On the murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, as reported @FT

Headline: Machine guns and a hit squad: the killing of Iran’s nuclear mastermind

Assassination set to escalate tensions as US president-elect Joe Biden keen to restart nuclear talks

https://www.ft.com/content/a2fade69-f-9fd3-1641ae1fddb13b03-4d0


Note that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is named as the sinister, in fact evil ‘nuclear mastermind’

My comments:

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How soon will the comments section get too pointed, so that the editors close down the comments section, of the reworked Mossad propaganda from yesterday? When the going gets tough…

Headline: Iran’s nuclear mastermind ‘assassinated’

Sub-headline: Officials in Tehran suggest Israel involvement in killing that escalates tensions with US

 https://www.ft.com/content/e1bf7e03-b760-4494-b7b2-4e26514a83cd


What if an American Scientist was murdered inside America? What would be the punishment for the responsible party, who hired thugs to do their dirty work?
StephenKMackSD

___________________________________________

In reply to Koln

Do better!!! I’m in America not in Tehran, and I have voiced my opinion, just like you have! Iran threw off the yoke of Imperial Oppressors.  A coup conducted by BP and Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA removed the democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, and put the Shah, and his secret police in power: this was the incubator of the mullah’s that you now inveigh against.
The Iranians come by Anti-Americanism and Anti-Britainism  via the route of the machinations of the American National Security State and British Petroleum to deny the sovereignty of a state because Mossadegh said he would Nationalize Iranian Oil.
‘The West’ is the object of Iranian rage for very good reasons as I have mentioned.
The final question in my post still stands unanswered. Because the answer is clear!


Thank you for your comment.
Regards,
StephenKMackSD 

https://www.ft.com/content/a2fade69-f-9fd3-1641ae1fddb13b03-4d0   

    

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The Proud Boys, as reported in the London Sunday Times. Old Socialist comments, and asks a question.

Headline: Meet the Proud Boys — Trump’s unofficial militia spoiling for a fight

Sub-headline: Sporting Fred Perry shirts and heavily armed, the American far-right group the president refused to condemn is on patrol at his rallies

‘ I initially thought McInnes’s list of Proud Boy “degrees” of membership must be another one of his jokes. Initiates must swear allegiance to the fraternity, get beaten up until they can recite the name of five cereal brands, adhere to a “no wanks” pledge (so young men stop watching porn and meet actual women, Aaron explained) and get a Proud Boy tattoo.
It made them sound like a bunch of incels (involuntary celibates). Could this be for real, I asked Aaron, who, like Mike, is 33 and single. Yes, the rules were rules. He took my question about the ban on masturbation well — “It does wonders for your determination, energy levels and productivity” — but denied they were incels. “That’s just a cheap lowball insult,” he said.
Nor were they misogynists, he insisted. “We do venerate housewives, though we respect women who work. We want to put women back on their pedestal. They have a cherished role in western civilisation.”
In fact, he was off to see his girlfriend in Seattle this weekend, a black foreign exchange student from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I’m not a racist, 100%,” he added.
Aaron went on to remind me that there was a further “degree” for members — “getting into a physical altercation with Antifa”. He fulfilled that pledge in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in August when there was a violent clash with the far left. He sent me a video link. “It was wild,” he said. As he slugged it out with Antifa, he got hit in the face with a street sign.
If there is election chaos after November 3, as Trump has predicted, Aaron will be back on the streets with his Ruger AR-566 — all in the name of “self-defence”. If they are going to play at being Trump’s vigilantes, it will be a terrible joke on the American electorate.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/meet-the-proud-boys-trumps-unofficial-militia-spoiling-for-a-fight-9mjr8kccb



Sexual Puritanism & Violent Reactionary Politics, if the Freudians still enjoyed cultural/psychological currency they would … If only Eric Ericson and his clique!
Add to the ‘Proud Boys’ the ‘Bugaloo Boys’ and ‘The Oath Keepers‘ that represent an American political nihilism, that dwarfs ‘Antifa’ and ‘BLM’ that leads inexorably to the question: will America’s Second Civil War begin on November 4, 2020?

Old Socialist



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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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I’m going to re-post my Dec 17, 2020 essay on Timothy Garton-Ash.

_______________________________________________________________________________

It’s hard to be patient with Timothy Garton-Ash. Old Socialist makes his way through his ‘The future of liberalism’

stephenkmacksd.com/

Dec 17, 2020

The first two paragraphs on Mr. Garton-Ash’s essay are …

Writers have interpreted the failings of liberalism in different ways; the point, however, is to change it. Self-criticism is a liberal strength. The very fact that there are already so many books diagnosing the death of liberalism proves that liberalism is still alive. But now we must move from analysis to prescription.

