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For Obama - "without illusions"

by Ted Welch Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 09:57:30 AM EST

This defense of voting for Obama came from another recent discussion.

We agreed on major things; we're both extremely critical of the "status quo" (see below), as is Chomsky, he and I think  that we need radical change and that people deserve better.

However we disagreed about some of the means. Chomsky and I  think it's worth trying secure whatever relatively small changes are currently possible because, while small in relation to what is desirable and ultimately possible, these can be matters of life and death for many people - e.g health insurance for 45 million people (see below).


Last time Chomsky recommended voting for him but "without illusions" (and was criticised for the negative note by Zizek, but that's another diary).

Chomsky explained his attitude to tactics when explaining why he disagreed with the boycott of Tel Aviv University::

MIDEAST-PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL

If you call for an academic boycott of say Tel Aviv University you have to ask yourself, what the consequences are of that call for the Palestinians and there's an indirect answer. When you carry out an act in the United States, you are trying to reach the American population and you're trying to bring the American population to be more supportive of Palestinian rights and opposed to Israeli and US policies.

So you therefore ask yourself, will an academic boycott of Tel Aviv University have - you ask yourself what the effect would be on the American audience in the United States that you are trying to reach. Now, that depends on the amount of organization and education that has taken place in the United States.

Today, if you look at the people's understandings and beliefs, a call for an academic boycott on Tel Aviv University will strengthen support for Israel and US policy because it's not understood. There is no point of talking to people in Swahili if they don't understand what you are saying. There could be circumstances in which a boycott of Tel Aviv would be helpful, but first you have to do the educational and organizational work.

Same with South Africa. The equivalent of BDS, the boycott and sanctions programs, they began really around 1980. There were a few before, but mainly around then. That was after twenty years of serious organizing and activism which had led to a situation in which there was almost universal opposition to apartheid. Corporations were pulling out following the Sullivan law, the [US] Congress was passing sanctions and the UN had already declared embargo. We're nowhere near that in the case of Palestine. We are not even close.

http://electronicintifada.net/content/chomsky-gaza-academic-boycott-will-strengthen-support-israel/1 1795

 I recommend a slogan from Gramsci: "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will".

gramsci2-modernity

He is for passion, and, in his case, optimism rather than cynicism, but recognises that intellect used to seriously analyse the existing situation might reveal the reasons for pessimism about radical change in the short term. However optimism of the will enables people to go on struggling despite this, e.g. Chomsky, doing what they can and working ideologically to try to win "hegemony", another Gramsci term, which would enable really radical future change.

Of course such disagreements over strategy and tactics are nothing new, however, I would say that such disagreements about aims and strategy and tactics are ONE of the factors which help explain SOME of the failures of the Left. Doctrinal disputes are far less common on the Right, they tend to unite around a few common themes: Nation, tradition, anti-immigrants, orthodox families, and, in the US, religion, etc. THIS is one of the key differences which helps the Right (see discussion of "balls" below for more). For an amusing parody of this tendency of the Left, see Monty Python's Life of Brian "splitters" scene:


"The groups in the film all oppose the Roman occupation of Judea, but fall into the familiar pattern of intense competition among factions that appears, to an outsider, to be over ideological distinctions so small as to be invisible; "ideological purity", as Cleese once described it..." Wikipedia.

In France this sort of factionalism let in Le Pen to the second round in 2002, giving the NF greater credibility. Some Leftists then had to vote for Chirac as the remaining choice was between the Right and the far Right:

"Many left-wing candidates contested the election, gaining small percentages of the vote in the first ballot, chipping away at Jospin's support. As a result, Jospin narrowly polled in third place, behind Chirac and the Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, and thus did not go through to the runoff second round of voting."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Jospin#Prime_Minister

 it's possible to deplore the general "status quo" regarding the US, its gross inequality, its terrible foreign policy - as Chomsky does at length (and I agree) - AND be briefly "happy" at the specific event of Obama's election. The reaction of Chomsky in particular would be more accurately described as "grimly relieved", but with "no illusions". Chomsky advocated voting for "the lesser of two evils". It certainly doesn't mean he's "happy" with the "status quo", i.e. the situation in general; even with Obama in power he's continued his criticism of the US and of Obama, but ALSO gone on encouraging people to do what they can to change the "status quo".

Chomsky and I and any intelligent leftist think "people deserve much more" - that's again why he continues his very strong (but informed and analytical) criticism AND his encouragement of organisation and activism - he doesn't  just retreat into blanket cynicism.

Some describe the difference Obama makes as no more than "breadcrumbs"; however, these "breadcrumbs" amount to life and death for many, relief from serious illness for millions - that's not to be sneered at:


"How many Americans would be left out in the cold under Mr. Romney's plan? One answer is 89 million. According to the nonpartisan Commonwealth Foundation, that's the number of Americans who lack the "continuous coverage" that would make them eligible for health insurance under Mr. Romney's empty promises. By the way, that's more than a third of the U.S. population under 65 years old.

Another answer is 45 million, the estimated number of people who would have health insurance if Mr. Obama were re-elected, but would lose it if Mr. Romney were to win."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/opinion/krugman-romneys-sick-joke.html

For some evidence on the positive effects of Obama's first term:

chart2

Before Obama took office, you will recall, the economy was in freefall, obliterated by tax cuts, runaway government spending, massive consumer debts, and regulation-be-damned culture of the prior administration.

As the attached charts show, the moment Obama arrived and implemented the stimulus, the economy began to improve. And it has gotten much, much better in the past four years.

http://www.businessinsider.com/charts-that-should-get-obama-reelected-2012-10

 Some people detest the views of the Right, but admire their supposed macho attitude, e.g.:

"I despise them (the Right) - but also respect them for having pair of 'balls' to stand up and fight for what they believe in...

