90% of what goes on at The New Yorker can be explained by Vulgar Marxism

by Corey Robin on February 5, 2016

On Tuesday night, Alexandra Schwartz, a critic at The New Yorkerposted a piece criticizing the young supporters of Bernie Sanders. Ordinarily, I’d be mildly irritated by an article titled “Should Millennials Get Over Bernie Sanders?” In this instance, I’m grateful. It clarifies the dividing line between Sanders’s supporters in the electorate and the liberal journalists who can’t abide them.

First, some context. Exit polls from Iowa, according to Vox, show that “Sanders absolutely dominated young adult voters, in a way that even Barack Obama couldn’t in 2008.” Eighty-four percent of voters under 30, and 58% of voters between 30 and 44, cast their ballots for Sanders. More generally, as countless articles have noted, younger voters are shifting left, embracing ancient taboos like socialism and other heresies.

Schwartz finds this all puzzling:

Bernie would not be pressing Hillary without the support of the youth of America, a fact that I—a voter north of twenty-five, south of thirty—have pondered over the past few weeks with increasing perplexity.

Why are young people, she asks, ”rallying behind the candidate who has far and away the most shambolic presentation of anyone on either side of this crazy race?”

A second’s Google search turns up an answer:

The youngest voting generation today is the most liberal bloc in a long, long time for three reasons.

First, they’re young and poor, and young, poor people are historically more liberal. Second, they’re historically non-white. Non-white Americans are historically liberal, too. Third, their white demo is historically liberal compared to older white voters, as Jon Chait has pointed out. It all adds up to one cresting blue wave. For now.


The poorer they are, says Vox’s Dylan Matthews, the more likely millennials are to support a government-guaranteed living wage, the redistribution of wealth, and an expanded safety net.

It’s not just a function of income, Matthews adds. It’s also a question of race and life experiences. Non-white millennials who’ve been discriminated against—whether for reasons of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation—prefer socialism to capitalism and favor an economically egalitarian society over a competitive, meritocratic society.

That’s why young people are rallying to Sanders: no other candidate has made economic inequality, the growing divide between the haves and have-nots, so central to his or her campaign.

Schwartz won’t have it.

The obsession with the banks and the bailout is itself phrased in weirdly retro terms, the stuff of an invitation to a 2008-election theme party. As my colleague Ben Wallace-Wells points out, we voters under thirty have come of political age during the economic recovery under President Obama. When I graduated from college, unemployment was close to ten per cent; it’s now at five. Sanders’s attention to socioeconomic justice is stirring and necessary, but when his campaign tweets that it’s “high time we stopped bailing out Wall Street and started repairing Main Street,” you have to wonder why his youngest supporters, so attuned to staleness in all things cultural, are letting him get away with political rhetoric that would have seemed old even in 2012.

This past year alone, the unemployment rate among 16-24 year-old’s has toggled between 9 and 19%. Employment rates for 25-54 year-old’s have yet to recover to their pre-recession levels.

Nearly 70% of college graduates carry, on average, a student loan debt of $29,000. According to Mike Konczal, the student debt crisis is “a slow moving disaster,” which especially affects black and poorer voters.

Black students disproportionately rely on student loans for college access; according to the Urban Institute, 42 percent of African Americans ages twenty-five to fifty-five have student loans, compared to 28 percent of whites. Black families carry a student loan debt that is 28 percent higher than that of white families….

In order to manage these debt burdens, students have been drawing out their student loan payments over an even longer period of time, from an average of 7.4 years in 1992 to 13.4 years today. Only the elite avoid this burden. According to the Federal Reserve, those in the bottom 95 percent of households have seen their student-debt-to-income ratio skyrocket since 1995. This is especially true for those in the bottom 50 percent, whose education debt has more than doubled—from 26 percent of yearly income to 58 percent.


Many young people graduate today, buried in debt, without much prospect of digging themselves out.

But all of this flies past the 2014 recipient of the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Schwartz’s attentions are focused elsewhere.

Like all young people, she says, the millennial voter has a longing for “purity,” and Sanders, with his refusal to compromise, seems pure.

Bernie’s attractiveness as a candidate relies on the premise of purity—a political value as ancient as politics itself….The belief in the possibility of true purity might be a delusion for most voters, but it’s a privilege of youth, the province of people for whom the thrill of theory hasn’t yet given way to the comparative disappointment of practice.

It’s an eccentric kind of purist who manages to stick it out in the grubby world of electoral politics for four decades, working his way up from managing the potholes of a small city to servicing constituents in the House of Representatives to championing their interests in the Senate.

It’s an eccentric kind of purist who launches himself to a leading position as the potential head of what Kevin Phillips once called the ”world’s second most enthusiastic capitalist party.” (This last achievement leads Schwartz to some cognitive dissonance: If he were truly pure, she wonders, wouldn’t he “run as an independent”? Perhaps. Which may be an indication that neither he nor his followers think of him or themselves as so pure.)

No matter. Schwartz knows that her fellow millennials have a penchant for purity—and “historical fetishism.”

I sense a whiff of historical fetishism to the young love for Bernie, a yearning for an imaginary time of simpler, more straightforward politics that aligns with other millennial tendencies toward false nostalgia for past purity, in fashion or food, for instance.

It’s an odd sort of charge coming from someone who can’t explain her youthful enthusiasm for Obama in 2008 without dipping her hand into a till of clichés from the French Revolution:
It’s a rite of passage into political adulthood, when the contours of the world seem sharper than they may ever be again, and the notion of the correspondence between the politician one votes for and the one who arrives in office is still intact—that moment of “very heaven,” as Wordsworth’s famous line about witnessing the start of the French Revolution as a young man has it.

The college students and recent graduates who fervently support Bernie are enjoying their own moment of heaven, inevitably brief. I say this in spiritual solidarity. My own phase of very-heaven fell during the first campaign of Barack Obama….


It’s doubly odd coming from someone who wishes to present herself as older, wiser, and world-wearier than her cohort. There is, after all, only one vantage from which the events of 2008 can seem, in 2016, to be ”retro”: that of an adolescent.

And trebly odd when you consider that the only fetish on display in this article is the author’s own:

But Obama as a candidate may be as close as many of us will ever come to a twenty-something’s ideal politician—the sheer force of that fluid, academically honed intelligence! The nuance and honesty of the race speech! The dancing!—and a comparison of the two on that count yields something very odd. Bernie’s crankiness to Obama’s cool, his age to Obama’s freshness, his nagging to Obama’s rhetorical deftness, his hokiness to Obama’s humor, his gout to Obama’s jump shot: all make for a strangely conservative vision of a youth idol. (Then there’s the awkward fact of the most diverse generation of voters in the country’s history rallying behind another white guy.)

These are the words and phrases Schwartz uses to describe a black president: sheer force, fluid, honed, the jump shot, the dancing. The dancing! Not to mention the unmastered revulsion to age itself (that mention of gout), which seems to drive so much of this piece.

But that’s all incidental. What really strikes the reader is just how removed Schwartz is from the experiences of her generation, how utterly clueless she is about the economic hardships so many young men and women face today.

It’s true that Schwartz graduated from the tony Brearley School in Manhattan (annual tuition: $43,000) in 2005 and Yale (annual tuition, fees, and costs: $65,000) in 2009, whereupon, after a few detours, she landed a spot at The New Yorker, from which she reports on Paris (cost: priceless).

But does she have no friends or relatives who are struggling with student debt, low-paying or nonexistent jobs? Has she not read an American newspaper or magazine in the last twelve months? Is the cognitive divide between the have’s and the have-not’s that stark, that extreme?

Whatever the case may be, the Sanders campaign has brought that divide to light. We officially live in a world, to paraphrase Bob Fitch, where 90% of what goes on at The New Yorker can be explained by vulgar Marxism.

{ 277 comments }

1

gbh 02.05.16 at 3:52 am

Dress it up how you will, it’s all horse race, all the way down. What she means is that kids are stupid because they don’t know Bernie can’t win.

2

Doctor Science 02.05.16 at 4:11 am

I disagree with your analysis on one, kinda huge, point: I wouldn’t assume that non-white millennials are also rallying to Sanders. My own, vague and Baby-Boomer, notions, have been informed and clarified by Propane Jane’s stellar tweets about “When racism gets in socialism”.

Hillary is going to Flint, MI, on Monday, right before the NH primary. POCs, millennial and boomer, trust her in a way they don’t (yet?) trust Bernie.

3

Corey Robin 02.05.16 at 4:16 am

Doctor Science: Yeah, I realized my post hints at that suggestion. That data on non-white millennials was really meant as an amplification not of the Sanders question but of the general orientation of this generation toward socialism and economic redistribution. But I see how it gets conflated in the post itself. That said, while it’s true that Clinton polls higher among people of color overall, I haven’t seen any kind of age breakdown of those polls. I’d be curious, particularly since people were claiming a while back that there was a gender gap (women for Clinton, men for Sanders), but after some closer polling was done, it became obvious that younger women were very pro-Sanders (in fact one poll showed more younger women supported Sanders than supported Clinton!) So to sum up: a) you’re right, I shouldn’t conflate general views with support for Sanders; but b) I’d like to see some of the data for people of color and this primary broken down by age cohorts.

4

Cry Shop 02.05.16 at 4:54 am

” … competitive, meritocratic society.”

Is that what we have? Is that the existing alternative that the youth feel is unfair?

Honestly, it’s anything but a meritocracy if one counts intellectual ability. Physical ability (professional sports, etc.) seems to be the rare, extremely limited area where one could say a meritocracy exists. Even here its only true in a few areas; for example it’s hardly pure meritocracy in gymnastics, or swimming, or other high entry costs sports, particularly those that rely on judges).

As to competitive, there are rules in any competition, but what the current system offers is two sets (or more) of rules enforced by a disconnected oligarchy.

5

Tyler 02.05.16 at 5:25 am

Speaking from an Australian context i’d be fairly certain the socio-economic cultural divide is exactly that big, if not greater. As a priveleged young Australian the only thing that incidentally exposed me to genuine hardship was the fact of my sexuality and the slightly more diverse world that exposed me to. Given the reality that inequality is far more deeply entrenched politically/culturally within the USA (or at least that’s the impression one gets) I can easily understand how a young woman like this could be so far removed from the grotesque economic position of so much of her cohort.

6

fledermaus 02.05.16 at 5:48 am

“It’s doubly odd coming from someone who wishes to present herself as older, wiser, and world-wearier than her cohort.”

No one combines fatuous naivete with jaded condescension like opinion writers. David Brooks made a career out of it.

7

Rakesh Bhandari 02.05.16 at 6:06 am

Do people here think Sanders turning out and winning the youth vote (<30) can be a major factor in his winning the general election? Without the Democratic candidate turning out big and winning big the Latino and Black vote the Democratic candidate probably has little chance even if /she wins the youth vote big; and s/he can probably win as long s/he wins the Latino and Black vote big even if youth turnout is not near its historic high point. I remember this analysis http://news.mit.edu/2009/racialpolarization-0120
It's easy for academics to fetishize youth concerns because the youth tell us everyday about the great weight that should be given to their preferences, but politicians are not academics and can have a more balanced understanding of how important the youth vote is.

8

Dean C. Rowan 02.05.16 at 6:11 am

Again the purity shit. Even Driftglass seems to have abandoned that shtick, finally. Purity is like religious faith. Its extreme opponents are guilty of the very lapses they condemn.

The divide between the haves and have-nots isn’t “cognitive.” The haves are as mentally capable of entertaining issues of fairness and equity as those whom such principles would serve. Meritocracy is the pure system demanded by the haves, because it serves as a crude proxy for fairness, a value for which there is no algorithm. I’d say 90% of what goes on at The New Yorker can be explained by vulgar meritocracy.

9

Dean C. Rowan 02.05.16 at 6:22 am

Oops. Too soon about Driftglass. He’s still at it: http://driftglass.blogspot.com/2016/02/seems-like-old-times.html

10

ZedBlank 02.05.16 at 6:39 am

Agreed, all the way down. And I think there’s an even simpler reason that so many younger people are inspired by Bernie’s campaign: they haven’t had enough time to become complacent and dumb in their thinking about politics.

The elephant in the room of every Professional Liberal thinkpiece (of which the cited New Yorker piece is truly exemplary) is that Sanders’s history and his stated policy goals are very consistent, and Hillary’s are not. He has an agenda that is focused on trying to fix how fucked up things are, Hillary doesn’t. Hillary’s entire – every last little crumb of it – campaign boils down to the same tacit message: vote for me or else. This is, of course, the unofficial motto of the contemporary Democratic party. And if you listen carefully to what her supporters are claiming, you’ll find that they hear her loud and clear, and they are more than happy to fall into line. The only real question is electability, but calling that is still a mug’s game (and the pundits, mugs all of them, are more than happy to play.)

All of this blather about “purity” and “idealism” and “pragmatism” amounts to the mighty efforts of people who have been trained not to think attempt to simulate the process of thinking. I’m trying to recall scene in 2008, and my only question is: was it this bad back then? Because I don’t remember the punditry being quite so stupid.

11

The Raven 02.05.16 at 6:55 am

“But does she have no friends or relatives who are struggling with student debt, low-paying or nonexistent jobs?”

Well, for sure she didn’t meet them at the Brearley School or Yale! She undoubtedly has less-wealthy family, but family connections in such circumstances are usually strained. Someone raised that wealthy travels in wealthy social circles; in some ways such people are like immigrants in their own countries.

I keep wondering why, with people of color faring so poorly in this depression (the minority employment numbers are as bad as the youth employment numbers, and young minorities, my gods), there is any support at all from PoC for the Clintons.

12

None 02.05.16 at 6:58 am

So I take it Corey Robin is Feeling The Bern ?

13

The Raven 02.05.16 at 7:04 am

There is, I suppose, intersectionality: in the USA race and “class” are not separate, but rather reinforce each other. I am surprised this point, which is hardly a new one, is not made more often. What else is white supremacism if not the ideology and practices of a class system? And what else was US white supremacism founded on if not the desire to gain wealth by enslaving Africans? These are not subtle points and yet somehow they are lost when Americans discuss race, wealth, and class.

14

JoB 02.05.16 at 7:28 am

Moral hazard: wealth can age your mind more quickly.

15

Ben 02.05.16 at 7:49 am

Also: the prose

“The stuff of an invitation to a 2008-election theme party.”

Yeesh.

16

PlutoniumKun 02.05.16 at 8:37 am

This is one reason why it annoys me so much that individual writers can somehow declare themselves the voices of ‘their generation’, or ‘their race’, or whatever.

Back in the 1990’s I found myself living in London with someone who was part of what was called by tabloids at the time the ‘Blair babes’ set, so I briefly found myself socialising with a group of mostly recent Oxford/Cambridge graduates in law or PPE or similar, all with huge political ambitions, all quite passionate about centre-left politics. They were mostly highly intelligent, articulate, and so far as I could tell, entirely genuine in their desire to make the world a better place. But what struck me most after talking to a few of them after a while was that their knowledge of people on low incomes – and I don’t mean ‘the poor’, I mean just your average person who has to work hard to get through schooling and save up for a deposit on a crappy little house in the suburbs – was entirely theoretical. They simply had never met any or talked to any in a meaningful way – their entire family and social circles were financially comfortable. They could recite the statistics and figures, but they really had no notion. When I would talk about the time I worked in a somewhat run-down estate in the West Midlands they would listen to me as if I was telling them about Calcutta. For many of them, the first real contact they had with the people they were keen to represent was their first attempt at knocking on doors as canvassers, and it was a huge shock to them.

Anyway, thats a slightly meandering way of confirming that people like that New Yorker writer (and I agree, the article is actually hilariously stupid) aren’t necessarily being mendacious – people like her literally do not have a clue how the majority of people really live. Increasingly, I suspect this covers most of the Democratic establishment (just as it did the ‘New’ Labour establishment in the UK). This of course is one of the prime reasons why the success of Trump and Sanders has come as such a profound shock to so many political insiders.

17

Gary Othic 02.05.16 at 9:27 am

I have often in the past wondered why you never really seemed to get Very Serious People of the centre-left. Was it lack of opportunity? Or was it something to do with the concept itself?

It appears I now have the answer: lack of opportunity.

Which isn’t to say that arguments for Clinton vis a vis Sanders are bad, I think most of them are pretty sound, it’s just that none of the Clinton supporting pundits seem to be able to make any kind of good faith understanding of what motivates Sanders supporters (the best that you ever get is a patronizing ‘oh you silly naive people’ like in the Schwartz article).

It’s kind of weird.

18

Gary Othic 02.05.16 at 9:29 am

Also this article appears to confirm a rule I saw somewhere (though it escapes me where now):

There will never be a shortage of jobs for millennials who want to criticize millennials.

19

Metatone 02.05.16 at 10:00 am

As others have said, the sheer incomprehension of lives of others is telling.

A reminder as well that “literature” doesn’t automatically build empathy.

20

Lee A. Arnold 02.05.16 at 11:53 am

This is why I never pay attention to the primary season. Never! I did not listen to anything either Obama or Hillary said in the 2007-8 primary season. Believe me: Not one speech! I didn’t care if it was an unusual primary because there was a black and a woman. A Martian can land and run, I won’t pay attention. Well maybe a Martian would be interesting. But otherwise it is a dance show. I have little time, and better things to do, so it doesn’t matter to me.

I automatically accept the primary voters’ final judgment. I never watch the race, until the nominees face off in the general election.

The only reason I am paying attention to this primary — this one time — is because the Republicans are in an epochal cul de sac. You are lucky, if this sort of shit happens in your lifetime! The whole disaster is a first-rate popcorn dinosaur-movie + a fascinating key to the possible future: this is a road-marker in the path of modernism.

As for the pundits, what a waste of time!

Maybe I will write a movie called, “Jurassic Park Parking Lot”.

The whole movies takes place outside Jurassic Park, in the parking lot. They never go in to see the dinosaurs, you just see them lumbering behind the wall, beyond. “Been in there, already done that.” It’s a nice sunny day. They send their little kids in to see the ‘saurs, and stay outside in a bunch of tailgate parties. Ice chests with beer and so forth. Their friends drive in to the parking spaces nearby. They’ve all paid the entry fee, so they can go just inside in the main gate, to use the restroom. Come back out, drink more beer. They get into philosophical discussions. At the beginning of Act 3 there is an epic argument over an empty parking space or something. The climax is all crying and sharing: the usual climax stuff. Denouement, the kids come back out, happy, laughing, cheering, to go home. We hear the distant trumpeting of the brontosaurs from over the wall. It starts to rain.

21

kidneystones 02.05.16 at 11:57 am

If folks are trying to understand who are the modern aristocrats, Corey’s introduction to the author of the New Yorker piece ticks many of the boxes. Unlike Corey, perhaps, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I did my undergraduate studies at school famous for its fraternities. Now, there may be some very positive aspects of fraternity and sorority life. What I saw I didn’t like, no need to dwell on the particulars. I was extremely grateful, however, that the Greek groups wore caps and other insignia confirming their membership in these ‘exclusive’ societies. I could see them coming at a distance. Writers at the New Yorker are the first to proudly explain that their role is to teach culture and to identify political deviance. Not only do they generally know nothing of people outside their tiny universe, many are struggling to obliterate from their memories and their personas any vestige that might betray their rube roots or contacts.

They have all the sophistication of Don Draper, a character I understand from former friends long in the ad game, whose terror of being found out render him incapable of understanding even himself. We can all count ourselves lucky, imho, that we don’t feel the need to strive for the bogus status conferred by membership in this insular community. They’re to be pitied, for the idealism of the youthful Sanders supporters is a painful reminder of lost idealism, not innocence. I’m looking forward to HRC explaining how her alphabet salad was worth 675 k to the bank. Only Cruz is currently worse.

