Andy Divine depends on the ignorance of his readers, Episode MCCVII: On Concentration Camps & more pressing Evils. Old Socialist comments

I’ll bypass the first two installments of the Mr. Divine’s encyclical of June 21, 2019:

The Next Step for Gay Pride

The Trump Code

I’ll just read this next segment of moral shaming with which Andy confronts his readers:

The Totalitarian Nightmare the World Is Ignoring

I don’t want a new Cold War with China. But it is, in my view, an evil regime, and we should have no illusions about that. Twitter has been having a great time this past week parsing whether detention camps for illegal immigrants in the United States should be called “concentration camps.” In China, this debate might seem somewhat beside the point. Over a million Muslims who have crossed no border and committed no crimes are being taken from their homes en masse and subjected to brainwashing in vast camps and compounds from which there is no escape. Watch this excellent new BBC piece on these “thought transformation camps” — and feel the fear everywhere. The BBC was given access to a show camp, which is creepy enough. We can only imagine what goes on in the hidden ones.

Somehow Andy has become an expert on ‘concentration camps’: now Andy isn’t very adroit about his attack on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her very welcome plain speaking on the concentration camps used by ICE to hold the Mestizo Hordes ,that are invading the land of Anglo-Protestant virtue, as articulated by that American political hysteric Samuel P. Huntington: in his Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. The separation of children/infants from their parents , not to speak of caging these human beings, is an action used by Trump and his minions: ‘Give me your tired,your poor ,your huddled masses…’! An utter betrayal of ‘American Values’ ?

Andy likes to engage in the time honored tradition of One-up-man-ship pioneered by Stephen Potter. Virtue signalling is the current term of abuse, but Potter’s old stand-by fully describes Andy’s dull-witted practice . His argument:  You’ve averted your eyes from the ‘Evil Chinese Regime‘  for too long -its Human Rights abuses! In sum, the Concentration Camps used by ICE are by comparison to the Chinese Regime’s forms of oppression/re-education are evil, while the human rights abuses practiced by ICE are subject to a kind of pseudo- apologetic! In sum,  the crimes of ICE are minimized in comparison to the Chinese.

 

On the left, we worry about Islamophobia, or we expend our energies protesting the oppression of Palestinians by Israel’s occupation. On the right, we talk of religious freedom too often as if it only applies to Christians or Jews.

Yet, here is a man and writer whose moral/political enthusiasms for ‘The Bell Curve’ and the War in Iraq are facts that Andy can’t overcome. At least with his readers whose memories reach back to Andy’s reprehensible political past.  Andy achieves his ends by means of hectoring moralizing, in service to Andy’s pathological egotism, wedded to his political nihilism.

Old Socialist

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/06/andrew-sullivan-the-next-step-for-gay-pride.html

 

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@nytimes Bret Stephen’s paranoid wet dream about the year 2025. Political Observer comments

Think of Stephens distopian view of the future,  as speculation in the political present, to unleash his penchant for fear mongering, garnished by comforting political kitsch. Think of that David Lynch’s classic Hollywood dreck ‘Blue Velvet’, as a bloated rhetorical example of the Sadism/Kitsch binary, that Stephens freely adapts, to make his point. But that point , to this reader, is about Neo-Conservative nihilism, or more aptly, its status as a modern day death cult! Look to the headline and sub-headline of essay: 

Headline: Covid-19: A Look Back From 2025

Sub-headline: In which the coronavirus has changed almost everything.

The usual fascination with collapse, decay and decadence of Conservatism, of the kind that Opus Dei and the politics of Francoism reflect, all tarted up via the mendacious re-write man of the History of Philosophy, Leo Strauss, and his coterie of hysterical defenders.  

Note that Mr. Stephens’ almost literary speculation is firmly anchored in our present moment of crisis, and that the political actors, in his precis, remain unchanged, even though five years have past. So view his brief sketch of his possible literary speculations, as his maladroit way of pronouncing, in his necessarily disingenuous way, on the actuality of our historical moment. Stephens, in his usual perverse way, demonstrates the value of hindsight as exercised in a pseudo-literary speculation ?  The Then/Now is muddied to Stephens political advantage?   

