Do The Nordic Codetermination Moonwalk

by John Holbo on August 18, 2018

I am amused.



Thus, Kevin D. Williamson:

Senator Warren’s proposal entails the wholesale expropriation of private enterprise in the United States, and nothing less. It is unconstitutional, unethical, immoral, irresponsible, and — not to put too fine a point on it — utterly bonkers.

Yglesias points out that this is obviously false.

Williamson responds to Yglesias (while being careful not to link to Yglesias): “property rights would be diminished by the adoption of Warren’s plan.” That is, there would be wealth redistribution.

How could Yglesias not see that saying the first thing was just saying the second thing?

“It isn’t a difficult thing to understand, unless you have an investment in failing to understand it.”

How did The Atlantic fail to snap this prize up when they had the chance?

{ 76 comments }

1

Chetan Murthy 08.18.18 at 8:12 am

Let’s give Kevin credit. He believes that those things are property rights, that are written-down in corporate charters, and backed by armies of lawyers. The right of poor people to breathe clean air isn’t a property right; the right of people to the contents of the aquifers in their states is not a property right; the rights of the people to the natural beauty and history of our lands, is not a property right; the right of people to ecosystem services is not a property right; and the list goes on. In short, if you can’t monetize it, it isn’t a property right. But we shouldn’t be surprised. People like Kevin believe only one thing, and Tony Judt put it really well (h/t Brad Delong) in What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy?:

The revolutions of the age risked fostering a confusion between the freedom to make money…and freedom itself.

2

nastywoman 08.18.18 at 9:50 am

@
– ”and Tony Judt put it really well”

– he really does – but what to do with such a ”really well put” historical discourse – if it just
adds to the general confusion (not only) noticed by Mr. Holbo?

at one point in his article Mr. Judt writes:
”It is not by chance that a Christian Democrat like Angela Merkel can win an election in Germany against her Social Democratic opponents—even at the height of a financial crisis—with a set of policies that in all its important essentials resembles their own program”.

– which kind of explains that it is (always) a certain ”set of policies” which makes the people happy.
Might it be called ”Christian Democratic” or ”Social-Democratic” or ”Green” – or ”Links” or ”Aufstehen” or whatever? –
as long as it involves: Good and secure jobs – payable health care and shelter – free education and long vacations.

And so – and as the information, that all of the above is possible -(not only in ”Nordic” European States) – has finally reached the US – we get the American Conservatives confusion and a lot of visitors from US lately –
Americans – of all (non) ”policial”interests – who just look at our life in Germany and Switzerland and say -(sometimes jokingly):

”Wow! – you got Color Teevees too and on top of it all these ”Socialistic Goodies” –

So why in the World can’t we have that stuff in the US too?

And it is the above question -(and the ”jealousy”) which might lead – even in the US to a completely new set of ”policies” -(however you guys want to call them)

And about ”Wien” – did you guys read that Wien made it to the Nr. 1 spot of ”the most livable city in the World” –
(even if there hardly anybody (young) might remember all of these dead economists – Mr. Judt (still) likes to quote in his article)

3

Chetan Murthy 08.18.18 at 10:15 am

nastywoman@2,

Oh, interesting. You caused me to re-read (over and over) John’s OP, and the tweets and article. Yes, it’s not clear what the “first thing” and “second thing” are, is it? I’m going to guess, that John means the two KW quotes. And on this reading, I think there’s really no confusion to what John wrote. He’s saying (sarcastically, I think) “gosh, how could Matt not see, that Senator Professor Warren’s plan would diminish property rights of shareholders, and -hence- is a wholesale expropriation!” And he (again, sarcastically) has a point: one can indeed view asbestos regulation as an expropriation of the property rights of owners of asbestos mines, right?

Only, sane people don’t view it that way. Everybody who believes in the regulatory state, thinks regulating the actions of property-owners (including corporations and their shareholders) is just what a modern state *does*. But then, Kevin Williamson is paid to not believe in the regulatory state, to be unhinged, on a daily basis, and he delivers value for money.

Also, while I found Judt’s essay to be wonderful, I didn’t mean to drag the whole thing into this discourse — I’m not sufficiently expert (and it’s too late at night) to properly bring it in — but rather, to note his eloquent way of expressing the basic dogma of libertarians (like Williamson and his paymasters). That was really all I meant to do, with that quote.

4

anonymousse 08.18.18 at 1:20 pm

” He believes that those things are property rights, that are written-down in corporate charters, and backed by armies of lawyers. The right of poor people to breathe clean air isn’t a property right; the right of people to the contents of the aquifers in their states is not a property right; the rights of the people to the natural beauty and history of our lands, is not a property right; the right of people to ecosystem services is not a property right; and the list goes on. In short, if you can’t monetize it, it isn’t a property right.”

Uhm, but none of those things are property rights-in other words, He is correct.
In fact, most of them aren’t rights at all.

You seem to be arguing that anything that is a right, or in fact, anything that is desirable (whether it is a ‘right’ or not) should be classified as a ‘property’ right. I can’t fathom why you would want this (is the right to vote a property right? The right to an attorney a property right? The rights of religious freedoms a property right?).

anon

anon

5

anonymousse 08.18.18 at 1:47 pm

“Every conservative institution in America appears to be simultaneously maintaining that @SenWarren’s codetermination proposal is economically ruinous but that Nordic countries, which have codetermination, are free market success stories.”

Really? I thought conservative institutions in America maintain that Denmark is a quasi-socialist success story (that they are having trouble explaining away-usually arguing it is uniquely ethnically and culturally homogenous), and that Sweden is descending into Third World chaos. Finland, Iceland, and Norway are basically internationally invisible. In other words, conservative institutions don’t maintain the second half of this statement at all.

Here is Yglesia’s characterization of the Act in question:

“Instead of advocating for expensive new social programs like free college or health care, she’s introducing a bill Wednesday, the Accountable Capitalism Act, that would redistribute trillions of dollars from rich executives and shareholders to the middle class — without costing a dime.”

Yglesias himself says the Act would redistribute trillions of dollars-from executives and shareholders to other people (the ‘middle class’)-presumably workers in those companies.

1) This sounds like a terrible idea. Yglesias’ quote itself suggests the tradeoff (instead of advocating for free college or health care (for all), this Act advocates that money from select corporations go to workers of those corporations. In other words, Warren has given up benefiting all Americans and instead will work to benefit only workers of big corporations-Cheap college for Apple Employees! she shrieks.

2) You may think its a good idea, but you can’t deny that it is a big deal, in exactly the way Kevin Williamson said it was. It wasn’t just a shift of corporate management that you, and Yglesias (in his followup column) claim. The quote above, in his first column, characterizes it: ‘….redistribute trillions of dollars…’ And Kevin Williamson is right: who enforces the shift in priorities required by the Act? The US Government (the Office of United States Corporations).

Its bizarre that you can argue that a proposal who’s goal is to (in Yglesias’ own words) “… be a large change in how the American economy works.’, is really just a change in corporate management structure, and Kevin is wrong to read the words of the Act, or respond to the advocates of the Act (like Yglesias), and take them seriously.

You need more conservative readers. Your logic, since it is rarely challenged, is awfully sloppy.

anon

6

JimV 08.18.18 at 7:00 pm

“In other words, Warren has given up benefiting all Americans and instead will work to benefit only workers of big corporations”.

If that’s an example of conservative logic, conservatives need to read more about logic.

1) Action A is aimed at benefiting [big corporations’ workers, customers, and communities].
2) Person B advocates action A.
3) Conclusion: Person B no longer advocates any other action than A.

3) does not follow from 1) and 2).

7

Chetan Murthy 08.18.18 at 7:15 pm

anonymousse@4: yes, you demonstrate exactly what I mean. If you can’t package it up in easily-tradable bits, then it isn’t a property right, yes? When in fact, these things are held in common, and when someone takes some of it (e.g., wants to take water from the aquifer in mass quantities to sell, rather than drink) the people (the owners of that aquifer) deserve to get paid, and paid handsomely. Similarly with CO2 and carbon taxes.

Re: “most of them aren’t rights at all”, I would guess, then, that you don’t think future generations have a property interest in the continuation of oceanic megafauna (e.g. toothed fishes in their 20th century diversity). And yet, when they’re packaged up as something to be fished out of the sea, they -do- become property [e.g. the various schemes to give a property interest in fish to current fishermen, to incentivize them to not overfish]. And even there, there’s no incentive to not scrape the sea bottom bare with trawler gear.

In short, if no -particular- rights-holder is harmed, then, hey, let’s go! Rollin’ coal! And that’s insane.

8

b9n10nt 08.18.18 at 8:44 pm

I found this article by Eric Levitz a more in-depth look at right wing confusion.

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum wonders, why not redistribute via unionization instead ?

I think it was a Jacobin editor on twitter last night who sagely pointed out that Codetermination policies (by themselves) could easily be co-opted or enculturated to fit the prerogatives of the elites.

So…the answer to “Codetermination or unionization?” seems to be “yes!”.

Reactionaries gonna react, of course. & the gulf between privileged priorities and the public good should be called “the unrational valley”: Irrationality is embedded in reaction. Kevin W. gives us our daily reminder of this phenomenon.

9

L2P 08.18.18 at 9:06 pm

“Uhm, but none of those things are property rights-in other words, He is correct.
In fact, most of them aren’t rights at all.”