22

bob mcmanus 02.05.16 at 12:40 pm

If folks are trying to understand who are the modern aristocrats

Nah. Courtiers and consiglieres, like Thomas More or Richelieu. Even the Clintons at 100 million are only exercising and operating and protecting the forces of power generated from above and below them. Like generals and colonels, they neither really fight the wars or choose the fight. Ideological and managerial levels are neither productive or controlling, even of ideology.

23

otpup 02.05.16 at 1:26 pm

I haven’t relished so many comments so quickly in a thread… ever I guess. Thanks all (@PlutoniumKim, especially yours and, @fledermaus, I will probably quote yours).

24

James Wimberley 02.05.16 at 2:46 pm

Bob McManus #22: Interesting but OTT take on Richelieu. He really was the boss. Louis XIII had enough brains to realize he was not up to running the country, and picked Richelieu to do it for him. A real aristocrat, the Duc de Montmorency, challenged Richelieu and to his surprise was executed in 1632.

Men like Richelieu and More’s nemesis Thomas Cromwell make me think of Larry Niven’s alien race the Pak. As adults, they combine super-intelligence with very strong instincts (to protect the progeny they have sired in an unintelligent adolescence). As a result, they have no free will. The instincts lay down the goals, the intelligence determines the one way forward.

25

folderol 02.05.16 at 3:03 pm

Hillary took $600,000 in one year from Goldman Sacks, a company that has paid $5 billion dollars in fines. How is that not corruption? It definitely shows a lack of judgement for someone already planning to run for president. It also makes her seem far removed from Joe Average, in much the same way as John Edwards’s $400 haircut.

To many of us, it seems you have a choice between Corporate Party A and Corporate Party B. We choose None of the Above.

26

kidneystones 02.05.16 at 3:09 pm

@ 22 Cheers. However, I wouldn’t credit anybody in media with the wit to provide advice to anyone. Sucking up to the New York elites and pleased to breathe the same air as the capitalists they claim to despise. More and Richelieu were players in their own right, not sucker-fish. There are still a few writers at the NYT and the New Yorker worth reading, but none of the folks have in mind write about politics, or culture.

27

kidneystones 02.05.16 at 3:12 pm

Perhaps the Incroyables is closer – they’re about display, not substance.

28

The Temporary Name 02.05.16 at 3:22 pm

It’s also true that Iowa isn’t really the place to try to make points about non-white voters.

29

lemmy caution 02.05.16 at 3:28 pm

” My own, vague and Baby-Boomer, notions, have been informed and clarified by Propane Jane’s stellar tweets about “When racism gets in socialism”.”

I don’t agree. Obama is fine but I am pretty sure that Blacks could support candidates with a more progressive agenda. (Not that Sanders is going to get that support.)

Jesse Jackson’s campaign platform is really looking good now:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Jackson#1984_presidential_campaign

Campaign platform
In both races, Jackson ran on what many considered to be a very liberal platform. In 1987, The New York Times described him as ” a classic liberal in the tradition of the New Deal and the Great Society”.[2] Declaring that he wanted to create a “Rainbow Coalition” of various minority groups, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Arab-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, family farmers, the poor and working class, and homosexuals, as well as European American progressives who fit into none of those categories, Jackson ran on a platform that included:

Creating a Works Progress Administration-style program to rebuild America’s infrastructure and provide jobs to all Americans,
Re-prioritizing the War on Drugs to focus less on mandatory minimum sentences for drug users (which he views as racially biased) and more on harsher punishments for money-laundering bankers and others who are part of the “supply” end of “supply and demand”
Reversing Reaganomics-inspired tax cuts for the richest ten percent of Americans and using the money to finance social welfare programs
Cutting the budget of the Department of Defense by as much as fifteen percent over the course of his administration
Declaring Apartheid-era South Africa to be a rogue nation
Instituting an immediate nuclear freeze and beginning disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union
Supporting family farmers by reviving many of Roosevelt’s New Deal–era farm programs
Creating a single-payer system of universal health care
Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment
Increasing federal funding for lower-level public education and providing free community college to all
Applying stricter enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and
Supporting the formation of a Palestinian state.

30

Peter K. 02.05.16 at 3:46 pm

31

Rakesh Bhandari 02.05.16 at 4:09 pm

Of course Cassidy is onto something (his book on the failure of markets is really very good), but speaking of vulgar Marxism, we can say that those who see their fates tied up with the stock market due to their own portfolios and/or the effect the stock market has on real estate values are tending towards Clinton while those who have no wealth (the young and those with incomes <50K) are overwhelmingly Sanders supporters, though Sanders may not do as well with the minorities who are disproportionately in what should be his base. But Clinton may well be dismayed by the results in South Carolina.
Clinton did a get a jab in yesterday. In fact she produced what she calls an artful smear of her own. The Sanders supporters have to deal with the fact that he did vote for the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which had more to do with the financial crisis than the repeal of Glass-Steagall. And a few years after that vote, Bernie Sanders was a US Senator–correct? Clinton could have been understood to have implied that Sanders may well have been rewarded by Wall Street for that vote.

32

Peter K. 02.05.16 at 4:11 pm

Cassidy:

“Sanders says that he would take all of the latter steps. But what really sets him apart isn’t his policy platform, which can be fairly described as shifting the United States toward the Scandinavian model of social democracy more rapidly than Clinton and other Democrats would; it’s his fiery rhetoric. In calling for a “political revolution,” attacking the “billionaire class,” and embracing the label “democratic socialist,” Sanders is using language that has never been heard before in a Democratic Presidential primary. (Socialists such as Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas have run for President in the past, but on the ticket of the Socialist Party.)”

And it’s kind of funny that the youth are his biggest supporters.

Older people are risk averse and become more compromised as they get older.

However Hillary supporters fail to consider the risk that moderate Democrats aren’t making progress fast enough to avoid a Piketty death spiral.

They say that they are pushing reforms as fast as possible but we don’t really believe them, do we? Especially when they are taking lots of money who don’t want real reforms.

33

Peter K. 02.05.16 at 4:18 pm

@ 30

“The Sanders supporters have to deal with the fact that he did vote for the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which had more to do with the financial crisis than the repeal of Glass-Steagall. “

We don’t really need to deal with it. That legislation was included in the big bill to keep the government running.

Sanders has criticized the Fed for the December Fed hike and for fearing phantom inflation. Hillary never mentions the Fed. Sanders is for a financial transaction tax. Hillary isn’t.

Hillary has taking a lot of money from Wall Street. All of Sanders’s money comes from small donors.

Hillary waffled Keystone and the TPP trade deal.

34

otpup 02.05.16 at 4:20 pm

@28, I think you are right and the Clintons helped redefine what passes for liberalism. Also concurring with your point, the African-American political class has always been more social democratic than the DP average (I think probably even just considering the non-Southern wing of the party).

35

Rakesh Bhandari 02.05.16 at 4:20 pm

“We don’t really need to deal with it. That legislation was included in the big bill to keep the government running.” Sanders did not justify the vote that way; nor am I sure that it can be rationalized that way. Link?

36

Rich Puchalsky 02.05.16 at 4:22 pm

The people who say that this kind of scorn is directed preferentially at young people have not taken into account that it’s also directed at old people. If you’re more left than middle of the road, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 18 or 80: you’ll be called a impractical idealist either way. The rest is just flavoring — add in “the idealism of youth” or “the idealism of past-it ideologues” to taste.

The comments above about intersectionality are a bit off, I think. In America it’s basically mostly race. That’s why the .1% can win electoral victories: the conservative coalition is based on rich people providing the money and racists providing the votes. Propane Jane is right that no one is really going to change their vote because of appeals to economic interest.

37

Marc 02.05.16 at 4:32 pm

I don’t see anything in PJ’s prescription that leads to a viable strategy. Her idea that “distancing from Obama” was the problem in 2010 and 2014 seems utterly wrong; candidates in 2014 lost even when they embraced the president wholeheartedly. Key elements of the Democratic coalition didn’t show up.

More to the point – if you think that no one is going to change their vote because of an appeal to economic interest, do you think that calling them racists will work?

38

Rich Puchalsky 02.05.16 at 4:51 pm

I’m an anarchist, so of course I don’t see any viable electoral strategy. But the system is what it is: it’s based on a centuries-old history of American racism. If you’re looking for answers to the question of why we can’t have European style social arrangements, then race is basically the answer. If you’re looking for answers to why Europe is itself unable to go against the .1%, then I agree that class / economic power is the answer there. But that has nothing to do with whether we can get e.g. single-payer health care or broader support for free college.

39

Marc 02.05.16 at 4:59 pm

Racism exists in the US, but claiming that it explains everything is poorly justified.

40

Doctor Science 02.05.16 at 5:21 pm

Marc:

Racism is the Occam’s Razor of US politics, history, and culture. It doesn’t explain everything, but it’s the default explanation, the null hypothesis. You need to *start* by figuring the problem (issue, circumstance) is due to racism, then go on to look at other possibilities.

41

Doctor Science 02.05.16 at 5:54 pm

Corey:

Of course I agree with you that we need More Data, always. South Carolina should be somewhat clarifying.

Re: boomer women supporting Hillary v millennial women supporting Bernie. I don’t think it’s that (we) older women are more complacent, at *all* — I actually think we’re less trusting of shouty male politicians, and more eager to see a woman president, goddammit. We’re the ones who grew up hearing that a woman could never be elected president. Millennial women grew up knowing female governors are completely possible and not necessarily a big deal.

We’re also, in many ways, more angry and appalled at the War on Women, the assault on reproductive rights. We *know* it’s not the way things have to be, unlike the younger generation who are maybe more used to it.

42

geo 02.05.16 at 6:41 pm

If this thread saves Alexandra Schwartz from becoming another Maureen Dowd, it will have performed a noble public service.

43

Cian 02.05.16 at 7:22 pm

The younger voter thing is doing all kinds of work, as it implies naivety and inexperience. But if you look at the demographics it’s really the under 40s (straw polling at my office would suggest a little over 40). This is a demographic thing.

I’d love to see good data on class/income. As everything I’ve seen suggests that this is really a fight between well heeled Democrats (100K and over) and the rest. Which working class Democrats really going for Bernie. If that’s true – this is a new thing, a fascinating thing and potentially a hopeful thing.

44

Cian 02.05.16 at 7:36 pm

As a resident of South Carolina I’m not convinced that Hillary has the lock that she thinks she does. I don’t think it will be easy for Bernie, but Bill pissed a lot of people off in 2008, while Bernie’s campaign is pretty much hitting the same notes as the state’s (black) progressive caucus. You can already see that through some of the (still few in number) black politicians who’ve backed him.

45

The Raven 02.05.16 at 8:08 pm

Doctor Science @40: “I actually think we’re less trusting of shouty male politicians, and more eager to see a woman president, goddammit.”

Fair enough. How will you feel, though, if you turn out to have elected (to take a fairly extreme example) a version of Margaret Thatcher? I do not believe that Clinton will suddenly turn into a liberal when elected any more than Obama did. That is a false hope. There is a conflict between the symbolic weight of the Presidency and the work of political leader, chief executive, and commander in chief. Maybe the symbolism is more important at this time, and I believe Clinton’s conservative feminism to be genuine which a major thing and may push her to the left – one cannot take issues of home and family seriously without also addressing inequality of wealth -, but letting the big money further consolidate its hold on power, taking more steps on the road to a formal class system, is going to hard to be accept, especially for younger voters, who will come to the realization that they are never going to be well off. That is the stuff of revolution.

Foreign policy and domestic immigration policy may dominate both the election and the next Presidency, making all these issues moot. Clinton supporters hope she will turn into an economic liberal, which seems unlikely, and Sanders supporters hope he will somehow be able to get sweeping reforms through a Congress that has charged off a cliff to the right, which also seems unlikely. Maybe the best possible outcome is for Hillary Clinton to become President, the Republicans to self-destruct, and Sanders go on to found a new liberal party. But that also is a hope, and matters can go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye.

46

bobbyp 02.05.16 at 8:42 pm

Cory,

I feel you should have left off at being “mildly irritated” as ms. Schwartz does not seem to have a clue….about anything.

geo @ 41: too late.

47

Consumatopia 02.05.16 at 8:47 pm

That racism is the biggest factor in explaining how we got where we are doesn’t imply that present-day racial animus is the strongest force that holding the status quo in place. Whites despise poor whites. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/opinion/sunday/who-turned-my-blue-state-red.html

Historically speaking, it might be the case that racism has a lot to do with why whites came to despise poor whites. But once that trend was established it took on a life of it’s own. Even if you waved a magic wand the eliminated all the racism, we would still hate the poor. If you waved the same wand to give us a classless society, we would still be racists. If you waved it twice to eliminate all class distinctions and anti-black racism, we’d still probably be imperialist xenophobes (note, for example, skepticism of immigration reform among working-class blacks http://prospect.org/article/how-african-americans-view-immigration-reform ). We have more than one problem, that’s just how life works.

Meanwhile, Sanders’ candidacy may well be derailed by lack of support from non-whites. But I’m deeply skeptical of the idea that this is because Sanders disrespects Obama. For one thing, it doesn’t explain why Latinos fail to support Sanders, despite Obama’s approval rating among them being much lower than it is among African Americans. For another, HRC’s contempt for Obama in 2008 was much greater than anything Sanders has demonstrated since then.

There’s a much simpler explanation. Minorities have much more to lose under a GOP regime than white Democrats do. They’ve been familiar with Clinton for a long time, so they–reasonably, perhaps correctly–think she’s a safer bet against the GOP.

48

Peter K. 02.05.16 at 9:03 pm

@ 34

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-wall-street_us_5617f634e4b0dbb8000e5a58

This is sad to see on the part of Hillary supporters.

49

Doug K 02.05.16 at 9:03 pm

“does she have no friends or relatives who are struggling with student debt, low-paying or nonexistent jobs?”
as PlutoniumKun and The Raven say, almost certainly not.. David Brooks has shown the way to riches for a pundit is by comforting the comfortable. It’s hard for the rest of us to know to what extent the bars of the gilded cage exclude reality.
The son of a friend of mine just graduated with a degree in IT and logistics management. He’s making $40k per annum. That’s about what I made in 1990 as an underpaid immigrant fresh off the boat (well, airplane really). He is the lucky one – another acquaintance, top-of-class graduate from a good MBA program four years ago, is still working retail at considerably less than that. We’re not exactly among the Morlocks here, these are people who thought they would be middle-class, but find themselves poor. I’d be radicalized too.

“Has she not read an American newspaper or magazine in the last twelve months?”
Even if she had read articles on inequality in those publications, most of them would have been denialism or apologetics. It’s easy to miss the few that are not, when your salary depends on it.

“Is the cognitive divide between the have’s and the have-not’s that stark, that extreme?”
Yep. As witness, the amazement, shock and awe at Trump’s success..
My wife had to endure the enthusiastic encomiums of a Trumpeter old lady. When asked her opinion my wife said, “. I’m an immigrant. Why would I vote for Trump ?”
and a thousand flowers of cognitive dissonance bloomed..

50

Peter K. 02.05.16 at 9:04 pm

“But in December, Gramm — after coordinating with top Clinton administration officials — added much harder-edged deregulatory language to the bill, then attached the entire package to a must-pass 11,000-page bill funding the entire federal government.”

51

Eliot Hunter 02.05.16 at 9:39 pm

“Is the cognitive divide between the have’s and the have-not’s that stark, that extreme?”

Yes!!! Absolutely!!!

52

Ronan(rf) 02.05.16 at 9:55 pm

40k for a first job straight after finishing your undergrad degree (?….22-3?) Is pretty good.

53

The Raven 02.05.16 at 10:07 pm

Ronan@50: in 1980 that would have been $14,000/yr (deflator based on US core CPI data.) A steady 2-3% inflation rate has eroded our intuition about a good salary. Many liberal economists seem to think that a modest inflation rate is a good thing; I’m not too clear on why. But it sure makes negotiating salaries harder.

54

engels 02.05.16 at 10:48 pm

The younger voter thing is doing all kinds of work, as it implies naivety and inexperience.

Perhaps it does in the context of the CT comments section; otherwise, I think not.

55

engels 02.05.16 at 10:55 pm

It’s true that Schwartz graduated from the tony Brearley School in Manhattan (annual tuition: $43,000) in 2005 and Yale (annual tuition, fees, and costs: $65,000) in 2009, whereupon, after a few detours, she landed a spot at The New Yorker, from which she reports on Paris (cost: priceless). But does she have no friends or relatives who are struggling with student debt, low-paying or nonexistent jobs?

Having known a few people like from this kind of trajectory personally, my experience is that generally they don’t.

56

engels 02.05.16 at 11:15 pm

But if she does, her parents should ask Brearley for a refund.

57

oldster 02.06.16 at 12:39 am

As a voter north of twice thirty, south of thrice twenty-five, I have to ask: why would this young woman intentionally, voluntarily, make herself sound like a retired British Colonel, ex India, writing to the Times of London to complain about the Dagos taking over the City?

What a horrible human being she makes herself sound. I hope that some of her age-mates smack her around on Twitter until she comes off it.

58

Collin Street 02.06.16 at 12:49 am

As a voter north of twice thirty, south of thrice twenty-five, I have to ask: why would this young woman intentionally, voluntarily, make herself sound like a retired British Colonel, ex India, writing to the Times of London to complain about the Dagos taking over the City?

Reaction provides a ready-made identity to those who feel they lack same.

[but it’s the self-identity of the people within the group that strengthens and stabilises the group’s identity; a group made up largely of those with a weak sense of self has an identity that is plastic and yielding, which can lead to problems.]

59

Daniel 02.06.16 at 1:50 am

I teach at a community college. My students are mostly Latino and working class. The younger students have never expressed much interest in politics before this year. This semester, I’ve actually encountered some strong interest in the election because of Sanders. Why? Because they are worried and angry about the economy. As Corey Robin points out, the economic recovery has not been there for younger, poorer Americans. Pundits and the like enjoy making snide remarks about the Millennials without taking serious the issues facing this generation. Why? It has much to do with class as it does age. The Hillary supporters I encounter are not only older but more financial secure. They like the status quo.

60

ZM 02.06.16 at 2:14 am

I don’t really have any set views on the Democratic nomination, but I just looked at Alexandra Schwartz’ Twitter, she’s a woman in her 20s and since she wrote this article she’s been getting rape threats as well as the other criticisms :-(

61

kidneystones 02.06.16 at 5:06 am

Easily the most disturbing feature of this election cycle and the Schwartz piece for me is the fact that one side (Dems) entered the cycle having first completely abandoned any possibility of offering voters a choice of candidates.

Ms. Schartz’s traumatic experiences on teh Twitter notwithstanding, her ‘article’ suggests that Sanders supporters are betraying a trust by not lining up behind their elders and the high priests and priestesses of what is and what is not allowed. Now, we can plausibly argue that all of the seventeen candidates on the Republican side are all interchangeable and that each represents a different flavor of crazy. Republicans do have a real choice and the outcome is far from settled. That’s a feature of democracy.

Rather than whine about the Sanders supporters, Schwartz and the rest of the ‘settled science’ Democrat establishment should be down on their hands and knees thanking Sanders and his gang for making the nomination process a race, not an anointing.

Schwartz and the rest of our betters may simply be too dense to grasp the difference.

62

kidneystones 02.06.16 at 5:13 am

Actually, I just realized I’ve been giving Andrea too little credit. I used to teach advanced business communication skills to MBA students. True.

Most important question in designing a presentation. Understand the audience.

Who is the most important member of your audience? Your boss.

What are the chances that young Andrea’s editors are HRC supporters? I’d say about 100.

Andrea is going to side with her generation, write her pro-Bernie piece, and get bounced out of Paris? I think not.

