The three party system

by John Quiggin on February 29, 2016

Warning: Amateur political analysis ahead

Looking at the way politics has evolved over the past 25 years or so, in the English-speaking world and beyond, I have developed an analysis which is certainly not original, but which I haven’t seen set down in exactly the way I would like. Here’s the shorter version:

There are three major political forces in contemporary politics in developed countries: tribalism, neoliberalism and leftism (defined in more detail below). Until recently, the party system involved competition between different versions of neoliberalism. Since the Global Financial Crisis, neoliberals have remained in power almost everywhere, but can no longer command the electoral support needed to marginalise both tribalists and leftists at the same time. So, we are seeing the emergence of a three-party system, which is inherently unstable because of the Condorcet problem and for other reasons.

Now the longer version

First some definitions. Taking the three groups in reverse order, I’m using leftism as broadly as possible to encompass greens, feminist, social democrats, old-style US liberals, as well as those who would consciously embrace the label “Left”. Broadly speaking, this encompasses anyone critical of the current economic and social order on the grounds that is unfair, unequal and environmentally destructive.

Neoliberalism is mostly used to mean one thing in the US (former liberals who have embraced some version of Third Way politics, most notably Bill Clinton) and something related, but different, everywhere else (market liberals dedicated to dismantling the social democratic welfare state, most notably Margaret Thatcher). Here I’m using it to cover both versions, which I’ll call soft and hard. The central theme is the inevitability and desirability of a globalised capitalism, dominated by the financial sector. The difference between the two versions turns essentially on whether this requires destruction of the welfare state or merely “reform”, along the lines undertaken by the Clinton Administration.

Finally, tribalism is politics based on affirmation of some group identity against others. While there are as many tribalisms as there are tribes, the most politically potent form, and the relevant one here is that of a formerly unchallenged dominant group facing the real or perceived prospect of becoming a politically weak minority, as with white Christians in the US.

Roughly speaking, until the Global Financial Crisis, neoliberalism was the only force that mattered. The typical setup in English-speaking countries was alternation between two neoliberal parties corresponding to the two versions of neoliberalism I mentioned above. The hard neoliberal (in the US, the Republicans) relied on the votes of (white Christian) tribalists and made symbolic gestures in their direction, but largely ignored them, particularly if their interests came into conflict with those of big business. The soft neoliberals (in the US, the New Democrats) relied on the willingness of leftists to support them as “the lesser evil”.

The GFC discredited neoliberalism in both its forms, but still left neoliberals holding all the positions of power in the political and economic system. But the erosion of support for both hard and soft neoliberalism has made the maintenance of the neoliberal duopoly more difficult. On the right, Trump has shown that the tribalist vote can be mobilised more successfully if it is unmoored from the Wall Street agenda of orthodox rightwing Republicans like Cruz. On the left, Sanders has not done quite so well, but has certainly forced Hillary Clinton to distance herself from her Wall Street backers.

Internationally, tribalism has gained ground nearly everywhere, mostly at the expense of the soft neoliberalism represented most notably by Blair. Soft neoliberals have also lost ground to the left, most obviously with the election of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and the rise of left parties like Syriza and Podemos at the expense of PASOK and PSOE.

The ultimate outcome remains unclear. In part this reflects the Condorcet problem: with three alternatives, that can’t be neatly arrayed on a right-left spectrum, there is no stable outcome.

But the more fundamental problem is that none of the competing forces has an obviously compelling solution to the problems we face. Neoliberalism has manifestly failed to deliver the prosperity promised by triumphalists like Thomas Friedman in the 1990s. Tribalism is already a lost cause, given the massive migrations that have already taken place, and can at most be slowed in the future. The left needs to rebuild institutions and policies that have been in retreat for decades.

{ 1097 comments }

1

RNB 02.29.16 at 5:57 pm

Let’s not forget in the US the 40% of the population that sits on the sideline and watches, not even bothering to cast a ballot and easing any crisis of governability. Perhaps they have the lost the narrative of their lives, as Angus Deaton drawing from an anthropologist colleague says.

2

Plume 02.29.16 at 6:13 pm

Good analyses, JQ.

A coupla of relevant articles talk about Trump’s tribalism, his support from white supremacists, overt and covert, which our MSM still seems reluctant to talk about.

No more denying Trump’s campaign of hate

Southern Strategy made Trump possible

It’s truly stunning to think that strong majorities, pluralities and large percentages of his supporters are against the Emancipation Proclamation; wanted the South to win the Civil War; want the Confederate flag to proudly wave; favor making Islam illegal in America; favor banning gay people . . . . etc.

I can’t remember this level of white supremacist id surfacing since the days of George Wallace.

3

le Roi d'Ys 02.29.16 at 6:28 pm

Tribalism is the only possible future ideology, given the massive immigration that has already occurred, I think you mean. Unless the country gets split up into relatively homogenous areas, of course

4

Daragh 02.29.16 at 6:33 pm

I think this is all broadly correct. As an additional data point on a recent trip to Ukraine I happened to meet with members of the Svoboda party, which has a pretty sordid history of far-right and racist politics. What struck me was the degree to which they insisted the essence of Svoboda’s platform was anti-globalisation, and they took pains to make some form of gesture towards racial inclusiveness. One can certainly doubt their sincerity on the latter point, but it is striking how a form of conscious denunciation of neoliberalism has become standardised across the populist right.

5

Lord 02.29.16 at 6:39 pm

There are neoliberal true believers but also more pragmatic politicians who work within what is possible if you want to call them soft. Obama is in many ways neoliberal but also signed Obamacare, still an expansion of the welfare state even if along neoliberal lines. Let us not make neoliberal a synonym for rational.

6

Rich Puchalsky 02.29.16 at 6:40 pm

We just went through this whole thing here on the recent “Disquieting Suggestion” thread, complete with battles over rank order (“how could you favor tribalists over neoliberals” vs “how could you support neoliberals at all”).

As I’ve written ad infinitum on this threads, the problem with a resurgent left is “left in what sense”? It’s not going to be good enough to have a common set of enemies any more.

7

Brett Dunbar 02.29.16 at 6:43 pm

The populist far right has always been pretty hostile to capitalism, the fascists of the 1930s advocated corporatist and autakic policies and were extreme nationalists deeply hostile to the internationalist tendencies of capitalism.

8

RNB 02.29.16 at 6:44 pm

Trump was not supporting the Klan. He said that he could not hear the question due to his hair piece.
From the Piketty discussion we have the problem of whether social democracy has to evolve into a global politics without which for example a wealth tax becomes difficult. Varoufakis failed in trying to create a European politics for the recycling of surpluses.
So some discussion of globalization, regionalism seems important here.

9

Bruce Wilder 02.29.16 at 6:46 pm

Yes — what RNB said.

A secular decline in political participation combined with a gradual shift of politics from substantive issues to symbolic ones has been concomitant with the gradual evolution of a politics that is responsive only to the very rich and powerful business corporations.

Neoliberalism serves as a rhetorical engine apologizing for plutocratic oligarchy and kleptocracy. If “none of the competing forces has an obviously compelling solution to the problems we face” I think we have to recognize that that is by neoliberal design. The greatest success of the neoliberal intellectual project has been in trapping our minds in the realm of “There is No Alternative” and depriving us of trustworthy authoritative voices.

The creation of a dialectic between Reagan and Clinton, Thatcher and Blair, which excluded or marginalized various left viewpoints was part of the neoliberal ideological design and it succeeded.

One reason it succeeded is that the plutocratic elite is nearly the only reliable source of funding for intellectual projects, across the whole range from punditry and opinion journalism to policy entrepreneurship in the “think tanks” of the Washington establishment. As social affiliation declined, there were no mass membership organizations to either fund political thinking on behalf of mass interests, nor to channel mass political education or indoctrination. People’s political thinking fragmented into twitter-size one-liners drawn from talk radio and cable news shoutfests. You can see this in the incoherence of Trump’s rhetoric: it tells us more about the “thinking” of Trump’s fans than about Trump.

10

Plume 02.29.16 at 6:50 pm

I think the ACA was an expansion of the corporate welfare state, and would have preferred something that went in an entirely different direction. Not social or corporate welfare. Simply offering every American the choice of a much, much better deal. A non-profit, all public, zero privatization, health care insurance policy . . . . along with doing the same on the delivery side of things. So insurance and delivery. Free clinics for the poor and working poor.

And I wish we’d do this across the board. Guarantee jobs to everyone who wants them; at a living wage, with full pensions; with human rights minimums built in; with civil rights and workers’ rights minimums built in, etc. etc. So we make the social welfare system as unnecessary as possible, upfront. Have the economy do what it should up front — which is to maintain full employment at living wages so “the state” has very little need to offset things on the back end, after the fact.

This would also have the added benefit of greatly improving overall demand and stoke the economy overall.

Unfortunately, I don’t see any political party going in this direction — even “left” parties that should know better. Of course, in America, the furthest possible left is suppressed by the Dems in favor of the center-right. The GOP represents the center-right and the far right now. America doesn’t even allow the real left into the debate.

11

Plume 02.29.16 at 6:54 pm

Fascists and Nazis had capitalist economies. They may have talked a good game about being opposed to the capitalist system at first, to woo workers to their cause. But once they won power, capitalism remained the system and prospered. Private ownership of the means of production remained. Profits remained. The employer/employee dynamic remained. And they were a part of the competitive, unified markets created by global capitalism.

Talk is cheap. What did they actually do, once they held power? They kept capitalism in place and helped it thrive.

12

Plume 02.29.16 at 6:57 pm

RNB,

You don’t seriously believe this, do you?

“Trump was not supporting the Klan. He said that he could not hear the question due to his hair piece.”

Come on. That he couldn’t hear the question about David Duke, when he said he didn’t know who he was? Which is it? If he didn’t hear, how did he know he didn’t know the guy?

And whether or not Trump himself is a supporter of the Klan isn’t really the issue. His base, from the data we have, hold white supremacist beliefs and are attracted to Trump because they think he waves their (Confederate) flag.

13

Bruce Wilder 02.29.16 at 6:59 pm

It is a little wonky, but I submit that the back-and-forth between Sanders and Clinton over the need for further financial reform well illustrates the problem neoliberalism poses as an ideology and a source of policy agendas.

Such neoliberal ideas as a “risk tax”, increasing capital requirements and macroprudential supervision (making lists of systemically dangerous institutions and asking for “living wills” for dissolution of companies too big to dissolve) — these are all insanely stupid proposals. Once you start discussing them, you are unlikely to be able to have a discussion that would identify effective approaches or genuine points of concern. You are trapped in a discussion that leads nowhere.

Prominent left or soft neoliberals helpfully offer to feel your pain and echo your concerns, but will lead the dialogue back down the rabbit hole, where there is no alternative. People like Krugman, Larry Summers or Brad DeLong are pretty conservative economists, but they play representatives of left viewpoints on the internets.

14

Sebastian H 02.29.16 at 7:06 pm

This really gets at my worries about Trump vs. Clinton. She is the arch-neo-liberal technocrat and her appeals to the left seem halting and forced. The reason I believe Sanders would be better against Trump is that he is appealing to a non neo-liberal base. But it is beginning to look as if that ship has sailed. Even if Clinton wins I hope the Democratic Party learns something about letting political insiders box challengers out 2 years before the real race.

Her only real hope is that the identity politics of being a woman can overcome the repulsion of her neo-liberal side.

15

Lupita 02.29.16 at 7:28 pm

Capitalism only works in an environment of population and productivity growth, pretty much the last 500 years. Now that growth is coming to an end, starting in the developed countries, instead of adapting and changing the system, neoliberals started blowing bubbles and calling them growth. What the left has to do is start imagining what a system without growth looks like and go in that direction. Feminists are the left? Please. This is about capitalism.

16

CP Norris 02.29.16 at 7:29 pm

“Soft neoliberals have also lost ground to the left, most obviously with the election of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and the rise of left parties like Syriza and Podemos at the expense of PASOK and PSOE.”

The Irish election would be the most recent example of this pattern.

17

Plume 02.29.16 at 7:37 pm

Lupita,

To quibble a bit with the overall years. Capitalism began in Britain in the 17th century (primarily agrarian in nature) and remained fairly contained there for sometime. It was violently forced onto its colonies, especially Ireland and India, and little by little in the Americas, but it didn’t really take hold on the European continent until well into the 19th century. It wasn’t the dominant economic force in the United States until after the Civil War.

But I agree with the rest of what you’ve said. The left must present a radically downsized vision of living within the limits of Nature, while making sure that everyone has what they need. This is far easier than one might imagine, simply due to the massive concentration of wealth, income, access and power at the top . . . which obviously means that there is more than enough for everyone to live nicely if it is spread out across the population. We, by definition, have poverty and economic struggles because the top of the pyramid concentrates most everything.

Reverse engineer this, and all can be quite comfortable. And then some. When the top 0.1% hold more wealth than the bottom 90% combined, this is too obvious to remain hidden for long.

18

Bruce Wilder 02.29.16 at 7:40 pm

By making it race over class to beat Sanders, Clinton may well trap herself in a place where she can not compete with Trump for Trump voters by making populist appeals — something which Sanders might well be able to do. She may have to run against Trump as a racist, which means running against the tribe of Trump fans as racists — bad and dangerous politics, I think.

In 2012, Obama had race and class on his side. He always had the option of turning up the populist rhetoric against an enormously wealthy tax-dodging vulture capitalist Mormon. It was a remarkably close race — partly because Obama’s policy performance was not great and the economy sucked — but also a remarkably predictable and controlled campaign. There was never much doubt about the outcome, because Obama always had the option of a populist attack, and even very mild attacks on Romney from that angle were immediately effective in shifting voter opinion. Romney could neither motivate the Southern evangelical electoral base of the Republican Party — a base in relation to which he was an outsider — nor could he credibly make populist appeals of his own, both because of who he is and because of the constraints imposed by the Republican establishment.

Trump has broken out of the constraints imposed by the Republican establishment. Amidst his policy incoherence, he can say whatever his audience wants to hear about Social Security, Medicare, wages, immigration, trade, etc. He’s shown how powerful a populist appeal is within the Republican electoral base.

19

afinetheorem 02.29.16 at 7:42 pm

“Neoliberal” in the sense of “the market as an organizing principal, and the state’s role as supporting the wellbeing of the whole population”, has been tremendously successful, the GFC nonwithstanding. Everyone from the Danes to the Americans to the Chinese to the Indians in principal accepts this idea – it is easy to forget just how much objection there was to this concept in the very recent past, either because a) extraction for elites rather than wellbeing overall implied a plutocratic state (Latin America, classic monarchies), or b) capitalism was wasteful and could not be reined in except by state ownership of production (much of the developing world, major political parties even in Europe), or c) the state’s role as maximizing the prestige or power of the nation, or some other non-wellbeing measure (Fascist and theocratic movements). It’s also easy to ignore that the 1990s and the 2000s were the two decades in human history with the highest global growth rate in GDP.

Neoliberal policies are by definition technocratic. This means that they promise no utopias and have a fundamental conservative bias – in a good way, as far as I’m concerned – and that they are non-nativist because they, due to the second clause in the definition I gave, are unwilling to cede to policies which benefit a majority at the greater harm of a minority. Both the traditional left and the nativists can attract votes by promising simple ways in which particular voters will be better off, even if this is to the detriment of society. Because of this, political systems have been designed to limit tyrannies of the majority, such as split branches of government. In their absence, Greek or Latin American style swings between nativists and leftists, each of which promise benefits to 50%+1 voters with everyone else be damned, is inevitable.

20

afinetheorem 02.29.16 at 7:45 pm

(Of course, organizing principal should be organizing principle above, but depending how you feel about actor-network theory both might work!)

21

JoB 02.29.16 at 7:45 pm

The left was originally “international”. Neo-liberal dominance since Reagan and Thatcher has effectively created a continuous fiscal race-to-the bottom competition between states. This was called globalization and the left resisted it vehemently. Within states the left has since mostly focused on protecting the gradual breakdown of established well-fare states. It has consequently had to identify more and more with a certain conservatism as they’re competing directly with tribalists.

The only real way forward is for the left to be unashamedly international again.

22

Plume 02.29.16 at 8:01 pm

Bruce,

Ironically, Obama basically bagged both race and class once he took office. He went Republican lite on economic issues, and tried his best to say as little as possible about race. He may have felt, as the first black president, that it was best to soothe the savage white beast by remaining silent. Of course, the right never stopped attacking him as “racially divisive,” even though it’s quite likely Obama has been, on his own merits, the least divisive president in the last few decades.

(His lack of potentially divisive proposals, policies, etc., etc. is a major flaw, IMO. In a polarized nation, with an ascendant right quite capable of truly repulsive, psychotic behavior, it’s not a wise move to constantly work with the enemy.)

I still think the party that can make class the main issue, and do so without resorting to fear of the Other, will win for generations. Work to flatten the pyramid and you do far more to radically reduce racial/gender gaps than can ever be accomplished while keeping the pyramid at its present height — or growing it, obviously.

23

Lupita 02.29.16 at 8:17 pm

@Plume

I dated the birth of capitalism to the emergence of banks in Renaissance Italy. I find particularly useful Varoufakis’ definition of capitalism as a hand that stretches out into the future to extract capital and loan it (at interest) in the present. In an environment of growth, the system works and can bring benefits; however, in a zero or very low growth environment, you would just be robbing from future generations since there would be no extra money in the system for interest payment. This is why usury was considered a sin during the low-growth Middle Ages, not because people were leftists.

For what it’s worth, I image a future post-capitalist world like the Middle Ages with plumbing and internet. I know, nobody is going to win an election on that platform

24

Yankee 02.29.16 at 8:18 pm

Anecdotal data: my go-to rural Oregon gunslinger climate-denialist libertarian has been denouncing Trump’s “bad character”. Perhaps T’s support is wide but not deep among the Tribalists, who are no more united than anybody else, as the Bundys have learned. Trump’s path to the Oval Office would involve getting the neoliberals/NPR crowd on board. Nobody but me can imagine that could happen, it would seem.

25

Plume 02.29.16 at 8:22 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Lupita.

I like Varoufakis a lot, and wish Tsipras had bothered to listen to him.

Like your idea of a post-capitalist world. Good start for that. I’d just add that it needs to be fully democratic, inside and outside the workplace, with full public ownership of the means of production — not by the state, or political parties, or anything else. By right via a new constitution, etc.

26

Omega Centauri 02.29.16 at 8:26 pm

I think a much softer version of afinetheorem’s ideas is needed. For the first time that I can remember we seem to have a plurality that thinks neo-liberalism is seriously flawed, so maybe we have sufficient motivation for some sort of change. But, on the other hand, in the modern world we don’t have any proven alternatives either. I suspect the best we can shoot for is something resembling the Scandinavian model, which I would regard as neo-liberalism with a lot of social-minded state intervention layered on to take out the roughest edges. Shooting for other more radical systems seems to me to be a very high risk strategy.

27

RNB 02.29.16 at 8:39 pm

Plume@11. You’re a good straight man!

28

Plume 02.29.16 at 8:44 pm

@28,

Aaah. I should have known, given the “hairpiece” comment. But it can be difficult to pick up online sarcasm, given that the printed word still leaves out roughly 90% of the communication spectrum.

Oh, well.

29

Lupita 02.29.16 at 8:52 pm

@ Omega Centauri

I think we are past the stage where we can consider the risk of change. That is, there is no alternative to change because the birth rates in the 1st world have pretty much fallen below replacement level and shrinking populations do not sustain high GDP growth. We either start imagining how an economic system with no growth can function or the system will just implode on us and we would have to adapt under much worse circumstances.

As to Scandinavia or any developed region being a model, that is out of the question. Capital has been flowing from the 3rd to the 1st world during the whole neoliberal era, so the systems of the rich nations are premised on the continued exploitation of the poorest of the poor of the world, no matter how much they value internal equality.

So the new world order is starting to look like democracy, toilets, and internet… and no pensions.

30

Dan 02.29.16 at 9:01 pm

This post understates the importance of tribalism, I think. Ethnicity has long been the best predictor of voting behavior in the USA. if ethnicity is one (powerful) part of tribalism this suggests tribalism has long or always been the dominant way to sort people out. Ideology has just been a veneer.

I believe this explains why so many so called christian evangelicals can support a guy who shares basically none of their beliefs. He just hates the same enemies (black people) and thus reinforces their tribalism. I think this also explains much of climate change denial.

Tribalism is also Hillary’s best strategy to win.

31

Plume 02.29.16 at 9:06 pm

Dan,

Not just black people, of course. Trump supporters hate Mexicans, Muslims, gay people and Abraham Lincoln, apparently. In a recent survey, 20% were against the freakin’ Emancipation Proclamation!

A large number support banning gay people and Muslims, too. And Trump basically got his start bashing Mexicans.

It’s as if the Civil Rights era never happened in America. We’re going backward, swiftly, to pre-Civil War tribal corners.

32

JoB 02.29.16 at 9:29 pm

@23: Well, the only time the left had any real impact on anything in the last decades was the global anti-globalist movement. Maybe it’s best to focus on the global part of it as the neo-liberal agenda clearly thrives in an environment of sovereign states (to the point it is degenerating into tribalism). That – and a matter of principle: social protection shouldn’t depend on where you’re born. As long as it does people will migrate and the right will go build fences to keep poor people out whilst money flows unhindered.

The way the EU deals with refugees is a good example. Also in this case the left is unable to transcend the borders of their respectieve democracies.

33

Ryan_LA 02.29.16 at 9:35 pm

“20% were against the freakin’ Emancipation Proclamation!”

By bet is that 40% of the survey sample don’t know what the Emancipation Proclamation is — and so guessed.

34

Peter K. 02.29.16 at 9:49 pm

Tribalism and leftism are growing because neoliberalism has failed to deliver growing prosperity.

Instead inequality is increasing and in danger of entering into a Piketty death-spiral. Likewise growing inequality makes other disasters like global warming even more difficult to solve.

The “technocrats” of neoliberalism are unwilling to aim for full employment and shared prosperity. Instead labor markets are kept loose because of overdone fears of government deficits, bond vigilantes, and inflation. The welfare state is stripped away because over false concerns of cost and efficiency.

The tribalists have stop believing in the economic voodoo of the neoliberals and are going with fascists who scapegoat and will make the trains run on time. The leftists are unable to mobilize enough the citizenry to challenge neoliberalism but that is changing.

35

geo 02.29.16 at 9:54 pm

Heard an unusually encouraging talk last week, by Gar Alperovitz. He described a surprising degree of activity by cooperative and community-based enterprises throughout the country. Convinced me, at least briefly, that progress toward self-government was possible within our lifetime. See:

http://democracycollaborative.org/
http://www.pluralistcommonwealth.org/
http://www.garalperovitz.com/

36

Brett Dunbar 02.29.16 at 9:59 pm

Capitalism didn’t start until the nineteenth century. Merchantilism is a very different thing. Corporatism is much closer to merchantilism than either are to capitalism. Both involved extensive state intervention in favour of some interest groups at the expense of others. The biggest difference between them is that corporatism tended to be autakic, advocating that the national economy should be self sufficient, while mechantilism viewed exporting as good and importing as bad. Capitalist economics trends to view all economic activity as beneficial leading to extensive trading links with other countries. Merchantilism tended to have some sectors less regulated than others providing a number of useful natural experiments. The lightly regulated nature of the western capitalist free market allows for many experiments in business structure. For example the employee owned John Lewis Partnership or the Co-operative society.

Plume if you genuinely believe that you have a better way you can prove it, set up your dream body. The fact that you are unwilling to do so doesn’t indicate that you really think it would work.

37

King of Hearts 02.29.16 at 10:08 pm

@30

I generally agree that we’re past the point of comfortably sitting on the current situation. It honestly looks to me as if it’s a societal race between the vast majority of the world population, and some subset of people from the developed world, to see if emergent economic and political systems can develop to better serve most of humanity before the subset precipitates the kind of modern middle ages previously mentioned.

38

JoB 02.29.16 at 10:13 pm

@37: Then our intuitions are opposed but our aims are not. The EU has sovereign states who sovereignly choose to yield to the money and sovereignly choose to close borders. In the case of refugees, yes, better to have none but if they are there better to help them and not say from an academic point of view there shouldn’t be any. They flee poverty and war and neither would be fixed by sovereignty afaics. A global approach on poverty might do the trick.

39

Val 02.29.16 at 10:19 pm

Sebastian H
Her only real hope is that the identity politics of being a woman can overcome the repulsion of her neo-liberal side.

You may not be aware that I’m conducting a campaign about the use of the term “identity politics” on CT threads. At best I think it is empty and poorly defined in most cases, at worst I think it’s a patronising put down of women and people and colour. So just wondering what you meant by it in this statement?

(You have to able to define it in such a way that it doesn’t just mean ‘women and minorities are so silly and emotional that they will vote against their own best interests because a candidate seems to be like them or to understand them in some way, unlike all us white left wing men who don’t have identities and don’t vote for people like ourselves and are all normal and rational’; as well as –
recognises that people have multiple identities and interests which are at times in conflict – which I think you already get, from the comment above.)

40

The Temporary Name 02.29.16 at 10:32 pm

[Clinton’s] only real hope is that the identity politics of being a woman can overcome the repulsion of her neo-liberal side.

The tribe of Democrats may have some influence. She is one, has a long history with them, they pretty much all endorse her. She will be running against a nut.

41

Plume 02.29.16 at 10:34 pm

Geo @35,

Am a big fan of Gar Alperovitz and have been for a long time. He and Richard D. Wolff are well worth reading in tandem.

Thanks for the links.

42

bruce wilder 02.29.16 at 10:47 pm

Special place in hell, eh Val?

43

arcseconds 02.29.16 at 10:48 pm

Does ‘the Condorcet problem’ refer to the possibility of cyclic preferences in the population when ranking options pairwise?

That is a practical problem for anyone using the Condorcet voting method, but does any nation actually use that method?

And it’s only a problem if the cyclical situation obtains. It may well be that for a country using a Condorcet voting method for representative offices would simply never run into this problem: at every election the President would either end up being a tribalist, a neoliberal, or a leftist. And it may be that the preference in the population is stable over time. Just because there are three options doesn’t guarantee instability.

More relevant to first-past-the-post elections is Duverger’s Law, it seems to me.

In a country with proportional representation, the fact there are three ‘parties’ does not obviously entail political instability. The parties get the proportion of seats in the house according to the proportion of the population that votes for them, and then if no-one has a majority, they either cut a coalition deal or rule as a minority government, voting on every piece of legislation on a case-by-case basis.

Unless the three parties are approximately equal in size, one will be significantly smaller than the other two and have to accept being at best a junior coalition partner, the larger party setting the overall tone and the junior partner getting a bit of their preferred policy flavour in.

Of course, often there’s more than one party in any camp defined as broadly as Quiggan does.

I don’t see there’s an inherent problem with that, apart from the problems with representational democracy in general. And even in FPP situations this dynamic still happens, it’s just that it happens within the factions that make up a large political party (so the Leftists aren’t there as a particular party, but as the ‘left wing’ of a party which is ‘soft neoliberal’ in flavour) and isn’t as transparent to the electorate.

The main thing to say about these three general options, it seems to me, is not that there’s three of them, but that they represent fundamentally different and incompatible visions as to what kind of society we are going to have.

44

Peter Dorman 02.29.16 at 10:50 pm

When I teach politics (in my simplistic way), I usually claim there are three fundamental orientations for political parties in modern democracies — left/socialist/workers, liberal, and traditional/Christian Dem/old Tory. They vary within their political space (more or less traditional or socialist or whatever), and the balance between them shifts. Neoliberalism in this framework is an offshoot of old fashioned liberalism: it embraces liberal economics but resists civil libertarianism; it values a strong state for its ability to impose market-conforming policies.

All three orientations have potential for extremism.

From this perspective, what we currently see is an evolution of a well established trichotomy, not something fresh and new. I agree very much with JQ’s point about Condorcet. Parliamentary democracies have mostly avoided unproductive cycling (inability to generate a stable majority), but we are perhaps seeing the full paradox in recent elections in Portugal, Spain and Ireland. Italy has strong potential for this too. Also France, although it has a presidential system, which imposes a bit of stability.

Trump reminds me a bit of Kaczyński but with less religion and more money. Is that fair?

45

js. 02.29.16 at 10:55 pm

I don’t agree with this analysis at all. Sorry JQ! Some thoughts:

1. I don’t think “tribalism” is actually a thing. Even if it is a thing, it’s not the sort of thing that can explain political formations in the way that “left” or “right” or “liberal” can. And if—impossibly—it could explain political formations in the requisite way, I don’t think it would be possible anymore to intelligibly explain political formations in normal categories like “liberal”, “right-wing”, etc. So I think the triad in your post is very odd, it sounds to me like bad conceptual grammar.

Of course, everyone’s so in love with “tribalism” these days that this probably sounds like rank insanity to everyone. Moving right along to the next point then.

2. The (to me obviously) striking thing to me about how you’re explaining things is that you’ve done away with the category of the right, as in the right-wing. Yes, what we generally think of as right-wing attitudes or policy positions are accounted for, back-handedly as it were. But the right as explanatory category has completely disappeared. Which is bizarre.

3.

The hard neoliberal (in the US, the Republicans) relied on the votes of (white Christian) tribalists and made symbolic gestures in their direction, but largely ignored them

People say this all the time and while in some sense it’s not wrong, I think it seriously misconstrues the base-elite relationship on the right. I don’t see how one can look at what’s happened to reproductive rights in this country (obviously at the state level, but see also the federal ban on D&E), or the resegregation of educational institutions (etc.) and conclude that the base doesn’t get very significant aspects of what it votes for. Arguably, immigration shows that the base exercises a constraining influence even where the interests of capital are directly affected.

Basically, my point is: there’s a right and a left (much as there’s been for almost all of modern history). Despite the specificities and peculiarities of neoliberalism, nothing suggests to me that we’ve moved past that basic axis.

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bruce wilder 02.29.16 at 11:02 pm

arcseconds @ 42: The main thing to say about these three general options, it seems to me, is not that there’s three of them, but that they represent fundamentally different and incompatible visions as to what kind of society we are going to have.

I would think that actually the main thing is that few politicians, pundits or voters really understand that these are mutually incompatible visions. Indeed, a great many may not even understand that what kind of society we have is a deliberate political choice.

Arguments about what is to be done gets diverted into arguments about what can be done, given the non-cooperation of people whose vision, let alone real desiderata remain obscure. Many political developments are explained in the media, if they are noted at all, without agency. Trends are the cause, it seems. There is no real choice when a politician gets into office. There is no alternative.

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ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 02.29.16 at 11:32 pm

1. I’m
2. Voting
3. For Bernie Sanders
~

48

Omega Centauri 02.29.16 at 11:34 pm

Lupita: Whycan’t a heavily regulated neo-liberal system work without growth, and why does it need to exploit the poorer regions to continue? It historically did both of these things, because it could , but that doesn’t imply that these are necessary properties. They were properties of its early growth phase, how it can be made to work in a mature (quasi-steady state) world is a somewhat different animal. Even in a quasi steady economy there is stll need of investment capital to replace stuff that has worn out, so some mechanism for allocating capital is still needed.

49

Ecrasez l'Infame 02.29.16 at 11:34 pm

@40 The EU has sovereign states who sovereignly choose to yield to the money…

That’s really not the case, most the Left is sincerely ideologically globalist and Europeanist. The problems of Syriza and Podemos have in many ways come from the fact they’re intellectually committed to these projects, and aren’t willing to step back from them. You see the same forces in Corbynite Labour and various Green parties. They’re not cravenly following the cash, they just genuinely believe in the political projects and aren’t willing to let the economics change their stance.

50

bruce wilder 02.29.16 at 11:36 pm

I think of tribalism as any of several brands of reactionary behavior, particularly political expression shaped by hostility to some perceived out-group, distinct from and contrasting to one’s own group.

It is essential to see that it mostly isn’t related to actual political organising, such as when a person joins and participates in a membership organization that has actual meetings and serves specific functions. So, it is not about union membership, for example. Or, the American Legion. Or, the local Chamber of Commerce.

Tribalism in American politics is a product of sophisticated mass media propaganda, propaganda that deliberately manipulates, by finding hot buttons and pushing them. Propaganda that adopts subcultural symbols and contexts, to accentuate the emotional push-pull, while by-passing in many cases conflicts of interest and actual policy issues entirely. It is about hating the hippies, the libturds; it is about a “war on women” (one of the most effective memes of Obama’s communications office). It is O’Reilly’s War on Xmas (surely one of the more ridiculous but effective efforts).

One thing to notice is how superficial an experience this kind of politics becomes. It can be personal and emotional, but it tends to be light on policy specifics. People do not deliberate at all.

It is not without some positive results. Hot buttons can wear out quickly, as was seen with gay marriage. But, closing ranks means that policy is neglected and politicians, and pundits, are not held accountable for the consequences of their policies.

51

bruce wilder 02.29.16 at 11:43 pm

a heavily regulated neo-liberal system

A contradiction in terms.

Also, net disinvestment seems to be a common aim of neoliberal policy in practice, if not rhetoric.

52

derrida derider 03.01.16 at 12:33 am

“… we are seeing the emergence of a three-party system, which is inherently unstable because of the Condorcet problem …”

Isn’t the instability more down to Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem than Condorcet? I’ve always thought proper preferential voting systems (whether implemented formally or through continual log-rolling in other systems wherever no party has a majority) largely solve Condorcet’s problem through a sort of Coasian bargaining. But with Arrow no one can get all they want, but because implementation of preferences is innately inconsistent then in practice we end up with outcomes no-one really wants. Or have I misremembered my old uni lectures?

53

jake the antisoshul soshulist 03.01.16 at 12:53 am

The American far right is as anti-corporate as the left. But they blame corporate ascendancy on government and Democrats. Their term of choice is crony-capitalism. Under pressure they include the Republican establishment among the likely suspects.

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derrida derider 03.01.16 at 1:04 am

In a recent survey, 20% [of Trump supporters] were against the freakin’ Emancipation Proclamation!

I would lay good odds that most of that 20% had no idea what the Emancipation Proclamation was – they probably thought it was some speech by Obama having to do with affirmative action. Don’t underestimate the size of the minority of people who are simply very ignorant.

That said, the very ignorant remain a minority – which is why HRC, for all her flaws and lack of personal popularity, will be the next President. The Republican establishment is quite right – Trump is just not electable in a general election. As The Economist points out, Trump is a political figure widely known from Argentina to St Petersburg and from the 19th Century to today – the distinctly dodgy ex-business man of steel “above politics” promising to make the country great again (think Berlusconi). They only get a majority of votes in unusual circumstances.

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Plume 03.01.16 at 1:08 am

@57,

They said they were against freeing the slaves. They obviously know what that means. Throw in the roughly 78% who believe whites are the superior race, and the large percentage that believes the Confederate flag should be flown at state capitals . . . . and, well. I don’t think this should be excused on the grounds of poor civics education.

I think all too many people are trying waaay too hard to rationalize what is happening. Trump, if he is not himself a fascist, is obviously pushing fascism, and his followers are loving it. We need to wake up and smell the racism. It stinks to high heaven.

56

bob mcmanus 03.01.16 at 1:23 am

I think of tribalism as any of several brands of reactionary behavior

Meh. I have a South Indian movie rental store on my block. Appadurai calls it the “ethnosphere” and certaily I can come up with many examples of associative or affiliative diasporic or native organizations of greater of lesser solidarity and exclusivity. Maybe it is reactionary; maybe in the case of St Patrick’s day it’s trivial.

I would in addition to tribalism-neoliberalism-leftist use in order, communitarian/traditional-individualistic-universal. Communitarianism is a contingent traditional historic collectivism. Leftism attempts to be a liberatory universalistic collectivism.

57

Lupita 03.01.16 at 1:28 am

@ Omega Centauri

Capitalism means lending money at interest. If there is no growth, the business/industry/country cannot pay back its loan plus interest without cutting expenses, what is known as austerity. Neoliberalism with zero-interest would not be capitalism; it would be another system, one yet to be defined.

“Even in a quasi steady economy there is still need of investment capital to replace stuff that has worn out, so some mechanism for allocating capital is still needed.”

In the Middle Ages there were “survival loans”. I suppose people got money from friends and family, by marrying a daughter to a lord, or going to the Crusades and coming back with some loot. Whatever you want to call a similar system nowadays, it would certainly not be capitalism.

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bob mcmanus 03.01.16 at 1:48 am

59: Now we are all always already in combined and uneven association. I have local communities and a family; I have individual interests and ambitions; I have some top-level universal ethics. We form or imagine temporary or more permanent groupings of each type, agree on shared goals or problems; attempt to reach out for unaffiliated allies using effective combinations of the three affective relationships. This is politics, something like Habermas, attempting to communicate a subset of shared values. One dimension will be emphasized over others for its local utility.

Appadurai: ethnoscapes, mediascapes,technoscapes,financescapes,ideoscapes

Sometimes we affiliate/associate simply on the basis of shared tools

59

bruce wilder 03.01.16 at 2:07 am

bob mcmanus @ 59

Well, yes, America has many subcultures, but affiliative attachments have grown weaker as the formality of membership organization has declined. Consider, say, the character of an Italian or Irish neighborhood in Boston circa 1950. Everyone went to Sunday Mass. Those who could afford it sent their children to parochial school; if the kids were in public school, there was PTA. The church fair or Lenten fish fry was organized by the Church. Most people voted for the Democrats and against the hated Republican Yankees because of clear conflicts of interest between ethnic groups that largely paralleled class interests. And, there was a deep investment of personal time in those associations. Dad went to the Knights of Columbus, Mom volunteered with the altar society. The whole family pledged not to see movies proscribed by the league of decency or whatever it was called. Everyone gave money to the Church as well as time.

All of that still exists, kinda sorta, but in much weaker form. 21st century political tribalism is something you see on teevee and imitate, associate with in your imagination. In the classic example, people still bowl, but they do not actually organize such elaborate teams and tournaments. Politically, that has profound implications.

The impulse to solidarity remains in human nature, but the social framework for affiliative investment is much weaker. If you like, teevee took up too much time, especially among the late boomers and gen X.

As an example, the NRA was once a genuine membership organization representing its membership’s interest in hunting, gun safety, etc. Now, it is basically an industry lobby group, representing the interests of makers of relatively cheap guns — people who want to sell and market guns on a large scale, and avoid liability. They engage skillfully in manipulating their membership thru propaganda. “Membership” is just a way of enrolling the rubes in direct mail campaigns.

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arcseconds 03.01.16 at 2:11 am

bruce wilder @ 48

It’s certainly a problem that the media doesn’t report on this intelligently, and it’s all presented as a kind of fait accompli, and the little commentary that is done uses unenlightening terminology like ‘extreme right’, as though someone arguing for the dismantlement of the NHS and the welfare state has something fundamentally in common with someone who’s pro-NHS but anti-immigration, anti-Islamic and anti-EU.

But I think everyone who’s remotely politically informed is at least somewhat aware of what John is talking about: everyone knows that popularist ‘right-wing’ parties have been quite popular over the past few years, everyone is at least dimly aware that they’re different from the traditional right-wing parties. And lots of people have some understanding of the fact that left-wing parties have been pretty pro-free market for years, too.

And surely everyone who’s paid even cursory attention to Trump knows he is somehow different from the Republican establishment.

No doubt the discourse would be improved if people were more aware of the fact that there are several different politics in play, not just two, but even if people were more aware of this, and had better ways of talking about it, the fact that there are at least 3 incompatible visions, that differ in terms of fundamental values, would still remain.

If you could somehow solve the problem of the incompatible visions by waving a magic wand (and eliminating two of them, maybe) the fact that the situation of having three was never satisfactorily acknowledged and didn’t have a widely accepted vocabulary for talking about it would be of theoretical interest only.

The inadequacies of the discourse didn’t matter so much when neoliberalism was the only game in town. Of course, it meant that the situation couldn’t be easily recognised for what it was, or that there were other conceptual options.

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Plume 03.01.16 at 2:20 am

Lupita @60,

That’s not really how to define capitalism. It’s much more than lending practices and debt.

The single best definition is detailed by Ellen Meiksins Wood in her seminal The Origin of Capitalism.

Read in conjunction with Michael Perelman’s essential The Invention of Capitalism, and it presents perhaps the fullest picture of what it means, why it’s unique, and how it got its start. Perelman is especially good on primitive accumulation and bringing in the voices of the early political economists to show what they had in mind.

62

Chris G 03.01.16 at 2:25 am

Steve Henricks’ “Hillary Clinton and the Northern Strategy” captures the tension between soft neoliberalism and leftism in the US – http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/22/hillary-clinton-and-the-northern-strategy/

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Alan White 03.01.16 at 2:32 am

21 minutes of gold (Sharpie):

http://drumpfinator.com/video/

courtesy John Oliver.

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geo 03.01.16 at 2:53 am

bw@62: I grew up in an Italian neighborhood of Boston circa 1950, and that’s just how it was! Were you there too?

65

Peter T 03.01.16 at 2:55 am

Another way to parse it would be that there are groups who want to maintain or enhance the current system (neo-liberals, elites generally), those who want to keep it with modifications (liberals, social democrats, many of those JQ calls tribalists – who want to modify the system so that it favours their group more and others less), and those groping for some way out (environmentalists, the remains of the old left, many small “tribal” groups, feminists). Bob has it right – you need at least three axes to map it, maybe more.

Stepping back, it’s worth asking why, if the present system has, as Brett Dunbar would have it, delivered so many goodies, that it took the turn away from social democracy in the late 70s? To have a stab at answering this, I think we need to be clearer about the paths we took to get here, discarding a number of myths along the way.

First, “feudalism” conjures up lords and serfs, local self-sufficiency, closed guilds and arbitrary governance. If these ever existed as a system, it was gone west of the Elbe by 1350. That’s a long time ago. There have been at least six politico-economic systems in Europe and the wider Eurosphere since then. The two latest are corporate managerialism under the aegis of a strong central state (starts about 1880, comes into full flower around 1950) and the finance-centred follow-on of the last few decades.

Together, the state and the corporation could tap resources (foreigners, labour, energy, mines, forests…) with a thoroughness and on a scale that were beyond the reach of any previous system. They reached everywhere and literally transformed landscapes. But diminishing returns set it..

Why the financial turn? To see this, stop thinking of money as a lubricator of market transactions, and start thinking of it as a flow that enables higher, wider and much more coordinated hierarchies. if you don’t have a large monetised base then, as Russia, the Ottomans and the Moghuls found out, your ability to command is limited. You can muster a lot of people in one place for a time, but to keep them fed and clothed, transport them and their materials, transfer the fruits of their efforts – nothing beats money. This was Britain’s great advantage in the French wars – it didn’t write orders so much as placed contracts, payable through London (contra Brett, mercantilism’s great aim was to maximise share of cash flow, as the essential resource for both national and commercial success).

What happened in the anglosphere after 1980 was that the cash flows from established lines of business started to falter, both in themselves and as newcomers diverted streams to themselves. The response was to look for new cash flows by monetising government and community (and as well squeeze the lower classes harder). But monetising may improve cash flows but not the underlying activity – hence bubbles – and may hollow out the cooperative base that allows the activity to be carried on at all.

Adam Smith is reputed to have observed that “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation” in response to the doom-sayers of his time. I think there is a great deal of ruin left in the US and EU, so both Trumpism and neo-liberalism still have room to run. In much of the rest of the world, the margins are thinner. As the system degrades, my guess would be that the environmental tribalists will be the main practical beneficiaries, but expect major wobbles and various flavours of reconstruction first.

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Raven Onthill (The Raven) 03.01.16 at 3:48 am

I think this is a very good analysis, and will add that the largest plurality of US voters, per Converse, is in the broad sense tribal; people who vote their loyalties, not policy wonks like us. Beyond that, I think that new media have brought us into a new world, and we don’t understand it very well. US national politics is more and more like 19th-century urban politics, information moves very fast, and opinions change in the blink of an eye. Trump is making a classic 20th-century authoritarian appeal to the nationalist faction, relying on mass media, Clinton is making a classic conservative response, relying on existing networks of power (historically this has failed), and Sanders — Sanders is doing something new.

An organized, established leftist movement has long been able to make the arguments that Sanders makes. But to put it together in the space of a year? Not ever before, I think. That is new media at work, very much in line with the 19th-century urban model, but at the scale of a vast federal republic.

I am pretty sure that Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee (gack!), but new media will continue to play a part and I do not see a clear outcome.

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js. 03.01.16 at 3:48 am

It occurs to me that some people are really just terminally sad that the politics of white solidarity that they remember from their youth is gone. And gone forever. It actually makes a terrible amount of sense, and I can’t believe I didn’t realize this earlier—or at least not this clearly. But it does make complete sense that so much of the “class not race” discourse in the US is really a very fancified cover for: it was much nicer being white when I was a kid.

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Plume 03.01.16 at 4:18 am

js. @69,

That is one way of looking at it. Another is that there are people who sincerely believe that class is the far more inclusive and effective way to end racial, ethnic and gender grotesque disparities and inequalities, and those based on sexual orientation, and that by concentrating solely on the latter, while ignoring class, those obscene disparities survive, thrive and multiply.

So that solidarity that you speak of, when it’s class based, is actually the kind that doesn’t care at all if a person is male, female, POC, Native American, Asian-American, gay, straight, atheist, etc. etc. It doesn’t matter at all. Because the goal is to topple the pyramids for everyone, pull them down for everyone, end economic apartheid for everyone, which kills all the other kinds of apartheid.

The same can not be said, however, if the goal is to end discrimination within classes, based on group ID, while keeping class structures and neck-breaking hierarchies in place. If the goal is to make sure people can climb the ladder, regardless of “race,” gender, sexuality or any other group, then that doesn’t end the vast divisions from top to bottom. It still leaves most people behind. It still keeps intact the ruling class and those it exploits. It just means that the ruling class looks more like America overall. And since we know from several recent studies, changing the racial and ethnic makeup of police forces doesn’t much change the prevalence of discrimination against people of color . . . . chances are very high that radically diversifying the ruling class won’t help women and minorities overall. Those who become a part of that ruling class become part of the Borg, too, and they end up practicing the same exploitation.

This particular old guy has never been nostalgic for “white solidarity.” The idea itself is revolting. But I have been nostalgic for left-wing solidarity, which welcomed women and minorities as equal partners in the fight against social injustice and all apartheids. I want to end social injustice for everyone, and that means for women and minorities too, and I honestly can’t see how anyone could take offense at that.

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Tabasco 03.01.16 at 4:27 am

[Clinton] is the arch-neo-liberal technocrat

That she is, which means if she becomes President she could govern to the left of Bernie Sanders or to the right of Ted Cruz; whatever is most expedient.

Trump, if he is not himself a fascist, is obviously pushing fascism, and his followers are loving it

Trump is not a real fascist. He is professional wrestling heel manager who, amazingly, is going be the Republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America. It’s such a shame that William F Buckley is not around to see it.

70

Plume 03.01.16 at 4:44 am

Interesting article by Harold Meyerson in the Guardian, about the rise of socialists in America:

Why are there suddenly millions of socialists in America?

Excerpt:

In a poll on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, more than 40% of likely Democratic caucus attendees said they were socialists. In a Boston Globe poll on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, 31% of New Hampshire Democratic voters called themselves socialists; among voters under 35, just over half did. And in late February, a Bloomberg poll of likely voters in the Democratic primary in South Carolina – South Carolina! – showed that 39% described themselves as socialists.

Favorable views of socialism aren’t limited to Sanders supporters. The 39% of South Carolina Democrats who call themselves socialists exceeded by 13 percentage points the number who actually voted for Sanders. In a New York Times poll last November 56% of Democrats – including 52% of Hillary Clinton supporters – said they held a favorable view of socialism. Nor was this sway toward socialism triggered by Sanders’s candidacy: as far back as 2011, a Pew poll revealed, fully 49% of Americans (not just Democrats) under 30 had a positive view of socialism, while just 47% had a favorable opinion of capitalism. In 2011, the percentage of Americans under 30 who could have picked Sanders out of a police line-up was probably in the low single digits.

Bernie Sanders didn’t push the young toward socialism. They were already there.

Indeed, the current socialist emergence was foretold by the polls that showed most American looked positively upon the message of Occupy Wall Street – that the 1% has flourished at the expense of the 99%. It was foreshadowed by the rise to bestseller status of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and by the success of the Fight for $15 movement in prompting cities and states to raise the minimum wage.

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Plume 03.01.16 at 4:59 am

Perhaps the dam has broken. From Reagan on, the right has successfully confused enough Americans into believing that “socialism” meant massive government, even totalitarian government, and no escape from this trap. For those Americans who open their minds and study the last two centuries of socialist thought and small scale practice, however, they know this is the opposite of the truth.

The truth of actual socialist theory and small scale practice is that it is the first, best, most effective and humane modern day attempt at true self-government under the umbrella of full democracy. And there can be no real democracy if it does not include the economy, and socialism does. Capitalism renders that impossible. Capitalism is anti-democratic and innately so.

That’s what young people especially are discovering. They’re discovering that capitalism is a sham, a scam, an illusion, with nothing but shiny objects to entice and distract, and they’re beginning to want more from life. They’re beginning to see that life should be and must be more than just a struggle to get ahead. Ahead of what? That always implies the many are left behind, and no sane, compassionate, intelligent human being could want that. Could be okay with so many guaranteed to be left behind. Could sleep okay thinking that was no big deal.

Underneath it all, capitalism is nothing but modified slavery, and when no democratic checks are around, it’s not even modified. More and more Americans are catching on to this. Pretty soon, there will be a fourth party to add to JQ’s list: An actual leftist, radically egalitarian, green party of the people, by the people, for the people.

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Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 8:24 am

My thoughts on identity politics, how id use the phrase anyway, isn’t neccesarily just race or gender, but can also be class or nationality (or numerous other identities). It’s putting all goodness and suffering in some overly specific group characteristic, and then all that’s wrong in the world in whatever the groups opposite is. We are all prone to identity politics at times (banging on about the “working class” all the time is basically the same thing) and I don’t think a lot of opposition to identity politics rises above the level of aesthetic distaste . But that’s fair enough, I can’t think why anyone would like spending their time apologising for (or being harangued about) being a white male, or middle class, or (in another context I guess) being Icelandic among a group of Finnish romantic nationalists. At the end if the day it just gets tedious !
Having said that, if you say you want to concentrate politically on economic issues, and want to build a political movement on those issues, and you live in a country where people on lower incomes are disproportionately non white and non male, and yiu spend all your time complaining about how you’ve lost working class whites men (even if you haven’t really, not to the extent you claim), as parts of the western left seem to do, then this strikes me as idiotic. And if said person thinks white ethnic nationalism is a good substitute for your new less white less male political alliance, then you’ve lost your mind . Opposition to “neoliberalism” can do that to a person.

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JoB 03.01.16 at 8:33 am

@52: I’m not saying the entire left has abandoned the internationalist drive. Luckily that is not the case. Seen from Europe Sanders is also a real socialist from that point of view – and not one that merely picks votes out of discontent to further a localist agenda (I have to refer to the US here since people are rightly excited, maybe Sanders succeeds at least in socialists in Europe coming out of their closets again).

Still, what I don’t see is a drive to organize the left across European borders. Each of the parties remain first and foremost national. I think that’s where the opportunity lies for a new initiative from the left: to first make an international agenda e.g. on minimal wages and minimal taxation (and keeping a lot of things local; much more local than states now, not even regio’s but at the city level) and then focus on current state particularities. That is the only way out and I’m sure such an agenda (also including the environment) can be endorsed by many on the left (without forcing them to join on the national level).

74

Lisa 03.01.16 at 9:33 am

You can’t say ‘no solutions’ without laying out what the problems are.

Tribalism, for example, doesn’t purport to be a collective solution to a collective problem At most, it’s a solution that attracts individuals because it promises to solve a particular problem they have as individuals. It tells you who you are and why you matter. Collectively, it only ‘solves problems’ by motivating people in groups–generally with imagery about a class of interests with other groups.

75

Loki 03.01.16 at 9:50 am

“The ultimate outcome remains unclear. In part this reflects the Condorcet problem: with three alternatives, that can’t be neatly arrayed on a right-left spectrum, there is no stable outcome.”

I’m not sure it’s that unstable. It looks like none of the three are able to on their own obtain a majority in a legislature. So government will be based upon coalitions – either between parties in PR systems or within parties as historically in the US or Japan.

While it’s possible to imagine how it might occur, in practice the Left won’t form a coalition with Tribalists (at least in the form that they take in, say, France or the UK). Therefore governments will be formed by coalitions between the Neoliberals and either the Left or the Tribalists depending upon local advantage and personalities. The Neoliberals can form a coalition with either because they just care about an economic and fiscal policy that is benevolent to capital. Both the Left and Tribalists also care about other things (eg promoting Trans rights for the left or removing immigrants rights for the Tribalists). Neoliberals will be able to give either of the others as long as capital remains unimpeeded. The Left will also support the Neoliberals in order to keep the Tribalists out (wait for French leftists to vote for Neoliberals in order to keep out Le Pen), and I assume vice verse.

That situation could of course be overturned if either of the three could get a majority. The Neoliberals are still too weak. Based upon recent history I expect that in Europe the Left might be able to do so in Spain or Greece. Elsewhere the Tribalists seem to be more popular (especially in Central Europe where in some places the Tribalists are already in power).

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PlutoniumKun 03.01.16 at 10:12 am

Just to add a little localised perspective from the elections last week in Ireland.

Ireland has traditionally been dominated by three ‘soft to moderately hard’ Liberal parties which have interchanged comfortably. Fianna Fail has often posed as a tribal (nationalist) party but in reality has always been a centrist mainstream party (as witness their enthusiasm about the EU). Attempts to set up a ‘hard’ neoliberal party in Ireland have repeatedly failed (the latest, Renua, didn’t get a single seat).

All three parties suffered very badly in historic terms – Fine Gael, the ‘harder’ of the three lost many seats – FF gained, but are still well down on their level of a few years ago. Labour were nearly wiped out. In total, the three parties barely got much more than around 55% of the vote, something unthinkable just 10 years ago where they would have expected 80% plus.

But unlike most countries, they were not replaced by a ‘tribal’ party. No significant party campaigned on an anti-immigrant or anti-EU stance. Lots of local Independents won on local issues, and some of them are not so pleasant, but most are just local activists. The traditional hard left made some gains, but quite small really. Sinn Fein, which has alternated between ‘respectability’ (i.e. being soft neoliberal) and being more radical economically did well, but not very well. They sweep up most of the ‘tribal’ type vote (they are probably the main reason Ireland does not have a hard right party, as they sweep up the disgruntled working class male vote), but they are not particularly nationalistic in any real sense.

What’s been seen in Ireland seems to be the rise of what might be called a sceptical left of centre, but not soft neoliberal vote. The problem is, it hasn’t coalesced around any particular party. It is mostly seen in a good vote for smaller parties (the new Social Democrats, the Greens) and in a plethora of independents and local left wing activists.

In many ways, I’d suggest it reflects what we’ve seen in the US and the UK where there is a new, large anti neoliberal wave among voters, but in the absence of an identifiable party to associated with it, the vote goes to ‘rebels’ of one form or other within existing parties, or goes to fringe right wingers.

Which just goes to show that every country needs a Sanders. The US most of all.

77

Val 03.01.16 at 11:28 am

Plume I like a lot of what you say, but structural or organised inequality preceded capitalism by a long long time, and it seems likely that patriarchal hierarchy (kingdom type structures) was the first form and that the oppression of women was the first form of exploitation, followed by slavery.

Engels and Marx knew this stuff, why are so many people here resistant to acknowledging it? Is it because – to paraphrase js – so many grew up in a time when being a white man was what mattered, and the only important conflict was between white male bosses and white male workers? I fear so.

78

Russell 03.01.16 at 11:29 am

Mrs Thatcher and the destruction of the welfare state? She was in power for over 12 years and we still had a fully functioning welfare state when she left office. Feels like you are just regurgitating what leftists would have us believe. Its a bit like ‘if the Tories are in power they will privatise the NHS’ which is something we hear at every election. Well they have been in power for over half the time the NHS has existed but the basic settlement remains unchanged. So basically leftists lie. But its in a good cause so that’s fine . . .

79

Val 03.01.16 at 11:34 am

Actually I think I’m extending what js said to encompass women as well as people of colour rather than paraphrasing it, but the point is similar – nostalgia for a past when being male, and white, was what counted.

80

magari 03.01.16 at 11:59 am

I’d suggest it reflects what we’ve seen in the US and the UK where there is a new, large anti neoliberal wave among voters, but in the absence of an identifiable party to associated with it, the vote goes to ‘rebels’ of one form or other within existing parties, or goes to fringe right wingers.

This is basically it. Although Corbyn has a chance at least at turning Labour into an anti-neoliberal party, should he outmuscle the Blairites. I don’t see the outlet in the US. Sanders can get Clinton talking progressivism now, but let’s not forget how progressive Obama was. Until he became president.

I can’t help but think of the fracture of the Democrats in the mid 60s when LBJ pushed through civil rights for blacks. What kind of economic calamity would it take for the left and the destitute to coalesce a third party? One finds strong anger against the economy from both Bernie and Trump supporters. Or do we still think the Democrats can revert to being the party of FDR?

81

Lee A. Arnold 03.01.16 at 1:18 pm

I think it should be very easy for neoliberals to co-opt the tribalists.

The tribalist tendency towards “economic nationalism” could give enough of a short-term, localized growth spurt (via dislocations, relocations, and rate differentials of various sorts) to allow the tribalists to become distracted, back into medium-term quiescence.

All the while the neolibs can slowly encroach, with their weirs and wares, back into the legislative process, and indeed cause more short spurts, to make it seem as if it can all work, again.

Here in the US, Trump would be the perfect tool for this.

82

JoB 03.01.16 at 1:31 pm

@82: Reagan and Thatcher administered a slow poison (fiscal race to the bottom) that is slowly eating the welfare state. The fact that it still stands just speaks to its resilience and the de facto support of voters for that type of policy. Universalizing something which has proven to be an unassailable consensus whereever it has been established should be the 1 thing for the left.

@85: Exactly, that’s why the big money funding goes to the right, national sovereignty is the best bet for neo-liberal policies given capital has de facto achieved an opt-out from it already and that cat is not going to get back into the bag (not even when some prefer the Middle Ages as more equitable than the present ages which is so weird an idea that it got blocked by my irony detector).

83

Sean 03.01.16 at 2:02 pm

Some data to add to your analysis:
twenty years ago, I worked on the Australian Everyday Cultures Project which, amongst other things, was interested in replicating Bourdieu’s work on culture in France in an Australian context, using a large-scale, properly randomised study.

Doing a factor analysis of expressed political attitudes it found three main ‘factors’ within Australian society (see ‘Accounting for Tastes’, Bennett, Emmison and Frow, p.255): Factor 1: conservative-welfarist; Factor 2: progressive-feminist; Factor 3: conservative pro-market.

This division maps neatly onto your tribal-progressive-neoliberal differentiation and has the added bonus of being supported by data. Although the research was done in Australia, I’ve thought ever since that this three-way differentiation quite efficiently explains the political systems in other native-English speaking countries.

I can cut-n-paste the detailed descriptions of each of the factors if there’s interest, although I trust people’s Google skills sufficiently to find them faster :) .

84

Plume 03.01.16 at 3:08 pm

Val @81,

Of course structural hierarchies and patriarchy preceded capitalism. Obviously. I never denied that. But capitalism has sent the levels of hierarchy skyrocketing, and nothing has ever funded them to this extent before. Nothing has ever funded their globalization to this extent, either. Capitalism has lengthened them beyond anything previous regimes could ever have dreamed of. As in, the distance between the top and the bottom under capitalism is hundreds of times steeper than at any time in the past.

But the key is those old-timey hierarchies weren’t busted up in the past, which is why they also maintained patriarchy and other forms of apartheid. In all cases, at least outside “traditional” societies, economic apartheid funded, supported and helped expand all the other apartheids.

Reverse engineer this. Topple the hierarchies and there is no place for structural racism, sexism, misogyny or any other kind of bigotry to do any damage. Value all humans the same, legally, top to bottom, side to side, and you can’t have structural bigotry. And this route has another distinct advantage. We will never be able to eradicate how people think about one another. We can’t end racism, misogyny and other bigotries at the level of thought. But if we, as a society, value all humans the same legally (including as economic beings), then there is no place in society for people to turn their bigoted thoughts into actions, and those actions are what we need to concentrate on, not the thoughts.

(Overtime, denied the funds and the societal messaging that inequality is “natural,” they’ll eventually fade away too.)

But without tearing down the class system itself, structural racism, homophobia, misogyny and all the worst pathologies beyond them will continue to have economic power and funding and will not go away.

85

jake the antisoshul soshulist 03.01.16 at 3:22 pm

One thing that I have heard little about is the fact that much of the American religious right abandoned the idea of “social gospel” during the cold war. The logic behind that was that since Communists were atheists, socialism was the work of the devil. So the religious right, which was at one time sympathetic to the New Deal, allied themselves with all things Capitalist. The idea of “prosperity gospel” had been around a long time, but during this period went from marginal to mainstream.
There probably should be a more objective or less pejorative term than “tribalists”.
Though techically it is accurate. And Social Conservatives are united by their social conservatism whether they are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or secular. At this point Muslims and Hispanic Catholics are definitely not included.

86

Brett Dunbar 03.01.16 at 3:43 pm

Industrial economies had lower Gini coefficients than agricultural economies. It is possible to use tax receipts to calculate historic Gini coefficients. Ancien Regime France for example had one of about 0.59. Modern western liberal democracies are exactly the states most engaged in formal legal equality. Democracy and liberalism were invented alongside capitalism at times by the same people. Mills for example. Market economic theory tends to include the assumption that the individual is the best steward of their own interests and therefore rejects paternalism. Paternalism includes the assumption that some people and classes are inherently inferior (women, serfs, lumpenproletariat) and others superior (men, aristocrats, the party), that is the ideological justification for inequality.

87

Plume 03.01.16 at 3:49 pm

jake,

I’m close to the end of Stacy Schiff’s odd but very interesting history of the Salem Witch trials: The Witches: Salem, 1692. The level of mass hysteria involved in Puritan New England was provoked by endlessly bombarding the community with religious nonsense, 24/7, which no child could escape. They were taught to believe in devils, witchcraft, people signing pacts with the devil, flying on poles, turning into animals, shooting up and down chimneys, bewitching children and each other. The judges forced confessions, which snowballed into dozens of people turning in their neighbors, former friends and family to save themselves. Daughters turned in their mothers to save. Mothers their daughters, brothers their sisters, and so on. Late into the book, it appears twenty were hung total, and several died in jail.

We haven’t really come that far since then. It wasn’t that long ago, for example, that famous religious leaders were blaming Katrina on gay pride parades, saying their god was angry with America and so on. (Apparently, however, their god is quite selective in his objects of anger. Reverend Wright’s god was very angry at slavery, the genocide of Native Americans and Jim Crow, but for that he was pilloried by the right.)

The origin myth tells us these good people fled religious persecution in Europe so they could live in peace and freedom here. Um, no. Actually, they fled because they wanted to establish a theocracy there and couldn’t. They did so for a time in America. And if we’re not careful, they will do so again.

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Plume 03.01.16 at 3:57 pm

Brett @90,

Capitalism was designed by the rich, for the rich, and generates endless inequality. That’s its nature. Pretty much all the classical political economists were well to do and men of leisure, who sat in their comfy chairs and bitched and complained about lazy serfs who had the nerve to choose their own freedom rather than go to work in the factories. Eventually, they had no other choice, because the inexorable laws of capitalist competitive motion forced them to give up their own self-provisioning, their own small farms, their own home/local production, because capitalist mass production undercut them and crushed them.

Its internal logic forces the concentration of wealth, income, access and power to the top. That’s its purpose.

You’ve painted a utopian vision of capitalism without any negative impact whatsoever. In your eyes, it can do no wrong or have any ill effects. It reminds me of those old American school books that once taught the supposed beauty of the Southern slave system, and how happy the slaves were at their chores, singing under the warm sun, content, never wanting to leave.

Sheesh.

89

RNB 03.01.16 at 4:00 pm

Word is that Hillary Clinton may choose Labor Secty Thomas Perez as her Veep; would be to indicate that she’s not so much neoliberal as “progressive” which for her is not left because it draws its energy from making practical reforms to better achieve a truly equal opportunity society, not from a vision of just income and wealth distribution. Collective bargaining would be defended as an institution that gives the labor a fair opportunity to bargain for the wage; the hike in the minimum wage would be defended as necessary to make sure work is rewarded, and is a source of dignity and social inclusion. In other words, Clinton does not want to be considered a neoliberal but she wants to keep distance from leftism. So this position which she calls practical progressivism is justified, I think, basically in terms of the principles of an equal opportunity society–not labor or leftism.