They absolutely are rights. Maybe not under the Bill of Rights, but that’s not the source of all rights. And even there, were one justice from those being incorporated through due process. So what are you talking about?

Whether they’re “property” rights is a matter of definition, and about the most pointless disputes I can think of. The only reason it matters is bc Williamson, like many libertarians, thinks only property rights exist. But they also think everything should be alienable, so everything is a property right. It’s just libertarian bullshit all the way down.

10

nastywoman 08.18.18 at 9:33 pm

– as the conversation seems to veer off non-amusingly – just as a reminder:

”Codetermination is a concept that involves the right of workers to participate in management of the companies they work for”.

Which is a very good thing – even for Conservatives – Right? –
as in such companies who have ”Codetermination” -(especially in the Nordic European Countries and in the most ”bigly” European Economy – Germany) –
the management and the workers most of the times work very successfully together – and that’s not only really ”good” for the (conservative?) management but also even for some ”conservative workers” who might vote for conservative FF –

Right?

And so this ”Codetermination” is ”bigly” good!

So ”good” that even a Von Clownstick -(who loves his workers – Right?) – would love ”Codetermination” – bigly – and as he does -(even if he might not know it or even might not know what ”Codetermination” means – EVERY ”conservative HAS to love ”Codetermination” –
and if he – or she doesn’t they are NOT ”conservative” –

Right?

11

Collin Street 08.18.18 at 10:45 pm

If that’s an example of conservative logic, conservatives need to read more about logic.

All right-wing activists display obvious symptoms of badly-managed autism-spectrum conditions, of which the point you raised is a very notable one.

“Black and White thinking”, it’s called; basically, the world is viewed as if things only had one nature. There might be more or less detail, but things are nested in nice non-overlapping categories, and boundaries don’t cross. “He broke the law? but he’s a police officer!” “This game was written by a girl? I thought it was written by a programmer”, etc.

I mean, we all have our own shortcomings. This one can be managed, obviously, once a person knows about it they can correct their own thinking, check to make sure before speaking. It’s only a problem in stress situations or if the affected person isn’t fully aware of their own personal blind spots [which is an upbringing/education issue].

12

John Holbo 08.18.18 at 10:47 pm

anonymousse writes: “

“This sounds like a terrible idea.” Yes, as Yglesias says, it could be a terrible idea. His point was merely that it wasn’t the idea that Williamson was discussing.

“You may think its a good idea, but you can’t deny that it is a big deal …”

So close! But now you go and ruin it.

“… in exactly the way Kevin Williamson said it was.”

“You need more conservative readers.”

Yes, but so few conservatives can read.

13

Rob Chametzky 08.19.18 at 12:33 am

JH@ 11

And, of course, Mill:

“I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.”

[John Stuart Mill, in a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington, May 31, 1866.]

–RC

14

anonymousse 08.19.18 at 12:50 am

“If that’s an example of conservative logic, conservatives need to read more about logic.

1) Action A is aimed at benefiting [big corporations’ workers, customers, and communities].
2) Person B advocates action A.
3) Conclusion: Person B no longer advocates any other action than A.”

Its not conservative logic (its not my argument). Its Yglesias logic. I’ll repeat my quote from Yglesias-perhaps you won’t miss it this time.

“Instead of advocating for expensive new social programs like free college or health care, she’s introducing a bill Wednesday, the Accountable Capitalism Act”

Perhaps you should write a post addressing Yglesias’ logical failures?

anon

15

John Quiggin 08.19.18 at 12:55 am

@anonymousse. Well, at least I am now clear on whether you were arguing in good faith on my post the other day. Nothing more from you on anything I write, please. Obviously, John H and other posters can make their own choices, but I have run out of time for trolls.

16

John Holbo 08.19.18 at 12:57 am

“Instead of advocating for expensive new social programs like free college or health care, she’s introducing a bill Wednesday, the Accountable Capitalism Act”

Perhaps you should write a post addressing Yglesias’ logical failures?”

What is the logical failure?

17

J-D 08.19.18 at 2:11 am

John Holbo

I am reasonably confident that what anonymousse is fixing on is the use of the word ‘instead’; specifically, I think anonymousse is interpreting the use of the word ‘instead’ as implying ‘If she is advocating A (the ‘Accountable Capitalism Act’) she is not advocating B (‘new social programs like free college or health care’). I don’t think this counts as a logical failure, but there’s a case to be made that it’s a poor choice of words. (Just a little further down in the same article Matthew Yglesias has written ‘Warren supports expanding many of the programs in play’, so I don’t think it’s true that he thinks advocacy of A means not advocating B, but probably he could have been clearer about that.)

18

LFC 08.19.18 at 2:15 am

There is no logical failure if one takes Yglesias to mean, as he surely did mean: “Instead of advocating for expensive new social programs” in this instance, Warren introduced the act. The italicized words are, I think, clearly implied by the context. And since Yglesias, whatever one thinks of his views, is not obtuse, he is unlikely to have made the alleged logical error in question (i.e., thinking that if one advocates X approach to Y problem one can’t also advocate somewhat compatible approach B).

19

JimV 08.19.18 at 2:38 am

On second thought, reading comprehension was probably the main problem. In context, MY’s point was something like, “Why is KW choosing this proposal of EW’s to complain about, rather than one of her social program proposals?” He did not mean that EW had vowed to give up all future attempts at social reform to concentrate solely and forever on her latest idea. (She hasn’t.)

However logic does enter into it. If A is playing tennis than ipso facto A is not at the same time playing golf or bridge or mah jongg. So one can truthfully say, “A is not playing golf or bridge, A is playing tennis.” This would not logically imply that A would never play golf or bridge in the future.

Liberal or conservative, I think the key to good argument is to be sure you have all the facts right (when in doubt, Google it, is a good motto these days), and to check your logic with analogies such as the above. In my experience, a depressing number of disagreements are based on semantic misunderstandings of what the other person means, and/or bad data. When disagreeing with someone, I think the burden is on me to try to be sure I understand what the person I am disagreeing with means. In this case, I erred by not considering that anyone might take the MY quote as a literal description of EW’s future agenda. (One could say the interpretation depended on what the meaning of “is” is.) (Perhaps the liberal definition of “is” is “is now” and the conservative definition is “is forever”.)

20

john c. halasz 08.19.18 at 4:41 am

Sen. Warren’s “Corporate Accountability Act” is obvious window-dressing, as well as a deft piece of political manoeuvring , placing herself at once to the “left” and to the “right” of Bernie. It doesn’t involve public spending, (as the Dembot hack Yglesias emphasizes, a prime neo-liberal desideratum), while it seems to attack “the problem” that Bernie always rails against. And it operates in terms of the liberal and even left-liberal tendency to try and abstractly moralize all political and political-economy issues,- ( a huge category mistake in my book),- at the expense of any effort to analyze matters of fact and function, (which, of course, Bernie indulges in as well). Perhaps not coincidentally, it resembles the deployment of PC/identity politics ideology, which treats superficially some symptoms, while failing to provide any analysis of underlying structural “causes” of social stratification, but rather obstructing any such questions, because likely the answers would displace current discursive place-holders and strip them of their manipulative power. And trying to impose “normatively” just a new addition to the regulations is likely to fail, because their specifications will always be ambiguous and outstripped by the full extent of the moving targets they would define, while also providing just another set of rules to be manipulatively gamed. (Where regulatory regimes have held sway, in the now distant past, it wasn’t because of formal procedures, but because of a much broader background of institutional and popular pressures).

So how about an alternative approach, relying on basic functional considerations rather than “normative” impositions? I offer this for purely heuristic purposes, both retrospectively and prospectively, not as a ready-made policy regime. Just how did we end up with a world/political economy of excrescent financialization, declining real productive investment and burgeoning inequality in wealth and income, and how might we get out of it moving forward? I have no desire to “save capitalism from itself”. IMHO capitalism is running us all off a cliff. Nor do I have any fully coherent, integrated conception of how to save us all from the capitalist straight-jacket. But simply put, why no just abolish the corporate income tax altogether and rather impose the point of tax incidence on both the wealth and income of the beneficial owners of corporations, the stock and bond holders? I will leave it as an exercise for the readers here, all those smarty-pants who are so confident in their opinionating and sure of their expert intellectual superiority, to draw out the multiple points of such a proposal, compared to past and current corporate “behavior”.

21

nastywoman 08.19.18 at 7:19 am

@8
I found this article by Eric Levitz a more in-depth look at right wing confusion.

Me Too –
but I always wonder why in their confusion the so called ”US Conservatives” –
(and even AOL or Sanders) never bring up Germany? –
as Germany is the YUUGEST European economy -(with all the ”good stuff” the Nordic Countries offer – too)

And to add to teh conservatives wonderful confusion – in Germany nearly all so called ”Conservatives” approve of payable health insurances, job guarantees, universal child care, and worker representation on corporate boards”.
-(it’s ”the thing” you just HAVE to believe in – if you want a happy life)

And Americans want a happy life too – or in other words – why NOT telling US Conservatives that ”Real Conservatives” – indeed – believe in Codetermination.

They might start to believe it? –
– as Germany is so much YUUUGER and even more ”winning” than them ”Socialistic Scandinavian Hellholes”.
-(as the weather there – still – is really a… problem)

22

nastywoman 08.19.18 at 7:31 am

@20
– ”it resembles the deployment of PC/identity politics ideology, which treats superficially some symptoms, while failing to provide any analysis of underlying structural “causes” of social stratification, but rather obstructing any such questions, because likely the answers would displace current discursive place-holders and strip them of their manipulative power”.