Left is also slowly but surely waking up from some deep whimpy sleep but nowhere near as massively and as fast as right."

But is it plausible that all of the Left, US, Europe, etc. just lack "balls" and is this really why, supposedly, they don't organise themselves well enough?

Marx, or Chomsky, or any serious leftist, would offer an analysis of what's happened to weaken the Left and strengthen the Right, based on real socio-economic changes. This would include the further development of technology, replacing even more manual labour, de-industrialisation - both these leading to decline of union power, so important to the Left. De-industrialisation also broke up more informal structures, which provided key ideological strengths, e.g. mining communities, communities like those in Detroit and Flint (which played a key role in forming Michael Moore).

On the other hand, this notion that the Right is powerful because they have more "balls" and therefore organise themselves better is no real explanation. In fact the majority on the Right don't organise themselves, as so often, they get organised by those with financial power. Thus the grass-roots Tea Party was taken over by people like the billionaire Koch brothers. People like them also pump money into the Right-wing political activity in general (and into Democrats too, of course, to cover their bets and continue to exert influence even when a Democrat wins):

"But organisations tracking money in politics say the Kochs' biggest impact in the midterm elections will be from funding and providing logistical support to such groups as Americans for Prosperity (AFP), one of the biggest Tea Party groups.

AFP, in turn, has spun off other organisations such as November is Coming, Hands Off My Healthcare, and the Institute of Liberty, which are buying up television ads and holding rallies across the country in an attempt to defeat Democrats.

US campaign laws make it easy for political interest groups and their corporate backers to hide their spending in elections. "This is a world of shadows," said Taki Oldham, an Australian documentary maker who spent months following Tea Party activists. "In my mind, without a doubt nobody has had more influence on the anti-Obama campaign than the Koch-funded groups."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/13/tea-party-billionaire-koch-brothers

These are the kind of real factors (as any marxist would know) which help explain political developments - not the size of the balls on one side - it's more the size of the wallet, if one wants to keep it simple.

Finally another point from Life of Brian: "Other scenes have the freedom fighters wasting time in debate, with one of the debated items being that they should not waste their time debating so much."

After all, the things that unite us on the Left are greater than the "crumbs" we debate. Not that I want to discourage even critical comments :-)

Display:
In France this sort of factionalism let in Le Pen to the second round in 2002, giving the NF greater credibility

I don't disagree with your general thesis, Ted, but this is a really poor choice of example.

Jospin is integrally responsible for his defeat in 2002. He didn't just shoot himself in the foot -- he blew his fucking leg off with a bazooka, the silly bugger.

Realism cuts both ways, you see. Faced with an electoral system he knew intimately, and starting as clear favourite, he had to create the conditions of success.

This was not the responsability of the various groups on the left who put up candidates. The two-round system allows democratic expression in the first round, and resigned elimination in the second.

It can be argued that there were too many candidates. If so, Jospin has a heavy responsibility in that, because he created a PRG candidacy (Taubira, now minister of Justice) out of thin air. His reasoning was that the broadest possible range of candidates on the left would mobilise more voters, who would also turn out for him in the second round. The other reason to push Taubira forward (she is a distinctly untypical Radical) was to weaken the Greens.

But mostly, Jospin was eliminated because he wasn't an attractive candidate to enough people (tautological, I know). He had the power to change that : he could have run on a left-wing programme...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 10:48:54 AM EST
Also - like Nader in Florida 2000 - simple bad luck.

This model - vote for your favourite son in the first round and then support whatever candidate of the left who makes it to the second round - worked in all other case, after all.

Of course I would vote Obama in the swing states too. And use the working families ticket in New York.

by IM on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 11:01:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I'm sure you know more about this than I do, but I don't agree with you.

"The two-round system allows democratic expression in the first round, and resigned elimination in the second."

But obviously that only works if the main candidate of the Left still goes through, which he didn't, to the shock and remorse of many on the Left, and frustration and bitterness as they had to vote for Chirac.

You go on to admit the general point: "It can be argued that there were too many candidates." -  including Chevenement. It's a side issue what responsibility Jospin himself had, and he can be seen as just another example the Left's tendency to favour fragmentation, with a mistaken view that this would just increase the number of voters.

Your own view that he wasn't Left enough is less a convincing explanation than an illustration of the fragmentation of the Left.


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 05:18:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a side issue what responsibility Jospin himself had

No. No it isn't. If you have a presidential system (and remember, Jospin conspired with Chirac to re-presidentialise what had become a largely parliamentary regime), then the putative President has to take responsibility for his own electability. There is not only the problem of "too many" candidates on the left -- he was beaten, fair and square, by Le Pen, because he was not a candidate who could appeal to Le Pen's electorate -- who were not born on the extreme right, many being former, or even habitual, voters of the left.  The rise of Le Pen to challenger status happened on Jospin's watch -- remember, he was Prime Minister at the time.

To bleat that the left were disobedient is simply to ignore the nature of the (French) left. Nobody owes obedience to the PS, they have to earn co-operation. Jospin's elimination was a historical accident, hugely damaging to the French left, and 100% his own fault for structuring his campaign in an incompetent manner.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 06:36:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

They are two separate issues:

  1. is his responsibility for what happened

  2. is whether the Left vote was so fragmented it led to defeat of the main Left party in the first round

  3. the answer is: Yes it was, and, as I said, illustrates a feature more typical of the Left

I won't say you're 100% wrong about 1) :-) - but to explain a complex event like the 2002 election defeat as "100% his own fault" is just simplistic, like any great man approach to history - see my point about explaining the general decline of the Left - due to complex causes.

