sounds like one, but the noise (and it is all noise in the end) is drowning out anyone's ability to figure out what is going on. And, really, nothing is going on - or rather, nothing about which voters have a realistic choice to make. That's the problem. (Left) neoliberalism was born* in the decision to abandon the actual representation of a common interest (and most especially a working class interest). Instead, it is all about combining an atomizing politics of personal identity with Ezra Klein's wonkiness, where statistics are used to filter out more information than revealed and esoteric jargon obscures the rest. Paul Krugman, Reagan Administration veteran and Enron advisor, becomes the authoritative voice of the moderate centre-Left.

*That's why the now ancient Charles Peters' Neoliberal Manifesto matters - not because Peters was or is important, but because it was such a clear and timely statement of the managerial / professional class Left abandoning advocacy for the poor or labor interests against the interests of capital, corporations and the wealthy. The basic antagonism of interests in politics was to be abandoned and what was gained was financial support from capital and business corporations. The Liberal Class, the institutional foundations of which were eroding rapidly in the 1980s, with the decline of social affiliation, mainline Protestant religions, public universities, organized labor could no longer be relied upon to fund the chattering classes so the chattering classes represented by Peters found a new gig and rationalized it, and that is the (left) neoliberalism we know today as Vox speak.

The 10% gets free a completely artificial (because not rooted in class interests or any interests) ideology bought and paid for by the 1/10th of 1% and the executive class) ideology, but it gets it free and as long as the system continues to lumber along, employing them (which makes them the 10%) they remain complacent. They don't understand their world, but their world seems to work anyway, so why worry? Any apparently alarming development can be normalized by confusion and made boring.

More than 20 years after Luttwak / McMurtry, I would think inability of the 10% to understand how the world works might be the most worrying thing of all. The 10% are the people who make the world work in a technical sense - that is the responsibility of the professionals and professional managers, after all.

That the economic system is being cannibalized to generate the outsized economic claims on income for capital and their minions among the executive classes is worrying, as is the stagnation and the slow reaction to climate change and other similar issues. The 10% don't seem to be entirely ready to accept the parasitism in every detail. If you poison Flint's water or Well Fargo charges for fake accounts, there's some kind of reaction from at least some of the managerial / professional classes. We have Elizabeth Warren and she can be amazingly effective even if she seems like a lonely figure.

But, mostly the parasitism of the financial sector affects the bottom 50%; the 10% get cash back on their credit cards.

I read with fascination articles about the travails of that Virginia Tech guy who persisted in the Flint Water case; again, a lonely figure. I personally know a guy who is an expert on the liver and therefore on the hazards posed by Tylenol (acetaminophen or paracetamol); it is quite revealing to hear about how he's attacked by interested corporations.

William Timberman 10.14.16 at 6:19 pm 160

And yet…. In the more or less cobwebbed corners of the Internet, like CT, we are in fact having this conversation, and others much like it - even when, as inevitably happens, it leaves us vulnerable to accusations of leftist onanism by self-appointed realists of the status quo. They may not be easy to ignore, but knowing that their opinions can't possibly be as securely held as they claim, and are in fact more vulnerable to events than they're capable of imagining, we shouldn't feel obliged to pay their denunciations any more attention than they deserve.

The inverted totalitarianism that Bruce and Rich are referencing here is only apparently a successful marriage of the impulse to control complex processes and the technologies which promise the possibility of that control.

If we really want to foster a future in which institutions are stable again, and can successfully design and implement effective protections for the general welfare, we're going to have to get a lot more comfortable with chaos, unintended consequences, the residual perversity, in short, of large-scale human interactions.

Never mind how powerful their tools, managers who want to avoid catastrophic delusions will have to learn a little humility. My advice to them: feed that to your big data and your AI, right along with your fiat money, your global capital flows, and your commodified and devalued labor force. and see where you wind up. Where you're headed now is a dead end.

soru 10.14.16 at 6:34 pm 161

> It is not a highly contested election. It just looks like one and sounds like one, but the noise (and it is all noise in the end) is drowning out anyone's ability to figure out what is going on.

Pretty sure it is. Precisely because it is not left neoliberalism versus right neoliberalism, but left neoliberalism versus something that is:

a: worse
b: a predictable consequence of neoliberalism.

A being true makes B no less true, and vice versa.

likbez 10.14.16 at 6:49 pm 62

The 50-55 year old male, white, college-educated former exemplar of the American Dream, still perhaps living in his lavishly-equipped suburban house, with two or three cars in the driveway, one or two children in $20,000 per annum higher education (tuition, board and lodging – all extras are extra) and an ex-job 're-engineered' out of existence, who now exists on savings, second and third mortgages and scant earnings as a self-described 'consultant', has become a familiar figure in the contemporary United States.

This is a real problem in the US. See, for example, http://www.softpanorama.org/Social/over_50_and_unemployed.shtml

The problem facing lower white collar and blue collar workers also was recently discussed in Guardian article
Dangerous idiots: how the liberal media elite failed working-class Americans

Here is a couple of comments

UserFriendlyyy -> sharpydufc , 14 Oct 2016 09:46

It isn't liberal or conservative. It lives in a [neoliberal] fantasy land where your station in life is merit based. If you are poor, it's a personal failing. Rich, you earned every penny.

They incorrectly believe the American Dream is something more than a fairytale rich people tell themselves to justify the misery they inflict on the poor.

It's pro technocrat; "we have a perfect solution if it would just get implemented…. It won't rock the apple cart and will have minimum benefits but it makes us look like we care."

boo321 , 14 Oct 2016 07:53

Neoliberalism has failed the poor, disadvantaged and disabled. Making these people pay for the mistakes, corruption of our banks and major institutions is indicative of the greedy rich and elite who don't give a toss for their suffering.

Trump is a dispicable human being…but he has touched those who are desperate for a change. Unfortunately for them, Trump could never be the change they need – whilst Clinton is just more of the same sh*t as we've had for the last 40 years or more. Bernie was the best hope for change…but the establishment made sure he could not win by the manipulation of the "super delegate vote"!

[Oct 05, 2016] They forget that the final lines of Animal Farm arent just an indictment of the pigs (Communist nomenklatura) for being no better than the men (capitalists) but also of the men for being no better than the pigs

Notable quotes:
"... The Neo-Liberal State ..."
"... the point that there's no ethical consumption under capitalism is a good one, repeated often but not often enough, even if in your case it comes in the stale clichéd context of "therefore First-World leftists need to shut up". ..."
"... in still-existing Communist Party regimes like the People's Republic of China, the party cadres are the neoliberal capitalist elites, no political transition required at all. ..."
"... It's George Orwell's final ironic revenge on those who would conscript his Animal Farm into service as a procapitalist propaganda tract: they forget that the final lines aren't just an indictment of the pigs (Communist nomenklatura) for being no better than the men (capitalists) but also of the men for being no better than the pigs. ..."
Oct 05, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 10.04.16 at 10:22 pm 415

Re: Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 7:52 pm.371

A side note: there was some conversation above about the interests of an aristocracy, which of course prompted the idea that the aristocracy is long gone. But meritocracy is a kind of aristocracy.

This is an interesting observation. BTW other aspect of the same is related to the "Iron law of oligarchy". Also both aristocracy and meritocracy are just variants of oligarchy. The actual literal translation from the Greek is the "rule of the few".

At the same time traditional aristocracy is not fixed either and always provided some "meritocratic" mechanisms for entering its ranks. Look, for example, at British system where prominent scientists always were awarded lordship. Similar mechanism was used in in many countries where low rank military officers, who displayed bravery and talent in battles were promoted to nobility and allowed to hold top military positions. Napoleonic France probably is one good example here.

Neoliberal elite like traditional aristocracy also enjoys the privilege of being above the law. And like in case of traditional aristocracy the democratic governance is limited to members of this particular strata. Only they can be viewed as political actors.

USSR nomenklatura is yet another example of the same. It was so close in spirit to neoliberal elite, that the transition in 1991 was almost seamless.

In other words, vertical mobility can't be completely suppressed without system losing the social stability and that's was true for classic aristocracy as well as modern neoliberal elite (actually vertical mobility is somewhat higher in European countries then in the USA; IMHO it is even higher in the former Eastern block).

likbez 10.05.16 at 1:25 am 416
LFC,

@413

Re Will G-R: Your constant references to "liberals" as if they are all hideous, foul, disgusting, and evil, dripping in blood of the victims of global capitalism's exploitative ways (do you have a smartphone by the way? [I don't]; do you know who mined its ingredients?) is getting perhaps a bit, um, repetitive.

If by liberals we would understand neoliberals, this might not be an overstatement. Neoliberals destroy the notion of social justice and pervert the notion of the "rule of the law". See, for example, The Neo-Liberal State by Raymond Plant

…social justice is incompatible with the rule of law because its demands cannot be embodied in general and impartial rules; and rights have to be the rights to non-interference rather than understood in terms of claims to resources because rules against interference can be understood in general terms whereas rights to resources cannot. There is no such thing as a substantive common good for the state to pursue and for the law to embody and thus the political pursuit of something like social justice or a greater sense of solidarity and community lies outside the rule of law.
… … …
…But surely, it might be argued, a nomocratic state and its laws have to
acknowledge some set of goals. It cannot be impartial or indifferent to all goals.
Law cannot be pointless. It cannot be totally non-instrumental. It has to facilitate
the achievement of some goals. If this is recognized, it might be argued, it will
modify the sharpness of the distinction between a nomocratic and telocratic state,
between a civil association and an enterprise association.

The last paragraph essentially defines "neoliberal justice" which to me looks somewhat similar to the concept of "proletarian justice" (see Bukharin's views https://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1920/abc/09.htm; compare with Vyshinskii views http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1924-2/socialist-legality/socialist-legality-texts/vyshinskii-on-proletarian-justice/).

So Will G-R low opinion is not without merit.

IMHO for neoliberals social justice and the rule of law is applicable only to Untermensch. For Ubermensch (aka "creative class") it undermines their individual freedom and thus they need to be above the law.

To ensure their freedom and cut "unnecessary and undesirable interference" of the society in their creative activities the role of the state should be limited to safeguarding the free market as the playground for their "creativity" (note "free" as in "free ride", not "fair")

Will G-R 10.05.16 at 1:48 pm 420
LFC, the point that there's no ethical consumption under capitalism is a good one, repeated often but not often enough, even if in your case it comes in the stale clichéd context of "therefore First-World leftists need to shut up". The point about repetition is particularly ironic, though, coming in the midst of yet another repetitive liberal circlejerk about Donald Trump blowing the Gabriel's trumpet of a civilization-destroying neo-Nazi apocalypse.
Will G-R 10.05.16 at 2:10 pm 421
likbez: "USSR nomenklatura is yet another example of the same. It was so close in spirit to neoliberal elite, that the transition in 1991 was almost seamless."

One doesn't even have to compare different types of government to grasp this point, when in still-existing Communist Party regimes like the People's Republic of China, the party cadres are the neoliberal capitalist elites, no political transition required at all.

It's George Orwell's final ironic revenge on those who would conscript his Animal Farm into service as a procapitalist propaganda tract: they forget that the final lines aren't just an indictment of the pigs (Communist nomenklatura) for being no better than the men (capitalists) but also of the men for being no better than the pigs.

likbez 10.05.16 at 2:23 pm 422
Will G-R,

@421

"It's George Orwell's final ironic revenge on those who would conscript his Animal Farm into service as a procapitalist propaganda tract: they forget that the final lines aren't just an indictment of the pigs (Communist nomenklatura) for being no better than the men (capitalists) but also of the men for being no better than the pigs."

An excellent point. Thank you.

[Oct 05, 2016] Diversity McCarthyism

Notable quotes:
"... If we don't keep up with the LGBT agenda, no corporations will want to do business with us! ..."
"... The tyranny of the minority needs to end. Are there any in authority willing to fulfill their official duty to say "no" and enforce it? ..."
Oct 05, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Oct 05, 2016 | The American Conservative
A reader in academia writes to say that Kennesaw State University, a large state school in Georgia, is looking for a new president. The hiring committee wants to consider hiring Sam Olens, the Georgia attorney general. "Ah, but you know what's coming," says the reader. More, from a local TV station's report:

Olens defended Georgia's gay marriage ban and sued the federal government over the transgender bathroom directive. That's why students organized Monday afternoon's protest and drafted a petition that has more than 5,000 signatures.

In the petition, students ask the Georgia Board of Regents to not appoint Olens as KSU's next president.One student, who wouldn't give 11Alive his name, said he's disappointed.

"The support groups would probably be disbanded and not to mention the scholarships that are offered for people active in LGBT rights," he said

After the rally ended, he stayed around to continue the protest.

"I feel it's my duty. I'm a student here and I have to make sure the school is safe for me and students. If this place becomes unsafe, I'd have to leave," he said.

Oh for pity's sake, this snowflake thinks hiring the Georgia AG as the school's president would lead to anti-gay pogroms? I hate the way this Orwellian "safe space" concept has become the cudgel with which campus progressives use to club the expression of opinions with which they disagree. Anyway, the reader comments:

Okay, a couple things. First, KSU gives scholarships for "people active in LGBT rights"? I'd love to know details on that. Second, note the alleged disqualification here: Olens defended the laws of his state - laws that were created by a democratically elected legislature. In other words, he did the job he is elected to do. But as you and I know, this now constitutes Thoughtcrime.

Leonard Witt, a KSU professor, wrote a column criticizing the choice in which he concludes: "Let's, this time, show the world that Cobb County carries the torch for all its diverse communities." Yes, diverse communities - as long as one of those communities isn't Christians or people fulfilling the duties of their elected office.

Now, I should note that as a college professor myself I happen to agree with Witt's other point: that a college president should be an academic, not someone plucked from business or politics. If I taught at KSU, I would oppose Olens for that reason. But this is something different: opposition to him because of something he believes, and because he did his job according to the constitution of the state of Georgia.