WHAT?!

So how about an alternative – and more… may I say ”practical” approach of just NOT ending up with a US -(NOT ”world”) – ”political economy of excrescent financialization, declining real productive investment and burgeoning inequality in wealth and income” –

And about: How we might we get out of it?

We (US) just do what some ”Nordic Countries” -(and the Germans?) do!

23

J-D 08.19.18 at 7:42 am

john c. halasz

I will leave it as an exercise for the readers here, all those smarty-pants who are so confident in their opinionating and sure of their expert intellectual superiority

So they’re nothing like you, right?

24

relstprof 08.19.18 at 9:30 am

So we’re back to the role of the state in determining what corporations are in the first place. This is good, and a corrective. It’s always helpful to remember Mirowski’s analysis of the Neoliberal Thought Collective: it wants to control the state in order to control what counts as the “free market”. The battle is over who controls governance tout court. This is a battle between democracy and oligarchy.

Nathan Robinson gets it: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/08/some-illuminating-reactions-to-elizabeth-warrens-worker-rights-plan

Frankly, I’d rather legislation shift control to 51% in favor of employees, but I understand that this bill is Warren’s way of staking ground for 2020. And so isn’t as serious as it could be, but serious enough. It’s going to be a long process to get a party that’s serious about the evils of capitalism, but it has to start somewhere.

To the left of Sanders? I dunno. This angle seems like punditry for the sake of punditry.

Let US politicians compete for leftist positions in re reining in corporate greed and death-dealing. I welcome it! Let’s get Corey Booker and Kamala Harris arguing about percentage numbers of employee control. How much taxation of corporations. How much taxation of high income brackets. Wouldn’t that be fantastic.

The pragmatic angle for leftists is to fight for all these things.

All the things.

25

MR Bill 08.19.18 at 11:47 am

I have thought a possible talking point for the US Left would be something like “Is a corporation a citizen? If so, how can we make sure it’s good citizen? It only exists because of a legal structure of regulation: shouldn’t those regulations include the Public Interest?”

26

Layman 08.19.18 at 12:04 pm

“So we’re back to the role of the state in determining what corporations are in the first place. ”

‘Corporations are people, my friends,’ said a smarmy dink one time. Someone’s got to take the other side of that argument.

27

Mike Huben 08.19.18 at 12:43 pm

Many here seem to be missing one of the most important features of Warren’s proposed legislation: eliminating some of the dark money and thus helping to defund the right.

28

Lambent Cactus 08.19.18 at 1:27 pm

“Conservatives assure us that Kevin Williamson is one of their movement’s best writers and intellectuals and we should believe them.” is one of the most savage sentences I have read in a long minute.

https://twitter.com/mattyglesias/status/1030069699604832257?s=21

29

Orange Watch 08.19.18 at 3:03 pm

J-D@:

I will leave it as an exercise for the readers here, all those smarty-pants who are so confident in their opinionating and sure of their expert intellectual superiority

So they’re nothing like you, right?

This is a standard formulation in American “anti-elitist” anti-intellectualism. jch is not confident of opinionating, they’re simply honest about FACTS. They’re not sure of expert intellectual superiority, they’re humbly aware that – as usual – they’re right, and those puffed-up, pompous blowhards – who think they’re smarter than the humble, decent folk – are wrong.

The important thing is not whether or not you go around thinking and acting like you’re smarter than everyone else, but that you do so while virtue-signaling in the correct manner. You need to have right intent when you disdainfully sneer down your nose at those you judge to be your intellectual inferiors. Part of that is telling everyone in earshot that you’re actually sneering up your nose at them.

30

Lee A. Arnold 08.19.18 at 4:34 pm

I am afraid that Sen. Warren is falling into the usual Democratic Party trap, which is to propose a technical fix which 1. contains details and logic that most of the electorate cannot follow, and moreover 2. allows enough points of attack to render it susceptible to rhetorical disparagement in the next economic downturn, and to policy sabotage once the opposition party comes back into power. It looks like another case of the disease of “professorial complexity”. I respect her a lot but she is not in the Simple Message Department.

31

b9n10nt 08.19.18 at 4:44 pm

@21

I suspect Real German Conservatives support codetermination (and other “nice things”) because they must, just as Real Progressives (Warren) “believe in capitalism” because theymust.

In Europe, a more-solid foundation of social solidarity has been laid; in the US, a host of factors (systemic racism, geography, empire) are like mud in the cement: the foundation is much weaker.

32

PatinIowa 08.19.18 at 5:37 pm

I’ll believe conservative outrage over the presence of the government in the economy when they propose to do away with Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and limited liability.

Not before.

33

Lee A. Arnold 08.19.18 at 5:52 pm

There is a contradiction that neither progressives nor liberals nor conservatives want to address: you can’t say that the problem is globalization or immigration or centralizing corporatization, if all along there has been enough money available for investment in new business startups with new ideas for new goods and services.

And we KNOW there has been enough investment money available, because interest rates have been at the floor while the big money has been masturbating with existing assets.

Because, in response to globalization and immigration, new business ideas from regular folks would have presented opportunities for new investment — and/or, existing corporations would have stepped up to gobble up the new opportunities for profit.

Didn’t happen.

The Trump-Bannon “nationalization” response is to suppose that capitalism is not really that creative, because their solution is to steal the existing jobs back. Not make new, steal back.

Well that’s not going to work, because 1. all returning factories will be automated, thus there will not be so many new employment opportunities as you might think. And as a consequence, 2. a new spate of secular stagnation will be starving the consumer demand side, just as the corporate debt becomes due: Another rerun of the crises of the last 30 years.

Less basically, 3. the other countries can also lower their own corporate tax rates further in response to the US, so factories will stay put abroad, and 4. tariffs won’t work because the timespan of US voters’ angst is much shorter than China’s need to balance the books of its state capitalism (a timespan which is basically infinite, because they print their own money).

The fundamental question is, why haven’t people responded to the pressures of immigration or globalization or automation, by inventing new ideas for businesses and thus getting back into the market game? Because that is the theory of capitalist individualism: it shouldn’t matter if you lose your job, you can make or find a different one.

If this is decreasingly possible (because, say, human cognition is limited, or because human wants are not truly infinite at any moment), then we have a different problem than mere corporate accountability will solve. We can already produce more than everyone needs to live. Scarcity is being replaced by potential satiety, yet the system is debt-beggaring the creativity of most of the populace.

34

roger gathmann 08.19.18 at 6:31 pm

Property does not have rights, people have rights – to quote, and transform, a second amendment freak slogan. Corporations are clearly artificial entities that have to be licensed by the state. The state can easily change the template of that licensing. Warren’s is a step in the right direction, adding to the property, if not the rights, of the majority of Americans. But we can go farther. We can adjust the taxation of corporations to the inequality spread between their lowest paid employees and their highest. We can simply make it extremely punitive to investors to have an interest in corporations where that spread is more than say 19 to 1 – which is what it was in the seventies. This would give an incentive to CEOs to raise the wages of their employees, so they can raise their own earnings. We can do things like this because we, the people, are more powerful than they, the corporations. It is a matter of the struggle for survival, and strength, and all that rightwing crap. Bring down the hammer, Senator Warren!

35

anonymousse 08.19.18 at 7:23 pm

John Q.:

“Well, at least I am now clear on whether you were arguing in good faith on my post the other day. Nothing more from you on anything I write, please. Obviously, John H and other posters can make their own choices, but I have run out of time for trolls.”

Will do, John. Your blog post had 72 comments: my two or three were the only ones expressing disagreement. Without them, you will have the intellectual unanimity you apparently desire.

If I just post ‘Trump is a real dummy’ a few times, would you let me back?
btw:
“If that’s an example of conservative logic, conservatives need to read more about logic.”
“It’s just libertarian bullshit all the way down.”
“All right-wing activists display obvious symptoms of badly-managed autism-spectrum conditions, “
“Yes, but so few conservatives can read.”
“I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative.”

You are seriously suggesting that I am the troll here?

John H:

“What is the logical failure?”

As others have pointed out: MY says that ‘instead’ of advocating for universal college, Warren is advocating for cheap college for middle class corporate executives.

It is not ‘logic’ in the formal sense. It is simply following up post 6 (where THAT poster characterized the logical argument that I repeated), and the logic/argument discussion that followed.

Of course, my comment above to John Q. also applies to you. If you are simply hoping for a blog full of unanimous 70 comment ‘Kevin Williamson is a dummy’ threads, you will get it (without me, you had it). Seems like an odd project, though.

anon

36

James Harrison 08.19.18 at 8:19 pm

If 40% of the boards of corporations are going to be elected by the workers, there’s going to have to be some organization of the workers to carry out the election. I don’t see Warren’s proposal as an alternative to unionization but as a complement to unionization.

Worker participation is critical, not only to ensure fairness but also to promote a focus on what the corporation is supposed to be doing— producing goods and providing services—as opposed to just jiggling numbers on a spreadsheet to make a quick killing for the execs and the shareholder. Workers have more of a stake in the mission of companies than the guys on the top floor because they are more invested in the survival of the company and because they want to do work that matters.

37

John Holbo 08.19.18 at 10:58 pm

“It is not ‘logic’ in the formal sense. It is simply following up post 6 (where THAT poster characterized the logical argument that I repeated), and the logic/argument discussion that followed. “

It’s not logic in the informal sense either. Yglesias was pretty clearly not saying that this is the only thing Warren is going to do ever. I guess you can complain that the sentence was clunky?