63

kidneystones 02.06.16 at 5:26 am

And finally (really) and to provide greater context to the challenges young Andrea faces, Jack Schafer asks why a 35-year old who earns 65k per speech and earns several six-figure salaries continues to be ‘off-limits’ to the press: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/chelsea-clinton-press-213596

64

Ronan(rf) 02.06.16 at 1:51 pm

Raven, I don’t know. 40k a year seems enough to me for a 23 year old straight out of college. Particularly considering that at the rate, with projected advancement and wage increase, they should be hitting 70-80k by 30. It seems 40k dollars is roughly equivalent to 40k Euro, so there doesn’t seem to me to be an exchange rate difference. How far your dollar goes, of course, is dependant on where you live. I once had someone claim to me that he could barely survive on his 70k a year in Brooklyn, but I assumed he had either lost his mind or had a house of children (turned out he was childless)
My ideal pay scale would be: (everyone gets)
20-23 35k a year with add ons for children or living in higher cost areas.
24-27 35-55k
28 -35 55 -70k
35+ people could fight for the scraps over 70k but no one could earn over 100k
55+ upper limit is raised by 25k
I might make an upper limit exception for genuine entrepreneurs, small and medium business owners who created their own business. But this would be dependant on expert panels judging aspects such as how much value is produced by your business , how sustainable it is, amount of profit reinvested in the business and staff rather than squandered on trivialities, etc.
At retirement a once off opportunity to exchange all your assets for a payment of 200k and a house.
These are rough, back of the envelop style calculations, but an ideal lifetime payscale would look something like it.
Think a small / medium business economy + moral familisim where everyone knows their place, which is roughly equal apart from a slightly higher status for people running business with up to 25 staff. Basically like Italy, but better.

65

The Raven 02.06.16 at 2:05 pm

ZM@60: to my considerable disgust, it appears that Berniebros are a thing and not just an excuse of Clinton supporters. Apparently there are sexual harassers which are using the Sanders campaign as an excuse to harass Hillary Clinton and her supporters. That lot may just cost Sanders the election.

Consumatopia@47: “Even if you waved a magic wand the eliminated all the racism, we would still hate the poor. If you waved the same wand to give us a classless society, we would still be racists.”

Is not racism a major unspoken justification for eliminating social insurance programs? Conversely, without racism, an enormously powerful tool of class division is lost. These things are not separable in the USA. Nor is this a new observation; why else was Richard Wright a Communist? Why else was the motivation of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign?

” Minorities have much more to lose under a GOP regime than white Democrats do. They’ve been familiar with Clinton for a long time, so they–reasonably, perhaps correctly–think she’s a safer bet against the GOP.”

That sounds so rational. Far too rational, I think, to describe actual voting motivations. In actual voting there is a great deal of identity-based intuition and just plain weirdness.

66

Consumatopia 02.06.16 at 3:14 pm

Racism is the historical explanation for why white Americans might be more likely than other Europeans to define their personal worth in terms of their ability to acquire income in the marketplace, but once that narrative is in place I don’t think it needs racism to sustain it–it works just as well as an excuse for ignoring poor whites as it does for ignoring poor non-whites.

Re: rationality, maybe the language I used made it sound kind of Vulcan-ish, but it makes sense in emotional terms too. If you’re just barely hanging on, you don’t want to take any big risks. If you want desperate people to take a chance on supporting you, you’ll have to build a lot of trust with them.

67

engels 02.06.16 at 3:32 pm

That lot may just cost Sanders the election.

Personally, I supported him because I agreed with universal health care and reining in Wall Street but since I heard Alexandra Schwartz got some abuse on Twitter I’ve decided to vote for Madam Warmonger.

68

Jeff 02.06.16 at 3:56 pm

I prick my ears up when someone throws “meritocratic” around; that word has a longer and more sordid history than many people (particularly Americans) are aware of.

First coined as part of the punch line of a French farce, the word has had several different, um, interpretations over its life. Look back on its use in politics and sociology and it’s almost always been cited as a virtue by those who already hold significant economic, cultural, and/or political advantage. That was relatively unintentional when I was young, in the 1960s and 1970s; by the 1980s, it had been granted exalted-slogan status by the (generally extremely advantaged) New Libertarians on the American right. More recently, studies of societies and groups that claim to be “meritocratic” have argued persuasively that a “meritocracy” is one of the more efficient means yet found for preserving existing power structures. The company masquerading as a country in which I presently live has a Government and Inner Party that pride themselves on being “meritocratic”; it’s simply amazing how many of those with the most “merit” “just happen” to be related by blood or long-time business dealings to the ruling dynasty. But we’re not nearly as much of a democracy as we like to tell ourselves; even though we hold elections every five years or so, 70% is considered a worryingly-low margin of victory for the Party that has ruled the country since before “independence”.

Or, to use a phrase coined by an Italian politician of the 1920s and later for his new political movement, we are “the fusion of State and corporate power”. With both being run by the Right People, of course.

Meritocracy has become a dog-whistle word for certain elements sympathetic to that political philosophy; it’s about time it become a red flag to those of us who think that the people should be trusted to run their own affairs.

69

Tircuit 02.06.16 at 4:04 pm

The Raven@65

Such threats are reprehensible. And I recommend Glenn Greewald’s take on whether such abuse is really uniquely done by (real or fake) Sanders supporters.

https://theintercept.com/2016/01/31/the-bernie-bros-narrative-a-cheap-false-campaign-tactic-masquerading-as-journalism-and-social-activism/

70

engels 02.06.16 at 4:17 pm

A side-issue but I always wonder why discussion of harassment of women journalists online is exclusively focused on “rape threats”. Is it
1 they don’t get threats of non-sexual violence (including death threats)
2 threats of sexual violence are considered to be more serious or morally worse
3 something else

71

Rakesh Bhandari 02.06.16 at 5:06 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/hillary-is-the-candidate_b_9168938.html
Important criticism of Hillary Clinton on foreign policy; probably should mention that Sanders also supported the Kosovo War, voted for the Iraq Liberation Act, and supported Israeli policy in Gaza; and did not oppose the overthrow of Qaddafi (perhaps he too was convinced by Susan Rice and Samantha Powers that Qaddafi would have committed genocide). I am not sure Jeffrey Sachs has a favored candidate in the Democratic Primary, though Sanders does not support NATO expansion. I do not think this difference has been been really discussed in the debates yet–is this true? So far, the Democratic Primary is coming down to differences in health care reform and the regulation of Wall Street.

72

Ze K 02.06.16 at 5:10 pm

Re: Glenn Greewald’s take.

What a circus. I would really like to watch an American election campaign as a pantomime act, performed at a hippodrome. On pay-per-view; I’d buy. Personally I’d prefer it combined with a chariot-racing, but I suppose halftime super bowl is more realistic.

73

oldster 02.06.16 at 5:19 pm

engels @ 69–

If your question is at all serious, then
4) It shows that what drives the attacks is not the content of what the speakers are saying, or their political affiliation, but primarily sexism and misogyny.

And that is worth noting.

74

js. 02.06.16 at 5:24 pm

It’s also not true that the discussion is focused “exclusively” on rape threats. If you read Anita Sarkeesian etc. on this, e.g., there are plenty of death threats. It’s just that the violence—including of the death threat variety—is (usually) sexualized, on which see oldster directly above.

75

engels 02.06.16 at 5:33 pm

The fact that _the discussion_ is solely about rape threats shows _the attacks_ are due to misogyny. That’s ridiculous (of course it was a serious question)

76

drveen 02.06.16 at 5:35 pm

oldster @57 *applause*

Longer I watch these cycles, the more I am convinced that the positionings of people – evidenced in their punditry, etc. – are correlated to their distance from the Great Depression. I believe the Depression struck so much wider than anything since (bar WWII which is a different matter), and taught far more people humility. That humility and respect for the struggles of others fades as living experience and stories from friends and relatives literally dies.

77

Fuzzy Dunlop 02.06.16 at 5:38 pm

re Corey @3, I, too, would really like to see an age breakdown of non-white support for Clinton & Sanders. The story about people of color not supporting Sanders has been bugging me for a long time. This and many (though not all) uses of “Berniebro” quietly removes women and people of color from the discussion, and practically amounts to calling him an “outside agitator.”

78

engels 02.06.16 at 5:46 pm

It’s also not true that the discussion is focused “exclusively

Okay, “almost exclusively” or “primarily”

79

Bruce Wilder 02.06.16 at 5:54 pm

Racism as a vector of political dynamics has evolved quite far from the Jim Crow days when “white trash” was offered green stamps and the chance to feel superior to someone in exchange for continued support of the racial caste system that propped up plantation agriculture despite all the ways it impoverished the whole society.

Thanks to the historic success of the civil rights movement, parts of the modern dynamics include the unique legitimacy of race as the basis for an analysis of justice and the casual use of identity politics even (especially) in the “conservative” Party.

Race is an almost automatic part of any call for economic or political reform. Authoritarian police practices? Show how they differentially affect people of color. Mortgage fraud? Show how it differentially hurts racial minorities. We do that because, of course, we can always find the differences — in a class-ridden society where racial minorities are mostly poor, their poverty guarantees it — but also because the racial analysis at least has a prayer of being legally or politically effective in achieving some establishment acknowledgement and possibly amelioration.

This pattern of race as a symbol in the politics of identity and justice is deeply corrosive of American society’s capacity to generate economic and political reform. It is almost a knee jerk reaction on the left to deride the Republicans as the party of racists and racist appeals. Some think that racial demographics are partisan political destiny. That Party has among its leading prospective candidates, two Hispanics and, until recently, a famous surgeon. Meanwhile, on privileged college campuses, someone found out that Woodrow Wilson was a racist.

Though the ability to focus attention and leverage legal remedies continues to attach to racial formulations of injustice, that organizing template has been thoroughly co-opted and debased. The Congressional Black Caucus has supported reductions in inheritance taxes. Racial Identity of politicians does not attach to socio-economic representation. The Clinton campaign rests on the eroding edge of the realization that the Democratic establishment is no longer committed to representing the People and the marginalized against Big Business and the socially and economically dominant.

80

engels 02.06.16 at 6:39 pm

It shows that what drives the attacks is not the content of what the speakers are saying, or their political affiliation, but primarily sexism and misogyny.

Threatening rape shows that whereas threatening non-sexual forms of violence doesn’t? (I’m not saying this is necessarilywrong)

81

engels 02.06.16 at 7:01 pm

Back on topic, Gloria Steinem goes one better: “Young women support Bernie because they want attention from boys

82

The Raven 02.06.16 at 7:11 pm

Unfortunately, for some people, the Sanders campaign is an excuse to shout their misogyny, like drunk frat boys. They are uninvited bad publicity for Sanders. I’m sure Sanders and his campaign do not support them and wish they would go away, but, regardless, they reflect on Sanders.

If discussions of class ignore discussions of racism and misogyny — and at times they do — then people of color and women are going to eye anyone who talks about class issues with suspicion, until they prove their bona fides. If we mean to break the hold of supremacism in all its forms, racism and misogyny have to be included in the discussion. Sanders is aware of this, but he’s still going to have to make his case, and his first national campaign may not be enough time to do it. I am having trouble believing I have to explain that sex, race, and class issues are intertwined in the USA. It is hardly a new insight, or a subtle one. Yet here I am writing this.

83

Bruce Wilder 02.06.16 at 7:18 pm

Does Clinton have to make a case?

84

LFC 02.06.16 at 7:38 pm

Rakesh B @70
Just read the opening graph of that Jeffrey Sachs piece. What’s a little surprising to me is not the content but *who* is writing it: I would not have thought Jeffrey Sachs would do this tone (not that there’s anything nec. wrong w the tone, I just don’t associate Sachs w these anti-mil/ind-complex pieces). He usually writes about development (was a big proponent and initiator w others of the Millennium Dev. Goals) and global warming etc. Maybe he ties the two issues together in the course of the piece… wdn’t be hard to do (i.e. more money spent on mil and related matters means, generally speaking, less available to be spent on development).

85

Rakesh Bhandari 02.06.16 at 7:42 pm

Probably it’s too obvious to say that young people support Sanders, first and foremost, because he is promising free college and relief from college debt. Can he collect the taxes to do this? How cheaply would colleges have to be run if students no longer paid any tuition? What would labor conditions for contingent faculty and staff have to be like for colleges to be run that cheap?

86

The Raven 02.06.16 at 7:42 pm

It’s an easier case for her, since she is a woman with a history of feminism in her politics. I think, really, that the feminism is where her strongest political loyalties lie. I think toughness — and she really is tough, in a less sexist world, I think she might have become career military — her sex, and her feminism are likely to win the election for her.

Also, much voting behavior is not rational and this is never moreso in a propaganda-saturated environment like we live in.

87

Rakesh Bhandari 02.06.16 at 7:46 pm

Sachs has been this vocal a critic for some time. He was incensed about the occupation of Iraq and the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan. He counts every dollar spent here and life lost here against the lives that could be saved from his Millennium Village Projects. His book The Age of Sustainable Development is astounding in the way that it combines the natural sciences with economics and political philosophy. I have been teaching chapters of it. Sachs has critics of course. But not just for his advisory roles in the past. Some argue that he stands today in the way of his development initiatives being tested with RCT’s; others (Krugman and DeLong) found incomprehensible his criticism of deficit spending after the 2008 crisis.

88

The Raven 02.06.16 at 7:56 pm

Rakesh Bhandari@83: back in the 1960s, they actually did it in California, so it was possible. Many academics think that the US public higher ed system, like the US health care system, has enormously bloated expenses. But then, in the USA, there are always attempts to make the not-very-rich pay for their own charity and, as a certain squirrel was wont to say, “That trick never works.”

89

LFC 02.06.16 at 8:28 pm

Rakesh B
he is promising free college

What I’ve heard Sanders say is free tuition at public universities, which makes sense inasmuch as govt has more direct control over them; however there are of course a large number of private institutions (by no means are they restricted to just the well-known names, as I assume you know), so Sanders is not “promising free college”. Still, even restricting it to public univs sounds more aspirational than anything else; what he shd prob say is something like “work to contain and reverse tuition increases w an eventual goal of free… etc” but that sounds insufficiently inspiring, I guess.

Re Sachs: interesting, thks

90

Dr. Hilarius 02.06.16 at 8:43 pm

The idea that young voters would support Sanders in order to get free tuition sounds much too like the usual Republican line that voters (with hints of these voters being black) vote for Democrats to get “free stuff.” My social circle is mostly over 45 but I do know some young Sanders supporters. Their reasons for supporting Sanders overlap with my own; inequality, the environment, wars past and future and social justice in general.

I’ve been surprised that Clinton is running such a tone-deaf campaign. I haven’t seen any effort to triangulate Sanders, a la Bill C., by adopting some of his positions. Her campaign reeks of DC insider entitlement. Bringing up her close relationship with Henry Kissinger in the last debate was simply bizarre and is further evidence of her being out-of-touch with a lot of Democrats of all ages.

91

novakant 02.06.16 at 9:17 pm

Speaking of tone deaf:

I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better—better than anybody had run it in a long time.

KISSINGER ?! As in the war criminal who f@cked up half the world?

http://www.thenation.com/article/henry-kissinger-hillary-clintons-tutor-in-war-and-peace/

92

novakant 02.06.16 at 9:19 pm

Sorry Dr. Hilarious, I only read until “tone deaf” :)

93

Dr. Hilarius 02.06.16 at 9:23 pm

novakant @ 91: no need for apology, it can’t be said too often.

94

Bruce Wilder 02.06.16 at 9:31 pm

When I Was a Prisoner in Iran, I Came to Fear the Sound of Hillary Clinton’s Voice
Why did she prod Tehran when four Americans’ freedom was still on the line?

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/iran-hillary-clinton-hostages

I have never been a fan of John Kerry, but the contrast is remarkable.

95

Ebenezer Scrooge 02.06.16 at 9:57 pm

As far as Sanders’ lack of black support goes, you have to remember that Obama had surprisingly little black support until the pallid people of Iowa legitimized his campaign. It might also be worth remembering the name of the last Democrat who ran a campaign focused on economic inequality–a fellow named Jackson, and I’m not thinking of Andrew.

96

engels 02.06.16 at 9:58 pm

Because online abuse is real and often very damaging, it can be used to allow those who are actually perpetrating violence to claim the mantle of victimhood. In this upended moral cosmology, calling someone names online is a significantly greater sin than starting a war, and only slightly less egregious than holding your wine glass by the bowl. We saw something very similar last year, during the debate over British military intervention in Syria. As the British state whipped itself into another destructive war, the pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum was met with widespread censure for “bullying” MPs who supported the bombing, employing such insidious tactics as encouraging voters to make use of their right to petition their representatives, or correctly identifying people who were pushing for war as being warmongers. To kill people with airborne explosives is fine, as long as you do so politely; trying to prevent this with undefined uncouthness is unacceptable. The morality of war is no longer an issue, not while there are bullies or Bernie Bros in our midst.

97

bob mcmanus 02.06.16 at 10:42 pm

96: Thanks for this. I like Sam Kriss, and recommend his blog.

98

geo 02.06.16 at 10:58 pm

The Raven @82: Unfortunately, for some people, the Sanders campaign is an excuse to shout their misogyny, like drunk frat boys. They are uninvited bad publicity for Sanders. I’m sure Sanders and his campaign do not support them and wish they would go away, but, regardless, they reflect on Sanders.

Glenn Greenwald, from the post cited @69: Have pro-Clinton journalists and pundits been subjected to some vile, abusive, and misogynistic rhetoric from random, anonymous internet supporters of Sanders who are angry over their Clinton support? Of course they have. Does that reflect in any way on the Sanders campaign or which candidate should win the Democratic primary? Of course it does not. The reason pro-Clinton journalists are targeted with vile abuse online has nothing specifically to do with the Sanders campaign or its supporters. It has everything to do with the internet. There are literally no polarizing views one can advocate online — including criticizing Democratic Party leaders such as Clinton or Barack Obama — that will not subject one to a torrent of intense anger and vile abuse. It’s not remotely unique to supporting Hillary Clinton.

99

Raven Onthill 02.06.16 at 11:06 pm

Geo, it doesn’t matter that this is unjust, it matters what people see in it.

100

Raven Onthill 02.06.16 at 11:12 pm

Women’s. Lives. Matter.

Please, folks — guys — stop making my point for me.

101

bob mcmanus 02.06.16 at 11:22 pm

…it matters what people see in it.

It is obviously a tactic anymore to advance unrelated agendas, and unfortunately is approaching its own self-discrediting. When the suffering of women is used cynically to put a mass murderer and banker’s tool into the White House, mostly to demonstrate some factional power of the privileged, this hurts those women who actually need empathy and support.

102

Ronan(rf) 02.06.16 at 11:25 pm

I agree with Bob, I think. For my part,I don’t know why the expectation is to take every claim of online abuse by journalists and talking heads at face value. I’ve seen enough examples of their obfuscation, misframing of debates, unverified accusations and bald faced lying , and don’t think the left are any more trustworthy than the right, to err on the side of scepticism without evidence.

103

LFC 02.06.16 at 11:29 pm

HRC: I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better—better than anybody had run it in a long time.

I didn’t hear/watch the last debate so didn’t know about this line. Though I agree invoking Kissinger is odd in a Dem primary debate, a lot of voters prob no longer have strong associations w his name (though some obvs do): history is not a strong point for many, and Kissinger’s time in office is receding into history: he is 90 or in his early 90s, iianm, and left office w Gerald Ford at the end of ’76. It’s also a little weird to cite HK on how one *ran* State, b.c, as is well known, HK loathed ‘the bureaucracy’ and while he might have had ok relations w particular career for. service officers, in general his position toward the State Dept was adversarial in many ways, certainly when he was natl sec adviser and even after he became Sec of State. But that’s a side pt. This is not a line one shd use in a Dem primary debate; if must use it, save for general election, and prob not esp. advisable even then.