Eventually we're going to have to call explanations like Witt's the "Eich Maneuver," as an homage to Mozilla's preposterous explanation that they had to fire Eich because of how much they value diversity of viewpoint.

The reader says to be sure to note this reasoning from KSU's Prof. Witt (what follows is a quote from Witt's column):

Already the KSU LGBTQ community members are signing petitions. A headline in Project Q, a popular Atlanta blog, screams out "Gay marriage bigot Sam Olens to become KSU president." Unfair? Perhaps, but how do we know,since the selection process is coming from the darkest corners of state government. As attorney general, Olens ardently opposed both gay marriage and now gender neutral bathrooms. Hence, the headline.

Given Cobb County's history, try as the chancellor may argue otherwise, important national constituencies are going to be outraged­ about the secret meetings aimed at appointing a candidate who they know will infuriate the LGBTQ community and their allies at Kennesaw State, in Cobb County and throughout the state and nation.

The nation's largest foundations that support higher education demand respecting diversity in all its forms. An active foe of gay marriage or transgender neutral bathrooms for KSU president? Cobb County again? We have better places to put our money. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Nike and just about every other major corporation may well openly or silently boycott Kennesaw State University. Plus, the tainted brand name will not exactly be a student resume builder.

Says the reader:

Echoes of Indiana and RFRA. If we don't keep up with the LGBT agenda, no corporations will want to do business with us! And note the fear that we could "infuriate the LGBTQ community and their allies." If I even mentioned to my academic colleagues that something could upset we Christians and our allies, I'd probably hear laughter.

We should be hearing Republican politicians, churches, and civic leaders calling this stuff out for what it is: diversity McCarthyism. Olens may or may not be qualified to run the university, but what these SJWs are attempting is frightening - or should be. Where does it stop?

[Oct 05, 2016] Social Justice and Neoliberal Discourse

Oct 05, 2016 | muse.jhu.edu
Bobby M. Wilson (bio) In the era of neoliberalism, human beings are made accountable for their predicaments or circumstances according to the workings of the market as opposed to finding faults in larger structural and institutional forces like racism and economic inequality. The market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all of human action ( Harvey 2005 ). In many ways, the discourse of neoliberalism represents a radical inversion of the notion of "human agency," as conceived through the prophetic politics of Martin Luther King. As originally conceived, human agency focused on people's capability of doing things that can make a difference, that is, to exercise some sort of power and self-reliance. As a central concern among many in the social sciences, this concept sought to expose the power of human beings. Reverend Martin Luther King's prophetic politics were determinedly "this worldly" and social in their focus. He encouraged people to direct their attention to matters of social justice rather than concern for personal well-being or salvation. He believed in the power of people to make a difference.

But the concept of "justice" has been reconstructed to fit neoliberal political and economic objectives. This reconstruction is part of a larger discourse to reconstitute liberalism to include human conduct. The invisible hand of the market not only allocates resources but also the conduct of citizens. Economie agency is no longer just about the market allocation of resources, but the allocation of people into cultural worlds. This represents a radical inversion of the economic agent as conceived by the liberalism of Adam Smith. As agents, humans are implicated as players and partners in the market game. The context in which individuals define themselves is privatized rather than publicized; the focus of concerns is on the self rather than the collective. Power operates internally, not externally, by inducing people to aim for "self-improvement." The effect has been to negate the "social" in issues of "justice" or "injustice." Individual subjects are rendered responsible, shifting the responsibility for social risk (unemployment, poverty, etc.) to the individual.

Black inner city spaces compete freely within a deregulated global market. Central cities of large metropolitan areas have become the epicenter of segregation. In 1988, approximately 55% of black students in the South attended schools that were 50% to 100% minorities. By 2000, almost 70% attended such schools. Only 15% of intensely segregated white schools are schools of concentrated poverty, whereas 88% of the intensely segregated racial minority schools are schools of concentrated poverty. Fifty years after the Brown decision, we continue to heap more disadvantages on children in poor communities. The community where a student resides [End Page 97] and goes to school is now the best predictor of whether that student will go to college and succeed after graduation. High school graduation rates in the South were lowest in the most isolated black-majority districts-those separated by both race and poverty. Across the South, we have created public and private systems that encourage the accumulation of wealth and privilege in mostly white and socially isolated communities separated by ever greater distances from the increasingly invisible working poor ( Orfield and Mei 2004 ).

The most fundamental difference between today's segregated black communities and those of the past is the much higher level of joblessness ( Wilson 1997 ). Black unemployment and poverty level consistently remains at twice the level of the total population. Access to jobs, already disproportionately tenuous for black workers, has become even more constricted in the current era of global capital. Without meaningful work, the impact of racially segregated communities is much more pervasive and devastating. The vast majority of intensely racial and ethnic segregated minority places face a growing surplus labor determined to survive by any means necessary. Two-thirds of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. The proportion of young black males who are incarcerated, on parole, or on probation nationwide continues to reach record levels. Blacks represent 12.3% of the total population but make up 43.7% of the incarcerated population. The number of black men in prisons increased from 508,800 in...

[Sep 18, 2016] Protesting Youth in the Age of Neoliberal Cruelty by Henry A. Giroux

Notable quotes:
"... Reality always has this power to surprise. It surprises you with an answer that it gives to questions never asked - and which are most tempting. A great stimulus to life is there, in the capacity to divine possible unasked questions. ..."
"... - Eduardo Galeano ..."
"... Fred Jameson has argued that "that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." ..."
"... One way of understanding Jameson's comment is that within the ideological and affective spaces in which the neoliberal subject is produced and market-driven ideologies are normalized, there are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself. ..."
"... As the latest stage of predatory capitalism, neoliberalism is part of a broader economic and political project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital, particularly financial capital ..."
"... As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy ..."
"... Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one's individual needs and self-interests. ..."
"... The unemployment rate for young people in many countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece hovers between 40 and 50 per cent. To make matters worse, those with college degrees either cannot find work or are working at low-skill jobs that pay paltry wages. In the United States, young adjunct faculty constitute one of the fastest growing populations on food stamps. Suffering under huge debts, a jobs crisis, state violence, a growing surveillance state, and the prospect that they would inherit a standard of living far below that enjoyed by their parents, many young people have exhibited a rage that seems to deepen their resignation, despair, and withdrawal from the political arena. ..."
"... They now inhabit a neoliberal notion of temporality marked by a loss of faith in progress along with the emergence of apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak, and insecure. Heightened expectations and progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness, while giving millions to banks and the military. ..."
"... dispossessed youth continued to lose their dignity, bodies, and material goods to the machineries of disposability. ..."
"... Against the ravaging policies of austerity and disposability, "zones of abandonment appeared in which the domestic machinery of violence, suffering, cruelty, and punishment replaced the values of compassion, social responsibility, and civic courage" (Biehl 2005:2). ..."
"... In opposition to such conditions, a belief in the power of collective resistance and politics emerged once again in 2010, as global youth protests embraced the possibility of deepening and expanding democracy, rather than rejecting it. ..."
"... What is lacking here is any critical sense regarding the historical conditions and dismal lack of political and moral responsibility of an adult generation who shamefully bought into and reproduced, at least since the 1970s, governments and social orders wedded to war, greed, political corruption, xenophobia, and willing acceptance of the dictates of a ruthless form of neoliberal globalization. ..."
"... London Review of Books ..."
"... This is not a diary ..."
"... Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment ..."
"... Against the terror of neoliberalism ..."
"... Against the violence of organized forgetting: beyond America's disimagination machine ..."
"... Debt: The First 5,000 Years ..."
"... The democracy project: a history, a crisis, a movement ..."
"... 5th assessment report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change ..."
"... Unlearning With Hannah Arendt ..."
"... Agnonistics: thinking the world politically ..."
"... Capital in the twenty-first century ..."
www.truth-out.org

Reality always has this power to surprise. It surprises you with an answer that it gives to questions never asked - and which are most tempting. A great stimulus to life is there, in the capacity to divine possible unasked questions.

- Eduardo Galeano

Neoliberalism's Assault on Democracy

Fred Jameson has argued that "that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." He goes on to say that "We can now revise that and witness the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world" (Jameson 2003). One way of understanding Jameson's comment is that within the ideological and affective spaces in which the neoliberal subject is produced and market-driven ideologies are normalized, there are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself. Certainly, more recent scientific reports on the threat of ecological disaster from researchers at the University of Washington, NASA, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reinforce this dystopian possibility. [1]

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

As the latest stage of predatory capitalism, neoliberalism is part of a broader economic and political project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital, particularly financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014). As a political project, it includes "the deregulation of finance, privatization of public services, elimination and curtailment of social welfare programs, open attacks on unions, and routine violations of labor laws" (Yates 2013). As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy, consuming as the only operable form of citizenship, and upholds the irrational belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations. As a mode of governance, it produces identities, subjects, and ways of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, possessive individual, and committed to the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power removed from matters of ethics and social costs. As a policy and political project, it is wedded to the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the endless marketization and commodification of society.

Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one's individual needs and self-interests. Matters of mutual caring, respect, and compassion for the other have given way to the limiting orbits of privatization and unrestrained self-interest, just as it has become increasingly difficult to translate private troubles into larger social, economic, and political considerations. As the democratic public spheres of civil society have atrophied under the onslaught of neoliberal regimes of austerity, the social contract has been either greatly weakened or replaced by savage forms of casino capitalism, a culture of fear, and the increasing use of state violence. One consequence is that it has become more difficult for people to debate and question neoliberal hegemony and the widespread misery it produces for young people, the poor, middle class, workers, and other segments of society - now considered disposable under neoliberal regimes which are governed by a survival-of-the fittest ethos, largely imposed by the ruling economic and political elite.

That they are unable to make their voices heard and lack any viable representation in the process makes clear the degree to which young people and others are suffering under a democratic deficit, producing what Chantal Mouffe calls "a profound dissatisfaction with a number of existing societies" under the reign of neoliberal capitalism (Mouffe 2013:119). This is one reason why so many youth, along with workers, the unemployed, and students, have been taking to the streets in Greece, Mexico, Egypt, the United States, and England.

The Rise of Disposable Youth

What is particularly distinctive about the current historical conjuncture is the way in which young people, particularly low-income and poor minority youth across the globe, have been increasingly denied any place in an already weakened social order and the degree to which they are no longer seen as central to how a number of countries across the globe define their future. The plight of youth as disposable populations is evident in the fact that millions of them in countries such as England, Greece, and the United States have been unemployed and denied long term benefits. The unemployment rate for young people in many countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece hovers between 40 and 50 per cent. To make matters worse, those with college degrees either cannot find work or are working at low-skill jobs that pay paltry wages. In the United States, young adjunct faculty constitute one of the fastest growing populations on food stamps. Suffering under huge debts, a jobs crisis, state violence, a growing surveillance state, and the prospect that they would inherit a standard of living far below that enjoyed by their parents, many young people have exhibited a rage that seems to deepen their resignation, despair, and withdrawal from the political arena.

This is the first generation, as sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argues, in which the "plight of the outcast may stretch to embrace a whole generation." (Bauman 2012a; 2012b; 2012c) He rightly insists that today's youth have been "cast in a condition of liminal drift, with no way of knowing whether it is transitory or permanent" (Bauman 2004:76). Youth no longer occupy the hope of a privileged place that was offered to previous generations. They now inhabit a neoliberal notion of temporality marked by a loss of faith in progress along with the emergence of apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak, and insecure. Heightened expectations and progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness, while giving millions to banks and the military.

Students, in particular, found themselves in a world in which unrealized aspirations have been replaced by dashed hopes and a world of onerous debt (Fraser 2013; On the history of debt, see Graeber 2012).

The Revival of the Radical Imagination

Within the various regimes of neoliberalism that have emerged particularly in North since the late 1970s, the ethical grammars that drew attention to the violence and suffering withered or, as in the United States, seemed to disappear altogether, while dispossessed youth continued to lose their dignity, bodies, and material goods to the machineries of disposability. The fear of losing everything, the horror of an engulfing and crippling precarity, the quest to merely survive, the rise of the punishing state and police violence, along with the impending reality of social and civil death, became a way of life for the 99 percent in the United States and other countries. Under such circumstances, youth were no longer the place where society reveals its dreams, but increasingly hid its nightmares. Against the ravaging policies of austerity and disposability, "zones of abandonment appeared in which the domestic machinery of violence, suffering, cruelty, and punishment replaced the values of compassion, social responsibility, and civic courage" (Biehl 2005:2).

In opposition to such conditions, a belief in the power of collective resistance and politics emerged once again in 2010, as global youth protests embraced the possibility of deepening and expanding democracy, rather than rejecting it. Such movements produced a new understanding of politics based on horizontal forms of collaboration and political participation. In doing so, they resurrected revitalized and much needed questions about class power, inequality, financial corruption, and the shredding of the democratic process. They also explored as well as what it meant to create new communities of mutual support, democratic modes of exchange and governance, and public spheres in which critical dialogue and exchanges could take place (For an excellent analysis on neoliberal-induced financial corruption, see Anderson 2004).

A wave of youth protests starting in 2010 in Tunisia, and spreading across the globe to the United States and Europe, eventually posed a direct challenge to neoliberal modes of domination and the corruption of politics, if not democracy itself (Hardt & Negri 2012). The legitimating, debilitating, and depoliticizing notion that politics could only be challenged within established methods of reform and existing relations of power was rejected outright by students and other young people across the globe. For a couple of years, young people transformed basic assumptions about what politics is and how the radical imagination could be mobilized to challenge the basic beliefs of neoliberalism and other modes of authoritarianism. They also challenged dominant discourses ranging from deficit reduction and taxing the poor to important issues that included poverty, joblessness, the growing unmanageable levels of student debt, and the massive spread of corporate corruption. As Jonathan Schell argued, youth across the globe were enormously successfully in unleashing "a new spirit of action", an expression of outrage fueled less by policy demands than by a cry of collective moral and political indignation whose message was

'Enough!' to a corrupt political, economic and media establishment that hijacked the world's wealth for itself… sabotaging the rule of law, waging interminable savage and futile wars, plundering the world's finite resources, and lying about all this to the public [while] threatening Earth's life forms into the bargain. (Schell 2011)

Yet, some theorists have recently argued that little has changed since 2011, in spite of this expression of collective rage and accompanying demonstrations by youth groups across the globe.