“Your blog post had 72 comments: my two or three were the only ones expressing disagreement. Without them, you will have the intellectual unanimity you apparently desire.”

Rather than coming up with respectable conservative arguments, you are going meta and defending the idea that liberals should respect conservataves arguments more. But conservatism can’t be like Baron Munchhausen, pulling itself up by the pigtail of obligatory liberal respect for whatever it has to say for itself – regardless of whether it makes any sense or not.

38

J-D 08.19.18 at 11:52 pm

Orange Watch

I just love it when somebody explains the joke.

39

J-D 08.20.18 at 12:04 am

anonymousse

Your blog post had 72 comments: my two or three were the only ones expressing disagreement. Without them, you will have the intellectual unanimity you apparently desire.

It’s easy for me to perceive the value in having somebody tell me I am wrong when in fact I am wrong. It’s hard to perceive the value in having somebody tell me I am wrong when in fact I am right. So my answer to the question ‘Is it a good thing to have people disagreeing?’ has to be ‘It depends’.

40

LFC 08.20.18 at 12:52 am

Re j.c. halasz upthread: The policy idea is mentioned late in the comment and somewhat cryptically, so it’s a little hard to evaluate (for me at least)…

Slightly OT:
Matthew Stewart’s June ’18 Atlantic piece on ‘the 9.9 percent’ as the ‘new American aristocracy’ I think is worth a skim at least (it’s long, and I haven’t done more than that). Clearly written, a couple of v. interesting graphs. The gist will prob not be surprising, but still worth a look imo. Perhaps it’s been mentioned here before, I’m not sure. Googling (or otherwise searching) will bring it up quickly, I think, so I’m not bothering to link.

41

Orange Watch 08.20.18 at 1:36 am

J-D: there’s a certain amount of annual accreditation work I need to perform to maintain my Fun At Parties credentials.

42

faustusnotes 08.20.18 at 1:49 am

John c Halasz above is a good example of the nihilism of the American “extreme” left. He could have written a comment saying he thinks Warren’s proposal isn’t good enough, and said why. Instead he sneers at it, analyzes it entirely in terms of how he perceives its political goals (neither Warren nor anyone else having explained what they are), dismisses it as merely posturing because no Democrat except Sanders can possibly be serious about their political positions, and fails to present a coherent alternative. When he does present anything vaguely resembling an alternative he makes sure it is laden with sneering and contempt for the other people on the blog where he is posting (why post here at all?) and, as J-D beautifully observes, makes himself guilty of exactly the charge he lays on others.

This is why the left cannot win in America. Those who are earnest and serious about doing something have this crowd of wannabe leninists snapping at their heels the whole way, undermining their efforts and sneering at their motives, and doing nothing productive to make the world better.

43

floopmeister 08.20.18 at 3:05 am

And about ”Wien” – did you guys read that Wien made it to the Nr. 1 spot of ”the most livable city in the World”

“Did you guys read…” Honestly, do you think we could avoid this news here in Melbourne?

:)

I, for one, didn’t realise gemütlich was a category for determining urban liveability…

44

mclaren 08.20.18 at 3:25 am

Codetermination? Weak sauce. Anarcho-syndicalism. If you work at a company, you should own it (or part of it)…if you live in an apartment building, you should own it (or part of it).
Eliminate money, get rid of the stock market, ban most limited liability corporations and abolish corporate personhood, nationalize all the banks and turn ’em into non-profit credit unions, set up a UBI and and job guarantee (but not a “guaranteed job” where you have to torture a union organizer until she reveals the names of her socialist buddies), slash America’s military AKA burning-brown-3rd-world-baby budget by 90%, plenty of useful ideas.
Codetermination is far too mild to be useful now. We’re living in the age of globalization where everyone’s job either gets offshored or automated out of existence. Time to think bigger than codetermination.

45

David 08.20.18 at 3:28 am

Yglesias writes: “Warren’s proposal is that the federal government should halt that race to the bottom by requiring large businesses with more than $1 billion in revenue to obtain a federal charter. These businesses represent a large chunk of overall economic activity in the United States. But contrary to Williamson’s rhetoric, the vast majority of American businesses are small and would be totally unaffected by anything in her legislation.”

But Jared Bernstein corrects him: “Besides, don’t most people work for small businesses, and aren’t such businesses the engine of job growth?

Actually, no. In what may be the most misunderstood fact about the job market, although most companies are small — according to 2008 census data, 61 percent are small businesses with fewer than four workers — more than two-thirds of the American work force is employed by companies with more than 100 workers. You can tweak the definitions, but even if you define “small” as fewer than 500 people (as the federal government does, basically), you still find that half the work force is employed by large businesses.”

46

nastywoman 08.20.18 at 3:42 am

@31
”In Europe, a more-solid foundation of social solidarity has been laid; in the US, a host of factors (systemic racism, geography, empire) are like mud in the cement.”

Okay – it takes time to get the mud out of the cement and Warren and AOL and Sanders and a lot of other US Progressives are working on it – and did you read how many young Americans aren’t scared anymore about ”Socialism”?
-(and thusly ”the Scandinavian Socialistic Hellholes”)

and so about @33
”The Trump-Bannon “nationalization” response is to suppose that capitalism is not really that creative, because their solution is to steal the existing jobs back. Not make new, steal back”.

How true – but as we were talking about ”Codetermination” and how to make ”capitalism” more ”social” or ”socialistic” -(if we can’t rid of ”capitalism” altogether) – and as – indeed – tariffs won’t work – because the timespan of US voters’ angst is much shorter NOT only than China’s – it’s ”the creativity” to create ”new good jobs” which has to be focused on – as there are many new employment opportunities Americans seem NOT to be able to think about?

As looking at IT from the perspective of any ”Producing Country” – and especially ”Producing Countries”’ which concentrate on High Quality Stuff – there never seems to be any lack of demand – as NOT only some non existing unemployment numbers prove – and there is such a lack of certain types of ”experienced workers” – that some of the most successful Producing Countries are desperately looking for them everywhere in the world.

As actually – it seems to be – that (world wide) consumers have faaar too much money – They have so much money that there is this danger that they will destroy every ”nice” and ”desirable” -(and ”creative”) place with the flood of cash.

And that – for everybody who is NOT stuck on the American Island – has become a real problem –
And that these (world wide) consumers are not spending enough for US stuff (yet) – as US weren’t creative enough to compete – especially with Producing Countries of High Quality Stuff -(and thusly their High Quality Jobs) – Warren -(and other US Progressives) will have to go a long way – as also this confused discussion here proves.

But WE will get there – mastering ”the Nordic Moonwalk” too.

47

john c. halasz 08.20.18 at 4:00 am

Orange Watch @ 29:

So now I supposed to be “anti-intellectual” and obsessed with “virtue signaling”? This is sheer confabulation on your part and intellectual sloppiness. Did you actually read my posted comment? Umm… I derided PC ideology, (which is indeed mostly just a matter of virtue signaling), and criticized the left-liberal tendency to conflate political justice with morality, (which is a personal, private and individual matter), and substitute for any actual substantive analysis of political economy mere abstract moralizing. J-D, many of whose frequent posts here strike me as nothing but pedantic obtuseness, didn’t at all respond to the substance of what I’d actually suggested, but thinks his/her self a great wit. If you want to play endless games of tu quoque tag, which is what most of the threads on CT amount to, especially since the election of Trump, – ( yes, there were better days),- indulge yourself. Just leave me out of your gamesmanship. But no one has actually responded here to the substance. A few have made some good points about the obvious shortcomings of Sen. Warren’s proposal, but mostly the idea is that it’s a good first step, according to various and sundry pet peeves, while ignoring the fact that we have miles to run and in short order, if we’re ever to get to any “decent” desirable end or condition. Political posturing suffices for those who treat Trump’s election as a matter of personal narcissistic injury, which just tells one what a bubble they were living in beforehand, rather than looking out at the world and their own position in it in a sober manner.

But of course, this is a Holbo thread and conforms to his usual shtick on political matters. A centrist liberal himself, he will pick an argument with some bonehead right-wing jourmalist, using his impeccable belief in formal logic and then support his argumentitiveness by citing some liberal centrist jourmalist. He never argues to his left, unless it’s some po-mo type that irritates him to no end. His citation of Yglesias is typical. A self-professed logical positivist, when that philosophy has been defunct for 50 years- (though given his “commitments” he should at least get his facts right, since Swizterland is not a member of the EU, nor even the EEA)- he used to work, together with Ezra Klein, for CAP, a Clintonoid think tank, before moving to VOX for more of the same, (though the energy/environment reporter there, Dave Roberts is actually pretty good), and offers a “value-neutral” he said, she said account of Warren’s proposal. That is supposed to suffice as “evidence”, ignoring the fact that all such jourmalists are subsidized think tank sinecurists, who reliability and embedded motives are dubious at best. One might think that finding more substantive sources might lead to more “serious” and informative argumentative exchanges, if that were the aim at CT, rather than just feeding chum to the local commentariat.

48

J-D 08.20.18 at 4:33 am

john c. halasz

J-D, many of whose frequent posts here strike me as nothing but pedantic obtuseness, didn’t at all respond to the substance of what I’d actually suggested, but thinks his/her self a great wit.