What is your evidence for the claim that his mistake was not to be Left enough ? Obviously that was the view of those on the Left. But, again I think that that's a very complex issue and it's possible to argue he might have had electoral success if he'd moved more to the Right, as in the UK and Germany, cf.:


Mr Jospin, 64, took little inspiration from the centre-left programmes in Britain and Germany except to use a literal, but unacknowledged, translation of Tony Blair's promise to be "tough on crime and the causes of crime".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/mar/19/france.paulwebster

But anyway, various factors affected the outcome, not just one man's decisions, e.g.:


The appalling inaccuracy of opinion polls, which set the theme for scores of media debates and analyses over the past three months, was an essential factor in lulling French voters into believing that the first round would inevitably leave Lionel Jospin in a strong position to challenge Jacques Chirac in the runoff on May 5.

This was the first national election in which the press was allowed to publish soundings up to the eve of the poll, but this concession only added to the confusion by predicting that the Socialist candidate was still comfortably ahead of the National Front chairman, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
...
Yesterday, Raymond Cayrol, director of the CSA public opinion institute, blamed abstentions for throwing forecasts awry.

His last predictions gave Mr Jospin 18% and Mr Le Pen only 14% - a survey which turned out to be more accurate than most of the four other institutes, who gave Mr Le Pen a rating as low as 9.5%.

"I feel it was the 27% abstention rate that worked against the prime minister," Mr Cayrol said. "This was particulary visible among workers and young people. They saw Mr Jospin and Mr Chirac as already in the second round and wanted to show their lack of confidence in both of them. Discontent runs deep."

He said that everyone had put their faith in surveys and responded accordingly.

"It was impossible to think the unthinkable and see Mr Le Pen as a serious contender with nearly five million voters."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/23/france.paulwebster

As a result:


The apologies, thousands of them, have been piling up in the chat section of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's Web site since he was knocked out of France's presidential race in the first round last Sunday.

''Words mean nothing, but I am so ashamed,'' said one woman, confessing that she abandoned Mr. Jospin for the Trotsky-ite Arlette Laguiller. ''I voted for Arlette in sympathy and solidarity because she was a woman. MISTAKE!!!!HORROR!!!''

Another woman says that there are six voters in her family, not one of whom voted for Mr. Jospin, believing he was a shoo-in. ''The thing is we were pretty happy with what you did, we would have voted for you if we had ever thought you would disappear after the first round.''

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/26/world/leaderless-french-socialists-reeling.html?ref=lioneljospin



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 11:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
whether the Left vote was so fragmented it led to defeat of the main Left party in the first round... the answer is: Yes it was

yes, but that's mechanical, definitional and tautological.

I dislike the "great man" approach as least as much as you do. This is part of my principled objection to the debacle in 2002 : Jospin considered himself to be a great man; the left, his electors, disagreed. He positioned himself towards the centre with an eye on the second round. It was a blunder. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that. Sin of pride.

You see, your quotes don't even support your contention that it was the number of candidates on the left that was the problem :

"I feel it was the 27% abstention rate that worked against the prime minister," Mr Cayrol said. "This was particulary visible among workers and young people. They saw Mr Jospin and Mr Chirac as already in the second round and wanted to show their lack of confidence in both of them. Discontent runs deep."

it's possible to argue he might have had electoral success if he'd moved more to the Right, as in the UK and Germany

Well, why don't you try! How would that have helped him to collect more of the dispersed left voters? How would that have mobilised the abstentionists?

As for the guilt-trip thing... Spare me. This is the steamroller that the Socialist Party has used ever since, and it was still effective this year : persuading those of the left who support some other party to vote PS, in the first round, whatever the circumstances : this is called the "vote utile", and of course, nine times out of ten it isn't useful at all, except to strenghten the PS position with respect to its "partners" on the left. It's a sophisticated sort of vote suppression, or rather, of vote theft.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 12:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]


whether the Left vote was so fragmented it led to defeat of the main Left party in the first round... the answer is: Yes it was"

yes, but that's mechanical, definitional and tautological.

I consulted my French (of Vietnamese origin) neighbour about all this. As it happens, he was a philosophy teacher and his reaction to your specific comment above was: "He doesn't know the meaning of "tautological". As someone who has studied philosophy myself I could only agree :-). It's just a historical fact that the French Left vote was very fragmented in 2002, there's nothing in the meaning of "French Left" that requires that it is fragmented. So I was asserting a historical fact, not stating a tautology.

I dislike the "great man" approach as least as much as you do. This is part of my principled objection to the debacle in 2002 : Jospin considered himself to be a great man; the left, his electors, disagreed. He positioned himself towards the centre with an eye on the second round. It was a blunder. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that. Sin of pride

Who's arguing that Jospin made no "blunders", even big ones, or that he was not excessively proud ?  The point about the great man approach to history is the excessive focus on personalities in explaining complex historical events - as if one man is "100%" responsible. My neighbour, who also lived through this event and is himself on the Left, also thought your approach was too simplistic, too "black and white", while of course thinking that Jospin made serious "blunders".

He thinks that, in addition to such blunders, the polls were very inaccurate and did give many people a false sense of security about whether Jospin would get in - as Cayrol said (see below):

He said that everyone had put their faith in surveys and responded accordingly.

"It was impossible to think the unthinkable and see Mr Le Pen as a serious contender with nearly five million voters."

He also thought Chirac had been politically clever in using the security issue (with implied racist element) and had encouraged right-wing media to focus on this.

 Jospin and the Left had tended to deny some of the evidence about this.

He said that some reporters (from Le Monde I think) went to the rural area of Ain, where there are very few immigrants, but found that a significant number of people there were voting for Le Pen because they feared that young people would be influenced by Muslim culture.