The Collapse or Reconfiguration of Youthful Protests?

Costas Lapavitsas and Alex Politaki, writing in The Guardian, argue that as the "economic and social disaster unfolded in 2012 and 2013", youth in Greece, France, Portugal, and Spain have largely been absent from "politics, social movements and even from the spontaneous social networks that have dealt with the worst of the catastrophe" (Lapavitsas & Politaki 2014). Yet, at the same time, they insist that more and more young people have been "attracted to nihilistic ends of the political spectrum, including varieties of anarchism and fascism" (Lapavitsas & Politaki 2014). This indicates that young people have hardly been absent from politics. On the contrary, those youth moving to the right are being mobilized around needs that simply promise the swindle of fulfillment. This does not suggest youth are becoming invisible. On the contrary, the move on the part of students and others to the right implies that the economic crisis has not been matched by a crisis of ideas, one that would propel young people towards left political parties or social formations that effectively articulate a critical understanding of the present economic and political crisis. Missing here is also a strategy to create and sustain a radical democratic political movement that avoids cooptation of the prevailing economic and political systems of oppression now dominating the United States, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, France, and England, among other countries.

This critique of youthful protesters as a suspect generation is repeated in greater detail by Andrew R. Myers in Student Pulse (Myers 2012). He argues that deteriorating economic and educational conditions for youth all over Europe have created not only a profound sense of political pessimism among young people, but also a dangerous, if not cynical, distrust towards established politics. Regrettably, Myers seems less concerned about the conditions that have written young people out of jobs, a decent education, imposed a massive debt on them, and offers up a future of despair and dashed hopes than the alleged unfortunate willingness of young people to turn their back on traditional parties. Myers argues rightly that globalization is the enemy of young people and is undermining democracy, but he wrongly insists that traditional social democratic parties are the only vehicles and hope left for real reform. As such, Myers argues that youth who exhibit distrust towards established governments and call for the construction of another world symbolize political defeat, if not cynicism itself. Unfortunately, with his lament about how little youth are protesting today and about their lack of engagement in the traditional forms of politics, he endorses, in the end, a defense of those left/liberal parties that embrace social democracy and the new labor policies of centrist-left coalitions. His rebuke borders on bad faith, given his criticism of young people for not engaging in electoral politics and joining with unions, both of which, for many youth, rightfully represent elements of a reformist politics they reject.

It is ironic that both of these critiques of the alleged passivity of youth and the failure of their politics have nothing to say about the generations of adults that failed these young people - that is, what disappears in these narratives is the fact that an older generation accepted the "realization that one generation no longer holds out a hand to the next" (Knott 2011:ix). What is lacking here is any critical sense regarding the historical conditions and dismal lack of political and moral responsibility of an adult generation who shamefully bought into and reproduced, at least since the 1970s, governments and social orders wedded to war, greed, political corruption, xenophobia, and willing acceptance of the dictates of a ruthless form of neoliberal globalization.

In fact, what was distinctive about the protesting youth across the globe was their rejection to the injustices of neoliberalism and their attempts to redefine the meaning of politics and democracy, while fashioning new forms of revolt (Hardt & Negri 2012; Graeber 2013). Among their many criticisms, youthful protesters argued vehemently that traditional social democratic, left, and liberal parties suffered from an "extremism of the center" that made them complicitous with the corporate and ruling political elites, resulting in their embrace of the inequities of a form of casino capitalism which assumed that the market should govern the entirety of social life, not just the economic realm (Hardt & Negri 2012:88).

... ... ...

References:

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Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books include: Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), America's Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), and The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America's Disimagination Machine (City Lights, 2014). The Toronto Star named Henry Giroux one of the twelve Canadians changing the way we think! Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.

[Sep 16, 2016] Glamorisation of the rich as alpha males under neoliberalism and randism

Human society is way to complex for alpha males to succeed unconditionally... Quite a different set of traits is often needed.
Dec 31, 2015 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 10:51 am

As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."

Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).

MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

"Go with the winner."

That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla)…for most followers anyway.

Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different–not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.
This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasnt about Fitzgerald and wasnt even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right

craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.

There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!

giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:

"The rich are different"… The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html

Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.

"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.

"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."

[Sep 15, 2016] Satyajit Das The Business of Politics naked capitalism by Satyajit Das

Notable quotes:
"... I think the key difference between successful politicians and business people is patience. When you look at the careers of successful politicians, you can often see many years of pure relentless grind going into a few years of glory in a senior position. Endless committee meetings, rubber chicken dinners, being nice to people you loath, the inevitable humiliation of losing elections. Most business leaders simply lose patience after a few years after they go into politics. ..."
"... "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." ..."
"... Neoclassical economics hid the work of the Classical Economists and the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income. ..."
"... Once you hide this it is easy to make it look as though the interests of business and the wealthy are the same. ..."
"... There should not really be any tax on "earned" income, all tax should fall on "unearned" income to subside the productive side of the economy with low cost housing and services. ..."
"... "The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers." ..."
"... Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business. ..."
"... "…who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." Adam Smith just described the modern Republican Party and movement Conservatives. ..."
"... The children of the US elite were the storm troopers of this ideology and they headed out from their elite US universities to bring this new ideology to developing nations. ..."
"... "The Chicago Boys" headed out from the University of Chicago to bring the new way to South American nations and "The Berkley Mafia" headed out from the University of Berkeley, California to bring the new way to Indonesia ..."
"... Any means were deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology, e.g. torture, terror, death squads, snatching people off the streets and making them disappear permanently. Any left wing resistance had to be quashed by whatever means necessary ..."
"... Their revolutions always massively increased inequality, a few at the top became fabulously wealthy and extreme and widespread poverty became prevalent at the bottom. Mixing with the people at the top, the elite US storm troopers deemed their revolutions a huge success. This ideology was ready to roll out across the world. ..."
"... Under this new ideology, the UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure. ..."
"... Obfuscating the relationship between free markets and the role of government is coming to an end. So much failure and misdirection cannot hide forever. The cognitive dissonance set up in society is unsustainable- people don't like to feel or experience crazy. ..."
"... Markets are stronger and healthier when backed by functioning government. Defining what good government is and demanding it is required today. That is the revolutionary force, finally turning back the negative campaign against government and demanding good government- fighting for it. ..."
"... "Enoch Powell…once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders." But that is also what they say about love. No good end can come of it. ..."
"... This bit of convenient fiction caught my eye: "Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors." ..."
"... Perhaps political leaders should do this but, as has been recently shown, there is no basis in reality that this is any kind of requirement (as in "must"). ..."
"... Perhaps his use of "must" in this case is talking about the intrinsic requirement. In other words, even if they are managing negatively for some and positively for others, they are managing for all. ..."
Sep 15, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Satyajit Das, a former banker. His latest book is 'A Banquet of Consequences ' (published in North America as The Age of Stagnation to avoid confusion as a cookbook). He is also the author of Extreme Money and Traders, Guns & Money

Electorates believe that business leaders are qualified for and likely to be effective in politics. Yet, with some notable exceptions, business people have rarely had successful political careers.

The assumption is that corporate vision, leadership skills, administrative skills and a proven record of wealth creation will translate into political success. It presupposes personal qualities such drive, ambition and ruthlessness. The allure is also grounded in the romantic belief that outsiders can fix all that is wrong with the political process. The faith is misplaced.

First, the required skills are different.

Successful business leaders generally serve a technical apprenticeship in the business, industry or a related profession giving them familiarity with the firm's activities. Political success requires party fealty, calculating partisanship, managing coalitions and networking. It requires a capacity to engage in the retail electoral process, such as inspirational public speaking and an easy familiarity with voters in a wide variety of settings. It requires formidable powers of fund raising to finance campaigns. Where individuals shift from business to politics in mid or later life, he or she is at a significant disadvantage to career political operatives who have had years to build the necessary relationships and organisation to support political aspirations.

Second, the scope of the task is different. A nation is typically larger than a business. The range of issues is broader, encompassing economics, finance, welfare, health, social policy as well as defence and international relations. Few chief executives will, during a single day, have to consider budgetary or economic issues, health policy, gender matters, privacy concerns, manage involvement in a foreign conflict in between meeting and greeting a range of visitors varying from schoolchildren to foreign dignitaries as well as attending to party political matters.

Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors. They must take into account the effect of decisions on a wide range of constituencies including many implacably opposed to their positions.

Third, business objectives, such as profit maximisation, are narrow, well defined and constant. Political objectives are amorphous and ideological. The emphasis is on living standards, security and social justice. Priorities between conflicting objectives shift constantly. The benefits of decisions by governments in infrastructure, education and welfare are frequently difficult to measure and frequently will not emerge for a long time.

Business decisions rarely focus on the societal impact. Firms can reduce workforce, shift production overseas, seek subsidies or legally minimise taxes. Politicians must deal with the side effects of individual profit maximisation decisions such as closed factories, reduced employment, welfare and retraining costs, security implications as well as social breakdown and inequality or exclusion.

Fourth, the operating environment is different. Businesses usually operate within relatively defined product-market structures. In contrast, governments operate in a complex environment shaped by domestic and foreign factors, many of which they do not control or influence. Government actions require co-operation across different layers of government or countries. Businesses can withdraw from certain activities, while government do not have the same option.

Fifth, within boundaries set by laws and regulations, business leaders enjoy great freedom and power to implement their policies. Boards of directors and shareholders exercise limited control, usually setting broad financial parameters. They do not intervene in individual decisions. Most important government actions require legislative or parliamentary support. Unlike commercial operations, government face restrictions, such as separation of powers, restraints on executive or governmental action and international obligations.

Business leaders have unrivalled authority over their organisation based on threats (termination) or rewards (remuneration or promotion). Political leaders cannot fire legislators. They face significant barriers in rewarding or replacing public servants. Policy implementation requires negotiations and consensus. It requires overcoming opposition from opposing politicians, factions within one's own party, supporters, funders and the bureaucracy. It requires overcoming passively resistance from legislators and public servants who can simply outlast the current incumbent, whose tenure is likely to be shorter than their own.

The lack of clear goals, unrivalled authority and multiple and shifting power centres means that political power is more limited than assumed Many Presidents of the United States, regarded as the most powerful position on earth, have found that they had little ability to implement their agendas.

Sixth, unless they choose to be, business leaders are rarely public figures outside business circles. Politicians cannot avoid constant public attention. Modern political debate and discourse has become increasingly tabloid in tone, with unprecedented levels of invective and ridicule. There is no separation of the public and the personal. Business leaders frequently find the focus on personal matters as well as the tone of criticism discomforting.

There are commonalities. Both fields attract a particular type of individual. In addition, paraphrasing John Ruskin, successful political and business leaders not only know what must be done but actually do what must be done and do it when it must be done. A further commonality is the ultimate fate of leaders generally. Enoch Powell, himself a long-serving Member of the British Parliament, once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders.

PlutoniumKun, September 15, 2016 at 4:27 am

I think the key difference between successful politicians and business people is patience. When you look at the careers of successful politicians, you can often see many years of pure relentless grind going into a few years of glory in a senior position. Endless committee meetings, rubber chicken dinners, being nice to people you loath, the inevitable humiliation of losing elections. Most business leaders simply lose patience after a few years after they go into politics.

Much the same seems to apply to military leaders, although off the top of my head I can think of more successful examples of the latter than of business people (Eisenhower and De Gaulle come to mind). Berlusconi comes to mind as a 'successful' politician and businessman, but then Italy does seem to be an outlier in some respects.

One key difference I think between 'good' politicians and 'good' businesspeople is in making decisions. Good businesspeople are decisive. Good politicians never make a decision until they absolutely have to.

PhilU, September 15, 2016 at 4:40 am

This is clearly a consequence of 'The government is like a household' misinformation campaign, which I think is really conceptualized as 'government is like a small business.' So why not get a businessman to run the thing?

Yves Smith Post author, September 15, 2016 at 5:03 am

Interesting point. It also comes out of 30+ years of demonization of government as being less well run than business, when IMHO the problems of government are 1. the result of scale (think of how well run GM and Citigroup were in the mid 200s…and both are better now that they have downsized and shaped up) and 2. inevitable given that you do not want government employees making stuff as they go, i.e., overruling the legislature and courts. The latter point is that some rigidity is part of how government works, and it's necessary to protect citizens.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:06 am

Adam Smith on the businessmen you shouldn't trust:

"The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

What they knew in the 18th century, we have forgotten today, but nothing has changed.

He wouldn't like today's lobbyists.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:09 am

Neoclassical economics hid the work of the Classical Economists and the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income.

Once you hide this it is easy to make it look as though the interests of business and the wealthy are the same.

We lowered taxes on the wealthy to remove free and subsidised services for those at the bottom. These costs now have to be covered by business through wages. All known and thoroughly studied in the 18th and 19th Centuries, they even came up with solutions.

There should not really be any tax on "earned" income, all tax should fall on "unearned" income to subside the productive side of the economy with low cost housing and services.

This allows lower wages and an internationally competitive economy.

Adam Smith:

"The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers."

Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business.

He sees the lazy people at the top living off "unearned" income from their land and capital.

He sees the trickle up of Capitalism:
1) Those with excess capital collect rent and interest.
2) Those with insufficient capital pay rent and interest.

He differentiates between "earned" and "unearned" income.

The UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure.

KYrocky , September 15, 2016 at 8:28 am

"…who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." Adam Smith just described the modern Republican Party and movement Conservatives.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:14 am

We have seen left wing revolutions before; we are now dealing with a right wing revolution.

Left wing revolutions usually involve much violence and eventually lead to tyranny, as any means are deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology. Pol Pot was the most extreme example where he decided to return to year zero by wiping out the bourgeoisie in Cambodia. When the dust has settled the revolution just leads to a new elite who maintain their ideology with force and brutality.

