Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Huh?

Honestly, I don't follow you.

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

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 03:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you understand this?:

I don't like your mischaracterization of the American left, which relies upon the assumption that we are ignorant, especially when it diminishes an otherwise worthy topic and decent diary like this one.

BTW, if you are interested, you can find my diary on Cohen's previous Nation article here.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 04:29:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good diary, thanks for the link.

I recall your phrase from a previous thread. And honestly, I have to say that the American left is quite disappointing in my view, and I'm quite willing to express that disappointment.

For one thing, there are no ideological moorings. Folks who call themselves "left" or "liberal" in America are quite often as distrustful of the rightful and efficient role of the state in society as anyone on the right side of the spectrum - in Europe, or in America for that matter. Government is not a critical and efficient provider of services in the view of many. Rather, government is simply how income gets redistributed and the army gets funded in their view.

A similar dynamic is at work viz foreign policy as well. Sure, there are high profile lefties in positions of power, take Kucinich for instance. But he is the exception which proves the rule, which is why a guy like Kos calls him unserious. The lefties have been completely marginalized in the political arena, and it shows in the results.

Unsurprisingly, not one piece of fundamentally progressive legislation has emerged from Washington since Nixon was president.

Now, I know there is a left in the US which has ideological moorings, but as a percent of the electorate, you can count them on one hand, two of them tops. The average joe Democrat, and this goes for self-described "liberals," has no such moorings, his or her ideology is more a set of attitudes about what it takes to be a nice guy or gal than a governing program of guided by progressive principles. He or she might today say "Dubya is a bad guy, so everything he does is bad. Why? Well, because he screwed up the war (ie, not because the war was an ill-intentioned imperial folly, but because it was poorly executed). Because he's trampling on my civil rights. But decidely not because the poor are getting an ever greater shaft - that's not government's fault, that's walmart's, and I try not to shop there, though it's true their pool supplies are cheaper than anywhere else..."

I suspect you are one of the good guys or gals in America, I do know a few. If so, accept my apologies. If so, I think you'll have to agree with me that we are a very very small segment of the vox populi in America today. We're not the problem - it's the smallness of our numbers which is.

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

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 05:07:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, but I don't want to belong to your "we're better than everyone else" club.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 06:55:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a "better than everybody else" club. It's a "here are some objective ideological moorings, and here's where you fit" club.

Sorry if I don't particularly care to fit into your purity troll meme here, but I certainly do not apologize for my characterization of the political left in the US and its utter lack of achievement in my lifetime, for which I have my own explanation.

If you have your own explanation for why the left has imploded and done nothing in the US for 35 years, I'd be happy to hear it.

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

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 06:59:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What?  I'm the purity troll?  America would have to elect effing Mao before you'd acknowledge there are actual genuine liberals in this country.

I just want you to 1)get your facts straight (I thought that was de rigeur here anyway) and 2) stop using Grover Norquist's talking points when painting a picture of the American left.  And drop the holier-than-thou bs.

The fact is you have a lot to learn and a lot of wrong-headed FOX newsish ideas about this country.  A little humility on your part would go a long way.  When you have Americans on this blog correcting you, when you are writing a freaking diary about an American who is doing responsible reporting on Russia, you might want to step back and reassess your stereotype of American liberals, who come in all shapes and sizes, by the way.  It's a political spectrum, you know.  But not to you.  To you it is black and white.  A person either embraces your set notion of correct political ideology to a tee, or they are indistinguishable among Tom Friedman, Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.  

And while I've no reason to think you are any kind of expert on American policy, I would repeat that many people do agree with you on a great many topics.  The majority?  No.  (Though the majority is silent so it is really anyone's guess.)  And it isn't intellectually honest to lump them all in a bunch with the DLC or NYT columnists.  Again, it is like you read the MSM and never leave your home.  In fact, I'd be willing to bet the majority of Americans couldn't even identify the DLC or Friedman.  You are in wonk territory there.  But I can tell you I ride a subway packed with people wearing Impeach Bush buttons.  I know it is not fashionable to admit that our metropolises are part of the country (even though they are where most people actually live, are our centers of commerce and culture...), but to paint a picture of America where everyone's an uneducated backwards hick or a selfish millionare is to embrace stereotypes.  Just because the environmentalists and socialists and rational thinking people don't get as much airtime as the nut jobs does not me they don't exist.  And they might be fringe in some places, but they are the mainstream where I live.  

