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the breakdown of the European "social capitalism" model and the subsequent malaise afflicting countries like France, Germany, and Italy

Please don't write this here on ET as if it were a fact. There is no breakdown of the European "social capitalism" model - that's only what the neoliberals want you to believe to impose their model instead.

Let's not ever play in their game.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 02:26:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm... this is the "of course" or "everyone knows" gambit -- we all use it at one time or another consciously or un-, by assuming that some basic meme or foundational notion is shared by our audience;  but at other times it's used less ingenuously to present contentious assertions as if they were products of a secure consensus.

Examples abound -- "the US social security system is in terrible trouble and needs reform" is another "of course" meme (and one also serving neocon and neolib agendas) in which "trouble" (not well documented imho) is assumed, and "reform" is the label given to proposals which some critics would call sabotage.  "Of course" wages "have to be" suppressed, "flexibility" (meaning union-busting and revocation of worker rights) is required for "healthy" (healthy for whom?) economies, and so on.

Political battles seem to be twofold -- one is the raw struggle for secular power -- electoral and often dirty politics;  the other is the battle for mindshare or discourse space, the meme wars in which foundational assumptions frame (and, strategically, limit) the realm of discourse... so that certain ideas can be rendered unthinkable, undiscussable, "obsolete".  As CS Lewis pointed out long ago, far more effective than contending with the truth of falsity of an idea, if you want to suppress it, is to redefine it as "unfashionable" or  old fashioned.

It really does seem to me sometimes that we have a kind of fashion sense for ideas -- certain ideas are in vogue and can be taken seriously, and other ideas are out of style and can only be ridiculed like last season's cut of trousers.  And like fashion sense, this apparent consensus is at least partly manipulated and directed by vested interests...

Some ideas have -- or should have -- failed the test of time.  Slavery for example, we would hope, has few defenders left in the "enlightened" west, nor has child labour or (again, we would hope) indentured servitude or debt slavery (though the usury industry seems to be working on bringing that one back into vogue).  One would like to think that Kinder Kirche Kueche has had its day on the mental stage (though the Dominionists are working on a career comeback for that one).  

A neat trick of the neocons and neolibs is 1) to claim -- I think rightly so -- that Soviet-style Communism failed the test of time, then 2) to conflate any variant of Socialism with Soviet-style Communism, and then 3) to claim that therefore all flavours of socialism have failed the test of time and are laughable, obsolete, or "evil."

It's the conflation phase that's disingenuous;  and also the wilful disregard of any evidence that real societies made up of real people are being strengthened by the judicious application of socialist principles.    Therefore Europe must be failing -- it is ideologically necessary for Europe to fail, regardless of its tangible successes in education, public health, industry, finance etc. -- because Europe is "socialist" ... and America must be succeeding (no matter how dire its balance sheet looks on every front) because it is not-socialist.

Meanwhile, I have just paid some taxes on a Canadian (you know, one of those "socialist" countries) purchase from a year and a half ago.  The US dollar has fallen so fast relative to the Canadian dollar that the currency exchange differential has cost me an extra 10+ percent on the amount of tax due.  I wish I had transferred almost all my capital to a Canadian bank two years ago.  Somehow I don't think the Euro has fallen that far relative to the CAD over the same period.  When I'm awake I think I'll go look it up.  And then I'll meditate for a while on the meaning of the word "failure."

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 03:42:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome writes:

"Please don't write this here on ET as if it were a fact. There is no breakdown of the European "social capitalism" model - that's only what the neoliberals want you to believe to impose their model instead.

Let's not ever play in their game."

So Ben, here is a question for you. Did you read Newt Gingrich's little booklet from 1992? It sure seems so.  

I'm quoting; the memo was titled

"Language: A Key Mechanism of Control" by Newt Gingrich.

Newt wrote, "Often we search hard for words to help us define our opponents. Apply these words to the opponent, their record, proposal and their party".

And here's the list of words that Newt said you should always use whenever you are going to describe anything democratic or liberal. Always attach these words to everything 'liberal'.