And like the Neo-Conservative he is, and remains, despite the respectable bourgeois cover of The New York Times, the Enemies of American are the same: Russia, China and Iran. The large cast of familiar names adds the necessary verisimilitude, to his political/literary miniature. An since this is The New York Times, the necessary balm of kitsch is supplied by this  homespun paragraph: 

Not everything was bleak. Adults read more books, paid closer attention to their spouses and children, called their aging parents more often, made more careful choices with their money, thought more deeply about what they really wanted in life. In time, that kind of spiritual deepening will surely pay its own dividends.

Political Observer

 

 

 

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Rabbi Jonathan Sacks & Margaret Hodge, in the pages of The Financial Times. Old Socialist comments

Should it surprise any regular reader of The Financial Times, that it features two of the most prominent, not to speak of mendacious, defamers of Jeremy Corbyn, as somehow credible, on any given subject, after the public record of their mendacity is readily available? The curious reader just needs to check the back issues of this newspaper, for that confirmation.     

Rabbi Sacks opines on the place of Faith in the face of The Pandemic, in full self-congratulatory tribalist mode, that is usual for the adherents of the benighted Abrahamic Tradition. 

Headline: Former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks on faith amid the crisis

Sub-headline: He explains why this is ‘the moment of moments for faith communities’ and shares his love of music

https://www.ft.com/content/20544a40-73ab-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca


Margaret Hodge’s notorious comments on Corbyn ‘a fucking antisemite and a racist’ , not to speak of the continuing exercise of her mendacity, extensively reported on in a sympathetic Corporate Press. 

Headline: From Corbyn to Keir Starmer: the battle for the heart of Labour

Sub-headline: The FT follows prominent Jeremy Corbyn critic and veteran MP Margaret Hodge as the opposition searches for a new leader. What kind of Labour party does the country now need? She joins the campaign trail and interviews key Labour figures including Alastair Campbell, Owen Jones, and Jess Phillips about their hopes and fears


https://www.ft.com/video/4d28a6b6-f1ca-4249-87a0-62011ff43ad8

Keir Starmer is the New Tony Blair? With the  ‘return to normalcy’ of New Labour , in sum ,Thatcherism Lite,  how might the Party frame its policies, in reply to Johnson’s bungling of the Covid-19 Crisis?

The political landscape in America is changing with every passing day, with Bernie Sanders’ star rising to new heights, while the New Democrats continue to prop up an absent Senile Old Joe. While Capitalism continues its collapse, and the Senate and House are in recess, The Pandemic grows!

Old Socialist

 

 

 

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Andrew Sullivan on COVID-19. Myra Breckenridge comments

I just have to wonder at the utterly bankrupt Andrew Sullivan’s latest moralizing essay, and its first paragraph:

“There is no wealth but life,” the great critic John Ruskin once wrote. You can hear that faith in the words of Andrew Cuomo, whose Catholic upbringing still clearly reverberates in his soul. “If it’s the public health versus the economy, the only choice is public health,” Cuomo tweeted. “You cannot put a value on human life. You do the right thing. That’s what Pop taught us.” That’s why American soldiers never leave a fellow behind, why American doctors never abandon a patient, and why American rescuers and first responders go beyond the feasible and reach for the impossible.

A telling quote from John Ruskin, followed by die-hard Neo-Liberal governor Andrew Cuomo, as the epitome of ‘Catholic Virtue’, that ‘pop’ taught us’, a list of American Soldiers, Doctors and First Responders and their respective virtues. All of these moral actors, under the rubric of American Virtue, as an expression of exclusivity, or more pointedly of American Exceptionalism, of the Frank Capra School of American History. 

Its easy to quickly run out of patience with this moralizing fraud: he spent his moral capital on his enthusiasms for ‘The Bell Curve’ and the War in Iraq! He now makes war on those who don’t conform to his Politics: he’s the Roy Cohn of the political present, and  part of a cadre of political dullards, who write for Corporate Media. Read the rest of his essay at your own risk! 

Sincerely yours, 

Myra Breckenridge 

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/andrew-sullivan-how-to-live-with-the-coronavirus.html

 

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edward.luce@ft.com on ‘Competence’. Old Socialist comments

Neo-Liberals, your ersatz Utopianism is not just in decline, but is on the Critical List! The Pandemic signals the revival of the long dormant notion, that the Nation State, as conceived in the Age of Enlightenment, and its sine qua non of the shared destiny of its citizens, now asserts itself in the face of catastrophe?