90

RNB 03.01.16 at 4:02 pm

@87 very interesting. But no factor specified in terms of nativism/tribalism?

91

RNB 03.01.16 at 4:10 pm

@73 I am wondering whether the youth are just able to see more clearly what is happening–Bush’s bail out of the banks, Bush’s take over of Fannie and Freddie, trusteeship over the auto industry, exploding asset sheet of the Fed, government involvement in health care. Why pretend that this is not some form of socialism already? It’s not the youth that turned socialist. Perhaps they just recognized as the older people could not that the system was already socialist in a way that contradicted the ideology of free markets; so the question is simply about whose interests should be served by socialism. The youth see a socialism for the rich, a socialization of their losses; and want in on the game.

92

RNB 03.01.16 at 4:38 pm

In other words, if the government can bail out the banks, why can’t it help with my student debt? The youth turned socialist because the government already had.

93

js. 03.01.16 at 4:44 pm

Plume — I’m not opposed to class-based politics. But “class not race” is an excellent way of ensuring that there will never be an effective class-based politics, at least in the US.

94

bruce wilder 03.01.16 at 4:44 pm

I am wondering whether the youth are just able to see more clearly what is happening . . .

I doubt that the vast majority know any of the facts you recite, let alone have any stable notion of what to make of them.

The decline in political participation, low voter turnout, the lack of political accountability, the responsiveness of politicians only to the very rich and large business — the dynamics of politics turns as much on this void as on the allegedly tripartite division of base sentiment.

Trumpism is an ignorant way to express anger and resentment. The ignorance is as important as the resentment. But, Trump’s fans do not have a monopoly on ignorance, anger or resentment. There are alternative channels, some of which pass for the left.

95

Plume 03.01.16 at 4:49 pm

RNB @96,

I think young people know it’s not real socialism, and more and more of them want the real thing. Real socialism means no more capitalism. It’s not “Big Government,” etc. etc. In fact, many young people are discovering that true socialism is the best possible path to a much, much smaller and far less intrusive “state.” As in, those of us on the anticapitalist left, especially in the libertarian socialist camp (give or take) see no chance for a smaller, less intrusive state as long as capitalism exists. Unlike “anti-government” movements on the right, which tend to love capitalism but hate (certain parts of) the government, we see problems with any concentration of power — public or private. And unlike those right-wing movements, we recognize that under capitalism power comes from wealth, which creates immense centers of power in the private sector.

So to be against “Big Government” and for capitalism sets up an obvious major conflict, an impossibility, actually. As capitalism grows, so must the bureaucracy of the state and the web of states. And then it just becomes a matter of what that massive state does, who it does it for, and why.

96

Richard Cottrell 03.01.16 at 4:51 pm

Do politics, as such, matter? The UK is experiencing a Weimarist breakdown of a political order that no longer answers the call. The natural conclusion is an authoritarian state. Conservatives are currently gerrymandering constituencies to ensure that the Opposition never gets a shot at the action ever again. Opposition used to mean Labour, now there are two and possibly three faces to Labour. The right flank can easily sheer off and ride shotgun with the Tories, and probably will. The most important single political force in the Commons is made up of single-issue Scottish Nationalists plotting the next episode of the Tartan Revolution.

The UKIP popular front proved capable of pulling support across the species barrier, hence the phantom of the opera EU referendum which has nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with the creeping putsch by the hardliners inside the Tory party. It is difficult in any event to talk about democracy in the UK and keep a straight face. In 2015 the Greens polled tidy and got one poxy bench overlooking the ruins of Brighton pier. They should have had 20 plus in even a modest redistributive system.
Yes I know, its the freaking electoral system. Just like Weimar.
As for the States, then so far as I know the prospect of both Trump and Sanders running independently is scarcely canvassed, and yet it is exactly that prospect which incites fear and trembling in the knee department of the Democrat and Republican top brass. In general the thread underestimates how the rigidity of the 19th century parliamentary system – capital v labour – is redundant, certainly everywhere in Europe. America is experimenting with hard core fundamentalism on the Right and soft core fundamentalism on the Left. Sooner or later there has to be a break-out. The capital/labour divide is a dead donkey. The current election in America is fascinating not least because the electorate has sensed the system is broke and can’t be fixed. Hence the duel between Moses like figure of Sanders and Trump the raging Avenger..

97

Plume 03.01.16 at 4:54 pm

js. 97,

I agree with you if the construction is “class not race.” That’s a terrible idea. But I think the left all but abandoned “class” altogether after the 1960s, so it’s become more of the reverse, as it is with parts of other group identity movements. Tons of exceptions all across the board. But I think issues of class have been grossly neglected for a good 40 years, at least.

Jacobin has a recent article about this with regard to feminism:

Feminism Against Capitalism

98

Patrick 03.01.16 at 5:27 pm

I don’t think you can draw such an easy distinction between what you’re calling the left, and what you’re calling tribalism. Left wing discourse on issues like cultural appropriation or privilege are often indistinguishable from tribalist arguments. And the entire social justice movement may talk a lot about structural inequality and systemic injustice, but when you look at it’s object level explanations of problems and proposed solutions, presuming that they’re motivated by tribalism is a more effective predictor of their behavior than any other theory.

99

Lupita 03.01.16 at 5:31 pm

Another way to see the tripartite political divide is to imagine the investment options a person had during the housing bubble:

1. Neoliberals. They would put their money into funds heavily invested in housing believing that the trend would continue and give them safe, high returns. These are Clinton voters.

2. Tribalists. They would invest in shorting the housing market, sensing that the market was rigged and would eventually collapse. As long as they win, they don’t care about a financial crisis. They won! These are Trump voters.

3. Left. They know the system is rigged but don’t have money to invest. They vote for Sanders.

100

Bruce Wilder 03.01.16 at 6:04 pm

I think you got that a bit backward, Lupita.

The neoliberal leadership did the rigging, before and after the GFC. They were big winners. Their real estate recovered its value and rents on their investment properties have risen.

The Trump voters are the suckers who took out fraudulent loans to buy properties in the ex-urbs, or to take money out of the houses they already owned, thinking falsely that they were in on the con. They were screwed.

The Sanders voter is a recent college graduate with a mortgage but without a house (in the form of student debt), a job that doesn’t pay particularly well and offers little chance of advancement, and no prospect of the life her parents lived.

101

Rich Puchalsky 03.01.16 at 6:37 pm

BW: “The Sanders voter is a recent college graduate with a mortgage but without a house”

That was the Occupy profile, certainly. What people should notice, though, is that this person is not a worker. Not culturally, not really structurally. They’re a potentially upwardly mobile aspiring professional. The core left in the U.S. are people like this plus minorities who are still oppressed under the American racial system. It really has nothing to do with socialism or workers except insofar as these are remembered words from an earlier time. I would guess that the new, young socialists who are being discovered as Sanders voters have only the vaguest idea of what socialism is and wouldn’t really agree with it if it was presented to them independent of the issues that they do care about.

102

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 6:43 pm

This seems to come closer to the trump demographic

http://www.vox.com/2016/2/23/11099644/trump-support-authoritarianism

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/upshot/donald-trumps-strongest-supporters-a-certain-kind-of-democrat.html?referer=https://t.co/1k01sFhNMY

Their two main political values being authoritarianism and racism . What’s the matter with kansasism (afaict) is largely a myth , or at least a convenient exaggeration for a certain type of ideological analysis .

A genuine question, how exactly are authoritarian racists the missing ingredient of US leftist politics ?

103

Brett Dunbar 03.01.16 at 6:46 pm

Capitalism and industrialisation tended to undermine the status of existing elites. The relationship between the development of capitalism and a fall in the Gini coefficient is fairly well established. Tax records allow the reconstruction of income data a surprisingly long way back. The Gini coefficient fell sharply with industrialisation.

The conservatives are not gerrymandering. They do benefit from the abolition of some bias such as the overrepresentation of Wales and that the population of labour voting areas has declined since the last review.

104

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 6:51 pm

As an addendum , this “materialist” explanation (people reacting to declining material circumstances) really doesn’t work (afaict) for this type of strongly driven political ideologue. It doesn’t work for Isis , doesn’t work for most revolutionary vanguards, and doesn’t seen to work for the relatively small group who are strongly commited trump fans.

Link would go here but doesn’t accept links from aeon for some reason , so “Aeon site, why-isis-has-the-potential-to-be-a-world-altering-revolution” Scott atran

105

RNB 03.01.16 at 6:52 pm

Maybe Hillary Clinton will be relieved that Gerald Friedman is supporting her if he continues to acquit himself well in this debate?
http://dollarsandsense.org/Friedman-Response-to-the-Romers.pdf

106

Plume 03.01.16 at 6:57 pm

Brett @107,

Piketty would disagree with you without question. Gini has actually increased pretty steadily over time.

And Wiki graphs it:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient

World income Gini index since 1800s

The table below presents the estimated world income Gini index over the last 200 years, as calculated by Milanovic.[30] Taking income distribution of all human beings, the worldwide income inequality has been constantly increasing since the early 19th century. There was a steady increase in global income inequality Gini score from 1820 to 2002, with a significant increase between 1980 and 2002. This trend appears to have peaked and begun a reversal with rapid economic growth in emerging economies, particularly in the large populations of BRIC countries.[31]

107

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 7:07 pm

Ze k @77. You might well be correct, then again you might not. I still think gender would be a meaningful divider in a world without a class system. Race as well , perhaps to a lesser degree. Probably even being Icelandic.
My own perspective is that even without this class based hierarchy, in a flattened world, you’d still have a genetic elite + a number of bad eggs, so you’d end up in the same place.

108

bruce wilder 03.01.16 at 7:07 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 105

“vague idea” seems to apply universally, though

109

bruce wilder 03.01.16 at 7:27 pm

how exactly are authoritarian racists the missing ingredient of US leftist politics ?

You want to make ideology into a deep commitment to particular ideas or maybe a psychological pathology, and I suppose it is for some people, but mostly it is just attitudes.

I learned a lot from this book:
The Authoritarians
http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

One thing I learned is that leaders and followers are different from one another.

Another is that life experience shapes attitudes. (Shocker that one!)

To answer your question more directly: the right represents the established order and vested interests against the commons; the left represents the commons against the boss. Whatever else a particular flavor of left politics may be, it is a critique of hierarchy and a plan to reform, replace, negotiate with it.

The commons that the left aspires to represent will necessarily be composed largely of people cast into the role of followers and the political attitudes of many of them are likely to follow the pattern documented by Altemeyer. A left that aspires to political power must contest with the right for leadership of these people.

110

Plume 03.01.16 at 7:29 pm

Ronan @111,

Right now the average CEO makes 300 times the rank and file. In most cases, this means a male making 300 times more than women — and other men.

If class divisions are flattened, you might have something like 50% more, or 75% more, or maybe as high as 4 times more from top to rank and file. So even if it’s still a male versus female thing — which seems highly unlikely — the gap is radically reduced.

Which is better for women or minorities overall? Seeing a top to bottom structure flattened to where you might still have disparities as small as mentioned above? Or, you have perfect equality between groups within classes, but the same massive gaps between classes?

So you’d have white, POC, or female CEOs all making exactly the same, which would average roughly 300 times more than their rank and file — which include POCs and women, of course. You’d have perfect parity between hedge fund managers, regardless of race, gender, etc. etc. . . . but teachers and nurses would still be making 50K to the hedge fund manager’s billions, etc..

And if we start valuing everyone equally (or as close as possible) on an economic level, we eventually start to see people as having equal value overall — especially given how large the economy looms in the modern world. Sending the message that we no longer value human beings in radically unequal ways, economically, makes it that much easier to do away with all the other (absurd and arbitrary) divergent valuations.

111

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 7:50 pm

“You want to make ideology into a deep commitment to particular ideas or maybe a psychological pathology, and I suppose it is for some people, but mostly it is just attitudes”

I don’t want to turn it into a psychological pathology, I have no problem trying to understand it. But I don’t think economic arguments are the best answer. I don’t think most racists have consistent racist ideologies (ie a deep knowledge of scientific and historical justifications for race hierarchies) but I believe they are meaningfully racist, and very difficult to budge on that.
Life experience shapes attitudes sure. But “life experiences” is very broad. Life experience can be growing up in a racist household. Or jumped by a non white gang. Or falling in with a bad crowd. I don’t know how any political movement (1)accounts for these multiple ways a person becomes a racist and (2) tailors their message towards (a) putting the target on a road to Damascus conversion to racial egalitarianism , or (b) gets them into the coalition without pissing off all the anti racists.

“The commons that the left aspires to represent will necessarily be composed largely of people cast into the role of followers and the political attitudes of many of them are likely to follow the pattern documented by Altemeyer. A left that aspires to political power must contest with the right for leadership of these people”

Theoretically, perhaps. But in practice i don’t see how or why. And I think the potential costs (driving out younger , liberal, and non white voters who are becoming more demographically important) outweigh the benefits of courting this group who seem to be declining in political importance.

112

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 7:55 pm

Perhaps we’re talking about different things though, or at least different demographics. And I would add that there seem to me to be benefits of trumps base (who seem to favour economic nationalism and the welfare state) staying in the republican tent and pushing the reps towards those policies (if that policy platform is the aspiration)

113

Plume 03.01.16 at 8:00 pm

Ronan,

But the Sanders campaign, and the Occupy movement that preceded it, point to a young and energized left in favor of the commons — all but discovering the concept for the first time. They’re growing in political importance, not declining. And I don’t see any reason why we have to chose between them anyway. We can make the economic argument and the anti-racist/anti-bigotry argument at the same time. Emphasizing class just strengthens it and makes it far more inclusive. As in, fairly close to Occupy’s 99%, though . . . probably more like the bottom 90%.

As mentioned, leaving class out of the picture leaves those neck-breaking hierarchies in place, and they fund structural racism, misogyny and all the other apartheids.

114

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 8:02 pm

Plume, I don’t disagree with you necessarily, in that I think economic disadvantage is the most important factor in explaining limited life opportunities. Even if economic disadvantage is made worse by racial and gender hierarchies, my opinion is that tackling the economics more generally (more often than not) does more good than targeting a specific demographic .
But politics is politics, and commitments to collective group identities seem to resonate more than Marxist jargon ; ) . So what can one do ?

115

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 8:03 pm

Above is response to 114

116

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 8:05 pm

“We can make the economic argument and the anti-racist/anti-bigotry argument at the same time”

Yes, but you can’t make it if you’re courting the racists

117

Rich Puchalsky 03.01.16 at 8:18 pm

Ronan: “A genuine question, how exactly are authoritarian racists the missing ingredient of US leftist politics ?”

For most of the history of the left, it’s supposed to have been about representing workers. You see that in the sociological referents above (Peter Dornan: “three fundamental orientations for political parties in modern democracies — left/socialist/workers, liberal, and traditional/Christian Dem/old Tory”) or in things like BW’s “the left represents the commons against the boss.” I think that this is all just a historical mistake by the left. What a worker qua worker wants is good working conditions, a living wage, and a boss. That’s essentially conservative, not a revolutionary or even particularly left orientation at all.

So leftists through the second half of the 20th century have been increasingly wondering where all the workers that they are supposed to represent went. And that’s why authoritarian racists are the missing ingredient.

118

Plume 03.01.16 at 8:24 pm

Ronan @120,

I’ll have to borrow from you when you say to BW that we’re probably not talking about the same thing. I didn’t see anyone suggest we should court them, and I am opposed to doing that. But I do think we need to include the entire population in the discussion about economic apartheid versus economic equality. This doesn’t mean we court anyone. It just means we tell the truth to all and sundry, and match the talk with progressive action for social justice — inside and outside the political system. We include everyone when we discuss this, and we follow this up with deeds. Not everyone is going to agree, and many will fight against us.

But that’s just a part of the deal, as you know. In short, we try both/and . . . knowing ahead of time we’re going to fail with a certain number. Still we push on, etc.

119

Ronan(rf) 03.01.16 at 8:32 pm

No. You’re right. In that hypothetical universe.

120

A H 03.01.16 at 11:01 pm

bruce wilder @54
“a heavily regulated neo-liberal system

A contradiction in terms.”

Yes, but the contradiction at the heart of neoliberalism. The state must ensure the the the market has a natural environment in which to work. E.G. independent central banks at the heart of Macro Policy.

121

bruce wilder 03.01.16 at 11:12 pm

natural ?!

122

bob mcmanus 03.02.16 at 12:13 am

OT: Preliminary February Global Warming Temperatures …Slate

Ok, now they are getting panicky. A few more months and there may not be any other story.

Almost overnight, the world has moved within arm’s reach of the climate goals …negotiated just last December in Paris. There, small island nations on the front line of climate change set a temperature target of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius rise by the year 2100 as a line in the sand, and that limit was embraced by the global community of nations. On this pace, we may reach that level for the first time—though briefly—later this year. In fact, at the daily level, we’re probably already there. We could now be right in the heart of a decade or more surge in global warming that could kick off a series of tipping points with far-reaching implications on our species and the countless others we share the planet with.

We will blow thru 2.0 C in 2016, 85 years ahead of schedule; so then how long til we blow thru 3.0 and 4.0?

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ZM 03.02.16 at 12:37 am

At the moment we’re on track to 4 degrees of global warming by the end of the century, maybe 6 degrees at the upper limit.

I think we are at 1.5 or so degrees C of warming in terms of ghg emissions accumulated in the atmosphere already based on ppm CO2 equivalent , depending on which probability turns out right. The temperature rise so far has been about 0.8 degrees or so C but there is a lag of about 30 years , I think specifically for carbon emissions due to the role of the oceans I think.

To maintain 1 – 1.5 degrees C of temperature rise in the long run the idea would be to rapidly decrease ghg emissions, put more focus on short lived ghg emissions like methane (if there was a 40% decrease in methane emissions that would decrease temperatures by around .5 degrees C, this would be partly from decreasing livestock but also addressing methane from natural gas mining and other sources like waste management landfill, methane digesters can be used to turn methane into energy) and also draw down ghg emissions by reforestation and afforestation , better land management to improve carbon levels in the soil, and also things like algae farming.

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bob mcmanus 03.02.16 at 12:44 am

128: Article at 127 says we are at 1.5 C above baseline right now, with an unexplained spiking in the last6 mo/18 mo. I am guessing that this spike continues, so we are 2.0 C above baseline by 2017

Guy McPherson “How Hot, How Fast”

“Civilization will not persist beyond 2 C above baseline, which translates to at least twice that temperature rise within the interior of large continents where grains are grown (thus sustaining civilization)”

Cheers.

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Raven Onthill 03.02.16 at 12:52 am

Race and class are not separable in the USA; it surprises me anyone can argue as though they were. “What else is white supremacism if not the ideology and practices of a class system? What else was US white supremacism founded on if not the desire to gain wealth by enslaving Africans?” — Me, Thoughts on race, class, and wealth

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 1:02 am

I remember back in the 90s there was a guy (now passed away, so I won’t mention his name) who decided that environmentalist concerns about sustainability were unfounded, so every time there was a downtick in commodity prices of some kind, he’d post and say like “See? This shows that it was all nonsense.” Upticks didn’t get the same treatment. (Or maybe it was crop yields or something of the kind.)

Then later on the global warming deniers got into the act. The global temperature chart is sharply going up but there is, of course, noise, so whenever there was a spike followed by a trough they’d post “See? Global temperature is actually declining!”

So this is what the left needs to do now too, I guess. Every time there’s a temperature spike, it’s “We’ve reached the allowable global average temperature rise already!” That will give us the credibility we need to convince people to prepare for the long process of decarbonizing society.

It’s sad.

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Val 03.02.16 at 1:50 am

Bob – I meant to say in response to a comment by you in an earlier thread that in my local area, in October and December last year we had average maximum temperatures that were nearly 6C and 4.5C respectively above the long term average. Not only that, they were the highest ever recorded, by 1.9C in October and .9C in December.

Even those anomalies though pale in comparison with some in the arctic region in the Slate article you linked.

A further worrying thing is that January and February have been closer to the norm and I have seen some media articles talking about our ‘mild summer’. In fact both months have been about 1C above the long term average, but it seems like that has become the ‘new normal’ (or even the new ‘mild summer’). It is a worrying example of the ‘boiling frog’ syndrome.

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heckblazer 03.02.16 at 1:54 am

In the US context I’ve generally seen the division described as the business party, the liberal party and the white supremacist party[1]. It used to be that the liberals and the white supremacists formed an alliance in the Democratic Party. This was the New Deal coalition, and it successfully implemented social welfare programs like Social Security, the GI Bill and the US Housing Authority, but only on the condition that blacks didn’t share the benefits (see e.g. Coates on how blacks were systematically denied housing benefits). Starting in the 50s liberals with the assistance of parts of the business party started dismantling Jim Crow, which alienated the racists. Nixon and his notorious Southern Strategy attempted to capitalize on this and peel off votes their votes.
In 1980 and the election of Reagan it paid off, and started a realignment in which the white racists switched coalitions from the liberals to business, thus becoming Republicans. This realignment was mostly finished by the Gingrich revolution. The liberal response under Clinton was to start courting the business party, which triggered a second realignment. This one probably finished round the time Arlen Specter switched parties from Republican to Democrat in 2009. So that’s where we are today – a business party that’s split between allying with white racists and allying with liberals, and now in each case (possibly) starting to switch from being the senior partner to the junior one.

I expect that this history in part explains skepticism by older blacks of Bernie Sanders – they remember being cut out of social and economic reforms and so need specific reassurance it wouldn’t happen again. The other part is that they also have concerns that are at best loosely connected to economics and are directly connected to their physical well-being – like being beaten and killed with impunity by the police. Many women are in similar position of their physical person being under threat, with the problems of rape, domestic abuse and being forced to carry pregnancies to term . You can’t expect people to be patient when it’s their own body under threat, so to get their vote you need to at the least listen to their concerns.

[1] Conservative religious groups in the US are deeply entwined with racism, which is why I just label it the “white supremacist party”. The rise of the Religious Right in the 1970s in particular was sparked by lawsuit attempting to integrate the religious Bob Jones University. If you want to push back further, the Southern Baptist Convention broke off from other Baptists explicitly because the SBC folks supported slavery.

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js. 03.02.16 at 2:24 am

You can’t expect people to be patient when it’s their own body under threat, so to get their vote you need to at the least listen to their concerns.

A point that is evidently difficult to grasp for people whose bodies have never been under threat.

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ZM 03.02.16 at 2:35 am

bob mcmanus,

“128: Article at 127 says we are at 1.5 C above baseline right now, with an unexplained spiking in the last6 mo/18 mo. I am guessing that this spike continues, so we are 2.0 C above baseline by 2017”

We are at about 0.8 degrees C rise in average global temperatures now (or about 1 degrees as your article says), with about 1.5 degrees C locked in. Due to the climate system being a equilibria sort of system, you get fluctuations as it reaches towards a new equilibrium, except we keep emitting ghg so the climate system won’t reach an equilibrium until this stops, and then we have to draw down ghg until about 2100.

Your article says “Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age until last October to reach the first 1.0 degree Celsius, and we’ve come as much as an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the last five months”

This is not how you calculate rises in average temperatures saying it took from the industrial age to last October to reach 1 degrees of global warming and in just the last 5 months now we have gone 0.4 degrees warmer which is completely impossible in only 4 months to happen due to ghg emissions unless there was some sort of great disaster — you have to plot out the temperatures everywhere and find a line in the middle over a long period of time, as otherwise the temperatures go up and down every which way with the trend being upwards but spikes in temperature do not reflect the average rise in temperature.

As Val says, some temperatures are up several degrees, in the Rift Valley in Africa that is already experiences warming of 4 degrees C higher than normal.

“Guy McPherson “How Hot, How Fast” Civilization will not persist beyond 2 C above baseline, which translates to at least twice that temperature rise within the interior of large continents where grains are grown (thus sustaining civilisation)”
Cheers.”

This is why now all the countries have agreed to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees, and there is also wording about keeping global warming to what is scientifically safe, which scientists like James Hansen says is 1 degrees C and 350ppm CO2 equiv, which we passed already as now we are at 400ppm CO2 equiv.

However, there is still time to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by transforming stationary energy to renewable energy technologies, improving energy efficiency, changing transport systems and choices, improving farming techniques, improving waste management and recycling, stopping deforestation and changing to reforestation, etc

Within urban areas temperatures can be reduced by about 4 degrees through improving the urban canopy — meaning more plants in urban areas. Also daylighting water ways decreases temperatures as well. Planting trees in farming areas would probably lower the temperatures there as well, which would be beneficial for crops, but less convenient for automated harvesting and so on as you would have to go around the trees and shrubs all the time.

LFC said you lived in Texas, in Houston there is a good example of urban cooling and improving biodiversity any reconnecting the bayous, and they also are increasing use of mass transit by improving the bus system.

“While long dependent on the oil and gas industry, Houston is increasingly investing in sustainability. The city’s $480 million Bayou Greenways Initiative, a massive public-private project, will connect 10 bayous and creeks across the city and its periphery. In the past, bayous were straightened out and paved over to control flooding. Now, Houston is bringing these low-lying rivers back to their natural life: slow, gleaming waterways full of fish and bordered by wildflowers, grasses, and native trees. The city is also adding 4,000 acres of new and equitably distributed green spaces that will improve water quality. And it’s providing an alternative to high-traffic streets by developing 300 continuous miles of hike-and-bike trails along the bayous. When complete, an estimated six in 10 residents will live within 1.5 miles of a bayou, park, or trail. For the nation’s fourth-largest city, which sprawls over some 600 square miles, this is a powerful way to stitch its diverse population together.”

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Val 03.02.16 at 2:38 am

Plume
This particular old guy has never been nostalgic for “white solidarity.” The idea itself is revolting. But I have been nostalgic for left-wing solidarity, which welcomed women and minorities as equal partners in the fight against social injustice and all apartheids.

The trouble is Plume that you are nostalgic for something that didn’t actually exist. I remember the new left of the 1960s, and I remember that women were still expected to make the tea, while the men made the decisions. That was part of the motivation for second wave feminism.

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Val 03.02.16 at 2:42 am

And, more recently, I remember in the early part of this century, having online arguments with men in the Greens, who claimed that paid maternity leave was just ‘middle class welfare’, and I remember being told that the reason I disagreed with them was because I ‘hated men’.

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jake the antisoshul soshulist 03.02.16 at 2:51 am

I call it the mostly-white Christian conservative party. Though you could swap reactionary for conservative. Social conservative culturism is mostly what unites them. Their prejudices are more class and cultural than racial. But of course, in the US those are not separate.

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The Temporary Name 03.02.16 at 3:11 am

I remember being told that the reason I disagreed with them was because I ‘hated men’.

An understandable if not excellent reason to hate men.

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Plume 03.02.16 at 3:35 am

Val @136,

I don’t have any direct experience with leftist organizations in the 1960s. I was too young. College was in the 1970s for me, then back again in the 1980s, and for a last hurrah in the 1990s. My early activism was late 1970s, early 1980s, and I remember the unspoken assumption being that we were all equals in our little circle — mostly food co-op/enviro stuff. No words were needed to make sure this was the case. It just was. Women weren’t expected to make tea for anyone, and we were all pretty good at taking turns for that kind of thing. The quality of the tea, whether it was fair trade or not, was far, far more important than who made it or brought it to us. Women were also leaders, organizers, facilitators, just like the guys.

I suppose everyone has their own, quite different experiences, which is one of the best reasons for not drawing universals from particulars . . . . though I guess I just sorta did.

;>)

As for your online problems. I’m sorry you had to go through that, and I definitely hope it never moved beyond boorishness — which is rotten enough. I also hope it was the exception and not the rule. Life is too short for that garbage.

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clew 03.02.16 at 3:37 am

a recent college graduate with a mortgage but without a house”

That was the Occupy profile, certainly. What people should notice, though, is that this person is not a worker. Not culturally, not really structurally. They’re a potentially upwardly mobile aspiring professional.

This person may be foredoomed to service jobs without promotion paths, or the ‘gig economy’. That’s not a profession, there’s no control over the conditions of labor, the US has made it extra hard to organize — maybe because the New Deal threw domestic workers under the bus — the college degree is only *sold* as a guarantee of being middle-class.

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LFC 03.02.16 at 3:40 am

@ZM
LFC said you [mcmanus] lived in Texas

I want to make clear that I only said that because I recalled that mcmanus himself had said it here in the past. I know nothing about mcmanus beyond what he himself has chosen to reveal about himself in comments here.

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clew 03.02.16 at 3:42 am

Oh, good grief, Plume, I was young and politicking in the 1980s and 1990s and lefties hadn’t gotten over sexism. “Sex positivity” meant “saying no is elitist”, that’s a catch-22 I remember vividly. I didn’t appreciate being told my person was a common resource, even though Karl Marx himself had the counterargument.

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clew 03.02.16 at 3:43 am

Phoo, I mis-formatted 141. Both the first and second paras are quoted, the second is a response to the first and the third my response to the second.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 3:47 am

“This person may be foredoomed to service jobs without promotion paths, or the ‘gig economy’.”

Sure, but that’s why I wrote “potentially upwardly mobile aspiring professional”. In general people in this category are going to be dissatisfied as long as their education doesn’t get them the social / financial success that they think it should lead to. Those of them that do manage to become professionals tend to drop their leftism and become typical U.S. liberals. In short, “socialism” in the U.S. may have support among the young but it’s a mile wide and an inch deep.

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Plume 03.02.16 at 3:59 am

Clew @143,

Are you claiming that all lefties treated you this way? That lefties as a group are all guilty of sexism and boorish behavior?

Or was it a few, which would tally up with the same rotten behavior in any other group in America?

Come on. One of the things we’re supposed to be fighting against is this kind of sweeping judgment, prejudging our fellow humans based on certain select criteria, and then treating them accordingly.

As I said to Val, I am sorry this happened to you. But it is not fair or accurate to condemn the entire left for the actions of a few. How is that better than assuming all women are X, or all blacks are X, etc. etc.?

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Reason_Asylum 03.02.16 at 4:03 am

Good theories, and I think one commenter mentioned it already, but a part of the Left should actually be viewed as a form of “Tribalism”. That is to say, the Feminist and Social Justice segment of the “Left”. And currently, these “Tribalist” components of the Left have decisively swung to Hillary, as she is winning women by large margins and black voters by 85pct+.

I’m not sure how much the racialized component of identity politics can be translated across the world however. In Canada, immigrant citizens voted for Conservativesin 2011 and Liberals in 2015. In Europe they do trend towards the center-left Socialist parties and centrist Liberal parties. I have no idea how ethnic minorities are doing in Australia however.

Either way, there’s an interesting division in the Left today between the more old-fashioned liberals, social democrats, environmentalists and oldskool Socialists, and the Identity politic types that include Feminists, Civil Rights activists/Afrocentrists, Radicals, Anarchists and Marxists.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of the former group voting for Donald Trump above Hillary Clinton. Also I wouldn’t be surprised to see many “hard” neoliberal and neoconservatives voting for Hillary over Trump as well (but probably less in number).

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bob mcmanus 03.02.16 at 4:03 am

reach 1 degrees of global warming and in just the last 5 months now we have gone 0.4 degrees warmer which is completely impossible in only 4 months to happen due to ghg emissions unless there was some sort of great disaster

Sorry that is just what they are saying. Global mean temperature has gone up 0.4 C degrees in 5 months. 0.1 is the maximum contribution of El Nino.

I have never believed they had a complete understanding of the systemic or cumulative effects or tipping points and that the vast majority of climate scientist were likely to be erring on the optimistic side by a large amount.

But hey if we are in a surge or tipping point they are not gonna be able to keep it secret and better minds than I will talking about it a lot, although again, I think the tendency will be to be overoptimistic. Because revolution and a command economy is gonna be hard.

We should done it 16 years ago.

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LFC 03.02.16 at 4:06 am

R Puchalsky @121
So leftists through the second half of the 20th century have been increasingly wondering where all the workers that they are supposed to represent went.

Though manufacturing as a percentage of U.S. overall output (or GDP) has not declined much, or so I gather, in recent decades, the number of workers employed in manufacturing has certainly declined, for a variety of reasons. Whole communities and entire towns have been effectively pauperized by deindustrialization. A long time ago, though well w/in “the second half of the 20th cent.,” I had occasion to spend some time in southern West Virginia. Never an esp. prosperous area, the decline in the number of coal mining jobs there has been devastating b/c relatively little has replaced them. (This is not to defend coal, of course, I’m making a sociological point.)

Left wing parties in ‘advanced’ capitalist democracies traditionally saw themselves as reps of industrial workers. As those workers compose a smaller part of the workforce than before, the base of left parties has eroded. Organizing among public-sector and service workers (teachers, nurses, clerks, etc.) has not been an entirely adequate substitute.

I don’t think left parties (or in the U.S. context, left-liberal Dems and others) have been “wondering” about where the workers went. It’s pretty obvious. For structural and other reasons the economies changed.

Enter Trump, with his promises to bring back lots of manufacturing jobs. In his speeches that I’ve heard, he offers no detailed indication at all of how he proposes to do that, beyond vague phrases about getting tough with China. He may favor specific measures such as raising tariffs, but any such specific proposals are apparently confined to his web site (which most people are not going to read) and are not mentioned in his public appearances.

In short, whether workers want a boss or want to get rid of bosses is less relevant in this context than the fact that the traditional industrial proletariat, coupled w what Lenin (I think) called the labor aristocracy (fairly well-pd industrial workers), has diminished considerably.

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js. 03.02.16 at 4:06 am

Plume — Because it was (and is) a systemic problem. I mean, seriously, the New Left was practically famous for its sexist attitudes (I wasn’t around for it, but it’s well-attested and film and fiction, just for e.g. You could try The Golden Notebook or for a later, more obscure example, Die Dritte Generation.) Look, the fact that some poor people manage to do doesn’t solve the systemic problem of declining social mobility, right? Similarly, some nice dudes don’t undo the systemic problem of sexist attitudes and behavior on the left.

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ZM 03.02.16 at 4:26 am

bob mcmanus,

“Sorry that is just what they are saying. Global mean temperature has gone up 0.4 C degrees in 5 months. 0.1 is the maximum contribution of El Nino.”

The global mean temperature can’t go up by 0.4 degrees C in 5 months — this is a spike in the data. If you look at the graphs of temperatures there is a line down the middle and spikes up and down — it is the line down the middle that counts — and I can assure you we are not entering a period where average temperatures are going to rise 0.4 degrees C every 5 months, since that is not possible.

Think about the weather — it goes up and down all the time. One January can be very hot and have bushfires and then the next January can be rainy and cold with floods. That is why it is the line down the middle of all the up and down spikes that is important and demonstrates an upwards trend.

But the spikes themselves involve normal weather variability, and the global average (or mean I get them confused) temperature will not be rising 0.4 degrees C every 5 months since its not possible. The editor should have checked the Slate journalist’s copy before publishing it online. If this was a Corey Robin thread he could pass this on, but it’s not.

Yes it is a shame more wasn’t done 16 years ago. In Australia the centre-right Liberal Party actually had a better climate change policy in the early 1990s than either of the major parties have now Federally.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 4:30 am

LFC: “I don’t think left parties (or in the U.S. context, left-liberal Dems and others) have been “wondering” about where the workers went. It’s pretty obvious. For structural and other reasons the economies changed.”

If “workers” are industrial workers in factories then yes, they are barely a class any more. Like agricultural workers in the U.S. (2% of the population, last time I’d looked) they may well make critically important products, but they aren’t numerically important in an electoral sense.

But what I’m trying to get at is that for a left that still thinks of itself as being for workers, this is a tremendously unsettling development. The natural response is to say — as left theory generally always held — that any prole working for a wage was a worker. Therefore most of the service economy was workers, governmental employees were workers, etc. I remember a whole cottage industry trying to convince e.g. academics that they too were workers and should share in worker class consciousness and solidarity.

The only problem with this approach is that it’s just not true. Not culturally, not in terms of conditions and relationships of production, not in terms of basic class interest. Most critically for the left, I see a sort of inversion — the left’s strength is basically in educated professionals, the marginally working poor, and racial minorities. But in a sort of permanent Halloween, these people have to metaphorically dress themselves up as and pretend to be workers. It leads to a left that’s unable to squarely face the actual interests of its core supporters.

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Plume 03.02.16 at 4:37 am

js. @149,

I read Lessing’s The Golden Notebook a long time ago and loved it. It’s one of my favorite novels, ever. But it’s a novel. It’s not a systematic study of the supposed systematic sexism on the left.

Sorry, but I don’t buy that it was any worse than sexism in the country overall, and I’m responding to what appeared to be blanket condemnation of all male leftists, not that sexism isn’t systemic. It is. Obviously. It was then. It’s been the case for thousands of years and the patriarchy must end — which is why I’m for pulling down all pyramids, all hierarchies. Knock them all down.

Thing is, we’re not going to be able to solve anything if we’re so busy attacking one another, fighting each other, condemning entire groups or genders within the left . . . . while the right looks on and laughs. The left keeps eating their own, which is another big reason why its so damn ineffective and marginalized.

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heckblazer 03.02.16 at 5:01 am

Clew @ 141:

It wasn’t anything to do with the New Deal that makes it so hard for workers to unionize in the US. The culprit was the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which Truman vetoed only for Congress to override it.

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F. Foundling 03.02.16 at 5:33 am

On sexism on the left: it’s one thing to admit that the left, too, has had residual sexist attitudes; it’s another to deny that it has been the part of the political spectrum most, not least dedicated to the solidarity and equality of sexes. Perhaps it should be pointed out that at at a time when there was barely a place in the world where women had the right to vote, Rosa Luxembourg (among many other female revolutionaries) did *not* spend her time making tea while men made the decisions.

@Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 4:30 am
>the left’s strength is basically in educated professionals, the marginally working poor, and racial minorities. But in a sort of permanent Halloween, these people have to metaphorically dress themselves up as and pretend to be workers. It leads to a left that’s unable to squarely face the actual interests of its core supporters.

I’m afraid that the problem might be not the lack of understanding of this fact, but rather the fact itself. The political development that we are seeing might be exactly what corresponds to this sort of composition of the left – on the one hand, defeats in the shape of skyrocketing economic inequality, destruction of the welfare state, power of employers over employees and banker abuses, but on the other hand, increased sensitivity and tolerance for all kinds of diversity and symbolic ‘victories’ on cultural issues like same-sex marriage and the renaming of buildings bearing Woodrow Wilson’s name. The logical endpoint being the upper 1 % composed of racially and sexually diverse superrich exploiting to death the lower 99 % composed of racially and sexually diverse starving serfs. This has been the apparent direction of development for quite some time now, and I would consider such an outcome to be a complete, utter defeat for leftism and for humanity in general.

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LFC 03.02.16 at 5:35 am

RP @151
On a theoretical level, the changes posed challenges for the left; but on the practical political level, service workers, govt workers, workers in the growing temp and contingent sectors of the economy, etc. do have some common interests. There’s no reason alliances can’t be formed w elements of the technical/managerial/professional ‘classes’ (or the so-called ‘new class’ as the debates of the ’70s and ’80s labeled it). Sanders, at least according to some analyses, has been getting some considerable support from across the class spectrum. All of which is not to deny that many of the problems you’re pointing to are real, but I think the Halloween metaphor is an exaggeration. (And having entered this thread late, I’m rather tempted to bow out of it early.)

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Val 03.02.16 at 5:41 am

Plume
Thing is, we’re not going to be able to solve anything if we’re so busy attacking one another, fighting each other, condemning entire groups or genders within the left . . . . while the right looks on and laughs. The left keeps eating their own, which is another big reason why its so damn ineffective and marginalized.

So according to you, this is what happens when women complain about sexism on the left (or people of colour complain about racism). We are to blame for all this trouble. Plume you are getting yourself into real hot water here.

The answer to sexism and racism is not to tell people to stop complaining about it because they are destroying the solidarity of the left. It’s for people on the left to stop being sexist and racist.

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F. Foundling 03.02.16 at 5:51 am

@heckblazer 03.02.16 at 1:54 am
>I expect that this history in part explains skepticism by older blacks of Bernie Sanders – they remember being cut out of social and economic reforms and so need specific reassurance it wouldn’t happen again.

Whereas Clinton can credibly assure them that there will be simply no social and economic reforms to be cut out of; on the contrary, she is virtually certain to favour and tolerate social and economic policies that are guaranteed to hurt the majority of both blacks and whites (but, as always, especially blacks). Nothing to be sceptical about here.

>You can’t expect people to be patient when it’s their own body under threat, so to get their vote you need to at the least listen to their concerns.

How Sanders can be said to have listened to their concerns less than Clinton is a mystery to me. Unless talking about other things *in addition to* racism counts as ‘not listening’.

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heckblazer 03.02.16 at 7:14 am

F Foundling @ 157:
Clinton is very very very good at good at connecting with black voters, and has been working at it for years in preparation of this campaign . That goes a long way to neutralize skepticism. To pick a specific example, in the aftermath of the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner Clinton personally called and spoke to the mothers of the victims; they now endorse Clinton and are campaigning for her. To quote Martin’s mother:

“Nobody reached out to us. Nobody listened to us. Nobody said black lives matter until this brave and powerful woman stood up for us.”

Another major factor in he favor is that she’s presenting herself as the successor to Obama, a guy who is insanely popular with African Americans (90%+ approval rating in the most recent Gallup polls). In 2012 Sanders called for Obama to be primaried in 2012, and his ambassadors to the community like Cornel West have records of being extremely critical of Obama. That’s…a sub-optimal way of getting black support.

Further, while Sanders has indeed talked to African Americans a lot about issues other than racism, I’m not so sure he’s listened to them. He definitely hasn’t done good job convincing them that his general program will benefit them specifically (my evidence: he keeps getting an AA vote percentage that’s in the teens). You can’t just assume that your platform is so objectively correct that it’s mere presentation will make people vote for you. You have to make the case, and adapt that case to your audience.

Plus, like I said before, racism is a pretty big fucking deal. Economic advancement doesn’t mean much if you’ve been shot dead in the street. Or in your church. Or in your home. And just to amp that fear up, the current leading Republican is now playing footise with the Klan. It should not be surprising that the candidate that explicitly says “Hey, I’ve got your back on this!” keeps winning their votes.

And BTW, this isn’t to say that you don’t have good points about Sanders’ platform. This is my explanation as to why those points haven’t had traction.

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faustusnotes 03.02.16 at 10:22 am

It’s a nice idea but I think there’s a lot wrong with this attempt at explanation…

1. Tribalism obviously is equivalent to right wing in this formulation
2. Neoliberalism is a weak kind of idea that is too often used to mean “capitalists I don’t like”, as in this case it is used to describe Thatcher, who was a big state interventionist not a neoliberal
3. If Obama and Clinton are neoliberals, then neoliberalism has been the best thing for America in a long time so why the reaction against it?
4. The tribes clearly are confined within the right wing and left wing, so the tribalism formalism doesn’t seem to work.
5. Trump is just doing what every Republican does: uniting the Republican voters. The reason he’s doing it so well is that he has decided to drop the bullshit about gutting social security and worrying about debt, and talk about what republicans actually care about. He doesn’t represent anything new about the Republican voter or America, he’s just the first person to actually bother to represent these people.
6. You can’t really compare American and non-American neoliberalisms

Trump seems like a basically pretty straightforward phenomenon to me: a dude who is talking to ordinary people about their economic fears and offering racist snake oil as the cure. Sure, he’s more fascist than most, but America is a military republic so what do you expect? This stuff is surely as old as Baden-Powell, I don’t think it needs to be explained in terms of tensions between a vaguely defined neoliberalism and a vulgar tribalism. If the Republicans had told their rich backers to get real 20 years ago, and offered a bog-standard diet of big state conservatism and reliable welfare for the racial in-group, Trump would never have happened – and neither would Obama.

It’s not tribalism, it’s an internal party reaction to the kleptocracy the Republicans have become. Once Clinton spanks his arse in the general, perhaps the Republican “thinkers” will finally get their mouths away from the wingnut welfare tit for long enough to have a debate about what their party actually stands for.

Or more likely they won’t and the whole party will finally whither to the point where it is small enough that Clinton can drag it into the bath and drown it.

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Richard Cottrell 03.02.16 at 10:32 am

Clinton needed to flatten Sanders and she failed. There is still a lot of very conditional thinking about M’Lady of Whitewater’s track record. Therefore Sanders would be well advised to keep an independent run in his quiver….his real support is out there but can’t be counted, realistically, in these largely unrepresentative show case elections. An independent run, building on what he’s achieved, is a perfectly rational prospect.
As for Godzilla, whether he gets to the ballot or not as a baptised Republican is up to the big white chiefs in the GOP wigwam. We know they are mulling some kind of intervention, but to do that they risk alienating the very wide constituency Trump has built up. I guess they are waiting for him to blow up on live tv or something like that, then send for the men in white coats. They may have left it too late for that already. In any event, Trump too has the indy option.
I have a nagging hunch this may be America’s last ‘democratic’ election. A lot of scenarios are in play but the one that really matters is that left, right and centre there’s a palpable feeling of fin de siecle abroad, systemic failure and general breakdown, which as it happens, it making itself felt right across the spectrum on the other side of the Pond. We live in interesting times.

157

JoB 03.02.16 at 11:25 am

So, in the spirit of the OP: When will Bloomberg step in to make it a 3-party race?

158

TM 03.02.16 at 11:33 am

160 “Trump is just doing what every Republican does: uniting the Republican voters.”

I thought he did an excellent job *disuniting* the Republicans.

159

Richard Cottrell 03.02.16 at 11:39 am

Clearly, the king over the water is being kept for a D Day raid. Health warning. Bloomberg is an establishment toady. He’s also cautious, and doesn’t like to lose. If he were worsted by Godzilla, he would never sleep again. What has the Trump constituency got to do with Trumpism? Zero. What could Bloomberg say except ‘I’m a safe pair of hands while the man in the wheelhouse right now is a maniac’. That hasn’t worked so far. The more Trump bawls and shouts at his shameless Mussolini-copy cat rallies, the more the punters lap it up. He also plays sex, just like Il Duce. Powerful drug.
In any event, the GOP wigwam gang would have to disconnect from all the campaigning and voting that has gone on so far. More like a coup d’etat I’d say. I am not saying they would not do it. Panicked men will do anything, and they are panicking.
Clinton is really the spectator in this: she hopes she’s the calm maiden of the seas, whereas she has yet to prove convincing. Viewed across the Atlantic waves, she is no Thatcher.
I am sure Bernie is pondering an indy run. He has the power to whip up a constituency which is both appalled by Godzilla, yet deeply and sincerely wants change, which Mrs. Macbeth does not have in her kitbag of handy family offers..

160

Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 11:45 am

F. Foundling: “The logical endpoint being the upper 1 % composed of racially and sexually diverse superrich exploiting to death the lower 99 % composed of racially and sexually diverse starving serfs.”

bob mcmanus often writes something about (paraphrased) not seeing it as any improvement to have a rainbow ruling class. But I disagree. If the ruling class really is diverse then they have to make it so that society does not automatically come down hard on disfavored minorities, and instead oppresses everyone equally. That’s a decided advance for people who are in one of those disfavored minorities. And the American racial system is one of the primary devices that has kept the poor from uniting in their own interest.

So I’m inclined to see the neoliberal treatment of diversity as potentially being like how traditional leftists saw capitalism: a necessary destruction of older, feudal forms that prepares the way for the truly egalitarian society. The question is: is it actually working on its own terms.

161

TM 03.02.16 at 12:00 pm

164 “I am sure Bernie is pondering an indy run.”

Predictions around here can be hilarious. We also had people claim that Kasich will come out on top. Come on folks.

162

James Wimberley 03.02.16 at 12:02 pm

Is there anybody out there still interested in the Condorcet/Arrow subthread on cyclical majorities? The trouble with their elegant constructs is that neither offer a reason why anybody should worry in practice. A man was killed in India recently by a meteorite, so this is demonstrably a non-zero risk, but none of us rates it high enough to take precautionary measures like wearing Kevlar helmets – or even spinning prayer wheels. This line is too optimistic. I offer an an argument here that cyclical majorities are a very real risk in any democratic decision-making system that distinguishes between means and ends – the classic instance is spending and taxes. I speculate that ensuring coherence between means and ends is one of the main forces behind the necessity of political parties. You must either have parties or technocracy.

163

John Quiggin 03.02.16 at 12:17 pm

“Thatcher, who was a big state interventionist not a neoliberal”

You seem to have gone to the opposite extreme, setting up a standard of purity no one could pass. If Thatcher wasn’t a neoliberal (in the global, not American sense), who was?

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 12:32 pm

LFC: “on the practical political level, service workers, govt workers, workers in the growing temp and contingent sectors of the economy, etc. do have some common interests.”

At some level everyone in the 99% has common interests against the 1%. But that’s demonstrably not enough for a two-party system rather than a three-party one.

Here are some items that the contemporary left supports for historical reasons that are pretty much against the core interests of the actual left constituency:

full employment
unions
universal college as job certificate
support for threatened industries

And here are some things that are not part of the left’s core that really are core interests of the actual left constituency:

basic income
ending the drug war
ending the military as employer of last resort
universal health care not tied to employment

Environmental and banking-system issues are kind of equivocal — the current left-leaning parties are pushed into giving them lip service, but that’s all it is. On the other hand that’s better than opposition.

165

Richard Cottrell 03.02.16 at 12:39 pm

‘You must either have parties or technocracy,’

To which my response is, we are all technocrats now: Another name for political parties is factions. So, to give the contemporary example of the British Labour party, you are a member of one of three factions under that umbrella who are barely on speaking terms with each other. Blair married his value-free system to the Tories, who in turn almost immediately split Japanese-style between their neocon and Macmillanite One Nation wings. Cricket anyone? The UK is slipping into an authoritarian state which does not require niceties of approval, as ministers have made perfectly clear.
W stands for Weimar.

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faustusnotes 03.02.16 at 12:42 pm

I don’t know John but neoliberal just seems like a category for people leftists don’t like. Typically Australian and British conservatives don’t try to destroy welfare, but use it to drive a wedge between workers of different types (e.g. white vs. non-white, men vs. women, young vs. old). Meanwhile in the US the neoliberals in the Democratic party have massively expanded the welfare system to include something resembling universal health coverage.

A basic rule for me when approaching modern debates about American politics: if they understate Obama’s achievement on Obamacare, they’re wrong.

167

Layman 03.02.16 at 1:01 pm

I don’t understate Obama’s achievement on Obamacare, but I do recognize that the form it took (a mechanism for funneling taxpayer dollars to insurance companies while simultaneously ensuring their business model by taking single payer off the table, with the side benefit that some more people get affordable health insurance) is a consequence of the neoliberal consensus. And Bill Clinton surely ended welfare in the US, far more so than anything Thatcher accomplished in the UK. The OP seems right to me.

168

John Quiggin 03.02.16 at 1:02 pm

“I don’t know John but neoliberal just seems like a category for people leftists don’t like. “

Perhaps you should read what I’ve written on the subject. The fact that a term is used loosely by some, and differently in different contexts doesn’t make it useless (see for example, “liberal”, “socialist”, “conservative” and just about any other political term)

As for the claim that Thatcher didn’t try to destroy the welfare state

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/dec/28/margaret-thatcher-role-plan-to-dismantle-welfare-state-revealed

It’s true that the welfare state has proved surprisingly resilient: that’s part of the failure of neoliberalism which is the topic of the post.

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Plume 03.02.16 at 1:26 pm

Val @157,

Your paraphrase isn’t in the same universe with what I said. It’s a gross misrepresentation of the quote in question, and everything else I’ve written on the subject.

I think complaints about sexism, racism and bigotry in general are absolutely necessary, and I wouldn’t even use the word “complaint.” When these things occur, naming them is just telling the truth. I support that. I support activism against these things. I support changing our legal codes to prevent discrimination based on gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity . . . . and class. The last in that list is something most good “liberals” wouldn’t think of adding, and until they do, they don’t get to claim they hold the moral high ground.

As mentioned, as an egalitarian I want all pyramids pulled down and I see all humans as holding equal value, regardless of the aforementioned categories — and, again, including class. The class structure needs to be obliterated because it’s immoral all by itself, but also because it funds, supports and sustains all the other apartheids — including the patriarchy.

My problem is with the blanket condemnations of all leftist males. And if I, too, was guilty of misreading, I apologize. There’s a lot of that going round on the Internet.

Bottom line: I’ve never had a problem with anyone calling black clouds black clouds.

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Plume 03.02.16 at 1:43 pm

Interesting interview with the guy who literally wrote the book on neoliberalism:

David Harvey

His take on its first practical application:

DH: This arose after the coup against the socialist, democratically elected government under Salvador Allende and Pinochet and the others were faced with the dilemma of how to reconstruct the economy along lines that would revive it. For a couple of years they didn’t know what to do and then Pinochet turned to a business elite in Chile that had been very important in the coup, and who had established relationships with economists who were Chilean but who had been trained in Chicago under Milton Friedman. Those economists came into government in 1975 and completely restructured the government under neoliberal lines, which meant privatization of all state assets except — in the Chilean case — copper, opening the country to foreign investment, not preventing any repatriation of profits out of the country. So it just opened the country to foreign capital and opened everything to the privatization, including, interestingly in the Chilean case, the privatization of social security, which we have been hearing about in this country over the last year.

171

TM 03.02.16 at 2:25 pm

RP 169, this seems shaky and also quite America-centric. Your last two items are not even an issue outside the US. And why are unions and full employment against the interests of the “actual left constituency”? And in what sense does “the left” support “threatened industries”? Who is the “the left”, anyway? The Dem party? The left of the dem party? Isn’t the most salient fact about the “contemporary left” that it is no defined and coherent entity?

172

Lynne 03.02.16 at 2:37 pm

re the left and feminism, I am reading Book 3 in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, and the socialists of 1969, while women are welcome as members, are depicted as being uncomfortable with and impatient of hearing about sexual harrassment in the workplace. It is, of course, a novel, but has the ring of truth to my ears. Plume, leftists don’t have to be more sexist than the rest of society for the sexism among them to count. I’m surprised you would even say that (that leftists were no worse than the rest of society, to which the only answer is “So?”)

I came to socialism via feminism, but then I had a particularly good introduction to feminism in the 1970s, as I realized in a discussion here with JanieM, who is about my age but who had a quite different introduction.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 2:44 pm

I don’t know as much about Europe, but OK, for Europe strike the last two issues and add instead the unresolved issues about the role of the state. The European Union has been pretty much a disaster for the left’s core constituencies.

Have you ever talked to black people in the U.S. about unions? They are not the One Big Union of Wobbly fame: they pretty much are designed to ensure that some workers are elevated and the rest are not. The workers so elevated have no real common interest with marginal labor: in fact, their interests are pretty much opposed.

The rest of your questions I think that you could answer yourself if you actually wanted to. Here’s an example: the AFL-CIO supported Keystone XL because it would create a few jobs. I don’t understand any sense in which the AFL-CIO is not “the left” and in which that support was not directly against the actual interests of the left.

174

TM 03.02.16 at 3:02 pm

Fair enough RP, but most of the resistance to Keystone XL also came from the left. I’m not sure that your generalizations are particularly helpful. But you are of course right to point to certain patterns of dysfunction within the US union movement.

175

Plume 03.02.16 at 3:06 pm

Lynne @178,

Ferrante’s books are definitely on my list. Have read nothing but great things about them in recent months.

As for the rest of your comment, especially this:

“leftists don’t have to be more sexist than the rest of society for the sexism among them to count.”

My experience with this kind of discussion is that words are twisted, projections are made on top of those words, and any kind of response seems to just make it worse. Defending one’s views, trying to clarify them, just gives further ammo for the twisting, the misrepresentation and the projection. It never ends well, once some folks think they see blood in the water. Sharks gather.

So I’ll end it with this: I have repeatedly said sexism, misogyny, racism and bigotry in general are rampant in society, obviously wrong, obviously highly destructive, and should not exist. At all. We should not have a patriarchy. We should not have hierarchies, period. I am a committed egalitarian (small d) democrat and a staunch supporter of women’s rights, equal rights, human rights, civil rights, etc. etc. Of course it counts and it matters when leftists are sexist — or bigoted in any other way. I never said otherwise, nor did I remotely imply that it didn’t count. My entire point was that all male leftists shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush. That’s it. That’s the entire argument in a nutshell.

And, again, if I’m guilty of misreading, or projecting this view onto the words of others, I apologize.

Enjoy your day, all.

176

faustusnotes 03.02.16 at 3:16 pm

Layman you’re wrong. Millions of people are getting access to health insurance for the first time. Obamacare is a huge improvement in the American health system. By any definition I’ve ever read of neoliberal, that surely disqualifies Obama from the title.

John, perhaps I’m misreading you but I thought the OP identified the failure of neoliberalism as its failure to protect ordinary people – not its failure to serve the interests of the rich. I’m not sure why you’re citing Margaret Thatcher’s failure to destroy the welfare system as a failure of neoliberalism in this context.

I grew up in Thatcherite England, I returned to the UK in 1994 when the Tories were in decline. The welfare system was nasty but it was still there. And my lumpen proletariat family were already blaming its failings on foreigners. The Tories used it very successfully to undermine working class solidarity but I think they were very aware of its economic necessity. I just don’t think you can compare neoliberalism in the USA with neoliberalism in the rest of the English-speaking world, and you can’t interpret Trump’s rise in terms we Australians easily understand.

(Also I’m aware of the previous debates here about what neoliberalism is and I’m still not convinced it’s a meaningful term).

177

bianca steele 03.02.16 at 3:37 pm

FWIW, I identify “identity politics” for use on CT with something Scott McLemee said a few years back (I think it was McLemee–now I’m thinking it might have been Michael Bérubé): that, somewhere between, say, 1980 and 1990, the left fragmented, because women, LGBT, the disabled, people of color, indigenous people, and so on, became politicized around their own interests and had less interest in joining what someone like him would probably characterize like a broader movement like socialism. My memory of that era is that a lot of effort was expounded on explaining why such “identity politics” was misguided, for one reason or another. Now it appears to be accepted, as long as it knows its place, which I suppose is progress.

178

Z 03.02.16 at 3:37 pm

I find the tripartition of the post interesting.

Yet I wonder if too much is being given to expressed opinions and not enough to the social positions underlying them. For instance, the “tribalist” electorate is a coalition of people who mostly have been on the loosing end of whatever happened economically this last 30 years and who correctly understand that actually important political choices taken in the same time frame have been made with complete disregard of their material interests. The vehicles of their political expression are more often than not stupid, irrational and increasingly explicitly racist; but the evaluation underlying all this brouhaha is in fact quite accurate, I find.

Conversely, the leftist category repeatedly proves very apt at morphing in soft neoliberalism; a reflection in my opinion that the social boundary between this social group and the neoliberal technocratic élite is quite blurry (I would consider a highly educated intellectual worker in a dynamic city, so more or less the modal CT reader, to be a typical example of someone at this threshold).

Consequently, I (unfortunately) doubt that the three groups of the tripartition have the same potential power: I fear that either the neoliberal retain their currently almost absolute dominion, or it will be right-wing populism (not necessarily of the tribalist variety, though it is a common form thereof). The natural social base of the left has too much to gain personally in morphing into soft neoliberalism (a point close to what Rich was saying upthread). So Clinton, Merkel, Hollande, Juppé on the one hand, Trump, Le Pen, Orban, Duda on the other: they have a realistic shot at gaining power. Sanders, Lafontaine, Corbyn: sadly, not so much.

179

bianca steele 03.02.16 at 3:39 pm

With the possible exception of something like feminist philosophy, which seems to be increasingly important.

180

Lupita 03.02.16 at 3:45 pm

@faustusnotes

Neoliberalism is a global system in which capital, people, and resources flow from the 3rd world to the 1st world. It doesn’t matter how equitably developed countries internally distribute their plunder. Rich countries can give all the free schooling, maternity leave, quality health services, and pensions they want to gain the support of their populations, but they would still be operating under unjust global system called neoliberalism.

The best way to understand neoliberalism is to have your country crash and be taken over and privatized by the IMF.

181

TM 03.02.16 at 3:50 pm

Further to 180. The big contradiction at the core of any reformist left politics is due to the fact that in capitalism, most people’s well-being depends on their having a job, and therefore is tied to the interests of their employer. consequently, the left must support policies that reduce people’s dependence on their job. I guess this is what you were getting at? Basic income is one such policy but full employment also makes workers less vulnerable. I don’t see why you object to that.

182

Lynne 03.02.16 at 3:52 pm

Plume @ 181:

“So I’ll end it with this: I have repeatedly said sexism, misogyny, racism and bigotry in general are rampant in society, obviously wrong, obviously highly destructive, and should not exist. At all. We should not have a patriarchy. We should not have hierarchies, period.”

I know this about you. :) What is at issue is this line, (the last sentence):

” But it’s [The Golden Notebook] a novel. It’s not a systematic study of the supposed systematic sexism on the left.

Sorry, but I don’t buy that it was any worse than sexism in the country overall”

I was surprised by that. So yes, I think you may have misunderstood some comments—mine, js’s, Val’s.

re Elena Ferrante, Chris Bertram had a post about these books recently. I was reading the first book, and quite underwhelmed until the end, when she managed to throw a new light over the whole, so here I am on the third. I am ignorant of Italian history and politics (which was an aspect to the books Chris wrote about enthusiastically) but I’m enjoying them anyway.

183

Z 03.02.16 at 4:04 pm

So just wondering what you meant by [identity politics] in this statement?

Val, I wouldn’t want to answer for Sebastian H, but my understanding of the term is as follows.
-It can either mean that people will make political choices based on the perceived choice of the majority of a given group whose members seem to ressemble them in some trait (possible exemple of this use, not necessarily describing the reality: Southern Whites voted against Obama because he is black, Black Democrats voted for Clinton because they are her firewall).
That use is often explicitly derogative or perceived as such (in your words “‘women and minorities are so silly and emotional”), though it also perfectly aligns with Weber’s description of social phenomena (not necessarily amenable to rational explanations, but subject to statistical regularities).
-Or, in a slightly more technical sense, it can mean the body of political ideas and actions inspired by the theory that variables pertaining to one’s identity are clear determinants of the relative distribution of power, wealth, prestige and influence and important domains of action if one wishes to influence said distribution (possible exemple of this use, with the same caveat as above: gender diversity in academic panels is important, christians are persecuted in the US).
In sense 2, if you think that the single most important thing to know about the political project of a candidate to the presidential election in 2016 is the likely impact of her program on the various brackets of the wealth distribution, your politic is materialist; if you think it is more important to know how it will impact Appalachian whites, black women, LGBT people and evangelical christians, your politic is identity politics.

Both 1 and 2 can apply to Sebastian H’s sentence about Clinton (without the sentence being derogatory in any way).

184

Plume 03.02.16 at 4:04 pm

Lynne @188,

Thanks for the follow up. I think I did, in fact, misunderstand you, Val and js.

Also appreciate the h/t to Chris, and will take a look at his post.

Take care —

185

Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 4:28 pm

TM: “Basic income is one such policy but full employment also makes workers less vulnerable. I don’t see why you object to that.”

There are a few reasons. First of all, as you wrote yourself, even full employment still ties the worker’s interest to the interest of their employer. Even in a situation in which workers could pretty easily find another job, it’s still often a major disruption of one’s life to change jobs.

Second, full employment naturally pits workers against nonworkers. This is one of the major social divides in the U.S., and a cause of a lot of supposedly working class people voting GOP. The scorn of white workers for white “parasites” who don’t work is a major source of social advantage and psychological well-being for workers.

Third, you can’t really at once have both a full employment system and a basic income system. It’s like the people who ask why can’t Social Security be means-tested so that only poor people get it. Well, without everyone being in this system, there’s no broad support for it. If the left is working towards full employment it can’t really be also working towards basic income.

Fourth, it’s not necessary and in fact is positively harmful. Not everyone needs to work, and if everyone did work, we’d have far too much production for the planet to sustain.

Fifth, pursuing full employment within the current system implicitly means coming to terms with our current system of social control. In practice people mean either that the Fed should lower interest rates — which keeps the reserve army of the unemployed still there — or that a shorter work week should be mandated. But a shorter work week didn’t do anything to change the essentials of our system. As I wrote above, a worker qua worker wants good working conditions, and a shorter work week is part of that. But it’s a lump of labor fallacy to assume that if you cut the work week in half, employers would have to give everyone jobs in order to get the same work done.

186

bianca steele 03.02.16 at 4:29 pm

heckblazer @ 159

While it’s true and very well known that Sanders hasn’t been making strong contacts with older groups of mobilized AA voters, and some heckling by a Black Lives Matter activist made the news, he does seem to have the support of a bunch of activists associated with Black Lives Matter (who tend to be younger and more tied into the broader capital-L left beyond the older civil rights movement). So it does appear that his ability to appeal to surprisingly widespreadLeft affinities among a younger generation doesn’t split across racial lines.