And while Democrats haven't had much national control in the last 35 years, and those who have have been pansies aiding and abetting the agenda of the GOP, there are good liberal leaders out there at the local level.  And while the party did implode, we've been BUSTING OUR ASSES to get our act together and have actually managed to get elected and are now in a position to walk the talk.  Don't hold your breath for a France or a Venezuela anytime soon, but it is now possible to expect real progress to be made in our govt.  It will never live up to your expectations, but you will find more to your satisfaction if you actually try to reach out to and understand people, to help them understand why x,y and z are good ideas, and to encourage their efforts, even though they could be futile, than you will sitting in front of your computer imagining this mythical nation of ignorant fascists, thinking yourself well-informed and bloating your exiled ego.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 10:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Y'know, I'm just as American as you, I just happen to be a dual nationality.

I also live in America, have for the past ten years. Lived here for most of the '80's as well. I've seen it in action, I saw Clinton and welfare reform, I saw a Democratic-led Senate give Dubya his Irak war, I saw a Democratic congress bend over and share in Reagan's "reforms."

And as said downthread, I'll believe the walk when I see it. I've heard enough talk.

Oh, and I don't have to hold my breath for progress in France. When it comes to social protections and rights, France is so far ahead of the US, it's as if the US has two generations to make up. So you can think what you like, but some realistic bearings of your ideological base and of what has actually been achieved (as opposed to talked about) would be in order.

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

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 11:07:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, I do believe "bloated exiled ego" rises to the level of ad hom.

I'd quit while you're ahead.

 

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

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 11:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't even quote me honestly.  

Please ignore me and have your fun here. I obviously cannot force you to see the hipocracy of your ways (so earnest to get people to ignore the rhetoric about Russia and see things from another point of view while embracing the rhetoric about America and ignoring any other point of view but your own.)

Anyway, welcome aboard.  I've always wanted more coverage of Russia here.  And it seems that given all we know about you, you are a much better fit for this place than I am.  Maybe they will even make you a front pager, if you bat your eyes at Jerome enough...  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Jan 12th, 2007 at 02:37:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ack you two - get a room.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 13th, 2007 at 06:18:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Further down the thread you're urging me to consider context when judging politicians. You're failing to do so with Americans. It is a much more right wing society - I don't mean political views here, but in practice.

Who is more left wing, the person pushing for higher payments and 'reform' of a universal health care system, or the one pushing for expanding government provided health care in one dominated by the private sector. What about raising taxes on the wealthy in the name of fiscal responsibility and social justice, or lowering them in the name of economic efficiency. To take an example, I'd say that Clinton was to the left of Schroeder, even though by some objective measuring stick he wasn't.

In any case you're wrong about American liberals not believing in government services. There's unanimous support for universal health care as the top domestic priority, and most in would prefer single payer. That many of them are debating what would be possible in practice given the magnitude of the task of the wholesale restructuring one seventh of the economy, and what sort of compromises would be acceptable doesn't change that. We only number some twenty to thirty percent of the population - a significant number, but we're in a two party single member district system. Either we make deals with the moderates or we might as well give up.

You're also ignoring the extent to which the mainstream of American liberals has shifted left since 2000, and degree of preoccupation with poverty, insecurity, and inequality that hasn't been seen since Mondale's landslide loss.  

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 08:35:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Further down the thread you're urging me to consider context when judging politicians. You're failing to do so with Americans. It is a much more right wing society - I don't mean political views here, but in practice.

Completely different context. On the one hand, an autocratic, arbitrary monarchy whose underpinnings, unlike the rest of Europe, continued to reside in divine right and where people would regularly starve as the aristocracy diddled each other and their servants. On the other, a bourgeois democracy whose real sin is the soft (for now) tyranny of the majority and a benign, almost moralistic neglect of its underclass. Completely different in virtually all ways.

I don't criticize American liberals more than I call them on their bullshit. They claim, in the main, to be on the side of the poor, but they aren't. They claim to be for peace and for social justice, but they aren't. They claim to be for economic and social equality but that's quite alot more talk than action too. They represent, in the main, the middle class, and as such, they represent it well. But they certainly do not represent progress, for human rights and human gain.

Who is more left wing, the person pushing for higher payments and 'reform' of a universal health care system, or the one pushing for expanding government provided health care in one dominated by the private sector.

Not sure I get your question. Obviously, universal, egalitarian access to health care is the proper system, and given the economic inefficiencies inherent in that particular market, the state is the most efficient provider.

He who is the most left wing is he whose proposals do the most to bring about universal, egalitarian access to health care services. He who is wisest does so in the most economical fashion, which is via the state.

What about raising taxes on the wealthy in the name of fiscal responsibility and social justice, or lowering them in the name of economic efficiency.

Lowering them in the name of economic efficiency? Surely you jest.

To take an example, I'd say that Clinton was to the left of Schroeder, even though by some objective measuring stick he wasn't.

Not sure too many Germans would agree with you, maybe Oskar Lafontaine?