Re Glenn Greenwald: Mr. Greenwald apparently has lived something of a charmed life inasmuch as he appears unaware that there are numerous corners of the internet that are read by very, very few people. It is incorrect to imply, as Greenwald does, that criticism of this, that or the other candidate will invariably be met by vile abuse. The criticism will only be met by abuse if the criticism is voiced in a part of the internet that is read by some significant number of people. If the criticism is voiced in a part of the internet that is not read by many people — and there are quite a few such parts of the internet — then no one will give a ******* **** and no abuse will be forthcoming. Greenwald is correct, however, that the abuse shd not be imputed to the Sanders campaign, b/c there are ******** who will engage in abuse on any side.

104

engels 02.06.16 at 11:33 pm

Women’s. Lives. Matter.

Does this include Iraqi women and welfare recipients, to name just a few million?

105

engels 02.06.16 at 11:34 pm

Women’s. Lives. Matter.

Does this include Iraqi women and welfare recipients, to name just a few million?

106

Collin Street 02.06.16 at 11:46 pm

For my part,I don’t know why the expectation is to take every claim of online abuse by journalists and talking heads at face value.

It’s a special case of the general rule that we presume that people are telling the truth unless we have at least some evidence that they may not be. Because the vast majority of statements are true in detail and implication, and by presuming otherwise without good reason we’d be leading ourselves into error.

This is not something that I would have thought an adult of sound mind would need to have pointed out to them.

[if by “special case” you mean, “an example of the case where none of the specific details affect the general rule”. Or, in other words, A not-special case. A case.]

107

Ronan(rf) 02.06.16 at 11:52 pm

Yes, but if you read the rest of my comment you will see my reasons.

108

engels 02.06.16 at 11:53 pm

It’s a special case of the general rule that we presume that people are telling the truth unless we have at least some evidence that they may not be. Because the vast majority of statements are true in detail and implication, and by presuming otherwise without good reason we’d be leading ourselves into error. This is not something that I would have thought an adult of sound mind would need to have pointed out to them..

“Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”
Benjamin Franklin

109

Ronan(rf) 02.06.16 at 11:53 pm

I look forward to the inevitable diagnose of a developmental disorder, though

110

LFC 02.07.16 at 12:26 am

not something that I would have thought an adult of sound mind would need to have pointed out to them.

You (C. Street) seem to have difficulty writing a comment without implying that someone is or may be cognitively impaired, psychologically v. abnormal, emotionally v. disturbed, or mentally unsound. It gets tiresome. There are such people but I’m pretty sure Ronan — though I disagree with him from time to time and like every commenter here, including me, he can be annoying on occasion — is not one of them.

111

Ronan(rf) 02.07.16 at 12:33 am

I’ll take annoying. ; )

112

kidneystones 02.07.16 at 12:44 am

@ 30 Thanks for referring us to Cassidy. Here’s his latest advice for Clinton:

“Although it might sound a bit counter-intuitive, Clinton needs to return to the strategy that allowed her to eke out a narrow victory in Iowa. It will serve her well as the primary moves on to larger, more-populous states with more nonwhite voters. This strategy, rather than trying to meet Sanders head-on, focuses on acknowledging his good intentions and questioning whether he can deliver on his promises. It involves having Clinton emphasize her own program, which is carefully targeted at middle-class voters, and her experience in foreign policy, as well as her support for civil rights. Above all, it means appealing to Democratic voters—moderates and liberals—who are terrified of the prospect of the Republicans retaking the White House and controlling all three branches of government.”

Fear, fear, and fear – followed by much more fear – without even an iota of hope. I’d love to see Sanders win the nomination and offer Americans a real choice.

113

Lee A. Arnold 02.07.16 at 2:15 am

Latest Quinnipiac poll for the Dem nomination says Hillary 44, Sanders 42. A two-point spread. This could be an outlier, but that is quite a shift.

114

afeman 02.07.16 at 3:20 am

It also showed Sanders doing better than Clinton against individual Republicans, which gives the argument from electability a new and interesting cast.

115

ZedBlank 02.07.16 at 3:53 am

@ Raven 86 –

The case for Hillary as feminist mover & shaker is significantly weakened, if not outright destroyed, by her attacks on poor, single mothers and their children.

116

hix 02.07.16 at 4:21 am

Great, sounds like Sanders has the best chances to become president and some people are getting really desperate to avoid that. Only downside is, there is no chance any American under 25 will manage to use the term socialism correct now.

117

Rakesh Bhandari 02.07.16 at 5:17 am

118

notsneaky 02.07.16 at 7:17 am

“Employment rates for 25-54 year-old’s have yet to recover to their pre-recession levels.”

Hmm, the link you give as “support” for that claim doesn’t actually support anything. So let’s look at bls. Technically, you’re right. Unemployment rate in Dec 2007 for this age group was 4%. Today it’s… 4.2%

Ahe age group 25-54 is the largest group of workers out of all the categorizations. Which means that if you have the unemployment rate come down from close to 10% down to 5%, then a pretty significant chunk HAS TO come out of that 24-54, largest, group.

Of course it’s possible you were referring to the employment-population ratio. Then you should’ve been explicit since otherwise it’s a bit misleading.

119

Ze K 02.07.16 at 8:30 am

What? Someone out there presumes that journos don’t lie? Bwahahaha…. This explains a lot…

120

Procopius 02.07.16 at 9:58 am

Is the cognitive divide between the have’s and the have-not’s that stark, that extreme?

Yes.

121

Lee A. Arnold 02.07.16 at 2:29 pm

Hix #116: “…sounds like Sanders has the best chances to become president…”

I don’t think it sounds like that, at all!

I think Sanders has a good chance in the general against Trump or Cruz (for personality reasons) — but NOT against a more “normal” GOP candidate.

Individual Dem vs. Repub matchup polls at this early date are meaningless.

Kasich would SLAUGHTER Sanders for example. Kasich would be the strongest contender against Hillary.

Consider: Kasich is a GOP moderate who more or less SUPPORTS Obamacare. Kasich currently has 70% approval in his 2nd-term as governor of Ohio, a critical swing state. 18 years in the House, chairman of the Budget Committee, strong budget hawk.

It should be easy for Kasich to put somebody in the VP slot who helps take Florida, the other critical swing state.

Kasich’s televised debate performance is still a shaky mess, but it’s been getting better.

Months ago, after Scott Walker tanked, I wrote in DeLong’s comments that I had a gut sense that Kasich would get the GOP nomination. Why? Because usually, all the crap dies down, and the GOP goes with an electable candidate.

Kasich understands US politics better than anyone on the GOP stage. He looks set to come out of New Hampshire in 3rd place. This will start to improve his polls elsewhere.

The mainstream media, or what remains of it, is already speaking favorably of Kasich. Part of this favor is perhaps prompted by the GOP Establishment, which seeks a knight to champion against the Trumpster and the Cruzer.

If Kasich gets the GOP nomination, I looks to me like a very, very difficult November for Clinton and a disaster for Bernie.

122

engels 02.07.16 at 2:35 pm

123

novakant 02.07.16 at 4:01 pm

Kasich is fervently anti-abortion – no dice.

124

Fuzzy Dunlop 02.07.16 at 4:29 pm

Lee @121, But are Republican primary voters really going to vote for somebody who doesn’t want to repeal the ACA? Maybe in New Hampshire some will, but in more conservative states…? Also, your analysis seems to assume that the election would be decided by swing voters, whereas base support is also a big issue. It doesn’t sound like hard-core conservatives would turn out for Kasich if he actually runs as a moderate.

125

The Raven 02.07.16 at 4:29 pm

Engels@122: (corrected link)

I think short summary of that article might be that Hillary Clinton is perceived by young women as a conservative and, in fact, they are correct. They also don’t appreciate her genuine achievements and strengths, which is a shame. I am not comfortable with a Clinton candidacy, but I am not at all certain that she is not the best choice.

126

Rakesh Bhandari 02.07.16 at 4:46 pm

127

Fuzzy Dunlop 02.07.16 at 5:02 pm

@126 It’s good he said that, but I wouldn’t call him a mensch, it was both the right thing to do and the self-interested thing for him to do.

128

bianca steele 02.07.16 at 5:14 pm

I have realized that a big problem I have with Sanders is that he waited so late to enter the contest. Is the idea that he’s so close to Biden that he, his team, and his supporters would have been okay with Biden? They waited until there was no one else left except unserious, “anyone but Hillary” candidates, and then they threw their own hat in as one more. But either he’s so much better than Clinton that he has to be better than Biden too, or he’s basically the same as Biden. So I suppose the best face I can put on my reluctance to get on the bandwagon is that I’m cynical enough about not to see a potential Biden presidency as all that great, yet not cynical enough to see Biden as so much worse than Sanders in practice that this makes sense to me. But Sanders waited until the argument could be made that Hillary had ostensibly been “anointed” and anyone who supported her was unreasonable.

And Corey, as a white man, complaining that Schwarz wants to dance with a black man instead of someone more like himself, is . . . peculiar.

129

Lee A. Arnold 02.07.16 at 5:33 pm

Novakant #123: “Kasich is fervently anti-abortion – no dice.”

No problem for him in the primaries, and voters have tended to overlook it in the general election. Examples: Reagan, Bush.

130

Lee A. Arnold 02.07.16 at 5:39 pm

Fuzzy Dunlop #124: “…ACA? …swing voters, whereas base support… hard-core conservatives…”

On Obamcare? This election may be a hinge in the public perception. In the debate last night, vows to appeal Obamacare got only a smattering of light applause, and you could see the candidates take notice of this, in their reaction shots. As you note, it also depends on the politics in each state. But GOP governors across the nation are trying to figure out how to get, or keep, the additional Medicaid funds without mentioning the word “Obamacare”. Kasich’s replies to questions over the last 2 years, on whether he supports it, have been even more interesting. He cites his Christian faith in wanting to make sure that everybody is covered, makes it non-negotiable. That could be the key to slightly more acceptance, help to salve the GOP establishment’s headache.

On swing voters vs base support? I start from the assumption of an even 45-45 party split (It’s pretty close to that; maybe the Dems have a 1-2 point spread in voter self-ID). Most base voters (in national elections) usually stay with their party. But the 10% true swing vote (maybe it’s only 6-8%) doesn’t think Hillary is personally honest. They won’t vote for Trump, he’s nuts, and they won’t vote for Cruz, personally unlikable. Kasich may get a lot of the swing vote.

On hard-core conservatives? They will vote for the Republican candidate, no matter who it is. They always do! Kasich know the ropes in DC, is a budget hawk, strong on defense, etc.

131

geo 02.07.16 at 5:50 pm

Lee @121: the other critical swing state

Sixteen years after the 2000 election showed yet again the utter irrationality of the Electoral College system, we’re still talking about swing states. If a fraction of the energy devoted to blaming Nader had been directed instead at democratizing our preposterous electoral arrangements, there might be some chance of changing them by the end of the 21st century. Now it looks like we’re stuck with them at least until the 25th.

132

Rakesh Bhandari 02.07.16 at 5:57 pm

Branko Milanovic on his twitter from his forthcoming book:
“There is, I think, little doubt that the obsolescent and restrictive nature of the American political system and its slant in favor of the rich would have come under intense scrutiny had the United States only recently become a democracy. But since it has a venerable tradition of two centuries of (somewhat limited) democracy that has shown itself capable of solving problems peacefully (with the exception of the Civil War), the system is left unchanged. In reality, the system has led to a party duopoly, an economic and social establishment that is at the same time both Republican and Democratic (as reflected in many companies that support candidates from both political parties), and to brazen attempts to manipulate electoral outcomes. The recent quasi-dynastic look of American politics, which the country shares with India, Greece, the Philippines, and Pakistan, but which is unknown in other rich democracies, is a symptom of a deeply rooted problem with the American political system.”

133

Corey Robin 02.07.16 at 6:12 pm

Bianca Steele: “And Corey, as a white man, complaining that Schwarz wants to dance with a black man instead of someone more like himself, is . . . peculiar.”

Nowhere does Schwarz say she wants to dance with a black man, so the notion that I’m complaining that she wants to dance with a black man rather than with a white man (which I’m supposed to be upset about because I’m a white man) is incorrect. And, frankly, offensive.

My claim is that Schwarz is expressing a racial fetish, as evidenced by the very specific words and phrases she uses to describe a black man. The truth of my claim doesn’t depend on my race or gender. If you would like to challenge that claim, fine. But, please, first get the claim right, and second, provide some kind of evidence or reason as to why it’s wrong.

(In order to make this conversation more productive, I’ve revised this comment from before.)

134

geo 02.07.16 at 6:13 pm

@132: Milanovic is quite right, except for that very odd phrase about America having “shown itself capable of solving problems peacefully.” What on earth can he mean by that? As the whole of left-wing historiography shows (see Steve Fraser’s recent The Age of Acquiescence for another brilliant demonstration), for two centuries America has NOT solved its problems, but rather has suppressed them violently or evaded them through the manipulation of consent.

135

Rakesh Bhandari 02.07.16 at 6:16 pm

So Trump is saying drug addiction and job loss are the result of Mexicans, trade deficits are the consequence of Chinese currency manipulation, and the safety of the country comes from squeamish humanitarian opposition to the enthusiastic use of torture and exclusion acts in immigration policy. Trump thinks he is Captain America. And the polls are predicting a double digit win in NH and a win in SC for Cap’n America.

136

Rakesh Bhandari 02.07.16 at 6:54 pm

sorry, another typo
Trump claims that the safety of the country is ENDANGERED BY squeamish humanitarian opposition to the enthusiastic use of torture and exclusion acts in immigration policy.
____
I would add that Trump’s opposition to regime change in Iraq, Syria and Libya would be interesting were it not premised on his complete lack of sympathy for democratic opposition to tyrants who were were willing to purchase luxury real estate from him.

137

Bruce Wilder 02.07.16 at 7:02 pm

I am not as confident as Lee is that the General Electorate constitutes an independent variable in relation to the outcome, aka who is elected in November. Elaborate analysis of the day-by-day minutiae of campaigns can serve as an hypnotic trance, so focusing attention that we fail to consider and reflect on the obvious.

In 2008, the nomination fight got Dems het up, but disappointed Clinton supporters reconciled themselves to Obama pretty smoothly. McCain was a placeholder candidate, who self-destructed on schedule. The vote was barely more than a ritual confirmation of what the setup dictated. In 2012, Romney was a gift to Obama — Obama’s campaign had an embarrassment of riches in the Mormon vulture capitalist tax dodger who had been mean to his dog. Obama’s campaign managed a narrow but certain margin of victory and avoided straying into populist policy promises.

As long as Clinton is the Democratic nominee, the Republican establishment does not care much who the Republican candidate is. Clinton is enough of a conservative on policy and a clumsy enough politician that with Republican control of the House, it’s all good from their perspective. Sanders is not worrisome as an individual, because he is an individual — never really been a team player politician and does not have anything like the skills necessary to be an especially effective President, but he has introduced again the idea of a mass-movement politics from the left. That is potentially a problem.

As long as we still mostly do go thru the motions of letting people vote and counting the ballots after, there is some remote chance that people escape the propaganda corral setup by the corporate mass media and the various voter suppression and counting subversion efforts and, instead of choosing from the menu they are handed, actually enable a politician to become a spokesman for the common interest and for honest reason. That’s not Sanders I guess, but the possibility comes in his wake and others may follow, and not just in the Presidential lottery.

One thing Trump has revealed on the Republican side is how ready a large number of base Republican voters are to escape the propaganda corral. These are not politically astute people — they are as ready as ever for crazy demagogic nonsense, but it is remarkable and significant, I think, that Bush cannot fool them, that the 2010 crop of dictatorial daddy governors the Republicans put in (in large part because Obama abandoned and betrayed OFA and Democratic party building generally) are looking so frayed and unappealing. Trump has shown the love-hate they have with their media step-mom, Fox News.

Lee is probably right; Kasich may be the go-to guy if the establishment fears Clinton is not going to be the Democrat — Kasich is the least damaged of those authoritarian governors. (Still pretty evil, all in all; the establishment likes him for reasons that are not good for the rest of us.) And, someone like Kasich will emerge if Clinton ceases to be viable. (Even if she gets the nomination, it is not clear to me that the Democratic Party holds together.)

I would expect Sanders to lose the General election. The process is too corrupted to process thru a candidate of popular support and even if it were not, I am not sure a voting majority can be motivated to come to the polls and vote for decency and sense. But, maybe the loss of innocent hope that his failure entails is a good thing. Our votes stopped mattering altogether in 2000 and the American people became ugly on 9 / 11. It is time people faced up to the truth of American politics in the time of plutocracy and imperial decline and the consequences of lies and corruption. Maybe, that’s just another step, like the phases of grief, thru which we must progress on our way to full acceptance of an authoritarian state run for a narrow slice of globalised oligarchs and their support staff.

138

Ronan(rf) 02.07.16 at 7:02 pm

In fairness to Schwartz, she also used terms like ‘academically honed intelligence’ , ‘nuance’ and ‘honesty’ to describe Obama.

139

novakant 02.07.16 at 7:04 pm

Lee, Kasich put a gag order on rape councillors that forbids them to even mention abortion as an option. He also did everything he could to shut down abortion clinics.

We’re Bush or Reagan that extreme? Anyway, I don’t see many women voting for him in these times, so he’s not a serious contender

140

Rich Puchalsky 02.07.16 at 7:23 pm

BW: “But, maybe the loss of innocent hope that his failure entails is a good thing.”

I was reading along with this comment and mostly agreeing but then I got to this sentence. No amount of loss of innocent hope is ever going to make the electorate actually lose hope — look at how many times it has happened with how many candidates. And no matter how tempting it is to make “this bad thing could lead to a good outcome” statements, bad things do not generally lead to good outcomes. Loss of hope just means that people are more reconciled to plutocracy and less willing to believe that anything else is possible.

As ever, I think that the basic problem is a problem of theory. It’s not a matter of hope or loss of hope or structural barriers of various kinds, although of course all of those exist. The basic problem is that the large group of people who vaguely think of themselves as being on the left do not really have any wide agreement on what the left is or what the goals of the left should be. This is one of reasons why it’s so easy to define the left as “those people in opposition to Republican horrors”, a prescription for lesser evilism.

141

LFC 02.07.16 at 8:40 pm

geo @134

@132: Milanovic is quite right, except for that very odd phrase about America haveing “shown itself capable of solving problems peacefully.” What on earth can he mean by that? As the whole of left-wing historiography shows (see Steve Fraser’s recent The Age of Acquiescence for another brilliant demonstration), for two centuries America has NOT solved its problems, but rather has suppressed them violently or evaded them through the manipulation of consent.

It was fairly clear to me from the context of the quotation that Milanovic was referring to the U.S.’s having fought one extremely bloody civil war but otherwise not having resorted to armed civil conflict on a periodic basis. While Milanovic’s phrase “solving problems” is too strong, would you, geo, deny that, for example, actual progress was made, albeit late in the day, in dismantling Jim Crow (i.e. de jure segregation)? And that that did not require a full-scale civil war, though it did require a (largely non-violent) civil rights movement that was often met by violent opposition?

The Chomskyesque claim that the U.S. for two centuries has either “evaded” its problems or “suppressed them by the manipulation of consent” ignores the gains made by popular movements in the areas of e.g. civil rights, labor, and environment. The gains have been partial and in some cases fragile, and they have not led to the kind of society one wd ideally like, to understate things. Nonetheless, to assert that U.S. history from the founding to the present has been nothing but the ‘manipulation of consent’ is wrong, imho.

142

Bruce Wilder 02.07.16 at 8:59 pm

RP @ 140

Thanks for a close reading — if there was adequate punctuation to indicate a tone of accentuated irony, I would have applied it to “loss of innocent hope”.

After I wrote my comment, I regretted that I did not draw a tighter connection to the OP. I thought it sounded too much like I was engaging with Lee in his hobby of scenario speculation, when what I was really thinking about was how the Sanders – Clinton competition had drawn back the curtain on the worldviews and motivations of so many faux left pundits, from Krugman down to our Miss Schwartz.