187

bianca steele 03.02.16 at 4:33 pm

I should maybe say that I’m not myself capital-l Left or a Sanders supporter, and agree with what Rich says above about the us sustainability of current liberal emphases on college, and don’t know what to think about the strength of Sanders’s emphasis on access to good, free college educations leading to good jobs for everyone.

188

bianca steele 03.02.16 at 4:34 pm

unsustainability — who knew that word wasn’t in spell-check?

189

TM 03.02.16 at 4:35 pm

192 “Third, you can’t really at once have both a full employment system and a basic income system.”

What do you mean by a “full employment system”?

190

Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 4:37 pm

A system in which everyone is expected to work and in which the primary provision of the left for its supporters is ensuring that they have good jobs.

191

F. Foundling 03.02.16 at 4:48 pm

@Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 11:45 am

>If the ruling class really is diverse then they have to make it so that society does not automatically come down hard on disfavored minorities, and instead oppresses everyone equally. That’s a decided advance for people who are in one of those disfavored minorities.

The question is what the absolute level of oppression is, or the one relative to the ruling class. It might be the case that you go from a situation where working-class blacks get worse education/healthcare/security than working-class whites to a situation where both regular blacks and regular whites get worse education/healthcare/security that *either* group had before, and both are far worse off compared to the ruling class than they were before. I wouldn’t call that an advance. Another question is, of course, whether even complete racial and gender equality will ever be achieved under neoliberalism in the first place – I don’t consider it so implausible or unprecedented that minorities do get some representatives in the ruling class, whereas all sorts of old inequalities persist among the oppressed.

>And the American racial system is one of the primary devices that has kept the poor from uniting in their own interest.

Certainly, but I’m afraid that by the time one gets to the point where this device is finally completely gone – assuming that one does ever get there – all the achievements of economic equality will have been lost and very difficult to restore.

192

F. Foundling 03.02.16 at 5:02 pm

@heckblazer 03.02.16 at 7:14 am

OK, fair enough, she has played that game well – even though I don’t think that’s quite the full explanation. Just a quibble about this part:

>Economic advancement doesn’t mean much if you’ve been shot dead in the street. Or in your church. Or in your home.

Well, strictly speaking, I think that economic advancement would reduce marginalisation, ghettoisation, crime and the victims’ powerlessness, defencelessness and stigma, and consequently the murders (both by police and by others). Apart from that long-term view, Sanders’ platform does include very specific measures concerning police shootings such as body cameras (the latter are also in Clinton’s platform).

193

RNB 03.02.16 at 5:16 pm

On identity politics, Clinton has to manage it in her party. Trump provokes an angry, FU politics of the people self-identified as white. He wants to defend white citizen privilege. And that means giving a thumbs up to the abuses from policing the black community and deporting 11 million Latinos and casting suspicion on each and every Muslim (or people who look as if they may be Muslim). Clinton is talking love and kindness because Trump’s opponents are angry (I have had nightmares since he has commanded the public stage) and could well alienate many of the white people who are likely to vote Democratic. Trump’s most hopeful sign is the 100K + white Democrats who voted for him yesterday in MA as a cross-over vote like that could give him NJ, OH, IL, PA. Clinton is desperately trying to create the image of the Democratic Party as a place where all Americans come to enjoy neighborly relations and community and take pride in meeting their responsibilities to each other as citizens. But there is no doubt that the best way to attack Trump is not for his nativism and racism but for his failures as a businessman and Chancellor of Trump University, his narcissism, his belief in his own abilities in the absence of any real plans for action, his vacillation. Basically Axelrod got it right: make Trump appear as the used car salesman who will say anything to get you into that car.

194

RNB 03.02.16 at 5:47 pm

Another thing. I think it’s been pointed out that while Reagan could rise to office on the basis of white men without a college education (the poorly educated as he puts it) that may no longer be possible since that group has about half its relative size than it had 36 years ago. Hillary Clinton can reverse the trend for the Democratic candidate to lose an ever higher percentage of white women (Romney won a greater percentage than McCain and Bush). Trump may not tick white women off as much as he ticks off Blacks and Latinos. But he has made it clear that what he first sees is the size of the rack and the willingness to keep silent. He’s a pig.

195

RNB 03.02.16 at 5:53 pm

At some point, the good white people who have supported Sanders need think about how they are going to go get their boy.
http://www.salon.com/2015/12/15/whites_against_trump_kamau_bell_tells_white_people_yes_even_you_good_liberals_to_come_get_your_boy/

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Brett Dunbar 03.02.16 at 5:55 pm

That isn’t really true though, free trade doesn’t impoverish the poor. The third world has mostly seen pretty good performance since then global financial crisis. Removing tariffs on exports increases demand for labour in poor countries which increases pay there as employers have to outbid one another. This then boosts domestic demand. What can happen is that the benefit to the rich is greater than that to the poor. In practice it hasn’t been and inequality between countries and global inequality has reduced while inequality within most countries has increased. Very poor countries have got quite a bit richer and a bit more unequal rich countries have been flat or getting only slightly richer and a bit more unequal. This has meant the global inequality has shrunk while inequality within countries has increased.

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Lupita 03.02.16 at 6:28 pm

“free trade doesn’t impoverish the poor”

So it’s just a coincidence that millions of Mexican peasants suddenly decided to leave their families and trek to the US just after NAFTA was implemented?

“Removing tariffs on exports increases demand for labour in poor countries”

NAFTA also removed tariffs on imports, specifically corn. What then happened was that Mexico was flooded with cheap, inferior American corn unfit for making tortillas since they disintegrate at the touch of a drop of salsa. American corn was imported by the president’s brother-in-law who became a billionaire by destroying the livelihood of Mexican peasants plus killing Mexican cuisine.

“This has meant the global inequality has shrunk while inequality within countries has increased.”

If you treat countries like persons and then calculate the Gini coefficient, yes, world inequality has shrunk. But if you take each person in the world and calculate the Gini coefficient as if the world were one big country, inequality has risen to the point where the world is much more unequal that any individual country.

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Lupita 03.02.16 at 6:47 pm

Continuing with identity politics and world inequality, there is one, overreaching identity in this election, which is that of “American”. The American identity group sits atop the steepest of all pyramids, world income, kept in place by military, economic, and political supremacy. Young voters seem much more aware of how individual countries fit into the global system, perhaps because they communicate through the internet with actual foreigners in foreign lands and not just with immigrants who, of course, are not stupid and are always going to tell their gracious hosts that the US is the greatest of the great. I have witnessed how Americans are abused, insulted, and called brainwashed, ignorant, and naïve, on many non-American comment threads. It must be an extraordinary educational experience. Discussing and understanding global warming is probably another way young Americans have learned to think in global terms. Maybe young people have learned to check their American privilege and have therefore become much more receptive to the left.

On the other hand, many older voters, the product of the pre-internet, neoliberal era, are supporting Clinton and are much more receptive to old-fashioned national client/identity politics.

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RNB 03.02.16 at 6:51 pm

Lupita,
Now that many, perhaps more than a million ejidatarios have been displaced through neo-liberal restructuring, what is the way forward?

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A H 03.02.16 at 7:01 pm

@126 “bruce wilder 03.01.16 at 11:12 pm
natural ?!”

Assuming the market is natural is the core of liberal ideology.

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Layman 03.02.16 at 7:03 pm

faustusnotes @ 182

“Layman you’re wrong. Millions of people are getting access to health insurance for the first time. Obamacare is a huge improvement in the American health system. By any definition I’ve ever read of neoliberal, that surely disqualifies Obama from the title.”

Wrong about what, exactly? We agree that Obamacare makes health insurance available and affordable to some people who didn’t have health insurance before. It’s a great achievement, unfortunately architected squarely within the neoconservative consensus. It’s a Heritage Foundation plan, don’t you know. Use ‘market solutions’ subsidized by public funding to deliver what ought to be non-profit social services.

As for Obama, you mean the guy who quite desperately pleaded for the chance to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of some grand bargain with Republicans? He’s disqualified as a neoliberal? I’d say he’s a left neoliberal, as described in the OP. We can only thank our good fortune that the Republicans are morons who can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.

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Lupita 03.02.16 at 7:14 pm

@RNB

It gets worse. Once ejidos were dissolved and communities died through the mass emigration of young men, the narcos took over the lands as a way to launder money. Drug cartels now control these rural areas. So you would have to start with the War on Drugs, perhaps by prosecuting all the money launderers who mainly reside in banks in the US and UK and their tax havens.

After that, you would have to renegotiate NAFTA, this time, including worker, peasant and indigenous groups in the negotiations. Only then can these communities be resuscitated, hopefully in a way that respects the autonomy of indigenous groups.

That is, you would have to overthrow the current neoliberal world order.

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bianca steele 03.02.16 at 7:17 pm

In Angels in America, Tony Kushner has his affectionate portrait of “the world’s oldest living Bolshevik” say that the people he’s addressing lack a theory as grand as the one that had failed him, and therefore “Then we dare not, we _cannot_, we MUST NOT move ahead!”. The divide between “Greens” and “Left”, on the one hand, and a coalition of people who are trying to put political form to their interests–between those with a theory and those without–seems like the big one to me. YMMV.

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Ed 03.02.16 at 7:17 pm

“The natural social base of the left has too much to gain personally in morphing into soft neoliberalism”

For the leaders and intellectuals, and Crooked Timber readers, this is true. The working class people that make up any electoral base for a leftist party are more likely to defect to populism or tribalism.

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Ed 03.02.16 at 7:30 pm

Rich Puchalsky’s post at #169 was excellent so I wanted to highlight it.

Of course I have minor amendments and caveats. Universal health care is in fact part of the program of the left, even in the US. The Democratic Party in the US opposes it, but the Democratic Party is not a left wing party, and the strategy of some American leftists in allying with it is actually very questionable. But American leftists within and outside the Democratic Party do in fact support universal healthcare.

The military as employer of a last resort only really exists in the US and I can’t think of any other country in the world where this is even relevant. But high military spending so the military can be a supporter of the last resort, and as a sort of subsidy as jobs for middle class people, is more something that the American right pushes for. In the case of middle class jobs I’ve seen this reasoning used explicitly on right-leaning blogs.

The overall point is valid, and the left wing agenda really should center around a basic income, universal healthcare, and ending the drug war. Arguably a few other issues should be added, such as ending privileges for certain subgroups (people will probably think this means affirmative action and it could, but I’m thinking more of immunity from prosecution for the wealthy), and ending debt peonage, particularly connected with housing.

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The Temporary Name 03.02.16 at 7:31 pm

As for Obama, you mean the guy who quite desperately pleaded for the chance to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of some grand bargain with Republicans? He’s disqualified as a neoliberal?

There are better reasons to argue for him as a neoliberal. The Grand Bargain was a bluff that “worked” in the sense that those cuts didn’t happen and a budget passed. Unfortunately it was a bluff that (rightly) scared the hell out of a lot of people because of how crazy it looked.

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js. 03.02.16 at 7:35 pm

TPP would be one obvious thing to point to if you wanted to make the Obama as neoliberal case. There wasn’t congressional or public or any other kind of pressure. If anything, the pressure was all the other way. (Obviously excepting pressure from vested interests.)

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Brett Dunbar 03.02.16 at 7:45 pm

@ 204

I’m not sure that observing that the USA is currently much richer than Mexico is a counterargument to the NAFTA benefiting Mexico. Even a very large increase in Mexico’s wealth would leave the USA much richer than Mexico. Indeed Mexico can have a substantially higher growth rate and the difference still increase.

The reduction in global Gini is calculated by treating the whole world as a single entity. The Gini within countries has been increasing that of the world as a whole has fallen. The income of the people at the bottom of the poorest states has risen but more slowly than those at the top in those states. While in rich states the bottom has remained static and the top has gone up a bit. The rise in the incomes at the bottom of the poor countries has been faster than the rise in incomes at the top of the rich countries so the range overall has been compressed.

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RNB 03.02.16 at 7:47 pm

Trump may be able to sell himself as a protectionist and Clinton as having dissimulated about her neo-liberal support of any and all free trade deals. But Trump has a major weakness. He says that he wants to stand for America against the illegal movement of people over the US border, against the importation of cheap goods and even against the export of factories abroad. But he has not said a word about regulating the movement of money capital abroad. Clinton has spoken against inversions and for cracking down on tax havens. Trump’s only solution to this export of money capital is to eliminate taxation as a way of encouraging the super-wealthy to keep their money in America. He would thus have the state abdicate its responsibility to have people pay taxes according to their ability to pay. The Republicans can’t hit him on this, but the Democrats surely can. And Clinton should be able to turn around any advantage his nationalist rhetoric gives him. Trump won’t counter the wealthy who have made fortunes in America from using their threat of exit to free themselves of any responsibility towards the country that has given them so much.

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RNB 03.02.16 at 7:56 pm

Sanders probably did not blow an opportunity here because there are not many foreign policy voters this year. But I really wish he had pointed to voting differences over Iran in the Senate as a way of making the case that he is the better candidate to continue diplomacy with Iran.

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bianca steele 03.02.16 at 8:11 pm

I don’t really understand why anyone would think Obama isn’t neoliberal in the U.S. sense. He has all the typical preoccupations of TNR neoliberalism, and as for Harvey- and Mirowski-definition neoliberalism, his deference to mainstream economics (itself more or less a mark of US neoliberalism) seems to make it difficult for him to put any distance between himself and it.

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RNB 03.02.16 at 8:25 pm

Trump probably has liberally used tax havens abroad. Perhaps he has found ways of repatriating big gains on accounts abroad without paying much taxes. I don’t know, but I am surprised that Romney’s call for Trump to release his taxes is already dying down. There probably is a bombshell there. Of course it could just be getting around taxes by claiming huge capital losses which would make him like a loser.

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RNB 03.02.16 at 8:31 pm

Piketty’s critique of consumption taxes vindicated. From the WSJ:
‘Deductible expenses can include labor, supplies and equipment or items where it is hard to separate Trump the business from Trump the man, such as his jet or perhaps even the maintenance of his famous coiffure, said Joseph Perry, a partner-in-charge at accounting firm Marcum LLP.

“His haircuts might be deductible because that’s an image that he keeps and he needs to keep in order to generate more fees, because he’s an entertainer,” Mr. Perry said.’

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RNB 03.02.16 at 8:42 pm

So go back to the OP: is Trump a tribalist (white nativist) or a nationalist? Or should nationalism is a form of tribalism? Can leftism be nationalist, e.g. stopping inversions? In fact can neo-liberalism be nationalist; could nationalism even take the form of neo-liberalism. For example, the Wall Street-Treasury Complex spread global neo-liberalism to strengthen US power in the world just in the way that free trade was in the interest of 19th C. Britain whereas Listian protectionism was in the interests of a nascent Germany.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 8:58 pm

Yes, nationalism is a form of tribalism — or rather, nationalism is a emotional appeal that resonates with tribalists — and no, I wouldn’t say that neoliberalism is particularly nationalist. If people spread neoliberalism throughout the world, it wasn’t to particularly strengthen U.S. power: U.S. power was greater before neoliberalism emerged. Putting the world under a neoliberal system hurt the U.S. as well as other countries (for instance, via U.S. based major companies locating themselves and their facilities elsewhere), although the U.S. wasn’t as much hurt because it was so wealthy to start with.

I’ve pretty much stopped arguing with people who think that Obama isn’t a neoliberal. TPP? No one in Obama’s base pushed for TPP. It was all on him. I know that the church of savvy sets up a howl about supposed green lanternism whenever you mention Obamacare, but come on: he sabotaged universal healthcare. He continued all of Bush’s security, surveillance, and warmaking policies. All on environmental issues, he’s a classic neoliberal. That is not to say that he hasn’t done anything, but neoliberals are not as bas on environmental issues as the right is.

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bianca steele 03.02.16 at 9:08 pm

One more thing: Robert Reich is a neoliberal, right? A left-neoliberal, and he’s supporting Sanders, but a neoliberal? I’m reading his book “Saving Capitalism,” and on the second page he writes:

“The threat to capitalism is no longer communism or fascism but a steady undermining of the trust modern societies need for growth and stability. When most people stop believing they and their children have a fair chance to make it, the tacit social contract societies rely on for voluntary cooperation begins to unravel. In its place comes subversion, small and large–petty theft, cheating, fraud, kickbacks, corruption. Economic resources gradually shift from production to protection.

There’s the assumption that the task of politics is to protect the existing system, and that this system is primarily economic and is called “capitalism.” The use of social science to identify threats to society that a conservative or person of the right would also be worried about , and the taking over of the diagnosis to the left, with a proposal of left reform as a remedy. The shrinking of society-wide concerns to concerns about personal morality. All but the last sentence could plausibly be taken for a summary of a book by Charles Murray.

This isn’t a criticism of Reich (though I have to say that reading his columns over a period of several years was progressively less enlightening). But if this isn’t neoliberalism, what can it be?

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 9:23 pm

On the topic of Obama supporters who just can’t see why we can’t see how great he is — here, I’ll just quote a Duncan Black blog post in full:

“I still get enraged about Libya. Probably not as enraged as actual Libyans who have a bit more reason to be enraged than I do, but I still get really pissed off about it. All of the humanitarian interventionist liberals informed me that we had to bomb the shit out of the country in order to save the poor people of Libya from the tyranny of the guy we supported 10 days ago, and that not wanting to bomb the shit out of them made me a bad person. Predictably, everything went to hell in Libya, and humanitarian concerns magically disappeared as well. Where are the impassioned pleas for aid? They seem to be missing from the blogs and newspaper columns. It’s not about me, of course, but honestly there are people I will never talk to again because of the bullshit condescension I got about the need to bomb the shit out of Libya. Assholes.”

I remember that on this blog, and yeah, there are people who really can’t distinguish neoliberalism from anything else.

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RNB 03.02.16 at 10:12 pm

I wrote this a few days ago on another thread here.

No discussion of the New York Times piece on Clinton’s advocacy of bombing Qaddafi’s forces? If one reads Jeffrey Sachs in conjunction with the articles, Clinton appears as an agent of the deep national security state using any opportunity to oust by military force a regime more favorable to a US rival (Iran, Russia or China) than to the US and its allies (France, UK)–whatever the social cost on the people living under the targeted regime. For Sachs, Clinton continues the foreign policy thinking that reached its apotheosis under George W. Bush.

I think that this misreads the evidence of Clinton’s views on Libya. Haunted by her husband’s inaction in Rwanda and and [delayed response] to Srebrinica, Hillary Clinton seems to have thought that something had to be done to protect civilians against the desperate, dying Qaddafi regime. Her thinking here seems to have been similar to Juan Cole’s, not George W. Bush’s. Both Clinton and Cole underestimated how the NATO bombing would escalate the situation and the nature of the opposition to Qaddafi and the violence that they could do to innocent partisans of the Qaddafi regime.

But it’s not clear what violence Qaddafi would have carried out in the absence of a NATO counter-weight; but certainly this was not a fabricated threat such as Cheney’s about WMD in Iraq. Qaddafi was already striking civilian populations. And it seems that France and the UK would have carried out bombings regardless of US involvement.

At any rate, I do not think Clinton’s actions indicate that she is an agent of the deep national security state. Perhaps her actions in Syria would bear out this claim. But then there is the evidence of her willingness to engage in diplomacy with Iran (something Sachs ignores) and her choosing the chief negotiator Jake Sullivan as her senior policy adviser.

Again I welcome much more critical evaluations of HRC’s foreign policy record and views.

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bianca steele 03.02.16 at 10:22 pm

I remember that on this blog

So do I. I also remember the calls for NATO intervention after Srebrenica.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 10:26 pm

RNB: “I wrote this a few days ago on another thread here.”

Yeah, I saw it then and ignored it, because why raise my blood pressure to no purpose.

Someone does not have to be “an agent of the deep security state” in order to advocate horrible policies. I haven’t read the Sachs article, but outside of that context, phrasing it that way is a way of making your detractors sound paranoid and conspiratorial. I do not think that HRC is “an agent of the deep security state” (whatever that is): I think that her foreign policy is stupid, destructive warmongering.

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RNB 03.02.16 at 10:32 pm

Sanders seems to have no interest in having this argument with Clinton but if he does he has to show that Clinton jumped at shoddy intelligence about Qaddafi creating an imminent bloodbath to justify what you are calling her “stupid, destructive warmongering”. Clinton shared this belief, if I remember correctly, with Juan Cole who is not known for his warmongering.

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faustusnotes 03.02.16 at 10:51 pm

Layman I’m not trying to say that Obamacare is the best thing evah, or the most socialist policy ever. I’m simply responding to the OP defining neoliberalism as dismantling the welfare state (it’s right there in brackets). By that definition Obama is not a neoliberal – he expanded Medicaid and introduced a Cadillac tax, which in total is a straightup transfer of wealth from rich to poor by means of expansion of a welfare program. Subsidies for health insurance on exchanges are also a wealth transfer, whether you like the mechanism or not. Tony Blair’s Labour party also expanded welfare – they presided over the longest period of back-to-back increases in funding for the NHS since before Thatcher.

If it helps at all Trump clarified in his press conference yesterday exactly what his appeal is: middle class incomes haven’t risen for 12 years, Clinton was in power during that time, why didn’t she do something about that? He’s coming after Clinton on middle class wealth. So is Sanders. Is that tribalism? Or is it simply that everyone in America is concerned about the same thing, but Sanders and Trump have finally found a way to address it?

That thing is kleptocracy, not neoliberalism. They both say so, it’s right there in their stump speeches. What’s happening here is a revolt against kleptocracy, but in the grand tradition of the Republican party, the dude on the right who chooses to lead the revolt is a confirmed grifter.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 10:55 pm

Let’s agree that Qaddafi was both planning and carrying out an imminent bloodbath, and say for the sake of argument that there was nothing shoddy about the intelligence. How was bombing supposed to make the situation better?

I’m not a reader of Juan Cole so I don’t have an appreciation of why he believed whatever he believed or have this belief in the magical power of his name to sanitize killing as rightly meant. There were plenty of liberals who apparently deeply felt the need to kill. Two seconds Google brings up this: “The Libyan Revolution has largely succeeded, and this is a moment of celebration, not only for Libyans but for a youth generation in the Arab world that has pursued a political opening across the region.” Maybe you shouldn’t be holding up Cole as an avatar of good judgement?

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Hidari 03.02.16 at 11:01 pm

Don’t know if it’s strictly relevant but this is interesting on Trump and authoritarianism.

http://www.vox.com/2016/3/1/11127424/trump-authoritarianism

Short version: the Trump phenomenon, regardless of whether or not Trump wins the nomination, is not going to go away.

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None 03.02.16 at 11:44 pm

RNB@226 – “And it seems that France and the UK would have carried out bombings regardless of US involvement.”

So what ? That’s on the unhappy citizens of France and the UK. Meanwhile , here in the USA, Hillary Clinton chuckles, “We came we saw he died”.

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F. Foundling 03.02.16 at 11:55 pm

@RNB 03.02.16 at 10:32 pm
> he has to show that Clinton jumped at shoddy intelligence about Qaddafi creating an imminent bloodbath to justify what you are calling her “stupid, destructive warmongering”.

Indeed, whenever the US & allies invade a country and topple a regime, the burden of proof is on the *critics* of said action to prove that US actions *didn’t* prevent a bloodbath (a bloodbath worse than the one they caused, that is). Furthermore, there was just no way of preventing Qaddafi from capturing Benghazi in March and presumably perpetrating a bloodbath against the rebels there other than attacking his forces all across Libya for seven months and assisting the rebels in conquering the whole country. The action was entirely legal and justified by the UN Security Council resolution, because it called for a ‘no-fly zone’, and everyone knows that means a no-Qaddafi zone, right? It’s conceivable that his tanks could have grown wings, after all.

@RNB 03.02.16 at 5:53 pm
>At some point, the good white people who have supported Sanders need think about how they are going to go get their boy.
>http://www.salon.com/2015/12/15/whites_against_trump_kamau_bell_tells_white_people_yes_even_you_good_liberals_to_come_get_your_boy/

So, if I’m getting this right, somehow white people who supported Sanders are more responsible and more obliged to apologise for their fellow white person Trump than white people who supported Clinton… Umm… OK. This makes … no less sense than all the other stuff.

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js. 03.02.16 at 11:59 pm

Holy shit, it’s going to be like this all the way to November. So much fun!

228

hix 03.03.16 at 12:20 am

Wundering now how party and supporter attitudes towards different policies compare the european far right but not quite facist parties, since on some issues e.g. drone terror , toture, the european far right is probably more moderate than mainstream Democrats.
Or maybe not and ive just tuned out all that. The authoritarian folower psy profile thing is something i dont quite get, since my own profile is not so different from that, but my reaction is rather to be angry at and scared of people like Trump than to be scared of muslim.

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RNB 03.03.16 at 1:42 am

@234 If you have good evidence that Clinton exercised poor judgment in concluding that there was a high risk of Qaddafi carrying out massacres, I am more than happy to read it. If the argument is that there is nothing productive the US can do in the form of humanitarian intervention, I am willing to consider it.

For example, Bhikhu Parekh has argued that humanitarian interventions tend to fail because the intervening nation puts such a high relative value on its troops’ lives compared to the people on whose behalf the intervention is made that the intervening power will take only those actions that do not put its own troops at risk though that kind of action, such as aerial bombing, tends not to be effective and create a lot of innocent deaths.

So the argument can be made that Clinton simply does not understand the limits of humanitarian intervention and that she should have simply the countenanced Qaddafi carrying blood bath after blood bath.

The argument could be that Clinton should have seen whatever atrocity she prevented in the short-term would result in greater atrocities in the long term. Or the argument could be that Clinton did not use the right kind of military pressure against Qaddafi. Or she was wrong that she increased the chances of success by trying to lead from behind the French and British air forces that were set to strike, regardless of US actions.

I have tried to suggest that I think we need to have a serious discussion of whether we are going to rule out a priori any kind of humanitarian intervention. As I have suggested, there are arguments for such a position.

I will say again is that even if Clinton’s judgment proved poor in hindsight, it does not mean that it was a terrible judgment at the moment of crisis and it does not mean that this decision proves that she is a war monger.

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RNB 03.03.16 at 1:45 am

It seems that Clinton will emerge the nominee. I think that I have been clear that I would most enthusiastically support Sanders should he win the nomination. I am hoping that Sanders’ backers will bring their enthusiasm to the fight against Trump if Clinton is the nominee as seems likely.

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Val 03.03.16 at 1:55 am

Plume
I dropped out of the discussion with you for a while when you started comparing people who disagreed with you to sharks – bit much! I still think in the passage I quoted earlier, you seemed to be blaming the fragmentation of the left on those who raised concerns about sexism and racism, rather than those who were sexist and racist. That passage did sound to me like ‘people on the left should stop going on about sexism and racism because it’s fragmenting the left’.

Now that may not be what you think or what you meant, but if so I think you should go back and re-read what you wrote and then express it to say what you actually mean.

On the topic of class and patriarchy again, I have been reading Richard Wolff, I don’t know if you have mentioned him previously or what you think about him. You probably know that he advocates democratic work structures as an alternative to capitalism, which sounds like your ideas. I am looking at these ideas for my thesis currently, exploring alternatives to the existing hierarchical structures.

Also I read Resnick and Wolff on the class structure of households, which they describe as (in their classic form) a “feudal” class system, in which husbands are “lords” and wives (and potentially children if they do household work) are “serfs”. They say that in theory “nothing precludes” wives from being lords and husbands from being serfs, but it is unlikely in practice because of “still dominant cultural norms”.

What they are talking about certainly can be characterised as feudal, but it is also clearly patriarchy, but they never name it that way. It is an interesting omission. In general it seems to me that that the patriarchal kingdom or lord type structure was most likely the original form of hierarchy, and Engels certainly saw the origins of private property (and subsequently class) in patriarchal relationships, but later socialist theorists seem very reluctant to acknowledge patriarchy.

My theory is that many male socialists (and indeed some women/feminists, as shown in previous discussions on CT) are reluctant to acknowledge the historical existence and legacy of patriarchy and its relationship with hierarchy and class, because it raises questions about male privilege that make them uncomfortable.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 2:00 am

RNB: “I have tried to suggest that I think we need to have a serious discussion of whether we are going to rule out a priori any kind of humanitarian intervention.”

Oddly enough I’ve already provided a quote that says what I think about that. It’s the one up at #224 that ends in “Assholes.”

I mean, let’s not just rule out bombing people as “humanitarian intervention”, because unless we have a serious discussion about it, we’re not serious. Sadly it seems that we hippies are never serious. The people who are serious are the people who, after long and diligent study, always get the wrong answer. We may get the right answer, but we get the right answer for the wrong reasons so it doesn’t count. I mean, come on, we need a serious discussion about why we shouldn’t bomb people or it’s just laughable.

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Val 03.03.16 at 2:56 am

Ha so now I see that there was a whole discussion and debate about patriarchy and class in the 90s which Richard Wolff and his wife Harriet Fraad were involved in. I guess some people here, being American, are already familiar with this, but because I became involved with feminist theory more through my studies of Australian history, I hadn’t come across it so much.

It seems to clarify to me some of the processes by which feminist theory moved from using patriarchy as a key analytical tool to using gender as a key analytical tool, a shift which to me (particularly as a historian) weakened feminist analysis. That seems to be apparent in a discussion by Fraad, Resnick and Wolff where they appear are claiming to be Marxist Feminists but also appear to rather subtly trying to make that shift.

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Val 03.03.16 at 2:59 am

and just to relate this back to the debate I and others were having with Plume about socialism, gender and race – it does seem as if Wolff as a socialist theorist might be associated with Bernie Sanders as a socialist politician in some way? is that correct?

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Sebastian H 03.03.16 at 3:01 am

“I will say again is that even if Clinton’s judgment proved poor in hindsight, it does not mean that it was a terrible judgment at the moment of crisis and it does not mean that this decision proves that she is a war monger.”

This is sort of like trying to prove someone is a racist. I don’t know what is in her heart, but her actions suggest that she seeks war more often than is a good idea.

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RNB 03.03.16 at 3:09 am

@240 You’re not just inveighing against bombing people or even military forces about to carry out grotesque human rights violations. You are ditching any Responsibility to Protect. And I don’t rule this out at all. In a just finished study (it seems to develop the arguments here http://www.the-american-interest.com/2013/06/12/its-fatally-flawed/) Rajan Menon seems to argue against humanitarian intervention on realist grounds, i.e. no country can be sufficiently altruistic to intervene just to protect the human rights of vulnerable populations. The humanitarian intervention will create fall out that the altruistic power will not have the resolve and commitment to deal with; or the humanitarian intervention will be a cynical cover for self-interested intervention, e.g. the US was helping to shore up its allies in Qatar and KSA by eliminating Qaddafi, not trying to protect innocent Libyans from a despot. I think this is what Jeffrey Sachs is implying was the real motivation behind the NATO intervention in Libya. I am not convinced by this claim at all.
Also the critics of R2P do leave us in the uncomfortable position of accepting bloodbaths and human rights catastrophes as realities to which we must adjust. I want there to be a better way; so I want to continue to think this through.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 3:24 am

I was really hoping that R2P had gone into the trash bin along with Libya. Or maybe with Vietnam: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” We can’t let Qaddafi kill his own people! We have to do it.

Any kind of evidence-based evaluation really quickly, and obviously, finds that you can’t bomb people into humanitarian compliance, so I interpret “I want there to be a better way” as “I really want to bomb people by proxy and I don’t want to give up on that idea.” That’s pretty harmless in an ordinary person, although I’d recommend video games rather than analysis of foreign policy, but it’s not harmless in a political leader.

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F. Foundling 03.03.16 at 4:00 am

@RNB 03.03.16 at 1:42 am

Really, I have already answered all of this in the post of mine that you responded to. No, I am not opposed on principle to the idea of legal, UN-sanctioned ‘humanitarian interventions’ to save civilians and ensure their welfare. But that’s irrelevant, because this just wasn’t one. Clinton knew perfectly well that her actions were illegal, and she knew that what she was doing was violent regime change and not protecting civilians. Your very point of departure is taking her stated motives at face value, and that is already delusional. That settles the issue about her warmongering. The rest is a side issue, but yes, holding the office she held, she also should have known that her toppling of Qaddafi was likely to result in the catastrophy that we currently see. Certainly, I am not exluding the possibility that she might have been just so unforgivably incompetent that she just didn’t foresee the results of her actions. Anyway, all of that happened to some foreigners in a far-away country, so it really doesn’t matter in the least to American voters. Too bad for the rest of the planet if either she or Trump are elected.

@RNB 03.03.16 at 1:45 am
>I am hoping that Sanders’ backers will bring their enthusiasm to the fight against Trump if Clinton is the nominee as seems likely.

I can’t speak for Sanders’ voters, since I am not an American citizen, but *enthusiasm* is a bit too much to demand from anyone when the choice is between a terrible evil and a supremely terrible evil.

239

bruce wilder 03.03.16 at 4:13 am

How does rudeness correlate with evil?

240

F. Foundling 03.03.16 at 4:16 am

@RNB 03.03.16 at 3:09 am
>’You’re not just inveighing against bombing people or even military forces about to carry out grotesque human rights violations.’

And as for what is ‘about to happen’ and whether intervening militarily would do more good than harm, we just have to trust ‘the good guys’. Who are good, because you just find it so implausible that they could be bad and be guided by their interests. Sorry, but I don’t trust the ‘good guys’ in your government (or in any other government) to decide unilaterally and altruistically where their intervention is needed. Incredible, I know.

241

F. Foundling 03.03.16 at 4:17 am

@bruce wilder 03.03.16 at 4:13 am
>How does rudeness correlate with evil?

Sorry, that’s too subtle for me.

242

Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 4:28 am

“Your very point of departure is taking her stated motives at face value”

The basic point is not that someone is trusting political leaders to be well intentioned and competent, the basic point is that they are trusting bombs to be magically self guided bombs that only kill “military forces about to carry out grotesque human rights violations”, as opposed to, say, 3 year olds.

The follow up questions about “Will bombing people really make the atrocities stop?” and “What kind of society will be left after we remove the dictator — will there actually be fewer people killed under whatever follows?” are questions to be considered by practitioners of realpolitik who shrug at killing 3 year olds. Those practitioners pretty much have one essential test that might be held to justify what they do: did what they do actually work. So what does the history of the Libya intervention tell us?

There is no serious discussion to be had here. These questions are settled, if any question can be said to be settled.

243

The Temporary Name 03.03.16 at 5:07 am

You are ditching any Responsibility to Protect.

I’m pretty sure everybody in the thread is cool with protecting people. There may be methods other than bombing to achieve that.

244

reason 03.03.16 at 8:23 am

John,
it seems to me that the “left” is far less cohesive than the other two groups. You only have to read the thread to get that. Basically the “left” just represents those not in the other two groups.

The left does have common ground, in that unlike the other two it is inclusive (except for those communists who would bring back the guillotine) and egalitarian, but the disputes about the how to get there bit (as against what the general direction should be) seems to damn it to ineffectiveness.

As I said the major difference with the other two groups is that it would welcome more equal outcomes and the others either are indifferent or definitely opposed to more equal outcomes. That is not much to work with.

245

Hidari 03.03.16 at 8:29 am

“critics of R2P do leave us in the uncomfortable position of accepting bloodbaths and human rights catastrophes as realities to which we must adjust.”

Actually critics of R2P leave us in the uncomfortable position of accepting most current bloodbaths and human rights catastrophes as situations for which we are largely responsible.

Luckily there is a situation to this problem!

246

reason 03.03.16 at 8:30 am

John,
one point though on groupings and stability, it is not just the existence of the groupings that matter, but their size. It your catch all group “the left” became larger (as it arguably was in the 60s and 70s) then the distinction between greens and socialists and feminists etc, would become much more important and could lead to you seeing different groupings (for instance look at Germany where a largely female Green party is a substantial influence).

247

Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 12:16 pm

Hidari: “Luckily there is a situation to this problem!”

I think that’s way too advanced for this forum. First you have to get through difficult concepts like “Bombs kill people — and not always the ‘right’ people” and “Killing people indiscriminately is wrong”. Only after a lot of painstaking remedial work on basic physics and morality could you then get to even more difficult topics like “I wonder where these dictators and terrorists that we have to stop keep coming from?”

This is why I think that all the research on “the authoritarians” is sort of beside the point. (Getting back to Hidari’s link at #232 and the continuing discussion of e.g. Altimeyer). It’s not just some kind of rube Trump-loving authoritarians who can’t understand basic concepts like “bombs kill people”. It’s most of the left too, at least in America. Basically we have a violent society and most people can’t question their society’s values.

248

Brett Dunbar 03.03.16 at 12:33 pm

It is possible that the intervention in Libya prevented it ending up like Syria. The argument would go something like the air strikes weakened Gadaffi enough that his regime collapsed fairly quickly without the prolonged civil war that gave IS its opportunity in Syria. That isn’t to say I agree with that proposition, just that you can argue it was a natural experiment both were in fairly similar positions with a popular revolt against a tyrant in one we bombed the despot in the other we did not. The outcome in Syria has been even worse than Libya.

249

lurker 03.03.16 at 12:48 pm

@256, Brett Dunbar
You could also argue that in 1982 old man Assad put a stop to the unrest with exemplary brutality, re-establishing order and peace, and this was an even better result. If he had been a US ally, lots of people would make that argument.

250

Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 1:08 pm

Doesn’t lurker’s suggestion above generally go under the term of art “realism” in foreign policy? Realists used to argue that we were better off supporting friendly dictators than trying to remove them because dictators provided stability, and stability was better than instability whether you’re talking about national interests or even humanitarian concerns. Whatever you think of this argument, it’s at least one with a long history (going back to Hobbes, basically) and can be seriously held.

And as I wrote above, there’s basically one essential test that you can ask about realist plans of this sort, given that they tend to reject all but instrumental morality: do they work. Saying that your actions resulted in chaos but maybe it wasn’t as bad as the chaos might have been otherwise is the kind of cop out that no one would accept in any other context.

251

Layman 03.03.16 at 1:26 pm

RNB@237

“I will say again is that even if Clinton’s judgment proved poor in hindsight, it does not mean that it was a terrible judgment at the moment of crisis and it does not mean that this decision proves that she is a war monger.”

I’m struggling to recall an opportunity for war not embraced by Clinton. Can you think of one? Which war did she vote against, or argue against, or decide against, since coming to a position of power? She seems to have been on board with invading Afghanistan, invading Iraq, bombing Libya, bombing Syria, arming militants of all kinds, and the relentless death-by-drone regime of the past decade.

Even if your proposed lesser-evilism about Clinton is right, you shouldn’t be blind to what she is. I’ve said before, if HRC were a Republican, she’d be their dream candidate.

252

faustusnotes 03.03.16 at 2:15 pm

Are you really serious, Layman? “If HRC were a Republican, she’d be their dream candidate”? She’s pro-choice, supports universal health coverage, is a friend of the BLM movement, and is generally seen by the right as having killed Americans with her incompetence at war and endangered national security with her emails. This is a “dream candidate” for the party that is currently running a robot, an apocalyptic christian, and an actual fascist as their main contenders?

This kind of statement is a Trumpian or Rubionesque level of cognitive dissonance. Do you have any idea what is actually happening in the real world, or are you content to just make it all up as it suits you? That may be fun, but it’s not politically very useful.

253

Richard Cottrell 03.03.16 at 2:32 pm

Sinclair Lewis was right: it is already happening in America.
http://www.vox.com/2016/3/1/11127424/trump-authoritarianism
This is no ordinary book end election, it is a decisive and defining election that will decide America’s future inclination, permanently.
Sanders will run: on the Democrat ticket or under his own flag. He has come too far to give up now.

254

Plume 03.03.16 at 2:47 pm

Hillary doesn’t support universal health care coverage. She supports the ACA, which will never come close to getting us there. Currently, we’re about 29 million people short of health care insurance coverage, and even 100% wouldn’t really get us to universal on the provider side — though it’s an essential first step.

Gotta at least have Single Payer for starters, and then radically expand free clinics and “public options” on the delivery side.

Hillary’s way will never, ever get us there. ACA does virtually nothing to curb costs for medical care itself, and still leave tens of millions without insurance.

255

Layman 03.03.16 at 2:58 pm

@ faustusnotes

Yes, I am largely serious, though by ‘Republican’ I meant the party, not the rump constituency. HRC is a corporatist, pro-Wall Street, hawkish Establishment woman. Pro-choice is certainly a problem, but the rest is just posturing by one side or another. As I said before, Obamacare is a policy designed by conservatives, and is only reviled by them now because the other side did it. GWB blunders killed far more Americans than did Benghazi, which makes it clear that the Benghazi rage is just partisan posturing. Of course HRC embraces BLM, it’s a Democratic constituency.

If a Republican woman with HRC’s record existed, she’d already have wrapped up the nomination.

256

Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 3:01 pm

Humanitarian, a short play in three acts

(A room contains a SERIOUS ADULT, a HIPPIE, and a 3 YEAR OLD CHILD.)

Act I

(SERIOUS ADULT takes out a pistol and puts it to the child’s head.)

HIPPIE: “Don’t shoot!”

SERIOUS ADULT: “I know that this seems, at first glance, as if I might be doing something wrong. But we need to kill this child.”

HIPPIE: “Stop — wait, I don’t know what you’re thinking. But please, just put the gun down.”

SERIOUS ADULT: “We need to kill this child to save lives. Don’t you want to hear the reasoning?”

HIPPIE: “Killing children is wrong. Please, we can talk about whatever you want, but don’t shoot.”

SERIOUS ADULT: “You’re just rejecting the idea of killing this child out of absolutism. Absolute pacifism … absolute anti-imperialism … anti-military pragmatism… we need to reason our way through on a case by case basis.”

HIPPIE: “Um, OK let’s reason it through–“

(SERIOUS ADULT shoots the child.)

Act II

HIPPIE: “Police! Help!”

SERIOUS ADULT: “The police support this, I’m kind of in charge of them.”

HIPPIE: “You just killed a kid!”

SERIOUS ADULT: “But it was for the greater good. You’ll see. People are celebrating.”

HIPPIE: “Oh my god, this is crazy. You’re crazy.”

Act III

SERIOUS ADULT: “It … it didn’t work… people are still committing atrocities…”

HIPPIE: “Just put the gun down. Don’t kill any more people.”

SERIOUS ADULT: “But I want to make this work! I want there to be a better way; so I want to continue to think this through.”

HIPPIE: “There is no way to think it through. You just murdered someone. Please, you need help. Put the gun down and we’ll try to get you help.”

SERIOUS ADULT: “You’re just not being serious. I want a serious discussion of this. You’re not being serious so I don’t have to listen. I think — yes. I think I’ll kill some more people.”

257

Plume 03.03.16 at 3:02 pm

Trump is “pro-choice,” too. But that isn’t stopping him from running away with the Republican nomination. And lest some folks say he’s drawing in a lot of Democrats, no. His poking at the xenophobic, racist, homophobic and overall bigoted id of the American right syncs up perfectly well with the GOP at the moment. They love him enough on all of the authoritarian nasty bits to overlook his stance on abortion.

258

Layman 03.03.16 at 3:06 pm

Also, too, @faustusnotes, must you be insulting?

259

Brett Dunbar 03.03.16 at 3:18 pm

There is a difference, the intervention in Libya weakened Gadaffi enough that his regime collapsed and the rebels won. Then fell out over what to do next. The supply of arms to the Syrian rebels was insufficient to destroy the Assad regime, it was enough to stop Assad winning but not enough to make him lose.

We didn’t want a prolonged war. We would have preferred a short decisive and successful revolution like in Tunisia, or a few years earlier Indonesia.

260

bianca steele 03.03.16 at 3:40 pm

#MalePrivilege #Grumpy I wonder why I don’t post original dialogues like Rich’s (anymore).

#WhatWouldATrollSay Rich would seem to have violent agression in his heart, and has probably made a threat against some child in the vicinity.

261

Plume 03.03.16 at 3:41 pm

Speaking of tribalism, several times over.

I can’t stand watching CNN, but caught this via online newspapers:

Trump and KKK inspire meltdown on CNN starring Van Jones and Jeffrey Lord

The entire exchange was pretty stupid. But the worst of it for me was the re-diculus right-wing meme that the KKK is a “leftist terrorist group.” This is the same garbage the right tries to peddle about Hitler, etc. etc. but with a slight twist.

Apparently, since the right views the Democratic party as “far left” today, and the Democrats once dominated the KKK — back in the 19th and early 20th centuries — this must mean the KKK is “leftist.” Never mind the fact that the Democrats, even today, have “conservatives” in their midst, and that the Democratic establishment is center-right. When it controlled the American South, prior to the Civil Rights act, those reps and that political structure, were decidedly hard right. And the KKK has always considered itself right wing, and hates socialism, communism and liberalism with a red hot passion. The left has always returned the favor.

But the right is often very smart about these narratives. Get them out there. Overwhelm the left with opposite-day lies. And little by little, the left stops every trying to debunk those lies. They just become a part of the furniture and enough people accept the Night is Day garbage to weaken the left a bit more each time this happens. And with more and more universities selling out to right-wing billionaires . . . . I wonder how much longer before we’re in some version of Fahrenheit 451. Or the truth as Soylent Green.

262

Lupita 03.03.16 at 4:06 pm

“We didn’t want a prolonged war. We would have preferred a short decisive and successful revolution…”

Ah, the imperial “we” rears its mighty head.

263

RNB 03.03.16 at 4:09 pm

.

@265 The only thing childish here is the way in which you are responding to what Juan Cole has written. At least you linked to it.

Hippy seems to think Libya was a desert paradise before the NATO bombing. It was in the midst of a bloody civil war; Qaddafi had lost 30% by some estimate of the territory and was poised to carry out ever bloodier massacres to shore up control. The situation would have become more and more horrific without NATO bombing. And you haven’t tried to make a counterfactual argument that things would have been better without NATO bombing. After all, the peaceful citizens who may yet make Libya a better place could have been annihilated by Qaddafi, leaving only externally-funded and violent jihadis. And who is advocating the killing of children? The strikes were targeted on Qaddafi’s forces poised to carry out massacres. What are you talking about? And as for Clinton being a war monger as “layman” claims she did not advocate sending in US ground troops even after the attack on the US Embassy.

At any rate, I am not convinced by those of you trying to make Hillary Clinton out to be the same kind of war monger as George W. Bush because of her actions against Qaddafi and Assad who received support from Russia and Iran, not wanting to lose their ally, to absolutely crush the civilians caught up in the Arab Spring.

Again the dubious idea here is that the all-powerful US itself created problems in these otherwise peaceful societies just because allies who recycle their petrodollars through the US wanted good guys Qaddafi and Assad ousted. So Sanders and his supporters think these situations are historically reminiscent of the US overthrowing Cold War enemies Arbenz, Trujillo, Lumumba, and Allende. But Qaddafi and Assad do not belong in this group.

At any rate, the most absolutely hilarious claims is layman’s–HRC had she run as a Republican would have sewn up the nomination by now!

264

RNB 03.03.16 at 4:10 pm

@261 Yes!

265

bianca steele 03.03.16 at 4:12 pm

Ze K @ 271

Do you mean the U.S., or the West generally, should stay out of Middle East conflicts? Or do you mean us little people should let the people in charge make the hard decisions based on the principles of utilitarianism, or whatever principles or lack of principle (I.e. realism) they use? I don’t remember what your basic theory of this stuff is supposed to be, so could you clarify? Thx.

266

Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 4:17 pm

RNB: “And who is advocating the killing of children? The strikes were targeted on Qaddafi’s forces poised to carry out massacres. What are you talking about?”

The left in America, folks. I promise that even though RNB is so perfect in his role that people might think I’m posting as a sock puppet, he really isn’t.

267

Layman 03.03.16 at 4:18 pm

@RNB, while you’re chuckling, maybe you could name that war of which HRC didn’t approve?

268

RNB 03.03.16 at 4:20 pm

@277 Already responded. She did not advocate the sending in of ground troops after the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi.

269

Plume 03.03.16 at 4:39 pm

Rich,

It’s not “the left” in America. It’s a very small part of it, and mostly very close to the center. There is a ton of real estate to the left of center-left hawks.

Beyond that, politicians like HRC are center-right on most issues — the economy, taxes, the surveillance state, Wall Street, the two party system itself, campaign financing, the war on drugs, wars in general, etc. She doesn’t really venture across the aisle to the left until we start dealing with things that some would say make her “socially liberal.” Essential and important issues, but things that are much easier for pols to talk about without getting beaten up by the powers that be. And it may be that they’re easier stances to take because we’ve seen next to no progress along those lines — except on gay rights — since the early 1970s. Lotsa talk. Very little action in the face of the right-wing onslaught.

270

LFC 03.03.16 at 4:40 pm

RNB @244
There is likely no such thing as a ‘humanitarian intervention’ with *entirely* altruistic or humanitarian motives. In some cases an intervention with mixed motives can end up, however, having the effect of curtailing atrocities. In other cases, not.

A fairly good example of the former situation is the Indian intervention in (what was then) East Pakistan in December 1971, the intervention that helped make possible what is now Bangladesh. In terms of motives, India’s main one prob. was stopping the flood of refugees across its border with E.Pakistan, a situation that was severely straining its resources and creating the potential for instability (of various sorts). There were also geopolitical motives tied up with the longstanding tension/enmity with Pakistan. Purely humanitarian motives (i.e., stopping the Pakistani army’s rampages against Bangladeshi civilians) were probably a distant third, if they figured at all. And yet the effect of the Indian intervention was a defeat of the Pakistani army, an end to its rampages in E. Pakistan, and the midwifing of Bangladesh. It was a geopolitical victory for India, motivated almost entirely by practical, non-humanitarian considerations, and yet one that had the humanitarian effect of curtailing the indiscriminate killing of civilians by the Pakistani army.

One of the Left’s correct criticisms of Kissinger and Nixon is their ’tilt’ toward Pakistan in this episode, and yet if Kissinger and Nixon had come down on the other side and brought pressure or intervened in some way to stop Pakistan’s genocide, portions of today’s Left might well indict them for following the notion of humanitarian intervention whose invariable futility, ineffectiveness, and immorality is “settled.”

271

LFC 03.03.16 at 4:44 pm

p.s. should add that there was of course an ‘indigenous’ Bangladeshi ‘army of liberation’ but it couldn’t have defeated Pakistan, certainly not quickly, w/o the Indian help.

272

Ben 03.03.16 at 4:52 pm

@Richard Cottrell

I’ll bet you any amount you wish that Sanders won’t be running after the Dem convention. He’s stated as such, it’s not in his temperament, it’s not in his political interest.

@RNB

re: The “NATO bombings were needed to stop Gaddafi” argument

That’s not well-supported empirically, which was pointed out at the time. For example.

273

bianca steele 03.03.16 at 4:57 pm

Plume,

We do not have a “left ideology” (for want of a better term) in the U.S. Only a very few topics are considered to be inherently politicized. The rest are the common patrimony, hegemony, whatever you want to call it, which we generally think of as being basically center-right. (The wingnut right calls it center-left, liberal, or even Far Left, but they are wrong. They are misled because they are tribalists, in the formulation of the OP, who are still thinking in terms of a two-party system.) Much of the left considers everything to be political, true, or at least subject to politicized modes of critique, but this attitude is, as you put it, limited to a few.

274

Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 5:03 pm

LFC: “and yet if Kissinger and Nixon had come down on the other side and brought pressure or intervened in some way to stop Pakistan’s genocide, portions of today’s Left might well indict them for following the notion of humanitarian intervention whose invariable futility, ineffectiveness, and immorality is “settled.””

Poor Kissinger and Nixon. Damned if they did, damned if they counterfactually didn’t. Those portions of today’s Left just aren’t satisfied with anything. It’s so unjust that if Kissinger had claimed to be intervening for purposes of humanitarian intervention and it had led to lots of deaths the left might think that he’d actually done something wrong.

But this thread is passing my limits for comedy. People have learned nothing from the past, and will learn nothing from the future. Education and supposedly highly developed reasoning abilities only provide extra resources for rationalization. As before, there’s basically 4 or 5 people who I read CT for, and the rest of you are really pretty horrible.

275

Plume 03.03.16 at 5:11 pm

Bianca @283,

Agreed. I think of “the left” as pretty diverse. Much more so than the right. Though that may just be my own bias.

Beyond that, I wish there were better terms and better ways to differentiate the things I want to say about the American political system. I fear it comes across as too dismissive to talk about “culture wars” or “socially liberal” issues, when compared with the economy, wars, empire, etc. But I do see a certain “type” of American politician, primarily in the Democratic party, who seems center-left on some issues, but center-right on the rest. Sometimes it’s limited to economics, so one could use “neoliberal” for that . . . . but other times it also includes wars and empire, so we could add “neoconservative.”

Either way, I think reality is bursting open the seams of those terms, and now perhaps more than ever before. It all seems to fall so short of even slightly adequate descriptors.

276

Hidari 03.03.16 at 5:16 pm

Whenever I hear the imperial ‘we’ being used I think of this:

277

RNB 03.03.16 at 6:03 pm

@282. Thanks for this; but don’t miss the responses. Gareth Evans who had been Roberts’ collaborator argues persuasively, I think, that Roberts is wrong to assume that a ceasefire and negotiated settlement was still possible.

278

RNB 03.03.16 at 6:17 pm

@280. Thanks for this. LFC, I know that you mentioned that you are an IR Ph.D. I am hoping to read at some point Rajan Menon’s Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention. But at this point I have been able to read his arguments in The National Interest–not exactly a leftist rag. In the case of the liberation of Bangladesh Kissinger opposed the very idea of humanitarian intervention, it seems.

279

bruce wilder 03.03.16 at 6:20 pm

what bianca steele said.

what is it the man said about not being able to oppose something with nothing? well, you can oppose nothing with nothing, if you stage manage it properly.

That, not incidentally is the significance of “neoliberalism” the non-ideological ideology that emerged to encapsulate the made-for-teevee political competition of Reagan v Clinton, Bush v Obama. Commenters say it does not mean anything, but they are missing that that is the point of its content – there is no alternative.

Political alignments, viewed naively and heuristically, are always going to call forth the chalkboard theorist’s 2 x 2 matrix: a dichotomy, an excluded middle, and non-participating unknown unknowns. What is happening in American politics is that almost everyone, whether they know it, choose it or not, is consigned to the non-participating by political establishments, who are busy serving a kleptocracy. The empty form of participation is maintained by noisemaking, which also serves to divert and, paradoxically, to suppress the emergence of genuine alternatives.

In a healthy politics, the ambition of rivals for rotation in office would fuel some faction to just say, “no” to whatever foolishness the party in power had propagated, but neoliberalism absorbs its own contradictions. A policy of realist intervention to prevent counterfactual mushroom clouds alternates with humanitarian bombing campaigns to prevent counterfactual atrocities. A surge in Afghanistan follows a surge in Iraq. A rube goldberg framework for private profit and public plunder can be rebranded from Romneycare to Obamacare. Scandals are manufactured to order — as much to inoculate their supposed targets as to generate the necessary noise: the Clinton email server and Benghazi “scandals” being cases in point, where the accusations miss any genuine malfeasance but excite ye olde tribes.

Up until the present moment, the neoliberal whirlwind has absorbed all the genuine skepticism about foreign policy, financial reform, trade policy, health care or climate change response and neutralized it. And, tribalism does the rest with regard to racism and other social issues.

There is no left.

280

Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 6:30 pm

BW: “Up until the present moment, the neoliberal whirlwind has absorbed all the genuine skepticism about foreign policy, financial reform, trade policy, health care or climate change response and neutralized it. “

This is giving neoliberalism too much credit. Just upthread we have a supposed serious discussant of foreign policy who does not know that bombs cause collateral damage and kill people who were not their targets. You can’t put that simply on neoliberalism.

281

Ben 03.03.16 at 6:45 pm

@RNB

Yeah I agree the part about the possibility of the negotiated ceasefire is the weakest part of the argument (though I think Roberts has the more persuasive case on that point too).

Regardless, the info pertaining to the “imminent potential for massacres” argument is why I linked it. Consider it carefully; look for that kind of info in the present when the war-drums start beating.

282

Brett Dunbar 03.03.16 at 6:46 pm

Intervention is always a difficult problem. The results vary wildly with no real pattern. A couple of successes The French interventions in Ivory Coast and the British intervention in Sierra Leone brought long running civil wars to a quick conclusion with little loss of life. Forcing would be dictator Gbagbo to first hold fair elections and then accept that he had lost the election and eliminating the RPF (thugs selling blood diamond who had a habit of cutting off hands) were generally good things.

283

geo 03.03.16 at 7:02 pm

bw@291: There is no left.

Could you spell this out a bit? It’s true that there’s not a major, or even significant minor, left-wing political party in existence or in prospect. But there are at least a few left-wing intellectuals and magazines — I certainly spend enough money buying their books and subscribing to the magazines. There are the organizations I linked to way back @35 of this thread, which deserve better than to be declared nonexistent. There is Nader and the panoply of citizen organizations he founded. Not to mention Crooked Timber’s own very impressive left-wing brain-trust-in-waiting: McManus, Puchalsky, Wilder, & Plume. And beyond that, a good deal of inchoate hunger and dissatisfaction, perhaps slouching toward articulateness.

Not much, perhaps, but not nothing.

284

LFC 03.03.16 at 7:07 pm

RNB @289
In the case of the liberation of Bangladesh Kissinger opposed the very idea of humanitarian intervention, it seems

Well, yes, but that’s almost an understatement, I think (though I can’t elaborate on that now). Two fairly recent books give a pretty full picture of the whole episode: S. Raghavan’s 1971 (which I read and reviewed on my blog), and G. Bass’s The Blood Telegram (haven’t read). A number of reviews of these books were published in various places: e.g., Harold Saunders reviewed Bass in Foreign Affairs (“What Really Happened in Bangladesh,” FA, July/August 2014) and I think Sunil Khilnani reviewed both books in New Republic. And I’m pretty sure Bass was also reviewed in NYRB, NYT BK Rev., etc.

I know that you mentioned that you are an IR Ph.D.

I did mention that in another thread, in response to a question you asked me. However, I don’t think the three letters after my name give me any special authority in these discussions — any more than your PhD in (I’m guessing) economics means one has to agree w/ you on that subject. (I know you weren’t suggesting this, but I wanted to make my view on it clear, in case it wasn’t.)

285

RNB 03.03.16 at 7:12 pm

No you should agree with me on economics because my Ph.D is not in economics. Please provide link to your blog review of Raghavan’s 1971. Thanks for the other cites.

286

Plume 03.03.16 at 7:14 pm

287

Plume 03.03.16 at 7:16 pm

Geo,

Thanks.

I’d add

(I tried too many the first time and it put me in mod mode):

https://www.jacobinmag.com/
(young and up and coming)

http://climateandcapitalism.com/
(a leading ecosocialist journal)

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/
(And oldie but still goodie)

288

LFC 03.03.16 at 7:28 pm

289

F. Foundling 03.03.16 at 9:29 pm

@Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 4:28 am, 03.03.16 at 12:16 pm, 03.03.16 at 3:01 pm

I’m sorry, but most people, in and outside of America, will agree that there really are situations in which it is conscionable or, some would say, imperative to risk killing some innocents in order to save more innocents. Every resort to violence and military force is a case of that at some level. Yes, this principle is awfully abused all the time by everybody, and the NATO actions in Libya were a particularly drastic example of such abuse. But if you expect most people to come over to the view that this kind of ‘mathematics’ is unacceptable in principle, I think that’s a lost cause.

@RNB 03.03.16 at 4:09 pm
>Qaddafi had lost 30% by some estimate of the territory and was poised to carry out ever bloodier massacres to shore up control. … The situation would have become more and more horrific without NATO bombing.

Qaddafi seemed to be about to win the civil war, and yes, of course, as dictators like him typically do, he very likely would have committed some atrocities against his opponents, as have the mostly Islamist rebel militias fighting against him (BTW, you may – or may not – be interested to google their relationship with black people). Then it seems relatively plausible that Libya would have reverted to some degree of stability, preserving the remarkably high living standards and secular lifestyle it had had before the civil war, instead of descending into the present anarchy with dismal living conditions and a reign of uncontrollable fundamentalist militias, including, most recently, an ISIS branch. But these are all counterfactuals. The crucial, absolutely crucial point is that nobody has appointed you, RNB, or Clinton, or the US in general to make decisions based on such counterfactuals and to decide who should win a civil war in a foreign country and which foreign regime should be toppled. Nobody has given you the right to perform open heart surgery – skilfully or unskilfully – on other countries, and debating just how well every given forced surgery of yours was conducted and just how predictably bad the outcome was is completely pointless. Just stay the hell out. I hope this wording is finally clear enough for you.

Again, I should point out that I am still not opposed on principle to international military action authorised by the proper representative international institution, namely the UN (even though it, too, can easily be manipulated by the US). The way the UN resolution was blatantly misused in the Libya case has already been mentioned above. And this will have to be my last post about this in the thread, even though – or precisely because – I have no doubt in the opposing side’s truly inexhaustible potential for writing further posts that ignore or obscure the nature of the issue at hand.

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js. 03.03.16 at 9:52 pm

This thread really only needs a steven johnson critique to reach Peak CT.

291

Lupita 03.03.16 at 9:55 pm

The New Latin America Century, a short play in two acts
Inspired by Rich Puchalsky (but it’s not his fault)

(Several serious Latin Americans sit around a sidewalk table in Buenos Aires sipping mate. They enjoy the cool breeze, the magnificent sunset, and the sound of birds chirping.)

ACT I

MEXICAN: The US is such a mess! Have you heard about Trump? He’s a fascist! What should we do? Should we oppose the very idea of humanitarian intervention? Is a negotiated settlement still possible?
ECUADORIAN: Critics of R2P do leave us in the uncomfortable position of accepting bloodbaths and human rights catastrophes as realities to which we must adjust. I think we should send Rubio a box of grenades. He can give them to his supporters to throw at a Trump rally. I am sure that would avoid a massacre in the future.
ARGENTINEAN: Yes, it is a good idea to arm, finance, train, and support by other means various anti-Trump actors.
BOLIVIAN: We could send coke to Carson. Maybe he’ll wake up and win the election.
BRAZILIAN: The peaceful citizens who may yet make the US a better place may be annihilated by Trump, the despot, leaving only externally-funded and violent Republicans. And who is advocating the killing of children? The strikes will target Trump rallies poised to carry out massacres.

ACT II

BRAZILIAN: Our actions resulted in chaos but maybe it wasn’t as bad as the chaos might have been otherwise.
MEXICAN: The box of grenades to Rubio rebels was insufficient to destroy the Trump candidacy; it was enough to stop Trump winning but not enough to make him lose.
ECUADORIAN: We didn’t want a prolonged war. We would have preferred a short decisive and successful revolution like in Tunisia.
ARGENTINEAN: It does not mean that it was a terrible judgment at the moment of crisis and it does not mean that this decision proves that we are war mongers.

THE END

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bruce wilder 03.03.16 at 9:59 pm

geo @ 294

Do I exaggerate by rendering “inchoate hunger and dissatisfaction” as “nothing”? Do you exaggerate by rendering it as “left”?

“left” is a catch-all heuristic: conceptually, an empty bottle awaiting a beverage to quench the thirst of the times. The specifics of the beverage — the sales pitch, the color, the flavor, the nutritional content (corresponding to the ideals, the means, the mechanisms, the constituencies, the patronage and the program) are a response to context.

Up thread, I ventured a meta-criteria for “left” politics as some degree of opposition to, or critique of, established authority, its structures, purposes, personnel and ideological rationalizations. This is, you will readily recognize, a Whiggish view and so, within my usual wont. Retrospectively, we can claim for the cause of progress such unlikely figures as Simon De Montfort, Oliver Cromwell, Abraham Lincoln, if we like. But, I digress.

Because I tied my high-flying generalization of the uniting principle of the left thru the ages to a rationale for left populism and the “courting” (not my term) of the (white?) unwashed, I was taken to task, most effectively by Rich P. I fully agree with Rich P about the appropriate context for progress in our times: the politics of ecology and energy must dominate all else or we make no sense for our own time and place; all the talk of neoliberalism, plutocracy and inequality (and, yes, bombing as “humanitarian intervention”) is about the barriers to getting our politics to that realization. And, what passes for “left” politics today frequently doesn’t make much sense; lacking a creative critique or program, we nostalgically mine the past for slogans and the shape of programs, without understanding either the past or ourselves. We just found out Woodrow Wilson was a racist; let’s get his rancid name off these buildings now, now, now. This is the level at which we are asked to “participate” in politics, just barely above the level of spectators shouting at the teevee and frequently not above that. There are commenters here who are sure Trump is the reincarnation of Mussolini because somebody baited him on Twitter and a professionally obnoxious fat guy got himself thrown out of a Trump rally. (Do I have to repeat my assessment that Trump is a horror? Of course, I do. Because my comments are just a grumpy white guy shouting, “get off my lawn!”)