That shows you don’t know my daughter, my sisters, and my best friend. So long as they’re around, there’s no chance I’ll ever consider myself a great wit.

But no one has actually responded here to the substance.

It’s nobody’s fault but your own if you buried the lede.

You could have posted a comment consisting of this and only this:

Why not just abolish the corporate income tax altogether and rather impose the point of tax incidence on both the wealth and income of the beneficial owners of corporations, the stock and bond holders?

Instead, you made the choice to surround that contribution with an extended critical commentary on how other people choose to conduct discussion (and now you’ve followed up with a second comment offering more of the same). If that’s not the part you want people to react to, don’t post it.

I do have a response to your substantive suggestion though, and it’s this: I don’t know what consequences could be expected from such a change, and am therefore unable to evaluate it; but it’s odd if you’re suggesting it without any ideas of your own about possible consequences.

49

nastywoman 08.20.18 at 4:47 am

@
”One might think that finding more substantive sources might lead to more “serious” and informative argumentative exchanges, if that were the aim at CT, rather than just feeding chum to the local commentariat”.

But, but, but – Mr. Holbo just wrote that he was ”amused” by the confusion in US Conservatives.

And isn’t that a legit – amusement?

I mean –
US Conservatives not knowing anymore if it is ”free market success stories” or ”socialism” what they are fighting? What could be more ”amusing”?
Perhaps if US Conservatives – finally will believe (like German Conservatives) – that ”Social-Democratism” – indeed – IS a ”free market success story”?

50

J-D 08.20.18 at 5:25 am

mclaren

Eliminate money, get rid of the stock market, ban most limited liability corporations and abolish corporate personhood, nationalize all the banks and turn ’em into non-profit credit unions, set up a UBI and and job guarantee (but not a “guaranteed job” where you have to torture a union organizer until she reveals the names of her socialist buddies), slash America’s military AKA burning-brown-3rd-world-baby budget by 90%, plenty of useful ideas.

Your first idea, of eliminating money, would make a number of the others meaningless.

51

Orange Watch 08.20.18 at 6:16 am

jch@47:

FWIW, I agreed with the substance of your @20… which makes the pious anti-intellectualism you add as window dressing all the more irritating, as it is at best prolier-than-thou virtue signaling (which yes, pairs jarringly with your criticisms of liberal virtue signaling), and at worst it’s what its tone and phrasing reflects: virtue signalling in the service of traditional American anti-intellectual “anti-elitist” elitism whose lineage stretches back centuries. But in any case – there as well as in your @47 – the virtue signalling is more prominent than the substance, which leaves your self-righteous denouncements of posturing and gamesmanship ringing rather hollow.

52

J-D 08.20.18 at 9:34 am

faustusnotes

This is why the left cannot win in America. Those who are earnest and serious about doing something have this crowd of wannabe leninists snapping at their heels the whole way, undermining their efforts and sneering at their motives, and doing nothing productive to make the world better.

If only that was the biggest obstacle facing the left. I wish.

53

Hidari 08.20.18 at 10:53 am

‘This is why the left cannot win in America. Those who are earnest and serious about doing something have this crowd of wannabe leninists snapping at their heels the whole way.’

Yes this is the reason. It’s not because of Republican voter suppression, Republican gerrymandering, the racist electoral college, corporate control of the media, (what many claim is) voter fraud (e.g. the lack of a paper trail for electronic voting terminals), the ‘military industrial complex’ and America’s long history of racism, genocide and aggressive class warfare. No it’s because of ‘Leninists’ that gammon faced centrist Dads are not now sweeping to victory.

A clearer statement of why, to the political centre, the ‘real’ problem is actually the left, not the right, could not easily be found.

54

anonymousse 08.20.18 at 12:40 pm

“It’s not logic in the informal sense either.”

I’m not claiming it is! I am simply using the language used in post 6 (obviously, one of your comrades, since you aren’t dissecting his language in the same way you are dissecting mine)! Go, reread post 6. Then realize I am responding to the exact argument that he used, and suggested that MY essentially started it-it was HIS argument that began this whole string. Interesting: when MY uses it, it is ‘clunky’ language. When a liberal commenter uses it, it is ignored. When a conservative commenter uses it (third, to boot), it is ‘dishonest.’

“Your blog post had 72 comments: my two or three were the only ones expressing disagreement. Without them, you will have the intellectual unanimity you apparently desire.”
Rather than coming up with respectable conservative arguments,”

‘JH: CIS proves that immigration is good for the receiving country. commenter:-so wouldn’t it be good for Mexico?’
‘commenter: “All right-wing activists display obvious symptoms of badly-managed autism-spectrum conditions, “

In John H’s mind, one of these sentences is respectable. Guess which one?
In John H’s mind, one of these sentences will get the commenter banned. Guess which one?

Seriously: is this how you run your classroom?

“Yglesias was pretty clearly not saying that this is the only thing Warren is going to do ever. I guess you can complain that the sentence was clunky?”

I never claimed Warren would never do anything, ever again, besides advocate for the Accountable Capitalism Act. What a bizarre (clunky?) characterization of my statements.
Surely the word ‘instead’ means, well, something? If I eat toast ‘instead’ of an apple for breakfast, I must have given up the option of eating the apple, right (no, not forever and ever. I might eat an apple tomorrow-don’t worry, I understand that)? Similarly: if Trump spends 100 billion dollars on aircraft carriers, he did that ‘instead’ of spending 100 billion dollars on homeless shelters-and we can judge him for that? Even though it doesn’t mean he will necessarily not spend 100 billion on homeless shelters next year? Is ‘don’t worry: he might spend that money on homeless shelters next year’ a good argument for aircraft carriers this year?

And if ‘instead’ means anything at all, it must mean Warren gave up advocating for one thing (free college for all) for another thing (cheaper college for middle class corporate lackeys), just as I gave up an apple to eat toast this morning (and not every single morning for the rest of my life…).

You really have to work hard, and redefine the common meaning of the word ‘instead,’ to defend both MY’s characterization of Warren’s choice, and the consequences of Warren’s choice. (its almost clintonesque: it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘instead’ is…).

anon

55

faustusnotes 08.20.18 at 1:13 pm

A fair point J-D. Perhaps you could discuss it with Vladimir Putin’s good friend Jill Stein. Or with all the left wing idiots who spent 2016 spreading RT propaganda for free.

56

JimV 08.20.18 at 3:12 pm

When I joined GE in 1968, GE had an online service called “GE Time-Sharing”. You dialed their local number on a rotary-dial telephone, placed the handset in the acoustic coupler of a modem, then used a teletype (keyboard and printer, the latter fed by a scroll of paper) to communicate with a large bank of main-frame computers. You could write your own programs to run on those computers, or use existing applications, mostly technical.

With a vast amount of evolution in equipment, software, and terminology (the main-frame computers are now called servers), that is what the Internet today consists of. Jack Welch decided that was not a good business to be in, and sold it off, along with a lot of other technical and/or “smokestack” businesses, on his way to turning GE into a financial services corporation. When he retired, he was given a going-away bonus which we were told at the time was worth about 700 million dollars. (I see now that some of the details of that are not generally known, but those that are have been valued at only 420 million dollars.) It is estimated he got rid of about 100,000 GE jobs during his tenure. My own plant went from 28,000 workers to 4,000, and of course for every GE job lost in my town, at least one other service job was lost (restaurants, laundromats, barbershops, a movie theater, several super-markets, and three large department stores closed).

If GE workers had any say in corporate decisions, we would have fought many of them (especially on that retirement bonus; GE workers no longer earn pensions at retirement, as I did). I believe GE would be a stronger company today, a technological giant as it used to be, for that worker input, and of course all the GE workers and their communities would be better off. As Welch himself put it, most of his decisions came “straight from the gut”, and we know what comes from there. But, as Kevin Williamson says, Jack Welch would have lost a huge amount of money. (There might also be some unintended bad consequences, but frankly, Welch not getting that money seems like the best part of Senator Warren’s proposal, to me.)

57

Trader Joe 08.20.18 at 3:44 pm

Workable or not, this is the sort of stuff that sounds like a great idea when economies are running strong and wage growth remains crap (which it does).

We didn’t see anyone signing up to take 40% of the board seats in 2008 and 2009 when companies great and small were getting crushed by a global financial crisis. Would a workers board have prevented such? Highly doubtful. Would they have added value to the turnaround? Most likely not.

I’m surely in favor of workers collecting a greater share of the rents produced by a business, but don’t confuse business rents with return on capital – investors/bankers put money at risk to finance a business in good times and bad and for their capital they expect a return. Reduce the returns of the business and the cost of capital goes up by either greater capital scarcity at times of need or higher interest rates. The pie isn’t zero sum – it can get smaller just as easy as it can get larger.

58

hix 08.20.18 at 5:49 pm

So how did the nordics ever become free market paradises in the first place? Was it that Heritage Foundation “study” that decided ex ante all high gdp nations had to be manchester capitalist paradises?

59

TM 08.20.18 at 6:40 pm

J-D 23 wins the thread.

JCH claims that Warren’s proposal is “obvious window-dressing ” without offering any actual argument to that effect, while then quite surprisingly offering the supposedly radical proposal to “abolish the corporate income tax altogether”, again without offering any hint of an argument why that should be a good idea (but not without asking his fellow commenters to be so kind and work out the details for him). On the face of it it doesn’t exactly look like a proposal for combating inequality (yes I realize that jch’s proposal has another part but given the lack of detail that is impossible to evaluate) nor does it look politically astute given that cutting corporate taxes is what the oligarchy has been busy doing recently (was Trump right after all?).