Does the left need a theory? Maybe. My first impulse is to say, how much of a theory does one need? — but maybe economic theory comes too easily to me, and I do not see how easily others stumble. It seems to me that left v right reflects an ambivalence about hierarchical authority: the right will defend established authority and vested interest and the job of the left is to challenge the same with criticism, reform and revolution. The right will speak for private property, for the divine right of kings and for unquestionable authority in a world already as just as it will get; the left must champion the commons, a public good, accountability and humane standards of welfare.

The first job of the left is to speak truth to power. That requires conviction. Theory, too, but no one seeks out a theory until they have some commitment deeper than fashion consciousness. Until then, theories are bargain basement commodities, useful as interchangeable rationalizations for acquiescence.

143

bianca steele 02.07.16 at 9:45 pm

Corey @ 133

There’s a term, I understand, that the anti-feminists use (I try not to go to those sites), that indicates the idea that white liberals are being cuckolded by black men. If I were you, I wouldn’t be playing into that idea.

What I got from your post was disgust at the idea of Schwarz admiring a black man dancing, and disgust at Schwarz calling a white elder stiff and boring. She was talking about youth, not race. No one denies, I’d think, that a lot of people found Obama’s relative youth appealing, as with Bill Clinton 14 years earlier. Your idea that dancing is something associated with blackness says more about you than about Schwarz.

I can’t read your mind. If you’re misunderstood, maybe you should write more clearly.

144

deliasmith 02.07.16 at 9:50 pm

folderol @ 25:
There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party . . .
Gore Vidal (1977). Matters of Fact and of Fiction: Essays 1973–76.

145

Rich Puchalsky 02.07.16 at 9:50 pm

Perhaps “theory” is the wrong word. Let’s say that we’re working towards an egalitarian, low-violence, ecologically sustainable society. Economics, even left economics, really has very little to say about that, and almost nothing that’s widely accepted about the sustainable part. Left politics is very confused about the role of the state. And the left reaches for the old standards every time: everyone has to have a job (no, really most people should be unemployed and it’s going to have to happen eventually), everyone should go to free college (not unless they’re interested: college is now largely a positional social good), everyone has to participate in democratic decision-making (most areas of life really shouldn’t be subject to democratic decision-making), the bad guys are a small class of powerful wealthy people (really those people would be powerless unless they drew on broad social agreement).

Sanders is a socialist and this thread says that 90% of something can be explained by vulgar Marxism. If we were living in the 19th century then those terms would actually mean something vital. I’m glad that Sanders is making his run, but …

146

Corey Robin 02.07.16 at 10:09 pm

Bianca Steele at 143: If I were to write with an eye toward countering the numberless times you’ve gotten what I’ve said wrong, I’d never write anything. As for the cuckolding business — no need to read anyone’s mind: that one’s completely in yours.

147

Lee A. Arnold 02.07.16 at 10:16 pm

Novakant #139: “Kasich put a gag order on rape councillors that forbids them to even mention abortion as an option. He also did everything he could to shut down abortion clinics.”

Good ammo for Hillary, because if the Repub nominee is Kasich, she is going to need all the ammo she can get!

However, the US polls on “pro-choice/pro-life” bounce around something like:
Females 50/45
Males 45/50
“Pro-choice” has gained a little in the last year.

That hides a big gray area, because some people on both sides are willing to live with some restrictions, and Gallup does some breakouts of this, in addition to gender, age, etc.

If the Kasich restrictions were posed for gov’t funded clinics, that might have more support among voters.

148

bianca steele 02.07.16 at 10:33 pm

Corey, since I’m pretty sure the number of times I’ve commented on one of your posts can be counted on the fingers of both hands, how this number becomes “numberless” for you is beyond my imagining. The speed at which you took offense to my very first comment was astonishing all by itself, and served its purpose.

149

engels 02.07.16 at 11:16 pm

And the left reaches for the old standards every time: everyone has to have a job (no, really most people should be unemployed and it’s going to have to happen eventually), everyone should go to free college (not unless they’re interested: college is now largely a positional social good), everyone has to participate in democratic decision-making (most areas of life really shouldn’t be subject to democratic decision-making), the bad guys are a small class of powerful wealthy people (really those people would be powerless unless they drew on broad social agreement).

Those straw men who keep arguing with you just keep on getting dumber and dumber.

150

Kiwanda 02.08.16 at 1:07 am

Corey 139: “The truth of my claim doesn’t depend on my race or gender.”

Amen. And as much as my reaction is similar to yours regarding the economic cluelessness of a Brearley/Yale graduate, the truth of her claim(s) doesn’t depend on her class background. Nor do her claims rise in credibility if she gets nasty tweets.

151

engels 02.08.16 at 1:12 am

the truth of her claim(s) doesn’t depend on her class background

Her credibility as a spokesperson for her generation does though.

152

Barry 02.08.16 at 1:14 am

oldster 02.06.16 at 12:39 am
“As a voter north of twice thirty, south of thrice twenty-five, I have to ask: why would this young woman intentionally, voluntarily, make herself sound like a retired British Colonel, ex India, writing to the Times of London to complain about the Dagos taking over the City?”

Some of these people were *born* as middle-aged fogeys.

153

Corey Robin 02.08.16 at 1:31 am

Kiwanda at 150: “the truth of her claim(s) doesn’t depend on her class background.” I totally agree. You’ll notice that I established the falsity and fatuity of her claims well in advance of any mention of her class background. That I invoked in order to address a different question.

154

Kiwanda 02.08.16 at 1:37 am

Her credibility as a spokesperson for her generation does though.

I’m not seeing her claiming to be a spokesperson in that column, even implicitly. An older, wiser soul, and/or a member of the Church of the Savvy, maybe.

155

Rakesh Bhandari 02.08.16 at 1:47 am

Speaking of youth….In JAMA Psychiatry it was estimated that 90 percent of heroin users were white men and women and they are relatively young — their average age was 23. And three-quarters said they first started not with heroin but with prescription opioids like OxyContin. No Republican was asked to reflect on why those “racial” demographics have made heroin abuse a matter of concern.
The Republican discussion was appropriately entirely supply side-oriented: the absurd, implied claim was basically that Obama has told the DEA to allow heroin to flow freely over the border. There was no discussion of the demand side, i.e., how to stop prescription abuse of opioids that leads to addiction –Jeb Bush may have had a thing or two to say here. Ted Cruz shared his family tragedy but said nothing about what kinds of treatment programs could work. Kasich and Christie must know that the problem can’t be solved with tougher supply-side policies alone at this point, but the ground was ceded the ground to those who wanted to blame only drug dealers from Mexico. We’d be better off with someone carrying out the work of Vivek Murthy.

156

geo 02.08.16 at 2:26 am

LFC @141: Milanovic’s phrase “solving problems” is too strong

Yes, that’s all I was trying to say. There have certainly been, as you say, “partial” and “fragile” successes, which are certainly better than nothing. The US is not Czarist (or Stalinist) Russia. I daresay Chomsky would agree.

157

kidneystones 02.08.16 at 2:58 am

Clinton’s margin of victory in Iowa after the internal audit: 0.25.
http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/iowa-sanders-clinton-audit-218905

What kind of headlines might we be reading had Sanders edged Iowa by a similar margin and then stomped on HRC in New Hampshire? Indeed, how does the underdog who came within less than a percentile of overcoming the ‘inevitable’ candidate in her first national challenge end up being portrayed as ‘un-electable?’

The entire weight of Goldman Sachs, Big-Pharma-Big Insurance, and Big-Ed is going to the thrown into convincing minority voters in the Carolinas and Nevada that Bernie Sanders represents a victory for the KKK. Would the Clintons and their allies suggest/imply/argue that Sanders doesn’t care about minorities women?

You betcha

158

TM 02.08.16 at 10:00 am

“how removed Schwartz is from the experiences of her generation, how utterly clueless she is about the economic hardships so many young men and women face today.”

This statement describes almost 100% of contemporary journalists and pundits.

159

TM 02.08.16 at 10:46 am

notsneaky 118: The employment rate in US has declined steeply during the recession and has only partially recovered. https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/LREM25TTUSM156S

The employment rate is not just the complement of the unemployment rate. The Unemployment rate has indeed fallen to pre-recessionlevels but the employment rate is still lower because more people have stopped looking for work (i.e. tha labor force participation rate has declined).

160

TM 02.08.16 at 10:55 am

bs 143: “What I got from your post was disgust at the idea of Schwarz admiring a black man dancing”

I am pretty sure nobody else misread Corey like that.

161

TM 02.08.16 at 10:58 am

132: ” The recent quasi-dynastic look of American politics, which the country shares with India, Greece, the Philippines, and Pakistan, but which is unknown in other rich democracies, is a symptom of a deeply rooted problem with the American political system.”

That “dynastic” thing is quite overrated.

162

TM 02.08.16 at 12:15 pm

Kasich again – you guys gotta be kidding.

163

Lee A. Arnold 02.08.16 at 1:21 pm

164

Dipper 02.08.16 at 1:28 pm

Lee – for those of us unfamiliar with the individual peculiarities of US states, which is the first primary to take place in a state that can be regarded as a good indicator of how the nation is likely to vote?

165

kidneystones 02.08.16 at 1:57 pm

Here’s another reason (that I) voters soured on Clinton. Hasn’t come out yet in anything I’ve read. Many here don’t know about/have forgotten the accusations of racism leveled at traditional Democrat supporters who opposed O. http://www.politico.com/story/2008/01/racial-tensions-roil-democratic-race-007845

Indeed, Jacob Weisberg explicitly accused whites unwilling to sign on for the hope and change boondoggle of racism. In the primary battles exchanges became vicious and personal very quickly. I recall at least one lifelong Dem writing that she and her husband were literally in tears over the ‘you must be racist’ accusations leveled by Weisberg and others. God alone knows how unpleasant the caucuses must have been for those openly accused of being racists for failing to stand publicly in support of Drone Strike. HRC found themselves accused of racism, yet remained loyal to Clinton and took the heat only to witness HRC first play the victim card and then act like nothing at all had happened. For me twas a revelation in realpolitik.

My guess is that many of HRC’s former supporters were sickened by the cynicism of the Clinton cartel, but would have been willing to overlook this and her vote on Iraq had HRC been a force of positive change within the O administration. Instead, we got Syria, Libya, the Ukraine, 153 million raised from corporations for the Clinton foundation, and Cheney level secrecy. As hostile as I was to O, I’m not convinced HRC would have been one bit better. The anointing of HRC and the absence of any competition from anyone but Sanders simply confirms my negative impression of the Democratic party at the national level. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

166

kidneystones 02.08.16 at 1:58 pm

167

Lee A. Arnold 02.08.16 at 2:26 pm

Dipper #164: “first primary to take place in a state that can be regarded as a good indicator?”

Good question, never the same answer, this year I haven’t the foggiest. Possibles: States have control over when their own primaries can be, and since US elections are generally on Tuesdays, there is a “Super Tuesday” where a lot of states have it on the same day: 12 states this year on March 1 — useful but not crucial… Ohio and Florida, two big “swing states”, are both two weeks later, March 15… But this is an interesting year on both sides, and maybe it will go further. Indeed if Trump starts getting a serious challenge to his dominance so far, he may contest the GOP nomination at the GOP convention July 18-21. US history is full of this stuff; Mencken took especial cackling glee. So, buy plenty of popcorn (or your own national equivalent)… Good calendar format for the whole season here (also smartphone optimized):
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/elections/election_dates/

168

kidneystones 02.08.16 at 2:46 pm

To echo @167, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/ is a great site. The two races are very different. For Sanders, his biggest challenge/opportunity occurs soon http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/sc/south_carolina_democratic_presidential_primary-4167.html

Clinton currently leads Sanders 60 to 32, more or less. Sanders needs to take move within 10 points. However, even at the current level Sanders will continue to take enough delegates to keep him in the race. This site offers some South Carolina specific insights: http://overtimepolitics.com/south-carolina-democratic-primary-poll-clinton-56-sanders-30-sanders-making-up-ground/

169

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 12:15 am

170

Bruce Wilder 02.09.16 at 3:02 am

Rich Puchalsky @ 145

Much of what passes for somewhat-left-of-centre is quite conservative. Sanders v Clinton has revealed a split between those who want to extend-and-pretend and those who want to change the structure of the political economy in fundamental ways.

Sanders will be 75 in November. In many ways, his politics is nostalgia for the New Deal and the 1950s or early 1960s. Free college was a perk of the baby boomers that they did not think to share with their progeny. Glass-Steagall and the neighborhood savings and loan is the stuff of Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

Actual structural reform would not be a Capra film. It would be de-stabilizing for the whole economy. I think that’s a good thing, but it wouldn’t feel like a good thing to lots of people, to shrink the financial sector or the health insurance sector. Abolish for-profit health insurance — sure that’s sensible policy, but it is a figuratively bloody politics — and maybe not figuratively.

Clinton tells audiences that she is effective and gets things done, but what she is selling is her ineffectiveness, her own deep investment in a system that has made her enormously wealthy and which she wants to keep going.

The politics of an environmentally sustainable economy cum ecology faces the same hurdle, only bigger. People do not want to see the motion of their own hand in the unfolding tragedy.

171

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 10:45 am

Bruce Wilder: ” In many ways, his politics is nostalgia for the New Deal and the 1950s or early 1960s…Actual structural reform…would be de-stabilizing for the whole economy.”

It certainly is not expressed even remotely as nostalgia by his supporters; read the remarkable, hilarious, well-written piece from yesterday in the Village Voice, link at #169.

Bernie Sanders is calling primarily for breaking up the banks, free school and single-payer. These policies do not have to destabilize the economy. More likely there will be increases in innovation, small business formation, incomes, and consumer satisfaction.

172

Rich Puchalsky 02.09.16 at 1:03 pm

BW: “Abolish for-profit health insurance — sure that’s sensible policy, but it is a figuratively bloody politics — and maybe not figuratively.”

Every doctor’s office in the U.S. that I’ve seen has one or more people who have no medical skills, but are there mostly to navigate the paperwork of getting insurance to pay. Sometimes they also make appointments, sometimes not. All of these people that I’ve met have been middle-aged women: it’s a highly gender stratified occupation as far as I can tell. What kinds of jobs are they going to find if that whole category of work no longer has to be done? Is there a huge demand for people with clerical skills as one of the largest employment sectors for clerical skills goes away?

Or coal miners, to take another example. Basically all coal miners have to become unemployed. When I’ve commented about this before people have airily written back about how few coal miners there are in comparison to the total employment pool. OK. What’s going to happen to e.g. West Virginia communities when the bottom drops out of the local economy? How likely are middle-aged coal miners to be retrained to find another job somehow?

There’s going to be actual resistance to these policies on the part of people who the left has traditionally spoken for. The neoliberal solutions (individual education, retraining programs, unemployment insurance, trade) are a joke and everyone knows it. The left as a whole still seems to me to fully buy in to the idea of a full employment society, and has no effective way of dealing with the revolt of the people who it thinks of itself as serving.

173

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 2:34 pm

Rich Pulchasky #172: “The left as a whole still seems to me to fully buy in to the idea of a full employment society…”

And still going on about the labor unions! I have been trying to point out this problem for years, to almost no response!

Recently Brad DeLong, remarkably not of the Left, has begun to consider some of the psychological ramifications in his discussions of how (I hope I express this properly) zero-marginal cost infotech causes a mismeasurement of productivity because the new greater network connections (and greater consumer utilities) are no longer matched to new consumer income and spending — thus, no longer measured in the monetized GDP.

How to solve it? Theoretically we could do massive taxation of, and redistribution from, the top classes.

But then theoretically (let’s forget the political problems!) we, at the bottom, will be mowing each other’s lawns, with no productivity gains, while the money keeps recycling back to the top, via higher market prices for high-productivity goods and services (infotech, medical tech — things still kept “scarce” by being privately owned & produced), + higher market prices for the only truly scarce items that remain for us, i.e. mostly real estate.

Also, we will have AI robots to mow our lawns — and why not?

Because, it is said, psychology: Most people really WANT work for self-worth; they tie self-worth somewhat to money returns; and they want the monetized system of labor to prevent free-riding by others.

There is the additional case: the anti-technological parts of the environmental movement incorrectly equate all labor-saving technology to entropic degradation of the ecosystem. Therefore, they champion labor not only for self-worth, but to save the environment. But of course it need not be; not all technology needs to hurt the biosphere.

Even without adding this environmentalist error, the psychology of self-worth that is inherent in labor is quite deep. It looks to have begun as a social norm at around the same moment as the monetization of society, in about the 6th Century BC. Slaves could buy their freedom, and so on. 2500 years later, when the commercial market system became concretized in the public mind in the 18th Century AD, a further come-on was added: By your own efforts, you not only maintained your place in the grand scheme of things: You could now ascend in a material hierarchy. Strong psychological reinforcement.

This long history was required and ensured by real physical scarcity: we needed to work for our daily bread, to invent mechanical looms to weave, and so on. The era of scarcity is finally, remarkably, ending. (This shouldn’t be a surprise, by now. Many thinkers particularly since the 19th Century have come to the same conclusion.)

Scarcity is coming to a close, perhaps even in the case of healthcare. We finally have the right tools for the job, after millennia. The new medical technological strategy {biotech + nanotech + genomics + computation + machine learning} is going to make medical care finally as cheap as bubblegum. Give it about 20 years.

174

Bruce Wilder 02.09.16 at 3:17 pm

Lee A Arnold:These policies do not have to destabilize the economy. More likely there will be increases in innovation, small business formation, incomes, and consumer satisfaction.

That is exactly the kind of magical thinking, the “economics of virtue” that I scorn when it is pushed by tax-cut obsessed Republicans.

I am in favor of Sanders’s policy agenda, but it would be delusional to not acknowledge that it is predicated on an open fight with the powers that be. Such fights are not just noisy.

Moreover, Sanders’s agenda is drawn with a vocabulary from the past. The global resource constraints that ought to figure in any realistic view are missing. Neoliberal policy is adjusting and preparing in fairly brutal ways that the left barely acknowledges. I am confident that Sanders would be on the right side of the TPP (trans Pacific partnership) say, and Clinton would be delivering for Goldman Sachs. So not a problem for a Sanders candidacy from my point of view. But, it would be a problem for the implementation of any left agenda.

If, as I expect, the electoral process once again devolves on extend and pretend (lesser) evilism, it will be because people instinctively fear dismantling the economic structure they are comfortable with, even as elites gleefully profit from disinvesting within it.

We had a chance to begin radical change in 2008 when the system came close to collapse, but we muffed it. I do not think we can get a politics of radical, structural reform that includes the necessary demolition. Blowing up a building with people in it is a non-starter. We need the system to self destruct, so the reformers do not get blamed. And, we have to hope we have the imagination and spare resources to do something then.

175

StevenAttewell 02.09.16 at 3:21 pm

@3 – CoreyRobin, this Vox article would seem to suggest that the same generational pattern of Bernie support holds true for black voters, although to a lesser extent.

176

Bruce Wilder 02.09.16 at 3:22 pm

Lee A Arnold @ 173

Is it really so hard to think that you must fantasize?

177

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 3:23 pm

Bruce Wildwer #174: “Neoliberal policy is adjusting and preparing in fairly brutal ways that the left barely acknowledges.”

Specifically how?

178

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 4:04 pm

Sorry, Bruce “Wilder” My typing window is too small…

179

Rich Puchalsky 02.09.16 at 4:12 pm

Lee A. Arnold: “Most people really WANT work for self-worth; they tie self-worth somewhat to money returns; and they want the monetized system of labor to prevent free-riding by others.”

I would rephrase the first as people really want a way to look down on other people to boost their self-worth, and an easy way to do this is to tell themselves that they work and others don’t. I have my doubts about whether most people outside of the professional class really think of their jobs as sources of self-worth. Consumption in our society provides self-worth, though, and jobs indirectly lead to consumption so there is that.

