Are we dying of history?

by Corey Robin on March 13, 2016

Nazi salutes and Weimar pastiche. Debates laden with references to Mossadegh, Allende, Cambodia, and the Sandinistas. Gaffes about Nancy Reagan. Discussions of George Wallace. Decades-old legislation. Have we ever had a presidential campaign so saturated in history, not just of the US but of other parts of the world? I feel like we’re watching history unspool, in a completely chaotic, unedited way. It’s as if we’re at one of those sumptuous and feverish Viennese balls from the turn of the century, and every ghost from empires past has shown up to dance. What’s going on? Joseph Roth, where are you?

{ 87 comments }

1

NomadUK 03.13.16 at 4:07 am

Festering scabs, 70 years in the making. About time they were ripped off and exposed to sunlight again.

2

Dean C. Rowan 03.13.16 at 4:18 am

Presidential campaigns are always saturated in history. The difference now is those “tech-savvy” kids who dig up and communicate all manner of superficial allusions. Thank you so very much, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf, and your ilk.

Isn’t the unspooling of history always chaotic and unedited?

3

Rich Puchalsky 03.13.16 at 4:20 am

“I feel like we’re watching history unspool, in a completely chaotic, unedited way. […] What’s going on?”

Postmodernism. All historical lessons are simultaneously available and don’t add up to anything.

4

Ronan(rf) 03.13.16 at 4:20 am

It’s not chaos. It’s never chaos. Keep your eyes peeled and ears pricked.

5

Ronan(rf) 03.13.16 at 4:27 am

We’re epistomologicaly all over the place.

6

Alan White 03.13.16 at 5:06 am

Oh c’mon–it *is* chaos in the best sense of complexity. Interdependent complex systems of media are bouncing relatively small social subgroup causes into iterated feedback loops fractally expansive and unpredictable. So there.

7

Plume 03.13.16 at 5:18 am

What would really make this cool is if one of the candidates mentioned Joseph Roth. One of my all-time favorite writers. I’ve read six or seven of his novels, and some of his reportage as well. Brilliant, terribly underappreciated genius.

The usual pantheon for German language literature in the 20th century is Mann, Musil, Kafka and Broch. But Roth deserves a place as the fifth horseman. Broch, btw, in his The Spell, could be talking about Trump.

This is the craziest election season, evah.

8

ZM 03.13.16 at 8:45 am

“Senator Joe Biden used the quotation [from Shakespeare ,”what’s past is prologue”] in the 2008 vice-presidential debate against Sarah Palin when he was accused of focusing too much on the past”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What%27s_past_is_prologue

9

whathogwash 03.13.16 at 10:22 am

The Trump people are not giving NAZI salutes–this is just pure left wing propganda. You should be ashamed of yourself. (And I an not a trump supporter).

If anything, the modern democrat party resembles the NAZIa–they just do not use the NAZI mummery or regalia.

You need to look in the mirror.

10

TM 03.13.16 at 10:29 am

7: I have to admit I thought Broch was a funny way of misspelling Brecht. Never heard of the guy.

I’m not so sure that the title of this post is chosen judiciously, given that people in places like Ukraine and Syria are literally dying of history. It frightens me how many present day conflicts go back to unfinished business from WWI.

11

Peter T 03.13.16 at 12:03 pm

If only it were World War I. Iraq and Syria are playing out unfinished business from the 7th century, and the aftermath of 1861-65 is still visibly bleeding all over the US political scene.

12

Frances 03.13.16 at 12:46 pm

And Ireland working up to a potentially violent homage to the Easter Rising if the security services are to be believed …

13

novakant 03.13.16 at 12:47 pm

I wish the candidates – and especially Clinton – were pushed more on very recent history leading up to the present:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/12/five-foreign-policy-questions-us-election-candidates

14

faustusnotes 03.13.16 at 1:25 pm

What’s happening is darkness is rising.

15

novakant 03.13.16 at 1:55 pm

7.

Stefan Zweig deserves a mention in the context – some sneer at him, but I love him and he was one of the bestselling authors of his time and is still widely read.

16

Lee A. Arnold 03.13.16 at 2:17 pm

Via Metafilter, a 1941 piece by the great Dorothy Thompson, “Who Goes Nazi?”
http://harpers.org/archive/1941/08/who-goes-nazi/?single=1

17

AureliuszKleks 03.13.16 at 2:21 pm

For me it is all perfectly “normal”. But I’m not an American, I’m Pole, since communism fell history has been big topic in presidential election here. First it was just standard divide, you had people who despised communist Poland and people who were quite fond of their achievments, of schools built in 60s, of flats built in 70s, of electrifying and industrializing the country. Ok, nothing big, people just discussing changes. But then it all went nuts, Stanisłam Tymiski, Pole from Canada appeared with black briefcase, said that it is full of dirt on the other nominees. He was so convincing that he was second in presidential election, beating candidates of liberal opposition and postcommunist, losing only to Wałęsa. Then lists of agents were published, people started questioning who was on which side and when, it was all hard to verify, because some documents disappeared probably into the hands of agents who could later blackmail politicians, some were destroyed, some were falsified by political police to be used in operations and pulled out of context, some were misunderstood by people who were not used to political police’s jargon. Government fell soon after one of the lists was revealed and Wałęsa was accused of being communist agent in 70s. Then you have politicians dividing not because they want small or big government, Christian values or liberal values, but because of what they think about Wałęsa and if they want to pander to people whose situation improved after swift shift from communism to capitalism or people who think that they became worse of. In 2005, Tusk lost presidential election, because it was revealed that his grandfather was Wehrmacht soldier. Tusk wasn’t his grandfather and Tusk’s grandfather didn’t volunteer, he was forced to do it, but still it was enough for Tusk to lose momentum he had after winning 1st round and eventually to lose 2nd round. In 2010, our president died, because it was election year and he wanted to show people that he deeply cared about Poles killed in Katyn. Polish prime minister was invited by Putin, so Polish president thought that it wouldn’t make good impression if it was only prime minister who commemorates victim. So he decided to go to Katyn too, Russians didn’t allow him to come on the same day when Polish prime minister was coming. So it was decided that he will visit 3 days later. He boarded the plane, there was mist around the airport of destinations, pilots didn’t know if they should land there or search for another airport to land, one of the presidential clerks suggested to them that president will be angry if they won’t land there. And then they crashed plane when trying to land.