When Francis Fukuyama talked of the end of history, a new year zero was envisaged, this one based on a right wing ideology. A right wing revolution that could take place globally and was not confined to individual nations like left wing revolutions.

Its theories had already been tested in South America and Indonesia where extreme brutality was employed to implement their one true solution and the new ideology. The children of the US elite were the storm troopers of this ideology and they headed out from their elite US universities to bring this new ideology to developing nations.

"The Chicago Boys" headed out from the University of Chicago to bring the new way to South American nations and "The Berkley Mafia" headed out from the University of Berkeley, California to bring the new way to Indonesia.

Any means were deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology, e.g. torture, terror, death squads, snatching people off the streets and making them disappear permanently. Any left wing resistance had to be quashed by whatever means necessary.

Their revolutions always massively increased inequality, a few at the top became fabulously wealthy and extreme and widespread poverty became prevalent at the bottom. Mixing with the people at the top, the elite US storm troopers deemed their revolutions a huge success. This ideology was ready to roll out across the world.

Under this new ideology, the UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure.

Norb , September 15, 2016 at 7:27 am

Obfuscating the relationship between free markets and the role of government is coming to an end. So much failure and misdirection cannot hide forever. The cognitive dissonance set up in society is unsustainable- people don't like to feel or experience crazy.

Markets are stronger and healthier when backed by functioning government. Defining what good government is and demanding it is required today. That is the revolutionary force, finally turning back the negative campaign against government and demanding good government- fighting for it.

Fighting fraud and corruption follows these same lines. Reading about the various forms of fraud and corruption here at NC daily provides the framework to address the problem. The real work begins convincing fellow citizens to not accept the criminality- the new normal. It is sometimes distressing seeing the reaction of fellow citizens to these crimes not as outrage, but more along the lines of begrudging admiration for the criminals. The subtile conditioning of the population to accept criminality needs a countervailing force.

Modern mass media projects a false picture of the world. The meme they push is that violence and corruption are so pervasive in the world, vast resources must be expended addressing the problem, and when these efforts fail, settle for apathy and avoidance. The creation of the Businessman/Politician is the perfect vehicle to move this agenda forward.

Politics controlling and driving business decisions must be reestablished, not the other way around- business driving politics and society. That truly is the distinction between authoritarianism and democracy. Small authoritarians are tolerable in society- large ones not so much.

KPL , September 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

Bang on. Especially being a political leader in a democracy is too tough and I am surprised that people want the job given the landmine they have to navigate and the compromises you have to make on a daily basis. Similarity is closest when you compare a benevolent dictator and a successful businessman, something like how Lee Kuan Yew ran Singapore.

Robert Hahl , September 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

"Enoch Powell…once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders." But that is also what they say about love. No good end can come of it.

RobC , September 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm

There is a mistaken assumption here that business people are responsible for their own or their organization's success. Or even that they're qualified as business people. The higher up the business ladder you go, the more it is other people making the important decisions, even deciding what you think, do and say.

In this way it's similar to politics. It's likely that neither the successful business person nor the politician is qualified for their roles, that nobody can be. Also their roles are essentially to be authorities, and likewise nobody is truly qualified nor has the justification or legitimacy for authority.

shinola , September 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

This bit of convenient fiction caught my eye: "Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors."

Perhaps political leaders should do this but, as has been recently shown, there is no basis in reality that this is any kind of requirement (as in "must").

Robert Coutinho , September 15, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Perhaps his use of "must" in this case is talking about the intrinsic requirement. In other words, even if they are managing negatively for some and positively for others, they are managing for all.

[Sep 15, 2016] The globalization of the technocratic paradigm

Jun 23, 2015 | EconoSpeak

From Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' of the Holy Father Francis, On Care For Our Common Home:

The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed"

"The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth. They are less concerned with certain economic theories which today scarcely anybody dares defend, than with their actual operation in the functioning of the economy. They may not affirm such theories with words, but nonetheless support them with their deeds by showing no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behavior shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion. At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation", while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth."

[Sep 15, 2016] The utter disregard of the winners towards the losers under neoliberalims helps to bring about the popularity of people like Trump

Notable quotes:
"... If those who have not lost to trade think Hillary might help them..... I just wasted* 2+ hours with a bunch of Hilbots.... all I heard is Trump is so evil and his supports are so dumb or racist or anti Planned Parenthood. Not a word to defend Killary except she could not be evil she is watched so much. And Obama called off the DoJ. ..."
"... It is not only disregard, but active mockery and defamation - accusing the "losers" of hedonism, entitlement thinking, irresposibility, lack of virtue, merit, striving, intelligence, etc. ..."
"... I.e. reverse puritanism of sorts - lack of success is always to be explained in terms of lack in virtue and striving. ..."
"... Yes. This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too Their support for the tax and transfer system Humanist noblesse " oblige". ..."
"... . "This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too" ..."
"... This is where the "limousine liberal" meme comes from (or more precisely gets it support and success from). ..."
"... Of course all the claimed demerits exist plenty among the people so accused (as well as among the winners) - though they always did, but I'm under the impression that before Globalization_blowback/technology supported loss of leverage and thus prestige, it wasn't a *public* narrative (in private circles there has always been "if you don't make an effort in school you will end up sweeping the streets", and looking down on the "unskilled", etc. - with the hindsight irony that even street sweeping has been automated). ..."
Aug 29, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

Patricia Shannon said... Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 10:55 AM

The disregard of the winners towards the losers helps to bring about the popularity of people like Trump. I am not at all surprised at the level of his popularity, even though I personally despise him.
pgl said in reply to Patricia Shannon
Agreed. If those who lost from trade think Trump will help them - I have a bridge to sell them. Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 11:07 AM

ilsm said in reply to pgl... Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 04:13 PM

If those who have not lost to trade think Hillary might help them..... I just wasted* 2+ hours with a bunch of Hilbots.... all I heard is Trump is so evil and his supports are so dumb or racist or anti Planned Parenthood. Not a word to defend Killary except she could not be evil she is watched so much. And Obama called off the DoJ.

A room full of cognitive dissonance and brainwashed.

*horts du orvees was okay!

cm said in reply to Patricia Shannon, Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:10 PM

It is not only disregard, but active mockery and defamation - accusing the "losers" of hedonism, entitlement thinking, irresposibility, lack of virtue, merit, striving, intelligence, etc.
cm said in reply to cm..., Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:12 PM

I.e. reverse puritanism of sorts - lack of success is always to be explained in terms of lack in virtue and striving.

Paine said in reply to cm... Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:57 PM

Yes. This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too Their support for the tax and transfer system Humanist noblesse " oblige".

In their opinion the system of merit rewards is largely firm but fair

cm said in reply to Paine...
"This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too"

This is where the "limousine liberal" meme comes from (or more precisely gets it support and success from).

Of course all the claimed demerits exist plenty among the people so accused (as well as among the winners) - though they always did, but I'm under the impression that before Globalization_blowback/technology supported loss of leverage and thus prestige, it wasn't a *public* narrative (in private circles there has always been "if you don't make an effort in school you will end up sweeping the streets", and looking down on the "unskilled", etc. - with the hindsight irony that even street sweeping has been automated).

[Sep 15, 2016] The Voluntarism Fantasy

economistsview.typepad.com
This is part of the introduction to an essay by Mike Konczal on how to "insure people against the hardships of life..., accident, illness, old age, and loss of a job." Should we rely mostly upon government social insurance programs such as Medicare and Social Security, or would a system that relies upon private charity be better? History provides a very clear answer:
The Voluntarism Fantasy: Ideology is as much about understanding the past as shaping the future. And conservatives tell themselves a story, a fairy tale really, about the past, about the way the world was and can be again under Republican policies. This story is about the way people were able to insure themselves against the risks inherent in modern life. Back before the Great Society, before the New Deal, and even before the Progressive Era, things were better. Before government took on the role of providing social insurance, individuals and private charity did everything needed to insure people against the hardships of life; given the chance, they could do it again.
This vision has always been implicit in the conservative ascendancy. It existed in the 1980s, when President Reagan announced, "The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern," and called for voluntarism to fill in the yawning gaps in the social safety net. It was made explicit in the 1990s, notably through Marvin Olasky's The Tragedy of American Compassion, a treatise hailed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and William Bennett, which argued that a purely private nineteenth-century system of charitable and voluntary organizations did a better job providing for the common good than the twentieth-century welfare state. This idea is also the basis of Paul Ryan's budget, which seeks to devolve and shrink the federal government at a rapid pace, lest the safety net turn "into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives." It's what Utah Senator Mike Lee references when he says that the "alternative to big government is not small government" but instead "a voluntary civil society." As conservatives face the possibility of a permanent Democratic majority fueled by changing demographics, they understand that time is running out on their cherished project to dismantle the federal welfare state.
But this conservative vision of social insurance is wrong. It's incorrect as a matter of history; it ignores the complex interaction between public and private social insurance that has always existed in the United States. It completely misses why the old system collapsed and why a new one was put in its place. It fails to understand how the Great Recession displayed the welfare state at its most necessary and that a voluntary system would have failed under the same circumstances. Most importantly, it points us in the wrong direction. The last 30 years have seen effort after effort to try and push the policy agenda away from the state's capabilities and toward private mechanisms for mitigating the risks we face in the world. This effort is exhausted, and future endeavors will require a greater, not lesser, role for the public. ...
The state does many things, but this essay will focus specifically on its role in providing social insurance against the risks we face. Specifically, we'll look at what the progressive economist and actuary I.M. Rubinow described in 1934 as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: "accident, illness, old age, loss of a job. These are the four horsemen that ride roughshod over lives and fortunes of millions of wage workers of every modern industrial community." These were the same evils that Truman singled out in his speech. And these are the ills that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food assistance, and our other public systems of social insurance set out to combat in the New Deal and Great Society.
Over the past 30 years the public role in social insurance has taken a backseat to the idea that private institutions will expand to cover these risks. Yet our current system of workplace private insurance is rapidly falling apart. In its wake, we'll need to make a choice between an expanded role for the state or a fantasy of voluntary protection instead. We need to understand why this voluntary system didn't work in the first place to make the case for the state's role in fighting the Four Horsemen. ...

[Sep 15, 2016] Marxists and Conservatives Have More in Common than Either Side Would Like to Admit

Notable quotes:
"... That was the sad tragedy of Marx and Marxism. Instead of focusing on a practical agenda for achieving and sustaining a democratically administered state in an imperfect human world, a state based on a more equal distribution of capital, a workable balance between private and public ownership of capital, and a regulatory framework and rule of law designed to sustain this balance in the face of social and economic forces that will *always* be acting to disrupt it, Marx veered off into the fantasy lands ..."
"... In this utopian future, every single person is intelligent, relaxed, cooperative, and preternaturally enlightened. There are no thieves, psychopaths, predators, raiders or uncooperative deadbeats and spongers. Since there is no law, there is no government; and since there is no government; there are no elections or other ways of forming government. There is also no division of labor, because somehow human beings have passed beyond the "realm of necessity" into the "realm of freedom." ..."
"... Marx himself was one of these underminers, pissing all over the very progressive Gotha program and the very idea of a well-governed state in the name of his dreamy "communist society." ..."
"... In the end, Marx had a very unrealistic view of human nature and history. His analytic and scientific powers were betrayed by an infantile romanticism that both weakened his social theory and crippled much of left progressive politics for a century. The problem is still floating around with the insipid anarcho-libertarian silliness of much of the late 20th and early 21st century left. ..."
"... The key value of Marxism is that it gave a solid platform for analyzing capitalism as politico-economic system. All those utopian ideas about proletariat as a future ruling class of an ideal society that is not based on private property belong to the garbage damp of history, although the very idea of countervailing forces for capitalists is not. ..."
"... In this sense the very existence of the USSR was critical for the health of the US capitalism as it limited self-destructive instincts of the ruling class. Not so good for people of the USSR, it was definitely a blessing for the US population. ..."
"... Now we have neoliberal garbage and TINA as a state religion, which at least in the level in their religious fervor are not that different from Marxism. ..."
"... Republicans (US 'capitalism' salespersons) believe that "liberty", the right of property, is necessary for "freedom". State is necessary for property despite what the Hobbits (libertarians) preach. Communism is as far from Marxism as the US billionaire empire is from capitalism. Marx was a fair labor economist. ..."
"... {Marx stressed that ... the labour market is an arena in which power is unbalanced...} ..."
"... Thus, capitalism is an integral and key part of the market-economy since it provides the means by which the other major input-component is labor. Capital is an investment input to the process, for which there is a Return-on-Investment largely accepted as bonafide criteria of any market-economy. ..."
Aug 15, 2015 | Economist's View

Chris Dillow on common ground between Marxists and Conservatives:

Fairness, decentralization & capitalism: Marxists and Conservatives have more in common than either side would like to admit. This thought occurred to me whilst reading a superb piece by Andrew Lilico.

He describes the Brams-Taylor procedure for cutting a cake in a fair way - in the sense of ensuring envy-freeness - and says that this shows that a central agency such as the state is unnecessary to achieve fairness:...

The appropriate mechanism here is one in which there is a balance of power, such that no individual can say: "take it or leave it."

This is where Marxism enters. Marxists claim that, under capitalism, the appropriate mechanism is absent. Marx stressed that ... the labour market is an arena in which power is unbalanced...

Nor do Marxists expect the state to correct this, because the state is captured by capitalists - it is "a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie."...

Instead, Marx thought that fairness can only be achieved by abolishing both capitalism and the state - something which is only feasible at a high level of economic development - and replacing it with some forms of decentralized decision-making. ...

In this sense, Marxists agree with Andrew: people can find fair allocations themselves without a central agency. ...

Posted by Mark Thoma on Saturday, August 15, 2015 at 09:10 AM in Economics, Income Distribution, Unions | Permalink Comments (10)

Otto Maddox:

How silly. Marxism and its centralization of power will attract the hyper control freak who are not likely to ever give up power. Disingenuous utopianism.