I keep coming back to neoliberalism as a real and important phenomenon, because I believe it is a serious constraint not just on what is politically possible, but on what can be politically thought and organized. There’s no left, because conservative economists like Paul Krugman, Larry Summers, Brad DeLong et alia play the left, when necessary, on the Internets. To me, one of the most valuable accomplishments of the Sanders campaign so far has been revealing the hypocrisy (I lack a better term) of Paul Starr or Ezra Klein as wonk explainers. I doubt that revelation has had a broad impact in the populace, but it confirmed some things I long suspected.

Rich P appears discouraged that his efforts to explain the morally obvious about the “good intentions” behind “humanitarian bombing” is just being absorbed into the neoliberal whirlwind of partisan advocacy and dizzying counterfactual “evidence”. I’m not sure he’s wrong to be discouraged, but slow boring of hard boards, the credibility of the American political Parties (both of them plus the facilitating Media journamalists and pundits) and neoliberal cliches have eroded a tiny bit more on this thread.

Eroded is not replaced. There’s no left. There’s no real conservatism, either. Because our politics isn’t real; it’s a show on teevee, with commentary on twitter. Politicians are often more spokesmodels than operatives, actors playing shills in an elaborate con, with various trick bags offered out to the marks. The desirable but still feasible alternative, imho, isn’t an ideal politics, as if there could be such a thing. It won’t be accomplished by misguided reforming of the Electoral College — sorry, geo. A non-senile Posner on the Supreme Court does not seem likely either.

I pessimistically await further breakdown.

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bianca steele 03.03.16 at 10:08 pm

Bruce,

You make me sound so radical! I suspect we still disagree at a basic level. Also, skepticism isn’t an ideology, its, well, skepticism of ideology. Don’t want anyone to think I’m nodding along here. But sure, “stuff sucks” isn’t a positive program, and doesn’t have much of a response to offer to “you suck too” after the worm has turned. But letting people say what sucks, exactly, might have some positive results (or might result in cooperation, who knows?).

294

bianca steele 03.03.16 at 10:08 pm

cooptation: also not in spell-check

295

geo 03.03.16 at 10:24 pm

Bruce @303: The desirable but still feasible alternative, imho, isn’t an ideal politics …

Check. So what is it? (Sorry if you’ve explained already — one would like to devote all one’s attention to Crooked Timber, but alas … )

Lupita @302: Priceless, thanks.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 10:24 pm

F. Foundling: “I’m sorry, but most people, in and outside of America, will agree that there really are situations in which it is conscionable or, some would say, imperative to risk killing some innocents in order to save more innocents. Every resort to violence and military force is a case of that at some level. “

All right — at least you understand this. If we can agree that “humanitarian intervention” bombing will inevitably kill some children, then advocates of it really are saying that we need to kill some children for the greater good. I didn’t just make that up.

The idea that most people are OK with this is one that I’ve had a long time to get used to, just as I’ve had to accept that most people like torture and killing generally.. It doesn’t bother me as much as the people who can cluelessly wonder what I’m on about at all and who have evidently never even thought about this.

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F. Foundling 03.03.16 at 10:25 pm

@Lupita 03.03.16 at 9:55 pm

Best post ever.

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js. 03.03.16 at 10:25 pm

With enemies like these, I don’t think neoliberalism needs any friends.

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Plume 03.03.16 at 10:34 pm

Bruce @303,

It always confuses me when people try to use our political theater, our two-party kabuki dance to “prove” that this or that doesn’t exist beyond that dance. As if in the absence of any official political diversity, political diversity does not exist. As if there is no “unofficial” version happening all over the place, while that silly, phony theater takes place. As if a good many Americans don’t realize it’s nonsense and kabuki.

So, yes, you describe the insanely limited A to B spectrum we get to sit through year after year, and it does make it much, much harder for unofficial leftist flowers to bloom. But, amazingly enough, despite all the forces arrayed against that true political diversity and leftist dissent, it still happens. There is a real “left.” It’s not officially recognized, or allowed into official channels. It’s not allowed to be seen through any of the mediums corporate America controls — which is most of them. But it’s still there. And, ironically, it probably can’t exist within officially recognized channels anyway. If it were, it would likely soon be corrupted and absorbed by the Borg.

That’s what happened, of course, to the Ezra Kleins and company. They were once the young Turk dissidents, a part of the rising tide of Internet opposition against both the Bush regime and corporate Dems. But as is often the case, one of the best ways to cripple upstarts and dissidents is to give them jobs in various House Organs and embed them with the rest of the Borg. Shuts them up pretty quickly, in general. They start to think in terms of “What will I lose if I say X,” rather than “What will we all gain?”

(Greenwald is one of the few from the old liberal blogosphere that hasn’t been absorbed yet. Perhaps because he moved to Brazil!)

So, who knows what the answer is, but it’s likely gotta start with the realization that it doesn’t exist with either party, corporate media, or our government structure at all . . . . or the extended web of IMFs and WTOs and the like. Perhaps the only thing to do is gather enough people together to opt out, stop buying corporate shit, and start making our own products, our own life, our own world. I think Occupy had that in mind and they also wanted their medium to be their message. Non-hierarchical, democratic, from the ground up.

Most folks missed that entirely. It was perhaps too subtle. But the very shape of their non-organized organization was their message and encompassed all of their demands. The message of egalitarian, left-anarchist, anticapitalist, participatory democracy, creating social justice organically — form as content, content as form.

That’s the left, in my view.

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js. 03.03.16 at 11:02 pm

a professionally obnoxious fat guy got himself thrown out of a Trump rally

Nice.

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F. Foundling 03.03.16 at 11:10 pm

@Ze K 03.03.16 at 10:27 pm
>There is no left, but, as I said at the beginning here, the right is the new left. Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, Vladimir Putin. With any luck, they might just kill liberalism (okay, ‘neoliberalism’, if you insist); people are sick of it.

Kind Sir, my *only* problem with neoliberalism is that it’s basically taking us in the same direction as the reactionaries and wannabe/quasi/crypto-fascists soft you mentioned, only along a slightly different road. Putinism is Putinism, and CT-ism is CT-ism, and (apart from the occasional criticism of US imperial policy) never the twain shall meet.

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bob mcmanus 03.03.16 at 11:20 pm

No links, just some points

1) Over at Jacobin, at your right, they have an interview with Robert Brenner about the labor movement and New Deal, specifically General Strikes in 1934 SF, Minnesota and Toledo I think; and a symposium among some actual socialist talking about how to use the Sanders campaign for their own purposes

2) 80% of young people went for Sanders in Vermont, and 90% for Clinton in South Carolina. I am interested in how that happened, what were the mechanisms or dynamics of such (accidental?) solidarity. Not really how it was done, because I am not sure there were critical top-level agents, but how it emerged, what the communication paths were.

3) Along with 2) I am starting to look at “Black Twitter,” apparently more active and dynamic and coordinating than others though I would expect women and LGBTQs to have their own spaces. There is plenty of info on BT if one googles.

Brenner says the 1933-1934 strikes were “spontaneous,” union leadership was still very weak, but the opportunity arose with a conjuncture of very weak capital. Refers to Rosa Luxemburg. Says conditions are currently poor but improving for socialism.

Basically I think you look at the highest level of abstraction and the finest level of particularity and granularity: global capital movements and profits, and twitter traffic in Burlington and Raleigh. Or whatever near those sites that entertains or educates you.

I have not nearly enough praxis to be a leftist; not enough discipline to be a scholar.

(Reading Beauty Up, geo)

303

Plume 03.03.16 at 11:53 pm

Bob,

thanks for the reminder.

Brenner is a must read for me and I have his Economics of Global Turbulence on my to-buy list. Combination of Benjamin Kunkel writing about him in his Utopia or Bust, and Ellen Meiksins Wood in her The Origin of Capitalism. He sounds like an important and astute scholar.

304

LFC 03.04.16 at 12:01 am

js. @302:
yup.

Re Libya: some months ago (or maybe longer ago than that), Foreign Affairs (that quintessential organ of the establishment, what are they doing publishing debates? /sarcasm) carried a debate on the Libyan intervention between Alan Kuperman, a critic of the intervention, and two former Obama admin officials. I didn’t read it carefully at the time and can’t be bothered to dig it up now, but if one searches on ‘Kuperman + Libya’ it will prob. turn up. (I’ve bkmarked the Hugh Roberts LRB piece on this, which I’ve seen linked here and elsewhere, but haven’t read it yet.)

305

RNB 03.04.16 at 12:19 am

Argentinian: Two groups of otherwise indistinguishable gringos are about to massacre each other.
Ecuadorian: It would only cost us $650,000 American dollars worth of pesos for each life we could save, and we may lose only one life for every 50,000 we could save if we would intervene.
Mexicano: They’re not worth it. Let them kill each other. It’s an election year. But let’s sell our inaction as anti-imperialism borne of solidarity with the gringos.

306

bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 1:15 am

Rich Puchalsky @ 291: Just upthread we have a supposed serious discussant of foreign policy who does not know that bombs cause collateral damage and kill people who were not their targets. You can’t put that simply on neoliberalism.

No, perhaps not. I can put it on untutored human psychology though, and blame neoliberalism for blocking the necessary tutoring in the present case.

Neoliberalism did not invent the moral template that ties intentions to guilt, or invent the strategy of lying about one’s intentions to excuse one’s self from responsibility for consequences, but it did go a long way toward excusing expedience, and obscuring malfeasance and rank incompetence among the powerful.

“Clinton lied, people died” should not be the Democratic program to replace, “Bush lied, people died” but it is. I am not sure it is because some previously unknown corollary to the Condorcet Problem makes liars and killers the special sauce for policy stability.

307

faustusnotes 03.04.16 at 1:26 am

Sorry for the tone Layman, I just find this denial of the scope of Obamacare frustrating. There’s no such thing as a perfect UHC system and every UHC system lets down its people in some way. They’re measured on three dimensions, of which risk protection is one, and they usually start weak and grow. Their flaws aren’t due to whether they’re single payer or not and single payer is not the only way to do UHC, contrary to the vision of some people on the left. Medicare is single payer for example and offers very poor financial risk protection. The fact that some of the 29 million people you cite are receiving sub-standard risk protection doesn’t mean Obamacare is not a UHC system.

But the main reason a large portion of Americans are getting sub-standard care is that the states refused to sign up for the Medicaid expansion. If they had, then the prevalence of uninsured people in the USA would be very low by now. The states didn’t sign up because the Supreme Court rewrote the law, not because Obama designed it to be weak.

Obamacare is a huge achievement for poor people in the USA and a huge expansion of the welfare system. Complaining that it isn’t perfect or that Obama didn’t go straight to single payer is misleading (because no UHC system is perfect) and unfair (because Obama had to deal with a hostile senate).

So no, HRC would never ever be acceptable to the Republicans.

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bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 1:30 am

faustusnotes @ 320

Nothing’s perfect, therefore crap is great; stop your complaining!

309

js. 03.04.16 at 1:48 am

fautusnotes — you’re exactly right, obviously. The argument—sorry, but the argument is actually insane. If Clinton is in fact an ideal Republican candidate for the party wing or whatever, there ought to be someone with at least some national profile with roughly the same positions and concerns in the Republican party. Otherwise I don’t even understand what the statement means.

And actually, if someone Clinton’s record had been a Republican, she would have become a Democrat. Ask Arlen Specter.

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js. 03.04.16 at 1:50 am

This series of threads has been revealing in many ways. But the emergence of Bruce Wilder as kidneystones’ smart cousin may just be the most interesting revelation.

311

bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 1:59 am

geo @ 307: So what is it?

I am an institutionalist and liberal, so I think, I don’t know “the answer” and neither does anyone else. The “best” we can hope for is to keep the game going, that is, to legitimate conflict and use strategic competition and the frustration of same, in order to make possible deliberative politics with no final solutions. When the arguments no longer matter to anything except which team jersey you display, then we’re in trouble. We’re in trouble.

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bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 2:03 am

js. @ 323: the emergence of Bruce Wilder as kidneystones’ smart cousin may just be the most interesting revelation

!

313

faustusnotes 03.04.16 at 2:45 am

Bruce Wilder, have you read the assessments of Obamacare in the actual medical literature (e.g. the New England Journal of Medicine and the Commonwealth Fund reports)? Access to insurance and thus to health care has massively expanded in the past two years, and one of the main mechanisms for this – the Medicaid expansion – is also the most effective and is being blocked by Republicans, not by Clinton. I just don’t understand how you can claim Obama dismantled the welfare state when he planned to expand it to cover something like an additional 12 million people.

If your argument is that UHC is not UHC until it’s perfect well then your much-vaunted single-payer NHS is also not UHC, since even though it’s free it doesn’t cover a bunch of services. Similarly Japan’s generally much-lauded system, which somehow manages to produce the world’s longest life expectancy but isn’t single-payer and has user fees. This kind of posturing is not going to get you to a functioning health policy, which is what Obama promised and delivered.

There is a mirror-image of this kind of lunacy going on in right wing blogs right now. On those blogs Trump is actually a liberal-Democrat, his policies are Democrat, and it’s just some kind of aberration of the GOP establishment that he ended up in the Republican party, because actually the Republican leadership love Democrat ideas and are really working against their good christian base. In this formulation Trump is just the inevitable result of GOP leadership caving in and giving America Democrat policies all the time.

If that sort of idea sounds crazy to you, while you’re simultaneously making the exact claim about Clinton (and Obama!), perhaps you should have a think about your analytical framework.

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bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 3:26 am

faustusnotes

I did not write the OP and cannot be responsible for its claims. That said, I cannot imagine ever wanting to engage with you about anything. You spew b.s. with utter disregard for the possibility of the truth. Obamacare is what it is, which includes complicated, so complicated as to defy a simple summing up of its merits, let alone a label. Every claim about it requires mind-numbing qualification to be objectively accurate, qualifications you exchange at every turn for obfuscations and misleading assertions.

What you end up doing, if you are doing anything, is demanding that left-wing critics shut up, shut up, shut up. This is the essence of the neoliberal pathology.

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js. 03.04.16 at 3:31 am

If that sort of idea sounds crazy to you

If you read all the comments, the answer’s quite clear. See here and here for Bruce Wilder talking about how Trump is preferable to Clinton in the general. This is what passes for “liberalism” on CT these days.

316

Plume 03.04.16 at 3:32 am

Faustus,

I know the meme is almost unstoppable now. It’s spread far and wide in Democratic circles, and it’s made people just stop thinking for themselves. They’ve just stopped.

No, wanting Single Payer isn’t seeking the perfect over the good. It’s not the enemy of the good. It’s just the much better choice on every possible ground, from health care outcomes, to costs, to economic benefits, to political benefits, and so on. It’s not perfect. But it’s a thousand times better than the ACA, which has been a disaster in so many ways and has set back non-profit, public health care options more than a generation. It led to the Republican landslide in 2010, and we still have 29 million un-insured.

It’s not rocket science. A non-profit, public insurance policy for everyone, right off the bat, costs roughly 33% less. And that’s just regular overhead. Throw in the fact that it doesn’t need to make a profit, or pay shareholder dividends, along with its ability to force prices down, and you’re looking at 50% less at least. So, if tax dollars are going to be used to supplement the costs, what’s the best use of those tax dollars? Supplementing a private, for-profit policy that will cost at least 50% more, or supplementing a non-profit, public policy that is low enough in costs already that most people won’t even need that supplement?

The private sector can not compete with a non-profit, public health insurance plan on any grounds. It can’t touch it for value, for ease of use, for reduction in bureaucracy, for reduction in admin costs to providers. It can’t touch it in the ability to cover everything. And it can’t compete in the most important way:

A for-profit, private sector insurance must deny enough health care to end up with profits. It loses money when it picks up the tab for health care. It only makes money when it doesn’t. A non-profit, all public health insurance policy doesn’t have to worry about that. It just covers health care, for less, for much less.

And the reason why we didn’t go with Medicare for All or some other kind of Single Payer had nothing to do with GOP obstruction, or the perfect being the enemy of the good. It has everything to do with the Dems being bought and paid for by corporate America and not wanting to go that route. It’s absurd to keep trying to make excuses for Obama and the Dems on this Rube Goldberg monstrosity. They could have passed Single Payer if they had the guts to buck the financial elite. They don’t. They sold out. End of story.

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Plume 03.04.16 at 3:34 am

318

bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 4:21 am

js. @ 328 See here and here for Bruce Wilder talking about how Trump is preferable to Clinton in the general.

Following the links provided, here’s me:

“I am not going to support either one for the Presidency . . . “

“I would not actually vote for Trump or Clinton. . . . “

I am going to put down the false claim of js. to a deficiency in reading comprehension.

319

LFC 03.04.16 at 4:29 am

BW
Rich P appears discouraged that his efforts to explain the morally obvious about the “good intentions” behind “humanitarian bombing” [are] just being absorbed into the neoliberal whirlwind of partisan advocacy and dizzying counterfactual “evidence”.

I did not present any ‘counterfactual evidence’ — this is a misunderstanding of what I wrote re the ’71 episode. Rich P’s position doesn’t really stand up to close scrutiny, as F Foundling I think pointed out. Rich P’s position is a refusal to recognize that politics sometimes involves choices that are all bad to one degree or another. This is an old, quite obvious point. Rich wd rather just pretend the choices do not exist. Ignore them and they’ll go away. No, they won’t. Just as the Syrian and Afghan refugees stranded in Greece and at the Greece-Macedonia border won’t vanish simply b.c things for various countries wd be easier if they did.

In NYT today, linked at another blog, there were letters of response to a (bad, or so I gather) Michael Hayden op-ed. One of them was from a Yemeni now living in Canada who was in a wedding procession in Yemen attacked by a U.S. drone in 2012. Two relatives of his died. The Obama admin has not apologized or explained to him, apparently, though someone from the admin did meet with him.

The drone program is hard to defend and that Yemeni has every right to be completely furious. Does that mean every single use of force by the U.S. (or any other country) in every conceivable situation for any conceivable reason is equally indefensible? The question answers itself. True, some uses of force are patently immoral and illegal. (Btw Russian and Syrian regime forces, or so I hear, have been charged w repeatedly attacking hospitals etc. (before the recent ‘cessation of hostilities’). There is no discussion or denunciation of that here.)

The moral ‘logic’ of the RP and BW position basically boils down to: one is either a pacifist, in the strict sense of the word, or a “neoliberal” who believes in “humanitarian bombing”. No middle grounds are acknowledged, no complexities recognized, no real ‘agency’ attributed to anyone except the (invariably evil) Western intervenors. In RP’s framing, you either think it’s fine to put a gun to a three-year-old’s head and pull the trigger, or you think it’s not fine. That’s it. Period.

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js. 03.04.16 at 4:31 am

My claim at @328:

“Bruce Wilder talking about how Trump is preferable to Clinton”

Bruce Wilder in the links:

“I think those are my ordered preferences [i.e. Sanders, Trump, Clinton—see @114 in the quoted thread]” (first link)

“I do prefer Trump over Clinton” (second link)

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js. 03.04.16 at 4:32 am

So, BW, I expect a retraction of @331 any minute now.

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bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 4:44 am

js. @ 328: See here and here for Bruce Wilder talking about how Trump is preferable to Clinton in the general.

See that phrase you omit in quoting yourself @ 333? Nice try, liar.

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faustusnotes 03.04.16 at 4:48 am

Here is an article from the NEJM on Obamacare’s successes, which concludes in July 2014:

Taking all existing coverage expansions together, we estimate that 20 million Americans have gained coverage as of May 1 under the ACA. We do not know yet exactly how many of these people were previously uninsured, but it seems certain that many were. Recent national surveys seem to confirm this presumption. The CBO projects that the law will decrease the number of uninsured people by 12 million this year and by 26 million by 2017. Early polling data from Gallup, RAND, and the Urban Institute indicate that the number of uninsured people may have already declined by 5 million to 9 million and that the proportion of U.S. adults lacking insurance has fallen from 18% in the third quarter of 2013 to 13.4% in May 2014.

Here’s an article on the remaining uninsured, also from the NEJM, which observes that of the remaining 30 million children and adults, 3-4 million are being blocked access by GOP-run states, and 2/3 have chosen not to sign up, despite the penalties that apply to this group and the availability of subsidies. The remaining 15-20% are undocumented immigrants, a problem shared by most UHC systems.

20 million people gained coverage under Obamacare who previously could not, and insurance companies were forced to offer actual insurance products rather than scams. I’m well aware, Plume, that there are better options than Obamacare, but they just can’t be implemented in the modern USA, at least until the Democrats manage to get control of the presidency and both houses. To claim that these political realities are somehow Obama or Clinton’s fault is unrealistic, and to suggest that people who accept this political reality have “stopped thinking” is unfair.

Hopefully Sanders will win and fix the current mess but if he doesn’t win, maybe – just maybe – that represents the will of the American people not to live in a social democracy. If so, then they will have chosen a UHC system that suits their preferences. Sucks to be them, but that’s what democracy is about.

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None 03.04.16 at 4:52 am

LFC@280 – “Purely humanitarian motives (i.e., stopping the Pakistani army’s rampages against Bangladeshi civilians) were probably a distant third, if they figured at all.”

Bangladeshis are “ethnic” Bengalis. The Pakistani army had of written policy (really, they were dumb enough to put it on paper!) of targeting Bangladeshi hindus for ethnic cleansing. In short, there will have been a gigantic lobby in India for intervention to prevent the slaughter of bangladeshis. The humanitarian motive was more than a “distant third” to any other.
Do you have any actual evidence to the contrary ?

325

bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 4:53 am

faustusnotes: . . . they just can’t be implemented in the modern USA, at least until the Democrats manage to get control of the presidency and both houses.

When did that happen last? Hmmm. I forget. It all seems so long ago and far away. I’ll just stop thinking now. Sleep, sleep.

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bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 4:55 am

. . . of the remaining 30 million children and adults, . . . 2/3 have chosen not to sign up, despite the penalties that apply to this group and the availability of subsidies.

Nothing to see here. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

327

js. 03.04.16 at 5:05 am

You seriously want to do this? Let’s fucking do this. This is all from Holbo’s A Few US Election Thoughts thread. I’ll provide the comment numbers; people can check at their leisure. (I’ll have to quote at medium length to make clear I’m not leaving out context; people can check the full comments themselves.)

mdc @114: “I guess the thought implies that there are some voters whose ordered preferences are 1) Sanders, 2) Trump, 3) Clinton. Do we know how many people like this exist? I’ve never met one, but that’s not saying much.”

OK. It should be obvious here mdc is talking about candidates standing in elections. I mean, it’s explicit, so I won’t press the point. BW’s response:

Bruce Wilder @116: “I think those are my ordered preferences, though I would not actually vote for Trump or Clinton. [¶¶] Trump seems a horror show to me. Clinton — I do not see the point in voting for a blood-thirsty neoliberal, who wants to just keep doing the same wrong things.”

Obviously, BW would not vote for Trump. Equally obviously, BW thinks that Trump is preferable to Clinton as a candidate standing in an election. That is the obvious and only context.

At this point, multiple people rush to BW’s defense and try to bail him out. Donald Johnson @321:

“I was bothered by Bruce Wilder’s Trump over Clinton comment, but assumed he was venting against Clinton or engaging in one of those slightly too clever paradoxes that very smart people sometimes use.”

Bruce Wilder responds @339: “Donald Johnson @ 321 ‘too clever paradoxes’ [¶¶] I don’t think I was doing that. [¶¶] I am not going to support either one for the Presidency, but as a personality on television or a representative of a certain (differing) brand(s) of smarmy politics, I do prefer Trump over Clinton.”

Trump and Clinton are in all likelihood going to be the nominees of their respective parties. If you support Trump over Clinton as a candidate, you support Trump over Clinton in the general.

Once again, I expect a retraction any minute now.

328

js. 03.04.16 at 5:07 am

@340 is is a response to Bruce Wilder baselessly calling me a liar @335.

329

js. 03.04.16 at 5:09 am

If you support Trump over Clinton as a candidate, you support Trump over Clinton in the general.

Replace “support” with “prefer”, if you prefer. That was my original claim on which you called me a liar.

330

faustusnotes 03.04.16 at 5:15 am

I take it you didn’t read the article, Bruce?

331

js. 03.04.16 at 5:20 am

And by the way, this was my first response to Bruce Wilder on that thread.

Bruce Wilder: While we disagree on a lot of things, you are a commenter I have immense respect for. The fact you think he is preferable to Clinton is deeply, extraordinarily disturbing. This is someone who has proposed that me and my entire family be placed on a national registry, and that my father and mother, who are currently out of the country, not be allowed back into it. In what possible world is he preferable to Clinton?

You can read BW’s response to me @228.

332

ZM 03.04.16 at 5:32 am

I realised that in my haste to reassure bob mcmanus global warming was not increasing at a rate of 0.4 degrees C every 5 months, I got confused about Corey Robin writing for Slate, when he writes for Salon.

js. “This series of threads has been revealing in many ways. But the emergence of Bruce Wilder as kidneystones’ smart cousin may just be the most interesting revelation.”

Ha ha. Sorry Bruce Wilder, but its kind of true ;-)

Val,

“It seems to clarify to me some of the processes by which feminist theory moved from using patriarchy as a key analytical tool to using gender as a key analytical tool, a shift which to me (particularly as a historian) weakened feminist analysis. That seems to be apparent in a discussion by Fraad, Resnick and Wolff where they appear are claiming to be Marxist Feminists but also appear to rather subtly trying to make that shift.”

One of my lecturers, Shurlee Swain, had similar thoughts, although I think the key reading she gave us was Joan Scott’s Gender as a Category of Analysis. I did both women’s history subjects and gender history subjects, I think gender is kind of the stronger analytical concept in some ways, but I suppose it can crowd out learning specifically about women’s history on the other hand if you’re developing the curriculum for a university department.

333

bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 5:40 am

I stressed that I did not intend to support either in an election. You are not entitled to just disregard clear statements of intentional context for my statement of preference and make it mean whatever you want in a context of your choosing alone.

You chose to omit the qualifying phrase, “in the general”, when you responded @ 333. That omission tipped the lie.

I did have a serious point to make about ill-judged efforts to redeem one candidate by “lesser evil” comparisons to another. Trump has never bombed Libya. That’s a reason to prefer him to her, as a celebrity. But, it isn’t a reason to vote for either one, given the totality of their promises, presentations and histories.

334

faustusnotes 03.04.16 at 5:47 am

Trump plans to deport 12 million people, many of them children and some American citizens. That’s a bigger movement of people than Bush caused in Iraq or Clinton didn’t cause in Syria. That’s a reason to not prefer him to anyone.

335

js. 03.04.16 at 5:48 am

You prefer Trump over Clinton as a candidate in an election, as I believe @340 shows. Trump and Clinton are in all likelihood going to be the candidates in the general. This entirely justifies me saying @328: “Bruce Wilder talking about how Trump is preferable to Clinton in the general”. Tell me again where I lied.

Or look, even easier: just explicitly say you don’t prefer Trump over Clinton qua candidates. Easy as that.

Anyone else who wants to call me a liar (or not), should feel free to weigh in to this nonsense.

336

js. 03.04.16 at 5:52 am

You chose to omit the qualifying phrase, “in the general”, when you responded @ 333. That omission tipped the lie.

This is actually idiotic. I copied lazily for fucks sake. I completely stand by my original “Bruce Wilder talking about how Trump is preferable to Clinton in the general”.

337

Just An Observer 03.04.16 at 6:39 am

FWIW – I read BW to say that he rejects the species of reasoning that lines lining up the candidates from worst to best and then supporting the least worst out of the choices available in any given election and instead argue that candidates should judged on their own merits (and that under this test both Clinton and Trump don’t deserve support). So I think BW actually rejected the kind of relative/preferential weighing of Trump v. Clinton that you have accused him off.

I then went on understand him to say that from a perspective of pure spectacle he gets more entertainment from Trump Clown than Clinton Clown because the former at least has some skill as an entertainer and is somewhat aware about how absurd this whole thing is while the latter has already helped enact and carry out policies which BW finds abhorrent.

338

ZM 03.04.16 at 6:39 am

bianca steele,

“The divide between “Greens” and “Left”, on the one hand, and a coalition of people who are trying to put political form to their interests–between those with a theory and those without–seems like the big one to me. YMMV.”

“#MalePrivilege #Grumpy I wonder why I don’t post original dialogues like Rich’s (anymore).”

i wish you would write an original dialogue between people with a theory and people without . I found it quite interesting a while ago reading about mid range theories, which are smaller in scope than a one great theory of everything, but don’t entirely abandon theory all together

339

RNB 03.04.16 at 6:57 am

confused why BW says js not getting him right. BW tells over and over that capitalists are neo-liberals and feel that the system is safer in the hands of a Democrat who will give them everything they want (paper Wall Street regulations) while legitimizing the system by eliciting some enthusiasm for it by tying it to a facile multiculturalism and humanitarianism and offering social programs that prove, upon closer examination, to be give-aways to business (Obamacare). Clinton is thus a more insidious candidate than Trump who driven by personal ambition would just create confusion and dysfunction for neo-liberal capital and thus is to be preferred to Clinton, the toxic racist environment he would create notwithstanding.

Everything BW writes is an attempt to bring us to this conclusion without stating so explicitly that the American left needs to bring down the Democratic or social Democratic or multicultural face of neo-liberal capital by any means necessary, including a racist and misogynist demagogue if that is what history has made available to us.

340

Ronan(rf) 03.04.16 at 8:47 am

It’s obvious js isn’t lying. FFS. Smh.

341

Soullite 03.04.16 at 8:50 am

Wow…

How broken are some of you? I don’t believe for a moment that you’d accept as valid an argument asserting that the support of a left-wing politician by left-wing crazies must mean that the left-wing politician is also a crazy. That’s just wrongheaded; at best uncharitable, at worst dangerously flirtatious with undemocratic thinking.

There are only two valid candidates in America. Everyone interested in politics — which crazies, no matter what else you may think of them, certainly are — has to choose between one of those. The right wing crazies unsurprisingly support the right wing candidate, and after eight years out of power, do so fervently. I guarantee you that plenty of bad people who just happen to be Democrats are going to support HRC, and that you would not accept for one moment the idea that she or you should be blamed for that.

But here you are, unable to accept that when the shoe is on the other foot. A bunch of reactionaries terrified of shrieking at the prospect that the other side might win, and trying to whip yourselves into a righteous furor to justify the undemocratic feelings that stir within. Grow up.

342

TM 03.04.16 at 9:12 am

js. 310: “With enemies like these, I don’t think neoliberalism needs any friends.”

Indeed. Fortunately, CT is not representative of anything. Or is it? Is this what the American Left (thanks geo 294) looks like? Is this a nightmare from which I will wake up any minute?

343

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 11:06 am

LFC: “Rich P’s position is a refusal to recognize that politics sometimes involves choices that are all bad to one degree or another. This is an old, quite obvious point. Rich wd rather just pretend the choices do not exist. Ignore them and they’ll go away.”

Of course there’s a choice — supporters of “humanitarian intervention” just don’t want to acknowledge what it involves. They would rather choose setting out on a course of action that they know involves killing children and that has almost always turned out to not save any lives.

People always have the choice to go to war and start bombing people for no good reason. And they can justify this choice by pointing to the bad things that are undoubtedly really happening due to some dictator, and claim that not bombing people is worse than bombing people. But reality has not made their sacrifice of other’s lives actually worthwhile.

344

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 11:15 am

Soullite: “How broken are some of you? […] There are only two valid candidates in America.”

Wait, what? Are the only two valid candidates supposed to be HRC and Sanders, or HRC and Trump?

I understand “how could you choose Trump over HRC”, I don’t understand “how could you pretend that Sanders has a chance.”

345

Brett Dunbar 03.04.16 at 11:16 am

The problem with refusing to choose the lesser evil is you end up with more evil.

On Libya I think Hilary was quite affected by Rwanda where we stood by and did nothing while genocide occurred, Bill was heavily criticized for inaction. And the success of air strikes in Bosnia when we did finally act.

I regard UN authorisation system as sufficient but not necessary. Due to the permanent members at times giving some parties impunity.

346

Val 03.04.16 at 11:16 am

js and TM (and others who have supported you). Absolutely! Or absobloodylutely since I’m Australian.

Geo suggests Bruce Wilder, Rich Puchalsky, Plume and Bob McManus represent the future of the left on CT. I was so mortified when I saw that I nearly gave up.

If they are the future of the left, this is the left’s message: ‘All you women and Muslims and people of colour with your frivolous worries about discrimination, violence, being locked up in camps, being denied control over your own body – your “identity politics” in short – can’t you see that you’re not really important, you’re not the true future of the left?’

I do think with Plume that he doesn’t mean to be there. Anyway, thank god I don’t live in America, that’s all I can say.

347

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 11:27 am

VaL: “If they are the future of the left, this is the left’s message:”

Val lists me by name as supporting the above “message”. That’s par for the course for her.

Here’s one of the many things I wrote upthread: “the left’s strength is basically in educated professionals, the marginally working poor, and racial minorities. But in a sort of permanent Halloween, these people have to metaphorically dress themselves up as and pretend to be workers.”

Val can pretend that that’s a critique of identity politics if she likes. She’s long ago proven that she holds to a form of essentialist feminism as a justification for attacking people, not because she actually believes in the values that she supposedly advocates.

348

Val 03.04.16 at 11:38 am

You know nothing about me Rich Puchalsky and you’re talking bullshit. Aren’t there only three people on CT who are worth listening to or whatever? How would you know anything about what I or most people here think?

349

Val 03.04.16 at 11:41 am

Charges of essentialism are the biggest load of bs by the way – because actually our concerns about rape and abortion and maternity leave and so forth are just stuff we made up because we’re essentialist. I call bullshit Rich.

350

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 11:44 am

I know what you’ve written here, not what you think.. And people don’t listen to you not because you’re a woman (if you are — I have no idea who you actually are) but because you consistently alternate stupid personal attacks with claims that we have to listen to your outdated and poorly justified historical theories because of your personal authority as a grad student, and that if don’t, we don’t support feminism.

And the reason that your personal attacks are stupid isn’t because they are attacks qua attacks, although they certainly are that. They’re stupid because they don’t even reflect the content of what people write.

351

Val 03.04.16 at 11:59 am

Actually Rich it was geo who nominated you four as the future of the left on CT. But if you can’t see any problem with that, I think you prove my point.

352

Val 03.04.16 at 12:03 pm

And obviously a woman who is studying stuff should not be taken seriously because a man who is not studying that stuff knows a lot more about it.

Appalling that a woman should be so arrogant as to claim to know something about something, isn’t it?

353

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 12:07 pm

I assumed that geo was joking — he likes to do that — and gently poking fun at us for writing so much. Not that he was seriously nominating us as the future of the left.

You are the one who chose to go with that and list me as presenting a message that bears no relation to what I wrote. Because as far as I can see from you write, you’re not actually interested in feminism. You’re interested in attacking other people for not supporting your version of feminism, and saying that they aren’t real feminists if they don’t agree with you.

354

Metatone 03.04.16 at 12:08 pm

Probably way too late, but I’d look at Trump less as a “Tribal” phenomenon than an “Authoritarian” one in the Altemeyer sense – although there’s an interesting new little bubble of work on this area – see the Vox article: The rise of American authoritarianism by Amanda Taub on March 1, 2016.

Anyway, Trump (and other similar figures) have managed to draw support from a number of not entirely compatible tribes. However, the authoritarian frame, or the “divine power” frame (he says he’ll fix it, you don’t get to ask how, just have faith) seems to explain his support rather better.

355

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 12:12 pm

Val: “And obviously a woman who is studying stuff should not be taken seriously because a man who is not studying that stuff knows a lot more about it.”

And here’s a case in point. Obviously I argue with people and posters here all the time. For instance, I just argued with LFC even though LFC claims an IR doctorate. All of the posters and most of the comments here have sterling academic credentials. But if I disagree with you, I must be not respecting women.

356

Val 03.04.16 at 12:18 pm

Rich
You fucking claim that I shouldn’t be taken seriously or listened to because I’m peddling some outdated version of feminism – that’s not the same as arguing with me. I’m furious about this patronising crap.

357

Peter T 03.04.16 at 12:24 pm

Wrenching back to the post – first, JQ’s notion of tribalism is useful, but fails to appreciate how quickly new tribes can form. People have multiple identities, and less salient ones can come to the fore as they fit circumstances when old ones fail. Nationalism – the great tribes that formed mostly in the C19 – still has a fierce hold, but migrations don’t weaken tribalism; they force the creation of new ones. What those might be is still up in the air, but new ones there will be. Scottish and Welsh identity is much more salient in Britain than 50 years ago – and Catalan in Spain, and Lombard in Italy. Not to mention the great Soviet break-up. Maybe the Holy Republic of United Kansas and Iowa?

Second, as I rather inchoately tried to lay out in a much earlier comment, it matters both for neo-liberalism and for “the left” what sort of transition we are entering. If its another of the changes in political-economic forms that have come along every century or so for the last few hundred years, then both political forces will survive, albeit in mutated form. The textbooks will trace the genealogy of ideas, and the names will stay the same, and we will all pretend that liberalism tomorrow is the same as liberalism yesterday. This is in fact the hope and expectation of both neo-liberals and much of the left. A bit of technology, a few policy tweaks, some better regulation, and life will go one much the same but with electric cars, solar panels and a better tax system. And eventually a global citizenry united by its common appreciation of our responsibility for managing our lonely terrestrial home…

We may be facing something quite different in scale, in which case the zealotry of the hard neo-liberals and the incoherence of the left are symptoms. That difference lies in adjustment to diminished ability to command resources (not because the resources are not there, but because using them degrades critical ecosystems), and the necessity to looking after our own patches in a sustainable way (CO2 is a global problem, but the other environment issues are local) . Both challenge existing systems quite fundamentally. The first sparks an ever more committed adherence to current arrangements – a doubling down. The second looks to a quite different basis for judging human affairs – no longer human-centred but essentially pantheistic. The first links to existing tribes, the second is likely to call up submerged identities, and call forth a new left very unlike any current version.

358

Val 03.04.16 at 12:27 pm

And returning to the thread – you and Bruce Wilder claim that Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal warmonger who is in the pocket of capitalists. And Bruce, at least, claims that Trump is preferable. But Trump is not just a capitalist warmonger but a capitalist, mysogynist, racist warmonger. Or do you really think that Trump isn’t a warmonger?

359

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 12:27 pm

No, I claim that you shouldn’t be taken seriously or listened to because you personally argue in bad faith. Your historical, totalizing theories about patriarchy are no nuttier than mcmanus’ Marxism, and I’d argue with them on the same basis, but you have this habit of simultaneously saying that you want people to argue with you as they would anyone and of saying that if they do that they don’t care about abortion rights or something.

360

Val 03.04.16 at 12:30 pm

My last post was meant for Rich obviously, but Peter T, feminism actually matters. It is not just a distraction from more important issues.

How many times will I have to say that, I wonder?

361

Val 03.04.16 at 12:32 pm

Rich @ 373
Sorry but that doesn’t make sense (as well as still being fucking patronising). Perhaps you could rephrase it?

362

Val 03.04.16 at 12:32 pm

Rich @ 373
Sorry but that doesn’t make sense (as well as still being fucking patronising). Perhaps you could rephrase it?

363

Plume 03.04.16 at 12:59 pm

Faustus,

Wilder beat me to it. But, seriously, this?

“I’m well aware, Plume, that there are better options than Obamacare, but they just can’t be implemented in the modern USA, at least until the Democrats manage to get control of the presidency and both houses. To claim that these political realities are somehow Obama or Clinton’s fault is unrealistic, and to suggest that people who accept this political reality have “stopped thinking” is unfair.”

They had the presidency. They had both houses. They road a wave of popularity in January of 2009 this country hasn’t seen in generations. And before the ink was dry, they started negotiating with themselves before negotiating with the GOP, the insurance industry and big pharma. They began all of their negotiations with the GOP on GOP turf, even though they, the Dems, won the election overwhelmingly. They governed as if they lost two out of the three branches.

Obama surrounded himself with neoliberal economic advisers, kept Bush’s defense secretary, rehired his Fed chairman and basically continued Bush’s programs on Wall Street, bailouts, the economy, taxes, war and surveillance. I can’t remember a bigger shift (since Nixon) from campaign to governing — except perhaps for Clinton. Both men ran as mildly oppositional, “progressive” candidates but almost immediately got to work propping up, protecting and expanding the status quo. Both are guilty of among the worst “bait and switch” campaigns — again, since Nixon in 1968.

Think about it. The Dems begged and begged the GOP to support its watered down Heritage Foundation insurance plan. It was the GOP’s idea in the first place and they still couldn’t get them on board. That should have told them something. That should have told them to say, fuck it. “You’re not voting with us anyway, so why should we craft this thing to your liking? We’ll do it our way and if you don’t like it, tough shit.” They should have done that, but they didn’t. Because they didn’t want to upset their donors by doing the right thing for Americans and, ironically, the economy.

They passed the ACA with nothing but Democratic party votes. Which tells us, by definition, they could have passed Single Payer if they had wanted to as a party. It wasn’t GOP obstruction. The GOP didn’t cast one single vote for the ACA. It was Democratic Party cowardice.

364

Plume 03.04.16 at 1:06 pm

Peter T,

That new tribal formation stuff? Trump may be the best example of this in a coupla decades. Looking at things while Bush was in office, I wouldn’t have thought it possible for right-wingers to one day rally behind someone who says the Iraq War was a terrible idea, that Bush screwed up on 9/11, or that McCain wasn’t a war hero, or that Fox News lied, or that attacking Fox News personalities wasn’t immediate grounds for excommunication, etc. etc. etc.

And as bad as racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny were during the Bush era, they at least tried to put lipstick on that pig. Trump’s tribe doesn’t even try to hide their hatred, and seems quite proud of it, even when the cameras are on.

It’s got to be the most bizarre coalition evah.

365

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 1:23 pm

Peter T: “The second looks to a quite different basis for judging human affairs – no longer human-centred but essentially pantheistic.”

Yes. When I wrote here before about how flowers “work”, and how the human economy is just a subset of the ecosystemic economy, I don’t think that most people actually got it beyond thinking that I was writing something strange and incoherent again.

But this is what I meant about the left needing a new theory. “Theory” may be the wrong way to put it, because being theory-centric may itself be part of the problem. But I don’t think that we’ve really considered what this new left is going to have to look like.

366

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 1:35 pm

Val: “And returning to the thread – you and Bruce Wilder claim that Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal warmonger who is in the pocket of capitalists. And Bruce, at least, claims that Trump is preferable. But Trump is not just a capitalist warmonger but a capitalist, mysogynist, racist warmonger. Or do you really think that Trump isn’t a warmonger?”

How tiresome. But OK, I’ll go over what I just wrote on the thread with js: I think that neoliberalism is different from and preferable to right-wing conservatism. If I were forced to vote, I would vote for HRC over Trump (or really, over any GOP candidate). I personally imagine that Trump in office would use the war machine to an even greater degree than HRC would.

That doesn’t change what I wrote about HRC, and it doesn’t change the fact that what BW writes is more interesting than what his detractors write. Maybe people should figure out why he’s so sick of neoliberalism that even a resurgence of right-wing populism starts to look not good, but as possibly the lesser evil. Hint: it’s not because he wants a “white nationalist playground” (as js wrote on another thread).

367

Ronan(rf) 03.04.16 at 1:45 pm

(1) I’m not sure why working class (in this thread) has at times become synonymous with “bigoted”. I get that there are bigots among the working class, and that class based manifestations of bigotry can take different forms, and that in the US there are regional differences in radicalized politics, but we seem to be starting from the assumption that all nativist/racist political calls will resonate with the white working class. (Whoever they are)
(2) I’m surprised by the continued naivety of so many on the left. I can understand this with the likes of Freddie de Boer (that great champion of the working man) but I guess I thought some of the brain trust here were more astute. Sometimes, as rich might say, people just value hating on each other. Not acknowledging this, or imagining you or your hypothetical policies/coalition building have the potential to bridge this human urge needs supporting (see 4) Reminds me of all the Marxist analyses of northern ireland, if only the locals in the falls and the shankill could recognise their convergent class interests and discard these meaningless collective identities all would be resolved! Lol. That worked out well. Or the stereotypical idealistic liberal going to live among the natives and help them advance in their social and economic development, only to find the natives neither cared about their bullshit or held the same values they did. This goes for the African American vote as well, imo, which is artificially inflated in the left’s favour because of the US’s strange political geography. In a perfect world the reactionary element of the black vote would be safely enconsed at a trump rally.
(3) I used to be liberal until Obama compromised on single payer and now I sympathise with the fascist candidate isn’t particularly convincing. In fact it’s juvenile nonsense, at best.
(4) Id still like to see how the specifics of this coalition of the unwilling would function. I’ve personally given up on “neoliberalism” having any specific meaning, but can we not try and get “populism” a little more specific? Any ideas on what sort of populist coalition the Dems could build ? In the real world rather than fantasy america.

368

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 1:54 pm

I think “bruce wilder” @327 is the most ironic thing I’ve ever read. “You with your boring, boring qualifications which nobody wants to hear, everything you say is a disgusting attempt to get people to shut up!”

369

Plume 03.04.16 at 1:55 pm

Peter T,

And this:

“The textbooks will trace the genealogy of ideas, and the names will stay the same, and we will all pretend that liberalism tomorrow is the same as liberalism yesterday. This is in fact the hope and expectation of both neo-liberals and much of the left. A bit of technology, a few policy tweaks, some better regulation, and life will go one much the same but with electric cars, solar panels and a better tax system. And eventually a global citizenry united by its common appreciation of our responsibility for managing our lonely terrestrial home…”

Perhaps this is the problem in a nutshell. Because the part of the left I identify with — waaay to the left of liberal — already sees “liberalism” as outmoded, ineffective, wrong-headed and less than weak tea — even its past forms. Even its heyday. We actually see it as a major part of the problem. With the usual caveats of “not being as bad as conservatism.”

So I don’t think it’s really a fact that “most of the left” wants “liberalism” to make a comeback, or get its deathly slow incrementalist game back up to snuff. We’ve already moved on from that — long ago, in fact. The problems that afflict the globe are too severe for liberalism to handle, even at its best. Liberalism wants too much time to enact its programs, and that’s even if it had a clear path to do so, which it doesn’t, obviously.

It’s connected as well to the unicorn and rainbows idea that we can solve our ecological problems through technology while keeping capitalism in place. It wouldn’t even do the trick if we had that clear path, no resistance from the right, no resistance from capitalists themselves, etc. And they’re never, ever going to gather as one in solidarity to “save the planet.” That’s not how they roll. They’re going to keep doing what is in their individual best interests as profit-making entities, not ours, not the planet’s, and drive us over the cliff. To assume that we will have this kumbaya moment of peak capitalist cooperation . . . . . is, well, dangerously naive.

It makes sense then to take a look at the various political forms that have been in charge while Rome burns, and replace them with baked-in social justice, from the ground up. To save time and space, we can move on from the following:

Conservatism
Capitalism
State Capitalism
Liberalism
Western Liberal Democracies
The Welfare State

Time for the above to go, to be replaced by actual democracy, including the economy, where the economy is publicly held, becomes a part of the Commons and does the job upfront, so we don’t need a welfare state on the back-end. Logically, this is the only way we can find a path to save the planet. Because for the first time in history, “the people,” the folks who suffer the most from the greed, irrationality, selfishness and short-sightedness of the ruling elites, will now be the sole “interest group” in place. Since the economy impacts all of us, all of us should own and control the economy, etc. etc.

370

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 1:58 pm

Ronan (1): I don’t really understand why this is all we talk about on CT, especially given the number of non-Americans, for whom the historical reasons this might have been the case don’t apply. Also: I believe you’re the first one to use the word “bigoted” in this kind of generalization on this thread? Those you’re attributing the view to seem to have kept the two concepts apart in their minds very successfully.

371

ZM 03.04.16 at 2:10 pm

Re: what Peter T is saying about the possibility of departing from a human centric ethos – There’s a good essay by Nancy Tuana called Viscous Porosity, about Huricane Katrina. It follows on from her earlier work which I’m not really familiar with, but she calls for an “interactionist” ontology and epistemology, as opposed to either objectivism or social constructivism which have humans as independent from the material embodied world around them.

She uses the idea of porosity to look at how dualisms like nature/culture and sex/gender shouldn’t be seen as fixed and stable, but fluid and emergent and interacting. So Hurricane Katrina – or the effects thereof – are the result neither solely of nature or solely of social structures or processes, but both, especially due to the interaction of humans and nature causing climate change, which is a factor in hurricane Katrina existing.

It’s a good essay http://www.academia.edu/12103511/Viscous_Porosity_Witnessing_Katrina

372

LFC 03.04.16 at 2:11 pm

None @337
It’s a.m. in my time zone, and I won’t be able to respond to yr comment until late aft or early evening, as am busy today. (In the unlikely event this thread closes before that, pls see Raghavan, 1971, pp.206-7.)

373

Plume 03.04.16 at 2:14 pm

Ronan @381,

Your #1.

As Bianca says, I don’t think that’s the assumption here. Though I do think that’s Trump’s assumption. I think his campaign is banking on that being the case. His form of “populism,” as is basically the case with all right-wing populism, is that the working class can be mobilized on the basis of hatred toward the Other. That’s an assumption by the powers that be as American as apple pie.

From where I sit, left-populism is radically opposed to that assumption and that idea. We find it abhorrent, in fact. Both as a strategy and a belief.

374

Layman 03.04.16 at 2:22 pm

@ RNB, your 278 is an insufficient response to my 277, though I suspect you know that.

@ faustusnotes, I still don’t know why you’re arguing with what I said. I agree with you on the size and significance of the Obamacare achievement, I simply maintain that it took a neoliberal (corporatist) form. A leftist universal health care policy would look a lot different, don’t you agree?

375

Layman 03.04.16 at 2:24 pm

For those of you who scoff at the notion the Republican establishment would have loved HRC were she only a Republican.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/03/trump-clinton-neoconservatives-220151

376

LFC 03.04.16 at 2:25 pm

Rich P @369
Re your reference to my “claiming”: I have no reason to lie about my academic background (such as it is). If you like, you can send me an email (address available via my blog) and I will tell you how to look up my dissertation on Proquest. Then you can become the first person ever to buy a copy and I will get my first 25 cents in royalties, or whatever it is. ;)

377

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 2:32 pm

ZM: “So Hurricane Katrina – or the effects thereof – are the result neither solely of nature or solely of social structures or processes, but both, especially due to the interaction of humans and nature causing climate change, which is a factor in hurricane Katrina existing.”

Here’s a poem that I wrote a while back about Katrina, ZM. It goes over what we’re talking about as well as anything does.

378

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 2:34 pm

I did not mean to imply that LFC was falsely claiming an academic degree. On the contrary, I believed him or her, and was only bringing it up to point out that people here disagree with those who have expert qualifications all the time.

379

Layman 03.04.16 at 2:40 pm

js @ 322

“If Clinton is in fact an ideal Republican candidate for the party wing or whatever, there ought to be someone with at least some national profile with roughly the same positions and concerns in the Republican party.”

There are lots of such persons. Of the current crop, Jeb! and Kasich come closest. Mittens is also one. Many of the so-called moderate Republicans would be indistinguishable from HRC on virtually every aspect of the presidency save, possibly, Supreme Court nominations. If you can think of another practical difference, name it.

Trump, Rubio, Cruz, and their ilk would of course be worse.

380

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 2:48 pm

There are an enormous number of policies that Clinton as a Democrat would follow that a Republican wouldn’t. I suppose every generation has to go through its Bill Weld moment, where a handsome, well educated upper class man is perceived as “one of us” to the extent of being blind to the fact that he really can disagree with “us.” Anyone who still says Romney would govern like a Democrat is an idiot or a liar.

381

Plume 03.04.16 at 2:59 pm

Speaking of Mittens. What do you folks think will come of the current food fight between Romney and Trump? How do you think this will play out? It seems the Republicans truly are imploding as a party, and no one is remembering Reagan’s 11th commandment.

Brokered convention? Third-Party run by Trump? Who wins the general then? etc.

382

Layman 03.04.16 at 2:59 pm

@ bianca steele, anyone who responds to a request to name a distinction, and responds with an insult, can’t think of the distinction.

383

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 3:08 pm

Aid to states and local school districts. Not abolishing existing taxes. Slowing or reversing the militarization of local police departments. Working to defuse and build on, not worsen, the problems raised by the African-American community. Not reversing Obama’s accomplishments on health care and immigration. Not going back to Bush policies in the Middle East. Is that enough for you? I’m not asking you to say whether you didn’t know about this or whether you did and were being disingenuous, and I’m not asking you to defend yourself either way. If you’re 18, okay. If you’re a Republican and those aren’t issues you care about, okay.

Notably, Bill Clinton’s elite education never made him “one of us” among that set.

384

bob mcmanus 03.04.16 at 3:20 pm

OT: Slate Update on AGW

Update, March 3, 2016: Since this post was originally published, the heat wave has continued. As of Thursday morning, it appears that average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have breached the 2 degrees Celsius above “normal” mark for the first time in recorded history

Whatever, huh? Doubters can check the mid-February NOAA numbers, and I’ll wait for the official release in mid-March.

Some will like to cry “impossible” because they understand it’s terrifying. Like, you expected AGW to be linear and predictable?

385

Layman 03.04.16 at 3:29 pm

HRC on the Middle East is indistinguishable from the establishment Republican position. Congress will not send a bill to the White House which expands aid to state and local school districts, so the question is irrelevant. ‘Working to defuse and build on’ is marvelously vague. What evidence suggests HRC won’t sign on to a Grand Bargain on taxes and entitlements, cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting SS / Medicare benefits in order to ‘save them’? It’s precisely the sort of thing she did as Senator, or that WJC did as President. I agree she’s unlikely to sign a blanket repeal of Obamacare, as I think would be a moderate Republican President; but do you really think she’d refuse to go along with a repeal-and-replace bill, assuming one actually made it through the Senate?

386

Layman 03.04.16 at 3:31 pm

Also, @bianca steele, you know fuck-all about me, and if you want to play the grown up, perhaps you could dispense with the ad hominem.

387

TM 03.04.16 at 3:38 pm

“Jeb! and Kasich come closest. Mittens is also one. Many of the so-called moderate Republicans would be indistinguishable from HRC ”

This is just tiring.

388

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 3:40 pm

Use of the term “ad hominem”: #5 on the list of marks of someone who thinks he’s a Very Serious Internet Debater. Demonstrates he “know[s] fuck-all” and in the same breath accuses opponent of “know[ing] fuck-all”: #11. Wastes everyone’s time debating a trivial point that was disposed of in the OP, by attacking a consistently reasonable commenter who made an orthogonal point and had something actually substantive to say about a subject they actually know something about: #1.

389

Layman 03.04.16 at 3:53 pm

@bianca steele, I don’t think you know what the word ‘attacking’ means.

390

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 3:57 pm

Calling yourself “Layman” (unless you really meant “Leman”?) is in the higher double digits, at least, but it’s on the list too.

391

LFC 03.04.16 at 4:00 pm

RP @392
noted (I misinterpreted your use of the word “claims”; sorry about that)

392

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 4:04 pm

Suppose Ronan’s (3) isn’t the case. Suppose Bruce is right, and it isn’t childish at all, and it deserves a serious conversation. Does it deserve a serious consideration by those who would be hurt by it? If not, what are you proposing? The expected reaction, in my experience, would be “we need to go someplace where we can talk without the presence of enemies and spies.” Instead, we are getting either “we need this right here to be a safe place for white sexist racists because that’s the most important conversation to have right now, so women and people of color, you hang back for a while,” or else “we need you women and people of color to have a conversation about how you are the problem.” Which is it?

Or maybe (3) is so obvious that even thinking about debating it is, well, a really bad sign?

393

Layman 03.04.16 at 4:06 pm

Heh. I came to CT as a person with some interest in reading about economic views but essentially no economic training at all; thus, a layman rather than an initiate. And, unfortunately, for reasons of employment had to choose to be anonymous. It never occurred to me that someone would read that word the way I think you’re taking it.

Also, too, I’m not 18, not a Republican, not especially a liar or an idiot. And I don’t think I’ve attacked anyone here. So, again, maybe you could dial back the invective a bit?

394

The Temporary Name 03.04.16 at 4:07 pm

Also, @bianca steele, you know fuck-all about me, and if you want to play the grown up, perhaps you could dispense with the ad hominem.

Layman, I don’t much like HRC but your arguments about her are ridiculous and stupid and entirely from the kiddie table. You don’t understand that Politico piece except through your own toddler sugar rush. Breathe slowly, calm down.

395

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 4:11 pm

Layman, I apologize. I intended to make a political statement in the third person, not to say something bad about you, and I’m sorry you felt attacked. You are right that I should have been more careful in using words like “idiot” and “liar.”

396

Plume 03.04.16 at 4:25 pm

bianca @406,

“Instead, we are getting either “we need this right here to be a safe place for white sexist racists because that’s the most important conversation to have right now, so women and people of color, you hang back for a while,” or else “we need you women and people of color to have a conversation about how you are the problem.” Which is it?”

Is this meant as a summary of Ronan’s views, or your own? And does it refer to conversations here, at CT, or at Trump rallies, or just in general, out in the real world?

397

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 4:25 pm

Ze K:

Sure, if the Donald justified his right to rule by his being an expert in the philosophy of Kant!

398

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 4:29 pm

Plume,

It was in reference to the discussion here in comments. Either the subject is inappropriate for a “serious conversation” here, or it’s appropriate but only for the white sexist racists who might identify with fascism, or it’s appropriate for all. If the first, we get the question how to address us others. If the second, how to incorporate us into the conversation. I think it’s inappropriate, so the other questions don’t arise for me. As long as I ignore those who think it is appropriate.

399

js. 03.04.16 at 4:40 pm

Just an Observer @350 — Why not use whatever your usual CT nym is? Why the special handle? In any case:

I think BW actually rejected the kind of relative/preferential weighing of Trump v. Clinton that you have accused him off.

Look, at least in the English that I understand, “Those are my ordered preferences” is an odd way of expressing: we ought to reject preferential weighting.

Also, what RNB said @352. Exactly.

400

Trader Joe 03.04.16 at 4:43 pm

Please, carry on

401

Lupita 03.04.16 at 5:01 pm

Ze K @ 353

“this is where we can see clearly how western imperialism and global financialization are basically the same thing, or two elements of the same thing; call it ‘neoliberalism’, if you like. If the sovereigntist right can stop it, so much the better, more power to them.”

In Latin America, anti-neoliberalism is the purview of the left. I find your European examples of the emergence of an anti-neoliberal right very interesting and meaningful. Ah, what a takeover by the IMF does to traditional politics, no?

Perhaps the difference is that the Latin American left can talk about “our people”, “our culture”, and “our society” without raising any racial red flags, starting infinite arguments about identity, and being accused of being right wing, racist, and fascist. Then there is the issue of trade agreements and participation in Western controlled bodies such as the UNSC, the IMF, the NPT, and the WTO. The Latin American left quite easily dismisses them as imperialist while Westerners get bogged down in discussions about humanitarian interventions, terrorism, exceptionalism, freedom & democracy, and the white man’s burden.

402

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 5:13 pm

He was sexist (and attacked a well regarded woman reporter during an interview in a way that was not well taken); he was arguably somewhat antisemitic on some level (making a remark about his attitude to his Jewish in-laws). He had no real business in public life; he was a university president, promoted from the classroom, a Democrat but good friends with William Bennett, a control freak who was widely disliked by students and faculty. Rumor had it he had his second-in-command vet all dissertations and demand references to, say, the Frankfurt School, be removed. He had the university take over the school system of a neighboring town and run it on what he considered correct principles. He pushed hard for high-stakes testing, with high scores as an absolute graduation requirement, before No Child Left Behind was a thing, and made sure the tests were more challenging than the existing standard curriculum. It seems safe to say no one like him will ever be a viable candidate for national office. How he got the nomination, I don’t remember.

Weld was presented as an affable libertarian who surely would buck the party line on issues like abortion (he didn’t), and was too nice to be a Reaganite economically (not true either). I think that was the election that led to one, possibly two, minor parties being created, both devoted to lowering taxes.

403

Just an Observer 03.04.16 at 5:28 pm

js.@414 —

Because I don’t have one. I’m a lurker.

His “ordered preferences” in (as I read him to say) “entertainment from Trump Clown than Clinton Clown because the former at least has some skill as an entertainer and is somewhat aware about how absurd this whole thing is while the latter has already helped enact and carry out policies which (he) finds abhorrent” not preferences about who he wants elected to run the country. A darkly cynical statement, but not one that says “I’d vote for Donald first and I hope he wins if they match up.”

But as I said, that’s just how I read him. Maybe he really did make an argument against preferential weighting and then did a similar kind of preferential weighting. Anyway, this is all off topic and probably why I’m best as a lurker. Back to the Lurk I go.

404

Lupita 03.04.16 at 6:00 pm

Neoliberal right: Cruz, Rubio, Mr. & Mrs. Clinton, Blair, Thatcher, Reagan

Anti-neoliberal right: Trump, Orban, Le Pen, Putin

Neoliberal left: Sanders, Lula, Bachelet, Rousseff

Anti-neoliberal left: el Sub, Chávez, Correa, Morales

405

Lupita 03.04.16 at 6:04 pm

More anti-neoliberal right: Occupy, Podemos, Syriza, Varoufakis

406

js. 03.04.16 at 6:05 pm

Just An Observer — Fair enough re the nym. I take that back.

For the rest, I think mdc’s comment (quoted above @340) to which BW was responding is clear enough, so I won’t press the point.

407

Layman 03.04.16 at 6:12 pm

@ bianca steele, thanks and no hard feelings.

@ The Temporary Name, I’m not much impressed with your argument at 408. I get that you disagree with me, but the rest is empty of useful content.

@TM, if you’re bored, go elsewhere.

Again, I think the OP is largely right, and that the two party establishments in the US represent two different flavors of neoliberalism. HRC is quite solidly in the neoliberal tradition, as has been Obama for the most part. I’m voting for Sanders in the primary here, and will certainly vote for the Democratic nominee, which is almost as certain to be Clinton. But I don’t have any illusions about HRC – she’s a third way neoliberal, hawkish, compromising, and thoroughly wedded to the finance industry. She’s simply better than the alternatives being offered by the other side.

408

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 6:16 pm

Lupita:
“Anti-neoliberal right: Trump, Orban, Le Pen, Putin”
“More anti-neoliberal right: Occupy, Podemos, Syriza, Varoufakis”

If I was going to get insulted, I’d get insulted at being put in the same bin as Trump. But whatever. Maybe Trump is going to take up chanting “This is what democracy looks like” at his rallies.

409

RNB 03.04.16 at 6:21 pm

@420 Where is Obama? And if Clinton is neo-liberal right, why did she agree to be Secty of State under Obama? She was charged to withdraw troops from Iraq and to try diplomacy with Iran. She did both. Cruz, Jeb Bush, Rubio, Romney would not have agreed to work under Obama, given those assignments (we’ll leave aside whether any of them would be consulting with Sidney Blumenthal as well). And you do realize that perhaps the loudest critic within the Cabinet of her decision to strike Qaddafi’s forces was Secty of Defense Robert Gates, not actually a peacenik. If you want to understand this concern about humanitarian intervention, you may want to consult what the Clintons did to stop it in Rwanda on the grounds that saving tens of thousands of African lives was not worth the very few American lives it might cost.

410

Lupita 03.04.16 at 6:26 pm

More neoliberal right: Obama

411

Layman 03.04.16 at 6:31 pm

@RNB, I think you’ve just proved that HRC and Robert Gates are of the same political persuasion, since both agreed to work for Obama. Or perhaps it’s more complicated than that?

Would Cruz, Rubio, Bush, Romney work for a Democratic President to implement policies with which they disagreed? Of course not. Would they work for a Republican President to implement policies with which they disagreed? In a New York minute they would.

Also, too, the Secretary of State doesn’t run the DoD. It was not HRC charged with scaling down force levels in Iraq.

412

Lupita 03.04.16 at 6:34 pm

@RNB

“If you want to understand this concern about humanitarian intervention”

I understand it is a concern only the policeman of the world has.

413

RNB 03.04.16 at 6:40 pm

Good point on Gates. But he intended to take the job for a but a year and to help in the continued withdrawal from Iraq that the US people had forced upon Bush against his will. So in this way Gates was only carrying out what he had been charged to begin. Clinton on the other hand agreed to accept Obama’s direction in changing the direction of US relations with Iran, and she did do this. If she wanted to maintain her bona fides as a war hawk, she would not have joined the Obama Administration. She also has also said that she would continue Obama’s policy of meeting with Iran and Russia to deepen the cease-fire in Syria. No Republican is saying that. I do think Clinton’s State Dept played some important functions in the withdrawal from Iraq, but I need to check.