It is what I would call dying of history.

18

Plume 03.13.16 at 3:02 pm

TM@11,

Broch was a great novelist. I loved The Spell, but he’s most famous for Death of Virgil and The Sleepwalkers. He was also a brilliant psychologist of mass movements.

Novakent @16,

Yes, Zweig was an excellent novelist as well. I’ve read his Beware of Pity and The Post Office Girl. Loved both of them. He committed suicide in Brazil (1942, with his wife, Lotte) in the deepest despair over a world gone mad

19

marcel proust 03.13.16 at 3:03 pm

something, something [Tom Stoppard’s] Arcadia, something, something.

Septimus: Carnal embrace is sexual congress, which is the insertion of the male genital organ into the female genital organ for purposes of procreation and pleasure…

Septimus: Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one’s arms around a side of beef…

Thomasina: Tell me more about sexual congress.
Septimus: There is nothing more to be said about sexual congress.
Thomasina: Is it the same as love?
Septimus: Oh no, it is much nicer than that.

20

BBA 03.13.16 at 3:07 pm

I was first eligible to vote in 2004, and as I recall that year’s presidential campaign was primarily about the Vietnam War.

21

marcel proust 03.13.16 at 3:07 pm

Or perhaps (less pretentiously?), something, something, [Billy Joel’s] We Didn’t Start the Fire, something, something.

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

22

jake the antisoshul soshulist 03.13.16 at 3:16 pm

@whathogwash #10
Is that you Jonah? Your book was funnier.

Oh dear, someone just told it was not satire. Nevermind.

23

LFC 03.13.16 at 3:20 pm

As abstractions, both History (with a capital H, i.e., the Hegel/Fukuyama sense of the word) and history (small ‘h’) can be turned to almost any imaginable use. Think, for instance, of McCain’s statement, when he was running for President in 2008, that Americans “don’t hide from history” but “make history.”

As compared to such vapid (and often wrong) generalizations, mentions of specific historical events, even when they are wrenched from context and used to score political points, may be preferable, even when the result is a blizzard of references that results in a feeling that, to quote the OP, “we’re watching history unspool, in a completely chaotic, unedited way.”

24

Corey Robin 03.13.16 at 3:52 pm

BBA at 20: That’s just the point. It’s not that previous elections didn’t see references to the past. But they were fixed and focused. In this one, it’s like all the bodies are spilling out from the graveyard. In addition to the references I listed in the OP, there was also the whole kerfuffle over Clinton’s remarks over Lincoln, where she trotted out a straight Dunning School narrative of the Civil War and Reconstruction — and got slammed for it. There’s also been the whole argument over reparations. We’re all over the place in this election, historically-speaking.

25

bruce wilder 03.13.16 at 4:48 pm

Corey Robin had a lovely, gentle phrase in another thread where he referred to the tendency of political science theories to presume what is present is past and future.

Ordinarily, we barely register the cliches, the habits and institutions of our lives: they stretch out on an imaginary linear path, a near constant. Young people looking forward are not happy to project a linear path from where they are mired, and they’ve heard it was not always so. Older people are not happy to have their complacency questioned.

26

RNB 03.13.16 at 5:31 pm

Those against Clinton have spent a lot of time hitting her about comments she made as First Lady, which has meant less time evaluating her record as a Senator and Secretary of State. So we heard a lot about NAFTA, the Crime Bill, Welfare Reform and the Glass-Steagall.

This is wrong. We should be spending more time comparing Clinton and Sanders on their actual records as Senators, e.g. TARP. The interbank system was collapsing, credit was drying up, there was mass withdrawals from mutual funds. There was a very high chance that the economy would implode. TARP was imperfect, as even Alan Blinder lays out When the Music Stops. But it was what emerged out of a messy process and what was available within the time frame that action had to be taken. Sanders was willing to risk the collapse of the economy not to bail out the bankers. Clinton was not. I think she was right. I think in hindsight she proved correct. Government intervention also laid the groundwork for abandoning laissez faire by showing that government had to play a role in the economy, and the government may not have made money but it did not lose it.

In my opinion, this is the kind of argument we should be having instead of prosecuting the 1990s again. Sanders was reckless, Clinton was not.

The foreign policy votes are important too. We have Hillary Clinton giving Bush authority to declare war on Iraq if Saddam Hussein did not agree to inspections or violated sanctions. Sanders did not vote for this, but he had voted for the Iraq Regime Change Act. And Clinton clearly did not think W. would go to war without UN support. That after all is how his father had proceeded. This vote is a big mark against Clinton but it was not an agreement to go to war. She did not anticipate W. breaking with his father’s own foreign policy, and she clearly thought that W. would use the war authorization as leverage just as the Iraq Regime Change Act for which Sanders voted had been used. Still this comparison from their recent history as Senators is instructive, and raises important concerns about Clinton’s hawkishness. She clearly believes that the threat of force has to be credible. She will say that is why diplomacy with Iran was eventually possible, but she has yet to gain people’s trust that she will not misuse force.

There is also the problem of the selective use of history. Which history do we recall in trying to understand what was unfolding in Libya? Regime change in Iraq or US inaction in Rwanda which contributed to genocide? It is also true that the US overthrew decent social democrats in the context of the Cold War: Mossadegh, Arbenz, Lumumba, Allende. But we should not pretend that a Qaddafi or Assad fits this mode; they were/are terrifying to their own people. This is not a false issue of WMD. Their threats were/are real. This means that the issue of R2P is real in a way that it was not in the past for enemies of the US. Still that does not mean humanitarian intervention is justifiable. I don’t think either candidate has dealt with the real problems in their positions here.