Dan Kervick:

That was the sad tragedy of Marx and Marxism. Instead of focusing on a practical agenda for achieving and sustaining a democratically administered state in an imperfect human world, a state based on a more equal distribution of capital, a workable balance between private and public ownership of capital, and a regulatory framework and rule of law designed to sustain this balance in the face of social and economic forces that will *always* be acting to disrupt it, Marx veered off into the fantasy lands of his hectoring anarchist critics and adversaries, and came up with a social pseudo-science positing a millennarian heaven on earth where somehow perfect voluntariness and perfect equality magically come together. The Marxists are still twisted up in that foolishness, perpetually incapable of formulating practical political plans and agendas because they have some "crisis theory" telling them that the current messes are the harbingers of a revolution that are going to actualize that kingdom of heaven.

Peter K. -> pgl...

yes Kervick again provides a fact-free rant. The Communist Manifesto demanded many reforms that came pass:

"The section ends by outlining a set of short-term demands - among them a progressive income tax; abolition of inheritances; free public education etc.-the implementation of which would be a precursor to a stateless and classless society."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Communist_Manifesto

Dan Kervick -> Peter K....

"Short-term demands" as you say: Marx and Engels saw such socialist measures as merely a transitional stage on the way via the dictatorship of the proletariat to a classless and stateless society in which even the rule of law would not exist, since human beings would somehow manage to coordinate all of the economic functions of a complex society through 100% non-coercive means.

In this utopian future, every single person is intelligent, relaxed, cooperative, and preternaturally enlightened. There are no thieves, psychopaths, predators, raiders or uncooperative deadbeats and spongers. Since there is no law, there is no government; and since there is no government; there are no elections or other ways of forming government. There is also no division of labor, because somehow human beings have passed beyond the "realm of necessity" into the "realm of freedom."

Real-world possibilities for democratic socialist alternatives under a practical and egalitarian rule of law have frequently been thwarted and undermined by Marxian communists drunk on these infantile millenarian fantasies, and the Marxian pseudo-sciences of underlying dialectical laws of social evolution directing history toward this fantastical telos.

Marx himself was one of these underminers, pissing all over the very progressive Gotha program and the very idea of a well-governed state in the name of his dreamy "communist society."

Guess what guys. Maybe I have actually read some of this stuff.

likbez -> Dan Kervick...

Marxism has two district faces. A very sharp analysis of capitalist society and utopian vision of the future.

=== quote ===
Marx himself was one of these underminers, pissing all over the very progressive Gotha program and the very idea of a well-governed state in the name of his dreamy "communist society."
=== end of quote ===

Very true. Authors of Gotha programs were nicknamed "revisionists" by Orthodox Marxists.

mulp:

"He describes the Brams-Taylor procedure for cutting a cake in a fair way - in the sense of ensuring envy-freeness - and says that this shows that a central agency such as the state is unnecessary to achieve fairness:..."

That is exactly the description of "authoritarian elite intellectual technocrats dictating how society works."

Conservatives would never accept that solution because they would immediately argue that not everyone deserves an equal portion, and that the liberal elites are dictating from on high.

Marx would simply point out that conservatives would never accept that based on their denial of equality as a principle and would require evolution of man, or too few or too many resources to care about dividing. But that would never satisfy conservatives....

Barkley Rosser:

Obviously actually existing socialist nations ruled by Communist parties have always featured highly centralized authoritarian non-democratic systems (although China is somewhat of an exception regarding the matter of centralization, with its provinces having a lot of power, but then, it is the world's largest nation in population).

As it was, Marx (and Engels) had a practical side. One can see it in the "platform" put forward at the end of the Communist Manifesto. Several of the items there have been nearly universally adopted by modern capitalist democracies, such as a progressive income tax and universal state-supported education. Others are standard items for more or less socialist nations, such as nationalizing the leading sectors of the economy.

Only one looks at all utopian, their call for ending the division between the city and the country, although this dream has inspired such things as the New Town movement, not to mention arguably the suburbs.

It was only in the Critique of the Gotha Program that Marx at one point suggested that eventually in the "higher stage of socialism" there would be a "withering away of the state." Curiously most nations ruled by Communist parties never claimed to have achieved true communism because they were aware of this statement and generally referred to themselves as being "in transition" towards true communism without having gotten there. Later most would turn around have transitions back towards market capitalism.

DrDick -> Barkley Rosser...

All existing and former communist countries are Leninist and not Marxist, with a large influence from whatever the prior local autocratic system was.

Dan Kervick -> Barkley Rosser...

"It was only in the Critique of the Gotha Program that Marx at one point suggested that eventually in the "higher stage of socialism" there would be a "withering away of the state.""

That's what I meant by the tragedy of Marxism. In the end, Marx had a very unrealistic view of human nature and history. His analytic and scientific powers were betrayed by an infantile romanticism that both weakened his social theory and crippled much of left progressive politics for a century. The problem is still floating around with the insipid anarcho-libertarian silliness of much of the late 20th and early 21st century left.

likbez:

Actually Marxism was the source of social-democratic parties programs. Which definitely made capitalism more bearable.

The key value of Marxism is that it gave a solid platform for analyzing capitalism as politico-economic system. All those utopian ideas about proletariat as a future ruling class of an ideal society that is not based on private property belong to the garbage damp of history, although the very idea of countervailing forces for capitalists is not.

In this sense the very existence of the USSR was critical for the health of the US capitalism as it limited self-destructive instincts of the ruling class. Not so good for people of the USSR, it was definitely a blessing for the US population.

Now we have neoliberal garbage and TINA as a state religion, which at least in the level in their religious fervor are not that different from Marxism.

And neocons are actually very close, almost undistinguishable from to Trotskyites, as for their "permanent revolution" (aka "permanent democratization") drive.

Ben Groves -> likbez...

You obviously think it wasn't that good for the USSR people, yet don't understand the Tsarist wreck that Russia itself had turned into. With the Soviet, they became strong at the expense of what they considered colonies.

The true origin of Bolshevism isn't Lenin or Trotsky, but the anti-ashkenazi anti-European movement. Stalin joined them in 1904 for this very reason and blasted the Menhs as jews. Thus the program had to cleanse out people who still insisted Russia be European and instead, push a Asiatic program they believed they really were.

kthomas:

Though I do love seeing this argument being made, I'm not sure we can derive any real benefits from having it anymore. Ideology is one thing. If we are discussing Power, and how it attracts the Power Hungry, that is a separate argument, one largely covered by Machiavelli.

As for Marx, I do not ever recall him advising on the abolishment of the State. He was not an Anarchist.

Ben Groves:

The state can't be abolished. It simply changes by what part of nature controls it.

Only the anarchists thinks the state can be abolished. The state is eternal. Whether it is the Imperial State (the true conservative organic ideal) City State, the Nation State, the Market State, the Workers State, the Propertarian State. There will always be rule.

DrDick -> Ben Groves...

The state is far from eternal. It is in fact a very recent development in humanity's 3.5 million year history, having arisen about 5500 years ago. States can and do collapse and disappear, as has happened in Somalia.

likbez:

I think the discussion deviated from the key thesis "Marxists and Conservatives Have More in Common than Either Side Would Like to Admit"

This thesis has the right for existence. Still Marxism remains miles ahead of conservatives in understanding the capitalism "as is" with all its warts.

Neoliberalism is probably the most obvious branch of conservatism which adopted considerable part of Marxism doctrine. From this point of view it is a stunning utopia with the level of economic determinism even more ambitious than that of Marx...

http://www.softpanorama.net/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/neoliberalism_as_trotskyism_for_the_rich.shtml

=== start of quote ===

The simplest way to understand the power of neoliberalism as an ideology, is to view it as Trotskyism refashioned for elite. Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have slogan "neoliberal elites of all countries unite". Instead of permanent revolution we have permanent democratization via color revolutions.

Instead of revolt of proletariat which Marxists expected we got the revolt of financial oligarchy. And this revolt led to forming powerful Transnational Elite International (with Congresses in Basel) instead of Communist International (with Congresses in Moscow). Marx probably is rolling in his grave seeing such turn of events and such a wicked mutation of his political theories.

Like Trotskyism neoliberalism has a totalitarian vision for a world-encompassing monolithic state governed by an ideologically charged "vanguard". One single state (Soviet Russia) in case of Trotskyism, and the USA in case of neoliberalism is assigned the place of "holy country" and the leader of this country has special privileges not unlike Rome Pope in Catholicism.

The pseudoscientific 'free-market' theory which replaces Marxist political economy and provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and poverty endemic to the system, and the main beneficiaries are the global mega-corporations and major western powers (G7).

Like Marxism in general neoliberalism on the one hand this reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance, on the other like was in the USSR, it places the control of the economy in comparatively few hands; and that might be neoliberalism's Achilles heel which we say in action in 2008.

The role of propaganda machine and journalists, writers, etc as the solders of the party that should advance its interests. Compete, blatant disregard of truth to the extent that Pravda journalists can be viewed as paragons of objectivity (Fox news)

== end of quote ==

ilsm:

Republicans (US 'capitalism' salespersons) believe that "liberty", the right of property, is necessary for "freedom". State is necessary for property despite what the Hobbits (libertarians) preach. Communism is as far from Marxism as the US billionaire empire is from capitalism. Marx was a fair labor economist.

Lafayette:

MARKET ECONOMY CRITERIA

{Marx stressed that ... the labour market is an arena in which power is unbalanced...}

Which has nothing whatsoever to do with "capitalism", which is fundamentally this:

An economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

Which was common up to and including the latter decades of the last century. Wherein, some countries adopted state-enterprises to have either entire monopolies or substantial presence in some sectors of the market-economy. The ownership of the means of production were owned by the state and management/workforce were state employees.

This applies to any entity the object of which is provide to a market goods and services. One can therefore say the defense of the nation is a service provided by a state-owned entity called the Dept. of Defense (in the US and similarly elsewhere).

Moreover that practice can be modified to other areas of public need, for instance health-care and education. Where the "means of production" of the service are owned once again by the state, but this time the management and workers are independent and work for themselves. (In which case they may or may not be represented by organizations some of which are called "unions".)

The above variations are all well known in European "capitalist" countries - which employ capital as central financial mechanism. Capital is "any form of wealth employed or capable of being employed in the production of more wealth."

Thus, capitalism is an integral and key part of the market-economy since it provides the means by which the other major input-component is labor. Capital is an investment input to the process, for which there is a Return-on-Investment largely accepted as bonafide criteria of any market-economy.

Likewise, there should therefore be accounted a Return on Labor, and that return should be paid to all who work in a company - not all equally but all equitably. A Return-on-Labor is also a bonafide criteria of any market-economy.

There is no real reason why the RoI should be the sole criteria for investment purposes, except that of common usage historically. RoC should also have its place as a bonafide criteria for investment purposes - and probably one that determines which "services" are better performed by government-owned agencies and which not.

How much is the RoC of Defense worth to you and our family? How much is HealthCare? How much Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education?

Q E D

[Sep 14, 2016] Laudato si (24 May 2015)

w2.vatican.va
In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as "a tragic consequence" of unchecked human activity: "Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation".[2] He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an "ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization", and stressed "the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity", inasmuch as "the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man".[3]

5. Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem "to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption".[4] Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion.[5] At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to "safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology".[6] The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement. Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in "lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies".[7] Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us and "take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system".[8] Accordingly, our human ability to transform reality must proceed in line with God's original gift of all that is.[9]

6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed "eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment".[10] He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since "the book of nature is one and indivisible", and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that "the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence".[11] Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that "man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature".[12] With paternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed "where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves".[13]

United by the same concern

7. These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups, all of which have enriched the Church's thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing. To give just one striking example, I would mention the statements made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.

8. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for "inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage", we are called to acknowledge "our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation".[14] He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: "For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God's creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth's waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins".[15] For "to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God".[16]

9. At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which "entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God's world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion".[17] As Christians, we are also called "to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God's creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet".[18]

... ... ...

I. TECHNOLOGY: CREATIVITY AND POWER

102. Humanity has entered a new era in which our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads. We are the beneficiaries of two centuries of enormous waves of change: steam engines, railways, the telegraph, electricity, automobiles, aeroplanes, chemical industries, modern medicine, information technology and, more recently, the digital revolution, robotics, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. It is right to rejoice in these advances and to be excited by the immense possibilities which they continue to open up before us, for "science and technology are wonderful products of a God-given human creativity".[81] The modification of nature for useful purposes has distinguished the human family from the beginning; technology itself "expresses the inner tension that impels man gradually to overcome material limitations".[82] Technology has remedied countless evils which used to harm and limit human beings. How can we not feel gratitude and appreciation for this progress, especially in the fields of medicine, engineering and communications? How could we not acknowledge the work of many scientists and engineers who have provided alternatives to make development sustainable?

103. Technoscience, when well directed, can produce important means of improving the quality of human life, from useful domestic appliances to great transportation systems, bridges, buildings and public spaces. It can also produce art and enable men and women immersed in the material world to "leap" into the world of beauty. Who can deny the beauty of an aircraft or a skyscraper? Valuable works of art and music now make use of new technologies. So, in the beauty intended by the one who uses new technical instruments and in the contemplation of such beauty, a quantum leap occurs, resulting in a fulfilment which is uniquely human.

104. Yet it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology, knowledge of our DNA, and many other abilities which we have acquired, have given us tremendous power. More precisely, they have given those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world. Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used. We need but think of the nuclear bombs dropped in the middle of the twentieth century, or the array of technology which Nazism, Communism and other totalitarian regimes have employed to kill millions of people, to say nothing of the increasingly deadly arsenal of weapons available for modern warfare. In whose hands does all this power lie, or will it eventually end up? It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have it.