The first rescue package, a gift to the Plutocrats, with the ‘Lower Orders’ getting a pittance, will soon be followed by more of the same? Will The Property Party be more generous in the coming months of a crisis, as it deepens and the body count rises, not to speak of an utterly faltering, perhaps even collapsing Capitalism? The questions abound! 

Take credit where credit is due. you’ve had a long a prosperous run, but it has come to screeching halt, as The Pandemic wreaks its havoc across to globe! Your maladroit project of Social Engineering was the precursor to the political villain you so despise, President Trump. Will Thatcher’s notorious sloganeering of ‘TINA’ be redefined in the face of catastrophe? 

Mr. Luce paraphrases Neo-Con Francis Fukuyama:

 The real division, as Francis Fukuyama has argued in The Atlantic magazine, is between competent and incompetent states. Freedom-loving America was as late in waking up to the threat as repressive China. By contrast, liberal democratic Germany and authoritarian Singapore reacted early and well. What divides success from failure, argues Fukuyama, is “trust in government”.  

‘Trust in government’ is quite a leap from Mr. Fukuyama’s 2013 essay titled ‘The Decay of American Political Institutions’:

The Decay of American Political Institutions

In which he attacks the very history of American social/economic/political reform from Teddy Roosevelt onward.  Self-Serving mendacity defines Neo-Conservatism, the natural inheritance from Philosophical Fiction writer Leo Strauss. 

Old Socialist 

https://www.ft.com/content/0dcf6d1b-c43f-485e-80b5-46337b70e6c0

 

 

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martin.wolf@ft.com on ‘The tragedy of two failing superpowers’. Political Observer comments

Headline: The tragedy of two failing superpowers

Sub-headline: To address the pandemic, China and the US must not only function. They must function together

https://www.ft.com/content/ea1563e8-725f-11ea-ad98-044200cb277f



Just to focus on one paragraph of Mr. Wolf’s latest encyclical heavily garnished with graphs/charts.


The fundamental American principles of democracy and individual freedom remain attractive to many around the world, despite the global rise of populist autocracy. The vigour of its private economy may yet save us all. But today the US is losing its reputation for elementary competence, already badly battered by its long list of futile wars and the financial crisis of 2007-09. Parts of government, notably the Federal Reserve, remain effective for now, though who knows what would happen in a second Trump term? But the fundamental capability of the often despised “administrative state” — the bulwark of any complex urban civilisation — really matters. At these times of crisis, its absence is lethal. A government at war with science and its own machinery is now very visible to all.

 

There is no ‘tragedy’, this place holder is the fictional creation of Mr. Wolf , or should it be named the care and maintenance of bourgeois political respectability? Subject to historical erasure is the collapse of The Neo-Liberal Swindle, that attacked the very institutions of The Welfare State: a strong manufacturing base, unionized workers, and a vital Public Heath component. The dismantling of that Welfare State , in America, was piecemeal, so some of its most vital institutions, like Social Security remained in place. The Strong State , the sine qua non of the Neo-Liberal coterie, with the help of Bill Clinton, per example:  The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, brought an the end of New Deal protections! And economic catastrophe followed.  This just a rough historical sketch. Look to ‘the global rise of populist autocracy’ as the product of that collapse. See Philipp Ther’s ‘Europe Since 1989: A History’ that explores Neo-Liberalism’s malign utopianism in Central Europe.   

Contra Mr. Wolf’s  melodramatic framing , The Pandemic will focus our attention on the fact that America needs to rebuild its Manufacturing Base, unionized workers and a robust Welfare State. Relying not on Corporatist ‘Trade Deals’, but on a revival of the Democratic Nation State as essential. Allied to strong treaties, with other states, not written by Corporate lawyers, but by democratically elected legislators, with the approval of voters !

Political Observer

 

 

 

 

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janan.ganesh@ft.com : The Pandemic re-writes ‘The Social Contract’ via Dickens & Orwell. Old Socialist comments

Mr. Ganesh’s literary overlay, Dickens vs. Orwell provides that frame, on power of The Pandemic is stylistically – I can’t compare it to Tom Wolfe’ s ‘snap, crackle, pop’ -for it is too sophisticated, in its way. And reaches an ersatz sumptuousness , almost reminiscent of Henry James. With a better sense of the imperatives, of the necessity of brevity, for a Boulevardier, who writes for a Newspaper as an avocation.