On the domestic front, we have what I think is a minor difference. Clinton did not think it was practical to retroactively change differential sentencing for powder and crack but she voted for the elimination of the differential going forward. I don’t this makes for much of a difference going forward.

The return to NAFTA has been deeply misleading as well. There is more opportunity for exports to the signatories of TPP than there was with Mexico and Canada, and there is a greater chance that the US will be disfavored in these markets due to the rise of China without some kind of regional trade agreement. There is plenty of reason to oppose TPP, but the issues are different. And argument by historical analogy to NAFTA is misleading.

So just some thoughts. .

27

RNB 03.13.16 at 5:45 pm

By the way, I think Kevin Drum of Mother Jones has emerged as the most interesting, rigorous and empirically reliable analyst of this election cycle. Check him out.

28

Corey Robin 03.13.16 at 5:56 pm

RNB at 26:

Just a little piece of unsolicited advice from a not entirely unaccomplished propagandist…

If you’ve decided to go all-in for a cause or a candidate, it’s best to be delicate — and sparing — in your attempts to turn otherwise unrelated conversations into occasions for your orations. Otherwise, people start to tune out.

29

bruce wilder 03.13.16 at 6:03 pm

RNB @ 26

I am not sure that recitation of history is likely to win you many converts. It demonstrates the complacency of establishments that are happy with what they have wrought and unable to register the legitimacy of dissatisfaction. All those decisions covered with Clinton fingerprints, hers and her husband’s, have had consequences. Hoocoodenode is hardly a defense of good judgment; even if we were to accept that practical accommodation in difficult circumstances required compromise or calculated risk, it does not explain the resistance now to acknowledging consequences and changing course. Extend and pretend got us to this pass. More extend and pretend, to preserve a deteriorating status quo, seems a stubborn form of egotism.

30

RNB 03.13.16 at 6:13 pm

That’s the difference. I am not a propagandist.

31

Corey Robin 03.13.16 at 6:21 pm

Ah, that makes more sense. You’re just a recreational soapboxer. Carry on then.

32

kidneystones 03.13.16 at 6:32 pm

@30 “I’m not a propagandist.”

You can’t actually believe this to be true. Pretty much all of your posts are reworkings of the same “HRC is the only responsible choice in 2016” babble. Then you wave your wet noodle at any who fail to snap to. You’re clearly bright, but your mind is made up. Once most people agree that HRC is best, or have been branded racist (or worse), your work will be done.

But you’re not a “propagandist.” Perhaps ‘shill’ fits better.

33

RNB 03.13.16 at 8:09 pm

Not a shill either. I thought that I actually summarized a better argument against the project of humanitarian intervention (Parekh) and linked to better relevant evidence against its historical success (Menon) than Clinton’s open critics here at Crooked Timber provided. Propagandists don’t usually respect the principle of charity and show profound interest in contrary relevant evidence (Gary Gutting has a nice short piece on the nature of political argument in his recent book). All this said, I do not find anyone plausibly arguing that things are worse in Libya than they would have been had the US not struck Qaddafi’s forces in Benghazi. But I very much want to read that argument spelled out. Again not what you expect from a shill.
But to return to the question of historical analogy. It was discussed here and elsewhere whether Clinton should have analogized the situation in Libya more to Saddam’s Iraq rather than to pre-genocide Rwanda. I do not think that we moved forward on that question.

34

Rich Puchalsky 03.13.16 at 8:27 pm

RNB: ” I thought that I actually summarized a better argument against the project of humanitarian intervention (Parekh) and linked to better relevant evidence against its historical success (Menon) than Clinton’s open critics here at Crooked Timber provided. “

Serious argument is a route towards legitimation. Human rights were probably irreparably harmed when torture became “Torture: pro or con”? Similarly “humanitarians” have a lot to answer for when they created R2P. Don’t flatter yourself.

35

RNB 03.13.16 at 8:36 pm

RP: “Serious argument is a route towards legitimation.” This indeed can be the case. Here’s an example. We have “serious” argument about whether there are deep heritable differences between the ‘races’ in cognitive ability and moral temperament. But to have such an argument is to legitimate the assumptions that there are heritably deeply different races and that cognitive ability, e.g., can be measured by an IQ test. It would be similar to taking seriously the question in Salem of whether witches had brought misfortune on people before deciding which women to burn. Sometimes it’s best not to proceed seriously with absurd questions. But I do not think raising questions about how to act in the face of human rights catastrophes and possible genocide is similar to this at all.

36

kidneystones 03.13.16 at 8:57 pm

@33 Wrong. Your attempt to complicate Libya with a reference to Rwanda is selective boilerplate spew, and would be equally applicable to any ‘imminent threat.’

I’m not aware of any credible argument that the horror show in Syria, Libya, or Iraq threatened to reach the scale of Rwanda.

I’ve no problem with you generally and you might be horrified to discover we share some common views. But you’re shilling for HRC. There’s no shame in it. I did the same in 2007 in much more strident terms. Think of yourself as a more eloquent, better-read version of me.

That should give you pause.

37

Lowhim 03.13.16 at 9:54 pm

I’ll say that the internet, with social media, combined with a few social movements (left and right, all coming out because the order of the previous day is not working, thus the myths of the previous order are being upended) that all aren’t willing to accept the main view of history (for the left, I’d say this is rightfully so). Since the talking points can’t be controlled by a few heads, it’s all over the place, and I’d say that’s a good thing. Might as well consider the past as we look to the future

38

Ronan(rf) 03.13.16 at 10:31 pm

Rnb – who is parekh and do u have the menon link handy, by any chance ?

39

RNB 03.14.16 at 2:02 am

There is a discussion of humanitarian intervention in “A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Interdependent World” by Bhikhu Parekh. Political theorist, written a good, under-appreciated book on Marx’s theory of ideology as well. Wrote a short interesting book on Gandhi. I am betting the book on Arendt is interesting as well.
Rajan Menon http://www.the-american-interest.com/2013/06/12/its-fatally-flawed/

40

AnthonyB 03.14.16 at 2:44 am

Two months ago there was a nice introduction to Joseph Roth via this review in the T.L.S.