For the second, yes. I remember quite well the storm of crap that ensued here when I suggested that maybe it wasn’t a big deal if student lawyers copied each other’s notes, all reinforced by stern instructions from the poster that it was all really about something else. People hate free-riders and they can find any rationalization they want to justify their hate for someone who’s getting something for free or for people who insist on giving out stuff for free.

180

Rakesh Bhandari 02.09.16 at 6:09 pm

Surprised that there is no CT discussion yet of Trump calling for torture even when no information can be gathered (“they deserve it anyway”) and calling for killing of innocent family members of suspected terrorists (“I would be very firm”) in violation of international law and calling Cruz out as a part of the female anatomy for not openly supporting international human rights violations. Kasich may be the only candidate willing to call Trump a fascist, and Max Boot at Commentary is critical of Trump. New Hampshire is the state that put Pat Buchanan on the map. Tonight we may have the full legitimization of a candidate who tried to elicit exterminationist hatred of the entire Muslim minority in the US on the basis of false charges of thousands of American Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks. I did not agree with New York Times putting an editorial on its front page about gun control. But this may be the occasion for it.

181

anon 02.09.16 at 6:38 pm

Perhaps I’m too cynical, but would *any* of the likely Republican nominees seriously oppose torture, killing terrorists’ families, or sexism? If everyone is, like me, assuming not. I also don’t think it’s egregiousness is novel or surprising. So maybe there’s just not much to discuss.

On the “p-word”: my guess is that it’s origin is in the word “pussycat”, meaning cowardly lion, rather than originally referring to anatomy. But I don’t think it matters, since sexists and homophobes so regularly use it that in practice it has clearly sexist connotations.

The only thing moderately shocking is that the media pretends to be shocked and offended when he repeats crass language for views he expresses openly in every other way to that same media’s unconcealed hilarity and delight.

182

TM 02.09.16 at 6:39 pm

172: What is your point? What is your last sentence supposed to mean?

E.g. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/bully-for-neurotoxins/

183

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 6:44 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ #179, Is it your theory that people hate free riders, not because they don’t hate cheaters, but because 1. They didn’t think of how to cheat and get away with it, themselves? and/or, 2. A free-rider’s success deprives them of someone else to look down upon?

184

steven johnson 02.09.16 at 6:47 pm

Killing of family members has been standard US policy for decades. Trump would do nothing new.

Torture has never been a reliable tool for information. Even when applied routinely, the kind of reliable intelligence obtained by systematically comparing results is pretty much limited to short term tactical intelligence. But the confirmation of an ideological world view will still leave the torturers’ disarmed in the long run. But, torture as an instrument of terror has been US policy for over a century. Trump would do nothing new.

Trump has talked about the seizure of millions of people as a matter of ordinary business. This would be something new. But I’m not sure I would credit Trump with delivering on his promises. Murder and torture we already have, so it costs nothing for Trump to promise them.

185

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 6:59 pm

186

Rakesh Bhandari 02.09.16 at 7:55 pm

Thank you Steven Johnson for giving me some insight into the worldview of the Oregon occupiers. If Rachel Dolezal came from such a family, I now understand why she did what she did.

187

Rich Puchalsky 02.09.16 at 9:11 pm

TM: “What is your point? What is your last sentence supposed to mean?”

It seems to be fairly clearly written to me. “The left as a whole still seems to me to fully buy in to the idea of a full employment society, and has no effective way of dealing with the revolt of the people who it thinks of itself as serving.” You quote Krugman as pointing out that the decline in numbers of coal mining jobs will be more than offset by the rise in the number of solar energy jobs. OK. Will those solar energy jobs be concentrated in West Virginia? Or will the bottom drop out of the local economy, as I originally wrote?

The whole idea that everything is OK for ordinary people because one kind of job will be replaced by another kind of job is a neoliberal idea. It’s the creative destruction of capitalism, buggy whip makers being replaced by automobile makers, etc etc, Neoliberals are not conservatives. Just because conservatives falsely say that Obama is destroying everything does not mean that it is true that everything is OK.

188

steven johnson 02.09.16 at 9:14 pm

Rakesh Bhandari@186 Sarcasm and irony don’t have punctuation to mark them off. Is your point that you are terribly offended at the notion the US is already practicing torture and the murders of the families of enemies? Or is it that you are terribly offended at the notion that Trump might be a blowhard?

But maybe your real objection is that Trump might go soft on the enemy, negotiating deals with the likes of Putin? Or maybe, since Trump says he favors Social Security, you’re afraid he means it?

189

Cian 02.09.16 at 9:33 pm

@183 – the free rider thing is a pretty well established finding in the social sciences/psychology literature. I believe there’s been some work looking at primates also which found similar things.

As I understand it it’s about protecting the coherence of the herd/groups. What’s striking about the law students copying notes is that in a less atomized (and weird) culture than the US there would be no problem with that. Problems would only emerge if some students were taking advantage, but not giving back in some fashion.

190

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 10:10 pm

Cian #189, My question is how Rich Puchalsky explains it, given his objection at #179 to my #173.

191

e abrms 02.09.16 at 10:29 pm

Can the Steinem/Albright thing also be class based – both of those women, like Hillary, are very successful and, I assume, wealthy; I doubt either of them has had to worry seriously about a bill in a while

192

e abrms 02.09.16 at 10:30 pm

PS:
when will the ultra liberal blogosphere get it that the New Yorker, and the Times, depend on display ads from Cartier for their survival, and , as a result, a certain amount of catering to the rich is necessary ?

193

Rich Puchalsky 02.09.16 at 10:33 pm

My objection wasn’t so much to the “people want to prevent free-riding” part as it was to the “people really want work for self-worth” part.

As for why people hate free-riders, I have no idea whether most of it is from general characteristics of primates: I think it’s mostly cultural. At present, in the U.S., hatred of free riders is a way to bolster self-worth via scorning a class of other people. As an article linked in another thread pointed out, white people have moved easily from open racial hatred of black people to open hatred of white people who don’t work. Similar function, but the second is currently respectable while the first isn’t. Hatred of free riders also works to preserve the idea that meritocratic social status positioning is a fine way to set up social hierarchies: I vaguely remember that the grading curve was mentioned as a reason why it would hurt someone to share notes — the grading curve is the exemplar of academia as job certificate and has nothing to do with academic values of learning, thinking, or passing on knowledge.

194

Lee A. Arnold 02.09.16 at 11:49 pm

Rich Puschalsky @191, Well I think it is pretty clear from sentiments expressed by many people from Woody Guthrie to Bruce Springsteen that people find dignity, self-worth, in honest work. I suppose it’s possible that people are fooling themselves, though I doubt it.

Even if you do not accept that, you have agreed that at least some people do work to ascend in the material hierarchy, as I wrote in #173. But what if they are found to have gotten to a high position by free-riding? Isn’t this usually scorned? Yet why should anyone scorn it, except that they feel that the merit should have been gotten from working for it, in other words they have tied work to self-worth?

195

Rakesh Bhandari 02.10.16 at 12:40 am

So what is at stake in the Democratic primary except the question of who is more electable? Sanders voted for Clinton’s crime bill, has raised Wall Street money through the Democratic Party, and has a modest unworkable plan to reform Wall Street (according to Noah Smith). I just hope that critical critics don’t want the less electable Democrat to win the nomination so that they can have more critical criticism to write.

196

kidneystones 02.10.16 at 12:54 am

@ 191 @ 192 Some clarity and charity is called for here, I suspect. By work, do we mean semi-involuntary indenture for survival wages? Or, do we mean activity of choice that provides challenges, rewards, and opportunities (including expanded social contacts) far beyond that required for survival of the worker and possible dependents? Stocking shelves at a supermarket can be both. A college grad with $30k in student loans cannot conceive of taking the position for any number of good reasons. A college student may well wish to take the job, one day a week, for any number of reasons – exercise, close to home/school, freedom to listen to lectures on an i-pod while stocking. For immigrants, the incentives may be far greater – path to citizenship, steady work history – an essential factor in establishing good credit and a stepping-stone to the next job – flexibility (in some cases).

All work is honorable is an axiom that makes some folks laugh. Were I to elect to go Thoreau on her, our kids would be appalled and Mrs. kidneystones would be out the door.

197

engels 02.10.16 at 1:15 am

Kidneystones is on the right track. You need to separate work (conscious productive activity perhaps) from labour (exertion which isn’t rewarding in itself[?]) or jobs (sale of control of one’s activities for a certain time to a wealthy person or legal person for money[?]). Once you do this things get a bit clearer and the shouting match gets a bit quieter.

NB. noone I can think of on the Left (as opposed to liberal centre-left perhaps) in 2016 holds the straw man positions Rich is attacking (comme d’habitude). Google basic income please.

198

Lee A. Arnold 02.10.16 at 1:31 am

Kidneystones #194: ” By work, do we mean semi-involuntary indenture for survival wages? Or, do we mean activity of choice that provides challenges, rewards, and opportunities (including expanded social contacts) far beyond that required for survival of the worker and possible dependents?”

I mean neither. I mean the psychological proposition that humans need to work to survive on earth, that this is the way it should be, and that they get self-respect from doing this honestly.

199

Lee A. Arnold 02.10.16 at 1:42 am

And it looks like Kasich is coming in 2nd in NH. Really not good for the Democrats, whether Bern or Hill. Sometimes I hate being right. There is no glee in Leeville.

200

engels 02.10.16 at 1:53 am

I mean the psychological proposition that humans need to work to survive on earth, that this is the way it should be

So if technology got the point where we could all survive without working we should smash the machines, because that isn’t ‘the way it should be’?

201

kidneystones 02.10.16 at 2:50 am

@ 198 bad robot. You put your finger right in the wound. The challenge we face isn’t one of depleted resources and apocalypse. It’s depleted opportunities for ‘meaningful’ employment with few incentives/opportunities for mobility/individual growth. Hence, the need to expand virtual worlds and legalize drugs to keep the masses docile.

202

Lee A. Arnold 02.10.16 at 2:52 am

Engels, This little side conversation started with Rich Puchalsky’s comment at #172. It may help to go back and read it from there. Rich wrote “The left as a whole still seems to me to fully buy in to the idea of a full employment society…” I agree with him about that. But we disagree about why. I explained my theory at #173. Now, I am trying to understand why, if Rich thinks people have NOT fallen into a psychology of “wanting to work for a feeling of self-worth”, he believes that the left buys into the idea of a full employment society.

203

kidneystones 02.10.16 at 3:39 am

This is the best: (via the NYT)

“…Even so, there were a few silver linings for Mrs. Clinton. While Mr. Sanders bested her among all age groups younger than 45, the two candidates polled evenly among voters aged 45 to 64. And Mrs. Clinton won the support of voters 65 and older. And, though Mrs. Clinton lost nearly every income group, she did carry voters in families earning over $200,000 per year.” Oops!

204

geo 02.10.16 at 3:58 am

“If a man [able-bodied, of course — GS] do not work, neither shall he eat” is not only scriptural (2 Thessalonians 3:10), it is probably the deepest and most universal popular sentiment in American political culture. What on earth is wrong with a full employment policy? Repairing our infrastructure, caring for an aging population, and growing non-industrial food are enough by themselves to occupy (for four hours a day) all the people displaced from coal mines, the advertising industry, the correctional industry, the private security sector, the FIRE sector, and all the other useless, even toxic, occupations that a sane society would dispense with.

Come on, Lee and Rich, drop the ideological crossfire and set your imaginations to work on practical utopian blueprints. Ernest Callenbach produced one. Even B.F Skinner did! Why not Crooked Timber?

205

Bruce Wilder 02.10.16 at 4:19 am

Lee A Arnold @ 197

You did call it. I saw his shtick on Morning Joe and then in his thank you NH speech, and it is well-crafted to win the general election. If it looks like Clinton will fail, the Republican establishment will want to put Kasich in. It will be interesting to see how it is engineered.

206

Rakesh Bhandari 02.10.16 at 4:37 am

I’ve been musing about Kasich’s ascendance, but after tonight’s “victory-by-way -of-a-2nd place finish” speech, it’s clear that Kasich actually only wants to replace talk show host Montel Williams who indeed said he would return to the Republican Party for Kasich. For those who somehow do not know, Montel is Oprah for men not scared to cry.

207

Peter T 02.10.16 at 4:46 am

Lee, Bruce

Just as God is on the side of the big battalions, so the polls are the pol sci person’s friend. In the Republican case, they have been pointing to Trump unwaveringly for months. If the party establishment wants Kasich, they have two weeks to persuade Bush, Cruz and Rubio to drop out (Christie can be shown the pictures and then made an offer he can’t refuse). Simply to ask the question re Cruz is to answer; and if Cruz refuses, will Rubio and Bush cooperate? Bet on Trump, for the monster has escaped the cage and only he has the food it likes.

208

A H 02.10.16 at 4:46 am

What odds would you guys put on Kasich winning?

I would take the other side of almost any bet.

209

Ben 02.10.16 at 4:53 am

I don’t know, but it seems pretty likely there’s no chance in hell Kasich has anything beyond ‘one guy in a strip mall handing out bumper stickers in the most populous city’ ground operations in any of the 16 states that cast ballots March 1st-March 5th.

Worrying about Kasich is interest paid on a debt that’ll never come due.

210

Bruce Wilder 02.10.16 at 4:56 am

Lee A Arnold @ 177

One fairly clear thread traces changes in law regarding the ordinary person’s rights vs creditors. We did away with laws against usury. People lost cramdown on a principal residence in bankruptcy. The effective law on real estate titles and mortgages has been partially privatised. Poor people are subject to horrendous credit collection processes, including imprisonment for debt in many states.

Of course, the other side of credit evolution is that rich people are getting paid kickbacks for their use of credit.

The number of people incarcerated in the U.S. is amazing. Not only are criminal background checks routine in employment, so are drug testing, credit bureau checks, internet profile checks. We are well set to marginalize people for any kind of non-conformity.

Administrative detention for an indefinite period is legal in the U.S. as is the seizure of assets.

The laws on political protest and civil disobedience have been tightened up, not incidentally while the right to unionize has been undermined.

211

Rakesh Bhandari 02.10.16 at 5:00 am

@205. Actually I would not rule out Jeb Bush who seems to have very deep pockets. Christie did what Bush’s negative ads could not do–take out his most feared competitor (and according to Krugman the most electable Republican): Marco Rubio. Cruz now hurts Kasich in SC. Jeb Bush is not worried at all if the race comes down to him and Trump. He has enough money to stick it out. Jeb! thinks he gets most of the 65% that did not vote for Trump tonight.

212

Peter T 02.10.16 at 5:06 am

On another topic

The point of money is that it can be readily taxed, whether by government, passing bankers, landlords or indeed pretty much anyone. So it sustains hierarchies of production in a way that more direct forms of appropriation cannot. To diminish the flow of money is to diminish the social hierarchy. Compare the English lord, living it up in London from rents passed up through tenants, bailiffs, agents, lawyers and bankers (each taking their cut) with the clan chief eating his own cattle.

And the hierarchy is a feature as well as a bug. It enables high levels of production. The system is now cannibalising itself as it tries to maintain the flow of money despite a diminished flow of actual resources. At some point the mismatch will become too wide to hide. Expect more and more frantic waffle as the gap widens.

213

Lee A. Arnold 02.10.16 at 8:49 am

I am about to desist from commenting until after the US party conventions because I have to get back to my own work. Just trying to respond quickly to everyone who commented on something I was involved in here:

Kidneystones #201, about NH: I think that Sanders also got at least a 10-point spread among Dem females (higher among millennial Dem females).

Geo #202, about work: I think the point here is that a “full employment policy” is an easy way for the capitalists to keep everybody working uselessly for peanuts, while they reap all the dough.

Bruce Wilder #203: “If it looks like Clinton will fail, the Republican establishment will want to put Kasich in.” — The GOP Establishment wanted to put in a standard frontrunner starting about 5 months ago, because they DON’T want Trump or Cruz, for different internal and external reasons which are lengthy.

Rakesh Bhandari #204, about Kasich’s stage presence: Not sure what your point is, but just remember, the country voted for George W. Bush. Er, um, Twice…! Kasich is obviously is a serious politician, waited until NH then did over 100 townhalls before last night’s vote. We are now in line for “Trump v. Kasich” on the debate stage, so Kasich’s got his work cut out for him. And it may look quite low-key.

Peter T #205, about dropouts: Polls are indeed your friend (sometimes), and accordingly, Trump has stuck at a 35% approval rating among GOP voters for 2 months and is now dropping. In other words, 65% of the GOP refuses to comply with his wishes, and they are split among the others. As history is our friend too (sometimes), we will start to see the dropping out, for the “good of the party”, etc.

AH #206, about betting: 40 years ago I lost a quarter in a slot in a Reno diner and that was the end of my gambling days. If Kasich starts upticking in South Carolina, he will look likely. 6 months ago, in a comment under a John Quiggin post here, I predicted that Kasich would be the GOP nominee. Reasoning? I think that he is their strongest choice, to win.

Bruce Wilder #208, about neoliberal brutality: Okay, but you wrote, in “ways that the left barely acknowledges”, and I have read about those things. I mean, insofar as I can find time to access ANYbody, acknowledging ANYthing, what with the 500 channels and the 10 billion web pages.

Rakesh Bhandari #209, about the others: Jeb’s got his brother’s war around his neck like a millstone, and Dubya may be stumping for him in S.C. (which still likes him), so let’s see how that goes, but I think Jeb was crazy to get in the race to begin with. Christie’s own state is not happy with him, but he’s got enough sense (I think) to drop out now, and throw his support to Kasich. Cruz is the Establishment’s bane, and accordingly they will relish the takedown.

Peter T #210, on money: I think you are right.

214

Lee A. Arnold 02.10.16 at 8:50 am

oops, somehow I got stuck in moderation.

215

Rich Puchalsky 02.10.16 at 12:41 pm

“set your imaginations to work on practical utopian blueprints”

This is a thread about Sanders and reactions to him. In terms of electoral politics, I take Sanders’ policies to represent “the left” in America, since the number of people further left is too small to have any electoral effect.

Here’s something about what he would do about income and wealth inequality. 1) tax the rich, 2-6) jobs, 7) free college, 8) tax the rich, 9) single payer health care, 10) job benefits, 11) universal childcare, 12) unions, 13) breaking up too big to fail banks. That’s an agenda that’s far better than that of any other candidate. But there’s nothing there that differs from what I’ve described above as a left agenda that fundamentally doesn’t have a clear idea about what its eventual goal is. Its goal is primarily that we all have good jobs, so it’s “socialism” in which we are all firmly embedded in the capitalist system, just like all so-far existing socialisms.

People in general don’t want everyone to have good jobs. They want jobs as social differentiators of status. The left seems to want something that the people don’t really want. Without a forthright attack on the jobs system, I don’t see this changing.

216

Niall McAuley 02.10.16 at 1:03 pm

People in general don’t want everyone to have good jobs.

I don’t think that is true at all. I think:

1) People in general want good jobs

2) Some people in jobs do not want (much) free stuff handed to people without jobs. Some see this as bad for society (a tax to pay for free riders), immoral/cheating/unfair, and sometimes as bad for the unemployed, since they are not motivated to get jobs, and people want good jobs, see point 1).

Nothing in the above says people in jobs want people with no jobs to stay unemployed, as opposed to getting good jobs of their own through their own efforts. Even the mean-spirited person who resents the welfare queens and steak-eating-bucks the most still thinks “lazy poor person gets off own ass and welfare” is a good news story.

217

Ze K 02.10.16 at 1:11 pm

“People in general don’t want everyone to have good jobs. They want jobs as social differentiators of status.”

This is a craziest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

218

Rich Puchalsky 02.10.16 at 1:16 pm

“Even the mean-spirited person who resents the welfare queens and steak-eating-bucks the most still thinks “lazy poor person gets off own ass and welfare” is a good news story.”