In any case you're wrong about American liberals not believing in government services. There's unanimous support for universal health care as the top domestic priority, and most in would prefer single payer. That many of them are debating what would be possible in practice given the magnitude of the task of the wholesale restructuring one seventh of the economy, and what sort of compromises would be acceptable doesn't change that.

Hey, I'm pulling for that too. Though I do seem to remember the last time they tried this. Clinton fucked it up, and those moderates you allude to below helped kill it too, and a couple of them are still around and still members of good standing in the Democratic caucus (Feinstein and Lieberman to name two). So all the intentions in the world are great, and when I see the Worldvision ad on TV, I want to do something about hungry kids in the Horn of Africa too.

But I'm pretty sure the Democrats, to whose wagon the left is hitched in the US, won't get the job done. After all, they never do. The most incompetent left in the industrialized world. So I hope you'll forgive me for not holding my breath.

We only number some twenty to thirty percent of the population - a significant number, but we're in a two party single member district system. Either we make deals with the moderates or we might as well give up.

You might as well give up, because 35 years of making deals with the moderates (remember, Jimmy Carter was a moderate too - the 2nd cold war started under him, as did the deregulation which Reagan of course accelerated) sure hasn't gotten anything done. Quite the contrary, it has simply facilitated the nation's drift rightward.

You're also ignoring the extent to which the mainstream of American liberals has shifted left since 2000, and degree of preoccupation with poverty, insecurity, and inequality that hasn't been seen since Mondale's landslide loss.

Well, I guess I'll believe that when I see it. I'm seeing a lot of temerity now. I'd like to believe this is true, but actually, I think American liberals haven't changed much at all, aside from instinctive Bush hatred. Now they have an enemyt with a face, and we'll see what happens when that convenient enemy is gone.

OTOH, I do think there's a palpable shift, in particular in the heartland of the midwest and parts of the bible belt, towards the sort of economic populism which, if harnessed correctly, could translate into progress. Then again, it could be harnessed into economic nationalism and xenophobia as well. So far, most of the voices of this developing trend are on the lefter side of the spectrum and are Democrats (Schuler, Hackett, Webb). If they get some traction, I'll be more hopeful, but again, given how entrenched certain interests are in the party which pretends to represent the left (and the poor as well, not necessarily the same of course) I'd have to refrain from holding my breath there as well.    


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

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 10:42:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the Clinton Schroeder example I'm saying that someone who acts to make the tax system more progressive and seeks to enact measures that will increase government support for the poor is arguably to the left of someone who does the reverse. What a politician expends their political capital on says more about them than an abstract ideological spectrum. That's because forcing through changes is what is difficult. That one person starts off with a system that is well to the right of the other needs to be taken into account. Otherwise you can start making the argument that Thatcher was to the left of LBJ, for example, because after Thatcher the UK had universal health care and the US didn't. And no, few Germans would agree with me about Schroeder, but that's cause they don't understand or know America, so rather than evaluating Clinton according to the context he was operating him, they do so as if he were a German politician working in Germany. On health care Clinton failed partly because he came up with a godawful mess of a compromise in the vain hope of assuaging the insurance industry, but partly because the American health care crisis was in its early stages. Managed care was in had only begun to spread a few years earlier, many people still had the old style health insurance that functioned like a wonderful single payer system - no dealing with bureaucracy, no worrying about approvals or reimbursements, just go to the doctor of your choice, present your card and you're free to go. Basically what Clinton was promising was their nightmare - managed care, in return he would away the fear of being uninsured, but very few voters were.

The shift in liberal thinking is the disenchantment with neo-liberalism, with the blind worship of the market. Not necessarily among the population as a whole, but among the self-consciously liberal elites. Krugman is a perfect example of that change - from orthodox neolib to something else entirely.

You might as well give up, because 35 years of making deals with the moderates (remember, Jimmy Carter was a moderate too - the 2nd cold war started under him, as did the deregulation which Reagan of course accelerated) sure hasn't gotten anything done. Quite the contrary, it has simply facilitated the nation's drift rightward.

It is funny how Carter is remembered, a mix of successful propaganda and the fact that he's been much more left wing as an ex-president. (Though I like the foreign policy part - my foreign policy politics are well to the right of my domestic ones). Still, the same sort of compromising also got us LBJ's Great Society. Compromise isn't a good or bad thing in itself, it's the results that count. If the next president can move the country substantially to the left, I'll be happy even if it doesn't go as far as I'd like due to the need to get the moderates on board.

by MarekNYC on Fri Jan 12th, 2007 at 01:20:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't use the opinions of people whose standards are well below the standards of this site to bolster your arguments, primarily because it doesn't work.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 04:33:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Disregard my previous statement, I didn't parse your comments on Friedman in the story correctly.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 04:36:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series