This is urgent. The victory of Joe Biden in the US presidential election gives a fragile opening for liberal renewal, but more than 70m Americans voted for Donald Trump. In Britain, a populist Conservative government faces a Labour Party with a new, left-liberal leader, Keir Starmer. In France, Marine Le Pen remains a serious threat to Europe’s leading liberal renewer, Emmanuel Macron. In Hungary, the EU has an increasingly illiberal and undemocratic member state. The likely economic consequences of the pandemic—unemployment, insecurity, soaring public debt and perhaps inflation—will probably feed a second wave of populism. China, already a superpower, is emerging strengthened from the crisis. Its model of developmental authoritarianism is challenging liberal democratic capitalism. For the first time this century, among countries with more than one million people, there are now fewer democracies than there are non-democratic regimes.

Mr. Garton-Ash presents what ‘writers’ have offered about the failings of Liberalism, and that Liberalism’s strength is its ability to engage in self-criticism, that precedes ‘renewal’. And that the diagnosis of ‘books ,on Liberalism’s demise proves that Liberalism is still alive. This diagnosis offered by ‘writers’ and ‘books’ are unidentified except in the broadest, most amorphous terms. Liberalism is able to engage in ‘self-criticism’: in Mr. Garton Ash’s telling ‘Liberalism’ is transformed into a volitional being. The other actors in this part of his essay:

Joe Biden as the instrument of ‘renewal’.

Keir Starmer as ‘a new, left-liberal leader

Marine Le Pen as ‘a serious threat to Europe’s leading liberal renewer, Emmanuel Macron.

Hungary as ‘the EU has an increasingly illiberal and undemocratic member state

China ‘already a superpower, is emerging strengthened from the crisis.

This cast of political actors is followed by this statements: ‘there are now fewer democracies than there are non-democratic regimes.

Some clarification:

Joe Biden is a Neo-Liberal, in sum, a New Democrat of the Clinton Era.

Kier Starmer is a New Labour and a ‘reformer’ against Jeremy Corbyn’s return to Left-Wing Social Democracy

Le Pen & Macron, who confronts the ongoing Rebellion in France, unreported in the corrupt bourgeoise press.

Hungary- After a long and utterly failed trans-generational experiment with Neo-Liberalism, Populists took over the remains of a Free Market Economy.

See Philipp Ther’s Europe Since 1989: a history‘ Chapters 4 & 5 for the devastating effects of Neo-Liberalism in Eastern Europe:

https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691167374/europe-since-1989

China- This state became the manufacturing hub of American Multinationals, seeking an exploitable work-force: its called off-shoring to increase obscene profits for the latest electronic trinkets.

Mr. Garton-Ash then adopts a poetic metaphor :

Like Neptune’s trident, a renewed liberalism will have three prongs. The first is the defence of traditional liberal values and institutions, such as free speech and an independent judiciary, against threats from both populists and outright authoritarians.

The second prong almost embraces Piketty’s Capitalist Critique?

The second is to address the major failings of what passed for liberalism over the last 30 years—a one-dimensional economic liberalism, at worst a dogmatic market fundamentalism that had as little purchase on human reality as the dogmas of dialectical materialism or papal infallibility. These failings have driven millions of voters to the populists. We must, then, be tough on populism and tough on the causes of populism. 

The third prong of the renewed Liberalism:

The third prong requires us to meet, by liberal means, the daunting global challenges of our era, including climate change, pandemics and the rise of China. So our new liberalism has to look both backward and forward, inward and outward.

Pay particular attention to ‘the rise of China‘ as part of ‘the daunting global challenges of our era‘! The Yellow Peril , in its various iterations and permutations is a standard Western trope!

Carefully camouflaged in his further explanation of his ‘three prongs’ is this example of barbarism in France.

The barbaric beheading of a French teacher outside Paris reminds us that, even in the oldest liberal societies, free speech has to contend with not only the heckler’s but now also the assassin’s veto. 

The reader need only look at the inherent barbarism, that existed in France in 1961?