That’s a story about someone moving up in social status. People like stories about people winning the lottery too, or stories about poor people marrying rich people. But not everyone can win the lottery. Stories about a lazy person starting to work are safe because they don’t challenge the hierarchy, they reinforce it.

As evidenced by the million of “what’s the matter with Kansas” kinds of analyses, people in fact do not really want good jobs. They want to be higher social status than other people, and if having bad jobs is what it takes for them to get that, then they’ll grit their teeth and take bad jobs.

219

Asteele 02.10.16 at 1:42 pm

As always Rich tries, and fails, to show liberals themselves, film at 11.

220

Ze K 02.10.16 at 2:02 pm

Well, in my social circles people are not racists, unless you count group identification and occasional stereotyping as racism. And they most definitely don’t think of their jobs as an indicator of their social status. Some, for example, work as visiting nurses, and like it. And so Rich’s model doesn’t describe the world I see. Of course it could be an accurate description of some other parts of the world, those that I don’t see.

221

anon 02.10.16 at 2:02 pm

“People in general don’t want everyone to have ___. They want ___ as social differentiators of status.”

Fun to fill in with alternate differentiators of status: “cars,” “sex,” “clothing,” etc.

222

engels 02.10.16 at 2:31 pm

Claim (without evidence) people™ are all racist, reactionary, sadistic, etc
Point out The Left™’s aims aren’t compatible with racism, hierarchy, sadism, etc
“The Left wants something that People don’t want.”
Rinse.
Repeat.

223

engels 02.10.16 at 2:41 pm

The challenge we face isn’t one of depleted resources and apocalypse. It’s depleted opportunities for ‘meaningful’ employment with few incentives/opportunities for mobility/individual growth.

Agreed & it’s a problem for capitalism, not for humanity. Human being need work, they don’t need jobs. Capitalism was never good at providing the former and if becoming increasingly useless at providing latter too.

224

engels 02.10.16 at 3:26 pm

“If a man [able-bodied, of course — GS] do not work, neither shall he eat” is not only scriptural (2 Thessalonians 3:10), it is probably the deepest and most universal popular sentiment in American political culture. What on earth is wrong with a full employment policy?

It violates human rights on a massive scale and turns everybody into slaves for a start. I think Solzhenitsyn wrote a book about this

225

Rakesh Bhandari 02.10.16 at 3:53 pm

@213. Did you hear Kasich last year? He literally said he was in the race for the town hall meetings that he was treating as afternoon talk shows to explore personal tragedies. He sounded as if he were the Oprah or Montel of politics. Well maybe it works. It worked for Oprah, maybe it gets him the Vice Presidency so Bush can win Ohio. Or maybe he gets more. We’ll see.
I continue to be confused by the radical intellectual support for Sanders over Clinton. Sanders voted for Bill Clinton’s Crime Bill and the Commodities Modernization Act, though some of his supporters seem confused here. He voted for the strikes on Kosovo. He voted against the Iraq War but then for every round of funding for it. He supported the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes he voted against welfare reform but he lives in a state where aside from there being more cows than people those people are white and need their welfare. It seems that anti-welfare sentiment is positively correlated with the percentage of minorities living in your region. He took no risks in opposing welfare reform which was indeed horrendous.
There is no basis other than electability to choose among the Democrats. These critical critics may harbor a secret wish for a Republican victory because it will give them the opportunity to write so much critical criticism over the next eight years. Beware!

226

Rakesh Bhandari 02.10.16 at 3:57 pm

typo? Did you hear Kasich last NIGHT? OK enough very fast typing. Can’t follow through on this.

227

Rakesh Bhandari 02.10.16 at 3:59 pm

Just quickly. Sanders can’t get single payer through at this point. It’s pie-in-the-sky; and Noah Smith eviscerated his plan for financial reform, though one imagines that SEC would be more active under him. Again it comes down in the Democratic race to electability, a hugely important issue given that Trump or Bush whose favorite thinker is Charles Murray may well be the nominee.

228

engels 02.10.16 at 4:12 pm

There is no basis other than electability to choose among the Democrats. These critical critics may harbor a secret wish for a Republican victory because it will give them the opportunity to write so much critical criticism over the next eight years. Beware

And what about the other voters who chose him over Clinton (every category of ’em except families making more than $200000/yr I believe)? Freudian death drive?

229

Niall McAuley 02.10.16 at 4:35 pm

Why is Clinton supposed to be more electable? Because she isn’t a pie-in-the-sky socialist leftist revolutionary like Sanders.

But there is no point in picking Sanders to get left wing socialist policy, because Sanders is just the same as Clinton really, so we only have electability to decide the race, and Clinton is more electable because she is so different. But the same.

I get it now.

230

Rakesh Bhandari 02.10.16 at 4:41 pm

C’mon Engels (and I think you did a good, even heroic job editing the three volumes in spite of recent fashionable criticism; plus the notes you added on turnover time were brilliant; and if Haldane respects the work on dialectics, that should count against Monod’s fierce dismissal of it):
I am taking about electability not in a Democratic primary in a small state but electability in a big national election in which tens of millions of dollars are spent against you by right-wing political action committees.

231

Ze K 02.10.16 at 4:42 pm

Well, here’s one guy who warns against voting for Clinton: Assange: Vote for Hillary Clinton is ‘vote for endless, stupid war’ which spreads terrorism.

And he knows what he’s talking about:

He added that he has “years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and have read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgment and will push the United States into endless wars which spread terrorism.”

So, if this is between Clinton and Trump, it seems likely that Trump would be the lesser evil. Assuming, of course, that it matters which one of these clowns is elected.

232

Rich Puchalsky 02.10.16 at 4:46 pm

engels’ comment #222 is for once coherent and a step above his usual links to old Onion articles, so I’ll answer it. We’re talking about American politics. This is the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world (except perhaps for North Korea), the country with the largest number of people killed by foreign wars of choice, one which routinely has police officers kill unarmed children without legal consequence, etc. As Rakesh notes upthread, one of our most popular Presidential candidates is running on what might be called a pro-torture platform. Yet according to engels none of this counts as evidence! I wonder what possibly could.

Against this the unthinking old left — the received wisdom that engels dutifully dispenses — holds that people are either fooled or ignorant. Thereby they excuse the left’s own failure to attract popular support. If people wanted a more egalitarian society, they could vote for candidates who promise to deliver one. They don’t, and it’s not because they don’t know that the rich screw over the poor and the middle class. They don’t because they value the rewards of non-egalitarian politics for them.

Against this people try Argument 101 tricks, like “You said that people are X. But some people aren’t X!'” Yes, OK, all generalizations have exceptions. The coalition that reliably votes for more egalitarian politics in the U.S. consists of racial minorities, gays, the lowest poor, and others who naturally don’t want to be at the bottom of the pyramid, and middle-class educated people, who are happy with their own intellectual and personal capital and are confident that they’ll still be some rungs up even if the rubes in flyover country can no longer bash people.

Obviously I think that this is a cultural problem, not some kind of innate human nature. Culture can be changed. The first step towards changing it is acknowledging it.

233

Rakesh Bhandari 02.10.16 at 4:47 pm

Clinton is more electable because her rhetoric will indeed play better in a national election and she will destroy Trump or Bush in a debate due to her command of the facts and her quick wit–whatever you think of her, she is quite smart. Sanders is much more likely to stumble. Plus, she’s a better bet because we don’t know what right wing PAC money would do to Sanders if he were nominated. Finally once she debates Trump or Bush, she will mobilize the women’s vote.

234

geo 02.10.16 at 5:07 pm

engels @224: Oh, come on.

235

TM 02.10.16 at 5:26 pm

RP 187: You seem to insist that leftists can never advocate for a policy unless they can prove that not a single person is worse off under that policy. This seems pretty nutty to me. I take it that you say we can’t ban usurious payday lenders because they employ some people who would lose their jobs, we can’t promote regulation hat would reduce the size and profitability of the financial sector, we can’t reform the health care industry, we can’t reduce arms sales, we can’t heavily fine polluters because they might be forced to lay off people, and so on and on. Is there any reform that wouldn’t in your logic earn the label “neoliberal”?

236

basil 02.10.16 at 5:28 pm

Ah, Rakesh Bandari! Walking down that very path, you might encounter evidence that the only difference between Clinton and the much dreaded Trump is the colour of their team jerseys.* I’ve a notion you will resist the impulse to investigate that far, though. We do need our safe havens.

It would be interesting to see a serious response to steven johnson at 184 as it isn’t clear to me either why anyone’s horrified by Trump *if* they are comfortable with existing programming. Perhaps Trump’s not very practised at the dark arts of dog-whistling or maybe he’s got the performed zealotry of the new convert, or is over-compensating for not being au fait with the tribal orthodoxy, but what is it about his platform that so greatly offends the governing consensus? Is it that he’s insufficiently embarrassed or remorseful about extending present policy – to its logical conclusions? Is his shamelessness his greatest crime?

I’ve read that the study guide advises a sprint to the basest instincts for the heats, lots of star jumps and bluster before winding down with a jog to the tolerable violence of the centre for the election proper. In previous seasons, all concerned seemed to understand the importance of this custom of the spectacle, like handbags at corners it is mostly overlooked, but this year Trump has the punditry really vexed. Why?

*Plus who gets paid to attend the other’s wedding shindy. And the nose length on the mascots; that’s a big difference.

237

Sebastian H 02.10.16 at 5:30 pm

Rakesh indeed makes the pro Clinton case as Clinton would do it. I’m skeptical.

Her rhetoric is problematic because she is so often seen as a political calculator in the negative sense if not an outright liar.

She is very smart in a technocratic sense, but quick wit? Hardly. She’s quicker than Rubio I’ll give you. She looks like a much weaker candidate than many Democratic losers for President.

This suggestion ignores the fact that she is deeply unliked and unlikeable to huge swaths of voters, including many Democrats. She has never proven to be more than a passable campaigner, and has in fact never won in an election against a strong Rebublican contender. Vis-a-vis Trump, she could well be a much worse candidate than Sanders because both Trump and Sanders are tapping into a very real sense of distaste of the way the middle and lower classes have faltered while she is so deeply swimming with the establishment that she doesn’t even think that $600,000 from Goldman Sachs for three hours of ‘work’ could even LOOK like influence peddling.

And if you think Trump couldn’t pull of an attack on those lines just because he’s rich, you’re crazy. Off the top of my head–she became rich by selling something to the banks, I became rich selling real estate and telling banks to eat it. Who do you trust?

238

TM 02.10.16 at 5:34 pm

And we should really not forget how many people would lose their jobs if criminal justice reform and drug liberalization reduced the prison population, heaven forbid. That we really get this level of argument on CT frankly that’s too much for me (that and the nonsense about Kasich being on track to win the presidency, seriously are you guys nuts?).

239

TM 02.10.16 at 5:35 pm

(That was re 187/235.)

240

Rich Puchalsky 02.10.16 at 5:45 pm

TM: “You seem to insist that leftists can never advocate for a policy unless they can prove that not a single person is worse off under that policy.”

No. What I’m saying is that it’s rational, in a self-interested sense, for many people who the left thinks of itself as speaking for to reject the left. If someone is a middle-aged prole who has skills within one of the major industries that the left talks about eliminating, they know that the left is promising them nothing solid in exchange for losing their job and that they may very well never get another one. The disaster that that would be for that person far outweighs, for them, any likely societal disaster that would come from following bad policies.

What we’re promising them is the magic of the marketplace. We’re saying that it’s OK if you lose your job, because you’ll on average find a new, different job. That’s neoliberal whether you like it or not.

I mean, let’s be honest about it. What’s the likely result for West Virginia going to be? If they’re a GOP bastion and produce pelicans who work against everything that we believe in, are they rubes who vote against their own interest? We can do without West Virginia. But then the self-conception of the left isn’t really keeping up with what it actually is.

241

Rich Puchalsky 02.10.16 at 5:46 pm

Pelicans? Spellchecker does strange things.

242

TM 02.10.16 at 6:03 pm

Several commenters: “people hate free-riders”

That is wrong. In America, it’s true to say that right wing people hate the poor and idolize the successful rich. The thing about “free riding” and “government handouts” is ex post rationalization. It is poverty, lack of economic success, that provokes hatred, not taking money from the government.

Evidence: a lot of free riding and government handouts doesn’t have any stigma attached, for example farm subsidies, tax loopholes. David Johnston’s book “Free lunch” details many ways in which the rich manage to free-ride on the general public, without causing any outrage or stigma. Trump himself is a good example, he turned several bankruptcies to his advantage. He isn’t stigmatized like the poor moocher walking away from an underwater mortgage, and the reason why is because he’s rich, not poor. I could also mention Florida governor Scott, who was CEO of a company that committed large scale Medicare fraud: people still elected him, twice. They would never vote for a poor sick guy defrauding Medicare of $100 but a millionaire getting away with the biggest Medicare fraud in history? That’s exactly the kind guy Americans want to lead their government!

There was a link above to a story about right wing people complaining about “free riders”. It is worth reading because what was the example given: Diabetic people getting free dialyses. That is not free riding! These are people who would die without the Dialysis and a lot of right-wing Americans would actually be comfortable with letting them die. Because they are poor and sick, not because they are doing anything morally repugnant.

Let’s not give the right-wingers the satisfaction to ennoble their barbaric world view with the assumption of some moral consistency. There is none, it’s really just barbarianism.

243

TM 02.10.16 at 6:46 pm

RP 240, finally I think I’m getting what your point is. I mostly disagree. Your coal miner example is only partially valid. As Krugman correctly points out, employment in coal mining has been in decline for decades for reasons that have nothing to do with leftist policies. It is true that closing coal mines is now a leftist policy (although it used to be a right-wing policy – remember Thatcher) and I agree that leftists ought to take the impact of their policies on the jobs of coal miners seriously. But leftist policies (infrastructure spending, education, safety net) are still the best bet for those coal miners and their families, even from the point of view of strictly economic self interest. I recognize that it won’t be easy to convince them of this fact (given the force of fossil fuel propaganda they are exposed to) but it is one nevertheless.

To your wider argument, I simply don’t think that the rational self-interest argument works. Most middle and lower class right-wingers are really voting against their economic interest when they vote against spending on infrastructure, education, safety net and the like. Of course nobody actually votes against these things. They vote for politicians who vote against these things. The question why remains as disputed as it ever was and I don’t think you have helped clarify it.

244

Rich Puchalsky 02.10.16 at 7:10 pm

TM: “But leftist policies (infrastructure spending, education, safety net) are still the best bet”

engels has informed me that this is a straw man and that no one is arguing for it.

245

Igor Belanov 02.10.16 at 7:17 pm

Ultimately the majority of people do not vote on the basis of self-interest, either economic or in a broader social sense. Even more than in the past, they make political decisions (on the very rare occasions they are asked/can be bothered) due to conceptions of identity. This can sometimes be on the basis of such things as race, religion or gender, but just as often it is because they see themselves as thrifty, or respectable, or aspirational, and compare these qualities against others that are regarded as less virtuous or capable. This has always been a thorn in the side of the Left, and has helped to produce generations of working-class Tories. It is also why the neoliberal policies of the centre-left have been such a disaster, eroding collective links and aspirations and leaving many people clinging on to much more malevolent sources of identity to root themselves in.

246

Ze K 02.10.16 at 7:34 pm

“If people wanted a more egalitarian society, they could vote for candidates who promise to deliver one.”

Well, as we all know, “symptoms of a leveling spirit” were noticed early, the danger identified, and mechanisms designed to guard against it; “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority”. That’s right there, in the records of the federal convention of 1787, and so hardly a marxist conspiracy theory.

247

Dipper 02.10.16 at 7:47 pm

“But leftist policies (infrastructure spending, education, safety net) are still the best bet”

“If people wanted a more egalitarian society, they could vote for candidates who promise to deliver one.”

Just because someone promises to do something doesn’t meant they are actually going to do it.

248

Sebastian H 02.10.16 at 7:49 pm

“But leftist policies (infrastructure spending, education, safety net) are still the best bet for those coal miners and their families, even from the point of view of strictly economic self interest. I recognize that it won’t be easy to convince them of this fact (given the force of fossil fuel propaganda they are exposed to) but it is one nevertheless.”

Double ugh. A huge portion of voting is about signalling not policy. The think I fear about Trump is that he seems to be very good at signalling (I’m not clear on exactly how but it seems to be an actual thing, and I’m not so proud as to pretend that I understand everything) that he feels for the middle class. Clinton, not at all.

249

engels 02.10.16 at 8:38 pm

TM: “But leftist policies (infrastructure spending, education, safety net) are still the best bet”

engels has informed me that this is a straw man and that no one is arguing for it.

No, I didn’t. (I did say your idea that The Left(TM) wants to force everyone to go to college, to have a full-time job, to attend town hall meetings, and that the capitalist class doesn’t elicit agreement from some of those it rules over were straw men).

Oh, come on.

I’m not sure what you disagree with. People who are forced to work are slaves and people who have no other option but starvation are forced. Whether it’s 14 hours a day felling trees in Siberia or 4 hours a day brewing craft beer in Palo Alto is a detail.

250

ZedBlank 02.10.16 at 9:53 pm

Maybe now’s a good time to bring up Basic Income. As I understand it, you could pay people a living wage, thus freeing them up to pursue additional work (if they so choose) or pursue other avenues to personal fulfillment, or both. It would also mean that people had more time to do things like get involved with local politics and vote on a Tuesday. All of which would seem to go some way in resolving quarrels about “work,” “labor” and the rest of it. We could avoid Useless Toil and the Gulag.

251

geo 02.10.16 at 10:45 pm

When you are willfully misunderstood by both engels and Rich Puchalsky, the result can be vertigo. But I’ll brave it again.

engels@249: Did you imagine that @204 I was proposing a violent revolution led by a Leninist vanguard party which would subsequently abolish all non-surplus-value-producing industries, take over ownership of all productive industries, and assign everyone work and consumption schedules according to a centrally devised Plan? Set your mind at rest. I was merely pointing out that there is plenty of 1) currently neglected useful work and 2) social surplus; hence a policy of “good [i.e., useful and well-paid] jobs for everyone” — a full employment policy — is perfectly possible in the absence of 1) unregulated private ownership of the means of production and 2) the fantastic waste of resources, in the form of “useless, even toxic” industries, necessary to support such an ownership structure. That you managed to misread this as a prescription for the Gulag is probably a tribute to your ever-vigilant anti-totalitarian imagination, which does you credit.

Rich @240: I think virtually everyone party to this discussion recognizes that “the magic of the market” is why we’re currently f*cked and therefore is not what we propose to rely on to provide those “good jobs for everyone.” Thanks, though, for reminding us that, if we were proposing that, we would be idiots. Rather, we’re suggesting that, at some period undoubtedly more distant than November 2016, a society-wide consensus will form that recognizes the cruelty and wastefulness of the unregulated market and the enormous possibilities of cooperative and transparent socioeconomic relations, and that we might help that consensus along by persuading currently engaged in useless or harmful work that joining and championing our consensus will not leave them idle and resourceless.

Maybe this thread is not the place to discuss long-term visions and strategies. A simple reminder to that effect was certainly in order. But dismissing democratic socialism out of hand, which is what both your objections, in their different ways, amount to, was unnecessary and ill-judged.

252

kidneystones 02.10.16 at 11:24 pm

The Establishment places a heavy finger on the scales. New Hampshire super-delegates break for HRC. http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/268935-clinton-likely-to-leave-nh-with-same-number-of-delegates

One of the wonderful features of US politics is the predictability/unpredictability. Very few could have imagined that a socialist would win a crushing victory over a candidate who pocketed millions from special-interest groups. More predictable is the reaction of the establishment at the hands of the people. The establishment will fight back, predictably, using its tried and true weapons: corruption and lies.