41

RNB 03.14.16 at 2:59 am

On this history question, I keep getting the sense that this is essentially Sanders’ appeal to youth. It’s the Charles Schwab ad applied to politics.
http://www.ispot.tv/ad/AwfU/charles-schwab-father-and-son
The youth are told that this is not the way the world works. The youth see that the world is, or could be, changing. And Sanders is painted as the change that has already happened–the always already untimely one. The youth don’t see the need for fees for brokers who don’t get returns; and they don’t see the need super PACS or trade deals or tuition-based college or regime change abroad or Wall Street bailouts.
The youth are mistaken about a lot of this. Sanders is not that radical–he voted for the deregulation of derivatives. I would have to guess that if he had not, some VT Republican could have raised a lot of money to squash his bid for the Senate. His anti-trade position is reactionary for the 21 century. The economy needed TARP, and the youth would have come into adulthood into a possibly much worse economy without it. But that Schwab ad gets at what Sanders represents to the youth whom he is carrying by incredible margins–a simple questioning of why things have to work the way they do.

42

Andrew Raposa 03.14.16 at 4:04 am

It is extraordinary how the Sanders campaign is enlisting so many of America’s young.
It is Bernie’s vision that is the drawing card. It is a vision that can be formulated in modern terms. However, if one was to probe deeply into his thinking, many of his ideas are drawn from some of the grandest idealist themes in history. Central to these principles is the maxim that people and not historical political and economic structures
will ultimately determine their future.
As a modern formulation, young Americans understand that Sanders’s vision is one of a transformative ethos or polity that seeks to liberate them(all human beings) from the economic circumstances that imprison them. That economic exploitation denotes injustice and such exploitation is crushing human potential.
Sanders’ call for political revolution articulates this “idea” that no historical state of affairs can ever be considered final; there exists no monolithic economic reality except the reality of change. While in its ethical variant, “realism” stresses the tragic and dark side of human nature, political and moral “idealism” is more optimistic and rejects outmoded forms of political and economic relations that impose limitations on man’s capacity for rational and moral action.
Bernie’s moral and ethical principles beautifully expresses the positive thought that that keenly understands the crucial and abiding truth of idealism that man is a dynamic rather than a static being, Moreover, again, that the revolutionary aspect of his vision is that no historical state of affairs can ever be considered final and that there exists no monolithic reality.
In focusing on the “what could be” rather than “what is,” Sanders is producing a veritable idealistic fervor in the belief that the truth of democracy is an idea whose time has come. An idea to which reality will have to adjust itself.
Andrew Raposa

43

Lowhim 03.14.16 at 5:17 am

@42 I’ll bite: “The youth don’t see the need for fees for brokers who don’t get returns; and they don’t see the need super PACS or trade deals or tuition-based college or regime change abroad or Wall Street bailouts.
The youth are mistaken about a lot of this.”
What are they mistaken about, specifically?

44

RNB 03.14.16 at 6:52 am

I guess what I am saying is that the Charles Schwab broker won’t do a better job than his Dad’s broker. He’s not going to invest in the most dynamic markets, ceding them to China (anti-TPP). He won’t invest in American companies that are growing faster than Japanese companies because they use labor-linking technologies, i.e. outsourcing (Sanders protectionism which is a reactionary way to deal with the concentrated losses from globalization). He won’t ask the government to help those companies in which his life savings are invested because the Schwab broker is opposed to bail outs in all cases (Sanders’ anti-TARP stance). I think the young guy is going to face a tougher future with a broker who is promising him free stuff, i.e. no fees.

45

Layman 03.14.16 at 1:04 pm

@RNB, if you’re keeping a list of the things you don’t understand, add ‘brokers’ to it. Good grief.

46

RNB 03.14.16 at 2:40 pm

If you say so.

47

casmilus 03.14.16 at 2:57 pm

Is it too late for a film version of “It Can’t Happen Here” with cameo appearance from Trump?

48

RNB 03.14.16 at 2:57 pm

If it helps, you can replace a broker with a money manager in the ad. But that’s not the real issue. Any way around it, Sanders’ is going to lead the youth down an an anti-trade and anti-globalization path that will be bad for them. They signed up for the free college but they’re going to get loss from protectionism with him and they’re risking his letting the economy implode due to some principled opposition to bail outs that he shares with right-wing libertarians. If I remember correctly, Doug Henwood whose critique of Hillary Clinton Corey Robin told us to read reluctantly supported TARP due to his fear of the collapse of the economy. That would seem to be a good reason to vote for Clinton over Sanders.

49

RNB 03.14.16 at 3:21 pm

If we are going to talk about history, the most important historical reference in Sanders’ campaign is NAFTA. He had lost NV and MA until he began emphasizing anti-trade as his main message. And it’s this reactionary message that may give him wins in Ohio and Illinois. In other words, Sanders has been more than any other candidate in either nomination race been trying to prosecute the 1990s as a path to victory. He began with the Crime Bill, Welfare Reform and Glass Steagall (though he voted for the Crime Bill and the deregulation of the derivatives!) But he did not find his stride until anti-NAFTA became the battle cry of his campaign.

50

Corey Robin 03.14.16 at 4:21 pm

RNB at 50: “He had lost NV and MA until he began emphasizing anti-trade as his main message.”

And had won Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Maine.

You’re really not very good at this.

51

RNB 03.14.16 at 4:24 pm

The momentum was with Clinton due to the loss in MA. Then MI complicated things (though not by much according to the prediction markets). And I think she may lose some important states due to the trade issue.

52

Corey Robin 03.14.16 at 4:28 pm

Also, read the transcript of the debate at Flint, Michigan, which was the most fateful of all the debates for Michigan voters. In a debate that was suffused with a discussion of the 1990s, the word NAFTA comes up exactly twice. The bulk of the discussion is focused on deregulation of Wall Street, welfare reform, the crime bill, education, and a host of other issues.