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/paris-1961-9780199247257?cc=us&lang=en&

The Paris massacre that time forgot, 51 years on

https://www.france24.com/en/20121017-paris-massacre-algeria-october-17-1961-51-years-anniversary-historian-einaudi

The photographic archive:

For an illuminating History of ‘Liberalism’ see

https://www.versobooks.com/books/960-liberalism

And a history of The Economist , the leading ‘Liberal’ newspaper :

https://www.versobooks.com/books/3090-liberalism-at-large

Mr. Garton-Ash divides his essay into eight parts. I will offer quotations from his essay and comments on each section:

No liberalism without liberty:

The featured players:

‘Liberalism is, in Judith Shklar’s illuminating formulation, a “tradition of traditions.” There is an extended family of historical practices, ideological clusters and philosophical writings that may legitimately be called liberal. All share a core commitment to individual liberty. (Only in the weird semantic universe of contemporary American politics could it appear possible to separate liberalism from liberty.) Beyond this, as John Gray has argued, liberalism includes elements of individualism, meliorism, egalitarianism and universalism. These ingredients, however, appear in widely varying definitions, proportions and combinations.

In his opening paragraph he presents Shklar’s ‘tradition of traditions’ and John Grey’s collection of the ‘elements’ of Liberalism: in Shklar’s vision it is an agglomeration of capacious constituents. And in Grey’s case more of the ‘elements’ favored by Shklar. The five paragraphs of this section, of his essay, are a potted self-serving history of the ‘evolution of Liberalism’. With the addition of current ‘bad political actors’ added to enliven his polemic.

Equality and solidarity

A crucial staircase up from the floor is education. The expansion of university education was intended by mid-20th century liberals to augment life chances and social mobility, yet now the great American universities increasingly look like another means for existing elites to perpetuate their ascendancy. Leading US colleges regularly admit more students from the top 1 per cent of households by income than they do from the bottom 60 per cent. The Economist has coined the term “hereditary meritocracy” to describe this self-perpetuating new class. Universities like the two in which I am privileged to work therefore bear a major responsibility to widen access, but they cannot achieve social mobility on their own. We also need high-quality state schooling for all, from the crucial early years up, better vocational education and, amid a digital revolution, lifelong learning.

The featured players:

Philosopher Pierre Hassner, Leszek Kołakowski, ‘dramatic growth in inequality’, Ralf Dahrendorf , Milton Friedman, Oxford University, ‘expansion of university education’, The Economist , “hereditary meritocracy” . More riffing on Piketty? Or is it more argumentative Velveeta?

Redistributing respect

The players:

‘disparity of esteem’, ‘liberal elites’, East Germany, Ronald Dworkin,  ‘liberal political community’, ‘equal respect and concern’, ‘metropolitan liberals’, ‘US rustbelt’, ‘neglected communities of northern England’,  ‘taxi-loads of metropolitan journalists’, ‘Yorkshire coalfields’, ‘Appalachian mountains’, Martha Nussbaum ,  “curious and sympathetic” imagination , “recognise humanity in strange costumes” , Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, ‘imaginative sympathy underpins is solidarity’.

Call this collection just a brief and selective resume of the sins, and the victims of The Neo-Liberal Swindle!

Checking the “liberalocracy”

The players:

“levelling up.” ,  super-rich, globalisation, “comfortably off”, middle-class, Extreme inequality, “hereditary meritocracy.”, concentration of power, Anglo-American liberalism, “revolving door”,  “golden rule” , grotesquely distorting power of money, Rupert Murdoch, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Clintons, Tony Blair, Friedmanites and Hayekians,, Stephen Schwarzman, Financial Times, Mike Corbat, Citigroup, Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase, John Stuart Mill, “stakeholder capitalism”,  left-wing radical, Thomas Mann, Little Dorrit, Merdle.

In this collection of political actors, the reader needs to make note of Mr. Garton-Ash’s praise for Soros : ‘Yes, some rich and powerful individuals, such as George Soros, have truly earned our respect.’ Ass-kissing sycophants for the Plutocracy is another name for The Hoover Institution.

Identity and community

The players:

‘community and identity’, cosmopolitan liberals,  “the international community,”,  diverse minorities, multiculturalists, “white identity politics” , Trump and his ilk, Hillary Clinton, “the basket of deplorables.”,  post-1989 globalisation and liberalisation, Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto,  Joachim Gauck, zielwahrende Entschleunigung (goal-preserving deceleration,

Note the final framing, of this section of his essay, a painting by Eugène Delacroix – La liberté guidant le peuple . With the respectable bourgeoise notion of Gauck’s ‘goal preserving declaration’ -Note that the 37 million Refugees the product of America’s Wars of Empire is avoided at all costs by Garton-Ash! So much for the mythology of ‘Liberal Renewal’ that he advocates as a somehow!

The state-nation

The players:

uncomfortable territory for contemporary liberals, the stubborn persistence of nations, “internationalism versus the nation,”, Scruton , European liberals in 1848,  Covid pandemic, “liberalism for the liberals, cannibalism for the cannibals”, Martin Hollis, “identity politics,”, Feminism, Mill, George Eliot, “either/or”, “as-well-as-and”

These players followed his vision of a ‘Declaration of Liberal Faith’ offered as an alternative to the utterly toxic ‘identity politics’ of the multiculturalists?