105. There is a tendency to believe that every increase in power means "an increase of 'progress' itself", an advance in "security, usefulness, welfare and vigour; …an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture",[83] as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such. The fact is that "contemporary man has not been trained to use power well",[84] because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience. Each age tends to have only a meagre awareness of its own limitations. It is possible that we do not grasp the gravity of the challenges now before us. "The risk is growing day by day that man will not use his power as he should"; in effect, "power is never considered in terms of the responsibility of choice which is inherent in freedom" since its "only norms are taken from alleged necessity, from either utility or security".[85] But human beings are not completely autonomous. Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence. In this sense, we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint.

II. THE GLOBALIZATION OF THE TECHNOCRATIC PARADIGM

106. The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed".[86]

107. It can be said that many problems of today's world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life. We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build.

108. The idea of promoting a different cultural paradigm and employing technology as a mere instrument is nowadays inconceivable. The technological paradigm has become so dominant that it would be difficult to do without its resources and even more difficult to utilize them without being dominated by their internal logic. It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology, of its costs and its power to globalize and make us all the same. Technology tends to absorb everything into its ironclad logic, and those who are surrounded with technology "know full well that it moves forward in the final analysis neither for profit nor for the well-being of the human race", that "in the most radical sense of the term power is its motive – a lordship over all".[87] As a result, "man seizes hold of the naked elements of both nature and human nature".[88] Our capacity to make decisions, a more genuine freedom and the space for each one's alternative creativity are diminished.

109. The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth. They are less concerned with certain economic theories which today scarcely anybody dares defend, than with their actual operation in the functioning of the economy. They may not affirm such theories with words, but nonetheless support them with their deeds by showing no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behaviour shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.[89] At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation",[90] while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth.

110. The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. This very fact makes it hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today's world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests. A science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics; but this is a difficult habit to acquire today. Nor are there genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal. Life gradually becomes a surrender to situations conditioned by technology, itself viewed as the principal key to the meaning of existence. In the concrete situation confronting us, there are a number of symptoms which point to what is wrong, such as environmental degradation, anxiety, a loss of the purpose of life and of community living. Once more we see that "realities are more important than ideas".[91]

111. Ecological culture cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources. There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.

112. Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral. Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people's concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?

113. There is also the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities. There is a growing awareness that scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history, a growing sense that the way to a better future lies elsewhere. This is not to reject the possibilities which technology continues to offer us. But humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction. It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.

114. All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.

III. THE CRISIS AND EFFECTS OF MODERN ANTHROPOCENTRISM

115. Modern anthropocentrism has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since "the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere 'given', as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere 'space' into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference".[92] The intrinsic dignity of the world is thus compromised. When human beings fail to find their true place in this world, they misunderstand themselves and end up acting against themselves: "Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given, but, man too is God's gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed".[93]

116. Modernity has been marked by an excessive anthropocentrism which today, under another guise, continues to stand in the way of shared understanding and of any effort to strengthen social bonds. The time has come to pay renewed attention to reality and the limits it imposes; this in turn is the condition for a more sound and fruitful development of individuals and society. An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about. Instead, our "dominion" over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.[94]

117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for "instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature".[95]

118. This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then "our overall sense of responsibility wanes".[96] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to "biocentrism", for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.

119. Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations. If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures; it thus inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others. Our openness to others, each of whom is a "thou" capable of knowing, loving and entering into dialogue, remains the source of our nobility as human persons. A correct relationship with the created world demands that we not weaken this social dimension of openness to others, much less the transcendent dimension of our openness to the "Thou" of God. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence.

120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? "If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away".[97]

121. We need to develop a new synthesis capable of overcoming the false arguments of recent centuries. Christianity, in fidelity to its own identity and the rich deposit of truth which it has received from Jesus Christ, continues to reflect on these issues in fruitful dialogue with changing historical situations. In doing so, it reveals its eternal newness.[98]

Practical relativism

122. A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I noted that the practical relativism typical of our age is "even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism".[99] When human beings place themselves at the centre, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one's own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay.

123. The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same "use and throw away" logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

The need to protect employment

124. Any approach to an integral ecology, which by definition does not exclude human beings, needs to take account of the value of labour, as Saint John Paul II wisely noted in his Encyclical Laborem Exercens. According to the biblical account of creation, God placed man and woman in the garden he had created (cf. Gen 2:15) not only to preserve it ("keep") but also to make it fruitful ("till"). Labourers and craftsmen thus "maintain the fabric of the world" (Sir 38:34). Developing the created world in a prudent way is the best way of caring for it, as this means that we ourselves become the instrument used by God to bring out the potential which he himself inscribed in things: "The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them" (Sir 38:4).

125. If we reflect on the proper relationship between human beings and the world around us, we see the need for a correct understanding of work; if we talk about the relationship between human beings and things, the question arises as to the meaning and purpose of all human activity. This has to do not only with manual or agricultural labour but with any activity involving a modification of existing reality, from producing a social report to the design of a technological development. Underlying every form of work is a concept of the relationship which we can and must have with what is other than ourselves. Together with the awe-filled contemplation of creation which we find in Saint Francis of Assisi, the Christian spiritual tradition has also developed a rich and balanced understanding of the meaning of work, as, for example, in the life of Blessed Charles de Foucauld and his followers.

126. We can also look to the great tradition of monasticism. Originally, it was a kind of flight from the world, an escape from the decadence of the cities. The monks sought the desert, convinced that it was the best place for encountering the presence of God. Later, Saint Benedict of Norcia proposed that his monks live in community, combining prayer and spiritual reading with manual labour (ora et labora). Seeing manual labour as spiritually meaningful proved revolutionary. Personal growth and sanctification came to be sought in the interplay of recollection and work. This way of experiencing work makes us more protective and respectful of the environment; it imbues our relationship to the world with a healthy sobriety.

127. We are convinced that "man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life".[100] Nonetheless, once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, it becomes easy for the meaning of work to be misunderstood.[101] We need to remember that men and women have "the capacity to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments".[102] Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today's global society, it is essential that "we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone",[103] no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning.

128. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favoured a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves. The loss of jobs also has a negative impact on the economy "through the progressive erosion of social capital: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence".[104] In other words, "human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs".[105] To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.

129. In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world's peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops. Their attempts to move to other, more diversified, means of production prove fruitless because of the difficulty of linkage with regional and global markets, or because the infrastructure for sales and transport is geared to larger businesses. Civil authorities have the right and duty to adopt clear and firm measures in support of small producers and differentiated production. To ensure economic freedom from which all can effectively benefit, restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power. To claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practise a doublespeak which brings politics into disrepute. Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.

New biological technologies

130. In the philosophical and theological vision of the human being and of creation which I have presented, it is clear that the human person, endowed with reason and knowledge, is not an external factor to be excluded. While human intervention on plants and animals is permissible when it pertains to the necessities of human life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that experimentation on animals is morally acceptable only "if it remains within reasonable limits [and] contributes to caring for or saving human lives".[106] The Catechism firmly states that human power has limits and that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly".[107] All such use and experimentation "requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation".[108]

131. Here I would recall the balanced position of Saint John Paul II, who stressed the benefits of scientific and technological progress as evidence of "the nobility of the human vocation to participate responsibly in God's creative action", while also noting that "we cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention to the consequences of such interference in other areas".[109] He made it clear that the Church values the benefits which result "from the study and applications of molecular biology, supplemented by other disciplines such as genetics, and its technological application in agriculture and industry".[110] But he also pointed out that this should not lead to "indiscriminate genetic manipulation"[111] which ignores the negative effects of such interventions. Human creativity cannot be suppressed. If an artist cannot be stopped from using his or her creativity, neither should those who possess particular gifts for the advancement of science and technology be prevented from using their God-given talents for the service of others. We need constantly to rethink the goals, effects, overall context and ethical limits of this human activity, which is a form of power involving considerable risks.

132. This, then, is the correct framework for any reflection concerning human intervention on plants and animals, which at present includes genetic manipulation by biotechnology for the sake of exploiting the potential present in material reality. The respect owed by faith to reason calls for close attention to what the biological sciences, through research uninfluenced by economic interests, can teach us about biological structures, their possibilities and their mutations. Any legitimate intervention will act on nature only in order "to favour its development in its own line, that of creation, as intended by God".[112]

133. It is difficult to make a general judgement about genetic modification (GM), whether vegetable or animal, medical or agricultural, since these vary greatly among themselves and call for specific considerations. The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application. Genetic mutations, in fact, have often been, and continue to be, caused by nature itself. Nor are mutations caused by human intervention a modern phenomenon. The domestication of animals, the crossbreeding of species and other older and universally accepted practices can be mentioned as examples. We need but recall that scientific developments in GM cereals began with the observation of natural bacteria which spontaneously modified plant genomes. In nature, however, this process is slow and cannot be compared to the fast pace induced by contemporary technological advances, even when the latter build upon several centuries of scientific progress.

134. Although no conclusive proof exists that GM cereals may be harmful to human beings, and in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated. In many places, following the introduction of these crops, productive land is concentrated in the hands of a few owners due to "the progressive disappearance of small producers, who, as a consequence of the loss of the exploited lands, are obliged to withdraw from direct production".[113] The most vulnerable of these become temporary labourers, and many rural workers end up moving to poverty-stricken urban areas. The expansion of these crops has the effect of destroying the complex network of ecosystems, diminishing the diversity of production and affecting regional economies, now and in the future. In various countries, we see an expansion of oligopolies for the production of cereals and other products needed for their cultivation. This dependency would be aggravated were the production of infertile seeds to be considered; the effect would be to force farmers to purchase them from larger producers.

135. Certainly, these issues require constant attention and a concern for their ethical implications. A broad, responsible scientific and social debate needs to take place, one capable of considering all the available information and of calling things by their name. It sometimes happens that complete information is not put on the table; a selection is made on the basis of particular interests, be they politico-economic or ideological. This makes it difficult to reach a balanced and prudent judgement on different questions, one which takes into account all the pertinent variables. Discussions are needed in which all those directly or indirectly affected (farmers, consumers, civil authorities, scientists, seed producers, people living near fumigated fields, and others) can make known their problems and concerns, and have access to adequate and reliable information in order to make decisions for the common good, present and future. This is a complex environmental issue; it calls for a comprehensive approach which would require, at the very least, greater efforts to finance various lines of independent, interdisciplinary research capable of shedding new light on the problem.

136. On the other hand, it is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development. In the same way, when technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit. As we have seen in this chapter, a technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.

[Aug 21, 2016] Dystopia Regarding Neoconservative, Neoliberal Newspeak by Hamid Golpira

Oct 03, 2006 | Big Medicine

TEHRAN, Feb. 14 (MNA) -- Most of the neoconservatives in the United States advocate globalization and the neoliberal economic model. What's wrong with this picture?

At first glance, nothing is wrong with the statement because it is basically true. At second glance, everything is wrong with it.

Liberal and conservative used to be opposites. Now we have neoliberal neoconservatives. If the neocons are also neoliberals, how do we avoid confusion when using the words liberal and conservative?

It is natural for language to evolve, but when antonyms become synonyms, there is a problem.

The situation is similar to the Newspeak and doublethink of George Orwell's book 1984. Newspeak was a language meant to control people by decreasing their power of reasoning through oversimplification of the language and doublethink.

Orwell wrote: "Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them."

There are now countless examples of this in the English language.

In war, civilian casualties are called collateral damage. The use of the expression collateral damage allows people to avoid the unpleasantry of having to think about innocent civilians being killed.

Every country used to have a war ministry, but they all later changed the name to the defense ministry or the defense department. In 1984, it was called the Ministry of Peace, or Minipax in Newspeak.

Try this simple exercise. Imagine you are listening to the radio and the newscaster says: "The war minister has just issued a statement."

Now suppose the newscaster said: "The defense minister has just issued a statement." Notice how a change of one word changed your reaction.

Consider the many acronyms that have entered the language such as NATO, NAFTA, and CIA. Their complete names, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, North American Free Trade Agreement, and Central Intelligence Agency, contain the words treaty, free, free trade, agreement, and intelligence. On hearing these words, the mind naturally makes many free associations that cannot occur when the acronyms are used.

The neoliberal neocons themselves use a form of Newspeak.

The most glaring example of this is when neoliberal neocon officials in the United States tell citizens that they must take away some of their freedom in order to protect their freedom. Shades of Orwell's "freedom is slavery".

U.S. officials have spoken of the need to cancel elections in order to safeguard democracy if a serious crisis arises. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that in a national emergency the U.S. Constitution may have to be temporarily suspended in order to protect the civil liberties enshrined in that document.

Bizarrely, very few U.S. citizens are protesting. Apparently, they have already learned how to employ doublethink.

Language is being used to control people. People are actually subconsciously brainwashing themselves through the language they use.

The word neocon itself is Newspeak since its use in place of the longer form eliminates all the connotations of the words neoconservative and conservative.

Let's look at a few more quotes from 1984 to get a better understanding of what is happening today.

"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink."

"The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely. In no other way could the ancient cycle be broken. If human equality is to be for ever averted -- if the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently -- then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity."

"The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought -- that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc -- should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words."

"Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum."

"But the special function of certain Newspeak words, of which oldthink was one, was not so much to express meanings as to destroy them."

"The intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness."

"Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all."

The advocates of globalization often use a form of Newspeak.

When government officials and economists say the economy of a Third World country is booming, despite the fact that they know the masses live in abject poverty, and the media repeat the lie, that is doublethink through Newspeak. Of course, the economy of the country in question is only booming for the globalist and local upper classes, and perhaps also for the middle classes, but somehow almost nobody questions the lie. And the neoliberal globalists are laughing all the way to the bank.

The acceptance of such a lie by the general public is an even greater real-life catastrophe than the fictional one described in 1984. Worse still, some people acknowledge that it is a lie but respond with apathy or slavish resignation in the belief that nothing can be done about the situation.

Do we want to live in dystopia, the worst of all possible worlds, the doubleplusungood of all possible worlds?

If not, we should watch our language and take care that we are still using our higher brain centers.