53

Mr. Econotarian 03.14.16 at 4:53 pm

“young Americans understand that Sanders’s vision is one of a transformative ethos or polity that seeks to liberate them(all human beings) from the economic circumstances that imprison them.”

I.e. Sanders vision is that there is such a thing as a free lunch, and as young people were recently children whose parents bought them lunches, so they continue to expect such.

Meanwhile, Sanders points to glorious Denmark with less than 2% of US population, while ignoring the more comparative reality of France with 10%+ unemployment rate and basically zero economic growth, along with growing racial tensions driven by north African kids unable to get jobs due to labor regulation.

54

RNB 03.14.16 at 5:13 pm

@53 I agree that there is not definitive evidence that trade was a pivotal issue in MI. Kevin Drum has asked whether there is.

But here’s the counter-evidence: a. as reported in the NYT, Sanders seems to be making it the central issue I would suppose on some exit poll or other kind of data that he has, b. there are reports that the UAW made a big effort to turn out the vote presumably on the basis of Sanders’ anti-TPP position since he can’t be favored on the basis of support for the auto bailout, c. there is exit poll data that 60% of the MI primary voters thought that trade was overall a negative.

With the issues of special interest money and health care, Sanders was headed to defeat in the delegate count even not including super-delegates before the Michigan vote. That still seems to be the case, but there is an argument that the trade issue may have proved to be a turning point in Michigan and may change the race. At least, there is evidence from the Sanders camp that this is what it believes.

55

RNB 03.14.16 at 5:17 pm

sorry for typos and such. Got to grade and teach.

56

LFC 03.14.16 at 5:51 pm

RNB @40
There is a discussion of humanitarian intervention in “A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Interdependent World” by Bhikhu Parekh.

A glance at Parekh’s brief discussion suggests he supports intervention “under certain stringent conditions,” or words to that effect.

I also took a quick look at Menon’s The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention. But on the basis of that glance I can’t say much about it other than that it appears to be well written. Menon does seem to endorse some of A. Kuperman’s anti-humanitarian-intervention arguments, which given the basic thrust of Menon’s book is not surprising. (Kuperman has written about both Libya and Rwanda, btw.)

57

LFC 03.14.16 at 5:58 pm

p.s. In a post of March 2011, I had occasion to observe that:

Kuperman’s ‘moral hazard’ theory of intervention (i.e., that the possibility of outside intervention gives rebels an incentive to provoke atrocities in order to bring on an intervention) has generated academic debate. See e.g. A. Grigoryan, “Third-Party Intervention and the Escalation of State-Minority Conflicts,” Int’l Studies Quarterly 54:4 (December 2010).

58

RNB 03.14.16 at 6:00 pm

from Parekh, see pp. 243-44. More important than the actual section titled humanitarian intervention.

59

LFC 03.14.16 at 6:01 pm

@RNB
ok

60

Andrew Raposa 03.14.16 at 7:15 pm

Dear commentators, I am new to this particular format so please forgive this “rookies “naivete in the obfuscating area of economics .I’m not a economist but one who is more comfortable in the realms of political thought..
We all know that Sanders will not win the democratic party’s presidential nomination.
The Sanders vision is and will continue to be met with corporate media bias and high financial and corporate efforts to undermine his campaign-coupled with party insiders and intransigents. As in the past, when challenged by populist rebellion, the very wealthy will increase capitalist control of investment and economic growth and threats of capitalist “flight” in order to defeat the democratic “rabble.”
Overall, capitalist control of the means of production, distribution, investment and its capacity for mobility(Sanders is emphatic on this point )does pose as effective and credible impediments to populist power. Even in a society that purports to be an ideal liberal democracy capital has a kind of veto power over public policy. The power of capital to intervene in elections is clearly demonstrated in the vast super pac contributions to the Clinton campaign.
Concentrated private power has labored for decades to restrict the public arena . The most effective way of doing this is to restrict democracy by transferring decision-making from the public commons to unaccountable institutions like the modern corporation and its control over globalization.
The current political reality according to Senator Sanders, in which I concur, is that control of government is narrowly concentrated at the peak of the income scale, while the large majority are virtually disenfranchised. That is the way it is, no further economic argument or evidence is adduced or considered necessary.
What capitalist reality shows in its concealment of the real nature of economic relationships is that which serves and justifies the unequal distribution of social and economic resources in society. So while not all ideas are “ideological”, only those which conceal social and political contradictions remain so.

Respectfully, Andrew Raposa,anypaprap@gmail.com

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RNB 03.15.16 at 12:28 am

An argument that saturating the debate on trade with history leads us to miss the present challenges of globalization.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/03/14/globalization-is-a-moving-target-todays-protectionists-seem-to-be-focusing-on-an-image-that-is-10-years-out-of-date/

Sanders sure seems hostile to globalization to me. For example, the NYT reports today that he built into a financial rescue bill a restriction on hiring foreign workers in banks. He loaded up an immigration reform bill with a massive youth employment bill that would seem to have sharply increased its chances of failure. Couple this with his previous opposition to the Kennedy immigration bill on the grounds of its having guest worker provisions which he has supported in VT for the dairy industry! The failure of the Kennedy bill is 10 MILLION plus people without citizenship. Seems like a horrendous decision on Sanders’ part.

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Tom West 03.15.16 at 12:43 am

> Ah, that makes more sense. You’re just a recreational soapboxer. Carry on then.

That’s it! I’ve been searching for a good term, and you gave it to me. Thanks!

I’m a recreational soapboxer. I love it!

63

Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 1:07 am

“Government intervention also laid the groundwork for abandoning laissez faire by showing that government had to play a role in the economy, and the government may not have made money but it did not lose it.”

I get that this is what people supporting the bailout may have been thinking at the time, but I’m shocked that someone is still saying this, after Rick Santelli and the Tea Party.