Ours will therefore be an inclusive, liberal patriotism, capacious and sympathetically imaginative enough to embrace citizens with multiple identities. Membership of the nation is defined in civic, not ethnic or völkisch terms; this is not a nation-state, in a narrow sense, but an état-nation, a state-nation. Such an open, positive, warm-hearted version of the nation is capable of appealing not just to dry reason but also to the deep human need for belonging and the moral imperative of solidarity. While the coronavirus pandemic initially triggered a bout of national self-isolation, it has also showed us the best in community spirit and patriotic solidarity. Liberal patriotism is an essential ingredient of a renewed liberalism.

The challenge of the global

The players:

globalised financialised capitalism, territorially bounded, liberal democratic state-nation, What do liberals have to offer most of humankind, a moral question and a very practical one, John Gray,  John Stuart Mill, East India Company, Western universalism, violent conquest, torture, genocide, slavery, highest ideals of liberty, civilisation and enlightenment, colonial oppression, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, Kosovo or Sierra Leone, abandon the universalist aspiration, a postcolonial openness, the west’s declining relative power, for a new liberalism, since 1945,predominance of western power, China, which is already a superpower, China’s unprecedented Leninist-capitalist version of developmental authoritarianism, an alternative path to modernity, the defining threat of the Anthropocene era: climate change, the Global North, to show them they are wrong,  Global South, Paul Collier argues that limiting immigration can actually benefit the societies from which immigrants come, that large majority of humankind, these global challenges, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Again no mention of America’s Wars of Empire, and its 37 million refugees! Conquest and subjugation of the lesser beings of the planet is central to the rehabilitation of the Liberal Mythology. Mr. Garton-Ash political/moral blindness …

Towards a new liberalism

The players:

Arnold Ruge, entitled “Self-Criticism of Liberalism.” It was published in 1843, FDR’s New Deal, Now we need a new “new liberalism.”, I do not pretend to elaborate a normative theory.’, It strayed too far from Karl Popper’s “piecemeal engineering.”, This new liberalism will be stalwart in the defence of liberal essentials, It will be experimental, proceeding by trial and error, This new liberalism will remain universalist, This new liberalism will remain egalitarian, historically informed meliorism, hope for a human civilisation,

For the patient reader of Mr. Garton -Ash, in both his Descriptive and Prescriptive rhetorical modes, at some points intertwined, and at others nearly free-floating: he has the particular talent of collecting clichés and catch phrases. Admittedly I have written a polemic, that features a not completely arbitrary collection of these self-serving rhetorical beings. Yet Mr. Garton-Ash’s concluding paragraphs, in a way, or even a perhaps, vindicates my exercise in polemics?   

Speaking only for myself, I hope I will then go down with the good ship Liberty, working the pumps in the engine room as we try to keep her afloat. But as I breathe my last mouthful of salty water—glug, glug—I shall find consolation in reflecting on one last, peculiar quality of Liberty. Some time after the ship seems to have sunk to the bottom, it comes back up again. Odder still: it acquires the buoyancy to refloat precisely through sinking. It is no accident that the most passionate voices for freedom come to us, like the prisoners’ chorus in Beethoven’s Fidelio, from among the unfree.

For liberty is like health—you value it most when you have lost it. The better way forward, however, for free societies as for individuals, is to stay healthy.

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/the-future-of-liberalism-brexit-trump-philosophy

Old Socialist

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Adam Tooze on the ‘Polycrisis’: in two keys?

Almost Marx …

The Reader isn’t quite prepared, for Adam Tooze, in his Financial Times streamlined iteration. Those New Statesman essays, have been miniaturized for those busy Capitalist Technos? Those majestic paragraphs are … Call it a collection of ideas, foreshortened for those readers, at the breakfast table, or riding that commuter train into the office? Let me begin here:

Headline: Welcome to the world of the polycrisis

Sub-headline: Today disparate shocks interact so that the whole is worse than the sum of the parts.

Adam Tooze October 28, 2022.

https://www.ft.com/content/498398e7-11b1-494b-9cd3-6d669dc3de33

With economic and non-economic shocks entangled all the way down, it is little wonder that an unfamiliar term is gaining currency — the polycrisis. 