SOURCE: Mehr News

[Aug 18, 2016] Neoliberalism has a distorted or atrophied sense of the relationship between solidarity and the consent of the governed, between democracy and legitimacy, or more generally, between the individual and the collective. Neoliberals are happy to accept whatever loyalty up they are given by fools and suckers: they have no loyalty down at all and will never do the elementary political operations of repaying their base

Notable quotes:
"... People don't yet understand that this is just how neoliberals are. The two fundamental loyalties in a state party system have nothing to do with solidarity: they're loyalty up, and loyalty down. Neoliberals are happy to accept whatever loyalty up they are given by fools and suckers: they have no loyalty down at all and will never do the elementary political operations of repaying their base ..."
"... On solidarity: solidarity isn't about the (hierarchy of) relationships among politicians or political operatives. Solidarity is about membership, not leadership. ..."
"... Solidarity is the means to great common, coordinated efforts, that is to trust in leadership and that great solvent of political stalemate: sacrifice to the common good. ..."
"... Solidarity is a powerful force, sometimes historically an eruptive force, and though not by itself intelligent, not necessarily hostile to intelligent direction, but it calls on the individual's narcissism and anger not rational understanding or calculation. It is present as a flash in riots and a fire in insurrections and a great raging furnace in national wars of total mobilization. Elites can fear it or be enveloped by it or manipulate it cynically or with cruel callousness. Though it is a means to common effort and common sacrifice, it demands wages for its efforts and must be fed prodigious resources if it is long at work. ..."
"... What we've got here is a distorted or atrophied sense of the relationship between solidarity and the consent of the governed, between democracy and legitimacy, or more generally, between the individual and the collective ..."
"... If so, maybe we ought to try being a little more honest about what we're willing to pay as individuals for what we get as members of a group. Otherwise, it's hard to see how we can come to terms with our confusion, or survive the malignancies that being confused has introduced into all our group dynamics, not just the overtly political ones. ..."
crookedtimber.org

Rich Puchalsky 08.12.16 at 1:41 pm674

CR: "that strategy actually runs the risk of harming down-ballot Democrats running for office in Congress and state legislatures. It may help Clinton, but it's not good for the party."

It's Obama redux. Remember how he wanted to work with his friends across the aisle in a Grand Bargain that would bring moderation and centrist agreement to all things? He validated budget-balance mania during austerity and would have bargained away Social Security if he could have. He predictably lost the Congress in the first mid-term election and did nothing to build the party back up.

People don't yet understand that this is just how neoliberals are. The two fundamental loyalties in a state party system have nothing to do with solidarity: they're loyalty up, and loyalty down. Neoliberals are happy to accept whatever loyalty up they are given by fools and suckers: they have no loyalty down at all and will never do the elementary political operations of repaying their base or creating a party that will work for anyone else. This goes beyond ordinary political selfishness to the fact that they don't really want a populist party: that would push them to harm the interests of their real base.

And people don't react to this, fundamentally, because they don't really do politics outside of 4-year scareathons. Look at LFC's description above about how people should march if candidates don't follow through on their promises. Why aren't they marching now: why haven't they in the Obama years?

bruce wilder 08.12.16 at 6:39 pm 687

Rich Puchalsky @ 674

I am with you on your main thesis, but I thought I would offer this sidenote.

On solidarity: solidarity isn't about the (hierarchy of) relationships among politicians or political operatives. Solidarity is about membership, not leadership.

Solidarity can feel good. "We are all in this together, united." Or, it can feel constricting, as it demands conformity and senseless uniformity, obeisance to unnecessary authority. Resentments are its solvent and its boundary-keepers. Social affiliation and common rituals are its nurturers in its fallow times, which can be historically frequent and long. Solidarity is the means to great common, coordinated efforts, that is to trust in leadership and that great solvent of political stalemate: sacrifice to the common good.

Solidarity is a powerful force, sometimes historically an eruptive force, and though not by itself intelligent, not necessarily hostile to intelligent direction, but it calls on the individual's narcissism and anger not rational understanding or calculation. It is present as a flash in riots and a fire in insurrections and a great raging furnace in national wars of total mobilization. Elites can fear it or be enveloped by it or manipulate it cynically or with cruel callousness. Though it is a means to common effort and common sacrifice, it demands wages for its efforts and must be fed prodigious resources if it is long at work.

As American Party politics have degenerated, solidarity has come to have a fraught relationship with identity politics. In both Parties.

I don't see anything in the conceptual logic driving things forward. I see this state of affairs as the playing out of historical processes, one step after another. But, this year's "scareathon" puts identity politics squarely against the economic claims of class or even national solidarity. The identity politics frame of equal opportunity exploitation has Paul Krugman talking up "horizontal inequality". Memes float about suggesting that free trade is aiding global equality even if it is at the expense of increasing domestic inequality. Or, suggesting that labor unions were the implacable enemy of racial equality back in the day or that FDR's New Deal was only for white people. Hillary Clinton's stump speech, for a while, had her asking, "If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, . . . would that end racism? would that end sexism?"

It is convenient politics in several ways. First, no one can hold Clinton responsible for not ending racism and sexism any more than GWB could be held responsible for not winning the war on terrorism. These are perpetual struggles by definition.

Second, it combines the display of righteous do-good ism with a promise of social progress that might actually benefit directly the most ambitious, even if it leaves most people without support. People who have done well in the system, or who might expect to, can feel good about themselves. And, ignore the system or rationalize away the system's manifest shortcomings. The people who are complaining are racists! BernieBros! It is all about the loss of status being experienced by white men, and they shouldn't be heard anyway.

The moral righteousness of identity politics adds in an element that goes way beyond the lazy failure to hold politicians accountable or the tendency to explain away their more Machiavellian maneuvers. There's both an actual blindness to the reactionary conservatism of equal opportunity exploitation and a peremptory challenge to any other claim or analysis. If police practices and procedures are trending in an authoritarian direction, they can only be challenged on grounds of racist effect or intent. The authoritarianism cannot be challenged on its own merit, so the building of the authoritarian state goes on unimpeded, since the principle that is challenged is not authoritarianism, but a particular claim of racism or sexism.

William Timberman 08.12.16 at 7:45 pm 688
What we've got here is a distorted or atrophied sense of the relationship between solidarity and the consent of the governed, between democracy and legitimacy, or more generally, between the individual and the collective. I suppose you could argue that we've evolved beyond what we were when we first came to understand these relationships in the abstract (in the 18th century?), and that, accordingly, they can no longer be understood in the way we once thought we understood them.

If so, maybe we ought to try being a little more honest about what we're willing to pay as individuals for what we get as members of a group. Otherwise, it's hard to see how we can come to terms with our confusion, or survive the malignancies that being confused has introduced into all our group dynamics, not just the overtly political ones.

[Jul 24, 2016] The Immorality and Brutal Violence of Extreme Greed

Notable quotes:
"... By #SlayTheSmaugs, an elected Bernie delegate in Philly. ..."
"... #STS believes that the billionaire class are Smaugs (the greed incarnate dragon of The Hobbit), immorally hoarding wealth for no reason beyond ego gratification. To "Slay" the Smaugs, we need a confiscatory wealth tax, stronger democratic institutions to impose it, and a shared moral agreement that #GreedIsEvil to justify it. ..."
"... More; charitable foundations are not the same thing, in many cases, as true charity. Instead foundations often function as hoard preservers as well, and enrich their leadership too. ..."
"... After a certain level of accumulation money is simply ego gratifying points, it's not money any more. ..."
"... Wealth on this scale has nothing to do with financial security or luxurious living. For the trivial, it is (as per D. Trump) a game and money is how you keep score. For the serious, it has to do with power, with the ability to affect other people's lives without their consent. That is why the Smaugs' wealth is absolutely our business. It should be understood that we're talking about taking very large amounts of money and power away from very rich people, people for whom money and power are pretty much the only things they value. It will not be pretty. ..."
"... If we fail to prevent the imposition of this transnational regime there will only be three classes of humans left: kleptocrats, their favored minions, and slaves. ..."
"... A more modern similarity of the US is Rome. Vassals have been going full retard for several years now, traitors sell international competitors military secrets while the biggest merchants buy off the Senate. ..."
"... Isn't there an idiom about cutting off the head of the snake? Once you deal with the strongest opponents, it's easier to go after the others. Too big to fail is nothing short of feeding the beast. ..."
"... I disagree strongly with your premise that some sort of pure and natural meritocracy has ever existed, or could ever exist in human society. Corrupt and oppressive people will always define as "meritorious" those qualities that they themselves possess– whether wealth, "gentle birth," "technical skills," or whatever. We all possess the same merit of being human. ..."
Jul 22, 2016 | Naked Capitalism

... ... ...

By #SlayTheSmaugs, an elected Bernie delegate in Philly.

#STS believes that the billionaire class are Smaugs (the greed incarnate dragon of The Hobbit), immorally hoarding wealth for no reason beyond ego gratification. To "Slay" the Smaugs, we need a confiscatory wealth tax, stronger democratic institutions to impose it, and a shared moral agreement that #GreedIsEvil to justify it.

Worshiping Wealth

When Gordon Gekko proclaimed that 'Greed is Good' in 1987, it was an obvious rejection of several millennia of teachings by traditional prophets and priests. Yet when Gekko preached greed, he was merely reinforcing the current cultural norm; greed had already been rebranded a virtue. (Still, the speech was to remind us Gekko was a bad guy). Consider that Madonna had proclaimed herself a Material Girl three years earlier, and "Living Large" was cool. Conspicuous consumption is walking the talk that greed is good.

Why had greed become good? I blame the creation of a credit-fueled culture of constant consumption that necessarily praises coveting stuff, plus the dismantling of the regulatory state that had kept Wall Street and wannabe oligarchs in check.

Our healthy cultural adoration of the self-made man, of respect for success, warped into worship of the rich. They are not the same. Wealth can be inherited, stolen through fraud and other illegal activities, or harvested from bubbles; none of these or myriad other paths to riches is due respect, much less worship. Paired with another 80's definition-government is the problem-worshiping wealth facilitates all the dysfunction in our government.

Remembering Greed is Evil

Thirty years later, the old social norm-the one that protected the many from the few, the one that demonized greed as a deadly sin-is resurgent. We have a Pope who preaches against greed, and who walks his talk . We had a Presidential candidate of a major party-Bernie Sanders-who railed against those living embodiments of greed, the Billionaire Class, and walked his talk by rejecting their money. At the convention, he has invited delegates to four workshops, one of which is "One Nation Now: Winning the Fight Against Racism and Greed". We have a late night comedian-John Oliver- ridiculing the prosperity gospel and taking on the debt industry . We have mass consciousness rising, reflected in Occupy, the label "the 99%", BLM and more.

But we need more voices insisting #GreedIsEvil. We need to teach that basic message at home, in school, and in houses of worship. We need to send the right signals in our social interactions. We need to stop coveting stuff, and start buying with a purpose: Shopping locally, buying American, buying green and clean, and buying less. We need to waste less, share more and build community. We need to re-norm-alize greed as evil, make it shameful again. Then we will have redefined ourselves as citizens, not consumers.

But make no mistake: America cannot become a just nation simply by the 99% becoming more virtuous. The cultural shift is necessary but not sufficient, for norms alone do not deliver social and economic justice. Shame will not slay the Smaugs; we need structural change in the political economy.

Extreme greed, the greed of Smaugs, is categorically different than the petit greed underlying the irrational, constant consumption and the worship of wealth. Extreme greed manifests as a hoard of wealth so great that "purchasing power" is an irrelevant concept; a hoard so great it lacks any utility other than to be sat upon as a throne, gratifying the Smaug's ego and symbolizing his power. That greed must be understood as an intolerable evil, something so base and malevolent that the full power of the state must be used against it.

This essay is my contribution to the cause of returning extreme greed to its rightful place in the pantheon of ultimate evils. Here is the thesis: extreme greed must be 'slain' by the state because extreme greed is brutally violent.

The Stealth Violence of False Scarcity and "Cutting Corners"

Greed's violence is quiet and deadly: The violence of false scarcity and of "corner cutting". Scarcity is not having enough because there just isn't enough to go round, like the nearly 50 million people who don't reliably have food during the year, including 15 million kids. False scarcity is when actually, there's plenty to go around, but people generally don't have enough because of hoarders.

It's a concentrated version of what happened to pennies in 1999. People keeping pennies in piggy banks created a shortage felt throughout New York City . If only people had broken open their piggy banks, and used their pennies, there would have been plenty of pennies in circulation, and shopkeepers wouldn't lose money by rounding purchases down. In this piece, I'm focusing on false scarcity of dollars, not pennies, and the maiming and premature death that results from false dollar scarcity. But the idea is essentially the same; there's just far fewer relevant piggy banks.

By the quiet violence of 'corner cutting', I'm referring to unsafe, even deadly, workplaces that could be safe if the employers invested in safety.

Sporadically, greed also drives overt, and sometimes profoundly bloody violence to protect the hoard. Think of employer violence against unions and union organizers, a la Henry Ford , or John D. Rockefeller . Nonetheless in this country now, the violence of greed tends to be more covert. It is that quiet violence, in both forms, I want you to hear now.

As Sanders often reminds us, in this, the richest nation in the world, nearly 50 million people are living in poverty; roughly one in seven Americans. And as Sanders explained, in a speech in West Virginia , 130,000 people die each and every year as a result of poverty. I have not read the study Sanders referred to, so I don't know how much it overlaps with the rise of suicide that accelerated after 2006 and which appears to be correlated with financial stress. Nor do I know how it overlaps with the documented increase in white mortality that also appears to correlate with financial stress. Regardless of overlap, however, each of these studies reflects the quiet violence of false scarcity. Naked Capitalism has featured many posts documenting the damage of greed; this is a recent one .

Chronic and acute financial stress from false scarcity maims, and kills. And Smaugs create false scarcity to feed money to their egos and maintain their oligarchic power.

As Lambert often says, they don't call it class warfare for nothing.