He has a friend in Nancy whose daughter was very annoyed about the 35 hour law which had had a negative effect on her work conditions and employers were getting around it in various ways.

You see, your quotes don't even support your contention that it was the number of candidates on the left that was the problem :


"I feel it was the 27% abstention rate that worked against the prime minister," Mr Cayrol said. "This was particulary visible among workers and young people. They saw Mr Jospin and Mr Chirac as already in the second round and wanted to show their lack of confidence in both of them. Discontent runs deep."

But this is to assume that I or even Cayrol would say that there was (in your style of argument) only one, 100%, either black or white explanation. The abstention rate was clearly an important factor, but so ALSO was the fragmentation of the Left vote - and both were partly due to the cause which you omit from the quotation as used by me - the assumption that Jospin would go through to the second round anyway:

He (Cayrol) said that everyone had put their faith in surveys and responded accordingly.

"It was impossible to think the unthinkable and see Mr Le Pen as a serious contender with nearly five million voters."


it's possible to argue he might have had electoral success if he'd moved more to the Right, as in the UK and Germany

Well, why don't you try! How would that have helped him to collect more of the dispersed left voters? How would that have mobilised the abstentionists?

We're talking about counterfactual speculation, it's even more complicated than what actually happened (for those of us without 100% explanations of single causes). The general point, as indicated, was that somewhat similar mainstream Left parties, such as Labour in the UK, had moved more to the right and Blair had won three electoral victories.


As for the guilt-trip thing... Spare me. This is the steamroller that the Socialist Party has used ever since, and it was still effective this year : persuading those of the left who support some other party to vote PS, in the first round, whatever the circumstances : this is called the "vote utile", and of course, nine times out of ten it isn't useful at all, except to strenghten the PS position with respect to its "partners" on the left. It's a sophisticated sort of vote suppression, or rather, of vote theft.

I'm sure it can be abused, it doesn't alter the fact that many people on the Left did feel guilty and that fragmentation can be a barrier to power and the ability to make any change. The Right seek not only unity amongst their own ranks (AFTER the Copé - Fillon issue is settled - the Right aren't entirely immune from division of course), but to promote fragmentation on the Left by encouraging divisions, between those in work and those not, etc.

"Theories should be as simple as possible - but no simpler" Einstein :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 09:09:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"He doesn't know the meaning of "tautological". As someone who has studied philosophy myself I could only agree :-)

Well, Ted. I suppose I should bow to the Professor who taught ology. But for an amateur philosopher like me, the statement
the Left vote was so fragmented it led to defeat of the main Left party in the first round

contains as much meaning and explicative power as the statement

it's wet outside because it's raining.

The interesting thing is that if it had been Chirac, and not Jospin, who had come third (there was only 3.6% difference between the two) then the identical criticism could have been applied to Chirac, and with as much justification (right-wing candidates other than Chirac and Le Pen totalled over 20%, strictly symmetrical with the situation on the left).

Overall, if I get your line of argument, what should have happened is this :

  1. Jospin should have veered (even) further right, in order to get support from centrists, like Blair
  2. in spite of this, other parties to the left of the PS should have pulled their candidates and supported him from the first round

Hmm right, that would have worked.

Overall, I actually agree that were too many candidates on the left (I can't see the justification for four bolsheviks : three Trots and a PCF; Taubira tipped the election to Le Pen; etc). But ascribing the disaster of 2002 to left-wing factionalism is about as rational as blaming Ralph Nader for electing GWB : it was Gore's election to lose, and he lost it by being a poor candidate.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 09:44:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
probably more of a lapalissade than a tautology.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 10:36:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]

You seem to confuse something being of little interest because obvious to you given what you know and something being an informative statement of historical fact which might have been otherwise, such as: "the Left vote was so fragmented it led to defeat of the main Left party in the first round" (in 2002). I would, of course modify that by saying it was an important contributory factor, rather than a 100% explanation.

Your analogy is confused anyway: "it's wet outside because it's raining." This clearly has "meaning" and it's a matter of fact whether it's accurate or not. Thus there are other possible reasons for why it might be wet outside, there might have been a tsunami, a film might be being shot for a rainy scene and hoses used, etc.

I wasn't making a prescriptive statement about what Jospin should have done, or what I thought was probable (I think it's very complicated); I was talking about general possibilities, given electoral success elsewhere.

It seems you concede an important point - the Left was too fragmented - and ignore other significant points, inaccurate polls - but you still just want to go on blaming everything on Jospin. I don't find that very rational, but it is simplistic. Nor would I simply ignore all other factors and just blame Gore's loss on him. But clearly you want to cling to your 100%, "great man" approach to history.  Try reading the Einstein quotation again :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 12:04:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The France 2002 example was poor, in retrospect, not because of our differences of interpretation of what happened and why, but because it's in no way pertinent to your argument about what is happening in the USA.

You are talking about the USA, and the French and American political models are not similar enough for the example to have any bearing.

Unless, of course, you are arguing that all parties on the left must align themselves out of principle, in all circumstances, behind the leading non-right-wing candidate.

I don't think that's what you intended to argue; in any case, I can't see Chomsky advocating that. Electoral tactics are just that, tactics, and must be adjusted according to electoral systems and social and political circumstances.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 10:46:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The France 2002 example was poor, in retrospect, not because of our differences of interpretation of what happened and why, but because it's in no way pertinent to your argument about what is happening in the USA.

You are talking about the USA, and the French and American political models are not similar enough for the example to have any bearing.

Well thanks for the kindly advice about how to write my diaries, but as with your 100% "great man" approach, I won't be adopting it.
I have resisted the pressure in the academic world to narrow one's focus and concentrate on some narrow area of expertise. Particularly in an era of increased globalisation, I think it's important to take into account the wider context and some general problems.