Opposition to bailouts was a rallying cry of the Tea Party. In the both the popular imagination and in the id of people working in the financial sector, the bailouts meant that bankers were off the hook and the government was retroactively to blame for the whole mess.

If it doesn’t seem that way today now that populism is seemingly on the march in both parties, that’s only because Democrats and leftists have spent years campaigning against banks, and now Trump is taking right-wing frustration in a nationalist direction away from laissez faire. But throughout Obama’s first term, laissez faire was a popular position because of the bailouts, not in spite of them.

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LFC 03.15.16 at 1:08 am

RNB @62
Re that Drezner piece you link: he makes some good points at the end about immigration, but on the issue of trade and jobs there’s little more than some vague handwaving about the supposed shift from global to regional supply chains. Not too impressed w that.

65

Plume 03.15.16 at 1:13 am

Consumatopia @64,

Santelli didn’t have a problem at all with the Wall Street bailouts. His famous rant was about a trial balloon, floated by the Obama administration, to help out individual home owners who were underwater. The tea party started from that. All of their reps in Congress voted for TARP, which went to fat cats only, and some cried and said it had to go through or America would die. The tea party folks just hated the idea that we might help out regular Joes and Janes who were in trouble. That was something they just couldn’t abide. Helping out billionaires? No problem.

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Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 2:46 am

Plume, I think we’re in agreement here, I’m arguing against the claim that Wall Street bailouts “laid the groundwork for abandoning laissez faire”.

Oh God, Drezner is so full of it. (The Bernstein op-ed he’s responding to is good, though). It’s not like proponents of TPP have ever succeeded in explaining how the deal is good for any Americans other than Big Pharma or other IP holders. The reason you should think about NAFTA when judging TPP isn’t because TPP will work exactly like NAFTA. It’s so that you remember that NAFTA and freer trade with China were both sold to us on the basis of promises and expert predictions that didn’t come true, and they come coming back to us with “oh, we know all the past trade deals were terrible for you, but this one is different this one is good”. Here’s the only prediction I’ll make about what happens under TPP–all of the predictions coming from TPP proponents will be falsified, but this will result in no loss of credibility, prominence, or status of the people making the predictions, they’ll still be there with just as much authority to give us the same nonsense when they’re trying to sell us the next trade agreement.

Re: immigration reform in 2007, here was the situation. Moderate Republicans tried to tell conservative to vote for the deal or Democrats would pass something even “worse” (read: better) when they took power. “Remember this day if you vote ‘no,’” Graham said, adding that this bill would not come back in its current form and it is “as good as it gets.” Liberals said to themselves “sounds good to me” and tanked the deal.

Now it turns out that the future didn’t go the way that moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats thought it would. Liberals might vote differently if they could have known the future. Heck, maybe Obama would have focused on immigration reform instead of health care
if he knew the future. If you want to give Clinton credit for making the right call, fine, but be prepared to add up the many, many instances when she made the wrong call while Sanders made the right one.

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RNB 03.15.16 at 3:25 am

Again Sanders said that a path to legal status for 12 MILLION people was not worth a guest worker program though he supported one for the dairy industry in VT. That coupled with his requirement not to hire foreigners in an American bank and writing into another effort for immigration reform a huge, possibly off-putting youth employment provision indicates to me that he is not willing to make a deal that would free 12 million people from a horrible situation. His stance here has massive consequence, and he comes across as a nativist to me. Others will disagree!

You may prefer Bernstein to Drezner–don’t both support Clinton?

On NAFTA Sanders is demagoguing the issue as Krugman rightly says. Automation and Japanese competition hit the US auto industry hard before NAFTA which Sanders overhypes as the cause of factory shut downs. Kaushik Basu also makes this comparison. Japan did not have regional trade agreement that allowed outsourcing and import of intermediate inputs through labor-linking technologies. Japan’s industry is stagnant, the US industry has continued to grow. Japan proceeded without its own NAFTA, and things are not working out well.

But as Krugman and Basu both underline there are huge, concentrated losses from trade. And we need a policy for displaced workers and support of export industries. We need a protection from surges in the dollar even when China is supporting the renminbi. Bernstein’s point is that we need all this independent of more trade deals, but this openness to confronting the challenges of globalization seems closer to Clinton than Sanders who sounds like he wants to close the world out.

Does Jared Bernstein support Sanders?

My point about the bailouts is that once it is admitted that the government is needed to stabilize the system, the door is open to the need for the government to regulate the system.

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LFC 03.15.16 at 3:41 am

@RNB
Drezner happens to be a Republican (I’m just stating (what I believe to be) a fact, not passing judgment on all his writing). He signed, iirc, the recent statement from some Repub foreign-policy types deploring Trump.

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Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 3:47 am

“Again Sanders said that a path to legal status for 12 MILLION people”

Again, Republicans were telling everyone that an even better deal was just over the horizon.

“You may prefer Bernstein to Drezner–don’t both support Clinton? “

Bernstein hasn’t come out for either Clinton or Sanders. I have no idea who Drezner supports but I would be strongly inclined to support the other one.

“On NAFTA Sanders is demagoguing the issue as Krugman rightly says.”

Krugman is always full of shit as soon as the name Clinton is involved. I mean, seriously, if he’s now claiming that absence of a regional trade deal for Japan is the key difference keeping Japanese industry stagnant. (Hello, demographics?). Bernstein’s point was that focusing on trade deals sucked out all the oxygen from us taking any action to maintain or grow our industry.

“And we need a policy for displaced workers and support of export industries. We need a protection from surges in the dollar even when China is supporting the renminbi. “

Trade deals make both of those harder. Without trade deals, displaced workers can demand compensation in exchange for supporting liberalized trade. But big trade deals take trade out of the political realm, which means those hurt by trade have no political recourse. And how are you supposed to protect yourself from currency manipulation if a trade deal requires you to keep trading with them?

“My point about the bailouts is that once it is admitted that the government is needed to stabilize the system, the door is open to the need for the government to regulate the system.”