In any case if you consider tinkering with the tax system as the best and most radical anti-capitalist strategy available, welcome to the Democratic Party.

60

b9n10nt 08.21.18 at 12:27 am

jch @47

tendency to conflate political justice with morality, (which is a personal, private and individual matter),

Off topic, but…Seems like a fairly bourgeois distinction to settle for, no?

On topic: if private wealth alone is taxed we could simply see a return of the 50s-era practice of lavish informal business perks to make up for for the owners’and upper management’s lost status consumption. Capitalism adapts.

The more tools the public has to re-redistribute from the owners the better. Taxation is one lever; codetermination would be attractive and politically potent precisely because it would be a new tool.

I just can’t see a path to mclaren’s future without gradual, progressive transformation.

Lee A. Arnold: I read Warren’s “professional complexity” gambit as a performance that legitimizes a growing radicalism among middle class liberals. Technocracy is a weapon: aim it at the right targets and it’s useful.

61

Voter ID 08.21.18 at 2:06 am

I’m struck on how conservative warren’s plan is. Protection for existing workers, existing communities, existing customers. If DEC (to show my age, can’t think of another Mass corporation now), wanted to expand in North Carolina, Warren is effectively saying the voice of the status quo (current MA employees) should outweight potential future DEC employees. Almost seems anti-immigrant in some ways…

62

Jerry Vinokurov 08.21.18 at 2:43 am

There may be evidence that Israel and Saudi Arabia have collaborated secretly; I don’t know of any myself, and you haven’t indicated any, but that doesn’t prove that it doesn’t exist. Many things fall within the bounds of possibility, and Israel and Saudi Arabia collaborating secretly is certainly one of them, although being possible is not by itself a demonstration that it has actually happened.

There is in fact a wealth of such evidence, much of which you can read in this New Yorker piece. Israeli/Saudi collaboration is absolutely real, and a testament to the fact that for all their preening about being “the only democracy in the Middle East,” Israeli leaders (and increasingly, the Israeli public) simply don’t care about democratic ideals at all.

63

Jerry Vinokurov 08.21.18 at 2:44 am

Sorry about the above comment landing in the wrong thread. That’ll teach me to cut and paste. Hopefully it’ll get swallowed up by moderation.

64

john c. halasz 08.21.18 at 4:23 am

So now I’m supposed to be at once a nihilist, a Leninist and a Bernie supporter, when, in fact, I am none of the three, (except , of course, in the deep dark recesses of my unconscious,- thanks for the free psychoanalysis!) And then Orange Watch ties his own shoelaces together, accusing me of being “pious”, “polier-than-thou” and “self-righteous”…”in the service of traditional American anti-intellectual “anti-elitist” elitism whose lineage stretches back centuries”, (which is, er, a rather logically iffy construct, assuming it refers to anything at all). When, in fact, I am the somewhat belated offspring of post-War European immigrants- (yes, I am a You’re-a-peon, so suck on that “people of color!”), so with that betwixt-and-between experience, it would hardly make sense that I would affiliate myself with such a “long-standing American tradition”. Besides which, what part of minima moralia, part of the gist of my initial comment here, does he not understand? There seems to be a whole lot of projection going on here and not just from that comment. (I dunno: maybe some latent status anxiety on the part of educated 10%ers , the assumed median audience here, is seeping out). And, of course, Nasty Woman, our resident jet-setting social butterfly here, who relies anecdotes from here far-flung acquaintances, without seeming to grasp some basic concepts, such, say, economic rent, assures us that America should just simply adopt Ordoliberalismus, and no doubt the predatory mercantilism that goes with that model, since everybody knows that the Yahrmans are just more productive and efficient than anybody else, an ideological trope with its own historical lineage. But evidently only my peculiar personality disorder is objectionable; the other personality disorders displayed on these threads are just glorious. So much for the fluff; now on the the substance

Yes, I do sometimes find by fellow leftists and environmentalists insufferable, (as with Mclaren’s comment above, admirable for its sense of urgency, but not for its coherence). And as I said, I really have no coherent conception of how to “deconstruct the administrative corporation”, to borrow a paraphrase with a bit of Umfunktionierung, and my proposal wouldn’t be fully adequate to what must needs be done, but at least it offers heuristically a way to think about matters. And yes, I think relying on our fearless leaders and their assiduously sycophantic acolytes and just imbibing the pablum they put out, entirely oriented toward a procrustean electoral system based on an archaic constitution, which is neither representative, nor democratic in any meaningful sense, will never result in authentic and necessary “progress”. (I have refrained from mentioning AGW&CD til now). That just narrows the terms of reference for discourse and activity to the service of the status quo and its reproduction and often just results in the obsessive reading of psyphological tea leaves to divine the people’s “will” in highly restricted and reified ways. Needless to say, there are other alternatives for discourse and activity that don’t have to obey such strictures and that might be more attuned to bringing about institutional and collective change, suggesting ways to alter prevailing institutional functionings and thus the effects therefrom, if not necessarily more “powerful” or effective. Apparently. my ask that people think things through and think independently was an act of unconscionable arrogance, cryptic at best.

So let’s begin the finger counting exercise. 1) If there were no corporate income tax, but rather the outflows from corporate incomes were taxed, the beneficial owners of said corps., then there would be no point to elaborate corporate tax evasion schemes, which is just a waste of “resources”. (I’m sure that everyone here is adequately informed, but in the 1950’s corporate income taxes were 40% of total income tax receipts, but nowadays they’re about 17%, even as income taxes have been repetitively lowered across the board, And it’s a good guess that the largest share of the corporate haul is paid by smaller corps. restricted to the domestic market without much international “foot print:”). Obviously, I would prefer that that tax and wealth imposed on the beneficial owners wouldn’t be “revenue neutral”, especially after the latest Trumpest scam, but should be sharply progressive, hitting the 10%, the 1% and the ,1% hard, since that obeys the the Willie Sutton rule. 2) If there were no corporate income tax, there would be no interest rate deduction, obviating the “attractiveness” of PE LBO’s and other operations that depend on that subsidy. 3) if there were no income tax, but rather a wealth and income tax, stock buy-back schemes , debt financed or not, would make little sense, since the alleged gains to execs and hedgie “activists” would just get taxed away, 4) if there were no interest deduction and no real possibility of goosing asset prices artificially, then corps. and execs. would have to concentrate on investing in real productive investment in value-added longer-term prospects within their markets, fields or sectors in which they operate,using , retained earnings and thus corps. would begin to deleverage, thus stabilizing their role in the economy. Of course, it may turn out that there are no opportunities for real productive investment, at least in terms of current corporate incumbents and in terms of the profit seeking goals that corps. pursue. But that would at least clarify the situation, when the need for alternative investments, socially speaking, is paramount.

There are many more, readily discernible implications and possible counter-arguments that could be drawn out, But this approach is much different than trying to regulate on the basis of moralistic premises, which will undoubtedly fail. BTW the same applies to financial regulation, which is supposed to be Sen. Warren’s area of expertise. (Other than that she’s just a bog standard conforming liberal, unworthy of any idealizing expectations),. Rather than just imposing a further set of rules on the financial superstructure, just raise the unvarnished capital ratio requirements on banks to 15%, as advocated by Anat Admati among others, without any of the Basel risk-weighting nonsense. Because the Basel rules, which were clearly intended to reduce financial risks, whereby AAA assets would be charged only 20% against tier 1 capital, with the “buckets” determined by the banks themselves-( as the FT commentator Willem Buiter put it in the midst of the GFC, self-regulation is to regulation as self-importance is to importance)- were easily gamed: why do you think that all those dodgy mortgages were placed into structured securitizations with AAA ratings? And the actual leverage ratios of banks, based on “tangible common equity:” is just 3.5%, (which DB is struggling to pretend to). But the Dodd-Frank “reform” was 1200 pages, mostly deferring to the formulation of regulatory rules, which just provided a further opportunity for lobbying and watering-down, whereas as the original Glass-Steagall Act was 35 pages. So on that basis, just how are we to de-leverage “our” highly debt choked economy? I’m not opposed to tough public regulation, just questioning its point of incidence and mode. And whether superficial regulatory “reforms”, based on moralistic political gamesmanship, could ever be enough, sufficient unto the day.

65

nastywoman 08.21.18 at 6:32 am

@64
”And, of course, Nasty Woman, our resident jet-setting social butterfly here, who relies anecdotes from here far-flung acquaintances, without seeming to grasp some basic concepts, such, say, economic rent, assures us that America should just simply adopt Ordoliberalismus, and no doubt the predatory mercantilism that goes with that model, since everybody knows that the Yahrmans are just more productive and efficient than anybody else, an ideological trope with its own historical lineage”.

Not really – as America firstly should adopt paying it’s workers livable wages – adopt a payable health care system and how to keep the rent down for shelter and then give the American people free education in ORDER” – that every average American can afford to live in the most desirable US places -(even in SF or NY)

And then nastywoman assures US – that the US should adopt a system which gives every American at least 5 to 7 weeks of vacation – as not only ”the Yahrmans” have that – but most important – also every Italian -(and every ”Nordic” country) – and that’s exactly what nastywoman wants for every American too.

Capisce?