In the article I pointed to one such general problem:


Of course such disagreements over strategy and tactics are nothing new, however, I would say that such disagreements about aims and strategy and tactics are ONE of the factors which help explain SOME of the failures of the Left. Doctrinal disputes are far less common on the Right, they tend to unite around a few common themes: Nation, tradition, anti-immigrants, orthodox families, and, in the US, religion, etc. THIS is one of the key differences which helps the Right (see discussion of "balls" below for more).

I then briefly referred to an example of this general tendency:

In France this sort of factionalism let in Le Pen to the second round in 2002

Whether this is accurate or not we have discussed; but I reject the idea that it is not relevant to the general point I raise, nor do I accept that one should not raise such general issues as opposed to specifically national ones.


Unless, of course, you are arguing that all parties on the left must align themselves out of principle, in all circumstances, behind the leading non-right-wing candidate.

I'm afraid this is just another example of your 100%, black or white thinking; I resist generalising about "all circumstances".


I don't think that's what you intended to argue; in any case, I can't see Chomsky advocating that. Electoral tactics are just that, tactics, and must be adjusted according to electoral systems and social and political circumstances.

In fact I quoted Chomsky at some length on tactics and the need to take into account the current level of understanding of the electorate, and clearly this will vary from period to period and country to country. But it does not mean that one should fail to note some general problems such as that referred to above.  


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 05:59:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The France 2002 example was poor, in retrospect, not because of our differences of interpretation of what happened and why, but because it's in no way pertinent to your argument about what is happening in the USA.

You are talking about the USA, and the French and American political models are not similar enough for the example to have any bearing.

Well thanks for the kindly advice about how to write my diaries, but as with your 100% "great man" approach, I won't be adopting it.
I have resisted the pressure in the academic world to narrow one's focus and concentrate on some narrow area of expertise. Particularly in an era of increased globalisation, I think it's important to take into account the wider context and some general problems.

In the article I pointed to one such general problem:


Of course such disagreements over strategy and tactics are nothing new, however, I would say that such disagreements about aims and strategy and tactics are ONE of the factors which help explain SOME of the failures of the Left. Doctrinal disputes are far less common on the Right, they tend to unite around a few common themes: Nation, tradition, anti-immigrants, orthodox families, and, in the US, religion, etc. THIS is one of the key differences which helps the Right (see discussion of "balls" below for more).

I then briefly referred to an example of this general tendency:

In France this sort of factionalism let in Le Pen to the second round in 2002

Whether this is accurate or not we have discussed; but I reject the idea that it is not relevant to the general point I raise, nor do I accept that one should not raise such general issues as opposed to specifically national ones.


Unless, of course, you are arguing that all parties on the left must align themselves out of principle, in all circumstances, behind the leading non-right-wing candidate.

I'm afraid this is just another example of your 100%, black or white thinking; I resist generalising about "all circumstances".


I don't think that's what you intended to argue; in any case, I can't see Chomsky advocating that. Electoral tactics are just that, tactics, and must be adjusted according to electoral systems and social and political circumstances.

In fact I quoted Chomsky at some length on tactics and the need to take into account the current level of understanding of the electorate, and clearly this will vary from period to period and country to country. But it does not mean that one should fail to note some general problems such as that referred to above.  


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 05:59:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - For Obama - "without illusions"
Thus the grass-roots Tea Party was taken over by people like the billionaire Koch brothers.

It never even was grass-root in the first place.

Exposing The Rightwing PR Machine: Is CNBC's Rick Santelli Sucking Koch? - By Mark Ames and Yasha Levine - The eXiled

But was Santelli's rant really so spontaneous? How did a minor-league TV figure, whose contract with CNBC is due this summer, get so quickly launched into a nationwide rightwing blog sensation? Why were there so many sites and organizations online and live within minutes or hours after his rant, leading to a nationwide protest just a week after his rant?

What hasn't been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli's "tea party" rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called "astroturfing") to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that's because it was.

What we discovered is that Santelli's "rant" was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a "Chicago Tea Party" was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 12:00:31 PM EST
Well, this would only strengthen the main point being made, but I don't things were quite as simple and monolithic as that:


"Ridiculing the tea party shenanigans is a serious error," Chomsky said.

Their attitudes "are understandable," he said. "For over 30 years, real incomes have stagnated or declined. This is in large part the consequence of the decision in the 1970s to financialize the economy."

There is class resentment, he noted. "The bankers, who are primarily responsible for the crisis, are now reveling in record bonuses while official unemployment is around 10 percent and unemployment in the manufacturing sector is at Depression-era levels," he said.

And Obama is linked to the bankers, Chomsky explained.

"The financial industry preferred Obama to McCain," he said. "They expected to be rewarded and they were. Then Obama began to criticize greedy bankers and proposed measures to regulate them. And the punishment for this was very swift: They were going to shift their money to the Republicans. So Obama said bankers are "fine guys" and assured the business world: `I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.'

People see that and are not happy about it."

He said "the colossal toll of the institutional crimes of state capitalism" is what is fueling "the indignation and rage of those cast aside."



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 05:34:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tea Partiers aren't farce as much as tragedy.
Here's Taibbi.

This, then, is the future of the Republican Party: Angry white voters hovering over their cash-stuffed mattresses with their kerosene lanterns, peering through the blinds at the oncoming hordes of suburban soccer moms they've mistaken for death-panel bureaucrats bent on exterminating anyone who isn't an illegal alien or a Kenyan anti-colonialist.