But wait, you might insist, how false is the scarcity, really? How much do a few billionaires matter? Ranting that greed is evil is all well and good, but really, can a relative handful of people be manufacturing scarcity where there is none, shortening and taking millions of lives in the process? Aren't you making your target too narrow in going after the Smaugs?

In order: Very false, a lot, yes and no.

The Falsity of Dollar Scarcity

In 2015 the Institute for Policy Studies determined that the richest 20 American billionaires had hoarded as much wealth as 152 million people had managed to scrape together combined. Think on that.

Twenty people had hoarded $732,000,000,000. America is a nation of about 300,000,000 people. That means 20 people could give a combined $2,370 to every American, and still hoard $1 billion each. I'm not suggesting that's how the redistribution should be done, but it's notable that in an era when some 200 million Americans haven't been able to save $1000 for an emergency, twenty people could give everyone over two grand while remaining fabulously wealthy.

Now, these 20 monstrous people, these full grown Smaugs, are not alone in their extreme greed. Adding in the assets of the next 380 richest Americans brings the total wealth hoarded to $2.34 trillion. That number is so large it's hard to process , so let's think this through.

First, imagine that we took all of that money with a confiscatory tax, except we again left each of the 400 people with $1 billion. They would still be obscenely rich, so don't pity them.* Our tax thus netted $1.94 trillion. Since that's still an unimaginable number, let's compare it to some recent government spending.

In December 2015, Congress funded five years' worth of infrastructure construction. Congress and President Obama were very self-congratulatory because our infrastructure is a mess, and building things involves good paying jobs. So, how much did five years of infrastructure building and job creation cost? $305 billion . That's less than the $400 billion we let the 400 Smaugs keep at the start of this thought experiment. With the $1.94 trillion we imagine confiscating, we could keep building at the 2015 pace for 32 years. Or we could spend it much faster, and create an economic boom the like of which this nation hasn't seen in generations.

Even Bernie Sanders, he of the supposedly overly ambitious, unable-to-be-paid for initiatives, only proposed spending $1 trillion on infrastructure over five years -a bit more than half what our tax would net. (Nor did this supposed radical call for a confiscatory wealth tax to fund his plan.) Sanders estimated his proposal would create 13 million good paying jobs. With nearly double the money, surely we get nearly double the jobs? Let's be conservative and say 22 million.

In sum, we could confiscate most of the wealth of 400 people-still leaving them obscenely rich with $1 billion each-and create 22 million good paying jobs over five years. But we don't; we let the Smaugs keep their hoards intact. Now consider this is only taxing 400 people; what if we taxed the richest 2,000 people more justly? What if we taxed corporations effectively? What if we stopped giving corporate welfare? A confiscatory wealth tax, however, simply isn't discussed in polite company, any more than a truly progressive income tax is, or even serious proposals to end corporate welfare. The best we can do is agree that really, someday soon, we should end the obscenity that is the carried interest loophole.

False scarcity isn't simply a failure of charity, a hoarding of wealth that should be alms for the poor. False scarcity is created through the billionaires' control of the state, of public policy. But the quiet violence of greed isn't visited on the 99% only through the failure to pay adequate taxes. Not even through the Smaugs' failure to have their corporations pay adequate wages, or benefits. Predatory lending, predatory servicing, fraudulent foreclosure, municipal bond rigging, and pension fund fleecing are just some of the many other ways immoral greed creates false scarcity.

While false scarcity has the broadest impact, it is not the only form of stealth violence used by the billionaires in their class war against the rest of us. The Ford and Rockefeller style violence of fists and guns may be rare in the U.S. these days, but a variant of it remains much too common: Unsafe workplaces, the quiet violence of "cutting corners". Whether it's the coal industry , the poultry industry , or the fracking and oil industries, or myriad other industries, unsafe workplaces kill, maim and sicken workers. Part of the political economy restructuring we must do includes transforming the workplace.

Feel the Greed

Let us remember why this stealth violence exists-why false scarcity and unsafe workplaces exist.

People who have more money than they hope to spend for the rest of their lives, no matter how many of their remaining days are "rainy"; people who have more money to pass on than their children need for a lifetime of financial security, college and retirement included; people who have more money to pass on than their grandchildren need for a similarly secure life–these people insist on extracting still more wealth from their workers, their clients, and taxpayers for no purpose beyond vaingloriously hoarding it.

Sure, some give away billions . But even so they retain billions. For what? More; charitable foundations are not the same thing, in many cases, as true charity. Instead foundations often function as hoard preservers as well, and enrich their leadership too.

In Conclusion

Greed is evil, but it comes in different intensities. Petit greed is a corrosive illness that decays societies, but can be effectively ameliorated through norms and social capital. Smaug greed is so toxic, so potent, that the state is the only entity powerful enough to put it in check. Greed, particularly Smaug greed, must be put in check because the false scarcity it manufactures, and the unsafe workplaces it creates, maim and kill people. The stealth violence of Smaug greed justifies a tax to confiscate the hoards.

#GreedIsEvil. It's time to #SlayTheSmaugs

*One of the arguments against redistribution is that is against the sacrosanct efficient market, which forbids making one person better off if the price is making someone else worse off. But money has diminishing returns as money after a certain point; the purchasing power between someone with one billion and ten billion dollars is negligible, though the difference between someone with ten thousand and a hundred thousand, or a hundred thousand and a million is huge. After a certain level of accumulation money is simply ego gratifying points, it's not money any more. Thus taking it and using it as money isn't making someone 'worse off' in an economic sense. Also, when considering whether someone is 'worse off', it's worth considering where their money comes from; how many people did they leave 'worse off' as they extracted the money? Brett , July 22, 2016 at 10:07 am

After a certain level of accumulation money is simply ego gratifying points, it's not money any more.

It quite literally isn't "money" as we regular folks know it beyond a certain point – it's tied up in share value and other assets. Which of course raises the question – when you decide to do your mass confiscation of wealth, who is going to be foolish enough to buy those assets so you actually have liquid currency to spend on infrastructure as opposed to illiquid assets? Or are you simply going to print money and spend it on them?

Thomas Hinds , July 22, 2016 at 10:33 am

Wealth on this scale has nothing to do with financial security or luxurious living. For the trivial, it is (as per D. Trump) a game and money is how you keep score. For the serious, it has to do with power, with the ability to affect other people's lives without their consent. That is why the Smaugs' wealth is absolutely our business. It should be understood that we're talking about taking very large amounts of money and power away from very rich people, people for whom money and power are pretty much the only things they value. It will not be pretty.

Ranger Rick , July 22, 2016 at 10:37 am

People become rich and stay that way because of a market failure that allows them to accumulate capital in the same way a constricted artery accumulates blood. What I'm wondering, continuing this metaphor, is what happens when all that money is released back into the market at once via a redistribution - toxic shock syndrome.

You can see what happens to markets in places where "virtual money" (capital) brushes up against the real economy: the dysfunctional housing situation in Vancouver, London, New York, and San Francisco.

It may be wiser to argue for wealth disintegration instead of redistribution.

a different chris , July 22, 2016 at 11:52 am

Yes I was thinking about that … money is just something the government prints to make the system work smoothly. But that, and pretty much any view of money, obscures the problem with the insanely "wealthy".

If these people, instead of having huge bank accounts actually had huge armies the government would move to disarm them. It wouldn't re-distribute the tanks and rifles. It would be obviously removing a threat to everybody.

Now there would be the temptation to wave your hands and say you were "melting it into plowshares" but that causes an accounting problem - that is, the problem being the use of accounting itself. Destroying extreme wealth and paying for say roads is just two different things and making them sound connected is where we keep getting bogged down. Not a full-on MMT'er yet but it really has illuminated that fact.

And no, as usual l have no solutions.

John Merryman , July 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm

The western assumption is that money is a commodity, from salt to gold, to bitcoin, we assume it can be manufactured, but the underlaying reality is that it is a social contract and every asset is presumably backed by debt.
Here is an interesting link which does make the point about the contractual basis of money in a succinct fashion;
http://rs79.vrx.palo-alto.ca.us/opinions/ideas/economics/jubilee/

Since the modern commodity of money is backed by debt and largely public debt, there is enormous pressure to create as much debt as possible.
For instance, the government doesn't really budget, it just writes up these enormous bills, attaches enough goodies to get the votes and the president can only pass or veto it and with all the backing and no other method, a veto is a weak protection.

To budget is to prioritize and spend according to ability. What they could do would be to break these bills into all their various "line items," have every legislator assign a percentage value to each one, put them back together in order of preference and then the president would draw the line.
It would balance the power and reduce the tendency to overspend, but it would blow up our financial system, which if anyone notices, is based on the sanctity of government debt.

If instead of borrowing the excess money out of the system, to spend on whatever, if the government threatened to tax it out, people would quickly find other ways to store value than as money in the financial system.

Since most of us save for the same general reasons, from raising children to retirement, we could invest in these as public commons, not try to save for our exact needs. This would serve to strengthen communities and their environments, as everyone would be more dependent on those around them, not just having a private bank account as their personal umbilical cord.

We treat money as both medium of exchange and store of value. As Rick points out above, a medium is like blood in the body and it needs to be carefully regulated. Conversely, the store of value in the body is fat and while many of us do carry an excess, storing it in the circulation system is not wise. Clogged arteries, poor circulation and high blood pressure are analogous to a bloated financial system, poor circulation and QE.
Money is not a commodity, but a contract.

Julian , July 22, 2016 at 11:00 am

Do you realize that this supposed billionaire wealth does not consist of actual US dollars and that, if one were to liquidate such wealth (in order to redistribute it in "fair" equal-dollars) that number might drastically change?

The main thing these people (and indeed your pension funds) are actually hoarding are financial assets, and those, it turns out, are actually "scarce". Or, well, I don't know what else you would call trillions of bonds netting a negative interest rate and an elevated P/E stock market in a low-growth environment.

It's a bit of a pickle from a macro environment. You can't just force them to liquidate their assets, or else the whole system would collapse. It also kind of escapes the point that someone has to hold each asset. I would be excited to see what happens when you ask Bill Gates to liquidate his financial assets (in order to distribute the cash). An interesting thought, for sure. And one that would probably bring the market closer to reasonable valuations.

It is simply a wrong conclusion to say "Wealth is x, and if we distribute it, everyone would get x divided by amount of recipients in dollar terms". Now if you wanted to redistribute Bill Gates' stake in Microsoft in some "fair" way, you could certainly try but that's not really what you proposed.

Either way you can't approach wealth policy from a macro perspective like this, because as soon as you start designing macro-level policy to adjust (i.e. redistribute) this wealth, the value of it will fluctuate very wildly in dollar terms and may well leave everyone less well off in some weird feedback loop.

JTMcPhee , July 22, 2016 at 11:05 am

"The full power of the state must be used against" #extremegreed: Except, of course, "L'etat c'est moi…"

Of course as a Bernie supporter, the writer knows that, knows that it is a long game to even start to move any of the hoard out of Smaug's cave, that there are dwarves with glittering eyes ready to take back and reduce to ownership and ornamentation the whole pile (maybe they might 'share" a little with the humans of Lake Town who suffered the Dragon's Fire but whose Hero drove a mystical iron arrow through the weak place in Smaug's armor, all while Sauron and Saruman are circling and plotting and growing hordes of genetically modified Orcs and Trolls and summoning the demons from below…

The Elves seem to be OK with a "genteel sufficiency," their wealth being useful durable stuff like mithril armor and those lovely houses and palaces up in the trees. Humans? Grabbers and takers, in Tolkien's mythology. I would second that view - sure seems to me that almost any of us, given a 1000-Bagger like Zuckerman or Jobs or that Gates creature fell into, or Russian or Israeli or African or European oligarchs for that matter (pretty universal, and expected given Davos and Bilderberg and Koch summits) the old insatiable lambic system that drives for pleasure-to-the-max and helps our baser tribal drives and penchant for violence to manifest and "thrive" will have its due. Like 600 foot motor yachts and private-jet escape pods and pinnacles islands with Dr. No-style security provided by guns and accountants and lawyers and faux-legitimate political rulers for hire…

Lots of analysis of "the problem." Not so much in the way of apparent remedies, other than maybe lots of bleeding, where the mopes will do most of it and if history is any guide, another Smaug will go on around taking all the gold and jewels and other concentrated wealth back to another pile, to sit on and not maybe even gloat over because the scales are just too large…

Still hoping for the emergence of an organizing principle that is more attractive that "take whatever you can and cripple or kill anyone who objects…"

Ulysses , July 22, 2016 at 11:38 am

"People who have more money than they hope to spend for the rest of their lives, no matter how many of their remaining days are "rainy"; people who have more money to pass on than their children need for a lifetime of financial security, college and retirement included; people who have more money to pass on than their grandchildren need for a similarly secure life–these people insist on extracting still more wealth from their workers, their clients, and taxpayers for no purpose beyond vaingloriously hoarding it."

These are people who are obscenely wealthy as opposed to merely wealthy. The fastest way to challenge their toxic power would be to help the latter group understand that their interests are not aligned with the former. Most millionaires (as opposed to billionaires) will eventually suffer when the last few drops of wealth remaining to the middle and working classes are extracted. Their future prosperity depends on the continued existence of a viable, mass consumer economy.

The billionaires imagine (in my view falsely) that they will thrive in a neo-feudal future– where they own everything and the vast majority of humanity exists only to serve their needs. This is the future they are attempting to build with the new TPP/TISA/TTIP regime. If we fail to prevent the imposition of this transnational regime there will only be three classes of humans left: kleptocrats, their favored minions, and slaves. Most neoliberal professionals, who imagine that they will be in that second group, are delusional. Did the pharaohs have any need for people like Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd?

a different chris , July 22, 2016 at 11:59 am

Yeah unfortunately they did. It wasn't just the pharaoh and peasants, there was a whole priestly class just to keep the workers confused.

Now the individuals themselves weren't at all necessary, they have always been easily replaceable.

FluffytheObeseCat ,