-(and you might call ALL of the ABOVE however ”Order-Whatever” you like to call it – and stop calling FDR a ”jet set social butterfly” – he doesn’t like that!)

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b9n10nt 08.21.18 at 7:11 am

jch @64 thanks for the last two paragraphs. You’ve baited us with smoke, and now you show us the fire.

I would agree that investment to de-carbonized the economy is urgent, but otherwise I don’t understand the emphasis on real productive investment: the US isn’t underdeveloped, it’s over-ruled.

& so I’m more attracted to proposals that democratize power (as an end in itself) than I am to changes that rationalize production. To that end, no one here would argue that Warren’s proposal is by any means sufficient. That’s a straw man. What I value most in her proposed legislation is precisely that it is, like campaign finance reform, “moralistic political gamesmanship”: by itself (almost) completely symbolic but as a statement of intent for things to come, hopeful.

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nastywoman 08.21.18 at 2:54 pm

jch @64 thanks for the last two paragraphs. You’ve baited us with smoke, and now you show us the fire.

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Orange Watch 08.21.18 at 3:00 pm

jch@64:

Your “his” and “he”-ing is appreciated. Always nice to see ingrained assumptions like that shining through. Charming, really, both for its irrelevance and its presumption.

And your professed ignorance to America’s venerable anti-intellectualist tradition does nothing to negate its existence, no more than your come-lately status means you’ve not integrated into American culture nor adopted its traditions. That’s a rather strange song-and-dance for you to engage in, to say the least.

If you don’t want to be accused of being cryptic, arrogant, or hypocritical, you might want to refrain from devoting a solid half of a 1200-word comment to verbose, grandiloquent posturing and preening before getting to your bombastically-presented “substance” (which still takes time for a few barbed asides flung down your nose at us ignorant know-it-alls).

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nastywoman 08.21.18 at 3:14 pm

and @ 64 and 66 what I really meant to say is – that I understand –
if somebody hasn’t grown up in a world where 5 to 7 (payed) weeks of vacation every year – and free education
– and secure jobs which pay livable wages –
and a health care system which is affordable and also ”rents” are affordable –

If somebody hasn’t grown up in such a world – where all of the above is just – just ”humans rights” -(without being even declared ”humans rights”) – it’s as difficult – as being on a Italian Beach on Ferragosto and and a US kid shows up and tells the Italian Kid what the ”American Human Rights” are.

It’s ”the freedom of speech” telling the Italian Kid everything about ”Ordoliberalismus, and no doubt the predatory mercantilism that goes with that model, since everybody knows that the Yahrmans are just more productive and efficient than anybody else” –
and then the Italian Kid tells the (nouveau) American:

My dad works for Ferrari ”since everybody knows that the Italians are just more productive and efficient than anybody else”.

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TM 08.21.18 at 6:37 pm

jch: “But this approach is much different than trying to regulate on the basis of moralistic premises, which will undoubtedly fail.”

Sure everybody else engages in “moralism” whereas only jch is clear-eyed enough to call for … a tax reform. The rest of us simply would never ever have thought of using tax policy for progressive ends, so absorbed are we in Political Correctness and all the other evils of liberalism. Or for that matter in completely moralistic window dressing exercises like fighting for giving the working class a share of economic power.

Perhaps there is a point at which it is worthwhile engaging constructively with the likes of jch but that requires willingness on both sides.

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nastywoman 08.22.18 at 5:33 am

and the other – and perhaps most important thing? –
-(especially for any ”somewhat belated offsprings of post-War European immigrants)

We have found out that in the old ”Urp” workers -(and their work) – still get’s honored tremendously – and that for many Europeans some workers -(and ”craftsman”) are much more ”valuable” even than the so called ”management”. And this type of honor and respect for the workers and their work is reflected in ”Codetermination” – as the workers representative is sitting on the same table as management – and especially in Yahrmanny NOTHING – NADA moves without some agreement from the workers – who everybody agrees are ”the main source” of any companies success.

And perhaps that’s the thing?
That in any society which doesn’t produce enough anymore -(orderly) – workers who used to be very important in producing what US consumes grow so frustrated that they even vote for a FF von Clownstick.

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john c. halasz 08.22.18 at 8:47 am

Orange Watch @68:
I’m sorry if I misjudged your gender, though when I was in school, eons ago, we were taught that there was a neuter “he”: if one….his, etc. And if it’s an important point, then use a real name rather than an opaque handle. (I have no idea what yours might mean; I would offhand associate it with NI). Besides which I am a terrible typist, so cleaning up the typos takes precedence over the his/her locution I do sometimes remember to use.

But as I pointed out, your characterization of me was entirely projective and simply negating whatever I might say about myself and repeating your accusation is scarcely a refutation. Though your faith in your own telepathic powers is inspiring, just aawwsoome!

TM @70:

The contrast was between a moralistic or “:normative” approach and a functional approach to altering and regulating institutional functionings. (I have little belief that what I proposed would be adopted, but I doubt Sen. Warren’s bill would either). And the criticism of the standard liberal mindset as conflating personal morality, (which is an essentially private, not public matter), with justice and then attempting to treat political issues in moralistic terms, (while ignoring the broader political economy), is to the point, convergent with the basic distinction here. (“Conservatives” do the same thing; it’s just that their definition of morality is different). But this criticism of the attempt to moralize politics isn’t original to me. Have you ever read Hannah Arendt, among others?

(BTW if you really want deal to with someone who’s an arrogant, self-conceited know-it-all who pours contempt and insults on other commenters, read Fautusnotes’ comments).

As to PC and identity politics, which I have to deal with a lot, yes, it is an encumbrance. In the first place, it’s probably the stupidest political “strategy” even invented: if you can’t change the underlying realities, just change the labeling, which only serves to “legitimate” what it ostensibly opposes by provoking ridicule of PC jargon. And reducing personal identity, which is always a fraught matter, which is what ego-defenses are for, to external ascriptive social categories. (while simultaneously cultivating hyper-individualism, an obvious contradiction), does nothing to address actual issues of social stratification, which it tends to obfuscate with mere verbalism. (In fact, if you press on someone’s ego-defenses, you’re liable to get aggressive, paranoid reactions, as in the above thread). And it generally functions as self-insulating repetitive jargon which mostly just serves to signal that one has been to an over-priced, grade-inflated university, staffed by diffusely po-mo professors, which the hoi polloi couldn’t possibly understand. (And it’s based on a truly bad philosophy of language, at once literalistic and nominalist, as if no one have ever heard of “illocutionary force”, which, of course the professors have, it’s just that they conflate the “performative” as doing-by-speaking, with putting -on-a-display, which academic stars know how to do. If you’ve read the French originals, which were “radically” libertarian and frankly cynical, the conversion in America into a quasi-puritanical moralism might have shocked them). But worst of all, it just cultivates self-righteousness, which, pace OW, I despise and regard as a vice rather than a virtue, as bad if not worse that boozing or whoring or whatever else it might chose to reprove. If you look back at the last election, (in which the two least liked, most disapproved of candidates in the modern history of polling were selected, so it was going to be a dismal campaign going forward, and in fact was, with no actual issues being coherently foregrounded), then the response that it was due to racism, etc,, the usual PC litany, as if it were tantamount to original sin, just re-enforces the failure. When, in fact, drawing general conclusions from a narrow “win” in a procrustean electoral system, has no basis for generalization about the broader population.(I recently linked on another thread without comment to the latest psephological retrospective from Pew, that concluded that non-voters were the key to DJT’s “success”, unsurprisingly). If one would want to actually advance the “interests” of the broad American working class, then PC snobbery needs to be abandoned in favor of a more flexible and possibly more persuasive language and more challenging and practically effective proposals. There is a world of difference between some guy who resents being condescendingly or contemptuously referred to as just another dumb redneck, and a fully paid up member of the Aryan Nation, and addressing such people with the embedded polemical ad hominems encoded in PC jargon, often with little educated awareness of their existence, though proud of their “human capital”, is entirely counterproductive if one would want to form a broad-based popular from coalition to bring about fundamental social institutional change. (That just provokes the status anxieties of people with little status to hold on to). Quite frankly, we would need such “racists” on our side. That is, of one wants, rather than merely wishes, for workers to gain their “fair share” not just of the lucre, but of control over their lives and communities. On the other hand, blacks and other disadvantaged minorities, because of the historical facts of social stratification, would stand to gain far more from a suite of “universal” policy proposals than by being pandered to by a manipulated jargon in the service of narrowly electoral purposes segmenting them as a captive “voting block”.

One last bit on this topic. It’s astounding how bigoted bog standard liberals are, especially since they polish their ego ideals by being bien pensant. They freely express their contempt for the unwashed masses, who they would pretend to patronize, for lacking the good manners to agree with them, due to various moral and intellectual defects, while ignoring their own position in the broader political economy, which just might help to produce such unwashed people, and engaging in exercises of blame-shifting and cya to protect their own “human capital: and advance their careers, without ever taking any worldly responsibility for anything, least of all their own failures.