My point is that as logical as that might be–indeed, I thought something like that in 2008–that just isn’t how the debate played out at all. People got mad about bailouts, and that translated into them being mad at government, not mad at banks. This is part of Bernie keeps talking so obsessively about how bad the banks are–because as soon as you let up on that for even a moment, the Rick Santelli types crawl out of the woodwork to blame everything on the government again.

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RNB 03.15.16 at 3:48 am

Didn’t see that coming given how anti-Trump and anti-Palin his twitter feed is. Just came across the twitter feed. Does he actually support a Republican in the nomination race?

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Layman 03.15.16 at 3:53 am

In fact, I think Bernie’s position was that the right way to deal with the Wall Street banks was to seize them, fire their leaders, stabilize them, break them up, and then oversee their transition back to the private sector. I’d say he was right.

72

RNB 03.15.16 at 3:54 am

I don’t think is how the bailout played out in its full complexity. For example, the surprising support for socialism from youth comes partially from recognition of a necessary role of the state in the economy, and they now want the state to work on their behalf too.

Basu is making the comparison with Japan, not Krugman. Immigration has counteracted US demographic slowdown and outsourcing too has widened the labor pool. Japan has not done such things, and it is in worse shape than the US. So NAFTA (and trade deals generally) is being overhyped as the cause of difficulties in US industry, and its possible benefits are not even being considered.

Trade deals can be phased in such that there is time to set up protection and transition for workers. Again independently of trade deals the US has to meet the challenges of globalization, not run away from them, which is how Sanders is coming across to me.

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Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 4:07 am

“I don’t think is how the bailout played out in its full complexity. For example, the surprising support for socialism from youth comes partially from recognition of a necessary role of the state in the economy, and they now want the state to work on their behalf too. “

I would say that’s more to do with persistently low incomes among the youth, and perhaps a reaction against the Tea Party-ish GOP.

“Trade deals can be phased in such that there is time to set up protection and transition for workers. “

What the workers lack isn’t time, but power. They need to be in a place where they can say “solve these problems or stop this agreement.” If we were negotiating bilateral agreements with other countries, that might be possible. But when we’re talking huge multilateral deals like TPP, workers get basically no place at the table at all. It’s not “independently” of trade deals, so long as we keep making these trade deals then taking care of workers is off the table–industry and wall street is already getting everything they want, why should they bother helping workers at all? If you want workers to be helped, you need to give workers the power to stop the deals.

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RNB 03.15.16 at 7:19 am

On the power issue, Dunbar noted that there may have been some side agreement to TPP on the independence of unions in Vietnam. But I don’t hear Sanders challenging Clinton on whether she would strengthen those aspects of trade deals. He seems to be turning away not only from trade deals but from the challenges posed by globalization altogether. I would imagine that many of his supporters think that he is going to try to scrap NAFTA and PNTR with China; and may even think this would solve big problems. His position is coming off as reactionary to me.

His position on the legalization of immigrants and then his spending political capital to target foreign workers in banks along with his weighing down another attempt at immigration reform with a huge youth employment bill are just outright reactionary.

75

Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 9:06 am

Ignoring most of your meaningless, word salad post…

“I would imagine that many of his supporters think that he is going to try to scrap NAFTA and PNTR with China; and may even think this would solve big problems. “

He should threaten to scrap those deals to get concessions from Congress–if you want workers to support trade, you’d better be ready to spend more for workers.

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Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 9:28 am

Also, RNB, congratulations on switching my November vote from Clinton to Stein. I just can’t stomach the thought of being on the same side as dishonest neolibsplainers like yourself.

Maybe Clinton herself can get my vote back–I’ve always been a lesser evil voter–but it’s not gonna be easy, because her supporters are absolutely awful.

77

TM 03.15.16 at 12:25 pm

When Obama came out in favor of TARP, I predicted that he was throwing away the presidency. I think I was spot on. He won the election (lucky for him, his opponent had also embraced TARP) but his decision to throw his support behind the Bush-orchestrated bailout haunted his presidency ever since and gave the far right cover to blame the financial crisis on him and “guvmint” overreach. It was a politically disastrous decision and anybody with brains should have been able to see that.

78

LFC 03.15.16 at 1:51 pm

@RNB
Does [Drezner] actually support a Republican in the nomination race?

Don’t know if he has endorsed anyone publicly; my guess is that he is for Kasich (but that’s just a guess).

79

Layman 03.15.16 at 3:19 pm

@TM, it’s also frankly mystifying that the Obama administration ultimately balked at directing TARP assistance to the borrowers – the people losing their homes – either directly or through cram-down. I still can’t understand that decision. They expressly sought that provision, won it, and more or less never used it.

80

RNB 03.15.16 at 4:11 pm

@78 Absolutely more has to be spent for workers hit by trade. I have said this from the beginning. It may be the RINO Drezner who provided numbers showing how little the US spends to help workers hurt by trade compared to France and Denmark. It is a scandal. I wish Sanders was making this the issue instead of protectionism.

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Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 4:30 pm

The only plausible political path I can see to the US spending more to help people hurt by trade is if elites are frightened into it by the fear of rolling back free trade. (And also some aspects of existing trade deals like are bad and should be done away with. Trade deals should be subject to modification and renegotiation. We shouldn’t be forced to live under the terms of NAFTA from now until the end of time, as if NAFTA was a constitutional amendment.)

On another note, I’m curious where Layman’s point at 80 fits into your metaphysics of voting. Like, would you say Sanders voted against TARP assistance for borrowers, even though the bill passed and we still never got any assistance for borrowers? At the time the second round of TARP was being voted on, were legislators expected to know that an auto bailout that wasn’t explicitly in the bill would happen, but assistance to borrowers in danger of foreclosure would not happen?

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RNB 03.15.16 at 4:44 pm

Yes should have known auto bailout money was available in second round of TARP. Summers explicitly said that some of the money could be used that way. Wasn’t defending how TARP money was spent, only the need for it to be in place to prevent likely implosion of the global economy. On the rest you can piece together what I would say based on what I have said above and the link to Drezner and the references to Krugman on trade and Kaushik Basu’s recent paper on labor-linking technologies. No time today. Hope you find a Sanders critic who does not drive you crazy like I have.