414

RNB 03.04.16 at 6:42 pm

@429 I understand how you understand things, Lupita.

415

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 6:46 pm

Lupine: “I understand it is a concern only the policeman of the world has.”

Yeah, there’s kind of a reason the police were mentioned in that short play up at #265. If the “police” decide that the deaths of some Libyan civilians from bombing is an acceptable price to pay in order to prevent deaths of other Libyan civilians, who are you going to turn to to stop them? Different police? But there are no other police.

416

Apocryphon 03.04.16 at 7:12 pm

Is tribalism anything like communitarianism?

417

The Temporary Name 03.04.16 at 7:13 pm

I understand it is a concern only the policeman of the world has.

This isn’t actually true though. Obviously there are people all over the world wishing that someone would do something about their particular awful situation, and why shouldn’t people want to help? It seems help only comes via explosion though.

418

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 7:18 pm

“Lupine: “

Geez I should really figure out how to turn off spellcheck for the CT comment box. I did not mean to write Lupita’s nym this way.

419

Ronan(rf) 03.04.16 at 7:19 pm

I don’t think there’s a reluctance on the left to speak about ‘our’ culture or people or society. The problem with the left and right, worldwide, is that to varying degrees that’s all we speak about. We’ve replaced a possible culture of curiosity and benevolent individualism with a culture of victimisation tied into a politics of identity. This is what Trump represents, it’s what identity politics represents, it’s what ISIS represents, and it’s what the emergence of an ‘isolationist’ right (strange term for imperialists like Putin and nationalists like Le Pen) represent. It’s more or less all politics is nowadays.
Say what you want about liberalism but at least it encouraged some level of desire to break away from the group and develop a critical perspective on your tribe. We’re now expected to lobotomise ourselves in the name of left/right politically correctness, worship some factional sacred goats, and march lockstep behind whatever moron renegade has whipped up a posse this evening.
Thank you but no thanks. By all means band together in a white man whinge culture but please God I’ll be long dead or living in a cottage somewhere before the brain trust are running the show.

420

The Temporary Name 03.04.16 at 7:21 pm

And what I said is kind of wrong too, because I read this recently: http://countryoffice.unfpa.org/filemanager/files/afghanistan/2014/reports/midwifery_report_2014_english.pdf

I think of this as a good intervention on its face, but it is of course impermissible under the Taliban, and thus protecting the effort seems to require bullets. It’s a shitty world.

421

bruce wilder 03.04.16 at 7:25 pm

I finally read the New York Times series on Clinton and Libya. Wow.

422

bianca steele 03.04.16 at 7:27 pm

Ronan, please.

Layman: No worries, I hope. The style pressed a button with me but I should have stopped myself.

423

The Temporary Name 03.04.16 at 7:35 pm

@ The Temporary Name, I’m not much impressed with your argument at 408. I get that you disagree with me, but the rest is empty of useful content.

Cranky morning. Forget it.

424

Ronan(rf) 03.04.16 at 7:35 pm

Bianca, my hyperbolic tendencies might have got the better of me.

425

Lupita 03.04.16 at 7:49 pm

@Rich Puchalsky

It’s OK as long as there’s a wolf involved.

426

Lupita 03.04.16 at 8:53 pm

The Temporary Name @ 434

“Obviously there are people all over the world wishing that someone would do something about their particular awful situation, and why shouldn’t people want to help?”

The Latin American left would shriek in horror and the mere mention of any nice Westeners coming to help. And who could blame us after a century of invasions, occupations, regime changes, blockades, Kissinger, vulture hedge funds, IMF austerity, and the whole West conspiring to ground Evo’s plane? The left does not only see the empathetic individuals trying to help, it also sees the great, big, powerful, rich, nuclear states these helpful individuals belong to. It is too much of a risk.

427

Stephen 03.04.16 at 9:07 pm

lupita@429:
“I understand [humanitarian intervention] is a concern only the policeman of the world has”

and Rich Puchalsky @432: “there are no other police”

Well, if you can bear to look at cases not involving the US (yes, US =/= everything) you might want to consider, apart from LFC’s well-argued example above of the Indian invasion of then-East Pakistan to stop the massacres by the West Pakistani army:

The Tanzanian invasion of Uganda to remove the murderous and allegedly cannibal tyrant Idi Amin, “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas “.

The French intervention in Mali to drive out the murderous and demented Boko Haram.

Arguably, the Turkish intervention in north Cyprus to protect Turkish Cypriots.

The British intervention in Sierra Leone to end the civil war.

Don’t know if you would include the Falklands (intervention to defeat a fascist militarist invasion) or Northern Ireland (intervention by people not particularly concerned with Republican/Loyalist differences, to defeat or convert sort-of-fascist movements).

428

Collin Street 03.04.16 at 9:09 pm

Obviously there are people all over the world wishing that someone would do something about their particular awful situation, and why shouldn’t people want to help?

There’s this strange… narcissism, I guess, of thinking that the desire to help equates to the things you do being helpful.

Like Dennis Moore of Monty Python fame, stealing lupins from the rich and giving them to the poor.

429

Collin Street 03.04.16 at 9:12 pm

It’s hard to argue that the vietnamese invasion of cambodia didn’t have some impressive human-rights improvements associated with it, although I don’t know enough of the history and context to know if that was a motivation for the vietnamese.

430

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 9:21 pm

I was not considering only the U.S. And LFC’s example wasn’t a humanitarian intervention. It was a war of national interest — those generally turn out better, paradoxically, because they have defined war aims and are over when they’re over.

The Falklands is a case in point. There were thousands of Argentines freed from torture and execution when the military government fell as a result of losing the war. But this wasn’t a British war aim, and the British didn’t do anything to purposefully bring this about. It’s the “chastened bully effect”. States that go in for genocide or other atrocities directed at internal populations tend to very often act aggressively externally as well. So sooner or later they run into a stronger neighbor who smacks them down for national interest or self defense reasons, and in the process stops their internal atrocities as a byproduct.

By the way, can anyone think of another situation in which it’s considered acceptable to kill some number of innocents in order to try to save some greater number of innocents? Doctors are allowed to focus their resources in people who they think they can save in triage situations, but they aren’t allowed to just kill people and take their organs for transplant, even if that would save a larger number of people.

431

Lupita 03.04.16 at 9:24 pm

@Stephen

I would add to your list Brazil’s intervention in Haiti.

There are two systems in place: the imperialist one I described and the emerging regional, neighborly one you did. The left would want to see the first one disappear (Western supremacy) and the second one be institutionalized and codified. I guess I was describing the past whereas you described the future.

432

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 9:28 pm

” I don’t know enough of the history and context to know if that was a motivation for the vietnamese.”

It wasn’t. It was a classic situation of the kind that I described one comment up.

433

Lupita 03.04.16 at 9:57 pm

The US very much wanted to intervene in Venezuela during Chávez but was kept in check by the rest of the Latin American countries, that is, the US no longer got to call the shots as to which Latin American governments were legitimate or not, which presidents were to be deposed or not. The same happened when Cuba was re-incorporated into the OAS against the wishes of the US. Then there is the emergence of CELAC that was formed without inviting the US and Canada. Lastly, it was the Latin American countries that decided what to do after coups in Paraguay and Honduras and the rest of the world just kind of went along with its determination.
In short, Latin America has become more stable and integrated by dealing within a regional system of equals than with the US barking orders, arming the contras, harassing the anti-imperialists, and blockading the Marxists in the region. Hopefully, something like that will replace Western hegemony around the world.

434

The Temporary Name 03.04.16 at 10:11 pm

By the way, can anyone think of another situation in which it’s considered acceptable to kill some number of innocents in order to try to save some greater number of innocents? Doctors are allowed to focus their resources in people who they think they can save in triage situations, but they aren’t allowed to just kill people and take their organs for transplant, even if that would save a larger number of people.

Wouldn’t quarantine be a doctorly example distinct from triage? It also requires backup with force by the state.

435

Rich Puchalsky 03.04.16 at 10:23 pm

Quarantine doesn’t involve deliberately killing people. You’d save all the people in quarantine if you could, and you don’t generally make it more likely for them to die by putting them in quarantine.

436

The Temporary Name 03.04.16 at 10:50 pm

Quarantine doesn’t involve deliberately killing people. You’d save all the people in quarantine if you could, and you don’t generally make it more likely for them to die by putting them in quarantine.

I don’t think this was entirely the case during the most recent ebola panic and the attempts at quarantine that occurred, but that’s fairly extreme.

437

LFC 03.04.16 at 11:11 pm

None @337

The Pakistani army had [a] written policy (really, they were dumb enough to put it on paper!) of targeting Bangladeshi [H]indus for ethnic cleansing. In short, there will have been a gigantic lobby in India for intervention to prevent the slaughter of [B]angladeshis. The humanitarian motive was more than a “distant third” to any other. Do you have any actual evidence to the contrary?

First, as I said upthread, I think more one motive was in play here. Second, you make a good point re the targeting of Hindus (though Muslims were certainly not exempted). Third, as with any historical event of this complexity I’m sure that more than one (non-crazy) interpretation is possible. Fourth, the impression I got from the Raghavan book is that it was the sheer number of refugees from E. Pakistan that was one of the most pressing considerations for Indian govt policymakers. That most of the refugees were Hindus was a factor of some importance, but it was the numbers (and the associated costs) that were key, according to Raghavan at pp.206-8. He also argues that the failure of other govts, including the US, to pressure Pakistan made New Delhi despair of a political solution and turn to the military option:

The central concern for Indian decision makers was the continuing influx of refugees. Up to the end of July 1971, 7.23 million had taken shelter in India. By 15 December, an additional 2.67 million had poured in, taking the total to almost 10 million…. In this context, the religious composition of the refugees took an alarming color. As of 31 October 1971, the Indian government recorded that 82.3 percent of the refugees were Hindus. New Delhi was worried not just about the difficulty of persuading the Hindus to return to East Pakistan, but also about the prospect of their melting into the population of eastern India and providing cannon fodder for the Maoists in the region.

Then there was the growing economic burden of maintaining the refugees…. By the third week of September it was assessed that maintaining 8 million refugees in camps for six months at the rate of just 3 rupees per person per day would amount to… about US $576 million….

A prolonged crisis would push the problem to unmanageable proportions. Although a war would entail significant costs, they would be more bearable than the burden posed by the refugees….

It was now [i.e., by late August 1971] evident that most countries did not agree with India’s view that the crisis needed a political resolution in Pakistan; rather, they preferred to regard the refugee problem in India and the situation in East Pakistan as separate issues…. These developments…convinced New Delhi that the possibility of a political solution to the crisis was receding.

438

Val 03.04.16 at 11:44 pm

LFC @ 390 and following
I didn’t take it that Rich was doubting your qualifications. I thought he was arguing by false analogy, as he frequently does.

His argument was that because he had disagreed with you on international relations although you have a PhD, he should therefore be able to patronise me about my current feminist studies without any blowback from me.

439

Ronan(rf) 03.04.16 at 11:57 pm

“I also think that anti abortion fervour was about other things besides abortion. I think there are a lot of people in this country who feel excluded and unheard and held in contempt. Often, at meetings, I would see that a certain type of well educated middle aged man, in particular, was enraged at being forced to listen to a plurality of voices, when no one was listening to him.
I’m not saying that their anti abortion feelings weren’t absolutely sincere. But the rage was even larger than the issue. They would still have been angry, even if travel and information and the whole lot had gone as they had wanted.
It is ireland they are disappointed in, and their own place in it. It is the erosion of certainty that is threatening them. A lot of people in this country want to go back to the certainties of an authoritarian era” Nuala O’Faolain 93

440

Val 03.05.16 at 12:00 am

And on the subject of false analogies –

I happen to agree with Rich that bombing for humanitarian interventions is wrong, because I think bombing is wrong under any circumstances. But Rich’s argument by false analogy that people who suggest bombing may be justified for humanitarian interventions in some circumstances are people who would willingly go out and shoot three year olds is beyond appalling.

It is not a situation where three year olds are living peaceful lives with no threat and the ‘bombing as a humanitarian intervention’ people suddenly say ‘let’s go and bomb them’. It is a situation where the children are already being bombed, or starving, or dying of preventable diseases for want of medication, or drowning at sea http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/05/great-syrian-refugee-crisis-exodus-epic-inconceivable-witness-lebos-islamic-state

As I say, I don’t think ‘bombing as a humanitarian intervention’ is justifiable. But suggesting that those who do think so are deliberately choosing to murder children for no reason should be beyond the bounds of debate I would think.

441

LFC 03.05.16 at 12:03 am

@Val
Right, Rich and I have already cleared this up: he used the word “claims,” which can be ambiguous, but he’s said he did not mean it in a doubting way, and I accept that.

I don’t esp. want to get pulled into the middle of an argument between you and Rich, so I won’t say anything about that point.

442

LFC 03.05.16 at 12:05 am

My comment @458 refers to Val’s comment @455.

443

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 12:14 am

Val :”he should therefore be able to patronise me about my current feminist studies without any blowback from me.”

Can you for once represent a conversation that’s just upthread accurately? I wrote nothing about getting no blowback from you. On the contrary, I expect that you will be your usual self.

But this should be interesting. What makes your nutty theories immune from criticism? Have academics everywhere put intersectionality in the trash bin and said that patriarchy is really, historically, what it’s all about?

444

js. 03.05.16 at 12:46 am

For what it’s worth, I think “kill some innocents to save more innocents” is reprehensible. Even in the classic trolley cases—and here I’d like to make it very clear that my attitudes towards trolley cases are in the same general region as my attitudes towards the bubonic plague—you generally do some funky stuff with intentions, so that it turns out you’re not intentionally killing innocents—you’re intentionally saving innocents! (Tho, of course, regrettably, some innocents are off dying stage left.) It takes a particularly hard-minded sort of utilitarian to argue that intentionally killing innocents is A-OK! Even on the assumption that more innocents get saved as a result. I’m not saying you can’t find such at all, but they’re harder to come by than you might initially expect.

445

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 12:46 am

Val: “As I say, I don’t think ‘bombing as a humanitarian intervention’ is justifiable. But suggesting that those who do think so are deliberately choosing to murder children for no reason should be beyond the bounds of debate I would think.”

And this is BS too. Advocates of humanitarian intervention bombing give plenty of reasons why they have to kill, and I never characterized them as saying otherwise. You went through a lot of them above: children are “already being bombed, or starving, or dying of preventable diseases for want of medication, or drowning at sea”, and somehow that means that we have to unavoidably kill more of them with bombs because this is supposed to be effective at stopping the above atrocities. The same set of reasons were heard in the U.S. about why we had to invade Iraq and, later, why we had to stay in Iraq to fix the damage we’d done from our invasion of Iraq. There is no shortage of reasons.

446

js. 03.05.16 at 12:49 am

Dispatch from the Vichy Left:

Liberal economics has had a pretty great run in the 2016 primary, and I’m optimistic about its chances going forward.

The idea that Hillary Clinton won on Super Tuesday by engaging centrist ideas is wrong. She is running on a $12 minimum wage, paid family leave, universal pre-K, expanding financial reform, higher taxes on the rich, and more.

More important for this discussion is what’s missing. Imagine constructing a “food pyramid” of centrist ideas. None of the daily servings of deficit hysteria, Social Security cutting, and business-friendly accommodations have been present in this campaign.

…But most of the actual disagreements weren’t about the goal, but about the tactics. Sanders wants to expand Medicare rather than the ACA, but both he and Clinton want universal health care. Sanders wants really free higher education while Clinton wants “debt-free” college, but both want to change the momentum towards cheaper colleges. The relative strengths of the different approaches launched a thousand think-pieces (I personally love really free higher education), but even here it’s the path, not the direction, that is at stake. The direction is more liberal, across the board.

447

Val 03.05.16 at 1:09 am

LFC
Yes I saw that. I was pointing out that Rich mentioned you because he was making a false analogy. As his mention of you was an attempt to justify his increasingly denigratory and patronising attacks on me, I did think that you might not wish to be used in that way.

His latest attack on me is this:
“But this should be interesting. What makes your nutty theories immune from criticism?”

You may think those kinds of attacks on a feminist theorist are in keeping with the general level of debate at CT, though I would hope not. I don’t.

448

Plume 03.05.16 at 1:17 am

Hillary has run a centrist campaign, at least on economics, taxes, the minimum, wars, empire and so on. It speaks volumes about where we are as a nation when a $12 floor, after 40 years of stagnating or falling wages for the rank and file, isn’t considered “centrist” at best. When that’s “liberal,” we’re all in big trouble.

And it’s too obvious (to me) why she chose that number. Obama and the Dems called for $10.10 — after Obama floated the $9 figure earlier. Sanders called for $15. So Hillary thought she needed to show how “compromise” is really done. Of course, the $15 figure is still way too low, and the real compromise, at best. It would have been back in the 1930s, as Robert Brenner shows in this excellent interview:

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/03/brenner-interview-sunkara-social-democratic-reformism-new-deal-fdr/

Steve Fraser also talks about this kind of weak, sputtering, all too timid reaction to plutocracy and oligarchy in his The Age of Acquiescence. Contrasting the first and second Gilded ages is his main focus.

It makes me ill to think our choices are the Dems or the Republicans. The Dems constantly roll over and play dead for the GOP, and the GOP is deeply, dangerously psychotic. America is immersed in a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, willing to endlessly support the guys who don’t aggressively want to destroy us, but don’t have the courage to really stop the folks who do.

Goddess save us all from our LOTE status quo ante.

449

Val 03.05.16 at 1:21 am

Rich @ 462

As I said, I agree with you that bombing cannot be justified, even as an (intended) humanitarian intervention.

What I object to is your ridiculous and over the top attacks on people, such as comparing those who think bombing might be justified in some circumstances to child murderers.

I don’t disagree with all your views, and I even once defended you against rebuke by John Holbo. However as one of the people who has been singled out for your grossly offensive personal attacks, I’ve had enough and I’m calling your bullshit.

450

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 2:07 am

And I’ve had enough of your ridiculous nonsense, and I’m calling your bullshit, so I guess we’re even. Only you could criticize me by name and attribute anti-feminist views to me that I don’t hold, and then when I respond say that I’m singling you out for grossly offensive personal attacks.

For the record, from the way that you consistently misread people and instantly blame any resulting pushback on your interlocutors being antifeminist, I think that you have an exciting career ahead of you in academia.

451

LFC 03.05.16 at 2:28 am

js. @461
No one here, afaict (though I certainly can’t claim to have read every word in the thread), is arguing for the intentional killing of innocents.

Rich’s position, as I understand it, is that any use of force that might entail any civilian casualties, as an unintended but reasonably foreseeable consequence, cannot be justified under any circumstances. Perhaps he would want to phrase it in slightly less absolute terms, but his position seems to approach that. Phrased in this way, the position basically rules out all uses of force in all circumstances whatever (b/c it is usually impossible to guarantee that there will be no unintended civilian casualties from any use of force), i.e, it is pacifism. That’s a position with a long history and roots in some religious traditions, but it’s not widely held.

I think it’s hard to have these arguments in general terms without reference to concrete examples. But I would point out that the standard law-of-armed-conflict principles of necessity and proportionality are designed to minimize civilian casualties. Sometimes violations of those principles are fairly obvious, and at other times they’re debatable. I believe there’s also a duty on those using force to consciously try to avoid (unintended) civilian casualties whenever possible. I don’t want to get into specific examples, although they’re useful, b/c it will just stir up things and raise hackles. But suffice to say that it is sometimes, and even from a distance, not that difficult to tell when these rules have been violated.

452

ZM 03.05.16 at 2:40 am

js.

“For what it’s worth, I think “kill some innocents to save more innocents” is reprehensible. Even in the classic trolley cases—and here I’d like to make it very clear that my attitudes towards trolley cases are in the same general region as my attitudes towards the bubonic plague—you generally do some funky stuff with intentions, so that it turns out you’re not intentionally killing innocents—you’re intentionally saving innocents! (Tho, of course, regrettably, some innocents are off dying stage left.) “

In my unfortunate and strange story of musicians writing about me without asking ever since I was 19 in 1998 — I have actually been depicted in a Trolley Problem written by Nick Cave. :-/

I am depicted by metaphor as a body of water which could be jumped into to escape the oncoming Trolley. This is the second time he wrote about me in a book, first he called me a crying girl in gingham at the Punter’s Club, referring to my gingham skirt I half hand sewed and half stapled together and then in his latest book he has the trolley problem, this must be as someone passed on to him I was writing comments on Crooked Timber and he read all the discussions of trolley problems here while he was writing his book. I told his management he will have to withdraw his books referring to me from sale, and he can be my witness in my court cases. I never thought I would be depicted in a trolley problem, I hate trolley problems.

453

Val 03.05.16 at 2:40 am

Rich
During the course of our argument, you have made seven posts attacking me, in which you claim that I am putting forward “nutty”, “tired”, “outdated”, “stupid” and “essentialist” theories that I don’t even believe in myself, but am only putting forward in order to attack other people.

I won’t continue this argument because it is no doubt boring for other people, but surely you must be capable of seeing that that is not a reasoned critique or civil argument. If you want to argue with my position, argue with it – don’t just name call.

454

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 3:12 am

LFC: “i.e, it is pacifism. That’s a position with a long history and roots in some religious traditions, but it’s not widely held.”

I’m not a pacifist. I accept that people are going to defend themselves, and that this will end up being generalized into something like a right to self defense, whether personal or national. While the rebellion was going on, I was not calling on the Libyan rebels not to fight back against Qaddafi.

Humanitarian interventions are, of course, not self defense. When countries are actually attacked, there isn’t any large controversy about whether they should defend themselves. The same is not true of wars of choice. And saying that we as internationalists see an obligation to militarily take aggressive action to defend anyone who is attacked anywhere in the world leads to immediate problems in which suddenly we’re the world policeman and accountable to no one.

People try to get around this with legalisms, like saying that they support actions authorized by the U.N. But we’ve seen how easily these are manipulated. I’m somewhat sympathetic to arguments that say that we have to defend an international system that preserves stability, but that isn’t a self defense argument. If we’re going to preserve stability, we’re right back to what I wrote upthread about realpolitik and the essential test being whether it works, and we can give up on the nonsense about how we have to kill people to try to save other people. Stability has not been the result of the vast majority of these interventions.

455

js. 03.05.16 at 3:28 am

Right, my intervention there, so to speak, might have been exceptionally off-topic. I’m pretty much with RP in being resolutely anti-interventionist—the exceptions being cases where the intervening country is already directly affected, as in India in ’71 or Vietnam re Cambodia (by comparison, if Mexico and Canada were waging war against each other—which is kind of a hilarious possibility—the US might well have good cause to intervene). But I think we’re all agreeing that those aren’t really “humanitarian interventions”. In any case, @461 was neither here nor there.

456

js. 03.05.16 at 3:30 am

ZM — I’m very sorry. This has come up before, and it’s very troubling that you feel this way. Hope you’re well.

457

ZM 03.05.16 at 3:30 am

Val,

I mentioned an essay by Nancy Tuana in a comment above @385 which I think you would be interested in reading with your research in climate change, public health, and women/gender. The essay is called Viscous Porosity and about Hurricane Katrina.

You were commenting above about the displacement of women’s studies by gender studies, Nancy Tuana mentions how she thinks the sex/gender conceptual opposition served an important historical purpose but for analytical purposes it is flawed by not being conceptually adequate to deal with the interaction between sex and gender — or the body and the social.

I think this also has something to do with Rich Puchalsky’s charge that you hold an “essentialist” position, a charge I think is unfair based on your comments I have read, but maybe has something to do with Rich (and Bruce Wilder and Plume) having some discomfort with the idea that difference between men and women isn’t only wholly socially constructed, meaning that a single ungendered (uncoloured) subjectivity based in an Enlightenment masculine (white) subjectivity is not the only subjectivity that can or should be acknowledged or experienced.

bob mcmanus said something expressing similar discomfort on the A Disquieting Suggestion OP thread “And I stop short of signifiers and pre-linguistic perception/cognition because of the dangerous temptation to the metaphysical, for example much feminism with its direct knowledge of the different body.”

“We can make divisions between the biological and the social, as we feminists did with sex and gender, but what we soon discovered is that the divisions are both permeable and shifting, while at the same time deeply entrenched in bodies and practices. In “Re-Fusing Nature/Nurture” (1983) and “Fleshing Gender, Sexing the Body” (1996), I urged feminists to abandon the sex/gender dichotomy, arguing both that the nature/culture dualism that it rested on was flawed and that its use —while perhaps liberatory at a particular historical moment — was perpetuating the conceptual framework out of which sexist as well as racist practices have emerged. I argued that bodies, and sexes, are neither fixed nor inert, but fluid and emergent.

We often view nature as subdued through technology, the story of human agency affecting the natural order. But we forget to reverse the interaction for the Mississippi and Katrina — and those shell middens have agency too, an agency that influences the so-called natural and social order. And as we make pragmatic divisions between what is natural and what is social , as I have here, it behooves us to remember the viscous porosity between these phenomena , a porosity that undermines any effort to make an ontological division into kinds —natural and cultural — where the edges are clean and the interactions at best additive.

Go back to the levees. The levees had been shaped by numerous forces —technology, economics, weather, sedimentation patterns, the Mississippi River , to name a few. A 1947 hurricane that caused 100 million dollars in damage gave rise to hurricane protection levees alone Lake Pontchartrain’s south shore. Another deadly hurricane in 1965 caused the Orleans Levy Board to raise existing levees to a height of 12 feet. We knew these levees and flood walls were not designed to provide protection from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane storm damage.

The boundaries between our flesh and the flesh of the world we are of and in is porous. While that porosity is what allows us to flourish — as we breathe in the oxygen we need to flourish and metabolise the nutrients out of which our flesh emerges — this porosity often does not discriminate against that which can kill us. We cannot survive without water and food, but their viscous porosity often binds itself to strange and toxic bedfellows.

Katrina’s wake left New Orleans flooded with what headlines called a toxic “soup” . There are five superfund toxic waste sites in and around New Orleans, all of which were compromised by Katrina’s flooding. There are even more superfund sites in Louisiana and Mississippi that were in the path of Katrina’s wake…

There is a viscous porosity of flesh — my flesh and the flesh of the world. This porosity is a hinge through which we are of and in the world. I refer to it as viscous, for there are membranes that effect the interactions. These membranes are of various types — skin and flesh, prejudgements and symbolic imaginaries, habits and embodiments. They serve as the mediators of interaction.”

— Nancy Tuana, Viscous Porosity, https://www.academia.edu/12103511/Viscous_Porosity_Witnessing_Katrina

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ZM 03.05.16 at 3:52 am

js.

“ZM — I’m very sorry. This has come up before, and it’s very troubling that you feel this way. Hope you’re well.”

I am doing okay, a little upset about the time it is taking to get the police to start an investigation into this from about 1998 to 2016 , although I have written to the Victorian Minister of Police about this now so hopefully a criminal investigation will start soon, and I’m also trying to deal with being upset about people having made these songs about me in the first place without asking me or telling me. And people knowing about this but also not trying to contact me about it. 18 years is a long time.

Nick Cave’s treatment of this in his two books that mentions it portrays what happened in a very negative light I think.

In the first book he implicitly juxtaposes the treatment of me, an unknown female concert goer, by singers (this started in 1998, after me and my friend in 1996 called Drag City a lot asking for Australian tours by Palace and Smog, and Will Oldham toured in 1997 and then Smog toured in 1998 and Will Oldham toured again in 1998. This shouldn’t have happened right from the start, three singers I didn’t know singing songs about me on records without asking is stalking and sexual harassment of a female concert goer — Cross Bones Style and Moon Pix by Cat Power supported by members of the Dirty Three; Teenage Spaceship by Smog on Knock Knock [the cover of Knock Knock has a cat and lightening on the front referring to Cat Power, Chan Marshall of Cat Power was Bill Callahan of Smog’s then girlfriend and was in Australia in 1998 working on recording music with the Dirty Three who I had gone to concert by since 1996, Chan Marshall saw me at Smog’s concerts as I never went to her concerts and didn’t like her as a musician at all, she just saw me at Smog concerts and wrote mean songs about me like a high school bully, which is an unacceptable and illegal thing to do with your records if you’re a singer, its stalking and sexual harassment]; and Madeline Mary by Will Oldham on I See A Darkness) with treatment of female public figures in the music industry, Kylie Minogue and Avril Lavigne, who Nick Cave apologises to in the book. I think Nick Cave ends the book with the man saying to his son “I was a horrible man, son” or something like that, I can’t recall exactly off the top of my head, but the themes of the book are the treatment of women and the father-son relationship.

Nick Cave of course had nothing to do with this happening at the start, and I believe was just told about it due to his working with and being friends with Warren Ellis of the Dirty Three, who was the only Dirty Three band member not to play mean songs about me on Moon Pix. But Warren Ellis could have tried to stop the other Dirty Three members from doing this, and stop Cat Power from doing this, and also tried to tell me about this. I am very disappointed in him, he grew up in Ballarat I think which is not very far from where I live. It is just not acceptable or legal for musicians to treat concert goers in this way.

Sorry, I really never thought I would get depicted in a trolley problem at all, let alone one written by Nick Cave, I hope Nick Cave agrees voluntarily to withdraw the book from sale, he obviously disproves of what happened in both his books that mention it.

459

The Temporary Name 03.05.16 at 3:59 am

Good luck ZM.

460

Val 03.05.16 at 4:41 am

ZM
Thanks for your comments, Tuana’s work sounds very interesting. I have been interested in these ideas around permeability and leaky borders for a long time as I think we have discussed before. I remember mentioning to you (I think) an interesting article on The Conversation about how can think as part of the ecology.

In a way it is similar to the earlier discussion on this thread about “pantheism” though I get frustrated that people talk about these ideas without mentioning the contribution of feminist scholarship.

I am not opposed to the idea to the idea that we are capable of thinking as ‘individuals’ in a way that transcends boundaries of sex, gender, ethnicity and so on; however at the same time we are also both embodied and part of the ecology. I get frustrated at these poorly thought out claims about essentialism – at the risk of falling into the Rich Puchalsky style that I’ve been criticising, I do find them a bit “tired” and “outdated” :)

If I understand what you are saying about RP and BW above, I agree and also commend you on your ability – unlike myself – to say these things in a less confrontational way. I guess I just get tired of being dismissed and patronised, and trying to be polite in response (I do mainly – though not always – try to be polite, even though some may not see it!) I don’t wish to include Plume in the discussion though and I’m sorry I did before (even though geo lumped him in with the other three) as I think Plume’s position is more complex.

In regard to your other worries, I hope that you have someone that you can discuss these with in person. Take care of yourself. I always value your contributions here.

461

RNB 03.05.16 at 5:47 am

Thanks Val for trying to save me from some cheap shots.
In spite of abuse hurled at me for being a baby killer, I am still going to respond.

1. We are confusing humanitarian intervention with one of the forms that it may take–bombing. Drawing on Bhikhu Parekh, I wrote long ago on this thread that the inherent problem with humanitarian intervention may well be that it would likely take the form of bombing which will result in the killings of innocents because the intervening power–putting a much higher relative value on the lives of its troops than on people whom they are ostensibly saving–would favor those tactics that puts its own troops at minimal risk even if they created grave dangers for the vulnerable population.

So an argument can be made that as a practical matter humanitarian intervention is bound to create intolerable costs on those already most vulnerable.

2. There is also the further problem that if successful by some measure the intervening power will use its foothold in the country to extract concessions and benefits that will increase the resentment of people who pay a high price for being saved or liberated.

Unlike most people who seem most interested in asserting their moral superiority, I actually tried to give something of an explanation for why we should expect humanitarian intervention to go wrong. There may even be a legitimate call for it from the vulnerable people or legitimate leaders in surrounding countries. But we should still expect that the intervening powers are unwilling to run the risks and make the commitments to carry out a humanitarian intervention that does not pose undue risk to vulnerable people. Again this is a criticism of humanitarian intervention as a practical matter, not against the very idea of it. I provided even more relevant evidence for this critical thesis than my critics by linking to Menon’s work on the conceit of humanitarian intervention.

3. I think the New York Times article provides good evidence that Hillary Clinton unreasonably counted on more support for intervention in Libya than she should have reasonably expected. The intervention was limited and was not backed with resources to deal with the fall-out of the collapse of the Qaddafi regime.

All that said, Clinton may well have been right that Libya was set to suffer years of escalating violent conflict without NATO intervention.

4. I see no reasonable argument here against strikes against Qaddafi’s military forces on Clinton’s assumptions that the strikes would be targeted on besieged military forces poised to carry out multiple massacres and thus possibly save tens of thousands of people. From just a quick internet search, it seems that Human Rights Watch estimates that fewer than 50 women and children were killed by accident in the NATO strikes. These innocent people were not the targets of the attacks, and Clinton thought that such strikes may save thousands if not tens of thousands in Benghazi. I understand that many of you find her decision abhorrent, but I think this is more complicated than people are making out as long as you share her assumptions.

5. The real problem with Clinton’s decision seems to be the assumptions that she made–that the NATO strikes could remain limited on the soldiers and supplies that Qaddafi was going to use suppress the rebellion in Benghazi and that Qaddafi would not respond in a way that would escalate the civil war to the point that regime change would become inevitable. But even here it’s not clear what would have happened in the absence of NATO strikes. I’ll re-read the Hugh Roberts’ piece, but I noted how contested the discussion is with one of Roberts’ closest colleagues taking different positions than him on whether a cease-fire with Qaddafi was possible.

And Clinton’s position seems similar to the one Juan Cole had. I think it would be beyond ridiculous to call Juan Cole a war monger; he has been one of the important critics of US policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel.

There are those on the right who think Clinton’s actions in Benghazi disqualify from her being commander-in-chief; there are those on “the left” who also think she may well be worse as a commander-in-chief than Trump due to the NATO strikes against Qaddafi’s military in Benghazi. I do not agree with this harsh judgment.

462

ZM 03.05.16 at 7:13 am

Thanks TM and Val,

Ia actually feel quite betrayed by Nick Cave, even though I never met him. I remember reading his When The Ass Met The Angel in high school when a friend loaned me her copy, and I found a copy of Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen at an op-shop here in 1996 that Nick Cave had given to the artist Wendy Stavrianos in the 70s who he knew as an art student at Caulfield Tech in the 70s. She lives around here, now. I gave the book to the art gallery to keep in their library due to the history.

In 2005 some strange events happened at the Joanna Newsom and Bill Callahan concerts in Melbourne and Castlemaine, which made me start to have a breakdown, leading to a psychotic episode the day after I listened to Will Oldham’s 2006 release Cursed Sleep EP, which has a song about me and two songs about his affair with Joanna Newsom.

In 2005 and 2006 I was living with a young woman and her partner and another woman, and Nick Cave’s son Jethro who lives in Melbourne was pretty good friends with the young woman’s younger brother, and knew her family. I was living with her the day I had the psychotic episode, and she visited me in hospital.

Jethro and Nick Cave already had a pretty difficult relationship at that time, I don’t know if its improved since then as Jethro’s gotten older.

The singers and their circle of musician and other artist friends kept it a secret that any songs had been written about me, I talked to my friend and housemate about Cursed Sleep, but neither of us could work out what the lyrics on the 3 songs on the Cursed Sleep EP were actually about exactly.

I wrote to Nick Cave’s management about exactly this. No one should have written songs about me without my permission, I am now is a most difficult position where I am having to deal with songs and film clips referring to me being in the public realm since 1998 when I was 19, and taking criminal and civil legal action.

I shouldn’t be in this position. Any account of this I give in public involves not only me and my life, but people whose lives intersected with me, like my friend and housemate whose brother was friends with Nick Cave’s son. I did not consent to people making me a public figure in art since I was 19.

Nick Cave could have contacted me about this when he found out about it, via a newspaper notice, or talked to the police about it who could probably have contacted me. I don’t know exactly when Nick Cave heard about this, only that he has referred to me in two of his books without my consent.

When I contacted his management in the UK, they wrote back to me lying on Nick Cave’s behalf. One of his young sons tragically died at that point, and I told them I felt it would be inappropriate at that time to continue complaining about Nick Cave’s actions, due to his family tragedy.

I have communicated to his management that I expect Nick Cave to be a witness about this, given he has obviously been aware of it for some time, due to his writing about it twice.

463

Val 03.05.16 at 7:25 am

Thanks RNB. I’m an outsider to American politics of course but I guess like most of the world, I’m really trying to understand what is going on at present. I thought yours and js’ perspectives were really interesting and informative, especially as People of colour and Muslims don’t seem to be heard much on CT. I don’t necessarily agree with your views here (because I am a pacifist in fact) but I thought and think they are well expressed.

That of course is part of the reason I blew up at RP, as well as his ‘I’m not sexist, you’re stupid’ attitude to me (Rich probably doesn’t realise how common that attitude is amongst common or garden sexists). I’m always vowing not to get so steamed up on the internet but it hasn’t worked for me yet :)

Anyway thanks again for your views.

464

lurker 03.05.16 at 8:52 am

‘Well, if you can bear to look at cases not involving the US’ (Stephen, 444)
Americans will obviously be more familiar with American interventions than e.g. French interventions in Africa.
We absolutely should look at lots of different cases, say, all interventions 1916-2016. We wouldn’t be just cherry picking then.

465

Hidari 03.05.16 at 9:55 am

Of the nonsensical and incoherent claim that the ‘West’s’ intervention in Syria was ‘not enough’ and that if only ‘we’ had ‘intervened’ earlier everything would have been ok:

http://www.juancole.com/2016/03/has-western-intervention-prolonged-the-syrian-civil-war-has-our-press-covered-it-up.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 10:04 am

Stephen has a peculiar enough definition of “humanitarian intervention”.
I think we’re getting sidetracked by the concept of a “humanitarian intervention”, which is more an intra US left debate. It’s a useful talking board to explain why democrat presidents are as bad as republicans, because (afaik) the evidence doesn’t show that dems fight less wars than reps, but they plausibly fight different kinds of wars (And not just make different excuses, but have different goals and FP values) but I’m not sure how far it goes beyond that.
Leaving that aside though, the claim often comes up that military force “doesn’t work”, specifically where “work” means doesn’t achieve some humanitarian goal. But we have, above,examples of where military force has stopped atrocities. The argument then becomes well these weren’t humanitarian interventions. But I don’t see why this matters? If using force stopped an atrocity then military force can work to prevent atrocities.
There is always the problem of selection bias here as well. The cases we choose tend to be picked to make our argument, and even with the best of faith they are going to reflect what we know (culturally, politically etc). I don’t buy lupita’s claims about the non wests (although I would think Latin America is culturally and politically in the west) neighbourly concern for each other, but I do think it’s right that we tend to systematically exclude non western wars (particularly from regions or contexts without a western interest )
There’s also a selection bias built into when we we have decent data for, which is post 1945 . This also coincides with a timeframe when western interventions were becoming more responsive to populations and plausibly human rights norms. Again, because of that, what we can say about intervention is quite limited.
And then finally there are “the dogs the didn’t bark.” The crises that didn’t happen because of one sides military superiority, or fear of that sides military belligerence.
I’m generally pretty anti intervention at this stage*, but we keep going over this and (afaict) mixing normative or moral positions in with empirical ones. I’m really not sure we can draw the strong conclusions we are about what military interventions do or don’t do.

* people keeping going on about R2P and asking “well what would you do.”? But this is missing the point a bit. R2P didn’t have to be so militarily and state centric. There are other ways of protecting civilian populations short of intervening militarily, and for a lot of us who don’t oppose an R2P like concept in principle, there are emphasises away from military action, and away from state led power politics, where the concept could have been developed.

467

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 10:40 am

It’s true that Syria isn’t an example of “non intervention” but it is an example of a different type of intervention than Libya, and regardless of how bad Libya is Syria is worse. (I don’t personally think an explicit strong military response to Syria would have had much better outcomes than we have today, but the claim has some plausibility. I guess)
On lurkers “support the dictators” (stability is better than instability) argument way above, leaving aside the politics; (1) siding with the dictators over the opposition doesn’t resolve the underlying causes leading to opposition, in fact it probably makes them worse. So it’s can kicking (2) its uses last as long as people remenber what “not supporting the dictators” was like. After a while people start arguing the dictators, and western support for them, are the causes of instability in a region. So we go in circles (3) leaving aside moral qualms there are plausibly practical ones, concerning turning populations against the country supporting the dictator (bear in mind al Qaeda initially drew primarily from countries the US supported, not invaded) (4) I don’t know how true it is that this has better human rights outcomes, particularly in the long term.

468

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 10:51 am

..going back to the politics of lurkers argument though. One of the points put forward against western intervention to prevent atrocities is that western countries (whether because of domestic politics, beauracratic politics, human rights concerns, divergent goals etc) don’t have the ability to intervene in a strong and timely manner which (theoretically) would have a chance of stopping an atrocity. The same realities exist for “supporting dictators”, if what we mean by this is arming and supporting them against opposition. You still have many of same problems that hinder a military response preventing western governments offering diplomatic or military response to dictators under attack (at least in some cases)

469

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 10:52 am

RNB: “We are confusing humanitarian intervention with one of the forms that it may take–bombing. “

Let’s see: we started talking about the Libya intervention. You claimed that HRC’s support of the Libya intervention wasn’t so bad. And what did that intervention involve?

Hmm, I wonder. Could it have been bombing?

RNB: ” see no reasonable argument here against strikes against Qaddafi’s military forces on Clinton’s assumptions that the strikes would be targeted on besieged military forces poised to carry out multiple massacres and thus possibly save tens of thousands of people. From just a quick internet search, it seems that Human Rights Watch estimates that fewer than 50 women and children were killed by accident in the NATO strikes. I understand that many of you find her decision abhorrent, but I think this is more complicated than people are making out as long as you share her assumptions. “

Her assumptions? What about your assumptions? She supported actions that killed 50 innocent people, and you’re excusing that because you say her intentions were good. I have news for you: everyone (except, possibly, for you) knows that when bombs are dropped, some innocents will be killed. So her assumption was exactly as I’ve described: that it’s OK to kill some innocent people to try to save a larger number of people.

I don’t think that there was anything unfair or cheap at all about what I’ve written here. 50 innocent people were killed, and this did not save lives. And rather than drawing the lesson that we should not do this, the lesson is that this is more complicated than we think, and that it’s “childish” to be revolted at this useless sacrifice of other people’s lives.

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Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 10:56 am

The last line is mixed up, should be something like:

“Many of the restraints that hinder a military response also prevent western governments from offering sufficient diplomatic or military support to dictators under attack (at least in some cases)”

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Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 11:21 am

Meh. “Western countries” don’t appear to behave much differently than non western countries, once you account for power differences and opportunities for domination. Certainly the history of Russia seems to support the idea of a proud people stomping on whoever they can , whenever they have the means, and whenever the opportunity arises.

472

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 11:53 am

Nah + meh + smh

473

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 12:10 pm

No. Though I considered a facepalm or headdesk.

474

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 12:40 pm

I try not to use cyberslang thoughtlessly.

475

LFC 03.05.16 at 2:15 pm

I think Ronan’s comment @484 (though I read it quickly and don’t agree w every single word) makes some good points. In particular it’s clear that, in some circumstances, the use of military force can stop atrocities (how that use of force is labeled and/or what motivated it is a separate question).

One form of ‘intervention’ not mentioned specifically yet is the various forms of UN peacekeeping and peace ‘enforcement’. A lot of empirical research has been done on this. While their record is mixed and problems remain, UN operations have had some successes and overall their record has improved over the past couple of decades. The record of regional-force interventions, e.g. through the African Union, is probably (even) more mixed. The recent civil war (or civil conflict) in South Sudan, not yet really resolved afaik, and the long-running problems in Darfur (better for a while, but recently worse again, I believe) are two examples where a robust UN presence, had it been feasible and implemented, might have made a difference — though I’m speculating, as I lack the expertise to say this with certainty. But basically, the more UN personnel there are relative to pop. in a particular setting, and the more robust their rules of engagement (i.e. not just ‘observing’) and their overall mandate, the better things are likely to go.

476

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 2:15 pm

Val: “I get frustrated at these poorly thought out claims about essentialism – at the risk of falling into the Rich Puchalsky style that I’ve been criticising, I do find them a bit “tired” and “outdated” :)”

Can you ever once take responsibility for what you write, instead of saying that someone provoked you into doing it? Here’s what you wrote:

“If they are the future of the left, this is the left’s message: ‘All you women and Muslims and people of colour with your frivolous worries about discrimination, violence, being locked up in camps, being denied control over your own body – your “identity politics” in short – can’t you see that you’re not really important, you’re not the true future of the left?’”

Against this you go on about how insulting it was that I called your theories outdated and tired. You combine extreme sensitivity to insult with highly insulting writing yourself, which you then issue your usual notpologies for.

And if I write any more about this, I’ll be accused of mansplaining feminism in addition to everything else. But do you even know what essentialism means, in this context? What is it supposed to mean, other than what you just agreed with — an emphasis on embodied gender difference rather than social construction? Why do you think that women’s studies are being replaced by gender studies — are they all antifeminists too?

477

LFC 03.05.16 at 2:27 pm

Ze K @491
In any case, we have the evidence, undeniable empirical evidence: the West has conquered the world. Not Russia. Not Persia. Not China, not Aztecs, not Egypt.

Well, there was a Persian empire, a Chinese one, a Russian one. Boundaries of contemp. China are certainly the result, in part, of ‘imperialist’ incorporation (Tibet, arguably Xianjiang [sp? sorry]).

Ze K has a cartoon version of world history: West bad, everyone else not-so-bad or actively ‘nice’. End of story.

In his novel Guerrillas, V.S. Naipaul has one character say to another (I’m paraphrasing): You have the whole world in front of you, and your mind prints out comic strips all day long.

478

Brett Dunbar 03.05.16 at 2:29 pm

Val you don’t have a right not to be the inspiration for a song. Common People by Pulp for refers to a Greek student from a wealthy family studying sculpture at St Martins College University of London. The details given fit Danae Stratou the wife of Yanis Varoufakis the former Greek finance minister. She was there 1983-88 while Jarvis Cocker was a mature student there from 1988. This doesn’t give her any specific rights over the song.

This is quite apart for whether the song or novel actually refers to you and it isn’t merely a delusion on your part. I mean did you actually know any of these people at the time?

479

Brett Dunbar 03.05.16 at 2:30 pm

I meant ZM not Val, sorry.

480

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 2:38 pm

The west didn’t conquer the world either.

481

Layman 03.05.16 at 2:53 pm

RNB @ 478, you still haven’t named a war HRC opposed. Yes, I know you posted about some tactic she didn’t go for, but bombing people from afar is still war, right?

Arguments about careful targeting, surgical strikes, avoiding collateral damage, etc, exist to obscure the fact that everyone knows the decision to make war is a decision to kill the innocent. It’s pushing the fat man onto the trolley while proclaiming, loudly that you’ll be careful about it, and maybe anyway there is no fat man, and if it turns out there is a dead fat man lying there afterward, well, we’ll conduct a thorough investigation, which will show that this was just an unfortunate case of collateral damage, entirely consistent with the rules of engagement, and anyway those other people were BAD, were we supposed to let them just be BAD, they would have killed the fat man themselves if we’d done nothing. He should thank us!

482

RNB 03.05.16 at 3:45 pm

@504 Clinton claims that she held Israel off from bombing Iran. Generally speaking, I think that I agree with what (I think) LFC may have been implying–critics here should consider Weber’s warning that the total unwillingness to use force speaks only of the irresponsibility and non-seriousness of the statesman. The only problem is not the statesman will irresponsibly use force because acting in the name of the nation state he can duck responsibility for it. LFC, were you alluding to Weber in a reply somewhere above?

483

RNB 03.05.16 at 3:47 pm

484

RNB 03.05.16 at 3:49 pm

@487 I am happy to leave that criticism unanswered. I would be surprised if RP has convinced anyone by the reasoning he has supplied of anything but the fact that he has a strong sense of his own moral superiority.

485

RNB 03.05.16 at 4:08 pm

The NYT reporter Scott Shane reflects on his co-written piece on Clinton’s role in the intervention in Libya.
http://www.democracynow.org/2016/3/3/the_libya_gamble_inside_hillary_clinton

486

Val 03.05.16 at 4:14 pm

Rich @ 498
It’s three in the morning here but for some reason I can’t sleep. So I’ll reply to your comment if we can agree on some ground rules:
– neither of us is stupid
– occasional snark is ok but we’ll try to keep it civil

The main problem with geo’s formulation is he selected (ironically or otherwise, but I thought he was serious) four white males, three of whom had recently been or were embroiled in arguments with feminists, people of colour/Muslims. Not an inclusive vision for the future of the left, can you see that? (If you can’t, we should probably give up right now)

On essentialism, here is an interesting article http://www.raewynconnell.net/2013/03/feminisms-challenge-to-biological.html?m=1

It’s introductory and fairly plain language. I’m not saying that to insult you, I just think it’s a good starting point to build on. The author is someone who made a male female transition sometime ago, so has an interesting perspective I think, but basically I think just always is and has been a clear writer.

487

Layman 03.05.16 at 4:19 pm

RNB @ 505, why do you think Clinton voted for the Iraq war? She says she was convinced by the intelligence, which turned out to be wrong; but 23 of her Senate colleagues were not convinced. I wouldn’t have said she was especially gullible. On the contrary, I think she’s quite smart, not easily fooled or misled. So, I have a view. I think she made the political calculation (in this she was certainly not alone!) that it would be better for her future poltical ambitions to be for it than to be against it – that she didn’t want to be Sam Nunn, as an example. What do you think?

488

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 4:22 pm

@505, yes I know the book. Snappy titles can also be inaccurate.

489

RNB 03.05.16 at 4:44 pm

@509 I read a wonderful book many years ago by Cordelia Fine which showed the limits of MRI and other evidence of putatively hormonally-induced sex differences in brain development in utero. I thought it was a rather important critique of biological essentialism.

490

RNB 03.05.16 at 4:45 pm

@510 Well it’s the reason I worked like heck to see Obama defeat her in the 2008 primary.

491

Richard Cottrell 03.05.16 at 4:55 pm

It seems I am the only person on this thread who has ever been elected to public office. It shows. The kitchen sink is a very brutalising experience. The postings that I see are mostly passionate exuberance, and even I would say nursery in their grasp of understanding the public mood. Trump has let the long sleeping authoritarian itch of Frontierist Americanism out of the bag. Mrs. Clinton could easily stand as the republican she really is. The only genuine article is Sanders, who will be obliged in the final analysis to run as an independent if he fails to gain traction post March 15. ‘Woman worship’ is all that My Lady of Whitewater has. She slept through her term in the Senate. Ditto, State, although she briefly awoke during the murder of a head of state recognised by the United Nations – and the United States government.
Sanders will rub, and if he does, he may well win.

492

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 5:08 pm

Now we’re getting somewhere. My preferences are actually more towards premodern agrarian secret societies, but that’s a moral judgement rather than an empirical one .

493

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 5:15 pm

Val: “The main problem with geo’s formulation is he selected (ironically or otherwise, but I thought he was serious) four white malees that had recently been or were embroiled in arguments with feminists, people of colour/Muslims. Not an inclusive vision for the future of the left, can you see that?”

“four white males that had recently been or were embroiled in arguments with feminists, people of color / Muslims.” So I suppose that these four white males are not themselves feminists [well, bob holds to a version of intersectionality that he says excludes feminism as such, but no one here seems to read him carefully] , and that js, for instance, isn’t speaking as someone with a Muslim perspective, but is defined as a Muslim, and not also a feminist or a white male or whatever else he is. He is supposed to stand for all Muslims, and his perspective is the Muslim perspective. Therefore, if someone is embroiled in an argument with him, they aren’t arguing with js, they are arguing with “a Muslim”. Diss js and you diss all Muslims. Is that it?

And when I diss your theories, I’m dissing “a feminist theorist”. The debate over essentialism has gone rather beyond the article you linked to. The idea of patriarchy as a sort of universal, historically grounded, privileged source of all oppressions is not a majority one within academic feminism, to put it mildly. So can I allude to this? Or is “feminist theorist” an authoritative identity — a source of power, discipline, and respect — similar to typical patriarchal identities, that means that you stand for feminism?

494

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 5:19 pm

Why can’t geo’s comment also be seen as a cheerful, playful dig at 4 white males? A semi ironic jab that does more to deflate “white maleism” because of its subtly ?

495

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 5:19 pm

RNB: “I am happy to leave that criticism unanswered.”

Because you can’t answer it. You just said that killing those 50 people was OK, just like the person in my satirical short play. Regrettable, but necessary, and you’re preparing arguments for why we should kill more.

RNB: “I would be surprised if RP has convinced anyone by the reasoning he has supplied of anything but the fact that he has a strong sense of his own moral superiority.”

When the Libya intervention was being prepared, we had a “humanitarian” posting here who worked to make R2P justifications for the UN. He said the same kind of thing. I wonder what’s he doing now? Bringing civilization to the natives somewhere else, probably.

496

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 5:20 pm

Or am i overthinking this

497

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 5:21 pm

“Why can’t geo’s comment also be seen as a cheerful, playful dig at 4 white males? A semi ironic jab that does more to deflate “white maleism” because of its subtly ?”

That’s certainly how I took it.

498

Plume 03.05.16 at 5:47 pm

Ronan @520,

I don’t think Geo’s comment was targeted in that way. I don’t think it had anything to do with “whiteness” or “maleness.”

My best guess is it was a funny quip — and he is often funny — about the pretensions of anyone on an online forum thinking they might be the voice of their generation, their political ideology, their tribe or whatnot. He could have named any other four from the dozens of posters here, regardless of gender, ethnicity, etc. etc. . . . . which, of course, we often don’t know.

In general, it was about pretensions and assumptions in general, generally speaking — I’m betting. Though my assumption of what Geo meant, without asking him, is incredibly pre . . . . . etc. etc. etc.

499

Lupita 03.05.16 at 5:50 pm

“embroiled in arguments with feminists, people of colour/Muslims.”

Hey, and what about Ze K? She’s been holding the anti-imperialist fort all alone since yesterday! Does she not count as a 3rd world woman of color bravely battling the supremacist prejudice of privileged Westeners and therefore deserving of your respect and attention? She has been making very strong points that have been either ridiculed or ignored while all the rest of the posters seem like a cozy family from Kansas sitting around the kitchen table circa 2003 discussing whether “we” should invade Iraq and concluding that, yes, “we” should.

500

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 5:56 pm

Plume, well I wouldn’t use the term white maleism ordinarily, but given the context of the conversation I was using it as shorthand to Say what you’re saying. (To add, I agree on the rest. I have these same characteristics and behaviourisms, as do most here, so I’m not picking on you and the others . It could have been 4 of many. I’m Just throwing in my tuppence worth tbh)

501

Val 03.05.16 at 6:08 pm

Sorry Rich I’m bailing out at least for the moment. Unfortunately it does seem that you can’t get this idea that I’m actually intelligent through your head and you have to keep telling me about things about feminism that I ALREADY KNOW.

I will have some sleep and get my patience back and try to convince myself that no matter how offensively you appear to be convinced of your own superiority, you actually don’t mean to be like that (I think or at least hope).

And just for the record, do you actually believe that I think I represent all feminists or js represents all Muslims? Because if not, why did you suggest it? Think about that.

502

Plume 03.05.16 at 6:10 pm

Lupita @523,

Didn’t know Ze K was a she, or that she was taking the anti-imperialist tact, which I share. I despise Empire, especially the empire of Capital, which is at its root and funds it. But my previous exchange with her (and my first) was rather baffling — and she was likely pulling legs, but I didn’t know it at the time . . . . She seemed strongly against gay rights, and from a truly reactionary position, which she continued to argue.

Others said she was just trolling. So, who knows?

Anyway . . . to boil things down and save space, I support the Chomskyian position on American Empire and its history, and often catch flak for that even from liberals, and definitely conservatives, etc. Like, the fact that we never had to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that that was “state terrorism,” etc. Or that we backed a brutal, genocidal dictator in South Korea against the North Koreans who, at the time, weren’t quite as bad — though it’s a monstrous regime today and has been for a long time. And, that we (and our allies) set the table for that civil war in the first place after WWII . . . and so on.

In our entire history, I can’t think of more than two wars we actually should have gotten into: 1812 and WWII. And once war starts, that still never gives anyone the right to commit atrocities.

503

Val 03.05.16 at 6:22 pm

Nup, it’s no good. I’ve given up trying to be polite or get back to sleep.

Rich, I’m a feminist scholar, ya hopeless twit. Stop trying to explain feminism to me!

I am aware that some people, including some feminists, see the notion of patriarchy in the way you describe. I am also aware that there are some who don’t, and that there is a reconsideration going on, of which I am – or hope to be – part.

504

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 6:28 pm

Val: “do you actually believe that I think I represent all feminists or js represents all Muslims?”

I don’t know what you think: I only know what you wrote. You wrote that four white males had been embroiled in arguments with feminists, people of color/Muslims. Was there a declared Muslim here other than js who one of these four people was embroiled in an argument with? It sounds like you’re using him as a token. And of course you’re describing this an argument of e.g. a white male with a feminist, not of a white man with a white woman, or as an argument of two feminists with two different versions of feminism.

505

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 6:32 pm

Val: “I am aware that some people, including some feminists, see the notion of patriarchy in the way you describe. I am also aware that there are some who don’t, and that there is a reconsideration going on, of which I am – or hope to be – part.”

OK, so you admit that your feminism is a hopeful reconsideration of what’s currently a widely held feminist view. So I return to my original. What makes your feminism beyond critique? If I call your historical, universalizing theories nutty, which I think they are, am I dissing feminism? Or am I supposed to just shut up because of your authority?

And I knew that you couldn’t remain polite. You aren’t that kind of person, and your apologies are always insincere.

506

LFC 03.05.16 at 6:42 pm

@RNB
LFC, were you alluding to Weber in a reply somewhere above?

In an indirect way, yes, though maybe from a slightly different angle than you suggest. Unfortunately, pressed for time, can’t elaborate just now.

507

geo 03.05.16 at 6:45 pm

For what it’s worth, “McManus, Puchalsky, Wilder & Plume” was a joke. My comment as a whole was a response to Bruce’s understandably (though, I think, excessively) downbeat declaration that “there is no left.” After offering some serious examples of modest but genuinely promising left-wing writers and activities, I thought I’d toss out the (semi-) facetious suggestion that the mere existence of all the left-wing brainpower on constant display here at CT also counted against Bruce’s pessimism. I chose McM/P/W/P partly because they’re so prolific, and among my favorite commenters; also because the idea of associating them harmoniously together in a political-strategy consulting firm — or in anything except a food fight at the CT cafeteria — tickled my fancy. But mostly I chose them because I thought “McManus, Puchalsky, Wilder & Plume” had a nice rhythm and sound. I do, I confess, occasionally say things simply because I like the way they sound. Sorry for any confusion.

508

JanieM 03.05.16 at 6:48 pm

I do, I confess, occasionally say things simply because I like the way they sound.

This made me laugh out loud.

What a thread.

509

Layman 03.05.16 at 6:52 pm

@RNB, I confess I don’t understand your response at 513. Could you be more clear about why you think Clinton voted that way?

510

js. 03.05.16 at 7:00 pm

Ze K is not a she. Ze K is a multiply banned poster who is now on his fifth or sixth handle.

511

Lynne 03.05.16 at 7:06 pm

js, I ‘m curious. What were Ze K’s other handles?

512

js. 03.05.16 at 7:09 pm

Going backwards: Ze Kraggash (or something like that), Mao Cheng Ji, Data something-or-other, Henri Vieuxtemps, and abb1. There might have been others that I missed, but certainly those.

513

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 7:17 pm

RNB: “critics here should consider Weber’s warning that the total unwillingness to use force speaks only of the irresponsibility and non-seriousness of the statesman. “

Huh, that’s funny. I distinctly remember that when Weber wrote about the ethic of responsibility,he wrote:

“We must be clear about the fact that all ethically oriented conduct may be guided by one of two fundamentally differing and irreconcilably opposed maxims: conduct can be oriented to an ‘ethic of ultimate ends’ or to an ‘ethic of responsibility.’ This is not to say that an ethic of ultimate ends is identical with irresponsibility, or that an ethic of responsibility is identical with unprincipled opportunism. Naturally nobody says that. However, there is an abysmal contrast between conduct that follows the maxim of an ethic of ultimate ends–that is, in religious terms, ‘The Christian does rightly and leaves theresults with the Lord’–and conduct that follows the maxim of an ethic of responsibility, in which case one has to give an accountof the foreseeable results of one’s action.”

An account of the foreseeable results of one’s action! But how could HRC have known that things would go so wrong? Her intentions were good.

Yes, Weber really supports this case. The ethic of responsibility means that when you screw up, it wasn’t your fault because you meant well.

514

Lynne 03.05.16 at 7:22 pm

Thanks! I hadn’t caught the reincarnation, if I can call it that.

515

Plume 03.05.16 at 7:25 pm

Thanks, Geo @531.

That helps a lot. Sound and sense. Makes sense.

For what it’s worth, I disagree with Bruce about that “there is no left” thingy. I think you’re own writing proves there is, and the people you write about.

As for my own. I’ve finished the first of a proposed trilogy of novels about a future corporate state — no public sector at all — and a band of leftist dissidents fighting against it. I hope to publish it someday, under my real non-plume name.

516

Lupita 03.05.16 at 7:26 pm

Is that so? I really like Ze K. She seems genuinely anti-Western hegemony. Very Global South. As to being banned, well, I almost got banned from here once, so we’re in the same camp.

517

js. 03.05.16 at 7:28 pm

Lynne — I’m about as sure as one can be in these cases. I guess Ze K can always can always deny it if I’m wrong.

518

William Timberman 03.05.16 at 7:45 pm

geo @ 531

Our political economy definitely needs an exogenous control mechanism of some sort. If such a thing were possible — which is definitely not the case — I for one would be happy to have the firm of McManus, Puchalsky, Wilder & Plume be a significant part of it. (I’m imagining something like the little brass ball-equipped centrifugal governors on early steam engines, which is whimsical of me, I admit, but not intended in any way as a dig at MPW&P, who are some of my favorite commenters on CT also.)

Unfortunately, this is the principal agony not only of economists and politicians, but of philosophers and scientists as well — of rationalists in general. We are inevitably part of the system we are attempting to a) describe, and b) regulate. That has consequences, not least among them the tendency to make cassandras of us all.

519

bob mcmanus 03.05.16 at 8:07 pm

Back to neoliberalism, from Laura Miller, Beauty Up

Unlike the Kano sisters, the majority of Japanese women have
reservations about seeking either surgical measures or aesthetic salon-assisted breast augmentation. Yet their anxiety and fears concerning breast adequacy, fueled by late capitalist logic, leave them susceptible to unscrupulous marketing of strategies that can be attempted in privacy.

Like I said, Modern Leftism must connect an analysis of the macro/meta, global capital flows and the IMF and Neo-Imperialism, to the most intimate and personal aspects of individual narratives and attitudes.

520

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 8:08 pm

We dare to be dumb, that is the secret of our “success”. Anyone could write as we do if they just flipped the little internal switch that says “Why *shouldn’t* I write a four paragraph CT comment?” “Why *shouldn’t* I tell an uncomprehending audience of literally tens of people the theory that I came up with in the last couple of minutes?” This is known as “privilege” and it privileges us with amazing benefits, such as answering flames and becoming known as a source of comments to literally tens of people.

521

geo 03.05.16 at 8:34 pm

WT @542: Centrifugal governors with brass balls. Hmm … intriguing concept.

522

bianca steele 03.05.16 at 8:50 pm

@543

Hm. Is “late capitalist logic” a phrase that only leftists can use?

523

Plume 03.05.16 at 8:59 pm

Bianca @546,

We don’t own it, of course. But we’re likely the only people who want to use it. Because it does imply a beginning, middle and end to the capitalist horror show. OTOH, its fans — like the the two Bretts — want it to be a neverending story, in full defiance of Aristotle.

524

RNB 03.05.16 at 9:27 pm

@533. Was cryptic because running out the door. Again will be cryptic. My understanding of Clinton’s vote for the Iraq War authorization is that she thought that Bush would use the authorization of war just as her husband had used the Iraq Regime Change Act (which Sanders voted for)–to intimidate Saddam Hussein into every inspection that the US wanted and into not finding a way to secure dual-use technologies that the country needed desperately for reconstruction. I think Clinton thought most likely that Bush and Cheney would use the Congressional authorization to keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein, not to invade and occupy the country indefinitely. George H.W. Bush had explictly refused to do that after the liberation of Kuwait, and I have to guess that she did not think his son would go farther than H.W. himself had gone. We really should not make Hillary Clinton equally culpable for the catastrophe that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush visited on the people of Iraq, the region as a whole, American soldiers and American people as a whole. The Republican Party should not be allowed to provide ever again the Commander-in-Chief even if this means voting for the lesser evil.