What Mr. Ganesh’s misses, avoids, or seeks to hide, under his almost elegant prose, is that it is not the ‘Social Contact’ that will be rewritten, but that The Neo-Liberal Age has come to its final moments on the World Stage. And what is to replace it is a new iteration of the Welfare State. The proof is the massive bail-out, read gift, for Corporations, and in America a measly $1200 for the lesser beings! 

The Political Melodrama is sharpened by the fact that  Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) sold their stocks in light of insider information:

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/488593-four-senators-sold-stocks-before-coronavirus-threat-crashed-market

Not to speak of other Senators lecturing on the Senate floor, the fact their constituencies, the potential recipients of that $1200,  will experience a moral sloth,  an instance of the perennial Capitalist Puritanism. Sen. Bernie Sanders replies with withering contempt. But watch the video, till a Republican Senator, offers a scolding to Sanders, wreathed in faint praise.

Old Socialist 

https://www.ft.com/content/18591596-6f5a-11ea-89df-41bea055720b

 

 In reply to Occamthebat
 
Thank you for your comment. Mr. Ganesh seeks to diminish the notion of the ‘social contact’ which is in fact the ‘Social Contract’, a speculative idea of long standing in both philosophical/political debate. As part of his maladroit apologetic for what has gone wrong with the Neo-Liberal Swindle: via his presentation of his fictional contest between Dickens and Orwell.  As an overarching metaphor that describes the political present. Its literary echo is the almost winning strategy, that Mr. Ganesh adopts. Yet, I will still place my argumentative wager on ‘a Boulevardier, who writes for a Newspaper as an avocation.’ description. 

Regards,
StephenKMackSD

P.S. I’m still waiting for Mr. Ganesh’s novel !  That creature of his bottom desk drawer needs to be published! Certainly not like the ennui producing novels of C.P. Snow, nor the pop drivel of Tom Wolfe, but more like Evelyn Waugh?
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@EdwardGLuce on the Coronavirus, Trump and the fate of the Hegemon. Political Observer comments

The panic of ‘The Elites’ is just reaching a slow simmer:

Headline: Coronavirus ‘medicine’ could trigger social breakdown

Sub-headline: Jacob Wallenberg tells governments to consider economic threat from crisis

‘Jacob Wallenberg has warned governments to weigh the economic threat from coronavirus more heavily or risk depression, social unrest and a potential lost generation.’

https://www.ft.com/content/3b8ec9fe-6eb8-11ea-89df-41bea055720b

Mr. Luce after much convoluted hand-wringing over Trump’s incompetence, mendacity etc., arrives at his actual central concern: the ebbing power of the Hegemon. (The precipitous collapse, of the Neo-Liberal Swindle, is left for another political occasion.) :

The second threat is to America’s global power. The virus originated in China. But it will probably do more damage to the US. It is China, not the US, which is shipping ventilators to Europe, Africa and central Asia. China’s “face mask” diplomacy is breathtakingly opportunistic. But it meets a need.

America’s abdication of leadership is an act of self harm, which threatens to make it an object of mockery. There are no do-overs on pandemics. Mr Trump’s response to the coronavirus is worse than a crime. It is a mistake.

Mr. Luce ends with these jejune paragraphs, in the face of Trump’s moral/political nihilism, writ on a breathtaking scale!

Political Observer 

https://www.ft.com/content/6a639c58-3c69-4bc6-8ab2-c194b3d04278

P.S.What can a reader say to this Luce declaration? That the imperatives of ‘The Market’ must give way to the imperatives of The Public Good? Neo-Liberalism’s sine qua non that the ‘Wisdom of the Market’ is the singular knowledge – does the antithetical nature of the ‘Market Singularity’ and ‘The Public Good’ represent a case of Berlin’s incommensurables?

Material is going to the highest bidders, who are not necessarily those most in need. Mr Trump’s passivity reflects what he is hearing from chief executives rather than governors, who know what their hospitals lack. States are competing with each other for scarce goods. Another of America’s great strengths, its vibrant private sector, is therefore becoming a weakness.

 

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