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Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 5:10 pm

“Yes should have known auto bailout money was available in second round of TARP. Summers explicitly said that some of the money could be used that way.”

And the law explicitly said money could be spent on assistance for borrowers. But one of them happened and the other didn’t. So the honest answer seems to be “no”.

“On the rest you can piece together what I would say based on what I have said above and the link to Drezner and the references to Krugman on trade and Kaushik Basu’s recent paper on labor-linking technologies”

I can piece together that you’ll continue to dishonestly imply that trade agreements are necessary for trade and that you’ll continue to refuse to address the political side of the argument–how free trade deals take away the leverage workers would have for demanding trade assistance.

“Hope you find a Sanders critic who does not drive you crazy like I have.”

You don’t drive me crazy, you just exasperate me with your tireless dishonesty. If the party moves in the direction of people like you, then it’s inevitable that someone like Trump will win someday.

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RNB 03.15.16 at 7:02 pm

You’re calling me dishonest perhaps to neutralize my difference with Robin who openly called himself a propagandist. I did not call him a propagandist, mind you. Nor would have I called him a propagandist. He’s a passionate Sanders supporter. So is almost everyone I know.

And no nothing I have said justifies your not voting for Clinton to keep Trump out of power. If you think something I have said justifies this, all you are doing is confirming people’s worst stereotypes about the supporters of Sanders whom I vote for with great enthusiasm against Republican. Yeselson does not seem to think well of Henwood for saying similar things.

And the charge of dishonesty against me is fundamentally dishonest. You don’t have the evidence to back it up.
First, don’t understand your point on TARP. Here’s Drum: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/03/did-bernie-sanders-oppose-auto-rescue
That seems like a honest reading to me.

You say that I dishonestly imply that trade deals are necessary for trade: “you’ll continue to dishonestly imply that trade agreements are necessary for trade”.

Of course you say that I implied this position because you have not quoted me saying this. Simply because you could not. I obviously agreed with Bernstein that independent of trade deals we need a strategy for dealing with the challenges of globalization instead of trying to run away from them.

I have said for weeks now based on my reading of the Autor analysis that Eduardo Porter discusses brilliantly in today’s NYT that this strategy should include some protection against surges in the dollar, extensive support for an innovation state and generous support for workers displaced by globalization. I also think Clinton is more likely to do these things than Sanders who I think wants to block globalization out. Porter thinks this may be Sanders’ position too.

And of course Bush’s strategy to let displaced workers go to war in Iraq and eat the crumbs falling from the banquet tables of a deregulated financial sector was criminal and horrifying. Bush inflicted as much pain on America’s blue collar workers as he inflicted on the Iraqi people.

On the political side of things, of course voters should threaten their Congressman with withdrawal of support if they do not lobby for the things I specified above–whether there are trade deals or not.

And if there are trade deals, voters should demand that there are things like agreements for independent unions in Vietnam or they should vote Congressman out of office.

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Consumatopia 03.15.16 at 7:35 pm

“And no nothing I have said justifies your not voting for Clinton to keep Trump out of power.”

NOBODY HAS TO JUSTIFY A NON-VOTE. Or a third-party vote. Voting is not morally obligatory. I don’t have to side with the lesser evil, and I’m totally allowed to do that just because you’re annoying, just as Clinton defenders constantly and disingenuously claim that they only oppose Sanders because of his supporters.

Do you remember how much time Obama spent kissing up to PUMAs after he was nominated in 2008? You’d better understand that Clinton has to work much, much harder on this, because we have much more legitimate reason for resenting her and her dishonest supporters than she had for resenting Obama.

So that’s my first demand of people asking me to support Clinton. First admit that I’m not morally obligated to vote for the neoliberal warmonger to stop the fascist warmonger. I don’t have to take a side between warmongers, even if one is worse than the other! Then I’ll consider whether it’s worth giving you folks the benefit of a doubt again.

If you and Drum were honest, you would admit that this falsifies Clinton’s attack: “TARP was unquestionably a bank bailout bill, but it’s hard to sustain an argument that no one at the time envisioned it being used to rescue the auto industry too.” Nobody is making the latter argument, and you both damn well know it. What people “envisioned” is besides the point, people also envisioned it being used to provide assistance to borrowers facing foreclosure, but that didn’t happen.

“Of course you say that I implied this position because you have not quoted me saying this.”

Without it as an assumption, all of your posts on the magical wonders of trade make no sense. We can have trade without the same kind of trade deals that we’ve been having.

” I obviously agreed with Bernstein that independent of trade deals we need a strategy for dealing with the challenges of globalization instead of trying to run away from them. “

Bernstein is anti-free trade agreements, at least going forward. http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/trade-isnt-going-way-thats-good-ftas-may-be-going-away-thats-also-good/

More importantly “challenges of globalization” is meaningless. First we should decide what kind of country we want to live in, then we should set our trade policy to enable that. Not the other way around–we shouldn’t adjust the kind of society we live in to accommodate “globalization”, as if trade policy is an act of God rather than of men. It’s not clear that the kind of huge trade deficits America has come to accept as normal are politically sustainable.

“On the political side of things, of course voters should threaten their Congressman with withdrawal of support if they do not lobby for the things I specified above–whether there are trade deals or not. “

“Withdrawal of support?” So you’re saying it’s okay not to vote for the lesser evil? Thank you!

Personally, though, I don’t think this is good enough. I think the only way we’ll really see the kinds of trade adjustment reforms we want is if the system faces a strong populist threat.

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RNB 03.15.16 at 10:04 pm

Yes, you are not obligated to vote for a war monger. I’ll let your response to Drum stand.

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RNB 03.15.16 at 10:38 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/business/economy/on-trade-angry-voters-have-a-point.html?ref=business
The fourth paragraph from the bottom is interesting as is the whole analysis

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