The good news is that false accusations of racism leveled at Sanders by Clinton allies just ran into a big wall named Ta-Nehisi Coates, who announced that he will be voting for Bernie Sanders (via Drudge and the Weekly Standard) . http://www.democracynow.org/2016/2/10/ta_nehisi_coates_is_voting_for

The Coates endorsement is all the more credible because of Coates’ recent very public attack on Sanders over the issue of reparations. From Democracy Now

“… a year ago, I certainly would not have expected, you know, an avowed socialist to be putting up these sorts of numbers and actually be contending for the Democratic Party nomination. But I think it’s awesome. You know, I think it’s great. You know, like a lot of people, I’m very, very concerned about Senator Clinton’s record. I’m very, very concerned about where her positions were in the 1990s, when we had some of the most disgusting legislation in terms of our criminal justice, really, in this country’s history. I get really, really concerned when I see somebody taking $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, will not release what they’re actually saying. That’s concerning. And so, having options, not having this be a coronation, I think, is a good thing. So, I’m stunned, but I’m pleasantly stunned.”

Game on.

253

kidneystones 02.10.16 at 11:43 pm

Why Sanders is the better candidate. Byron York, one of the brighter sticks on the right, devotes much of this article to putting a thumb in the eye of the RNC. Here’s his report from the Trump NH celebrations:http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/byron-york-decisive-trump-victory-sends-gop-establishment-reeling/article/2582918

“And what an astonishingly varied group of voters Trump attracted. At his victory celebration in Manchester Tuesday night, I met a young woman, Alexis Chiparo, who four years ago was an Obama-voting member of MoveOn.org. Now she is the Merrimack County chair of the Trump campaign.

“We just delivered Concord!” Chiparo told me excitedly. “We were getting a really excellent response from a very interesting swath of voters — veterans, disabled people, elderly people, women, blue-collar workers.”

They were joined, it appears, by an even wider group of their fellow New Hampshirites. According to exit polls, Trump won among men, and he won among women. He won all age groups. All income groups. Urban, suburban, rural. Every issue group. Gun owners and non-gun owners. Voters who call themselves very conservative and those who call themselves moderates.”

Hillary beat Sanders only among among richer, older, white people. The demographics tilt heavily towards minorities. We’ve already seen HRC trot out the two harpies Albright and Steinheim and Clinton surrogates are certain to be branding all Sanders supporters as closet-racists, deluded, or both. Cause those are the only cards they got left to play.

Against, Trump, who has already proven he can attract young cross-over voters and who scores better than all other Republicans among minorities, Sanders may be the more better choice on issues, integrity, and electability.

254

Rich Puchalsky 02.11.16 at 12:25 am

geo: “we might help that consensus along by persuading currently engaged in useless or harmful work that joining and championing our consensus will not leave them idle and resourceless.”

How are we going to persuade them of that when it’s not actually true? As far as I can tell the current plan is what TM referred to as “leftist policies (infrastructure spending, education, safety net) ” and what I referred to as “neoliberal solutions (individual education, retraining programs, unemployment insurance, trade) “, in other words, they’re going to be idle and resourceless. Should we promise them a left that does not actually exist?

255

geo 02.11.16 at 1:48 am

Rich: As you say, the left that can deliver, or even envision, a transformed economy and society certainly does not exist at the moment. I was aware of that, but thank you anyway for pointing it out. I meant to suggest, following Lee’s repeated affirmation that the productive capacity for such a society already exists, and responding to his reservations about calling at least the first phase of our strategy for getting there by the name of “full employment,” that the longstanding socialist ideal of a cooperative commonwealth of the producers was still valid in principle.

Sorry for all the misunderstanding this has aroused. Let’s get back to handicapping the primary campaigns.

256

Peter T 02.11.16 at 2:10 am

Lee @ 213

Sure Trump’s only got 35% or so. But the crazies (Trump, Cruz, Carson) have had 60% for months. Further, 35% is more than enough to win the nomination provided the rest of the field is split (note that Trump got 10 delegates out of 20 in NH on 35%). The rules in combination with the tendency of the no-hopers to hang on for one more round means that the window of opportunity to derail Trump is narrowing very fast. See http://election.princeton.edu/2016/02/10/gop-rules-update-one-more-escape-route-closed/

257

Peter T 02.11.16 at 2:18 am

On basic income and the urgent need to fund lots of non-profit-producing work (eg reforestation, ecological restoration, public transport…). The basic issue is that these are not exchanges, and so do not produce money. In a nearly-completely monetised society this is fatal. If say, 80% of what you need to do as a society to survive is not exchangeable for money, then in a monetised society the only way to do that is to tax the bejeesus out of the remaining 20% that does involve exchange. In practice, somewhere near 50% (France, Sweden) seems to be the sustainable limit.

What we are seeing is that, as the ordinary sources of exchangeable value diminish, previously non-monetised sectors (education, defence support, air traffic control…) are monetised to feed the need for exchangeable value. This exacerbates the problem.

258

TM 02.11.16 at 8:54 am

254: If this really needs spelling out, I was referring to leftists policies “(infrastructure spending, education, safety net)” that are possible within the current political framework, not about my vision of a transformed society. I specifically responded to your claim about the rational self-interest of the working class.

I’m pleased that everybody agrees with my assessment at 242. I just wonder why so many commenters here asserted the opposite in earlier comments.

259

Rich Puchalsky 02.11.16 at 11:49 am

So they’re supposed to live off of visions? I went through Sanders’ short campaign doc on what he’d do, which I think can be taken as the aspirational left edge of what people think might be possible within the current political framework. There’s nothing in there about basic income or about drastically reducing the hours in the work week. This does not mean that Sanders’ proposed policies are bad: I’ve several times written the opposite, that they are far better than those of any other candidate. What it means is that even if the left in America got everything that it says it wants — even if Sanders was elected and then somehow managed to implement his entire agenda — those people are still screwed. They are left with neoliberal solutions that we know and they know will leave a sizable percentage of them without work forevermore.

You might say that if Sanders got elected and somehow managed to implement his entire agenda that then it would be time that the left would roll out basic income. But I don’t think that this is actually true. I think that people assume that left aspirations are pretty much the same for everyone on the left, and they actually aren’t, but no one has any real interest in challenging this because it’s better to let everyone have their little dreams since they aren’t going to happen anyways. This is fine for the short term, but over the long term it means that we don’t even have an aspirational goal that would help the people who’d be harmed by our agenda. People get into defending the Democratic politics as the best of what’s possible and ignore the fact that if that’s the best possible there’s a whole lot of the supposed working class that rationally doesn’t want the left.

260

TM 02.11.16 at 4:24 pm

“What it means is that even if the left in America got everything that it says it wants — even if Sanders was elected and then somehow managed to implement his entire agenda — those people are still screwed.”

You seem to have appointed me representative of “the left”. I have no ambition to be that, and I certainly don’t “assume that left aspirations are pretty much the same for everyone on the left”. To the contrary, I think only right-wingers and MSM types make that assumption.

“over the long term it means that we don’t even have an aspirational goal that would help the people who’d be harmed by our agenda.”

You are right: Sanders isn’t a socialist revolutionary. Now what?

261

Rich Puchalsky 02.11.16 at 5:01 pm

TM: “You seem to have appointed me representative of “the left””

No. I’ve said that Sanders’ position paper represents the aspirational edge of the electoral left in the U.S.

“Now what” is what I’ve been saying through the whole thread. The left does not have a theory that tells us or anyone else where we’d like to go or how we plan to get there. Those theories that we do have are mostly hangovers from the 19th century or at best from the New Deal era and are actively harmful, because there is no way to get from them to anywhere that takes contemporary realities into account.

262

William Timberman 02.11.16 at 5:15 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 261

Not entirely true, I think. If we cobble together Bruce Wilder’s analysis of the state of our actually existing political economy, bob mcmanus’s insights into what the post-modernists were really trying to tell us, geo’s faith in human solutions to human problems, Corey Robin’s respect for tedious trench warfare, and lots of other bits and pieces on display from time to time here on CT, you’ve got more than enough theory to proceed. What you need is a little more respect for the uncertainty involved in projects like this. The problem, really, is that, like Moses, we’re mortal. It takes some discipline to devote ourselves to projects we’ve no hope of seeing the end of. It takes faith too, although I suppose that for the really strong-hearted, faith can be considered something of a distraction.

263

AcademicLurker 02.11.16 at 5:40 pm

262: The Crooked Timber Party! I’d totally vote for a Rich Puchalsky/Bob McManus ticket.

264

bob mcmanus 02.11.16 at 5:41 pm

The left does not have a theory that tells us or anyone else where we’d like to go or how we plan to get there.

Chaos theory. Cybernetics. Emergence. Artificial life. Systems analysis. Critical media theory.

Add Marx and Freud (Lacan), feminist, queer and post-colonial theory. Anthropology and sociology. Shake vigorously. Apply to economics and politics (do not read mainstream economists or political scientists.)

DeLanda. Luhmann. Castells. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun. Haraway. Spivak. Hayles. Shaviro. Kittler. Christian Fuchs. Aihwa Ong. Manovich. Autonomists. Wark. Williams. Jameson. World systems.

265

ZedBlank 02.11.16 at 5:53 pm

@ Peter T –

My understanding of Basic Income, which is admittedly not extensive, is that most schemes presume the maintenance, at least initially, of a largely market-based society. Most people still work, but the balance of power is titled decisively towards the workers, since the threat of immiseration is basically taken from the bosses’ toolkit. Thus, there’s no significant shortage of profit-generating economic activity.

As for an extensive, Mega-New Deal type program for ecological rehab and societal well-being, surely there are ways that this is effectively funded without causing some kind of liquidity breakdown.

266

engels 02.11.16 at 5:58 pm

Eric B. and Rakim, Index, Basic Channel, Soulsonic Force (“just hit me”!), Juan Atkins, David Axelrod, Electric Prunes, Gil! Scott! Heron!, the Slits, Faust, Mantronix, Pharaoh Sanders and the Fire Engines, the Swans, the Soft Cell, the Sonics, the Sonics, the Sonics, the Sonics

267

Rich Puchalsky 02.11.16 at 6:08 pm

Here are the major areas of theoretical difficulty / disagreement that I see:

1. Environmental matters / sustainability. There’s a whole lot of the left (however defined) that seems to me to see this as an afterthought or as a club to beat capitalism with (e.g. “Capitalism is going to cause widespread disaster because of global warming”), rather than as a source of actual economics or politics. A left politics or economics should merge egalitarianism with how we’re communally going to exist on the planet in some way that’s more than just the two things glued together. Even people who are good on these issues, like Bruce Wilder above, tend to put in something about the left defending “the commons” when they write about what the left is about. The same for bob mcmanus’ reading list above.

2. The state. I’m an anarchist so I don’t expect agreement with most people, but generally leftists should be coming to some kind of understanding that half of what they do is calling for the state to do more and half of it is calling for the state to do less. The left ideas about what the state is supposed to be and what’s supposed to control it are, in my opinion, confused at best, and people tend to fall back on slogans that worked spectacularly badly when last put into practice.

3. The working class / work generally. Another thread here puzzles over why people have what’s called “laborism” but no unions. Sooner or later people are going to have to come to terms with the idea of the left not naturally being based in the working class and not really about work, much less jobs.

268

geo 02.11.16 at 7:29 pm

Rich @267: half of what [leftists] do is calling for the state to do more and half of it is calling for the state to do less. The left … is … confused

Amend the above to: half of what [leftists] do is calling for the state to do more [of some things, e.g., infrastructure investment, sustainable technology subsidies, vigorously enforced environmental/financial/labor regulation, progressive taxation and effective tax collection for top brackets, unemployment benefits, retirement security, universal health care, universal free education] and half of it is calling for the state to do less [of other things, e.g., weapons procurement, overseas bases, classification and surveillance, mass incarceration, oil, sugar, and agricultural subsidies, and financial bailouts]. And all of it done or not done with vastly more democratic accountability.

Difficult, perhaps impossible; certainly very long term. But perhaps less confusing?

269

Rich Puchalsky 02.11.16 at 7:58 pm

geo, it’s going to be difficult to respond to that without getting into anarchist critique about why you expect the state not to be captured by capitalism (or by Bakunin’s “new class” in the case of state capitalism). But I’ll try to present the problem more generally. How do you expect to have a state that does things that the left wants it to do and not things that the left doesn’t want it to do?

“Democratic accountability” is a lousy answer. Wars are popular and the American public happily oppresses various categories of people with full democratic support.

270

geo 02.11.16 at 8:14 pm

Well, Rich, of course you can’t get there directly from here. We need to sell our fellow-citizens on cooperation, solidarity, and the destructiveness and irrationality of unregulated capitalism. Which is what the left, from Debs and the Wobblies to the Nation and Nader, have been trying to do. Then, perhaps, fundamental change, though perhaps only after protracted violent resistance on the part of elites.

No, I wasn’t suggesting that a population of which 28 percent believes in evolution and 72 percent of which believes in angels is about to wrest social power away from its exploiters in the near future. At best, electing Sanders may advance the date of anarcho-socialist revolution from the second half of the 25th century to the first half. But better than nothing, yes?

271

Matt 02.11.16 at 8:33 pm

The working class / work generally. Another thread here puzzles over why people have what’s called “laborism” but no unions. Sooner or later people are going to have to come to terms with the idea of the left not naturally being based in the working class and not really about work, much less jobs.

Agreed. This looks likely to be a major source of upheaval in the 21st century, perhaps rivaling environmental issues. Coal miners are/were the canaries in the coal mine. US coal mining employment peaked in 1923 at 798,000 workers. Coal production peaked in 2008 at 1.117 billion short tons. Between January 1988 and January 2008 miner employment went from 147,000 workers to 77,000 as annual production per worker increased from 6463 tons to 14506 tons. 88,000 US coal jobs were eliminated in the 1980s, before national leaders had proposed to do anything about global warming. Similar technical progress affects manufacturing: even if you could get some powerful populist government to force American consumer goods to be made in domestic factories, there would be a lot fewer of those jobs now than 40 years ago.

What did the leftier parts of the American political spectrum propose for eliminated coal miners in the 1980s, before we could inure ourselves with the ugly climate denialism of the coal industry and its dependents? What did they manage to actually do for cast-off workers? I don’t know; I was still a child then. Did workers mostly get retrained and hired for new jobs just as good as the old ones? I rather doubt it.

“Retrain them as solar installation workers” isn’t quite as ludicrous as the first time I heard it. Most solar installation jobs, like most coal mine jobs, don’t require post-secondary education. The median wage in each sector is nearly the same. And on-the-job injuries are less likely in solar work.

Coal-to-solar retraining is not a long-term solution, because the amortized labor demand of a megawatt-hour of solar power is lower than that of a MWh of coal power. A coal-to-solar switch eliminates most mining work and most plant-running work associated with the old coal based electricity supply. It also eliminates a significant amount of transportation work; I was surprised how badly the recent modest coal production contraction in the US has affected railroads and trucking. Building a solar plant that can produce X number of megawatt hours per year requires somewhat more labor than a coal plant of matching X, but not enough to make up for the labor elimination elsewhere.

The recent surge of solar jobs is a dynamic effect of new electricity infrastructure displacing old infrastructure in an environment of nearly flat electricity demand. The steady-state employment requirements of electricity production and associated industries will actually be lower with the elimination of coal, not higher.

The US labor force participation rate peaked in the late 1990s. Production per worker has been increasing faster than consumption for decades. The production-side improvements envisioned by Keynes in Economic Possibilities For Our Grandchildren were happening then and continue now. How to translate that into widespread benefits, so the number of jobs and hours worked fall without the wageless likewise falling into poverty, is something that doesn’t seem to have meaningfully advanced in my lifetime. “The government will pay people to do what needs to be done” is a good interim policy. You can find a lot of jobs just fixing failing infrastructure, replacing polluting infrastructure, and remediating the environmental disasters of the past. “Full employment, regardless of usefulness” is not a good policy. And I think that’s a likely result of an open-ended commitment to full employment.

272

Rich Puchalsky 02.11.16 at 8:36 pm

So first you get everyone except some elites to agree, and after that people naturally agree because they agree? How is this system stable against people who don’t agree?

Liberal political theory has a whole lot about this that’s familiar to any school kid who had to sit through American indoctrination in grade school. Set elites against elites, centers of power against centers of power, ambitious people against ambitious people. Anarchists have a lot about how really the best way to keep people from deciding to use an enormous war machine is to not have a society capable of constructing an enormous war machine. But I’ve never really understood what you’re talking about. Isn’t this basically Brecht’s thing about dissolving the people and electing another? With a suitable time period in between.

273

Rich Puchalsky 02.11.16 at 9:05 pm

Matt: “How to translate that into widespread benefits, so the number of jobs and hours worked fall without the wageless likewise falling into poverty, is something that doesn’t seem to have meaningfully advanced in my lifetime. “

Also Hirsch, _Social Limits To Growth_. Can’t send everyone to college and have them all get good jobs, not when a large part of what makes a job good is positional social status.

But the problem of what happens to all the excess productivity is a solved problem under neoliberalism: the .1% convert it into financial instruments that they own. What people don’t seem to recognize is that by doing so they do a service for large segments of the rest of the population whose primary interest is in maintaining a social order that gives them a sense of self-worth. How would working people look down on wageless poor people if the .1% didn’t do that?

274

Matt 02.11.16 at 9:41 pm

But the problem of what happens to all the excess productivity is a solved problem under neoliberalism: the .1% convert it into financial instruments that they own. What people don’t seem to recognize is that by doing so they do a service for large segments of the rest of the population whose primary interest is in maintaining a social order that gives them a sense of self-worth. How would working people look down on wageless poor people if the .1% didn’t do that?

I think that this is a good explanation. It is more parsimonious than alternative suppositions that people who (from a certain point of view) “vote against their own interests” are always tricked/deluded or unable to observe their surroundings. There are different values driving divergent attitudes, not just differing access to facts. I wish that it weren’t so. My wishes aren’t worth much.

275

geo 02.11.16 at 10:12 pm

Rich: Isn’t this basically Brecht’s thing about dissolving the people and electing another?

No, it’s called persuasion, consciousness-raising, movement building, forging a consensus, constructing a democratic majority, and about a hundred other things that I doubt anyone here except you is inclined to misperceive as bizarre, perverse, or authoritarian. I’m simply talking about large-scale nonviolent social change. Yes, it’s a very gradual process, and no, it will not require 100 percent agreement on every (or any) detail of social organization.

Can we get back to the primaries?

276

engels 02.11.16 at 11:26 pm

That you managed to misread this as a prescription for the Gulag is probably a tribute to your ever-vigilant anti-totalitarian imagination, which does you credit.

Thanks (I think). But it wasn’t really the “full employment” part which set me off (I’m in favour of that as a short-term goal if it means “jobs for anyone who wants them”) but your approving citation of St. Paul (shared by Stalin’s constitution fyi). It’s far from a hypothetical issue as it’s currently driving the right-wing welfare reform agenda in UK with predictably awful human consequences. On the ” universal human sentiment ” part see TM’s comments on free-riders, which I think are quite right. It’s reasonable enough to argue that in an imperfect world there need to be incentives for labour but in the context of a wealth 21st century industrialised state “he who does not work shall not eat” is quite simply —and like a lot of other crap in the Bible —barbaric.

277

jake the antisoshul soshulist 02.12.16 at 3:03 pm

Back in my idealistic youth, I thought that the human race could do anything they wanted within the laws of physics. However, since then, I have come to realize that there is another limitation, human behavior. And I have learned that human nature is the greater limitation.
In Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy, the alien Onkali believe humanity’s downfall is due to our combination of high intelligence and hierarchism. I tend to agree with Butler in this. For the moralists, I consider this the human race’s “original sin”. This makes the long term success of egalitarian movements problematical.

Comments on this entry are closed.