525

RNB 03.05.16 at 9:29 pm

@537 One also has to take into account the foreseeable consequences of inaction.

526

William Timberman 03.05.16 at 9:36 pm

geo @ 545

Yet another example of the utility of poetic resonance in expository prose? On second thought, never mind. If we’re not careful, that could lead straight downhill to Trump. (And we wouldn’t want that.)

527

RNB 03.05.16 at 9:39 pm

@549 http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2016/02/hillary_clinton_told_the_truth_about_her_iraq_war_vote.2.html
Really George W. Bush, not Hillary Clinton, is responsible for the destruction of Iraq and tragedy that continues to unfold.

528

Cranky Observer 03.05.16 at 9:52 pm

= = = I think [HR] Clinton thought most likely that Bush and Cheney would use the Congressional authorization to keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein, not to invade and occupy the country indefinitely. = = =

Since 80% of George W. Bush’s senior foreign policy/war team had been members of PNAC (most of them on the board of that organization), and since PNAC has been explicitly advocating red war with Iraq since 1998, this just doesn’t paint a good picture of HRC’s judgement. Naive, ill-informed, or credulous: you be the judge! I’m astonished that her supporters and advisers continue to advance this defense; she would be far better off now and in 2008 to just come out and say: “I really screwed up”.

529

Cranky Observer 03.05.16 at 9:53 pm

Is this the all-time champion comment thread count? The world wonders.

530

JanieM 03.05.16 at 9:53 pm

OT: geo, does the email listed on your website still work? (fas.harvard.edu)

531

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 9:56 pm

No ethic of responsibility that I’ve ever envisioned allows you to justify any failure by saying that the foreseeable consequences of inaction might have been an even worse failure. As I wrote all the way at the beginning of this, before everyone decided that I have to be a pacifist because pacifists are ritually honored and then ignored: if you want to be a practitioner of realpolitik, you’d better succeed. Otherwise there is no use for you.

If you read that Weber speech carefully — yeah, I know — he links the vocation of politics to the state. As in, a particular state. I wonder what he would think of a leader who decides that they have to preserve peace everywhere in the world and who therefore embroils their state in conflicts which have foreseeably bad consequences whether the intervention is “won” or “lost”. Perhaps he’d say that a responsible politician would choose to avoid failure by not taking on a problem that their state does not need to take on.

Not that I think that Weber is worth listening to in any practical political sense. He was an imperialist (in the classical sense of that word) and the practical effect of his influence on the Weimar constitution was disastrous. But I dislike the kind of barely understood use of him you’re making.

532

LFC 03.05.16 at 9:57 pm

Rich Puchalsky @537
You have to read and quote more than just *one* paragraph from ‘Politics as A Vocation’. Anyway, you’re misreading the paragraph you do quote. The ‘ethic of responsibility’ means that good intentions are not enough and don’t absolve someone of the consequences of his/her acts: in other words, it means exactly the opposite of what you say.

An enormous amt of scholarly ink has been spilled on Weber in general and that essay in particular, and it’s actually somewhat painful, even in this context, to see someone glibly quoting one paragraph and then declaring that it says something it clearly does not say.

533

LFC 03.05.16 at 9:57 pm

Rich Puchalsky @537
You have to read and quote more than just *one* paragraph from ‘Politics as A Vocation’. Anyway, you’re misreading the paragraph you do quote. The ‘ethic of responsibility’ means that good intentions are not enough and don’t absolve someone of the consequences of his/her acts: in other words, it means exactly the opposite of what you say.

An enormous amt of scholarly ink has been spilled on Weber in general and that essay in particular, and it’s actually somewhat painful, even in this context, to see someone glibly quoting one paragraph and then declaring that it says something it does not say.

534

LFC 03.05.16 at 9:58 pm

Sorry for the double post (I’ll blame the computer).

535

LFC 03.05.16 at 10:09 pm

That said, I would prefer to keep Weber out of this discussion. Under the circumstances I don’t think it will help. Actually, probably nothing will help b/c the positions have hardened and everyone has dug in. As is often the case on 500+ comment threads.

(p.s. The ‘Data’ handle was Data Tutashkia, or something like that.)

536

Ronan(rf) 03.05.16 at 10:14 pm

Not wanting to open another can of worms, but this articulates well the peculiarities of the term “people of colour”

http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2015/12/08/people-of-color/

537

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 10:18 pm

LFC: “The ‘ethic of responsibility’ means that good intentions are not enough and don’t absolve someone of the consequences of his/her acts: in other words, it means exactly the opposite of what you say.”

That is what I said. I wrote that HRC can hardly claim that the failure of the Libya intervention was all right because her intentions are good.

Seriously, I wonder whether most people here actually read. Perhaps the sarcasm at the end of the comment was the problem?

538

geo 03.05.16 at 10:20 pm

Janie @555: Yes, but that address also forwards to a G-mail account, so don’t say anything you don’t want the NSA to know about.

539

js. 03.05.16 at 10:22 pm

LFC — I think @537 is supposed to be sarcastic. Unless I’m misreading or misunderstanding the argument. In any case, this is all rather bizarre. It’s quite obvious, I’d have thought, that the Iraq war vote was a political calculation, one that qua political calculation made a sort of sense in 2003 but (obviously) blew up in Clinton’s face in 2008.

(ps. Yeah, I wasn’t even going to try to spell the second name on the Data handle, but thanks.)

540

js. 03.05.16 at 10:23 pm

Cross-posted with RP above.

541

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 10:33 pm

OK, here’s another copy of that comment marked up with sarcasm tags:

Huh, that’s funny. I distinctly remember that when Weber wrote about the ethic of responsibility,he wrote:

[Weber quote]

An account of the foreseeable results of one’s action! But how could HRC have known that things would go so wrong? Her intentions were good.

Yes, Weber really supports this case. The ethic of responsibility means that when you screw up, it wasn’t your fault because you meant well.

542

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 10:34 pm

Damn it, tags got absorbed by the browser. Not redoing it: just assume that everything other than the Weber quote is basically sarcastic.

543

LFC 03.05.16 at 10:35 pm

I considered the possibility that 537 was sarcasm. But not always easy to tell. Anyway, noted.

544

LFC 03.05.16 at 10:42 pm

Ronan @561
Not wanting to open another can of worms

Oh, open it. At this point, I doubt it’s going to make much difference. (But speaking for myself, I’ve had it for now.)

545

RNB 03.05.16 at 10:49 pm

@556 When you tell us something you can’t envision, you are just telling us about the limits of your vision. Turbo-charged by your own sense of moral superiority, you have made no case at all that the consequences of action proved to be worse than what would have been the consequences of inaction. The NYT reporter Scott Shane reminds us that Hillary Clinton may well have had to explain today how she allowed the slaughter of tens of thousands of unarmed protestors had she pressured the French and British not to act against Qaddafi or advocated for a ceasefire during which Qaddafi could have regrouped to carry out a mass slaughter of regime opponents.
It’s interesting that you are now arguing from a consequentialist perspective. You probably haven’t noticed the shift in your moral framework.

546

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 10:52 pm

Really, LFC, you might have told RNB that that idea of a politician taking the state on a worldwide quest to stop evildoers, whether there was any compelling state interest or not, was not what Weber meant by the ethic of responsibility. One of things that’s been pointed out, oh, since the Iraq invasion is that this kind of humanitarian justification makes no sense either from a moral standpoint *or* a practical one. It’s both horrible morality and horrible statecraft.

547

RNB 03.05.16 at 10:54 pm

@553. If Clinton voted for war authorization because she thought being a hawk would best serve her politically, then why did she urge Bush not to rush to war and urge restraint? OK she was credulous about what George W. Bush was telling her was his strategy. She imagined that he would carry out a foreign policy similar to his father’s–use sanctions to get inspections and go to war only with international support. George W. Bush surprised her. This in itself does not make her the war criminal that George W. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are. She has in fact apologized, but that triumvirate is not in jail.

548

js. 03.05.16 at 10:56 pm

Is this the all-time champion comment thread count?

We have a ways to go. (And that may well not be the longest, just one that I remember—maybe because I was deeply involved.)

549

RNB 03.05.16 at 10:59 pm

@571. I was just trying to tease out what I thought was LFC’s allusion to Weber. He does not want to bring him into it. But do note what RP has done; he had previously argued against a consequentialist framework by saying that the savings of many more lives does not justify taking fewer lives. Now he urges us to judge HRC by the consequences of her actions. He has shifted moral perspectives, and does not care. He’s just having so much fun on his jaunt on his high horse.

550

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 11:01 pm

I’ve been talking about both frameworks from the start, RNB. Search for the word “realpolitik”. But as usual you can’t read.

551

RNB 03.05.16 at 11:02 pm

They’re incompatible. You can’t reason.

552

F. Foundling 03.05.16 at 11:02 pm

@js. 03.05.16 at 12:46 am
>For what it’s worth, I think “kill some innocents to save more innocents” is reprehensible.

Perhaps I’m just deeply confused, but as far as I can see, you and RP are saying that you wouldn’t liberate Auschwitz by force, because in the process you would very likely cause the death of some of the inmates. You’d rather let the Nazis kill all the inmates than soil your own pure white hands with even a single drop of blood. Again, I don’t think people with a different attitude are ‘harder to come by than you might initially expect’.

553

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 11:19 pm

They aren’t incompatible at all: it’s a two-step test. If you’re reasoning morally, it’s immoral. If you’re reasoning in a practical political sense that rejects that kind of morality, it doesn’t work. It can’t be defended under either one of Weber’s ethics. You end up being just like Bush in Iraq: both an incompetent leader and a war criminal.

But that’s no reason for you not to try it again, right?

I was waiting for someone to bring up the big one. WW II, the ur-humanitarian-intervention, or so claimed by people who don’t know much about it. I haven’t particularly studied it, but as a Jew I know something. Should we start with the Bermuda Conference? Or maybe this:

“The destruction of the death installations can not be done by bombing from the air, as the first victims would be the Jews who are gathered in these camps, and such a bombing would be a welcome pretext for the Germans to assert that their Jewish victims have been massacred not by their killers, but by the Allied bombers.”

Every suggested mission to bomb the camps or the railway junction bringing prisoners to them was refused. Why do you think that was?

554

RNB 03.05.16 at 11:20 pm

I’ll let 578 stand.

555

js. 03.05.16 at 11:28 pm

You’d rather let the Nazis kill all the inmates than soil your own pure white hands with even a single drop of blood.

My hands are brown, thanks very much. In any case, the utilitarian case is a non-starter even here. After all, it’s not as if if you kill 8 bystanders to save 10 camp victims, you’re A-OK, but if you kill 12 to save 10, you’re fucked.

556

Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 11:32 pm

You know, this is the second time you’ve commented just to dramatically announce that you’re going to let something go unanswered. Cat got your tongue?

557

bianca steele 03.05.16 at 11:35 pm

@573

That was one memorable thread.

558

Layman 03.05.16 at 11:50 pm

RNB @ 549

I’m trying hard to understand how that explanation helps Clinton. It doesn’t help that I don’t actually believe it – it’s incredible! – but if I try to take it at face value, what I get is ‘Hillary Clinton is so casual about war that she gambled with the lives of Iraqis, giving to George Bush the permission to kill them while privately calculating he would not’.

Also, the point of this is not to blame her solely for the war, or to assign her the same blame as one assigns to Bush or Cheney. Those are red herrings, not a bit tasty. Throw them back, please.

559

F. Foundling 03.05.16 at 11:53 pm

@Lupita 03.05.16 at 7:26 pm

>Is that so? I really like Ze K. She seems genuinely anti-Western hegemony. Very Global South.

You can have more than one reason to be anti-Western hegemony.

@Ze K 03.04.16 at 8:33 am

>1. they weaken globalization and global financialization.

My only problem with globalization and global financialization is that they increase inequality and unfreedom. Political and cultural authoritarianism and traditionalism increase them likewise. Ultimately, maximised economic domination will destroy any political and cultural autonomy, and maximised political and cultural domination will destroy any economic autonomy. Having employers as feudals, international companies as feudals, bureaucrats appointed by the local dictator as feudals or priests as feudals is the same to me.

>they resist western imperialism

And, whenever they get the chance, practice their own. Having Putin as overlord and having Clinton as overlord is the same to me.

>they are populist, which is another word for ‘participatory democracy’.

Well no, it’s not another word for that at all; that’s the point. ‘Populist’ basically means you appeal to something popular among the masses in one respect or another. You can be an autocrat and yet use populist techniques when it suits you. In fact, almost all autocrats and authoritarians do that to some extent, including the ones you’ve mentioned.

560

F. Foundling 03.06.16 at 12:01 am

As for illegal interventions with whatever justification, the problem with them is the same as the problem with neoliberalism and political authoritarianism: allowing them means giving the strong enormous arbitrary power to abuse against the weak in their own interests. Allowing any country or group of countries to decide on their own when to intervene militarily means compromising critically the ability of each separate nation to govern itself. Within countries and across countries, violence must be the monopoly of a democratically elected and accountable insitution, or else no one can be free.

If we could be certain that our rulers would always act altruistically (and competently), we could just let them do whatever they like and we wouldn’t need democratic accountability. If we could be certain that humanitarian interventionist countries would always act altruistically (and competently), we could let them do whatever they like and we wouldn’t need a prohibition of invasions or a UN. If we could be certain that people would always act altruistically (and competently), we could all give each other access to each other’s bank accounts and the keys to each other’s houses. That’s not the world we live in, although some people seem to never accept the fact, in at least some areas of life.

561

js. 03.06.16 at 12:11 am

That was one memorable thread.

It made me chain smoke.

562

Layman 03.06.16 at 12:22 am

Speaking of judgement, call this exhibit B. There are probably some circumstances where getting people to pay you $25 million over a couple of years to speak to them might be considered good judgment, but wanting to run for President as a Democrat isn’t in my view one of those circumstances. Good grief!

http://citizenuprising.com/hillary-clintons-speaking-fees-2013-2015/

563

F. Foundling 03.06.16 at 1:02 am

@js. 03.05.16 at 11:28 pm

>After all, it’s not as if if you kill 8 bystanders to save 10 camp victims, you’re A-OK, but if you kill 12 to save 10, you’re fucked.

Again, I’m not sure if I understand you correctly, but if the ‘bystanders’ you’re talking about are camp victims, then you are choosing between the death of 8 and of 18 and the case is clear (to me at least). If, somehow, there are some innocent bystanders who were *not* going to be executed and your chosen course of action entails killing more of them than there were camp victims to save, then I’d say you are, indeed, f***ed.

>My hands are brown, thanks very much.

Excuse me, I hail from a small, parochial, largely monoracial society and my cultural background shows – I definitely didn’t mean it to be interpreted racially (although I realised it inevitably would be almost immediately after posting). Let me correct this to ‘your own pure, untarnished, gentle, beautiful and angelic hands of whatever colour’.

564

Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 1:09 am

“Let me correct this to ‘your own pure, untarnished, gentle, beautiful and angelic hands of whatever color’.”

If you’re going to bring up the Holocaust as your overwhelming moral example, you probably should address why, in the actual Holocaust, no such actions were actually taken. Otherwise you’re using it as a trolley car example without confronting its actual reality.

565

F. Foundling 03.06.16 at 1:21 am

@Rich Puchalsky 03.05.16 at 11:19 pm 578

In case this is a reply to my 577 (03.05.16 at 11:02 pm), I would just like to say that I wouldn’t dream of claiming that the real-life WW2 was a humanitarian intervention. Certain aspects of the Allied Powers’ actions at some phases of the war happened to have some (enormous) humanitarian (side-)effects, that’s all. That doesn’t mean that we can’t consider, as an intellectual experiment, whether these effects were worth the immediate cost, assuming the actors had been guided by moral considerations.

566

F. Foundling 03.06.16 at 1:38 am

@Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 1:09 am

Right, I hadn’t seen this post, but I think I’ve sort of responded to it in the meantime at 590. The question is how ‘we’ can be moral now, what is moral in principle and what would have been moral then, and the question *why* ‘we’ chose to be immoral before is quite separate from that.

567

Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 1:38 am

I think that that answer is weak. If you’re going to use the moral force of an actual example for your intellectual exercise, surely you should what actually happened in that example.

But I assume that you agree that in actuality, WW II was the same kind of case that I described upthread — a state that commits atrocities internally also acts aggressively to neighboring states until they respond because of either national interest or self defense, and the humanitarian effects of the war are a byproduct of a war pursued for other reasons.

568

Val 03.06.16 at 1:55 am

Thanks for clearing that up geo (irony alert)

i have this weird feeling I’ve just been rolled by Team America. Anyway I guess what matters is not whether we can have a coherent discussion about feminism, racism and left wing politics, based on our different understandings, experiences and cultural backgrounds, but that Rich should win.

As I say, rolled by Team America. Good luck with your elections.

569

js. 03.06.16 at 2:02 am

Foundling, I was kind of joking about the color of my hands (tho they are brown). No worries about that. As for the rest…, maybe later. It would take a long-ish post.

570

Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 2:13 am

I was thinking about what it was that so endeared me to this place. Then this popped up in my twitter feed, and I remembered

https://mobile.twitter.com/theirishfor/status/706262738922840064

571

JanieM 03.06.16 at 2:23 am

So Ronan, how do you pronounce it?

I tried googline around and this is the most poignant result:

Seoraí 0 words found
Wow, you actually found a word not on Forvo!

572

Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 2:28 am

JanieM, shamefacedly, I don’t actually speak a word of irish (well, I speak one or two). Ill find out though and get back to you .

573

Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 2:30 am

Val: “Anyway I guess what matters is not whether we can have a coherent discussion about feminism, racism and left wing politics”

Geez, Val, what I’ve tried to tell you more than once is that if you want a coherent discussion, you have to start with one. You can’t attack people for not supporting identity politics on a thread where they just supported identity politics and then ask why they’re saying mean things about you.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being insulting. I should know! But if you choose to be, you have to expect other people to respond the same way, and not be shocked when they do. You can’t expect a civil discussion when you yourself are one of the least civil people around.

574

Val 03.06.16 at 3:16 am

It’s not actually that Rich. It’s my (slow learner) recognition that it doesn’t actually matter to you what I say, or whether I’m rude or civil in the way I say it. What matters to you is beating me. And not just that, there are people like geo who don’t necessarily agree or disagree with what you’re saying – that isn’t really the point – but nonetheless applaud or enjoy the spectacle.

Rightly or wrongly, it seems to me to make the Donald Trump phenomenon much more understandable: that in America, winning is really important – and to many people, Trump looks like a winner. Simplistic maybe, but to me it seems to make clearer a lot that I haven’t really understood.

In a more intellectual vein, I think someone else previously talked about jouissance and Trump, which is probably a related idea.

575

Val 03.06.16 at 3:22 am

Btw – I know, I know, content isn’t important according to my theory, but I can’t help giving you the benefit of the doubt – you think I am “attacking people for not supporting identity politics”, you’ve completely misunderstood everything I’ve been saying.

576

F. Foundling 03.06.16 at 4:05 am

Just a few historical quibbles about alleged humanitarian interventions upthread. Apparently people were looking for examples of interventions that had positive results. However, they are all very much unlike what HRC did in Libya and in general unlike the typical US/NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ that has been discussed here.

@Stephen 03.04.16 at 9:07 pm

>The Tanzanian invasion of Uganda to remove the murderous and allegedly cannibal tyrant Idi Amin

This was the outcome of a war of self-defence for Tanzania, resulting from Idi Amin’s aggression against it.

>The French intervention in Mali to drive out the murderous and demented Boko Haram.

This was assistance requested by the legitimate government. The jihadist rebels weren’t Boko Haram, BTW.

>The British intervention in Sierra Leone to end the civil war.

This was supported by the UN and, as far as I understand, more or less aligned with the country’s government.

>Arguably, the Turkish intervention in north Cyprus to protect Turkish Cypriots.

No, because they weren’t under attack; it was to prevent the unification with Greece that the junta was preparing. Still, this was aggression and the result was an occupation, which continues until today.

>Northern Ireland (intervention by people not particularly concerned with Republican/Loyalist differences, to defeat or convert sort-of-fascist movements)

WTF. The utter shamelessness of this description leaves me speechless (and I’m no fan of the IRA). And apart from that, no, invasion of the UK by the UK does not count.

>Don’t know if you would include the Falklands (intervention to defeat a fascist militarist invasion)

No, invasion of the UK by the UK still doesn’t count.

@Collin Street 03.04.16 at 9:12 pm

>It’s hard to argue that the vietnamese invasion of cambodia didn’t have some impressive human-rights improvements associated with it

Certainly, but it was the outcome of a war resulting from Cambodia’s aggression against Vietnam.

@Lupita 03.04.16 at 9:24 pm

>I would add to your list Brazil’s intervention in Haiti.

A UN mission.

So no, all of these various cases do not resemble the typical US ‘humanitarian intervention’ under debate. As for R2P as recognised by the UN, it is supposed to result in operations approved by the UN Security Council. It is *not* a blank cheque for vigilantism of the kind the US so eagerly engages in. That’ll be all from me for the time being.

577

ZM 03.06.16 at 5:04 am

Brett Dunbar,

“[ZM] you don’t have a right not to be the inspiration for a song. Common People by Pulp for refers to a Greek student from a wealthy family studying sculpture at St Martins College University of London. The details given fit Danae Stratou the wife of Yanis Varoufakis the former Greek finance minister. She was there 1983-88 while Jarvis Cocker was a mature student there from 1988. This doesn’t give her any specific rights over the song.”

Brett Dunbar — I had the right as a woman to go to concerts in 1998 dressed as I pleased and making polite uncritical faces as if I was in Salaam Cinema just as I pleased — and not be stalked and sexually harassed by musicians on THREE RECORDS Moon Pix, Knock Knock, and I See A Darkness.

Common People is ONE SONG. The number of songs about me over 18 years now is in the DOZENS, and lots of film clips as well :-/

Victorian Crimes Act 1958
(1) A person must not stalk another person.
Penalty: Level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).
Stalking is a course of action by a person or persons involving more than one incident.
(2) A person (the offender) stalks another person (the victim) if the offender engages in a course of conduct which includes any of the following—
(b) contacting the victim or any other person by post, telephone, fax, text message, e-mail or other electronic communication or by any other means whatsoever;
(ba) publishing on the Internet or by an e-mail or other electronic communication to any person a statement or other material—
(i) relating to the victim or any other person; or
(ii) purporting to relate to, or to originate from, the victim or any other person;
(bc) tracing the victim’s or any other person’s use of the Internet or of e-mail or other electronic communications;
(db) using abusive or offensive words to or in the presence of the victim;
(dd) directing abusive or offensive acts towards the victim;
(e) giving offensive material to the victim or any other person or leaving it where it will be found by, given to or brought to the attention of, the victim or the other person;
(f) keeping the victim or any other person under surveillance;
(g) acting in any other way that could reasonably be expected—
(i) to cause physical or mental harm to the victim, including self-harm; or
(6) It is immaterial that some or all of the course of conduct constituting an offence against subsection (1) occurred outside Victoria, so long as the victim was in Victoria at the time at which that conduct occurred.

578

ZM 03.06.16 at 5:26 am

“This is quite apart for whether the song or novel actually refers to you and it isn’t merely a delusion on your part. I mean did you actually know any of these people at the time?””

No I did not know these people — this makes it even worse.

Cat Power only wrote a mean song like Cross Bones Style about me and stole my idea for her film clip, and made other songs on Moon Pix refer to me in some ways and had the cover be a photo of her spying on someone through magnolia branches — specifically because she did not know me and therefore felt she could be mean about me on records without facing any sort of justice.

I am sorry, but it is not legal for three singers to write songs on three records about one female concert goer who goes to concerts in 1998, no matter how she dresses and what sort of faces she pulls like Dorothy Gish but in Salaam Cinema instead of a silent movie.

The only one I met was Will Oldham, and I only met him because he took my Scottish poetry book by Robert Burns without asking and I had to say “That’s my book! Thank you” to recover my book, and then later he tried to step on my head, and at the next show stared at me with a pained expression for the length of his song Give Me Children.

I never met Bill Callahan, I just went to his concerts dressed in a gingham skirt that was half hand sewn and half stapled and using an egg basket with small boxes of tea and tea cups as my hand bag and for my accessories crocheted blankets like on the back of his Smog record Forgotten Foundation.

I never met Cat Power and never went to her concerts since I didn’t like Cat Power at all. She sings “come child, come rescue me” this is since she didn’t understand why I was making polite and uncritical faces to trick Bill Callahan and Will Oldham since they were so sexist in their songs and I thought it was funny like being in Salaam Cinema. Will Oldham wanted me to rescue him too, on I Am Drinking Again the first Bonnie Prince Billy song, and on I See A Darkness. I don’t know why they thought I could rescue anyone since I was just 19 and making faces like I was in Salaam Cinema to trick them I was very polite and uncritical.

If singers want to write about concert goers, they should send them a privacy agreement, and also clarify the facts. I would have ticked [No] I do not agree to these terms and conditions, and told them they got all the facts wrong.

Another fact they got wrong was thinking I dressed up as Will Oldham’s wife in his Palace Old Jerusalem film clip — now there are numerous songs about me dressing up like Will Oldham’s wife in 1997 and 1998 – But I never even watched the Old Jerusalem film clip until the 2000s when I saw it on the internet. It was just on Australian TV once in about 1995 but that night I went out with one of my friends instead of watching music videos on tv all night.

I wrote to Will Oldham in late 2013 and asked him what his Corrections Policy was — But instead of telling me what his corrections policy was — singers made even more songs about me without asking me and without my consent.

Now I am the most sung about and film clip featuring concert goer by musicians she doesn’t know for All Time. This sadly makes me a historical character, as it never happened like this before.

I told the New Yorker I can write them an article and it will be just like Petrarch’s Laura writing an article about Petrarch’s Sonnets, except in my case it is more than one Petrarch and involves a whole gaggle of indie musicians and film directors they know, and as well as being more numerously authored no one is polite like Petrarch in his sonnets as well.

The director of Harmony Korine who wrote Larry Clarke’s Kids movie in the 90s made a film clip lynching me at a the end like in the song Strange Fruit, except in his unpleasant weird film making style, not serious like Strange Fruit.

Musicians and film makers cannot treat a woman they don’t know like this — it is stalking and sexual harassment

Maybe if there was just one song like your example of Common People, such as Madeline Mary on Will Oldham’s I See A Darkness, about me it would be okay — but it started with at least THREE songs, by THREE singers, on THREE records after I went to concerts in 1998. And this increased to even more singers and film directors over the 18 years the incident has gone for.

Singers and film director they know can’t do this to women who go to concerts, no matter what they dress like or what faces they make. It is illegal stalking and sexual harassment.

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ZM 03.06.16 at 5:37 am

And somehow for Bill Callahan my act of dressing not provocatively in a long half hand sewn and half stapled gingham skirt was so provocative, he wrote a song telling me to dress sexy — Dress Sexy At My Funeral [My Good Wife — another reference to me dressing up as Will Oldham’s wife which I did not do, and referring to Will Oldham possibly dying due to going to bondage dungeons which I never understood in the lyrics until John Holbo kindly mentioned bondage dungeons repeatedly in comment threads here, now he is a historical character too for being so helpful due to his scholarly knowledge of decadent literature]

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js. 03.06.16 at 5:48 am

ZM — Are you OK? Please talk to someone close to you.

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Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 6:13 am

JanieM, I’ve looked in an Irish English dictionary I found but no luck. I’ve texted a friend who should know and tweeted the original tweeter. So I’ll see when they get back to me. I’m going to guess “show-ra” (seo generally sounds like show. My reference here is the surname seoige ie show-i-ga. google tells me seo also means “this”, which rings a bell) I can’t find any reference to this word though , so I’m curious to see what fabulations are concocted.

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ZM 03.06.16 at 6:15 am

js,

I am okay. I do see a counsellor and a student safety and wellbeing officer at uni. I am just really a bit fed up by this situation. I first told the police about it around last Easter, but no one investigated it so far. I have written a 20 page email to the Minister of Police with more details, although by no means exhaustive. I could email it to anyone who needs more details to believe me. I emailed it to The New Yorker to see if they want this story since they do long form journalism, and also to other media. I am unhappy at being put in this situation by musicians who didn’t ask me, I do not relish the idea of being a historical character due to having so many songs about me and film clips etc, which obviously is of enough historical significance that it is likely more than one book and article will be written about this over time.

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MilitantlyAardvark 03.06.16 at 7:57 am

@606

I believe the pronunciation is more like show-roy because of the accent on the diphthong.

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Lynne 03.06.16 at 10:45 am

@ 573 That thread was brutal.

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Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 12:08 pm

Ah, thanks MilitantlyAardvark.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 12:26 pm

F. Foundling: “Just a few historical quibbles about alleged humanitarian interventions upthread. “

I agree with most of these. Tanzania / Uganda, Vietnam / Cambodia, Britain / Argentina — all the same kind of thing that I wrote about upthread.

Someone actually interested in humanitarian intervention might wonder what lessons this pattern gives. Should countries be, metaphorically, quick to take offense? If the only humanitarian interventions that reliably seem to work out are not humanitarian interventions, but instead are cases where a bad actor regime is involved in war for external reasons, perhaps well-meaning countries should be quick to act when external reasons semi-convincingly give them a reason to?

That could have been seen as an element of the foreign policy of Bush I. modulated through the legalism of the U.N. I still don’t think it’s a good idea, but I’d be willing to discuss it if anyone is really interested.

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Lynne 03.06.16 at 12:52 pm

Brett Dunbar, interesting about “Common People.” Such a great song!

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Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 1:16 pm

I promise this will be the last thing I say on the topic, but I consulted a better dictionary and found it

http://glg.csisdmz.ul.ie/popup.php?lang=irish&numero=1023-seolad.

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Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 2:29 pm

On humanitarian interventions (and aspects of R2P), as I mentioned above two (imo) problems that were baked in at the start were (1) reliance on military action(2) assuming states (and interests, institutional failures they bring to the table) were best methods and actors to resolve humanitarian crises. I will quote the below at length, which perhaps isn’t overly specific, but lays out an alternative approach to civilian protection in war:

“R2P though, as one might expect, is not without its troubles. (The imperialism charge for me is not one of them, because R2P does not encourage the domination of small countries by large ones; it merely provides transparent rhetorical dressing for actions states would’ve undertaken anyways.) R2P’s language frames civilian protection as occurring entirely between states and international institutions. States themselves, of course, have the primary responsibility, but then the international community has the responsibility to aid states in protecting their civilians.

Therefore, R2P rests on two foundational assumptions. The first is that states, with the occasional helping hand of the international community, have the capacity to adequately protect civilians. This simply isn’t the case. The UN suffers from severe bureaucratic, financial, and political difficulties in even predicting mass violence, let alone intervening to stop it. While regional organizations are generally improving their ability to predict, mitigate, and respond to mass violence, their capability to push the same bureaucratic, financial, and political constraints is still hampered. Most civilians will remain beyond the reach of international organizations and even well-meaning states when violence breaks out..

Unfortunately, R2P’s framing leaves no room for sub-state methods of civilian protection, and more specifically, the possibility of civilian self-protection. Frédéric Mégret writes, “…formulations of R2P all stopped short of reorganizing that ‘victims’ (or intended victims) of atrocities might have a role in averting atrocities at the point when they are being committed.” Mégret labels R2P as a component of a “salvation paradigm”, in which outsiders view themselves as the only ones capable of saving those at risk of mass violence. The problem here is that most civilians who survive R2P crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing) do so without the help of outside actors. The survival of this silent majority is mostly a result of small-scale social networks that take on protective roles in conflict. Hillhorst estimates that less than 10% of civilians survive natural disasters because of outside aid, and due to the more advanced nature of disaster early warning systems and the relative lack of political complications caused by disaster aid, it’s a safe bet that this number is even lower for violent conflict. R2P is the cornerstone of how to protect civilians, but yet it fails to engage with the avenue through which an enormous majority survive.

The distance between R2P’s vision of civilian protection and its reality is a problem that goes beyond the theoretical. R2P’s wording ensures international strategies for civilian self-protection will continue to work through state and international institutional channels, where frankly there isn’t much improvement that can be made. Even if there is a shift toward collaborating with sub-state actors, R2P’s lack of recognition of these efforts means they will remain rare and continuously makeshift. R2P is a potent mechanism for generating a global consensus that atrocities must not be ignored, but this does not translate into effective civilian protection.

Trying to understand why R2P does not recognize the most common forms of civilian self-protection during mass atrocities throws up two divergent currents that pulled the doctrine in opposing directions, and what can be generally described as the “top-down model” won out. The first set of influences will likely be more familiar to the reader. R2P emerged out of the “humanitarian intervention” debate of the 1990’s, itself spawned by the conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, and Rwanda. Especially in the latter two, humanitarians were frustrated by the international community’s inability to act effectively to stop violence. This frustration translated into a constructed chain of causality that drew a direct and almost monocausal link between international inaction and the occurrence of atrocities. This ignored both the complex drivers and inhibitors of mass violence and the international community’s frequent inability to sufficiently protect civilians through military interventions.

Academics also contributed heavily to R2P’s top-down approach to civilian protection. Scholars of violent conflict have tended to imbue armed actors with near-total agency in determining the course of conflict. Norms might matter, but only rarely do scholars demonstrate how civilians can participate in the shaping of these norms. Only recently have scholars like Stathis Kalyvas and Oliver Kaplan examined civilian agency during violent conflict. Therefore, without a theoretical base to examine how unarmed non-elites may play a role in shaping conflict and aiding their own survival, it becomes difficult to imagine an international doctrine for responding to atrocities that has a role for these marginalized actors.

However, the more intriguing current that helped to shape R2P is the one that ultimately lost out. Mégret notes the R2P was in fact out of step with thinking in related fields at the time, “Whereas neighboring branches of the international discourse (e.g. conflict mediation, development) are increasingly explicit about the need to forge direct relations with civil society actors even at the height of conflict, R2P seems marked by a reversal to the ‘high politics’ of international intervention in times of unfolding crisis.” This positive influence was almost borne out, as the original draft of R2P created by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty included a section highlighting the agency of victims and domestic civil societies in protecting themselves from conflict. For reasons unbeknownst to me, this vein of thought pushing for a more grassroots approach to conflict prevention and mitigation lost the ideological struggle. “

See the problem with r2p “the widening lens” blog

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Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 2:37 pm

I’ve a long comment in moderation , which I assume won’t come out this late in a thread. It was more or less just copy and pastes from this

https://thewideninglens.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/the-problem-with-r2p/

As I mentioned above, IMO two of the main problems with civilian protection norms in the last few decades is (1)they’re state and elite centric (2)the overemphasis on military action. The above link gives a very general outline of alternative options. When you get down into the weeds I don’t know how far it goes, but it seems worth investigating

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Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 2:43 pm

Too boil it down a bit more, two articles by Margaret paxsons “what is peace” at aeon magazine (which can’t be linked to here for some reason) and a similar though expanded version here

http://wilsonquarterly.com/quarterly/fall-2012-will-india-win/precipices/

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Brett Dunbar 03.06.16 at 2:44 pm

ZM the police had little interest in your complaint as you are clearly deluded. The songs just aren’t about you. No one else would think that they were about you. You do come across as needing psychiatric help.

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Plume 03.06.16 at 2:56 pm

Brett @618,

Well, that was spoken like a true blind lover of capitalism, smoking your pipe at the club with the other “gentlemen.” With all the empathy of a shark at midnight.

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Plume 03.06.16 at 3:31 pm

Ze K @616,

Yes, autocrats have always used populist techniques. Hitler was a master at this, for instance.

Since humans don’t have superpowers, and can’t themselves be “all powerful,” they still have to convince others to go along with them — at the very least to keep from being assassinated by their own bodyguards. But it really has always gone well beyond that. History is littered with “absolute rulers” who overstepped their bounds and were overthrown or worse. The smart ones know their limitations.

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Plume 03.06.16 at 4:20 pm

Ze K,

But, again, you’re never, ever “firmly in control” as a single human being. We are, ourselves, alone, very, very weak and rather powerless creatures. We require massive amounts of human and technological help to achieve and maintain “power.” We’re not X-Men, etc.

I think if you go through history, you’ll find that any autocrat who thought he or she was “firmly in control” and no longer needed to convince anyone they were doing what was “right for the people” soon ended up dead — or at least jailed or exiled.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 4:34 pm

Ronan(rf): “Too boil it down a bit more, two articles by Margaret paxsons “what is peace” at aeon magazine (which can’t be linked to here for some reason) and a similar though expanded version here”

I read the expanded version. I have to say that it just made me impatient and annoyed. OK, there are some communities with a tradition of community practices that makes them likely to rescue people. That’s fine for people who live in one of those rare places. But there are no such communities in the U.S. Most people here would be happy with a genocidal regime: any resistance would be individual and not communal. Even our “humanitarians” dream about bombing people. That’s how it’s been throughout U.S. history, with rare exceptions such as some of the abolitionists.

So this kind of thing, as an answer, is a very limited answer. A real answer has to address the state, and the inevitability of use of an enormous war machine that’s sitting around waiting to be used.

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Ronan(rf) 03.06.16 at 4:53 pm

I mixed up which was the expanded version (the aeon one was) but it’s not really important, if you didn’t get much out of one you wouldn’t the other.
I don’t mean this as a gotcha, but a genuine curiosity, but isn’t that an odd position for an anarchist? That’s not to expect an anarchist perspective (if I could speak about such a thing )to be completely ideologically coherent, but would it not at least skew away from the state and towards things like community or individual self reliance?
I agree it only goes so far, but (1) as per the first link, the majority of civilian protection on the ground occurs away from the state or large international organisations, among individuals and within communities (2) the larger point was that spending resources enabling that to function (or seeing how it does) could be theoretically more useful than either (a) using military force or (b) things like building refugee camps, creating safe zones etc. The emphasise would be on local knowledge and self reliance rather than outside intervention.
It’s not a solution, per se, so much as a shift in emphasis.
I think we’re talking about slightly different things though. You seem to be asking more how do you prevent the US from using this enormous war machine. That I don’t know.

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Plume 03.06.16 at 5:03 pm

Ze K,

Long term dynasties with a lot of assassinations offing this or that autocrat along the way. Study the Roman emperors, for instance, or the Byzantine. And those internal coups are usually prompted by the sense that the autocrat in question has lost “the people.” At least that’s how they in turn defend their actions.

This is why, whether it’s all for show or not — and it almost always is completely for show — autocrats still employ “populist” tropes to stay in power.

599

Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 5:05 pm

” would it not at least skew away from the state and towards things like community or individual self reliance?”

The state is a tool for genocidaires, basically. Individual or communal self reliance may or may not work, but without a state your neighbors at least have to risk their lives killing others in person. They can’t just democratically vote to send the bombers cruising halfway around the world to do it.

There are obvious problems with this approach: 1) how do you keep some demagogue from reforming a state, 2) how do you keep the stateless area safe from incursions by neighboring states, 3) how do you keep interpersonal violence in a stateless area from being worse than violence in state-ruled areas. I don’t really want to get into anarchist theory in depth here for a variety of reasons.

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Lupita 03.06.16 at 5:08 pm

“History is littered with “absolute rulers” who overstepped their bounds and were overthrown or worse. The smart ones know their limitations.”

If we elevate this concept from the national to the global sphere, the policeman of the world clearly overstepped its bounds in 2003 and began to lose support. If you add the 2008 financial panic and today’s political circus, we have a situation where Western hegemony is in the wane. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US clearly was not smart enough to know its limitations.

I think that much of the current political drama in the US can be explained by people thinking (it is still politically incorrect to say so out loud) that the US has lost its mojo. Furthermore, Americans identify on a very personal level with imperialism (hence the imperial “we”) and have become very frightened and upset about their future. Enter Trump.

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Donald Johnson 03.06.16 at 5:11 pm

I keep seeing the claim that tens of thousands would have been murdered in Libya if we hadn’t intervened. I think someone used it up thread.

I think this replaced the claim that massive atrocities had already occurred before we intervened, when the actual civilian death toll was a lot smaller than what Egypt, Israel, and the Saudis have done recently. And what evidenced is there that the tens of thousands of deaths would have happened? Was Qaddafi that much worse than the Islamist militias?

Finally, if we are going to use counterfactuals, what would the interventionist argument have been if we had bombed Libyan rebels instead? Everyone knows this– the interventionists would have argued we had to do this to prevent tens of thousands of deaths or an outright genocide if the Islamists won. The reality has been bad enough, but you know that in the counterfactual world of a Qaddaffi victory with our help, the counterfactual alternative would have been imagined to be ten times worse.

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Plume 03.06.16 at 5:24 pm

Lupita@628,

The tragedy goes back to the very beginnings of our nation. We had the chance to follow Paine’s path and chose otherwise. And, of course, to follow it and update it as we went along. Instead, we went from a tiny anti-colonial bunch of misfits to the most powerful colonial empire on earth. We turned the tables to a degree the world has never before seen — at least I can’t remember another case like it.

But a more recent pivot point we missed was right after WWII. We had the chance then to truly take the “peace dividend” and concentrate on making this the best possible country it could be, which meant no more empire — and still does. Can’t have both. Can’t have a great country and be an empire.

If you haven’t read it yet, an excellent book on the subject of America’s empire of Capital:

The Making of Global Capitalism, by Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch.

603

Lupita 03.06.16 at 5:33 pm

I’d like to read that, Plume. Thanks. Even more, I would like to read The Un-Making of Global Capitalism. When will that be written?

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Plume 03.06.16 at 5:38 pm

Lupita @631,

I’m working on it.

;>)

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Brett Dunbar 03.06.16 at 5:46 pm

The US got criticised for supporting dictatorships such as in El Salvador in The 1980s. It gets criticised for doing nothing as in Rwanda or during the massacres in Bosnia, it gets criticised for aiding rebels in overthrowing a tyrant in Libya. Whatever you do is going to be criticised by some people.

606

Lupita 03.06.16 at 5:54 pm

@ Brett

That was pathetic. If all Americans have left is playing the victim card, I guess the empire is over.

607

Donald Johnson 03.06.16 at 6:03 pm

Yes, Brett, if an empire supports murderers or intervenes and the result is chaos people are apt to be a little snippy about it.

608

bianca steele 03.06.16 at 6:14 pm

It’s interesting that Lupita sees Ze K and her as being on the same side, but the US as global policeman seems to be a very different case in Europe than in Latin America. In Europe the US is global policeman as the only really heavily armed member of NATO, and the only one who can play a certain political role that, say, Germany or France would never be able to play, but really only one among a number of powerful states.

In Latin America, the situation is different.

I await LFC’s post to tell me I’m all wrong, which I’m sure won’t be long in coming forth.

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bianca steele 03.06.16 at 6:23 pm

FWIW I was new here when abb1 was banned and don’t know all the history–I was a little surprised by it. As far as I’ve seen, s/he’s kept away from the topics that led to the original banning, and the others have been for, well, overenthusiasm, as far as I could see. If the moderators don’t think reincarnation is a reason for immediate rebanning, that’s good enough for me. S/he comes across, to me, as someone who used to live in the Soviet bloc.

610

geo 03.06.16 at 6:33 pm

Rich @627 (et passim): The state is a tool for genocidaires, basically.

The Scandinavian social democracies aren’t. And even capitalist democracies are, as Krugman is constantly pointing out, basically “an army and an insurance program.” Why do you say it’s impossible in principle to shrink the army and expand the insurance program?

I appreciate that you don’t want to “get into anarchist theory in any depth” here, but there do seem to be other “obvious problems” with the stateless society you envision, apart from security, namely, coordination and arbitration. I’ve never understood why (or whether) anarchists think it’s possible to dispense with representation and delegated authority, and if they don’t, why they think they’ve abolished “the state.”

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Plume 03.06.16 at 6:41 pm

Geo@639,

Rich is a strange sort of “anarchist,” as he’s in favor of capitalism continuing. I find that to be an immediate non-starter for the existence of any viable, democratic, humane sort of left-anarchist community, or federation of left-anarchist communities, or a left-anarchist society in general. I see capitalism as in major conflict with social justice, period.

Capitalism is fundamentally antithetical to democracy and anarchism — at least left-anarchism. It’s obviously hierarchical, structurally, so I don’t get how anyone, honestly, can be a left-anarchist and support capitalism at the same time. I see them as diametrically opposed and incommensurate. And I wish Rich would at least attempt to square that circle here.

612

LFC 03.06.16 at 6:41 pm

In case anyone is interested in reading some normative and other discussions of ‘humanitarian intervention’, I might suggest some things most of which predate the debates of the past 15 years or so but are still worth looking at for some of the underlying issues. Needless (probably) to say, all of these do not take exactly the same position. Mostly this is based on pulling some stuff down from the bookshelf, so take w/ whatever grains of salt you want. N.b. Of course there is also a lit. asserting it’s all just a cover for capitalist/imperialist/Western aggression. In general I’m less familiar w specifics there, so have not listed it here — except the Perry Anderson (listed last) is a general leftish/Marxist critique of US f.p. that roughly shares that view, though he doesn’t spend much time, iirc, on humanitarian intervention per se.

M. Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (1977 and later eds.), ch.6
S. Hoffmann, Duties Beyond Borders (1981), ch.2
M. Walzer, “The Politics of Rescue,” Dissent (Winter 1995)
M.J. Smith, “Growing Up with ‘Just and Unjust Wars’,” Ethics and International Affairs v. 11 (1997)
M. Akehurst, “Humanitarian Intervention,” in H. Bull, ed., Intervention in World Politics (1984)
R. Jackson, The Global Covenant (2000), ch.10
M. Finnemore, The Purpose of Intervention (2003), ch.3
P. Anderson, “American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers (Pt 1: ‘Imperium’ and Pt 2: ‘Consilium’)”, New Left Review, Sept/Oct 2013 (also now in book form)

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LFC 03.06.16 at 6:53 pm

@bianca steele
I await LFC’s post to tell me I’m all wrong

Bianca, I would never dream of telling you you’re all wrong. I mean, that’s just not like me. ;)

(More seriously, I agree that the U.S. role in Europe and Latin America is different — and has been historically. Probably wdn’t phrase it *exactly* the same way as you, but …whatever.)

614

geo 03.06.16 at 7:12 pm

LFC @641 and bianca: May I add a few examples of the “lit. asserting it’s all just a cover for capitalist/imperialist/Western aggression”?

Chomsky, The New Military Humanism (1999)
Chomsky, A New Generation Draws the Line (2000)
Chomsky, Interventions (2007)
Chomsky, Masters of Mankind (2014) (Chapter 2 is a devastating critique of Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars)

And just to be sporting, here’s a non-leftist recommendation:

David Rieff, Slaughterhouse and At the Point of a Gun

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Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 7:17 pm

geo: “there do seem to be other “obvious problems” with the stateless society you envision, apart from security, namely, coordination and arbitration”

Arbitration is part of security, if the purpose of arbitration is keeping people from turning to violence to settle disputes. Coordination is one of the things that’s really kind of dangerous in itself. What are people coordinating to do? Anything that people coordinate in a large group to do has a large capacity for going bad quickly.

Plume continues to criticize some past stuff that he didn’t take the trouble to read in the first place. Like almost all left anarchists, I’m an anti-capitalist. 1) I don’t envision a future anarchist society in which goon squads descend on individual traders to stop them from practicing “capitalism”, 2) I don’t see some anarchist revolution sweeping the nation or the world any time within my lifetime, and I don’t plan to do nothing while waiting for it. That means that I have to use the system to some extent.

616

bianca steele 03.06.16 at 7:41 pm

geo–

Chomsky is all you have? He might be effective on naive liberal rationalists–not, I think, cynically knowing law-and-order types. Even cynically knowing naive liberal rationalists are vulnerable to reading him as writing “How to Succeed in the Establishment without really Trying” type things, ISTM.

This isn’t really my interest, and for that matter if there are seriously intentional cynically knowing law-and-order types around here, I’m certainly not going to tangle with them!

617

js. 03.06.16 at 7:50 pm

Coordination is one of the things that’s really kind of dangerous in itself. What are people coordinating to do? Anything that people coordinate in a large group to do has a large capacity for going bad quickly.

But you need to solve fairly complex coordination problems to make medium-scale transport possible, e.g. Or really, any of the basic enabling conditions of life in a modern society that we take for granted and don’t even notice. I’m not saying these kinds of coordination problems can’t be solved in a stateless society—I don’t see any in principle reason they couldn’t be. But it seems to me much stranger to turn against the idea of coordination itself.

(This is amazingly off-topic obviously. I like coordination problems.)

618

Brett Dunbar 03.06.16 at 7:53 pm

One consequence of having power is that you can’t not affect what happens. There was a fairly large amount of criticism of the western failure to intervene to prevent genocide in Rwanda as it seemed to have materially aided the bad guys.

Part of the reason for using air strikes first is that they can be deployed quickly without needing extensive prior positioning. You can conduct air strikes at a few hours notice. The first French intervention in Ivory Coast took the form of air strikes destroying the Ivorian air force a few hours after the Ivorians had massacred an aid mission.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 7:58 pm

js: “But you need to solve fairly complex coordination problems to make medium-scale transport possible, e.g. Or really, any of the basic enabling conditions of life in a modern society that we take for granted and don’t even notice.”

Do you really? As the thread goes past 500 comments each one of them becomes a magnet for people to say “ha ha you’re posting so much the thread is past 500 comments” so I’m reluctant to start a whole new discussion, but:

1) It’s becoming more and more possible to produce things anywhere
2) Sustainability implies that we’re going to have to produce less in any case
3) I’m not opposed to trading, or to market set prices within a limited sphere of long-distance goods. I think that this may be part of what Plume means by “supporting capitalism.” But of course trading is not capitalism and markets per se are not capitalism.
4) How much coordination do you need to build a road? Mostly the coordination comes in exercising eminent domain to kick people out of the path of the road. Maybe we shouldn’t have that kind of coordination and just have fewer roads.

620

RNB 03.06.16 at 8:01 pm

Chomsky was quite aware of the difficulties that the rebels would have uniting. But if I remember correctly, he was tepidly opposed to the NATO intervention in Libya. He had concerns about international law, and he suspected as always cynical motives-oil or, as some say here, a cynical attempt by Clinton to build her resume for the Presidency. But Chomsky’s opposition was not full-throated probably because he was quite aware of the monstrous things Qaddafi had been doing.
http://swampland.time.com/2011/02/22/gaddafis-blood-soaked-hands/

621

Cranky Observer 03.06.16 at 8:07 pm

= = = 4) How much coordination do you need to build a road? Mostly the coordination comes in exercising eminent domain to kick people out of the path of the road. = = =

Even in a moderately built-up area there are webs of utilities down to 30 meters below the ground that have to be managed (in NYC or Chicago down to 200 meters). Opening up a road for repairs is a good time o look at signalization which are often large systems themselves. Closing a road may affect region ambulance routes, large load routes, hazmat evacuation plans. Etc.

622

geo 03.06.16 at 8:07 pm

bianca: Chomsky is all you have?

Quite enough for me. But as you say, there’s no convincing some people.

623

Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 8:09 pm

“But Chomsky’s opposition was not full-throated probably because he was quite aware of the monstrous things Qaddafi had been doing.”

Humanitarian intervention supporters always assume that opposition must come down to one of three things: a) the opponents don’t believe that the dictator is really doing horrible things, b) the opponents believe that the intervenors must have bad motives, c) the opponents must be pacifists who just oppose everything.

I asked upthread why people think the Allies didn’t bomb the extermination camps in WW II. Hint: it’s not because they didn’t know what monstrous things the Nazis were doing.

624

geo 03.06.16 at 8:09 pm

Rich: I don’t plan to do nothing

That’s my plan too.

625

Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 8:17 pm

Cranky Observer: “Even in a moderately built-up area there are webs of utilities down to 30 meters “

I’m sympathetic, Cranky, but if I keep on going much longer, then I get into the comedy of micromanaging an imaginary future society. In short, I think that it’s likely that an anarchist society will have groups of infrastructure geeks who manage this stuff locally. I don’t see why this is a long-distance coordination problem, except possibly for standards setting.

626

js. 03.06.16 at 8:21 pm

Maybe we shouldn’t have that kind of coordination and just have fewer roads.

Wow. I am not in board with this. Anyway, I was thinking of signal systems, air traffic control, that kind of thing. Maybe “medium-scale” was misleading.

Happy to not continue this, though of course you should feel very free to respond.

627

RNB 03.06.16 at 8:22 pm

Geo may be able to confirm, but Chomsky was quite critical of the US blocking Qaddafi from being held responsible at the proceedings at the Hague for the crimes of Charles Taylor.
‘It was not long after he received a secret warning from the Italian government in April 1986 and narrowly escaped being blown to bits by American bombers that Muammar Gaddafi declared his intention to become Emperor of Africa. What followed as the increasingly erratic Gaddafi pursued his megalomaniacal dream was one of the most obscene and violent episodes in recent African history.

Drawing recruits from his terrorism camps, Gaddafi trained, armed and dispatched thugs like Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh to take power in West African countries, initiating the brutal slaughter of innocents in Liberia and Sierra Leone, says David M. Crane, the founding prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. “This was a long-term criminal conspiracy,” says Crane, who is now a professor at Syracuse University, and “[Gaddafi] was the center point.”

For those who don’t remember, here’s a quick summary of the atrocities that took place in the war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. In pursuit of diamonds, timber and gold, Sankoh, backed by Taylor, backed by Gaddafi, invaded Sierra Leone and instituted a campaign of terror, cutting off the arms and other body parts of civilians to frighten the country into compliance. Rape was a widespread weapon of war, and according to reporting by one human rights organization, Sankoh’s troops played a game where they would bet on the sex of a baby being carried by a pregnant captive, then cut the fetus out of the woman to determine its gender.

Sankoh died in custody after the war ended; Taylor is currently being tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Gaddafi is named in Taylor’s indictment, and Taylor has testified to Gaddafi’s involvement. Crane says he found evidence that when Sankoh invaded Sierra Leone, “Libyan special forces were there helping train and assist them tactically and there were Libyan arms in that invasion: he had been involved from the get go.”

Tuesday afternoon, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement suggesting Gaddafi might be called to task for the current bloodshed in Libya, which has reportedly included unprovoked and lethal assaults by foreign African mercenaries against innocent protesters. “The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of accountability,” the statement said, “They underscored the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks, including by forces under their control, on civilians.”’

628

js. 03.06.16 at 8:22 pm

“on board”, not “in board” (obviously).

629

bianca steele 03.06.16 at 8:24 pm

geo,

Depends what you want the book for, I guess.

630

RNB 03.06.16 at 8:26 pm

quote at 657 was from the Time piece I linked to above at 649

631

Rich Puchalsky 03.06.16 at 8:34 pm

js: “Anyway, I was thinking of signal systems, air traffic control, that kind of thing.”

How many jet airplanes flying around do you think is a sustainable number? Like I wrote above, a whole lot of our coordination is coordination to do things that are kind of problematic.

But, OK. Let’s say you want lots of jet airplanes. How much of the current coordination is powered by the force of the state? Or even voted on democratically? Isn’t a whole lot of it based on respect for certain world-class experts who other experts listen to plus “I”m not going to let you land at this airport if you don’t follow the agreed rules”?

632

js. 03.06.16 at 8:39 pm

Agreed (@662 last para). It’s why I originally said I didn’t see any in principle reason why these sorts of coordination problems couldn’t be solved in a stateless society. I was objecting to the idea that you wouldn’t need large scale coordination at all.

633

LFC 03.06.16 at 9:50 pm

p.s. additions to my 641
— geo’s list
— the Rajan Menon book mentioned by RNB upthread

The recent death of Boutros-Ghali might provide an occasion to revisit Bosnia, Rwanda, and other crises that occurred during his tenure as UN Sec. Gen.

634

Donald 03.06.16 at 9:56 pm

So the justification for overthrowing Qaddaffi is the bad people he supported elsewhere? Isn’t that a little odd coming from an American?

635

Plume 03.06.16 at 10:37 pm

Rich @645,

Since no one in those conversations suggested that “goon squads would descend on individual traders,” it was your lack of reading skills that caused the misunderstanding, not mine. I took you as a supporter of capitalism because — in those discussions, at least — you opposed removing its legal status and support structure.

But, no matter. Glad to hear you actually say you’re an anticapitalist.

636

Plume 03.06.16 at 10:55 pm

Rich @649,

And since my name comes up here again:

“3) I’m not opposed to trading, or to market set prices within a limited sphere of long-distance goods. I think that this may be part of what Plume means by “supporting capitalism.” But of course trading is not capitalism and markets per se are not capitalism.”

No. I’m in favor of trade and commerce too. Just not via the capitalist mode. And I see (and use the word) capitalism as it’s defined by scholars like Ellen Meiksins Wood, in her The Origin of Capitalism. I see it as quite unique and unprecedented and it should never be confused with commerce, trade, even “business” in general.

Steve Fraser, in his The Age of Acquiescence, also reminds us that America wasn’t even a capitalist society until after the Civil War.

Even today, if you build a chair, with your own two hands, with no employees, and then sell that chair to clients you’ve found on your own, you’re not doing “capitalism.” Yes, you’re surrounded by capitalism. But you’re not conducting yourself as a capitalist and I support your efforts. But if you hire a bunch of workers, and they build those chairs for you, and they sell them for you, and do the accounting and so on and so forth, and then you appropriate the surplus value they create as if it were your own . . . . . that’s capitalism. M-C-M and exchange value, with the capitalist stealing the surplus value of his or her workers . . . . I oppose this.

Lots of factors to this, of course, and it’s a complex system. But, boiled down, the immorality of it is primarily in its proximity to the slave model and its hierarchical and autocratic nature. The capitalist makes his or her money by getting others to do the work for them. Compensation either via rotten wages or room and board — if that. And when no one’s looking, capitalism tends to go right back to the bad old days of slavery, as we’ve seen in places like Thailand. It’s insane to cling to a system that needs to be watched endlessly to avoid its return to its fundamentals. It’s just insane.

637

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 1:04 am

Well, I’m not going back to those old threads, so let’s just say mutual misreading occurred.

In general, though, when someone baits you with “I bet you wouldn’t let me do X in your anarchist utopia” I think it’s best to say “Sure, do whatever you want” assuming that it doesn’t involve violence. If someone wants to set up a business and hire workers and pay them a wage or whatever, tell them that’d be fine. There’d be no contract system and no need for the workers to work for the wage or starve, so if they didn’t like it, they’d walk off. You have a tendency to talk about anarchisms universally banning things as if that were really possible and / or necessary. What’s more important is to empower people not to have to depend on that structure.

638

Layman 03.07.16 at 1:27 am

Rich Puchalsky @ 663

“How many jet airplanes flying around do you think is a sustainable number? “

“Isn’t a whole lot of it based on respect for certain world-class experts who other experts listen to plus “I”m not going to let you land at this airport if you don’t follow the agreed rules”?”

I’m genuinely curious – how many jet airplanes flying around do you think is a sustainable number? What will serve to constrain the number? And, who is the ‘I’ controlling the airport? Seriously. My experience is that the wherewithal will accrue to someone, and they’ll use it, regardless of whether it’s sensible. What will stop them, if not the state?

639

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 2:33 am

“My experience is that the wherewithal will accrue to someone, and they’ll use it, regardless of whether it’s sensible. What will stop them, if not the state?”

Inability for the society to support a system of property rights that lets them accumulate stuff. I mean, they can accumulate it, but as what? Gold bars? Once they reach the number of gold bars they can carry around, they’ll have to leave them at home, and somebody will take their gold bars.

The “I” controlling the airport will be some person in temporary charge of the shift of people who like airplanes watching it — probably somebody who really likes bossing people around and who the others are fine with letting them boss them around because it means they do an outsized share of the boring clerical work. That person will really get a thrill out of turning away planes that don’t meet his or her checklist of rules, if human nature then is anything like it is now.

How many jet planes is sustainable is something that will emerge organically from whatever technology and ability to use it they have available. And how many people there are who like to watch airplanes.

640

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 3:06 am

Rich @ 669

You do know that casual labour is possible now don’t you?

It often isn’t the best choice for either party and was largely replaced by more permanent contractual arrangements. From the employer’s POV limiting turnover saves training costs and simplifies planning. From the employees POV the pay was much better casual pay tends to be the marginal price of labour efficiency pay was significantly higher to compensate for not agreeing to a fixed schedule and not to simply not turn up if you don’t feel like it.

The legislation is mainly structured to deal with regular employment as that is overwhelmingly the most common form. Casual labour exists and in some sectors is fairly common, building for example. In other sectors it is really impractical an airline needs to know that the pilot will turn up at the right time to keep to schedule. Having a more formalised long term contract tends to benefit both sides.

641

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 3:24 am

Why does the person need to make a contract? They don’t need to work to live, or the whole thing falls apart.

If the sector can’t run without being able to find enough people who want to do it, then oh well the society can’t have that sector. But there likely would be some kind of large social status reward for people who work a lot, and people do a whole lot for social status.

642

geo 03.07.16 at 3:33 am

Just curious, Rich: have you read Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness? Is that anything like the society you’d like to see?

643

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 3:43 am

I have a conflicted relationship with the works of Ursula K. Le Guin. (Yes, I know that one can’t actually have a relationship with a set of texts.) Please let’s not start on The Dispossessed.

And I know that this next question is coming, so “How do people live if they don’t have to work?” It takes something like 5% of the population to actually make the stuff we need to live now. Let’s say 10%. I’m guessing that any group of people is going to have 10% of inveterate hard workers who basically would be more bored not working.

644

geo 03.07.16 at 4:01 am

Actually, I meant to ask about The Dispossessed, not The Left Hand of Darkness. The poem (and blog) you link to is intriguing, and when I searched further, I found your essay on “Omelas.” But neither of them gave me a clue to whether or not you’d like the society Le Guin describes, and why. Have you written anything else that might? Has anyone else written anything about her, or that book, or the (very approximate) shape of the ideal society that you agree with?

645

John Holbo 03.07.16 at 4:25 am

Now I’m imagining Trump giving a speech about “Omelas”. (I hope that’s not how he’s planning to build his yuuuuge classy wall.)

646

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 4:37 am

So basically you want to provide everything as a public good. The market chronically under-supplies public goods. From empirical observation your system simply won’t work, for kills millions values of won’t work.

For an example London depends on the operation of its sewers to prevent cholera and incidents like the great stink of 1858. Keeping the sewers operating requires workers to break fatbergs with hand held tools. This is very unpleasant, dangerous if it rains heavily (the sewers also carry the water of London’s lost rivers and can fill completely) and skilled. Failing to keep the sewers clean would kill thousands through water borne infections. The fatbergs, which can weight 20 tons, form due to people putting inappropriate things down the toilet such as sanitary towels disposable nappies kitchen roll and used cooking oil. Few of which existed when Joseph Bazalgette designed the system in the 1860s. Without pay it is unlikely that the sewers could be maintained in an operational form.

647

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 4:47 am

I sort of knew that you meant to ask about The Dispossessed. I’ll just quote Ken McLeod, who had a book event here recently:

Academic discussions of Anarchism and SF tend to begin and end with Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, a book which has probably put more people off Anarchism than any other. It presents a dour vision of Anarchist Communism: something like a particularly fanatical kibbutz or Spanish Civil War collective.

Probably every living anarchist has written about The Dispossessed. That’s a joke, but not much of one. If you want to read more about this kind of thing, a book to start with might be Instead of Work, by Bob Black. This recommendation doesn’t mean that I agree with everything in it. It’s got a little bit about William Morris in it, I think.

648

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 4:48 am

Ack. The middle paragraph above was supposed to be in block quotes: it’s the quote from Ken McLeod.

649

ZM 03.07.16 at 4:49 am

Brett Dunbar,

“ZM the police had little interest in your complaint as you are clearly deluded. The songs just aren’t about you. No one else would think that they were about you. You do come across as needing psychiatric help.”

This happens to women who allege prominent figures have harassed them all the time. Their mental state is questioned, their character is brought into disrepute etc.

Usually people who harass others do not make it obvious to the world at large as well. It is enough that I know about it to make it stalking and sexual harassment.

The only unusual things in my case is the involvement of people of both sexes, with women stalking and sexually harassing me as well, and the use of commercial products which use literary devices etc instead of saying something to me directly to my face.

650

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 4:51 am

Brett: “Without pay it is unlikely that the sewers could be maintained in an operational form.”

So society could not continue to exist in exactly the form that it has now? Oh no.

Who will break up our fatbergs?

651

ZM 03.07.16 at 4:59 am

Rich Puchalsky,

“4) How much coordination do you need to build a road? Mostly the coordination comes in exercising eminent domain to kick people out of the path of the road. Maybe we shouldn’t have that kind of coordination and just have fewer roads.”