The world is changing all around the Tea Party. The country is becoming more black and more Hispanic by the day. The economy is becoming more and more complex, access to capital for ordinary individuals more and more remote, the ability to live simply and own a business without worrying about Chinese labor or the depreciating dollar vanished more or less for good. They want to pick up their ball and go home, but they can't; thus, the difficulties and the rancor with those of us who are resigned to life on this planet.



-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 11:57:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I prefer Chomsky's approach :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 12:01:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see the contradiction. That there is class resentment can be observed and analysed by anyone who cares to look, rightwing operatives or Chomsky. What I think is undeniable is that the Kochs and their communicators manipulated that resentment -- manipulation including masking the movement as spontaneous and grassroots.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 06:03:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I agree, I don't think there's a contradiction  - in general, and I quoted stuff about the Koch brothers' early influence in the article.

However, while he doesn't make it overt, I think that the way Chomsky talks about the Tea Party, and his frequent reference to and support for left-wing grassroots organisations, suggests that  he would not rule out ANY grassroots activity spontaneously coming from the the discontent he discusses.

Cf.


The Tea Party is a pretty small movement, actually. It's in a sense grassroots. It comes out of an old nativist tradition that's relatively affluent, white, anti-foreign, anti-immigrant, it's got racist elements. It's against "big government" -- well, they claim to be against big government. On the other hand their hero Ronald Reagan was a great advocate of big government. So it's pretty confused intellectually, but it appeals to and grows out of a long nativist tradition.

On the other hand, it is small and relatively affluent, and it's perfectly true that it gets massive funding from the corporate sector. For them, it's their storm troops.

http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20110407.htm

But it's true too that the US public had been subjected to right-wing propaganda for decades, however some of the antipathy WAS towards bankers, hedge funds, etc., as well as against government which was bailing out some of them.

As usual (and as with the Jospin discussion) I'm against 100%, black or white approaches, which would claim, in this case, that ALL activity (as opposed to attitudes) was organised by the Right-wing elite.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 10:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted Welch:
 he would not rule out ANY grassroots activity spontaneously coming from the the discontent he discusses

It's "spontaneously" that's key. I expect the author of the notion of "manufactured consent" has a nuanced view of that. With which I'd be likely to agree.

My point wasn't that everything was manufactured: it was manipulated (including sparking it off).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 02:33:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

So what is your idea of "spontaneously" ? Some reaction which comes from a mind uncontaminated by anybody else's ideas ? :-)

I think I have spontaneous reactions to some things, but I wouldn't deny that my general attitudes have been shaped by people like Marx and Chomsky. I'd already noted that there had been decades of propaganda. So, while of course Chomsky discusses how "consent" is "manufactured", that wouldn't commit him to denying that some reactions and even acts of organisation by some people on the Right were spontaneous, rather than being controlled and organised by the power elite. I don't think Chomsky would agree with you if you're suggesting that only the Left are capable of any spontaneous action and organisation - without direct "manipulation".  


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 03:48:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm obviously not suggesting that, I'm saying there is sufficient evidence of manipulation in the case of the tea party. Not just propaganda, though that had been there for a long time as you say, but deliberate instigation. Though, once the ball gets rolling, it needs little more "help".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 03:54:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Once again I refer you to the evidence about such manipulation which I included in the article - supporting my main point that it wan't just a matter of people on the Right having more "balls" than those on the Left.

I just don't accept that everybody on the Right is incapable of any spontaneous organisational activity - they're not another species and some can be won over, some by discussion some by experience. E.g a very right-wing American in France who radically changed his mind about the French system when he broke his leg skiing here and was impressed and grateful for the well-organised rescue, efficient and cheap (he was not insured) treatment he got in comparison with a skiing accident he'd had in the US.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 05:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted Welch:
I just don't accept that everybody on the Right is incapable of any spontaneous organisational activity

As that's not what I'm saying, I think we can leave it there?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 01:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree with Chomsky. I would just like to seperate the party organisation - which was form the beginning a top-down, billionaire-backed prime example of cyberturf - and its audience. The audience has a very real class resentment and the organisation plays on that succesfully.

Freedomworks earlier campaing Angry Renter failed to find an audience and was cancelled after being exposed by Wall Street Journal:

Mortgage Bailout Infuriates Tenants (And Steve Forbes) - WSJ.com

WASHINGTON -- AngryRenter.com looks a bit like a digital ransom note, with irregular fonts, exclamation points and big red arrows -- all emphasizing prudent renters' outrage over a proposed government bailout for irresponsible homeowners.

"It seems like America's renters may NEVER be able to afford a home," AngryRenter.com laments. The Web site urges like-minded tenants to let Congress feel their fury by signing an online petition. "We are millions of renters standing up for our rights!"

Angry they may be, but the people behind AngryRenter.com are certainly not renters. Though it purports to be a spontaneous uprising, AngryRenter.com is actually a product of an inside-the-Beltway conservative advocacy organization led by Dick Armey, the former House majority leader, and publishing magnate Steve Forbes, a fellow Republican. It's a fake grass-roots effort -- what politicos call an AstroTurf campaign -- that provides a window into the sleight-of-hand ways of Washington.

