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http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/11/24/93417/180

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 11:52:01 AM EST
<covers head in fear>
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 11:53:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What struck me in the dKos comments (besides the insults, which have the redeeming value of being entertaining) is the lack of any intellectual frame of reference in the American left (ok, I generalize).

Jerome's point was not about morality (who's a good guy, who's a jerk?) but about the meaning of government.

Libertarians or paleorepubs like Bill Buckley would disagree with his view, but (as much as I hate to say it) they would do so from a reasoned perspective.
The American right has intellectual coherence (at least the old kind). But the so-called left is mental jello.

It's impossible to argue, agree, or disagree because there's nothing to argue, agree, or disagree about. There is no there there among the American left.
Left of course means left of Ann Coulter, which is a wide open space. But still...

Liberals (in the American sense) try to be good, kind, reasonable, tolerant, tactical, and determined. That's the full extent of their ideology. It's a set of attitudes: it's not a set of beliefs.

There was this saying in France when I grew up: France has the dumbest political right wing in the world.

I fear America has the dumbest political left in the world.

by Bernard Chazelle (Bernard Chazelle) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 09:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This diary Jerome posted up, and especially the responses to it, are truly telling.

The American "Left" (if we really can refer to it as "left" in all honesty) emotes; it does not think. Fronted by the party which putatively represents it, it has no governing ideology, no guiding principles, no core beliefs. I hesitate to say it (the Democratic party) is led by poorly trained mid-level technocrats alack of imagination, for this would perhaps be an insult to poorly-trained unimaginative mid-level technocrats in other parts of the world. Unsurprisingly, it fails to inspire, and has consequently been out of power, in increasing fashion, for the better part of three decades.

Such well-wishing "liberals" have no enemies of course, for in this world, we've gotten beyond enemies. Class does not exist. And it's true that it is hard to make enemies when you've not poked your head out from your comfortable, ideology-free paradise in those couple of decades.

Meanwhile the other side are setting up. They are sharpening their knives, gutting the socially normative arms of the state, building up the security apparatus, and building armaments for endless war, endless imperial war.

Unsurprisingly, the opposition is silent.

Because the opposition is clueless.  

It'd be funny if itweren't so sad, given the potential for the US to wreak great harm in the world, and this for the foreseeable future, if but militarily.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 09:55:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That thread has left me quite depressed, as I did not expect that level of insults. There was quite a bit of argumented disagreement, thankfully, but the overall tone was pretty dismissive.

But I wrote it, I'm a callous bastard, i don't do charity!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never ever give out troll ratings in such threads. It only creates bad blood and increasingly bitter debates, as you've surely seen.

People take the writing on the screen (whether diaries or comments) very personally, even when it's not their words, and it's better to switch back to polite and try to explain what you meant rather than going with the abrasive comment (well, I do do diaries that can be considered abrasive, but I do avoid that in the comments)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:47:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I probably shouldn't have done that. Please accepot my excuses. I have a hard time with some of these people who pretend to be progressives and "liberals" and yet quite dismissively hawk their hard neo-lib point of view and denigrate the role of government.

First in line for offensiveness are those who know what they are doing. Second in line for offensiveness are those who cluelessly assume that if the former are respectful in tone, the content of their objections cannot possibly be noxious.

In a word, if you patently do not believe in the public good or in the productive role of the state in society, why the hell would you bother militating in the party on the putative left? And yet, and yet....

Which is precisely why Mr Chazelle's quote is quite apt. How can they possibly find fault with a polite enemy, when they themselves have no fundamental core values to give rise to the possibility of an adversary?

Raising the tone never convinces anybody though, this is true, and perhaps even some might have been convinced with a different tone. Calling you an asshole and impugning your personal integrity though, as some did - that was out of line under any circumstance. Personally, I think that was your best diary over there ever, polemical in structure, thought provoking, impeccably logical, and ambiguous enough of wording to suscitate a heated debate on values.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 01:04:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I thank you for fighting it out. It was a tough crowd - one of the hardest and some of the nastiest words hurled at me.

I guess people reacted intensely to the "I don't do charity" bit. I could have written "We should not have to rely on charity for basic services" rather than the more abrupt "I don't do charity" but the point of my diary stands even if I am the evil, callous, heartless bastard so many of you have seen in my diary, which is precisely why I put it this way. But as you wrote, this went over many people's heads - which also meant that they did not understand your vigor in supporting me, and in turn reacted angrily to you.

That point from you and Bernard Chazelle about the lack of values (beyond the "we're nice") - I need to ponder.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 01:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am sorry to have to agree with your post, and redstar's comments below.  Obviously there are strong coherent platforms to be put up on the left in America both socially, economically and foreign policy (many of them eloquently and rightly argued here for the EU), but the putative leaders of the American left, the Democrats, do not present that case. At least not in any coherent, continuing, and logical format.
by wchurchill on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 03:18:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can see the merit of your position with respect to conventional brute-force charity: feeding, clothing, housing, and healing people who can't do this for themselves. What your position seems to neglect is the value of competition and diversity in doing what is new. Scientific research is an obvious example (and far from the brute-force end of the spectrum) but "social entrepreneurs" have also found innovative ways to help the disadvantaged.

I would be much happier with your approach if it included broad reforms in research funding agencies -- reforms that would pour a modest fraction of their funds into channels with different performance criteria. Today, most agencies act under incentives that punish surprising failures, with no effective way to offset these by surprising successes. The result is extreme risk aversion precisely where risk can best be tolerated -- by agencies kept afloat by a sea of tax money, and managing a vast, diversified portfolio of research investments.

What I'd like to see is the use of metrics that try to measure the difference between research that produces one unit of benefit and research that produces a million units. I'd then want policies that judge agencies not by their (ideally, many) failures but by the sum of these and their (potentially enormous) successes.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:32:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What your position seems to neglect is the value of competition and diversity in doing what is new.

This is the only upside of wealth inequality, that sometimes a part of the immense wealth accumulated at the top is used for patronage of the arts, of science, or for building something lasting.

So, actually, philantropists like the Gatess foundation could pour money into vaccine research, or into orphan diseases, as we know Big Pharma is only interested in treatment, not prevention.

The sad part is that, in more "socialist" times, a worldwide push to eradicate smallpox was successful, and the likelyhood of anything like that being initiated in our neoliberal international climate is next to zero.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 07:15:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the only upside of wealth inequality

But if not for the wealthy, who would buy expensive new high-tech junk that doesn't work well -- thereby creating a market that drives design improvement and cost reduction until the masses can buy low-cost working tech-junk?

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 12:33:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How did it go? I really don't want to look ;-P

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:14:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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