It depends on the road. Some roads are under the control of local government, and some roads are under the control of a State roads body (here we have VicRoads), depending on the importance of the road. Some roads are decided on by the Premier and Transport Minister and other parliamentary figures, with information provided to them.

Road planning is quite important as it is about connectivity and permeability. There is also movements away from roads only for cars, to multi-purpose roads of the past that can be used by people walking and talking and so on, for this see Jan Gehl’s work.

Transport planning is really quit complicated and takes a lot of knowledge and involves different state and private actors.

652

Plume 03.07.16 at 5:02 am

Conservatives are hopeless on matters of the economy, of course, just as they are on matters of racism, homophobia, misogyny and xenophobia. Liberals are generally pretty good when it comes to remembering racism et al have never gone away, where they came from, how it all got its start, and it’s ugly, bloody history. But they’re not very good when it comes to the capitalist system, to the centuries of struggle for workers, labor and so on.

Capitalism needs its own kind of 12 Years a Slave. Capitalism needs the same kind of sustained historical work that racism has gotten, so that people don’t see it as a problem solved, a matter to ignore, something we can safely move on from because, victory.

People like Brett are lost and hopeless. They actually think that all the anticapitalist resistance that brought us to where we are today, with people wearing nice suits in nice offices making nice salaries, with laws and rules and regs protecting them, is actually all due to capitalism itself. They’re that stupid and that oblivious to the history of literally millions of human beings fighting and dying for their right not to be enslaved by capitalists, not to be worked to death by capitalists, not to be forced down into the mines to die by capitalists, or into debtors prisons and sweat shops and myriad other Dickensian hells.

But liberals have forgotten too. They remember that blacks and women and gay people used to be oppressed, lynched, jailed, beaten and exiled — and some still are. But they’ve forgotten that workers were, too, in America and the rest of the developed world, and some still are. They’ve forgotten that it took decades of strikes, wildcats, labor agitation and labor unrest and people getting their skulls beaten in or assassinated by private goons and the state calling out the National Guard to crush those strikes. They’ve forgotten that without socialists and communists and unions and labor leaders, they wouldn’t have their nice suits in nice offices with nice pay and coffee breaks. They’d still be slaving away for 80 hours and six days a week, in deadly conditions without overtime or any benefits.

And while our nearly two centuries of anticapitalist resistance has gotten us to this point, the rest of the world is regressing. The rest of the world is falling more and more into actual slavery again at the hands of American corporations — see Foxconn and the fishing industry in Thailand, for instance.

So the Bretts of this world are lost. They’ve already perversely folded anticapitalist resistance and labor unrest into capitalism itself and honestly believe capitalism made all these great things happen instead of the bloody fight against it. But liberals should know better. They know better when it comes to people of color, women and gays, but not when it comes to workers and capitalism. It’s an American and a world tragedy.

653

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 5:07 am

geo: “The poem (and blog) you link to is intriguing”

That poem continues to be the best one I’ve written, probably and unfortunately. It was a reply to Michael Berube. If anyone really wants to know what I think about current politics, just read that.

654

John Holbo 03.07.16 at 5:34 am

Rich, I just read the poem. It’s good. Funnily enough, I have used that (implied) pun while teaching SF. “You gotta break a lot of eggs to make an Omelas.”

655

geo 03.07.16 at 5:36 am

The poem repays a second reading, and I’ll give it a third soon. Some very dark — almost willfully dark — passages, though. The marginal commentary is a clever, even inspired, touch. What of Michael Berube’s were you replying to?

I’m surprised you think the anarchist society in The Dispossessed is so unattractive. It doesn’t purport to be the end of history, but I wouldn’t mind living in it.

656

geo 03.07.16 at 5:39 am

Ah, sorry, I see now that it wasn’t you but Ken McLeod who dissed The Dispossessed.

657

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 9:04 am

Rich did you miss the bit about thousands of people dying?

Left anarchism makes even less sense than right anarchism. At least the right anarchists have some idea of how to get some unpopular but necessary tasks done. Those that can be treated as club goods or private goods. The market is reasonably good at providing those in desired quantities.

Until the sewers were built London had repeated outbreaks of cholera and typhoid which killed many thousands and the Thames was so polluted that there were no fish. The sewers eliminated cholera and typhoid and so reduced contamination that the river became able to support life. The sewers were built in response to the 1858 Great Stink by government action. Building and maintaining sewers is a public good as the benefit is non-excludable so you need to be able to require the beneficiaries to contribute to the cost of keeping them safe from disease. Having large urban centres that don’t have a much shorter life expectancy requires a state, as certain public goods must be provided.

Having as large a population as the earth has requires a complex society and therefore will have a complex economy as some things are scarce. Assuming that public goods will somehow be provided in desired quantities flies in the face of the long standing experimental evidence that they are chronically under supplied.

Common goods on the other hand tend to be destroyed, for example the hunting to the point of extinction of beaver in Canada due to unregulated hunting for fur. Without a property right allowing the exclusion of other hunters there was no reason to leave any beavers as some one else would get the benefit.

658

TM 03.07.16 at 10:03 am

“Left anarchism makes even less sense than right anarchism.”

There is no such thing as right anarchism, at least not as a logically coherent ideology, because anarchism means the absence of authority and rightists by definition need and support authority.

Left anarchists deserve credit for at least trying to come to terms with the implications of rejecting authority. Solving the coordination problem has always been the biggest conceptual difficulty. I’m a bit disappointed by RP’s suggestion to solve the problem by ignoring it. Surely there have been more advanced theories of anarchism than that.

659

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 10:48 am

geo: “What of Michael Berube’s were you replying to?”

There’s a link just under the poem title. It was a discussion about what to do about torture being normalized by the Bush administration openly doing it and the Obama administration declining to prosecute those who’d authorized it.

TM: “Surely there have been more advanced theories of anarchism than that.”

This is one of the reasons why I sort of didn’t want to answer that first question. I’m not going to provide an especially advanced version of anarchism in the last few comments of this thread. “Advanced” approaches to the coordination problem tend to look a whole lot like a state going under another name, and distinguishing them from one requires a whole lot of picky and to my mind not entirely convincing detailing. I don’t see any real chance of going through that here.

If you look at what I’ve already written and think “That’ll never work”, then fine. As I mentioned upthread, I don’t think I’ll live to see it, so it’s not really my responsibility to come up with a workably detailed plan. The hubris of planning out the lives of future generations is one of the things that I think that anarchism should generally avoid. On the other hand, if you think that this kind of thing is close enough to be interesting, you can work on it yourself.

660

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 11:10 am

JH: “Funnily enough, I have used that (implied) pun while teaching SF.”

Some of the Brecht poems that you used to write about on the Valve make an appearance in it. “The Interrogation of the Good” and probably another that I forget the title of.

661

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 11:39 am

Brett: “Rich did you miss the bit about thousands of people dying?”

Oh no — no anarchist has ever thought about the question of who would work in the sewers! I guess that I just missed that.

From another short source (that I also don’t really agree with a lot of, but)

Tony Gibson, Who will do the Dirty Work: “Everyone who speaks on the subject of anarchism meets the ever-recurring question: ‘But in a social condition of anarchy, who will clean out the sewers?'”

662

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 12:02 pm

But has any anarchist ever successfully ANSWERED the question of who will work in the sewers?

663

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 12:06 pm

I can’ t speak for anyone else, but I haven’t defined away the existence of right anarchism. If I had, then there would be no point in calling myself a left anarchist: I’d just say I’m an anarchist. Ken McLeod again has written some books about left-anarchist and right-anarchist societies coexisting. There are plenty of other anarchists who think of themselves as post-left anarchists who hold to attitudes that people generally associate with the left but who reject the accumulated traditions and history of the left.

Or really, you may have noticed that no two anarchists seem to believe in exactly the same things.

664

Val 03.07.16 at 12:06 pm

Rich’s theories are nutty. I haven’t bothered to read them, but I know they’re nutty anyway.

Also they’re outdated, tired, out of touch with what most anarchists think now, and so on.

I may not have put in the time to study anarchism like Rich has done, but I still know more about it than he does, and one thing I can tell you is that his theories are nutty.

I hope he replies to this so I can give him a poorly informed lecture about what anarchism really means.

665

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 12:17 pm

“But has any anarchist ever successfully ANSWERED the question of who will work in the sewers?”

Had anyone even ANSWERED the question of why people work in the sewers now? If it’s so ultimately horrible, then how are people coerced into doing it?

Here, from the first Google hit on the pay of sewer workers in London: as of 2012 sewer flushers got 45,000 pounds / year. “Fruit machine engineers” earn the same. Oil rig workers got 61,000 , private security contractors got 90, 0000. I’m very familiar with the liberal maxim that job pay reflects danger, unpleasantness, and skill / education / talent required, but of course the whole thing rests on the coercion of people having to work or else. Do people really have to work or else?

666

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 12:42 pm

Rich Pulchalsky #699: “Had anyone even ANSWERED the question of why people work in the sewers now?”

Yes, certainly. The answer is that everybody already knows that people do dirty and dangerous jobs for money, in conditions of job scarcity.

The question is, has any anarchist ever successfully ANSWERED the question of who will work in the sewers?

667

Plume 03.07.16 at 12:49 pm

Brett @695,

“I’d take a close look at Plume, if you think leftist anarchists don’t want authority, His views reek of coercion.”

Only if by “coercion” you mean full on democracy which ends the coercion, extreme violence and innate predatory nature of capitalism, your beloved.

It’s funny how people who love the most destructive, autocratic, hierarchical and imperialistic economic system in world history think those who oppose it are guilty of “coercion.” It’s like the serial arsonist who screams “that’s violent suppression of my rights!!” when the community takes away his matches.

668

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 12:50 pm

Yes, Lee. Anarchists have successfully answered all questions, just as you have successfully answered all of the questions that you go on about. It’s a bit of a disadvantage for anarchist answers that we “know” that all societies are based on money, in conditions of job scarcity, but I’m sure that anarchists are able to answer this question in a way that they all agree on.

Do I need to mark this one up with sarcasm tags too? I’m a bit concerned about the extra bandwidth involved if I start doing that generally.

669

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 12:58 pm

Rich Pulchalsky #702: “Anarchists have successfully answered all questions”

Okay, so what is the answer to the question: Who will work in the sewers, in the non-state of anarchy?

670

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 1:01 pm

Val: “Rich’s theories are nutty.”

We’re all nuts together — that’s the truth. Do you think that I don’t know how my theories appear to someone else? Flowers “working”, people working in sewers without getting carrot-and-sticked monetarily into doing it. It’s all nuts.

Maybe if you spent as much time fruitlessly expounding your theories in the late hundreds of a comment thread that a few people read, we’d know about them in detail? And we could treat them with the same gosh-wow “Have you ever thought about people working in the SEWERS?!” as these get? Maybe that would be better than trying to shut everyone else down if they don’t meet certain essentialist criteria.

671

Plume 03.07.16 at 1:01 pm

Lee @700,

Yes. We’ve answered this many times. You just refused to accept those answers.

Rotation via lottery, for starters. A peace corp-like span of time, where you give back to your community, your region, your society, rotate through needed jobs and then go home. Imagine that. Citizens giving back! What a concept!! It’s sooo radical!!

The left-anarchists at the Paris Commune of 1871 solved this problem, building on the theories forged over the course of several previous decades. Read Kristin Ross’s Communal Luxury, or just jump to the main focus of her very short book, Elisee Reclus, William Morris and Petyr Kropotkin. The latter’s Mutual Aid is a good place to start.

Cradle to grave education, free to all, emphasizing artisanship, arts and crafts, trades, engineering, cross-training, the Big Picture, etc. Along with all the cultural arts and humanities one could want. As in, all phases of community production and enjoyment. No more focus on micro-specialization. People will learn how to do everything — or as close to that as is humanly possible. Everyone will have access to extremely well-rounded education. No one left out. No one left behind. Money is no longer an obstacle to this, so we can, for the first time in history, invest in truly universal education. From cradle to grave, everyone will be taught how to be self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-provision, and be able to give back to the community as well.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 1:31 pm

I met my spouse while we were both volunteering at a recycling center. Our first kiss was in the paper bin, kind of like the scene in Sid and Nancy where they kiss while being showered with garbage. We’re still together after 26 years.

But that’s impossible.

673

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 1:35 pm

Rich Puchalsky: “…better than trying to shut everyone else down if they don’t meet certain essentialist criteria.”

Asking who will work in the sewers in an anarchist non-state is “shutting everybody down” because it isn’t fair to ask about essential categories of jobs (e.g., dirty, dangerous)?

674

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 1:36 pm

Plume wants to conscript people to work in the sewers. In other words replace bribing people to agree do the work voluntarily with threatening violence if they don’t do the work. Plume complains about capitalism being covertly coercive but then advocates naked coercion.

Several of those other jobs are in similar positions. Oil rig work for example involves spending weeks at a time on a rig far from your family with only your colleagues around you. Any of the workers doing these jobs are free to look for alternative employment they obviously feel that the reward offered is sufficient. Labour has a marginal price and you would naively expect wages to be somewhere close to that. Due to turnover costs labour tends in practice to be paid significantly above the marginal price, which means that supply at that price exceeds demand at that price. Switching back to the almost wholly casual labour system of a century ago would both increase turnover costs and reduce wages.

675

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 1:42 pm

“Asking who will work in the sewers in an anarchist non-state is “shutting everybody down” because it isn’t fair to ask about essential categories of jobs (e.g., dirty, dangerous)?”

Only if you can’t follow a conversation, together with such niceties as who is being addressed in a comment that follows a quote by someone.

676

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 1:43 pm

Brett Dunbar #709: “Any of the workers doing these jobs are free to look for alternative employment…”

Actually they are often not free to do so. And the labor market is not a normal sort of market that will establish allocatively efficient marginal price.

Thus it happens that, for entirely different reasons, both of the main sides in this argument are out to lunch.

677

Z 03.07.16 at 1:44 pm

Who will work in the sewers, in the non-state of anarchy?

Who will work in the sewers, if not those who have to do so “for money” in “conditions of job scarcity”? Who will pick up cotton, if not slaves? Who will take care of households and children, if not women with the legal rights of children? Who will work 15 hours a day in a mine that blows up every month, if not workers escorted there by armed militias or the regular army? Who will feed us, if not serfs?

Isn’t it obvious that abolishing an unjust system of coercion will always seem to bring new problems which heretofore had obvious solutions, and that this is true whether the abolition comes forth gradually or abruptly, partially or completely? And isn’t it intuitively at least as plausible as the converse that a society in which more people flourish is more apt to solve its practical problems than one in which some people are coerced? Is it really so hard to imagine that 90% of what makes working in the sewers the most nightmarish social fate is the product of social mechanisms (low pay, deliberate dismissal of health issues, reliance on unprotected immigrant work force, deliberate dismissal of social policies leading to the reduction of waste…) the elimination or reduction of which would make this work no worse than dozens of others people willingly embrace all the time?

678

Plume 03.07.16 at 1:45 pm

Brett @709,

You’re a liar. I’ve never remotely suggested that anyone will be threatened with violence if they don’t fulfill their commitments in their communities.

You’re the authoritarian here, not me. You worship at the feet of the most authoritarian, autocratic, innately imperialistic economic system in history. In fact, the first economic system that is, on its own, all by itself, imperialistic. It requires a massive, coercive state to extend its reign, to protect it, to bail it out, and to protect its regime of so-called “private property,” which is based on the concept of slavery. Human beings as property, etc.

Stop lying, Brett.

679

Z 03.07.16 at 1:46 pm

And Geo, why am I never invited whenever you conjure an imaginary CT’s left think-tank, dammit?

680

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 1:47 pm

Rich Pulchasky #710: “…you can’t follow a conversation…”

So now we are into both essentialism AND exclusivism.

If so, then back to my last hierarchical-conversational-rule-following question:

Who will work in the sewers, in the non-state of anarchy?

681

Plume 03.07.16 at 1:47 pm

Z @713,

This is spot on:

Isn’t it obvious that abolishing an unjust system of coercion will always seem to bring new problems which heretofore had obvious solutions, and that this is true whether the abolition comes forth gradually or abruptly, partially or completely? And isn’t it intuitively at least as plausible as the converse that a society in which more people flourish is more apt to solve its practical problems than one in which some people are coerced? Is it really so hard to imagine that 90% of what makes working in the sewers the most nightmarish social fate is the product of social mechanisms (low pay, deliberate dismissal of health issues, reliance on unprotected immigrant work force, deliberate dismissal of social policies leading to the reduction of waste…) the elimination or reduction of which would make this work no worse than dozens of others people willingly embrace all the time?

682

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 1:51 pm

Ze K #712: “You will not need to be “asking who will work in the sewers”. Everyone will.”

Have you ever worked in a sewer?

683

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 1:55 pm

Z #713: “the elimination or reduction of which would make this work no worse than dozens of others people willingly embrace all the time?”

And have you ever worked in a sewer?

684

Z 03.07.16 at 2:06 pm

@Plume: Thanks, I am working hard to get into The Scialabba Institute.

@ Lee A. Arnold “Have you ever worked in a sewer?”

I have never worked in a sewer. I imagine that it is horrendous. In fact, I know for a fact that it is even worse than what I imagine (because these things always are, even accounting for the fact that they are worse that what you imagine). But here is the thing: the foundations of past societies rested on vast systems of injustice, the removal of which would seem to damage them irremediably. And yet. Whenever these systems disappeared (gradually or not, completely or not), not only was there no difficulty solving the practical problems they were supposed to be solving, the answers we later found turned out to be vastly superior. Almost as if the real justification for these systems were not their practical efficiency, but the advantages accrued by those on top.

So I’m going to file the “who will work in the sewers?” problem alongside the “who will we sell our crappy products at monopoly price to without colonies?” problem (by the way, I hear that garbage collection in Switzerland is rather well paid; probably an unsurprising outcome in a very prosperous country with very few unskilled workers).

685

Niall McAuley 03.07.16 at 2:11 pm

Lee asks: have you ever worked in a sewer?

This is one reason why, when we all live on Pluminal Farm, I want to be the cat:

The cat – Never seen to carry out any work, the cat is absent for long periods and is forgiven; because her excuses are so convincing and she “purred so affectionately that it was impossible not to believe in her good intentions.” She has no interest in the politics of the farm, and the only time she is recorded as having participated in an election, she is found to have actually “voted on both sides.”

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Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 2:14 pm

Z #720: “I have never worked in a sewer. I imagine that it is horrendous…. Whenever these systems disappeared (gradually or not, completely or not), not only was there no difficulty solving the practical problems they were supposed to be solving, the answers we later found turned out to be vastly superior. “

1. Even though it is horrendous, you will work in the sewer once the vast system of justice is disappeared? Even though you might rather do something beautiful, e.g. caretaking in a national park?

2. It is necessary to make the vast system of justice disappear, before the vastly superior answers are found? It cannot be so, that the vastly superior answers are found, which then can lead the vast system of injustice to wither away?

687

TM 03.07.16 at 2:21 pm

Considering there are people who voluntarily follow and participate in CT comment threads that are beyond derailed: maybe in a more advanced, more rational society people will be glad to work in the sewers, knowing how many sacrifices their forbears had to make in order to free them from pointless intellectual grandstanding.

Sacrasm alert, everybody ;-)

688

Plume 03.07.16 at 2:29 pm

What I am learning here from some at CT is this:

We should not get rid of a truly monstrous economic system because, sewers.

This follows the general pattern of holding all alternatives to a much, much greater (nigh on impossible) standard than the already existing capitalist system, which also has to have people work in sewers — literally and metaphorically. Capitalism has not solved this problem, either.

It’s an age-old hyper-super-turbo-charged red herring.

689

TM 03.07.16 at 2:33 pm

LAA: I haven’t worked in sewers but I have, for example, cleaned out pigsties. It’s not as bad as you might think. It involves inconvenience but it also affords the satisfaction of having done a useful job and leaving the stable, and the appreciative pigs, in a cleaner state. I have done a lot of less gratifying work. I would not hesitate to do dirty work again if it is part of a diverse, responsible, useful, and overall satisfying occupation that affords me a decent living standard. What I wouldn’t want to do is clean pigsties all day long, but in a more advanced society, there will be no good reason why anybody should have do do that.

690

Lee A. Arnold 03.07.16 at 2:34 pm

TM #723: “in a more advanced, more rational society people will be glad to work in the sewers”
Ze K #724: “indoctrinated…to act altruistically”

Hoo boy! I think it’s more likely that the rational people will stand around and wait for all the indoctrinated anarchists to jump down the manholes first — then skip off, to work in the ice cream parlor.

691

TM 03.07.16 at 2:36 pm

P.S. My main regret about the pigsties is that the pigs weren’t treated as humanely as they should. Not enough space etc. It’s sad.

692

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 2:37 pm

£45,000 a year is not low pay. The mean salary in the UK is £26,500 a year. Over half of those in employment get less than that. Some of that is due to the higher dost of living in London but not all that much.

Plume you advocated using a lottery to allocate people to necessary but unpleasant labour, how do you intend to deal with a situation where the person selected refuses?

The market has a solution, bribery. If the rewards are sufficient you will get enough people to agree to do the work. Capitalist states took the lead in abolishing bonded labour and other forms of naked coercion.

693

TM 03.07.16 at 2:37 pm

LAA, you don’t even see sarcasm when I wave a red “sarcasm alert” flag. Now I really have to go back down the manhole, enough torture endured for today.

694

Lupita 03.07.16 at 2:39 pm

OK, OK, I’ll go clean the sewers.

695

Plume 03.07.16 at 2:42 pm

Right off the bat, what people “have to do” is immediately, radically reduced, once there is no more profit and we end the employer/employee, master/slave dynamic. Once we no longer “have to work” to make our bosses rich, we can instantly cut our work day at least in half. In some industries, far more than that.

For instance, a typical car-parts assembly-line worker produces enough in their first hour to cover their day’s pay. The next seven hours all go to profit and high compensation for their boss.

Take out profits, change private ownership to publicly held, and we no longer have to spend eight hours a day working. We gain incredible “freedom and liberty” simply by dumping the capitalist system. We instantly and radically reduce the amount of “coercion” we face every day. We instantly gain ginormous amounts of free time — for ourselves, our family, our friends.

Which means we all have a lot more time to figure out who works in the sewers, too.

696

engels 03.07.16 at 2:42 pm

“There is no left”

You guys really need to get out more

697

Lupita 03.07.16 at 2:49 pm

Under capitalism, who is going to clean 90% of the toilets 90% of the time, without pay? Nobody? Fine. Let’s ditch capitalism!

698

Plume 03.07.16 at 2:53 pm

Brett @729,

“Capitalist states took the lead in abolishing bonded labour and other forms of naked coercion.”

Bullshit. All of that happened due to anticapitalist agitation and activism, and millions died, or were beaten, or jailed, or deported during those struggles for human rights that capitalists denied. Hell, at the behest of capitalists, America and other nations with capitalist economic engines constantly called out their police and national guards to crush dissent, activists, abolitionists, labor leaders and the like. They killed them, beat them, jailed them, etc.

Capitalists fought against all of that for as long as they possibly could, and still practice slavery in the developing world. Why? Because they profited (and profit) ginormously from slavery and slave-like business practices. They made (and make) their fortunes that way.

699

geo 03.07.16 at 2:55 pm

Z@715: It’s your own fault, mon cher. You could have saved us all a lot of confusion if you’d spent more time writing on CT and less time studying Equivariant Tamagawa Numbers.

700

Plume 03.07.16 at 2:57 pm

Another thing this conversation about sewers reminds me of:

Gun safety discussions. The gun fetishists basically say, “Since you can’t prevent absolutely 100% of all gun deaths, everywhere in the world, then we can’t have any new laws or regulations or restrictions. Solve that problem and then we can talk.”

701

Niall McAuley 03.07.16 at 2:58 pm

Plume writes: Take out profits, change private ownership to publicly held, and we no longer have to spend eight hours a day working.

There are worker-owned co-operatives in the real world. If you were correct, they would out-compete the businesses owned by 1%ers, and there would be no need to abolish capitalism at all.

702

Plume 03.07.16 at 3:08 pm

Niall @739,

“Competition” is a capitalist objective and a part of its laws of motion. It’s not an objective, at all, for a left-anarchist, cooperative, non-profit, radical egalitarian, radically democratic society. In fact, getting rid of the competitive model altogether is one of the main reasons for getting rid of capitalism — and vice versa.

In order for it to work well, in order for it to be optimized, it needs to be the norm (society wide), the legal structure for society — as is the case for capitalism. Right now, capitalism’s legal structure and legal arrangements dominate the entire nation and virtually the entire world. So if it (this new alternative) is just a few tiny islands in a sea of capitalism . . . it will eventually be engulfed. Capitalism is like an accelerating climate change in that sense. Actually, it’s more like a very aggressive cancer.

703

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 3:22 pm

Ze K: “Well, I’m afraid those we think of as “rational” today, will be considered sociopaths and kicked out of the gate, or euthanized. Regrettably. With great sadness.”

Oh geez. I can’t speak for other people, etc. etc, but no. If I’m getting to imagine a society then the people who go down into the sewers will be regarded as Big Time Sewer Bosses — sexually attractive, forceful natural leaders of society who everyone naturally listens to and wants to be like. Don’t you wish that there was a place open in the sewers for you to work in too? Maybe one will open up soon.

While the people who skip off to the ice cream parlor every time … well, that’s all very good in its way, isn’t it? That person probably just can’t do any better. We really shouldn’t look down on them. They’re doing their best.

704

Z 03.07.16 at 3:30 pm

@ Lee A. Arnold 718

If it really is about the real me now, then I confirm: I have never worked in a sewer. In fact, I have never even have been in a sewer. Here is something I did do, though: I have worked in a psychiatric ward as care-taker for severely mentally disabled persons.

Doing this in the late 19th or early 20th century would have probably entailed violently restraining the patients in ways we nowadays consider torture, force-feeding them loathsome gruel, perhaps sterilizing them, all that in a drab mock prison with a life expectancy of 30. I would probably have witnessed rapes and then the imprisonment in all but name of the children born of these rapes. In the early 21st century in a very prosperous democracy with a paternalistic single-payer universal health care system, this was hard, unpleasant and often upsetting work (what with the constant self-beating and screaming of the self-destructing patients, or the catatonic stare of the others) but it was also very self-fulfilling and humanly rewarding. Practically, it meant patiently watching people making pearl necklaces and assisting them eating excellent traditional Japanese meals three times a day in a charming institution in the woody hills of Gifu prefecture. I would work there my whole life and would recommend this as a career to my children with not even one moment of hesitation.

I honestly don’t see what intrinsic properties of waste management would preclude from passing from “hell on Earth” to “very OK job”, just like taking care of mentally disabled persons did (to some extent, I hear that the psychiatric ward in American prison is not such a nice place). Quite the contrary, in fact: the interplay of urban planning, ecological considerations and high technology it involves make it in my view a very likely candidate for a thriving 21st century industry.

An actual human being will still have to actually go down in an actual shitty sewers from time to time, just as I occasionally did physically restrain a mentally disabled person in the process of strangling herself. So it will be hard and unpleasant work. But an unspeakable horror only unskilled workers on the verge of starvation of homelessness could accept? No way.

@Lupita 731. See, Lee A. Arnold!

@geo 737. Why is it the case that in critical discussion of left anarchism, someone will always ask who will work in the sewers of pick up the trash, and nobody ever asks who will prove that Tamagawa numbers are equivariant?

705

Niall McAuley 03.07.16 at 3:40 pm

But if you were right, if workers only had to work an hour for themselves and then 7 hours for the mustachioed Monopoly billionaire, then a co-op that didn’t have a parasitical billionaire owner would be vastly more productive, and would eat the privately owned business’s lunch, or all the worker-owners would make 8 times as much as workers in a 1%-er owned company, or only work a day a week for the same money.

We do not have to sweep away capitalism to see if this is true afterwards – we know it is not true today.

706

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 3:41 pm

Niall McAuley: There are worker-owned co-operatives in the real world. If you were correct, they would out-compete the businesses owned by 1%ers, and there would be no need to abolish capitalism at all.”

And I’ve worked in a few of them. I’m … a lot less optimistic than Plume, really. There’s a reason that I write things like “A worker wants a boss.”

One of the things that leftists sometimes do is look at a wage relationship and see the expropriated-profits part of it but not see what the worker is getting out of it in addition to wages. Namely, the worker is outsourcing interpersonal conflicts. It’s a huge amount of work to, in addition to your actual work, manage the relationships among people working so that they aren’t at each other’s throats. A worker in a capitalist firm can conveniently blame all of that on the boss rather than having to take responsibility for it themselves, and the threat of being fired means that everyone is kept to within certain standards of behavior even if they hate those standards, with the boss being the disciplinarian for them.

There are other reasons why the deck is stacked against co-ops by the system, which I’m sure that someone will be quick to tell us. But capitalism is a social relationship. Making a new and different one is difficult when you’re making it up as you go.

707

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 3:50 pm

It’s not that working in a sewer is an unspeakable horror. It is a really unpleasant job and fairly skilled, due to the rivers that flow through the sewers which can rise suddenly if it rains heavily (British weather is exceptionally volatile, not that extreme but very unpredictable). So the work is quite well paid as not all that many are either willing or able to do it.

708

Z 03.07.16 at 4:00 pm

So I guess my answer to “Who will work in the sewers, in the non-state of anarchy?”, apparently a hard question for some, is “the same people who currently take care of mentally disabled patients, that is to say people like you and me, much to the surprise of a CT commenter in 1916.”

709

Plume 03.07.16 at 4:01 pm

Niall @743,

This doesn’t make one iota of sense:

“But if you were right, if workers only had to work an hour for themselves and then 7 hours for the mustachioed Monopoly billionaire, then a co-op that didn’t have a parasitical billionaire owner would be vastly more productive, and would eat the privately owned business’s lunch, or all the worker-owners would make 8 times as much as workers in a 1%-er owned company, or only work a day a week for the same money.”

It’s actually baffling that you think it does — or that it proves your point.

First of all, from our point of view, it’s not a competition to see who produces more. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to produce enough to meet the needs of everyone, and to allocate resources and rewards in a fair and equitable manner.

But, beyond that, I think you’re confusing “productivity” with “compensation.” There is no reason why a cooperative can’t be every bit as “productive” as a capitalist venture — and we know they can be. Given the same number of workers, working the same number of hours, they will be as productive. What will change, however, under the alternative, is that the compensation for that productivity won’t be up to the boss to decide. It will be decided by all of us, democratically. It will be fair and equitable, rather than the current distribution system, which has resulted in the richest 0.1% holding as much wealth as the bottom 90% of the country combined. The richest 20 Americans now hold more wealth than the bottom half combined, etc.

Now, if you think that is something worth fighting for, and worth holding onto, along with the Grow or Die imperative that is burning up the planet . . . . that’s up to you. But it obviously doesn’t prove the superiority of capitalism over alternatives. It just proves it’s obscene.

710

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 4:03 pm

The John Lewis Partnership is a pretty large employee owned non-profit retailer. In 2013 it had revenue of £9.5 billion and net income of £409.6 million. It, as well as paying its employees also distributes a share of the profits to them as a bonus. All the staff get a bonus of the same percentage of their salary. This varies from about 10% to about 20%. Some of the profits are retained in the company both as a contingency and for investment.

711

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 4:11 pm

Z’s comment at #742 and those before are very good. I mean, I’ve worked in waste management, though not in sewers per se. It doesn’t have to be the big deal that everyone imagines.

Think of firefighters. They do dangerous, dirty jobs. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but in the U.S. there are volunteer firefighters. There are sometimes so many volunteer firefighters that qualified people have to be turned away. They are nearly universally regarded as sex symbols and raise money by selling calendars with pictures of themselves. I don’t think that this idea is so outre that it can’t even be imagined.

712

Plume 03.07.16 at 4:14 pm

Niall,

I guess another way to put this:

Two companies. Both make widgets.

Company A is a cooperative, and it has 100 workers doing 40-hour weeks. 4000 hours altogether.

Company B is capitalist. Same set up. Both have 4000 man-hours for widgets.

Just because Company A is non-profit and distributes compensation in an equitable manner, doesn’t mean, as you suggest, it should be able to make more widgets than Company B, given the same set up. It just means all of the compensation is distributed equitably to all workers, who are all considered co-owners. They make the same number of widgets as Company B.

713

Dipper 03.07.16 at 4:17 pm

Just to follow up Brett Dunbar @748 on John Lewis, for those in North America or elsewhere unfamiliar with the store it is the top store for the middle classes by some way. It regularly tops polls of favourite store, top customer service etc. and sets the benchmark by which all other stores are judged. Cities and large towns are desperate to get a JL in their shopping centre as it has considerable pulling power.

One might have thought the success of John Lewis might have given a few politicians some pause for thought. The assumption that capitalism structures such as share-ownership, hedge funds or private equity are the only feasible options to build successful organisations is completely punctured by the fact that the #1 retail organisation in the UK is a worker-owned co-operative. However, no major UK political party is serious about alternative forms of ownership, so like a large embarrassing spot on someone’s nose, it just isn’t mentioned.

714

engels 03.07.16 at 4:24 pm

Sewer cleaning is a really bad example of ‘jobs that would never get done under socialism’ because it’s (a) fairly highly skilled (b) increasingly done using robots

715

Niall McAuley 03.07.16 at 4:40 pm

But according to you, Plume, the private owners of company B hoover up $7 out of every $8 the company makes, and give the workers $1. So A should pay 8 times more than B, or the workers could make the same pay by making 1/8 as many widgets, or working just a day a week.

Company A could pay double, and still charge 1/4 for its widgets and destroy the competition.

We both know this does not happen, perhaps because there is a Grand Conspiracy of the mustache-twirling 1%ers and banksters who do down the co-ops in smoke filled rooms.

Or maybe your $1 out of $8 is utter nonsense.

716

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 4:54 pm

Plume if you were correct the non profit should be able to rather than distributing all of the excess profits to the workers use some to reduce the cost to the consumer and gain increased market share, potentially then expanding the number of employees. However this also applies to a for profit, you can squeeze your margins in order to reduce your prices and gain increased market share. As this applies to every operator the margin between the costs incurred and the price charged in a well functioning market isn’t that great.

A car manufacturer has substantial costs other than labour. The capital cost of plant, the cost of raw materials, the design costs, market research (finding out what the consumers want) sales &c.

717

js. 03.07.16 at 4:58 pm

Now I’m curious. What *is* the all-time champion thread count? (I want to say there was a Holbo thread that crossed 800, but I won’t be able to check until later today.)

718

Lupita 03.07.16 at 5:00 pm

@Niall

Nowadays, capitalists make most of their money through speculation, money laundering, hostile takeovers, bubbles, war, corruption, fraud, ponzi schemes, bail-outs, trade agreements, and tax havens, not by producing much of value, though they may use corporations as fronts. If we are to understand global capitalism, a productive enterprise is not the place to look.

719

engels 03.07.16 at 5:07 pm

The reason we work 8 hrs / day is the collective irrationality of capitalist competition which is innately biased towards production and consumption at the expense of leisure, relationships and protecting the environment (among other values). Under a rational system we could all produce less, consume less and lead happier lives (leaving aside gains from ending profit extraction).

720

geo 03.07.16 at 5:07 pm

Z @742: I guess both sides assume that in a left-anarchist society, everyone will want to spend their spare time working on Tamagawa numbers.

721

JoB 03.07.16 at 5:16 pm

755: I don’T know but leading this thread reminds me of dial-up days.

722

JoB 03.07.16 at 5:17 pm

Loading, I meant.

723

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 5:18 pm

Please don’t make me start to have to make weird imaginary-society social status payoffs that would get people to work on Tamagawa numbers. Though I admit that the number of anarchist pamphlets about this is sadly deficient.

724

geo 03.07.16 at 5:18 pm

PS – Z: Congratulations on getting a compliment from Rich Puchalsky. That’s rarer than a two-headed Tamagawa number.

725

Plume 03.07.16 at 5:30 pm

Geo @758,

We certainly weil be doing a lot of that.

;>)

726

Plume 03.07.16 at 5:38 pm

Niall @753,

I listed one kind of work that does that. One. The car parts assembly line worker earns his day’s pay in the first hour. Other jobs and other industries have different breakdowns. But overall, in general, if we went to an all-non-profit, all publicly owned economy, we could slash our work day in half, at least.

You need to read more carefully.

And you also need to stop thinking that people who seek an alternative to capitalism “want to destroy the competition” in the first place. Again, it’s not our goal. Far, far from it.

At least when it comes to the kind of alternative I’m talking about, we want to replace that mindset entirely. Live and love instead.

I keep telling Brett (to no avail) that he can’t accurately critique a non-capitalist alternative using capitalist logic, rules, laws of motion, etc. etc. It’s like using Risk rules to bash a move in Chess.

727

Salem 03.07.16 at 5:44 pm

engels @757:

I am old enough to remember when the promise of the left was that capitalism was full of wasted resources. The insanity of millions unemployed and underemployed, yet so much useful work to be done – only socialism can make us rich.

You are not the only guilty party, but the new promise – only socialism can make us poor! – is as good a reason as any for why there is no Left left.

728

engels 03.07.16 at 5:58 pm

“there’s no Left left”

Wtf are you talking about? The left is in stronger position now in US and UK than it has been for years. Please try pulling your head out of your arse and looking around once in a while.

729

Z 03.07.16 at 6:04 pm

geo, Rich and Plume 758, 761, 762, 763: now that it has been conclusively established that the blueprint for the left-anarchist utopia established by the Scialabba Institute specifically advocates studying Tamagawa numbers, I can die in peace; maybe I won’t see it myself but the day will come…

@js. The current record-holder is a thread by John Holbo on reciprocity and baseline communism. But you know that: you sly dog clocked the 1039th comment, only bested by Robespierre, engels and John closing the thread!

730

John Quiggin 03.07.16 at 6:06 pm

Part of the problem in this thread is that there are two or 2.5 definitions of Left running.

(1a) From the original seating plan: the 50 per cent of the population to the left of center on a suitable spectrum
(1b) As in (a) but with a three-way grouping Left, Center, Right where each group is of the order of 1/3 of the population. This is essentially what I used in the OP

(2) (Capitalized) People who satisfy some ideological definition, normally derived from Leninism. In this definition, the Left is tiny, and rapidly getting tinier as old age and apostasy take their toll

731

Niall McAuley 03.07.16 at 6:11 pm

Plume – you don’t want to destroy the competition? Your whole shtick is about sweeping away capitalism and replacing it with a completely different system! If co-ops could do it a bit at a time by out-competing privately owned companies, capitalism would be destroyed already and would stay that way.

You’d need to utterly destroy the competition for your system to work even for a little while. Then you’d need laws to keep capitalism destroyed, laws with real teeth.

732

engels 03.07.16 at 6:23 pm

the Left is tiny, and rapidly getting tinier

Since you’re a social scientist I trust you have evidence for this assertion?

Possible definitions: believe socialism superior to capitalism and should replace it, use word “socialist “ to describe selves, …

Jacobin strikes me as pretty “Leninust” anyone know how fast their circulation has been dropping over last few years?

733

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 6:27 pm

Socialism once promised that without a business owner’s profit socialist enterprises would be able to undercut for profit business. It didn’t work out that way.

Plume tends to disregard non wage costs. Capital equipment and raw materials are not free they can be several times the immediate labour cost. The costs include the cost of the steel. First the iron ore is mined and transported by sea to a steel making plant such as Port Talbot then it is turned into steel in a blast furnace, then rolled into coils of sheet steel. Then transported by rail to a coatings plant such as Shotton and coated or galvanised there then transported to the car factory at Ellesmere Port.

734

js. 03.07.16 at 6:28 pm

engels — Cheers, that’s the one I was thinking about! I had in mind that went to about 850 comments, forgot the extent of the madness.

735

js. 03.07.16 at 6:30 pm

Oops. Thanks, Z! I totally misread that somehow.

736

engels 03.07.16 at 6:36 pm

Socialism once promised that without a business owner’s profit socialist enterprises would be able to undercut for profit business.

Yes – hence the famous closing words of the Communist Manifesto:

“Workers of the world! Form partnerships and compete with capitalists on their own terms!”

737

ZedBlank 03.07.16 at 7:02 pm

It seems like an obvious answer to the sewer question is being ignored: in the coming anarchist utopia, nobody will ever poop. We will excrete only rosewater and rainbows.

But seriously, lurking on this thread has been interesting. I can’t say I’ve been entirely disabused of the old saw that the only thing anarchists hate more than capitalism is other anarchists, but there has been some genuinely informative nuggets (and links) among the sniping.

I’ve never read The Dispossessed, but I have read Dinotopia, which is pretty good, as far as imaginative renderings of anarchist/egalitarian societies go. The question of dung removal is, in fact, directly addressed: it’s afforded a special degree of social prestige, naturally, because it is useful and somewhat arduous. And hey: if they can figure out how to deal with Sauropod shit, I’m sure we can deal with our own measly droppings.

738

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 7:03 pm

I have a good number of books about how to start, build, and grow a worker’s co-op. I don’t have any about how co-ops die. Although some books mention certain kinds of problems that can take co-ops down as things to be avoided, I don’t know of any that really survey the field. As a result you can get books on co-ops, each from a different era, that excitedly say that co-ops A,B,C and D have been formed, and get another book from a decade or two later and they’re gone.

So my impression is just my personal impression, but I’d guess the reasons are primarily these:

1) Capital shortage. Economies of scale can be very important, and it’s difficult to reach that size to begin with when there is (often) no obvious way to invest in the enterprise and when there is (almost always) no single person who you can talk to about the future of the enterprise. When co-ops get to the size of Mondragon or John Lewis, they seem to do pretty well, but few make it to that point. Most small traditional businesses fail also: this isn’t a problem specific to co-ops.

2) Interpersonal problems. The people who want to form a co-op in the first place tend to be opinionated. And in a different sense, as I mentioned above in a hierarchical firm people know how to act and what is expected of them: this isn’t true for Joe or Jane off the street who you toss into a worker’s co-op.

3) Ideological exhaustion. Co-ops seem to get formed in waves as a particular idea sweeps the area. The enthusiasm of this idea carries the co-op members past the initial problems. A couple of decades later, that idea is no longer current. The co-op members are then thinking about retirement and there don’t seem to be a lot of newcomers, so the co-op shuts its doors or gets sold as a traditional enterprise.

739

engels 03.07.16 at 7:09 pm

FFS

740

engels 03.07.16 at 7:14 pm

Okay that’s enough beating my head against a brick wall for this week I think

741

LFC 03.07.16 at 7:16 pm

To Ze K:
Have you considered sending a résumé to Kim Jong Un’s bureau of indoctrination? I think the DPRK might be hiring. I heard it through the grapevine [*].

[*] good song, btw.

742

Lupita 03.07.16 at 7:31 pm

@ John Quiggin

Yes, there’s the bell curve and ideological definitions of the left, but there’s also the zeitgeist one. Anybody who has felt that they are being lied to – that the system is corrupt and rigged – can turn into a leftist at a moment’s notice, and they are. They can always read Marx later. Or not.

There’s a spirit sweeping across the world. It is dread and it is fear that the system is imploding.

743

geo 03.07.16 at 7:31 pm

Z @767: As we Italian left-anarchists say, a day without Tamagawa numbers is like a meal without wine.

744

engels 03.07.16 at 7:43 pm

Okay I’ll bite: what is a Tamagawa number?

745

Lupita 03.07.16 at 7:48 pm

According to Wikipedia,Tamagawa = 1. So I guess it’s Tamagawa, two, three, four, and so on.

746

engels 03.07.16 at 7:54 pm

the fake idea of ‘socialism’ is just a promise of fairer competition, social mobility, and better safety net

Fwiw I don’t think in general Sanders supporters (eg.) are really socialists (yet – as Lupita says) but this would be a seriously inaccurate characterisation of their views.

747

Lupita 03.07.16 at 7:56 pm

A two-headed Tamagawa number is a Y. They are rare.

748

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 8:00 pm

Equality in the 1789 sense has won. The extensive legal inequality that existed in 1789 has basically vanished. The conception of equality as espoused then was achieved decades ago. The extensive legal privileges possessed by the aristocracy have disappeared, bonded labour has been abolished everywhere. Political and legal equality has been achieved.

749

engels 03.07.16 at 8:15 pm

There wasn’t _a_ 1789 sense there were several (just as there wasn’t a 1989 sense, an Arabic Spring sense, etc)

750

engels 03.07.16 at 8:21 pm

And socialism isn’t about achieving ‘equality’ btw. Laters gators

751

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 8:25 pm

On that part of the 1789 programme the revolutionaries won the argument, which is why it largely ceased to be an active political campaign. The opposing argument of the day is largely incomprehensible to modern audiences. The concept that all are fundamentally equal has become a basic assumption accepted by pretty much everyone. For much of history this would have been a deeply radical proposition far outside the range of respectable opinion.

752

Lupita 03.07.16 at 8:29 pm

Hopefully the notion of an exceptional people will go the way of exceptional persons.

753

geo 03.07.16 at 8:32 pm

Lupita @784: Tamagawa, two, three, four

Tamagawa, McManus, Puchalsky & Plume … nice beat, you can dance to it.

Tamagawa, Scialabba, Lupita & Z … very exotic.

754

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 9:01 pm

It was for much of history a radical idea. It is a basic assumption now. The type of inequality that was at issue in 1789 has long vanished and the idea that aristocrats should have the extensive legal privileges, such as immunity from taxation they did in ancien regime France is wholly dead. That part of the programme was achieved rather quickly.

755

RNB 03.07.16 at 9:20 pm

@689. Chomsky did not think accusations of Qaddafi supporting, if not creating, Charles Taylor are a pack of lies. But, no, the point is not that this is what justified or should have justified Clinton’s air strikes. The point is that Qaddafi’s history made it reasonable to assume that his massacres would become worse and that he would use a ceasefire to regroup to intensify the violence against the opposition. As Clinton said on Sunday, this could have led to a situation where 150,000 Libyans were dying a year as in Syria.

In fact Chomsky himself said it would not be nothing to stop Qaddafi from continuing into Benghazi. He just wanted someone else to carry out the strikes, like the Turks or the Brazilians. Do note as well that Chomsky has the same position as me on this election–the Democrat nominee should be supported to defeat the Republican nominee and Clinton is probably more electable than Sanders. He has said that he would vote for her.

756

LFC 03.07.16 at 9:26 pm

Brett Dunbar @787
1) Bonded labor, or its functional equivalent, has not been abolished everywhere (e.g., there is still slavery in pockets of the world).
2) The formal ‘orders’ of the ancien regime w their legal privileges and immunities no longer exist, but legal equality can be empty when it is not accompanied by some substantial degree of actual equality (either equality of opportunities or outcomes or life chances, or all of the above).

—-
3) The red scares etc, contrary to Ze K, did not destroy the left. Except Ze K defines the left in a special way. Ze K, as he said upthread, thinks all soldiers are indoctrinated to fall on grenades to save their fellow soldiers. Actually such acts of heroism are relatively rare. That’s why high medals are awarded for them. (p.s. at least they are rare in those armies attached to non-totalitarian, or if you prefer ‘liberal’ in the broad sense, societies.)

4) memo to engels: there is more than one meaning of ‘socialism’.

757

Plume 03.07.16 at 9:30 pm

Niall @769,

I think we’re still talking past each other, but will try a different angle:

How would we judge who “wins” in that “competition”? Who decides, and what are the criteria?

My guess is you would just assume it would all be capitalist criteria, and to you, this would be “fair,” I’m guessing. But to me, it would be ludicrous to play by your rules, on your court, etc. etc.

For instance, for an anarchist-socialist co-op to win against a capitalist business, I would say we’d need to best you in these areas (in no particular order):

1. Degree of democracy in the workplace
2. Equality of pay throughout the workplace
3. The quality of ongoing training and cross-training
4. The health, welfare and safety of all workers
5. The lack of alienation from the job and the workplace
6. The sense of camaraderie among fellow workers
7. The quality of the good or service being produced . . . . and does it fill an actual need sans marketing
8. The ecological impact/sustainability/footprint of the good, service and workplace overall

For starters.

To me, we “win” if we’re better than you guys on the above. Total sales and profits? Couldn’t care less about that. Not our goals. Never will be our goals. Soviet Russia made that huge mistake by trying to be better capitalists than western capitalists (Red Plenty). Not gonna do it.

758

Plume 03.07.16 at 9:35 pm

Brett @795,

It’s not dead at all. No one has more privileges or immunities than American plutocrats. And in 1789, we just gave up a foreign aristocracy for a domestic one, and as capitalism developed and expanded, it went from a landed aristocracy to a monied aristocracy.

There can never be any real or functional “equality,” by definition, with economic apartheid in place (capitalism). There is no “equality,” by definition, when society is structured hierarchically, and capitalism generates the steepest hierarchies in world history.

759

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 9:38 pm

It continues to exist in some places, illegally. What is gone is any legal support for it. Nowhere on earth allows a natural person to be property. That is a huge difference from the situation for most of history. It has become the expected norm that everyone in a nation is free and possesses equality before the law.

760

engels 03.07.16 at 9:54 pm

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

761

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 10:05 pm

Plume you are dead wrong about capitalism producing the steepest hierarchies. Agricultural societies tended to have higher Gini coeffecients. ancien regime France for example had one of about 0.6 (reconstructed from tax records) in 1790 it had fallen to 0.48 by 1899-1901. The king, the church and a relatively narrow aristocratic clique owned more or less everything. Much of then population had virtually nothing and were in real danger of starvation in a bad harvest.

The global Gini rose at the same time that the within nation Gini fell. The gap between the poor in the poorest societies (still agricultural and pre-capitalist) and the rich in the richest societies (industrialised and capitalist) increased while the gap between the rich and poor within poor societies was largely unchanged as they remained as they had long been. while the gap between the rich and poor in rich societies remained fairly constant for some periods or shrank suddenly in others while everyone got much richer.

http://www.piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/MorrissonSnyder2000.pdf

For most of history per capita GDP remained effectively constant falling as the population increased and rising if there was a population decrease such as the Black Death. With the industrial revolution per capita GDP in certain countries began to increase year on year at historically unprecedented rates and have been doing so for a couple of centuries, some nations became rich in a manner entirely without precedent in history.

The income of the bottom decile of rich nations (top decile of nations) is about three times the income of the top decile of poor nations (bottom decile of nations)

762

engels 03.07.16 at 10:05 pm

I’m only reading this because I’m hoping Z will return and explain Tamagawa numbers, just so you know

763

John Quiggin 03.07.16 at 10:08 pm

@770 “Jacobin strikes me as pretty “Leninust” anyone know how fast their circulation has been dropping over last few years?”

Hmm. I publish pretty regularly in Jacobin and think of it as fairly representative of my view. Maybe I’m a “Leninust” without knowing it. But really, I think that Jacobin is addressed to people who share the fairly broad view of the left that I put forward in the OP, while putting forward a more consistently left position than many others.

764

Rich Puchalsky 03.07.16 at 10:13 pm

JQ: “(1a) […] the 50 per cent of the population to the left of center on a suitable spectrum
(1b) As in (a) but with a three-way grouping Left, Center, Right
(2) (Capitalized) People who satisfy some ideological definition […]”

There’s another meaning of “left” that I think really is the critical one that is meant when people write (correctly or incorrectly) something like “the left is dead”. That is “left” as in “affiliated with some left-identified organization or movement”. That’s the sense in which someone might says “Black Lives Matter is what’s happening on the left right now.”

I have no sense that young voters for Sanders, however much they might call themselves “socialists” or whatever, are forming some kind of organization that will outlast Sanders or even outlast the primary. Any more than, in a different more center-left context, Howard Dean and his 50–state strategy turned into any lasting Democratic Party structure. Or any more than Obama For America turned into anything lasting once the election was over.

765

Z 03.07.16 at 10:13 pm

Okay I’ll bite: what is a Tamagawa number?

Don’t bite, Engels, this is all just OT silliness (probably fine when the comments number in the high 700).

As I once confided to geo, Tamagawa numbers (which are not unrelated to but also not identical with the Tamagawa number which is indeed equal to 1) occupy the tiny spot of mathematics I retreat to when too disillusioned by the prospect (or lack thereof) of the advent of a free, just, democratic and social world (plus they pay the bills). Him being geo, he recalled. As far as I know, two-headed Tamagawa numbers do not exist, but I’ll make sure to introduce them the moment I get a chance to (and I being a scrupulous scholar, George Scialabba at comment 762 of CT’s comment thread “The three party system” will be duly credited in the bibliography for having suggested they would be interesting to look at and for introducing the terminology).

766

Z 03.07.16 at 10:17 pm

I’m only reading this because I’m hoping Z will return and explain Tamagawa numbers, just so you know

Oh come now engels, you’re making me blush! (I once dreamed of explaining Tamagawa numbers on CT; and then my dream came true: Belle posted on them! True story! The result: I fucked up with overenthusiasm and she chastised me in typical Belle’s style. Moral: do not hope your dreams come true.)

767

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 10:23 pm

engels I quite agree. Equality before the law isn’t by itself enough. That is however what the slogan shouted in 1789 was about. That aspiration was achieved pretty quickly. It was a radical opinion and political programme in France at the time. A few places came fairly close such as Britain. But it was a highly radical proposal. Even today bringing in substantive rule of law to places like China is a significant problem.

Another example of an idea moving from incredibly radical to a basic assumption is first wave feminism. At the time of its publication in 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women was incredibly almost unthinkably radical and considered scandalous. To a modern audience it seems an utterly anodyne exercise in stating the obvious and it seems hard to understand how anyone could disagree with anything in it, beyond finding it a little weak.

768

RNB 03.07.16 at 10:34 pm

What’s the left position on trade? The national left position? The global left position? What’s the tribalist view? Or is the tribalist view the national left position on trade? What’s the neo-liberal position on trade (capital account liberalization + IPR’s? But how are strong IPR’s neo-liberal)?

769

RNB 03.07.16 at 10:44 pm

I ask this about trade because it’s not clear to me that Sanders’ position is simply left. Labor and environmental clauses can be hidden protection, not just mechanisms to raise standards everywhere. So Sanders’ protectionist policies (which he hasn’t specified) could encourage more mfg in the US that due to factor prices would tend to be capital-intensive. So the American job gain would possibly be minimal but the loss of employment and income in a poorer society could be sharp. Even assuming no welfare loss in the US from more expensive mfg, there still could be an overall loss in global welfare. The Sanders’ campaign is basically nationalist, so he’s not worried about this. But if Sanders’ supporters are similarly not worried about this, do they count as left? Or are they tribalists?

770

engels 03.07.16 at 10:56 pm

John, I thought you said ‘left’ could be defined in absolute or relative terms (ie. ‘left of the median voter’) but only ‘Leninists’ defined it in the first way. You then commended Jacobin for being ‘consistently’ left. But in talking about ‘consistency’ don’t you have to be assuming the term has an absolute sense? So doesn’t that make you a dreaded Leninist by your own definition? Welcome to the dark side…

771

engels 03.07.16 at 11:03 pm

Icymi: reply by Bhaskar Sunkara (Jacobin founder) to a previous round of ‘Leninism’ bashing by Chris Bertram
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2011/05/a-washed-up-marginal-reply-to-chris-bertram/

772

Lupita 03.07.16 at 11:04 pm

“The Sanders’ campaign is basically nationalist, so he’s not worried about this. But if Sanders’ supporters are similarly not worried about this, do they count as left?”

I consider Sanders to be a part of the neoliberal left together with Lula, Rousseff, and Bachelet. By Latin American standards, which is the gold standard of leftism, he would be a centrist, that is, he supports supports the working class, labor rights and equality at home without posing a threat to global neoliberalism.

773

RNB 03.07.16 at 11:05 pm

Again are we sure that Sanders and Trump with their bashing of trade are left? Perhaps they could be criticized from the left for trying to lead us into a nationalist or tribalist cul-de-sac? As the NYT says today, Trump would create trade wars; and as Daniel Drezner has argued Sanders would not be able to secure the cooperation of China and Mexico in climate change negotiations if raised protectionist barriers. I think there is an argument that as neo-liberal as Clinton may be, she is closer to a global left than even Sanders. It seems that I shall continue in my lonely unpaid task of being the sole Clinton shill at Crooked Timber.

774

geo 03.07.16 at 11:06 pm

JQ, if you’re a Leninist, would you please explain the labor theory of value and the falling rate of profit due to the rising organic composition of capital?

775

engels 03.07.16 at 11:06 pm

The campaign for a CT seminar on Tamagawa numbers starts here

776

RNB 03.07.16 at 11:10 pm

@817. Ignorant! Lenin’s crisis theory while not underconsumptionist was a disproportionality one, not a falling rate of profit theory. Plus, since he emphasized the importance of monopoly, the labor theory of value could not really account for relative prices.

777

js. 03.07.16 at 11:13 pm

Even more than a CT seminar on Tamagawa numbers, I’d like to see a Tamagawa number on CT.

778

Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 11:29 pm

The labour theory of value, either Marxist or Classical is both more complicated than marginal pricing and less useful. Occam’s razor would indicate that marginal pricing should be used. The main reason for resisting it seems to be a fairly widespread idea that there is a natural price a thing ought to have that is a thing has an intrinsic value rather than the natural price simply being the point at which the demand curve and the supply curve cross. So the demand at that price is equal to the supply at that price. The intuition that there is an intrinsic value leads to an inclination for price controls, this hasn’t worked in the past.

779

Lupita 03.07.16 at 11:31 pm

@ RNB

“Again are we sure that Sanders and Trump with their bashing of trade are left?”

Since when is mere trade bashing the left? The left is against NAFTA and other free trade agreements because they are neoliberal, that is, they were written and implemented for the sole purpose of making the rich richer while throwing the poor under the bus. Trade agreements that protect social and labor rights are not inconceivable.

“I think there is an argument that as neo-liberal as Clinton may be, she is closer to a global left than even Sanders”

The global left is Morales and Cochabamba, Castro, Mujica and Correa, el papa and el sub. Clinton doesn’t speak their language.

780

Donald 03.07.16 at 11:34 pm

“This could have led to a situation where 150,000 Libyans were dying a year as in Syria…”

They are dying in Syria in large part because outside forces like the Gulf states and the US wanted to overthrow Assad. A very large fraction of the dead, btw, are Syrian soldiers and militia killed by the rebels.

And again with the counterfactuals. Isn’t it amazing that the US intervention must have succeeded in killing off the only Libyans who might have killed 150,000 people a year? They’re still fighting over there, but thanks to Clinton and her masterful understanding of the Mideast, the civil war isn’t killing anywhere near the number it could be killing. And we know this because reasons.

It’s a long thread and I’m going to stop arguing with the Hillary shill. I’m going to vote for her too, in November, if she is the nominee, but one thing I’ve noticed about her is that none of her enthusiasts can give a strong case for her. There are science fictionish alternative universe arguments about genocides averted– Star Trek did this kind of thing better. The one really compelling argument you can make is that she’s better than the Republicans. It won’t convince Bruce, but it works for me and it’s the best you’ve got. Your arguments, RNB, actually create a strong desire to vote third party. I’m resisting it.

781

geo 03.07.16 at 11:55 pm

819: Aaargh … I’m disgraced!

782

John Quiggin 03.08.16 at 12:11 am

@817 That’s the Turing test you need. I have to admit that, however much I might publish lefty stuff in Jacobin, I have no idea what the labour theory of value is supposed to say, or how it is useful to the left. So, I guess I’m not a Leninist after all.

783

Plume 03.08.16 at 12:37 am

Brett @803,

“Plume you are dead wrong about capitalism producing the steepest hierarchies.”

You keep doing this. You keep treating an economic system, capitalism, as if it were also a political/social/welfare state system, and give credit to that economic system for all goods things, should any arise, while ignoring all the bad.

If democratic checks and balances offset some of the ravages of the economic system — in response to those ravages — you attribute all these benefits, when they occur, to “capitalism” proper. You don’t differentiate between the economic system and the myriad steps taken by activists, governments and various NGOs to make up for its destructiveness.

Again, anticapitalist resistance around the globe, for more than a century, forced various governments to try to counteract, at least a bit, some of the horrific effects unleashed by the capitalist system. It’s extremely offensive and insulting for you to keep on crediting capitalism itself for the progressive improvements anticapitalists pushed into being. It’s not unlike crediting slaveholders for the advances made by Civil Rights activists.

Please stop it.

. . . .

Oh, and btw, when I speak of “surplus value,” that already takes into account those additional expenses beyond labor costs. That’s why the word “surplus” is used.

Sheesh.

784

Plume 03.08.16 at 12:45 am

And speaking of Tamagawa numbers. Did everyone miss my number one pun from 763? Or just miss it on purpose?

“We certainly weil be doing a lot of that.”

(Brother of Simone)

785

RNB 03.08.16 at 1:00 am

@823 On the domestic front Clinton is proposing a bit more progressive taxation, is signaling lefty-liberal on NRLB appointments, S. Ct. appointments, and Labor Secty, has a Wall Street reform agenda, a pre-K and family leave plan, and can be relied on to improve the responsiveness of bureaucracies such as the EPA. So she is obviously better than any Republican.

But foreign policy is serious. And I take seriously Jeffrey Sachs’ charge that Clinton is a war monger. But I don’t think the evidence bears this out, though we have not yet talked about her role in Honduras or her alleged scuttling of the Kofi Annan Syria peace plan (Stephen Kinzer and Jeffrey Sachs says she scuttled it because she has the same regime change commitments that George W. Bush had).

I am not convinced by Sachs’ charge.

a. I do not think she would have gone to war against Iraq. She authorized the war declaration (as Sanders had voted for the Iraq Regime Change Act) because she thought that this would give W. the upper hand in getting more comprehensive sanctions which by the way I think were immoral (both parties supported the ban on dual use technology which deprived Iraq of tech needed for reconstruction). George W. Bush and the Republicans are responsible for the catastrophic war in Iraq. The Bush Doctrine is after all the Bush doctrine, and represents a break in US foreign policy.

b. Her decision to strike Qaddafi’s forces may well have prevented massacres and an even more violent escalation in Libya. I do not think there is clear evidence that she was wrong. There is clear evidence that George W. Bush was wrong and lied about WMD in Iraq. She was not lying about the grave threat Qaddafi posed to Libyans. So I don’t this shows that she is the war monger W. was.

But this leaves open whether she made the right choice in opposing the Kofi Annan peace proposal in Syria if this is in fact what she did. No Republican is going to criticize her for this and because Sanders is so darn parochial he has not given detailed comments on this. For all we know, his Secty of State would have done the same thing. We discussed the intervention in Libya due to the important NYT report.

786

RNB 03.08.16 at 1:03 am

@823 I understand that there are those on the left and right who want to stand out of the way of a Qaddafi or Assad perhaps out of the preference for the peace of…a graveyard.

787

RNB 03.08.16 at 1:11 am

@825 JQ is kinda like Donald Trump on the Klan. “”I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy [the labor theory of value] or white supremacists [a profitability crisis theory],” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke [Lenin]; I know nothing about white supremacists [Marxists].” JQ has so outed himself.

788

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 1:33 am

RNB: “I understand that there are those on the left and right who want to stand out of the way of a Qaddafi or Assad perhaps out of the preference for the peace of…a graveyard.”

The coastal part of the country — the great blue zone that will vote for HRC — is clearly ready for war. The decadent anti-war left and right in its enclaves is not dead — and may well mount a fifth column.

789

F. Foundling 03.08.16 at 1:52 am

@Ze K 03.06.16 at 8:11 am
>Right now, imho at least, international capital backed by American superpower is the worst, the most dangerous, deadly crap out there. … So, you may want to use some other crap to weaken it, to cut it down and bring it to a reasonable level.

Now you’ve changed your tune; initially at 311, you said you were hoping Putin & co. would ‘kill liberalism’, i.e. you were hoping for their total victory, not just for their contributing to ‘balance’ and ‘weakening of the enemy’. Liberalism, which you wished they would kill, is inseparable from this ‘everything good’ that you are now claiming to support. When the characters you mentioned approvingly rail against ‘liberalism’, they mean international, libertarian and rationalist Enlightenment values as opposed to traditionalist cultural norms, they mean equality of minorities, constitutionalism, the flattening of hierarchies and, basically, everything that has transpired since the Middle Ages. Their victory against ‘liberalism’ is not something a leftist would hope for.

Choosing one ‘crap’ as the strongest is a very subjective choice, depending on who and where you are (and I don’t see the national/international capital distinction as so important). Then, focusing only on opposing that single type of crap and vehemently supporting all the other ‘craps’, while plainly ignoring their crappiness, results in nothing but, well, more ‘crap’. Some of Orban’s individual economic policies may be laudable, and it may sometimes be strategically useful to play off Putin against the more virulent US in foreign policy, but as for their general ‘models’, adding a bit of fascism to offset the neoliberalism in society is no more useful than adding a bit of bubonic plague to offset the AIDS. As long as we can only choose between neoliberalism and these fellows, we’re f***ed.