As most top-down political organisations the Tea Party accepts the work of volonteers but stand ready to kick them out if they deviate from the party line. So I would see Tea Party activists as either paid astorturf or audience that has been welcomed up on stage for the moment but without any real power over the show.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 01:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After Watergate, the Republicans launched a two-pronged strategy to regain power: 1) The Atwater Plan to get the Dixiecrats to cross the aisle, and 2) control of news and opinion outlets.  They could see that Southern Whites had already split from the Democrats and needed a new home.  They also blamed Watergate, and much of Goldwater's 1964 drubbing and the loss of Vietnam on the "liberal media" and so concluded they needed to get this threat under control.  Within five years these goals were sufficiently implemented that Reagan cakewalked into the White House (It really wasn't the Iran Hostage Crisis and the economy so much as the increasingly conservative media's spin on it.  And Carter couldn't hold onto the South even though he was from there.).  Since then it's only gotten worse, with news ownership so concentrated on the Right that it's difficult to get even a truly Centrist message out to a mass audience, even taking the Internet into account.  On TV, on radio, in 99% of papers, the message you get is the Republican Party line.
by rifek on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 09:07:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say it's astonishing that even with the propaganda carpet bombing The Party still can't win an election.

But of course that's not true. Now there's only The Party, and voters can choose between more or less extreme versions of it.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is a very useful book to read. Although it was written way back and the names have changed, the issues and the manipulations are recognisably similar.

Point is there has never been an Establishment Left in the US. The Left only existed for half a century or so as a major political force because of violence and activism around the turn of the century, which led - eventually - to unionisation and anti-corporate push-back.

The New Deal came from one president's decision not to be an asshole like the rest of his class, not because there was popular push-back against the Depression.

FDR was more influenced by Keynes than Gramsci. Which suggests that outside of the fossilised post-Marxism of academic departments, what matters more than anything - even more than control of the media - is the intellectual capture of the political and financial classes.

And that's not going to happen without cultivating, sponsoring and supporting talented and influential students all the way through to a job, and creating endless bloviating 'think tanks' to influence policy through lobbying and ex cathedra pronouncements on how things should be - just as the right has been doing since at least the days of Hayek.

Once that's in place, it'll be easier to reclaim the media and actually get people to vote for non-stupid stuff that benefits them personally.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 06:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FDR was more influenced by Keynes than Gramsci. Which suggests that outside of the fossilised post-Marxism of academic departments, what matters more than anything - even more than control of the media - is the intellectual capture of the political and financial classes.

You have to remember that the US has an anti-intellectual tradition that is deep and pervasive (The US will never elect a concert pianist of playwright president, much less a scientist or professional scholar.  Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin would be blocked from politics these days.), so the capture is the other way around.  An intellectual in the US is someone who writes opinion pieces of over 2,000 words and uses footnotes, period, so it isn't a hard job.  Anyone who can string words together and toe the party line (COUGH George Will COUGH) qualifies and is given a sinecure at a "serious" journal or a think tank that is, quelle surprise, wholly right wing.  So what passes for an intellectual class in the US is overwhelmingly captured from the start by right wing political and financial elements.

by rifek on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 01:15:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even Hoover would be blocked these days. (He translated Agricola's De re metallica....)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 02:02:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - For Obama - "without illusions"
Marx, or Chomsky, or any serious leftist, would offer an analysis of what's happened to weaken the Left and strengthen the Right, based on real socio-economic changes.

I don't know if you saw the Seumas Milne piece I linked to in the last Open Thread, but here goes again:

The end of the New World Order | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian

The case against neoliberal capitalism had been overwhelmingly made on the left, as had opposition to the US-led wars of invasion and occupation. But it was strikingly slow to capitalise on its vindication over the central controversies of the era. Hardly surprising, perhaps, given the loss of confidence that flowed from the left's 20th-century defeats - including in its own social alternatives.

But driving home the lessons of these disasters was essential if they were not to be repeated. Even after Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terror was pursued in civilian-slaughtering drone attacks from Pakistan to Somalia. The western powers played the decisive role in the overthrow of the Libyan regime - acting in the name of protecting civilians, who then died in their thousands in a Nato-escalated civil war, while conflict-wracked Syria was threatened with intervention and Iran with all-out attack.

And while neoliberalism had been discredited, western governments used the crisis to try to entrench it. Not only were jobs, pay and benefits cut as never before, but privatisation was extended still further. Being right was, of course, never going to be enough. What was needed was political and social pressure strong enough to turn the tables of power.

Revulsion against a discredited elite and its failed social and economic project steadily deepened after 2008. As the burden of the crisis was loaded on to the majority, the spread of protests, strikes and electoral upheavals demonstrated that pressure for real change had only just begun. Rejection of corporate power and greed had become the common sense of the age.

The historian Eric Hobsbawm described the crash of 2008 as a "sort of right-wing equivalent to the fall of the Berlin wall". It was commonly objected that after the implosion of communism and traditional social democracy, the left had no systemic alternative to offer. But no model ever came pre-cooked. All of them, from Soviet power and the Keynesian welfare state to Thatcherite-Reaganite neoliberalism, grew out of ideologically driven improvisation in specific historical circumstances.

It seems to me to offer some interesting elements of response along the lines you suggest. And along the lines of Gramsci's "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will". Yeah!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 03:45:32 PM EST
I like Chomsky's general message - for Obama, without illusions.  That sums up rather nicely my own opinion on the matter, and expresses rather well my general antipathy towards hard anti-establishment lefties who still like to claim that there's no difference between the two sides.

I also cannot deny the economic and structural power that the wealthy have over our political system.

However, I think there is a lot more truth to the "the left forgot how to fight" narrative than you seem to think.  Here's a narrative that works for me.  It's a story told by a young person, so I'm sure it's wrong in all kinds of ways, and in all likelihood offensive in various unforseen ways, but whatever.

The way I see it, the moderate left (Old Economic Left, Social Democratic Welfare State Left) won so overwhelmingly and totally in the 30's that their views became entirely mainstream.  After such a victory, politics became a matter of arguing over details and implementation.  And then people got old, and a new generation came of age that had grown up in this time of general consensus.  They took the victories of a previous generation for granted, and moved on to create the New Left - and their war was bitterly fought, and only somewhat successful.  But the old issues were never on the table - those victories were secure.