Now on to Sen. Warrens’s proposal. As others have already pointed out. “co-determination” without actual unions makes little sense, And there are few unions left and those that have survived are sometimes conservative to reactionary, concerned only with protecting their own turf, while their top leaders earn C-level salaries, and ignoring broader working class and social concerns. (For example, welders and pipe-fitters support pipelines for some temporary jobs, while ignoring the environmental implications). And where co-determination policies have been put into effect, this is tolerated by the capitalists precisely because it induces cooperation from the work-force for the corporate goals and even identification with them, while the corps remain fully capitalist and the workers, as opposed to the top union honchos, have little control over the terms and conditions of their work. But it does nothing to address issues of oligopolistic concentration, which it actually relies on, inter-sectoral balances or the fate of workers and firms in the SME sector, which are under the thumb of market dominant corporations, let alone addressing general employment policies and actual wage rates. Far from being at least a step forward, it looks to me to be a two-step dance, for electoral purposes, as I said.

b9n10nt @66:

The distinction is between M-C-M’, i,e investing to produce a product that would then recuperate the investment from the sales of said product, resulting in a productive surplus, i.e. profit, and M-M’, making money out of money without any improvement or augmentation of real productive capacity, via speculative financial operations manipulating the credit system to accumulate fictitious capital. In fact, in the U.S. corporate investment didn’t just decline in the aftermath of 2998, but rather it sharply declined in 2001 after the collapse of the stock market bubble, Nothing is more irritating than the constant media cliche that consumption is 70% of U.S. GDP, Since such figures always must add up to 100%, the decline in real investment was replaced consumption largely fueled by the rise in household debt. (After the mild 2001 recession, employment levels didn’t reach prior levels until the end of 2004, another “jobless recovery”). But the subsequent U.S. housing bubble is very much a case in point. Housing prices have two components: the structure itself, which is in a capitalist system the cost of construction plus an average profit and the implied land rent of the housing lots. During the bubble housing prices increased on a nationally indexed basis by 90% while construction costs increased by 15%. The gap expresses the difference between bubble prices due to excess provision of credit, resulting in accumulations of fictitious capital via land rents and actual production values, though the bubble resulted in a construction boom, since whereas construction is normally 4.5% of GDP , it rose to 6,2%, and it is estimated that 2 mn extra houses were constructed compared to trend demand, boosting ostensible GDP growth, while burying households in debt, (just short of 100% of household income and 130% of disposable income). Then after the collapse, investment fell further. The only sector in which corporate investment increased was the oil and gas fracking boom, and in fact, most of the recorded GDP growth between 2009 and 2014, when oil prices began to decline, can be directly attributed to the fracking boom. And NG fracking especially has been unprofitable, with prices dropping below the costs of production at the beginning of 2012 and ever since. It’s been running on fumes and cheap money from the Fed ever since, Environmentalists ignore the economic horizons at their peril and that of everyone else.

So yes, there is a real problem of the lack of opportunities for real productive investment, “secular stagnation”, and instead we get speculative nonsense about Bitcoin, self-driving cars and rockets to Mars. On the other hand, if “we” were to take the challenges of AGW&CD ” seriously, then that would take a whole lot of new productive investment, to transform our economy both technologically and institutionally, to achieve a genuinely sustainable economy in terms of energy and resource use. On the one hand , a whole lot of investment needs to be retired much faster than “normal” rates of depreciation, both capital stocks and infrastructure, and not just in “physical” terms and its corresponding technical know-how, but also in terms of the pile of financial assets based on “expected future returns” that will have to be successively restructured into bankruptcy. But in the same time-frame huge amounts of new investment will have to be mustered. And the problems of demand management will have to be dealt with amidst the decline in financial asset “values”. I don’t know that any mere reformism can deal with all that, since the basic “contradiction” is over-consumption for the sake of over-production, in order to maintain the valorization of extant capital, while sharply reducing waste and inefficiencies for the sake of sustainability might not provide a source of new and increased profits.

But just to get back to the implications of my “proposal”, I offered 4, and left it to others to draw out more. But here’s a fifth:: if there were no corporate income tax, then there would be no opportunity for lobbyists to bribe congress-critters to subsidize corps. by introducing obscure provisions into complex tax-and-spending bills. If corps. are to be publicly subsidized, it would have to be done openly for “public” ends. That’s better than trying to pass campaign finance reform, full of loop-holes, in the face of “Citizens United”, (itself worth a good laugh). And the actual reform is the model Bernie used, of small donations and street level organizing. (which Obama anticipated, before instantly betraying his small donor base, in favor of his corporate sponsors). I will leave off the question as to whether that is more functional than normative.

More generally, there is a difference between declaring capitalism unjust and denouncing it thereby, and declaring it dysfunctional, indeed in multiple ways. and dealing with the consequences. (Even Marxists of my acquaintance tend to be confused, Marx’ conception of the exploitation of labor, though extensive and forceful, was more a functional than a normative conception. It was intended to answer a problem that Ricardo recognized but couldn’t solve: if all commodities are exchanged at equivalent values, then how are profits possible?) I think the fracturing of “our” political systems should be attributed to such rampant dysfunctions and thought through on that basis.

But I’ve just been declared here guilty of a multitude of sins, which love covereth not, simply for asking people to think again, to indulge in “the labor of the negative”, rather than just endlessly asseverating their priors and prejudices, which is what makes “political” discussions, especially when framed in narrowly electoral terms, so disspiriting . All big league politicians, our fearless leaders, are basically sociopaths in one way or another, Thatcher, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Blair, Obama, etc. No “normal” person would crave such power and irresponsibility to lead a fulfilled life. DJT has just ripped off the mask and exposed its Id in a brazenly cruel fashion. And yet there are people who would like nothing better than to identify with our fearless leaders and resume their regularly scheduled programing, to be misled again. Here’s my advice: don’t identify, but rather assume your own finite responsibility.

But I suppose trying to uneducate the educated, to borrow a paraphrase, is just a hopeless task.

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Orange Watch 08.22.18 at 8:02 pm

jhc@72:

But as I pointed out, your characterization of me was entirely projective and simply negating whatever I might say about myself and repeating your accusation is scarcely a refutation. Though your faith in your own telepathic powers is inspiring, just aawwsoome!

[…]
[…]
[…seriously, there’s 2100 words between these two paragraphs…]
[…]

But I suppose trying to uneducate the educated, to borrow a paraphrase, is just a hopeless task.

QED. Such mindreading, much wow.

That’s more than enough troll-feeding for me. Ta.

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b9n10nt 08.23.18 at 12:20 am

jch @72:

I find your economic analysis cogent (though I’d be curious about your answer to my partial criticism re: eliminating corporate income: namely, one could imagine that status consumption would shift from being private to being corporate and -I could add- various other “distortions” in production and consumption would manifest: elites don’t simply turn to stone once their interests are challenged in the tax code).

But your cultural analysis is lacking. Notice that you both describe the anti-racist/ “woke”/“PC” left as “stupid” and simultaneously describe contemporary political leaders as “sociopaths”. Both descriptors, if read literally, are clearly wrong (Trump may be an exception, to a degree). Relying on such hyperbole amidst so many other astute observations indicates either a sincerely felt emotion or a sincerely underdeveloped analysis.

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nastywoman 08.23.18 at 3:57 am

and in the old times on teh Internet they (whoever) – used to write:

Can’t you guys -(who always love to get into all of these… details)- get a room together?
(and then come out with the idea – that this ”Nordic Codetermination” thing is a really ”good” thing?)

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john c. halasz 08.23.18 at 7:53 pm

b9n10nt :

I was going to be shut of this. But since you did make a thoughtful reply, I will try to anser as briefly as I can.

Yes, execs will compensate themselves with perks. (That is how it was done in the good old days and it’s still done). But they would still be bound by rules attaching them to shareholder interests. And the wealthy would still be playing their shell games, even if corporations less so, but a person worth $1 bn has far less resources and reach than a corp. worth 100 bn and individuals are far easier to hold criminally liable than corps. This was not mooted as a complete, sufficiently radical reform, just a different, probably more effective angle of approach in curbing corporate dysfunction and malfeasance and the burgeoning inequality it gives rise to.

That all politicians are liars is a popular cliche. More charitably, the tend to routinely over-promise and under-deliver and, by trying to be all things to all people, they talk out of both sides of their mouths. (Dick Cheney was at least a politician who talked out of only one side of his mouth. There’s that.) Perhaps prevarication would be a more precise word, but they and the governments that they ostensibly lead do lie often and sometimes bigly. And excessive and overweening ambition combined with ruthless manipulativeness to climb the greasy pole are not conducive to the formation of a balanced and well-integrated personality. To give just one example, consider the oleaginous treachery with which Tony Blair promoted the Iraq War, and the worst part of it was his conviction of his own utter righteousness. He’s now the only one still so convinced.

As to PC/identity ideology, I said it was stupid as a political strategy, counterproductive, though I don’t want to over-egg it in terms of the damage it has done. (“Woke” is a fairly recent addition to the jargon and it is especially obnoxious in presupposing and conveying the superiority of one’s own “consciousness”. Try insomnia instead). And like the pomo theoreticism from which it originally derived, it tends to collapse itself into the status quo, reproducing its reifications, that it ostensibly is denouncing without providing any avenues for the critical thinking that might seek to transcend it, (which, yes, requires “metanarratives”, however provisional). Mostly it just cultivates hollow attitudinizing to little effect. But if one wants to effect real practical change, then using the full flexibility of natural language to communicate effectively with others who are not just part of one’s reference group, to reach out and engage them in projects of collective action, is far more to the point than just reciting a litany,. I called it self-insulating, but maybe it’s self-stultifying as well. It’s availability, if not affinity exactly, for manipulation by neo-liberal politicians has long been apparent. Consider that we were all supposed to vote for HRC because she’s a woman and DJT was every cuss-word in the jargon. How did that work out?

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