@Ze K 03.06.16 at 2:40 pm

>An autocrat – as in ‘you’re the absolute ruler’? In that case, you don’t need any populist techniques, you rule.

I see that Plume has already answered this very well.

>In Europe … the Romanovs.

When they felt weakened, they used the Black Hundreds and pogroms: they rallied popular support by exploiting popular prejudices and sentiments against the Jews. Putinism now (which, btw, very much seeks to identify itself symbolically and ideologically with the Czarist imperial regime) is exploiting popular prejudices against homosexuals. And then, of course, both regimes are relying on popular sentiments of national pride.

>Look, Foundling, everyone here is for everything good and against everything bad

I certainly don’t think everyone here is equally committed to the same values and principles, or has even thought them through to an equal extent; hence many of the disagreements. A difference in priorities also reflects a difference in values. As for you in particular, your statements often betray a profound cynicism and total contempt for any sort of leftist values and principles as unrealistic and ‘not of this world’; the thing that you do seem to be seriously committed to is support for certain empires against others (see your endorsement of the Monroe doctrine and its justification at (43) here: http://crookedtimber.org/2015/11/18/nothing-learned-nothing-forgotten/). The very real fact that in certain areas, you are the only one to ‘hold the anti-imperialist front’ (as Lupita put it) is one of the saddest symptoms of the dismal state of CT and of Western leftism in general.

790

js. 03.08.16 at 2:28 am

I take seriously Jeffrey Sachs’ charge that Clinton is a war monger. But I don’t think the evidence bears this out

But for real, tho. You don’t need to oversell the case this much.

791

F. Foundling 03.08.16 at 2:32 am

@Brett Dunbar 03.07.16 at 10:23 pm
>Equality before the law isn’t by itself enough. That is however what the slogan shouted in 1789 was about.

The purpose of the slogan and the struggle was, of course, achieving *true* equality, liberty and brotherhood, and there was simply a lack of insight that equality before the law would not be sufficient to achieve that. That’s where the socialists step in.

792

The Temporary Name 03.08.16 at 2:41 am

Preach it js. Our fates seem sealed in any case. If you’re an HRC fan, hooray! If not, my condolences. If you’re not an American, your appropriate level of dread will vary.

793

js. 03.08.16 at 2:50 am

I’ll vote for her in the general, for sure, and happily-ish. I’d rather vote for Sanders, but it’s seeming unlikelier by the week, unfortunately.

794

RNB 03.08.16 at 3:17 am

@833 But I left open what Clinton’s actions in Honduras and Syria reveal. One thing we know by now is that Sanders will not be challenging her here.

795

Z 03.08.16 at 3:53 am

I realize how pointless it is to actually address the topic of the OP around the 850th comment, but the fact is that I’m even more pessimistic than John Quiggin @768 on the number of left there is. The reality of the world today is that whatever converging trend between advanced societies which might have existed in the 1945-1980 period has now come to an end and has been reversed, with the norm being increasing divergence alongside cultural, historical and anthropological lines which coincide roughly with national borders.

Neo-liberalism is thus doomed, as an intellectual and political project, as everyone recognizes save its most blind devotees: its model presupposes some kind of common market with common converging properties that is more and more unlikely by the day, so that the best outcome it can reach is a suitable set of policies for the most powerful nation (and in fact for a narrow class within it) that is increasingly autocratically imposed on the weaker ones. See the EU, Germany, Greece.

But the left also finds itself in dangerous waters, for there are no left policies anymore: there are German left policies (inspired by German values, social conditions, history…), British left policies (ditto, and they differ from Scottish left policies), American left policies (ditto), French left policies (ditto)… Tribalism in the sense of JS is having a field day, for like the proverbial broken clock, in this particular and singular period of divergence between societies, though the actual policies they propose oscillate between fanciful and scary, they happen to be at least right in claiming that nations, borders and historical values matter (unpack “Make America great again” if you will, or look at the chemically pure case of the Polish PIS, which scores impressive electoral victories with barely more than “The EU is against Polish values.”).

So the intellectual agenda for anyone wishing to progress towards the left-anarchist utopia where nobody will work in sewers anymore but everyone will rush to the ice-cream parlor to discuss Tamagawa numbers should be to articulate universal, abstract left ideas and policies that take full account of and proceed from anthropologically distinct communities and apply to historically distinct (and increasingly diverging) societies.

If that task seems too hard (seeing that it is almost self-contradictory in terms), one can always prove that a bunch of Tamagawa numbers are equivariant. (js., you have seen Tamagawa numbers on CT, it’s just that your immortal soul hasn’t remembered yet: Tamagawa numbers are usual whole numbers, it’s where they show up and why that makes them Tamagawa numbers. The first Tamagawa number that has been recognized as such is probably 691-a number which in this thread prefaces “Left anarchists deserve credit for at least trying to come to terms with the implications of rejecting authority”, surely not a coincidence.)

796

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 4:37 am

Z: “should be to articulate universal, abstract left ideas and policies that take full account of and proceed from anthropologically distinct communities and apply to historically distinct (and increasingly diverging) societies.”

I think this is a bit off in two different ways.

First, if countries / societies are really diverging and are not inextricably linked, I don’t see much promise for universal, abstract left ideas. In this case I think the left has to fall back on localism and really make a distinct left for each place. Then I think that many anarchists would say, well, we had no ambitions for a universal state in any case.

But if countries really are linked — e.g. if global environmental issues really are the issues of overriding importance of our time — then they’re just not going to be able to do this past a certain point, or everything will get more and more dysfunctional as they do. And in this case we need a universal left: we just don’t need almost anything from the universal left that we have now. It’s broken record / derping / repeating myself time, but I see essentially nothing from the Marxist tradition that is still useful, nothing in it that’s capable of sustaining a universal left in our time, because our fundamental problems have nothing to do with class struggle (at least, nothing to do with proles being the class driving history or taking control of society) and everything to do with issues that in that tradition are summed up as “man must conquer nature”.

The New Left tradition is barely any more useful. Sure, any left that is recognizable as a left has to be egalitarian, and therefore has to address race / gender / class / ethnicity / sexual preference / etc. as causes of oppression. But again, those are not really the driving force of a universal left. Every country or society could and does address these issues in their own way. But they don’t provide a framework for the universal linkages.

797

geo 03.08.16 at 6:37 am

Rich @839: our fundamental problems have nothing to do with class struggle (at least, nothing to do with proles being the class driving history or taking control of society) and everything to do with issues that in that tradition are summed up as “man must conquer nature”

They’re not fundamentally separate issues. I’m happy to drop the phrase “class struggle” and substitute something like “economic democracy,” meaning social, public, democratic control over large-scale investment and production decisions. But as long as that control is in private hands, competition for profit is the only possible criterion for making such decisions. And as long as there’s private profit to be made, there can be no stopping deforestation, strip mining, overfishing, fracking, pesticide and fertilizer overuse, suburbanization, plastics production, or any other environmentally destructive but profitable practices. There is going to have to be, for a short or long time, a huge amount of voluntary shared sacrifice of unsustainably produced present-day comforts, conveniences, and titillations. Those sacrifices will only be possible if we can trust that they will be fairly shared, that is, monitored and enforced by an accountable, transparent democratic government. And it will have to be a global government, or else there will inevitably be free riding and a race to the bottom — “all the old shit,” as Marx presciently observed.

Whether this form of government is called “left anarchism,” “democratic socialism,” “council communism,” “libertarian Marxism,” or “left libertarian revolutionary democratic Crooked Timberism” is immaterial — though I’m sure that if we started arguing about its name, we would easily reach 1000 comments.

Whether this is

798

geo 03.08.16 at 6:38 am

Please ignore the last three words of 840.

799

Niall McAuley 03.08.16 at 6:44 am

Plume writes: But to me, it would be ludicrous to play by your rules, on your court, etc. etc.

My point was not that you should compete on capitalist terms because they are the best terms, you have your principles, after all. My point was that if your statement was true, there would be no private companies:

For instance, a typical car-parts assembly-line worker produces enough in their first hour to cover their day’s pay. The next seven hours all go to profit and high compensation for their boss.

If this was true, privately owned car-parts companies could not compete with a co-op which makes 8 times the money per worker, allowing them to undercut the private companies, dominate the whole market and still pay workers 5 or 6 times as much.

Who would work for a private company when the co-op pays 6 times as much? Only another co-op could compete. Soon there would be no private companies.

Practical people would already have destroyed capitalism using co-operative principles, not for brotherhood and fairness, but for giant wads of money. But they don’t, they can’t, because your statement is not true.

800

Brett Dunbar 03.08.16 at 7:39 am

Plume capitalist economics and liberal democratic politics are strongly associates. The most successful capitalist states are dem0cracies. Capitalism works best in a stable state with extensive personal rights and a low level of corruption. Democracy is better at that than other political systems. You cannot simply attribute all of the good things achieved by capitalism to anti-capitalism. For example one of the major liberal philosophers JS Mill was also a classical economist. He used similar arguments to support the free market and the abolition of slavery which is that the individual is best placed to judge their own interests. This was in opposition to the paternalist pro-slavery argument that some people weren’t able to judge their best interests and needed a master to do it for them. Capitalism is pretty heavily anti-paternalist and individualist so tends to provide intellectual justification for political equality.

The House of Commons dominated by the bourgeoisie and nouveau riche industrialists was far more anti-slavery than the Lords, comprised of the traditional aristocracy and senior Anglican clergy. The abolition of the slave trade in 1805 happened because Lord Grenville was able to get the Lords to agree, the commons had been passing abolition bills for a number of years.

801

Brett Dunbar 03.08.16 at 8:02 am

For much of the nineteenth century Britain was in a position to do the same thing. Intervening repeatedly worldwide. For example in the Greek war of independence defeating the Ottoman navy at Navarino giving the Greeks victory. Preventing the Neapolitans from reinforcing in Sicily against Garibaldi aiding his victory there. Sending a naval squadron to Istanbul in 1878 to intimidate Russia into abandoning the treaty of San Stefano. So the current situation where one poser is in a position to act as the world’s policeman and enforce international order is not unprecedented.

802

engels 03.08.16 at 9:54 am

How many more comments do we need to hit the next Tamagawa number?

803

Val 03.08.16 at 10:01 am

Rich @ 839

I see essentially nothing from the Marxist tradition that is still useful, nothing in it that’s capable of sustaining a universal left in our time, because our fundamental problems have nothing to do with class struggle (at least, nothing to do with proles being the class driving history or taking control of society) and everything to do with issues that in that tradition are summed up as “man must conquer nature”.

That statement in inverted commas is also a reasonably good, although simplified, summary of much of what ecofeminist theory has been critiquing for at least forty years. It is interesting, to say the least, that you claim an insight of feminist scholarship as if it were your own original thought, while actively denigrating me, an ecofeminist scholar, on this and other threads.

So when I talk about this stuff it’s “nutty”, when you do, it’s your own original brilliance? Appropriating ecofeminist ideas while dissing an ecofeminist scholar is extremely dishonest behaviour.

No doubt you, and perhaps some of your supporters here, may think ‘oh a nutty neurotic feminist claiming she’s been hard done by’, even if you don’t express it this way. But in this case I’ve already written quite a lot about this for my thesis over the past two years and it’s been seen by my supervisors, so there’s no way I’m making false claims.

Ball’s in your court Rich. You’ve behaved appallingly. You can do something about it or you can go on the same way.

804

Z 03.08.16 at 10:04 am

It is likely that all prime numbers are Tamagawa numbers and it could be that all integers are. If the latter is correct, then we are done; if only the former, then 853 would do. At any rate, 877 certainly is one. So 0, 5 or 29 comments.

805

engels 03.08.16 at 10:15 am

w00t

806

engels 03.08.16 at 10:28 am

BTW I don’t think Jacobin is Leninist in the sense of democratic centralist or something but I think they are in the pejorative sense in which I understand John and Chris to be using the term (roughly similar to what Labour moderates refer to as ‘hard left’ perhaps?) I would guess among other things (a) not being committed to overthrow of capitalism and (b) not taking Marx seriously puts John in a minority among Jacobin contributors…

807

engels 03.08.16 at 10:29 am

PS For the record I also think using ‘Leninist’ in this way is silly

808

Niall McAuley 03.08.16 at 10:32 am

Val, “Man must conquer nature” is a slogan from Chairman Mao; I don’t think Rich is claiming to have been the originator of all critiques of Maoism.

This aspect of Ecofeminism does help explain why the Greens are bad guys in Ken MacLeod’s Fall Revolution books.

809

JoB 03.08.16 at 10:40 am

ZeK @ 843 – Am I really seeing some sympathy for Putin shading through your comment? Because if there’s a one-up from Trump it has to be Putin. Maybe Erdogan comes close as well. If they would be in power 8 years from now they either are in war or having a chat on how to flexibly work constitutions to stay in power forever.

If sovereign state nationalism is part of your left, then I gladly try to change neo-liberalism from within. Brett @ 845 has it imho exactly right. There is a correlation between a liberal democracy and capitalism. The problem with neo-liberalism is that it believes on faith that capitalism causes liberal freedom where it obviously is the other way around. The question is whether we can take our liberal freedom – and make it cause a better political/economic system. I think we can, even if the current evidence of resurgence of national tribalism has me starting to think that I really should stop being so naive. In Europe we are so close to a disintegration (or the definite status of the EU as a regional Trade Organization) that from day to day basic freedoms get challenged with less and less pushback.

Whatever is bad in global capitalism, it cannot be worse than regress into the protectionist and isolationist past where global politics was reduced to who could threaten with military power most. Probably the last part of that sentence is Trump’s program (combined with a Putin-esque: and I am going to guarantee we can outgun everybody).

I spit on feelings of national pride (and the false dichotomies on which they’re based).

810

JoB 03.08.16 at 10:42 am

I do support my national soccer team though and would welcome a world where national pride feelings are settled in a competitive sports arena.

811

Niall McAuley 03.08.16 at 11:06 am

Two teams enter – one team leaves!

812

John Quiggin 03.08.16 at 11:20 am

@838 and @839 Amazingly, we are back to the topic of the OP. I agree that the failure of neoliberalism is far from sufficient for a revival of the left. I agree with RP the problem of national separateness is not as bad as Z suggests. On climate change and to a very large extent on economic issues like austerity, we are seeing a global realignment where political alliances work across national boundaries.

813

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 11:44 am

I think I’ll go on the same way, Val. Treating the rejection of “man must conquer nature” as if it has to be specifically ecofeminist rather than a product of almost any kind of environmental concern is, itself, essentializing: ecofeminists were not the first or only theorists to have this same basic idea. I remember people writing about it from rather more than 40 years ago. In any case I didn’t claim to have originated it: I only claimed that I was presenting what I believe.

As usual, you haven’t made a positive argument for your ideas, you’re just complained that other people are doing wrong and must stop or change. Are you really into feminism? It’s rather as if liberals started to write that they distrusted large-scale government and should start to decide things based on consensus at town meetings, and I kept pointing out that this was an anarchist sort of idea. If they jeered at nutty anarchism and said that town meetings were an old New England tradition, should I say that no they weren’t because consensus is different from voting and fulminate about how they were dissing me, an anarchist theorist? Or should I say, OK, wherever they think they got this from, they’re advocating something I more or less agree with?

814

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 12:03 pm

geo: “I’m happy to drop the phrase “class struggle” and substitute something like “economic democracy,” meaning social, public, democratic control over large-scale investment and production decisions.”

But I think that we have an actual disagreement, geo, not just a terminological one. Democracy in this case is s state practice that legitimates state decisions. I think that true social, public, democratic control over large-scale investment and production might end up just as bad for environmental issues as the situation that we have now. I mean, let’s look at actually existing socialism in any of its forms. We can dismiss most of them as state capitalism if you like, but did any of them ever do better in this area?

If people democratically thought that these issues mandated sweeping change, they have the tools to make that change even in our current societies. I don’t believe in shadowy control of the system: people could in theory support a radical environmentalist candidate or candidates and vote them into office. They don’t. And again, I don’t think that they don’t primarily because of propaganda. The propaganda certainly exists and has some effect, but primarily, the existing state of affairs is one that’s in most people’s short-term interest and they vote for that short-term interest.

815

Z 03.08.16 at 1:00 pm

Rich @839. Actually, the dichotomy you outline is what I was trying to say. My belief is that the problems posed by the interaction of ecological destruction and global inequality are truly universal and require coordination, so countries are linked. But, and this is where I have explained myself poorly (I blame my 6 month old son who insisted I wrote 838 at 4am), I believe mentalities and behaviors are diverging, making the common vocabulary necessary to articulate a left oriented answer to the global problems elusive.

Now let me be crystal clear: this is a positive, not normative, judgment. I believe mentalities are diverging; I don’t think that they should be nor that they have to be, I just believe they are.

Case in point, John says we are seeing a global transnational alliance on issues like climate change and austerity. I am willing to concede the former (though the real test will be how the West will deal with the millions of climate refugees climate change is bound to produce in the following decades even with strong mitigation policies effective right now; considering the case of Syria now, who can say they are hopeful?). But on the latter, I (unfortunately) really don’t see it. At all. There might be a transnational group of left-leaning scholars and academics having reached some semblance of consensus about this (with CT forming the vanguard), but where is the transnational social movement able to effectively mobilize citizens against rising economic inequalities? Heck, where is the national social movement able to do so? (After securing endorsements from Plume and Rich, I’m trying hard for one from Bruce Wilder, but he’s notoriously more severe.)

One last point. This state of affair (that is to say the lack of a common vocabulary on the left), if it is true that it prevails in current times, places squarely said times in the historical norm. Aside from some marxist vulgate, I don’t think there was much actual social force underpinning French, British, German, American, Indian and Chinese socialists in 1920.

816

JoB 03.08.16 at 1:02 pm

@ 859 – I agree (maybe I should change my name to Brett ;-). There might be a solution in decomposing nation states into cities again and have a United Cities or whatever. This can maybe be done. Typically big city mayors, even on the right, are milder in their opinions. I believe partly because at that level people care about totally different types of thing, partly because they simply have no armies and stuff to wield. This way we can have globalization without this frantic competition between states armed with armies and capitalist. I fear it is dreaming, anyway evolving from capitalism is evolving away from meritocracy and (I’m forgetting the communist who wrote a manifesto on the ideal of not working) to less work hours, at least less compulsory work hours.

@ 858 – Then you’re closer to Trump than you maybe are willing to admit to yourself? I’ll hope you can forgive me but I have kids and I don’t think the solution lies in destabilizing national pride myths. My parents were old enough to support globalization, because they experienced, in Europe, first hand where nation state pride led to. The fact that I have no big money worries is in the first case neither my merit nor theirs, it is the product of some decades of countries working together instead of against each other. A truth that is easily forgotten.

817

JoB 03.08.16 at 1:05 pm

Thank Google for it! I got it, Lafargue (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Lafargue) and the right to be lazy.

@Z – I fear you can start finding the next Tamagawa number. Maybe a thing best reserved for when you son is keeping you awake again. ;-).

818

Brett Dunbar 03.08.16 at 1:16 pm

The evidence that free trade deals disproportionately benefit the poor is fairly robust. When a trade deal is done that includes both rich and poor the poor country experiences a sustained period of rapid economic growth within a few years. The rich countries also experience increased growth but to a much smaller extent. The moral case for the trade liberalisation is that it is the most effective way that we have found for raising people out of poverty, as a political sell the fact that it can also be promoted on a basis of naked self interest means that you can sell it to the rich and selfish. Other benefits include it enriches the middle-class in poor societies and they have tended to be the political basis for democratic revolutions. And it creates an interest group amongst the rich who’s interests are directly harmed by war or other forms of conflict.

Putin has attacked certain oligarchs, mostly those who have been donating to opposition political parties. He was trying to crush viable political opposition. Russia’s economy has real problems with a corrupt and autocratic government willing to abuse and distort policy and legal processes in order to benefit Putin’s cronies and harm his enemies. Russia is not a well functioning capitalist economy.

819

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 1:31 pm

Z: “Case in point, John says we are seeing a global transnational alliance on issues like climate change and austerity.”

Well, we sort of have to pretend that there is one. Let’s take the Paris Agreements as a case in point. Someone might describe them as a hopeful new sign of international cooperation, as the form of a new left order rising through the shell of the old. Or someone might describe them as a deceitful neoliberal trick designed to put off any actual concerted action. Whichever one it really is, we have to treat it as if it’s the first (sort of), because there’s no other path that gets us anywhere within the short time frame that we have. That doesn’t mean that we have to be naive, it means that we have to hold people to the stated ideals of the agreement even though we know and they know that they may not have actually planned to follow through.

820

JoB 03.08.16 at 1:45 pm

@866 – The Trump/Putin love affair is not coincidental. Putin has no problem whatsoever with capitalism, he just has a problem with democracy. I am with 865, Putin may do some propaganda on his opposition to some oligarchs but, all in all, he’s a number one oligarch.

The fact that in both Russia and Turkey you have aspiring tyrants is surely connected in a direct way to Western imperialism, I’ll give you that. I understand why people voted them to where they are now. I understand even if I do not agree. There is no God- (not even an Enlightenment-) given reason why it has to be the Western way or the highway.

821

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 1:54 pm

And reading this back I see that I didn’t answer the distinction between environmental issues and austerity that Z made. Well… let’s take Greece as an example. As far as I can tell, the people of Greece basically made a democratic choice. They decided that they’d rather stay in the EU and risk austerity than leave the EU together with all the disruptions that would involve. I don’t think they made the right decision, but it was their decision and at some point you have to just back off and say, OK you made the decision that you thought was right for you and I obviously don’t know as much as you do about your situation.

So if they continue to suffer from austerity, I don’t see how that’s my problem. I’m sympathetic, but they made their choice. But environmental issues really are my problem, because their choices affect our choices and vice versa.

822

JoB 03.08.16 at 2:05 pm

823

JoB 03.08.16 at 2:15 pm

I just want you to have heard about the love affair. The URL is sufficient for that, no need to watch the video (I didn’t).

824

Layman 03.08.16 at 2:18 pm

“Or, maybe it’s that, as technology has evolved, the minimum investment for being a capitalist has grown, to the point where that first rung of the ladder is out of reach for most people? “

We long for that lost time, before teh technology – those happy days! – when every man built his own factory, and no man had to labor in another’s.

825

Plume 03.08.16 at 2:49 pm

Rich @861,

I may be misreading you, but it sounds like you’re dismissing the idea of democracy, as it pertains to the environment, because it failed to fix environmental concerns in places like the Soviet Union.

Of course, the Soviet Union never had democracy. They didn’t even have it in our limited, nominal, sectioned-off form. And they certainly didn’t have it where it’s a must — the economy, inside and outside the workplace.

It’s definitely going to be a “state controlled” farce, if it isn’t there, as the so-called Western Democracies prove daily. Study after study in recent years points to the fact that our supposed representatives don’t listen to anyone from the 99%. It’s all about the desires of the 1% for them. They get their legislation from them and they cater to them. It’s all about the Benjamins.

But, again, I may have misread you.

In short, we can’t really dismiss democracy as an effective tool to reverse environmental damage until we try it. We haven’t in the modern world — anywhere — on a national scale.

826

Plume 03.08.16 at 3:03 pm

Brett @865,

As with most of what you write about the wonders of capitalism, no. This isn’t true. Not at all. Not ever.

“The evidence that free trade deals disproportionately benefit the poor is fairly robust.” Which is why, of course, you never bother to produce the evidence you say is so robust.

And this is yet another howler. I’m beginning to think you write for the Onion:

“The moral case for the trade liberalisation is that it is the most effective way that we have found for raising people out of poverty.”

No. It’s one of the most effective ways for destroying their way of life, their culture, their ability to self-provision, and their natural resources. “Trade liberalization” has always been a euphemism for “Capital crushing workers, cultures and the environment.”

Even if we leave out the obvious massive differences in power, and just go by this in a cold-eyed manner, capitalists would go out of business if they did what you suggest. You are suggesting they purposely set up deals that are bad bets for them, that they lose out on, that cost them money, profits, market share, etc. In reality, if they did what you say, even over a short period of time — and you’re talking long term — they likely go bankrupt. In short, their entire purpose is to sell products for a lot more than they cost to make, and a huge part of that is buying (even stealing) natural resources as cheaply as possible, and collecting as much unpaid labor as possible.

The West, and the “developed world” more generally, has always cut deals to its advantage, which means to the advantage of the wealthiest members of the developed world. And the developed world continues to this day to be the beneficiaries of slavery and all the other obscenely unequal arrangements they forced on their colonies for centuries. Do you honestly believe they flipped some switch and turned from slavers to saints and are now “giving back”?

Seriously?

827

Niall McAuley 03.08.16 at 3:22 pm

Plume @876: You are suggesting they purposely set up deals that are bad bets for them, that they lose out on, that cost them money, profits, market share, etc

That would only be implied if all trade was zero sum.

828

Brett Dunbar 03.08.16 at 3:40 pm

Plume you completely misunderstood. I stated free trade benefits both parties, the benefits to the poor are much larger but the rich also end up absolutely richer than they would without the deal. Economics is not a zero sum game, trade liberalisation benefits everyone, it just benefits the poor more.

If trade were exploitative then poor countries without trade barriers would do worse than similar poor countries with trade barriers. And the removal of trade barriers would be followed by a drop in the rate of growth. This is not what is observed. Those countries largely isolated from trade are the poorest and are staying that way. Access to world trade was followed by sharply increased wealth in for example China.

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-03-06/sanders-fails-to-recognize-that-some-trade-is-good is an article by Noah Smith who refers to a few papers on the topic of trade liberalisation and growth.

829

Plume 03.08.16 at 3:40 pm

Niall @877,

Non-capitalist trade can certainly avoid that problem. But capitalist trade can not. It is “zero sum.” Otherwise, you don’t make profits, you don’t increase market share, you don’t increase the size of your company or your compensation, etc.

Capitalists try to “win” with every transaction they make. They’re not looking for tie scores. They don’t always win, of course. But that’s the goal. They need to win more than they lose, cumulatively, and they don’t always know when they’re likely to win, so they can’t take the chance. They can’t in general say, “Oh, we can trade exact value for exact value here, because we’ll make a profit somewhere else.” They need to cut deals to their advantage every chance they get — from labor arrangements, to suppliers, to politicians and so on. Those who don’t do this go out of business.

830

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 3:43 pm

Plume: “It’s definitely going to be a “state controlled” farce”

All socialism so far has been a “state controlled” farce. People say that you count the USSR bloc because, state capitalism. You can’t count contemporary China because, state capitalism. All right, let’s say that you can’t count those. People generally end up doing something like what geo has mentioned: “What about the Scandinavian democracies?” We can have that conversation if we want to, but it’s unclear to me whether this is something really based on socialism or on Scandinavian culture.

And if we’re talking about the usual imaginary future society, then I have to keep pointing out that democracy is a form of statism, basically. It’s rule by the 50%. That’s better than rule by the 1%. But if we’re going full bore towards imaginary solutions, why stop there?

831

RNB 03.08.16 at 3:44 pm

@865. yes free trade can now benefit the poor in poor nations. But Piketty has put his finger on a central problem. While free trade can increase overall welfare, it does lead to losers who are to be compensated by redistributive taxation; yet today the mobility of capital has led to competitive tax reductions, leaving states without the revenue with which to compensate those who have lost from trade.

There is a study by Autor which shows that many US American workers who were displaced by the ascension of China to the WTO did fall into a kind of black hole. Perhaps we want to tie this to the Deaton finding of rising mortality among middle-aged white men. And the political backlash is the white nationalism and/or protectionism. The reaction whether represented by Trump or Sanders is tribalist in my opinion (I wish Sanders would drop the protectionism to focus more on his proposals for progressive taxation).

And this nationalist or tribalist reaction may well be strong enough to beat down any candidate associated with free trade or globalization. So this spells trouble for Clinton who will be hated less for neo-liberalism in the form of the deregulation of derivatives (which Sanders also voted for) but for her association with globalization and cosmopolitanism.

832

Plume 03.08.16 at 3:46 pm

Brett @879,

No, Brett, you completely misunderstand that there is a huge difference between very small percentages within countries benefiting from trade agreements . . . . and the masses themselves. If the richest 1% — or even smaller percentages — do well when these trade agreements take shape, that in no way proves your point. It just means financial elites do very well when the various trade partners put things together on their behalf. Which is logical, of course.

If you really wanted to prove your point, you’d post data showing the vast majority of the population benefiting, and then do process of elimination to prove it can be attributable to the trade deals themselves, and not some other variable . . . . like, social welfare programs, NGOs, foreign aid, etc. etc.

833

Plume 03.08.16 at 3:57 pm

Rich @881,

Well you and I see “socialism” in very different ways, then. Because, to me, it’s never, ever, even remotely existed beyond small scale practice and theory. No nation-state has ever had socialism. That would mean, at least, true democracy (including the economy) and the people own the means of production. The people, not political parties, juntas, dictators, etc. etc.

That’s at least my reading of “socialism.” I see the Soviets as practicing something that prevented socialism from ever taking root. Same with China. Same with NK. They blocked it on purpose to maintain party power, and the Soviets especially decided they had to compete with the West to be even better at capitalism than the West was. My reading of socialism is that it replaces the competitive laws of motion inherent in capitalism with cooperative rules of engagement. By definition, it wouldn’t try to “out compete” other nations . . . . or pit various entities against one another within them.

And, for me, “democracy” isn’t representational. It’s participatory. My imagined society wouldn’t have political parties or reps. Democracy would be a part of our day to day existence, inside and outside the workplace. Of course, if people want to opt out from this, that’s up to them. But they’d also know, going in, that their voices wouldn’t be directly heard when X, Y or Z issues were being discussed. They’d still have the protections encoded in the new constitution for human rights, civil rights, etc. etc. . . . . but they wouldn’t be directly heard on operational changes in that moment. They’re always, always free to abstain. No questions asked. But to be heard, they have to show up or use the Internet, etc. etc.

834

Plume 03.08.16 at 4:07 pm

Rich,

a follow-up. I’m not sure, but I think you and I have similar goals. I want the smallest possible “state apparatus” right off the bat and a roadmap for doing away with it altogether. Might take several generations. But I think it’s a great goal.

But in order to get rid of that state apparatus, there has to be some form of organization to replace it. Some form. Some “anarchists” seem to believe they can get rid of the one but leave a complete vacuum in its place. This would all too likely lead to it being filled by various warlords and zealots who would wipe out anarchist collectives and the federation of collectives in short order. So there has to be some sweet spot, some place along the spectrum between Big Gubmint and No Gubmint . . . and, for me, the closer we get to none is best.

(As mentioned, I see capitalism as always already demanding Big Gubmint, with no escape from that. Yet one more reason for my hatred of said system.)

Which brings us to Parecon ideas, and Participatory Democracy in general. If folks don’t want “the state,” they’re going to have to step up to the plate and fill the new vacuum somehow. If everyone opts out, then those warlords will opt in and basically impose X variation of slavery on the population.

One can argue how “unfair” it is to ask people to participate in their own self-governance — which is the goal here, at least for me. Self-governance. But how else do you sustain it? How else do we maintain that option for everyone, if not via some form of citizen, civic participation?

835

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 4:10 pm

Plume: “But they’d also know, going in, that their voices wouldn’t be directly heard when X, Y or Z issues were being discussed. They’d still have the protections encoded in the new constitution for human rights, civil rights, etc. etc.”

It sort of mystifies me why and how you’re envisioning an anarchy with a constitution, a system of codified enforceable rights, and so on and that doesn’t count as a state. But to each their own, your anarchy is not my anarchy, etc.

But basically, how do people opt out? Decisions are going to made that are going to be enforced on them whether they opt out, or whether they opt in and just lose the vote. I don’t really see this as a great advance over our current state of affairs.

836

Niall McAuley 03.08.16 at 4:14 pm

Rich writes: how do people opt out?

Finally, some real motivation for space colonization! Lunar lava tubes, here we come!

837

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 4:22 pm

Lunar lava tubes really have the same problem. What happens when someone else wants to live in the same lava tube?

The basic solution that I see is that you stop basing society around large-scale coordination problems that involve needing to make decisions that bind a large group of people. Since we all live on one Earth, and therefore we’re forced to cooperate in one big, hugely important coordination problem, we’re going to have to settle that one. But is democracy really a good way of handling that one? What happens when some people say, no, they don’t care about the long term. That’s why I think that cultural negotiation and agreement is basically the way to go, rather than systems of votes than can be won or lost. People don’t think of taking chattel slaves in most places on the planet now not because it’s illegal, or because we’ve voted against it, but because we just don’t do it.

838

Lupita 03.08.16 at 4:36 pm

Z @ 862

Some years ago, when people were beginning to blog and have comment threads, I was amazed to find out that I could not discuss neoliberalism in English because my interlocutors did not understand the term. They thought it had something to do with the Democratic Party’s stance on abortion and gay rights. Compare that to this thread, right now. We all know exactly what neoliberalism means. Is that not common vocabulary? Has great progress on that front not been made?

Another example. When Varoufakis started his blog, before Syriza and him becoming finance minister, several Latin American posters that seemed experienced in dealing with the IMF, tried to convince him of the benefits of a moratorium. Varoufakis would have none of it, arguing that Greece’s situation was nothing like Latin America’s. He saw absolutely no value in our contributions, our experience, and our point of view.

Third example: Roubini. He was one of the few who saw the 2008 crisis coming. Why him of all economists? “I’ve been studying emerging markets for 20 years, and saw the same signs in the U.S. that I saw in them”, he said. He predicted the crisis by looking outside the West.

I have the feeling that there are only two posters here who have actually lived through a financial meltdown. I am one of them. I assure you, it is a very educational experience and it leaves you will a enlightened sense for detecting bullshit and bubbles, a sense that can also be developed in a less traumatic way by studying Latin American and Asian financial crises, like Roubini did. He saw it coming. I see it coming.

If Westeners want to become part of a global movement or alliance, you have to see your future in Latin America’s and Asia’s past, and avoid the Varoufakis route of believing your situation is different, that you are different. No, it is not, you are not. You are just closer to the core and the rot is taking a little more time to reach you.

839

RNB 03.08.16 at 4:49 pm

@882 Quiggin has not yet clarified whether Sanders’ anti-trade position puts him in the left or among the tribalists. I would think that due to his also voting against the immigration compromise he belongs in the latter. That bill would have paved the way for more than 10 million people to achieve citizenship. Also consider Sanders’ “can’t be bothered with the details of foreign policy” approach. Many people think Sanders represents the return of the left. I do not think that this is the source of his appeal. He’s a populist nationalist.

840

Plume 03.08.16 at 4:53 pm

Rich @886,

Read Chomsky on anarchy. He explains how that’s possible.

I’m mystified how your version of anarchism could last more than a day, without at least some forms of protection for minorities, human rights in general, for civil rights, etc. etc. Without some way of protecting people from predators. Are you saying there shouldn’t be any laws, rules or regs, whatsoever? Cuz, that’s not really “anarchism,” at least not via any of its adherents going back two centuries. You’re talking “chaos,” not anarchism.

Unless you don’t intend it to go beyond truly small scale forms, tucked away, so no one really knows they’re around. Like, “intentional communities” and so on. A dozen people here. A dozen there. Is that your goal?

I want anarchist-socialism to be nation-wide, not just in small, isolated enclaves, soon to be swallowed up and destroyed by capitalist predators. I don’t think it can survive in tiny isolated forms, and I actually think it’s immoral to keep our present system in place. In fact, I think the evidence is overwhelming that our current system is obscenely immoral. Perhaps you just don’t feel that way.

841

JoB 03.08.16 at 4:55 pm

Brett@879:

It benefits the poor countries “relatively” more – and the rich countries “absolutely” more. Indeed not a zero-sum game (there is a sense in which current politics can be seen as the belief that everything is a zero-sum game) which is why it persists. This accounts also for the reason why the 1%-99% thing could happen without mass uprising. Although the fact that the absolute gains by the rich are creating bigger total inequality is, ultimately, going to lead to its collapse because (as we see at country and citizen level) the unbalance means the rich can influence the state power disproportionately to their advantage.

842

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 4:59 pm

Plume: “In fact, I think the evidence is overwhelming that our current system is obscenely immoral. Perhaps you just don’t feel that way.”

Well, here we go. You say that you never misread what I wrote, and that it was the other way around, but you always come back to this same thing — if I don’t agree with you, then I must just not feel that our current system is immoral.

I’m obviously not saying “_Mad Max_ sounds fun. Let’s have a society just like that!” Societies always have had methods of social control that prevent unsanctioned violence, some of them more successful than others. I don’t think that you need a state to do this, but I listed this, right up at the top of this discussion, as an “obvious problem”. If you’re going to solve it by reinventing the state, why bother.

843

Plume 03.08.16 at 5:11 pm

Rich @893,

Okay, if I misread you, I apologize. But could you try to describe those mechanisms? I want it to be the case that we could just skip the whole “tiny state apparatus” stage and go straight to no state apparatus. I’m just not seeing how we get there. I’m just not seeing how we avoid all rules, regs, structures, etc. etc. . . . .

Which is why I suggest participatory democracy (with no political parties) as the best form for this. It equalizes all the voices in the room. No one is granted more power than anyone else. We debate, we hash out our differences, then we vote. Hopefully, this leads to a sort of “wisdom of crowds” scenario . . . . and with that constitution in the background, that majority vote won’t fall into the same trap as we saw in the American South or the Puritan North. Where you could convince a majority or more of the people to take away freedom from those outside that majority.

Anyway, would appreciate it if you could elaborate on your imagined society.

844

geo 03.08.16 at 5:12 pm

Z @862: After securing endorsements from Plume and Rich, I’m trying hard for one from Bruce Wilder, but he’s notoriously more severe.

If you think Wilder is a hard sell, try getting a friendly nod from McManus.

845

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 5:42 pm

How, exactly, do you have no political parties? If someone says “Ha ha me and my friends are going to form the Flying Spaghetti Monster party and vote as a bloc and you can’t stop us” then what do you do. Disallow their votes? If Trump gets born into that society and says “I’ll get us a great deal!” and ten thousand suckers listen to him, then what? They’re disqualified?

Consider this, just as a thought experiment. Let’s say that you set up a Parecon system. Everyone hashes it out and votes and generally has a great time. And what if they end up with the same exact system as they have now? What if they say, “No, a majority of us really don’t want to have any real protection for minorities.” What do you do, say “But our constitution forbids that?” They say “But we don’t agree, and we’re a majority.”

It comes down to, they agree because they already agree. If they don’t agree, a constitution is not magically going to make them agree. Democratic voting is not going to magically result in the result you want, not unless that you assume that everyone thinks like you do. If they already thought like you do, why haven’t they just used the existing system?

As to how I’d do it, boy is this really not a great forum to discuss the great unsolved problems of anarchism. But there’s two basic solutions that pretty much all societies have started with: you either have a corps of specialists in the use of violence, and align their interests with general society’s interests in some way, or you have some culture and technology by which everyone can pretty much equally use violence. I favor the first one. But how exactly to do that is a solution that I mentioned solving in the margin just here and I’ll be back to explain it right after I finish this duel.

846

JanieM 03.08.16 at 5:44 pm

No one is granted more power than anyone else

Ah, the passive voice.

Who’s doing the granting? What did that process look like?

Looks like turtles all the way down to me.

847

geo 03.08.16 at 5:57 pm

Rich: Democratic voting is not going to magically result in the result you want, not unless that you assume that everyone thinks like you do.

Or unless you, you know, persuaded a majority of people to think like you do.

848

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 6:00 pm

JanieM: “Looks like turtles all the way down to me.”

Well, yes. To quote John Emerson, “The proletariat is the turtle of the left.” By that he meant the traditional left. My turtle would be something like cultural agreement. How did the world almost universally decide that chattel slavery was bad? There was a whole lot of argument and legal debates and popular movements and wars and resistance movements and now, lo and behold, everyone agrees that chattel slavery is bad.

849

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 6:02 pm

geo: “Or unless you, you know, persuaded a majority of people to think like you do.”

Yes, of course. But that precedes making the constitution that expresses those values. And if you already have the cultural agreement, then why do you need the constitution?

850

Brett Dunbar 03.08.16 at 6:03 pm

I don’t see a stateless society as especially desirable. Generally speaking the nicest places to live on earth are western liberal democracies, all of which have extensive states politically accountable to the people. Places where the state has collapsed, such as Somalia are not anywhere you would want to live.

851

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 6:23 pm

Brett Dunbar: “Generally speaking the nicest places to live on earth are western liberal democracies, all of which have extensive states politically accountable to the people.”

Neoliberalism is a liberalism. Generally what I’m trying to get other leftists here to consider is a Lovecraftian horror-world in which they empower the people, the people vote, and a majority of the people decide that this is the best of all possible worlds. Deciding that this has not already happened involves a whole lot of excuse-making: false consciousness, elite propaganda, ignorance, general tiredness of the populace and who knows what maybe patriarchy. What if neoliberalism is what we end up with when the people’s will is expressed? Do we dissolve the people and elect another?

Of course we try to convince people otherwise. But it’s the convincing that’s the important part. When we’re building a structure on top of that convincing, maybe we should avoid some of the notorious problems that got us here in the first place.

852

geo 03.08.16 at 6:29 pm

Good question: What if neoliberalism is what we end up with when the people’s will is expressed?

Good answer: We try to convince people otherwise. And keep trying.

853

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 6:38 pm

OK, geo — and I’m sorry to keep repeating this — but how does the apparatus of a state help, once that convincing has been done? It can’t be to keep a minority of capitalists in line. There aren’t a minority of slave-holders still in the U.S., ready and eager to grab up slaves into the economic system of chattel slavery unless the police are constantly vigilant. Well, there are a minority of people who keep trying to reintroduce slave-like arrangements, but the point is that you don’t really need laws and police as such to stop them: pretty much any group of people would stop them.

854

JoB 03.08.16 at 6:39 pm

Second that.

855

JoB 03.08.16 at 6:40 pm

Second that – 903.

856

geo 03.08.16 at 7:04 pm

Rich @904: Well, if we don’t need a state — if we’ve convinced practically everyone in the society — then great! If no one wants to privately control the common wealth, then by definition no one will need to be prevented from doing so. As you say, “it’s the convincing that’s the important part.”

But for the time being, I’m shooting for a mere super-majority — enough to write a constitution; say, two-thirds or three-quarters. The constitution is just a statement of the society’s (ie, the supermajority’s) goals and values, including the right to dissent from them and try (nonviolently) to change them. Then you pass laws by simple majority, protecting the environment and otherwise providing for the common good. People who disagree are free to try to change the laws, but not to disobey them. If they disobey the law, then the law should be enforced, nonviolently if possible (by “any group of people,” as you say), by force if necessary (preferably not by just “any group of people” but by a publicly accountable constabulary).

I’m happy to dispense with the word “state” — let’s toss it, along with the phrase “class struggle,” into the dustbin of history. But what is about the above arrangements that sticks in your craw?

857

Layman 03.08.16 at 7:06 pm

“What happens when someone else wants to live in the same lava tube?”

We know how that ends. Finn’s men, waiting in p-suits at the Warden’s private tube station, break the latch on airlock and go in, “shoulder to shoulder.”

858

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 7:19 pm

geo: “But for the time being, I’m shooting for a mere super-majority — enough to write a constitution; say, two-thirds or three-quarters.”

Will that ever happen? I’m not saying that it can a priori never happen. But does social change go, first 10% of people support something, then 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, OK now we enforce our will on the remaining 30%.

I don’t think it does. The last 30% of people substantially give up a long time before that point, or they’re never going to give up, not without the kind of repression that the left can’t do and still remain the left. If you need a constitution at the 70% mark, then something has gone wrong. The state-and-law-making apparatus that you write about seems to me to be a way to evade an instability that’s going to sink that system.

Can an anarchy exist as long as there’s a single state somewhere in the world, with that state ready to hop up its citizens into soldiers ready to go out and conquer? I think that’s the same kind of question as the 70% question. There are always going to be people who just don’t agree. Can you find a way to let those people do what they’re going to do, while preserving the society that your group of people agree on? Or do you have to pretty much have a global police by god smashing anyone who doesn’t get with the program. I don’t believe that 30% could seriously hold out against the social agreement of the other 70% unless it was pretty serious to them.

859

Plume 03.08.16 at 7:19 pm

Rich @896,

There is, of course, a general problem with any of these kinds of discussions. It’s much easier to poke holes in each other’s alternatives, than to actually explain them in an adequate manner in short spaces — like these. We pretty much know, in our own heads, that they should work and how they do that. But conveying this is a tough slog. So, anyway . . . . back to the show:

We wouldn’t recognize any political parties. Wouldn’t be allowed under the Constitution. People can certainly vote in blocs if they want. They likely will. But there is no formation of solidified, concretized, officially recognized political parties allowed. Main reason? That concentrates power. The concentration of power leads inexorably to oppression.

Why a constitution? Because people tend to slide away from idealistic pursuits which were needed to replace oppressive systems with better ones in the first place. We tend not to be able to sustain a sense of revolutionary, evolutionary change, progressive change, to better our lot. It takes too much effort. And, because cultures change over time, and that initial sense of solidarity withers away. So we hold things together with the best of our best, when we had that spirit to project that best.

Of course, we also should have mechanisms built in to change that constitution, if the people want it. But this too should be subject to strong majority consent to make that change . . . . in part, or the entire enchilada. Starting over, if that’s what people want. Scrapping the whole thing, etc.

Btw, all of my suggestions are by definition what I’d prefer. But as a part of the entire Parecon package, I know, going in, my own preferences may be tossed out or disinvited from the getgo. All I can do is suggest the way I’d do it, etc. etc. If that isn’t the proverbial will of the people, and I can’t persuade folks my ideas should be included . . . . then so be it. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, etc.

860

Brett Dunbar 03.08.16 at 7:26 pm

Trade arrangements are essentially never zero sum. For a trade to happen both parties must agree it is their interest. This can work as things can have different values to different people. So both parties end up better off.

861

Plume 03.08.16 at 7:28 pm

Geo @907,

I like your ideas.

And have we officially motioned and suspended and ____ insert proper jargon . . . . decided to toss those terms? I’m fine with that too.

Though I think we still need to keep “class” and actually use it more often. But if “class struggle” is solely connected to the “proletariat” and its essentialism visa mastercard vie is no longer functional . . . . then, sure. As Jay Gould once say, roughly three years after Marx’s death, “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other.”

There has got to be a better way.

862

Brett Dunbar 03.08.16 at 7:38 pm

Democracy without political parties has been tried. It doesn’t work. Parties serve a useful purpose to the public as they identify a group of potential representatives who have a common ideology. So by voting for the candidate endorsed by that party you pretty much know what you are getting without having to know much about the actual candidate.

863

Plume 03.08.16 at 7:39 pm

Brett @911,

“Trade arrangements are essentially never zero sum. For a trade to happen both parties must agree it is their interest. This can work as things can have different values to different people. So both parties end up better off.”

So, when Big Gubmint reps, at the behest of the financial elite, decide for everyone else what goes into those trade agreements, who, exactly, ends up better off? Which “parties”? Can you describe them, please?

Keep in mind that within each nation, you have literally tens of millions of competing interests, and between countries as well. The only way your hypothetical might work is if there are, say, two human beings working out a trade:

“Bobby, I have a LeBron James rookie card, but I’m much more a fan of Steph Curry.”
“Joey, I have a Steph Curry rookie card, but I’m much more a fan of LeBron.”
“Kewl.”
“Kewl.”

864

Plume 03.08.16 at 7:41 pm

@913,

“Democracy without political parties has been tried. It doesn’t work.”

Where? Where and when has it been tried? I can’t think of a single instance of it occurring in modern history, anywhere.

865

Lupita 03.08.16 at 7:43 pm

@Rich Puchalsky

Another alternative would be the formation of autonomous communities within a state, like the indigenous communities in Canada whose social right to form autonomous nations is recognized by the Canadian constitution. Or the Zapatista communities in Mexico that decided to live as if they were constitutionally recognized autonomous communities even if they aren’t. These societies can grow in number and size and the unconvinced people can always remain in their neoliberal zones, being highly competitive, productive and inventive, going into debt, and all that stuff that makes them feel free.

If pre-capitalist communities can exist within a capitalist state, why not capitalist communities within a post-capitalist non-state? Social rights may be the solution.

866

geo 03.08.16 at 7:48 pm

Rich @909: Can you find a way to let those people do what they’re going to do?

Well, if they just want to keep their handguns and hunting rifles, or practice polyandry, or play annoying music at non-outrageous levels, or chase after Tamagawa numbers, then yes. But if they’re going to blow a hole in the ozone layer, or raise the global temperature 5 degrees, or raise atmospheric concentrations of carbon to 500ppm, or run sex-trafficking rings, or turn the Great Lakes into a giant algae bloom and the Pacific Ocean into a garbage dump, or destroy the Amazon rain forest, or sell contaminated food, then no, if you have an unambiguous, democratically legitimate majority behind you, you damn well don’t let them. Where’s the problem?

867

ZedBlank 03.08.16 at 7:59 pm

@ Rich, various posts: don’t we have pretty good studies that show that propaganda, distraction, alienation, elite shenanigans etc. are real factors that prevent everyday people from utilizing the levers of power, in our “democracy” and others like it? Polls show pretty consistent and broad support for the kind of long-term planning that would significantly curtail climate change. I don’t think this is a question that boils down to optimism or pessimism; it can be studied, and it has been studied, pretty extensively. Chomsky’s anarchist sympathies haven’t been shaken, nor has his conviction that the state can be used as a bridge to a more equitable, possibly even state-free future society. He’s gone a long way in convincing me, anyway.

The question as to whether these mechanisms of control are built into the current system seems obvious: of course they are. But they’ve been resisted and even overcome, in piecemeal and obviously incomplete ways, over time. Perhaps the question isn’t why anti-democratic mechanisms are so robust, but why they are so weak.

As I understand it, this is the subtle meta-point, as it were, of Manufacturing Consent. One has to appreciate how incredibly effective the propaganda system is, and also, in another sense, how incredibly weak and precarious it is, at the same time.

868

William Timberman 03.08.16 at 8:11 pm

If we can’t convince Hillary Clinton not to bomb anyone, anywhere, who offends her sense of the proper world order, how are we going to convince a coal-rollin’, gun-totin’, librul gummint-hatin’ Dixie irredentist that those people have rights that are worthy of respect?

Yes, I do know the answer — slowly, and carefully, with a jaundiced eye over our shoulder at Hillary while we’re about it — I guess it doesn’t matter if I’m impatient with the process, as long as I’m willing to participate in it. Would it were otherwise, though. Am I allowed to say that after 917 comments by people who actually have a plan?

869

Brett Dunbar 03.08.16 at 8:22 pm

Afghanistan tried it 1963-73, reasonably democratic elections were held but political parties weren’t legalised. The lack of organised parliamentary parties made forming a representative government difficult.

870

ffrancis 03.08.16 at 8:29 pm

Plume @915

Well, since you asked, both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories in Canada have democratically elected governments without political parties. Nunavut’s legislature even operates by consensus…

871

Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 8:29 pm

Lupita: “If pre-capitalist communities can exist within a capitalist state, why not capitalist communities within a post-capitalist non-state? Social rights may be the solution.”

Yep. Rod Dreher can go all Benedict Option too, if he actually wants to and if anyone else actually wants to follow him.

As for the “are they going to raise the global temperature” part… well, we have to do something about this within the next ten years or so, right? And I’ve already said that I don’t expect widespread anarchism within my lifetime, which hopefully includes the next ten years. So if we aren’t going to raise the global temperature, that’s essentially going to have to be done under neoliberalism. We’re talking Paris Agreements, managerial/technocratic implementation of Paris Agreements, screwing over the populace by the 1% buying up public infrastructure during said implementation, etc.

By the time we get to the point where we have 70% agreement, if we ever do, then the physical and social basis for society has already been substantially transformed. The remaining dissenters don’t really have the power to destroy the global climate at that point. If they do, then yes I’m not suggesting that people just stand by and let them do it.

But are they selling contaminated food? To each other? Well, are you going to swoop in and stop that? I don’t think so. Then you really are policing the globe.

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Plume 03.08.16 at 8:32 pm

Brett 920,

So one country, which actually was a kingdom during that period, with Zahir Shah having ruled from 1933-1973, is proof that it can’t work anywhere else? And it was only nominally “democratic,” and its economy never was. In my book, that means it wasn’t “democratic” at all.

Not a good example, Brett.

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Plume 03.08.16 at 8:35 pm

ffrances,

How is it working? My contention is that it can work. Brett’s is that it’s been proven not to work. He cited Afghanistan, from 1963-1973 as proof. Not such a good example.

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Val 03.08.16 at 8:52 pm

So feminism was mentioned in the OP, and I have at times tried to introduce a feminist (ecofeminist) perspective, only to be told that it’s outdated, tired, essentialist or nutty (by someone who clearly hasn’t understood my ideas). And then when I get angry about this I’m told that I am rude and making things too personal ( where are we? The 1950s?).

And in my latest attempt at disruption, I get told very briefly that ecofeminist wasn’t the only critique of ‘man conquers nature’, and bingo, back the thread goes on its apparently endless course of ignoring feminist perspectives.

And in regard to your critique Rich, that I don’t explain my theories, does it ever occur to you that if I didn’t get ignored, dismissed or told that I’m nutty, I might be more inclined to do so?

Nup, you can all go on, ignoring the fact that I – whatever my faults – am the only voice that’s even trying to put a feminist perspective in these debates and that I get routinely marginalised or ridiculed whenever I try to do so.

Seriously the fact that these kind of threads happen on CT in the 21st century is beyond appalling. It’s like feminism never happened.

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ArmouredApple 03.08.16 at 9:15 pm

Hi Val,

I’m a long-time lurker (which I will probably return to after this), and feeling a bit saddened by this argument between you and Rich Puchalsky, as I find both of your perspectives interesting.

I’m not going to dive into that any further, but instead ask: could you explain a bit more about your take on the ecofeminist angle on “man conquers nature” and (your take on) how the left can move on from it? I would like to hear more. (I’ve read a tiny bit of feminist philosophy/ethics critiquing the idea of disengaged reason vs. nature, e.g. Margaret Olivia Little, but only a tiny bit.)

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subdoxastic 03.08.16 at 9:22 pm

@ffrancis @Plume

Nunavut’s legislature is interesting in its attempts at consensus governing. However, its efficiency leaves much to be desired, and frankly, it can seem rather dysfunctional at times. But then again, it represents (for various values of represent) only 31K people, so maybe its not the best example of large scale politics?

The lack of party’s can be seen as a potential drawback since parties do coalesce around particular ideologies/approaches, but in all honesty this is likely putting the cart before the horse since politics in the hamlets of nunavut aren’t much more than popularity contests that regularly see elected positions take turns passing between 1 or 2 prominent families. (As always in all things Nunavut, Iqaluit could be considered an exception here).

TL/DR: Nunavut is not a good example of anything except Nunavut.

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Plume 03.08.16 at 9:43 pm

subdoxastic,

Thanks. The other relevant part to all of this is that in my own vision of things, there are no elections. Yet another reason why parties just aren’t necessary. People are chosen via lottery, and they do their civic duty for a short period of time. The length of time would obviously be up for consideration by “the people,” but my own view is it should be something like four to six years total:

One year as a community rep, one year as a regional rep and two years as a national rep. Or perhaps two, two and two. No “states” in this set up. Communities, then regions, then the nation. We’d try to form regions as much as possible according to cultural ties and contiguous geography, with natural geographic boundaries playing a role as well. Rivers, mountains, valleys, etc. etc.

So, no elections. And everyone would rotate in and out of those positions, which aren’t positions of power. They’re facilitators of the popular will and self-governance.

People could opt out of serving, but we could perhaps figure out some rewards for incentives. Haven’t worked that out yet, and think the communal ethos would be strong enough on its own to get a high rate of participation. High enough, at least.

I’ve also rethought some earlier ratios of top to bottom pay, and now see my 4 to 1 ratio as still too large a gap for a truly egalitarian society. Had previously thought it was the sweet spot between absolutely flat pay structures, with no compensatory incentives, and too much of a gap. Now I’m thinking even 4 to 1 is too much.

To be continued, perhaps . . . .

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John Quiggin 03.08.16 at 9:51 pm

Plume, welcome back, but please try to comment less frequently, so I don’t need to reimpose a formal restriction.

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Val 03.08.16 at 10:42 pm

Armoured Apple @ 926
Thank you so much. It is such a relief to see someone engage seriously with my views after all this long thread. Seriously, water in the desert.

I am on my way to uni on the tram with only my phone at present, so I will respond to your request when I get there.

In the meantime, can I just say I agree with you that Rich’s views are interesting and I would be happy to engage with them if he stopped using denigratory terms like nutty about my views. (TBH, the historical resonances of calling women’s views “nutty” are so bad I think he should apologise. Perhaps Rich would like to read Jill Matthew’s ‘Good and mad women’ if he hasn’t already done so.)

One other point I would like to make now, hopefully to clarify one of my positions a bit: I think the term “identity politics”, at least as it is often used on CT, reflects the neoliberal turn on the 1990s, in which questions of race and gender became detached from questions of power, exploitation and materiality. Like neoliberalism and free market economics, it suggests a world in which we are all already ‘equal’ and are simply competing around questions of individual or shared ‘identity’ and our perceived wants or needs. Therefore I suggest that people are ostensibly opposed to neoliberalism should stop using the term.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.08.16 at 11:06 pm

ZedBlank: “@ Rich, various posts: don’t we have pretty good studies that show that propaganda, distraction, alienation, elite shenanigans etc. are real factors that prevent everyday people from utilizing the levers of power, in our “democracy” and others like it? Polls show pretty consistent and broad support for the kind of long-term planning that would significantly curtail climate change. I don’t think this is a question that boils down to optimism or pessimism; it can be studied, and it has been studied, pretty extensively.”

I can’t begin to pretend to be an expert on this kind of research, so…. but I’d never say that they aren’t real factors. I’d just say that they aren’t the most important factors. For instance, “Polls show pretty consistent and broad support for [etc.]”. Here’s a graph of how environmentalism has polled when placed in opposition to the importance of economic growth in the U.S. You look at this graph and think — well, I think — wow. Look at those huge numbers from, say, 1985 through 2000. It looks like we’re hitting geo’s 70% support level (at least in this one area).

Did that translate into actual, effective support for environmental policies? No. It meant that people liked to answer a question on a poll in a particular way. Meanwhile their actual behavior was to continue to vote in large majorities for people who promised economic growth over environmental protection. It’s a classic issue that polls well and has very broad but shallow support: it’s hardly ever a make-or-break vote changer. You might as well ask why gun control polls so well but is politically impossible in the U.S. “Because of the propaganda put out by the gun manufacturers’ lobby.” Well, it certainly exists, but I’d put it maybe 3rd or 4th if I were guessing at reasons.

Here’s a poem about this. It’s not as good as the last one.

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ArmouredApple 03.08.16 at 11:24 pm

Val @ 930: looking forward to hearing more! I like the way you construe things in your final paragraph. I get frustrated by what seems an unnecessary conflict on the left (maybe particularly in more popular political discussion) between those emphasising class and economic inequality on the one hand and those emphasising race and gender on the other. One point where I sympathise with the former group is that “identity politics” can seem quite consumerist (and careerist), and I think you bring out quite nicely how that can be avoided, by opposing “power, exploitation and materiality” to “identity,…perceived wants or needs”. That has given me something to think about. When I was doing postgraduate research work in ethics (of the fairly mainstream, Anglo-American variety), I got quite disillusioned with the notion of identity, and was never drawn to the notions of wants or needs, so it is interesting you’ve picked out those three as problematic. I guess my unease was due to them seeming too individualistic to ground ethics properly, but this is linked to your point about neoliberalism and free-market economics.

This whole question of opening up conversations is tricky, and rather frustrating. There seem to be a few “main” threads of discussion going on above, e.g. on how to run an anarchist system, which I am finding very fruitful to read. Occasionally someone tries to achieve a perspective shift. For instance, Lupita @ 889 makes the very interesting point that those at the economic core (I take it) need to learn from those at the “periphery”, such as in Latin America, because the trends are starting there and moving inwards. This does not seem to have been picked up by anyone (unless perhaps I’ve missed it), though it seems a very promising avenue to explore. You in a different way have been trying to get some recognition for the feminist perspective and what it can contribute to this discussion. I can understand why discussions tend to roll on regardless, under their own dynamic – again, it is partly a systemic problem, I guess – but it is a shame.

Anyway, just be assured that there are people out here reading, even if we don’t always comment! (I have quite a lot of teaching tomorrow and Thursday, so I might disappear for a bit.)

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F. Foundling 03.09.16 at 12:42 am

@RNB 03.07.16 at 9:20 pm

>Do note as well that Chomsky has the same position as me on this election–the Democrat nominee should be supported to defeat the Republican nominee and Clinton is probably more electable than Sanders. He has said that he would vote for her.

To avoid misunderstandings – Chomsky hasn’t said that one should vote for Clinton against Sanders in the primaries because she is ‘more electable’ in the general election (many polls indicate the exact opposite, btw). In the Al Jazeera interview, Chomsky has said that: 1. he would vote for Clinton *in the general election* if she is the nominee; 2. even though Sanders has the best policies of all the candidates, Chomsky doesn’t have much hope of seeing him become president because of ‘our system of mainly bought elections’. The Clinton camp apparently wants to construe the second statement as their talking point that Sanders is uncapable of defeating a Republican in the general election, but in the Smashing Interviews Magazine, Chomsky makes it pretty clear what he means:

Quote: ‘I assume that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination just because of the nature of our electoral system, which is basically now “bought” elections overwhelmingly, and the major funders will probably succeed at putting her across. What Bernie Sanders has achieved is pretty remarkable, but I doubt very much, in our existing system, he can make it beyond the primaries. So I think a fair guess is that Clinton will be nominated.’

In other words, it’s not that the Clinton shills are *justified* by the fact that Sanders won’t win, it’s that Sanders probably won’t win *because* of the Clinton shills.

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Val 03.09.16 at 12:49 am

Thanks again AA @ 932!

I guess there is this question about when people are having a discussion and someone tries to break in with a critical perspective, how much are participants in the existing discussion justified in just ignoring that person? And if that person becomes ‘rude’ and angry, are participants justified in throwing a few choice insults at the rude person?

Maybe we would all have different perspectives depending on our role in this particular drama, but when it’s an ostensibly ‘progressive’ blog and the ‘rude’ person is trying to put a feminist perspective, which no-one apparently wants to hear, then there are probably issues about power and privilege worth considering.

I though earlier that I could maybe summarise what I have written about ecofeminism so far in a way that would be concise enough for a blog, but I now think that is very difficult and would take a long time. So what I what I will try to do is take a few key sentences and string them together in a way that I hope makes sense enough for discussion. I’ll start a separate comment.

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bob mcmanus 03.09.16 at 12:52 am

DNFTFT

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RNB 03.09.16 at 1:30 am

I am not part of the Clinton camp, have not given it a dollar nor received a dollar from it. If Sanders loses, it’s his fault or perhaps he did not get the media attention he deserved. But he won’t have been outspent. Don’t blame the Clinton shills if he loses.

At any rate, that’s how I read the Al-Jazeera interview–that Sanders would be destroyed by right-wing PAC money in a general election. I had not seen this interview, given to someone in Burlington VT? At any rate, Sander’s tax plans would come under fierce attack in a general election, and he doesn’t have the resources to defend himself against “swiftboat” and “Willie Horton” ads that the Republicans spend half a billion dollars running.

Plus, I would add that he would likely be undermined by candidates in his own party who for the purposes of their own electability would distance themselves from his single-payer and tax proposals generally. This could lead to his own defeat, plus the defeat of Democrats down the ticket. I see a Sanders’ candidacy as a potential disaster for the Democratic Party which he does not lead and would most probably not unify.

But put this all aside Chomsky clearly thinks that people who say that there is no difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party led by Hillary Clinton are catastrophically wrong. And if you think there is a big difference between Trump or Cruz and Clinton as Chomsky does and if you think Sanders would be less able to defend himself against the money machine that he has never yet faced in three decades of public office, then you vote Clinton.

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Val 03.09.16 at 1:30 am

omg I just lost the whole comment! I don’t know if Bob’s comment above is meant to be ‘Do not feed the troll” (because the acronym isn’t quite correct if so) or if it’s about me (I suppose it is?) but I will try again.

Marxist and neo-marxist theory essentially analyses societies or social realities in which capital accumulation and private ownership are an established part of life. After Marx’s death Engels did write about the origins of private property, analysing them in context of changing relationships between men and women, and specifically stated that Marx would have done so had he lived longer (Engels and Untermann 2010). In general however, it seems class analysis has usually taken private property and capital accumulation as established hist