Except they weren't.  Some people never accepted their defeat, and clung bitterly to their hatred of the Welfare State.  The incomplete victory of the New Left and the bitterness of its fights gave them an opportunity to resurface, and to weld their hatred of Social Democracy to the visceral anger caused by the struggles over race, gender, and culture.  They've been fighting on both fronts since the 70's - but it was hard to really understand what was going on, because the victories of the New Deal were so mainstream and accepted that it was hard to process the notion that anyone was actually challenging them.

Further, the ideology of neo-liberal economics, promoted by the same group of reactionary scum, had stealthily and subtly re-written our general understanding of how society works so much that these attacks on the old victories of the Old Left started to seem more and more normal.

For a Left that had largely forgotten these old battles, and had only occasionally had to defend them, these attacks seemed fresh and new.  It was not ground they expected to fight on, and it was not a war they were prepared to fight.  Further, coming to these battles as novices, and finding the only intellectual tools available to be neo-liberal in nature, they were hobbled from the start.  The old narrative and arguments of the Old Left were forgotten, and the New Left had never thought it necessary to prepare for this fight, as these battles had already been won.

And so now we find ourselves having to defend the very idea of a government stimulus response to economic downturn, groping in the dark to find intellectual and rhetorical tools of any strength.  A narrative and justification for a strong and vigorous government that tames corporate greed and prevents systemic instability has to be created out of whole cloth in a time of crisis.

And this, I think, is behind the "the left can't fight" narrative.  It's been pushed into a battle it didn't expect, on terrain it's unfamiliar with, at a time when it would rather be focusing on other things, by an enemy so deranged that it's hard to take seriously, with weapons unsuited to the task.  This makes things hard.

Given that the narrative response to predatory neo-feudalism is being re-created from whole cloth by a new generation of activists, it's not surprising that it looks rather different than the old narratives that our grandparents and great-grandparents used to destroy the bastards in the 30's.  One can only hope that they will be enough.

by Zwackus on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 10:40:02 PM EST
"A narrative and justification for a strong and vigorous government that tames corporate greed and prevents systemic instability has to be created out of whole cloth in a time of crisis."

Well, if you look hard enough, some books by Keynes and Minsky (even Kalecki, but he sounds far too much like a Big Bang Theory actor) are still in print.
Trouble is, their names are taken as rude words by so many people. Well, Keynes. The kind of people I have in mind probably haven't heard of the other two.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 02:52:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See also "vaccine", "contraception" and "financial regulation".

When something is successful, the next generation has never seen the problems that were fixed. They don't see the point in fighting for something that's "always been there".

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 11:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering the aggression against Planned Parenthood in the US, I'm not sure contraception is fixed, exactly.

Vaccines are on an edge. And financial regulation is up there with flying unicorns as a possibility.

What society can fix, society can unfix - if it's conservative enough.

Personally what I didn't get at all when younger was the sheer nastiness and bestial greed, self-absorption, and utter intelligence-destroying stupidity of the right.

If I'd been aware of just how bad the right wants to make the lives of everyone who isn't part of the self-styled golden elite, I'd have been more active politically far more quickly.

I suspect that's true for a lot of people - but there are still far too many voters and pols who think you can negotiate with crazy people from a position of mutual respect and common intent.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 06:16:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[...] there are still far too many voters and pols who think you can negotiate with crazy people from a position of mutual respect and common intent.

And how.

Obama wasted most of his first term believing this.
(Which makes his achievements all the more impressive.)

UK version: sic transit Nick Clegg.


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 06:20:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Was speaking more generally, not "The USA, Present Day".)


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 06:21:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More to the point, since it's "always been there," it will always be there, and there is no need to do anything to ensure it continues.  Those who do not learn history....
by rifek on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 01:20:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
my compliments for this well-reasoned, comprehensive and extremely articulate comment, almost a diary.

young and wise...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 07:30:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stéphane Hessel, who has lived as an active citizen through most of that timespan, says something broadly similar in Indignez-vous! (Time For Outrage) and in his frequent public contributions. He refers specifically to the foundations of the redistributive state laid down after the Liberation of France under the influence of the ideas of the Conseil National de la Résistance. (But no doubt other contemporary establishments of a redistributive state could be cited, like Britain's under the Attlee government, with, behind them, the profile of the New Deal). Hessel tells people that these social arrangements are not acquis (acquired, established once and for all), that, on the contrary, neoliberalism aims at destroying them, and will succeed if people don't get mad about it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 02:46:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama means too-little, too-late measures on climate change from the administration while being able to organize for a serious candidate on green jobs and a climate sane economic policy in 2016.

Romney means an all-in bet on petro-fueled transport and every possible effort to derail any state or community's efforts to pursue more sustainable transport, and four years of being forced to make common cause with climate loonies on the Democratic side of the aisle in order to defend this or that essential institution from being gutted, and the risk that he gets re-elected in 2016 and we don't have a crack as a serious candidate on green jobs and a climate sane economic policy until 2020.

They're both for the banksters, but only one is all-in for Big Oil, so there's the basis of my vote.

But if I didn't live in a swing state, if I lived in New York or California or Texas or Georgia, I'd seriously consider casting a protest vote for a 3rd party candidate.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 07:07:59 PM EST
Just now, I am doing what I can to get Obama re-elected, despite my disagreements with him on a number of points, because the alternative -- Willard Romney with his hands on the levers of power -- is simply unthinkable.

After the election, I'll be happy to criticize the president again.

To me, as a woman, the entire Republican party is simply terrifying.

by Mnemosyne on Fri Oct 26th, 2012 at 11:05:18 PM EST


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