"Decay, failure, fail, collapsing, deeper, crisis, urgent, destructive, destroy, sick, pathetic, lie, liberal, they, them, unionized bureaucracy, compassion is not enough, betray, consequences, limits, shallow, traitors, sensationalists, endanger, coercion, hypocrisy, radical, threaten, devour, waste, corruption, incompetent, permissive, destruction, impose, self-serving, greed, ideological, insecure, anti-flag, anti-family, anti-child, anti-jobs, pessimistic, excuses, intolerant, stagnation, welfare, corrupt, selfish, insensitive, status quo, mandates, taxes, spending, shame, disgrace, punish, bizarre, cynicism, cheat, steal, abuse of power, machine, bosses, obsolete, criminal rights, red tape, and patronage."

And as I went through that list, you probably recognized a lot of words that you've heard in the context of discussions about about democrats and liberals and it's no accident. What was amazing to me during this last election was the number of cons who would come onto shows like Crossfire and talking about John Kerry, would just pull these words out of the hat.

On the other hand, Newt said, to the Republicans, that there are positive governing words, positive words that should be attached to any discussion of the GOP or GOP policies, conservative policies.

He said, in fact he said, "memorize as many as possible" of these words. That's a direct quote. "Positive Governing Words".

Here's the words that Newt said should be attached to all things Republican, and have been, basically, ever since this memo came out more than a decade ago, certainly by right-wing radio talk show hosts.

"Share, change, opportunity, legacy, challenge, control, truth, moral, courage, reform, prosperity, crusade, movement, children, family, debate, compete, actively, we, us, our," (this instead of they or them), "candidly, humane, pristine, provide, liberty, commitment, principled, unique, duty, precious, premise, caring, tough, listen, learn, help, lead, vision, success, empowerment, citizen, activist, mobilize, conflict, light, dream, freedom, peace, rights, pioneer, proud, pride, building, preserve, pro-flag, pro-children, pro-environment, reform, workfare, eliminate good-time in prison, strength, choose, choice, fair, protect, confident, incentive, hard work, initiative, common sense, and passionate."

Perhaps someone with enough time on his hand should take last year's editorials on Europe, France, Germany published in the NYT, WaPo, Guardian etc. and run them through a word count text program and come up with with a list of the most frequently used neo con buzzwords.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 03:27:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Ritter I knew -- in a background way, from the work of  Lakoff (with whose "framing" arguments I am not all that comfortable but that's another story) -- about this Newspeak guidebook.  But I had not actually read it and your excerpts here are very telling.

What happens when Madison Avenue meets electoral politics?  we are all finding out.

I wrote my thesis on the semantic "absolute value" overloading of common words, and the use advertisers and propagandists make of this curious feature of language... funny how things come around again.

Socialism Double Plus Ungood :-)

thanks for the killer pullquotes.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 11:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for these quotes from Newt, Ritter. I'd read all this once on a Blog somewhere but didn't keep the reference, now we've got it on record here on ET. You wouldn't want to do a diary on this, would you? ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 02:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a 4 for you jerome, for stating this.

however there is a distinct malaise in italy right now, maybe not france...

i think a big problem the left has both attaining and managing power is that moderate lefties are not control freaks; they (we) want time with our families, to relax, have fun with our work, participate in politics, but in a minimal way (just enough).

our opponents -thugs -don't have lives, they live for external power, not that of love.

so whatever structure is in place: capitalism, communism, socialism or dictatorship, these thugs with entirely too much time on their hands crawl to the top, by dint of greedy need, working like the psycho-drones they are, when honest folk are sleeping after their love and labour.

politicians are squeezed betwen two lobbying forces: that of social welfare, (ngo's, civil rights, human rights etc,) and that of the  corporations.

guess who has the most money to 'invest'?

once-pure ideas become transformed into vicious police states as means foul ends, and thugs reach the power apex.

naked capitalism likes to dress up its objectives with figleaves of christianity, democracy etc, and so far the cognitive dissonance between purported 'values' and reality has not reached the alarming levels of louis 14th or stalinist russia.

won't be long at this rate....

'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 Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 01:35:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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