 A problem becomes a crisis when it challenges our ability to cope and thus threatens our identity. In the polycrisis the shocks are disparate, but they interact so that the whole is even more overwhelming than the sum of the parts. At times one feels as if one is losing one’s sense of reality. Is the mighty Mississippi really running dry and threatening to cut off the farms of the Midwest from the world economy? Did the January 6 riots really threaten the US Capitol? Are we really on the point of uncoupling the economies of the west from China? Things that would once have seemed fanciful are now facts.

In my own reductive way I have outlined Mr. Tooze’s interpretation of what ‘Polycrisis’ is? It is a noun, as it describes a thing, no matter its abstractness!

This comes as a shock. But how new is it really?… This comes as a shock. But how new is it really?… So have we been living in a polycrisis all along?…Meanwhile, the diversity of problems is compounded by the growing anxiety that economic and social development are hurtling us towards catastrophic ecological tipping points. … The pace of change is staggering…. So, what is the outlook?… Perhaps. But it is an unrelenting foot race, because what crisis-fighting and technological fixes all too rarely do is address the underlying trends. …

I will put this to use in attempting to interpret? Mr. Tooze’s latest essay:

Headline: Three ways to read the ‘deglobalisation’ debate

Sub-headline: Proponents of business as usual and the new cold warriors are too confident of their ability to predict the future.

Adam Tooze 

 JANUARY 30 2023

https://www.ft.com/content/b3f41263-88d9-4012-aafc-145f0327678f

As 2023 unfolds, the world of economic analysis and commentary is marked by a disjuncture between discourse and data. On the one hand, you have feverish talk of deglobalisation and decoupling. While on the other, the statistics show an inertial continuity in trade and investment patterns.

… 

There are at least three ways to reconcile this tension.  

Option one: you can cleave to the old religion that economics always wins.

Option two: rather than business as usual, we are on the cusp of a new historical epoch, a new cold war.

Option three: We are witnessing not a reversal of globalisation or full-scale decoupling, but a continuation of some aspects of familiar pattern, just on fundamentally different premises.  

The end point of Mr. Tooze’s flaccid polemic :

Whereas the advocates of business as usual declare that it is still “the economy, stupid” and the new cold warriors rally around the banner of “democracy versus autocracy”, the third position faces the reality of confusion, the kind of confusion registered by a term like “polycrisis”.  

Polycrisis has its critics, and at Davos 2023 it risked becoming something of a cliché. But as a catchword it serves three purposes. It registers the unfamiliar diversity of the shocks that are assailing what had previously seemed a settled trajectory of global development. It insists that this coincidence of shocks is not accidental but cumulative and endogenous. And, by its currency, it marks the moment at which bullish self-confidence about our ability to decipher either the future or recent history has begun to seem at the same time facile and passé.

Polycrisis is Techno-Speak ‘a catchword it serves three purposes’ … to place the economic/political future, in the hands of  toxic political actors, that are the natural inheritors of Hayek/Mises/Friedman: as we have yet to self-emancipate from the thrall of the Neo-Liberal Swindle!

Almost Marx

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Bret Stephens on the utterly irrelevant question: ‘How Will Joe Biden Be Remembered in 50 Years?’

Philosophical Apprentice comments.

Mr. Stephens is like his fellow Neo-Cons: David Frum, Bill Kristol and David Brooks. They have an appetite for War, yet have no actual experience, of what being a soldier is like, not to speak of a cultivated ignorance of what battle might be-

These men are not Ernst Jünger and his notorious celebration of combat in ‘Storm of Steel’. But men whose ignorance of the realities of war, leaves The Reader wondering: about the whole of their World View, based on what other instantiation of their ignorance of the human world?

Mr. Stephens’ thought experiment that wonders about the question of How Will Joe Biden Be Remembered in 50 Years? Is realized in these four paragraphs:

What will matter in 2073 is whether he reversed the global tide of democratic retreat that began long before his presidency but reached new lows with the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If Biden can turn it, it will be a historic achievement. If not, much darker days will lie ahead.

He has a real chance.

On the positive side, there is last week’s announcement of 31 M-1 Abrams tanks for Ukraine, unlocking German Leopard 2 tanks to be sent as well. The decision brings Ukraine a significant step closer to eventual NATO membership, to which it has more than earned the right.

Then there’s the apparent end of attempts to revive the Iran nuclear deal and a visibly tougher posture by the administration toward Tehran’s misogynistic tyrants, including, last week, the largest-ever joint military exercise with Israel.

And there is the president’s repeated public statements that the U.S. will defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. Had Biden failed to say so, the island would be in even graver danger than it is now. Closer defense ties to Japan and Australia reinforce the point.

A favorite Neo-Con trope is decline and decadence, here carefully tinctured in ‘the global tide of democratic retreat’ and ‘31 M-1 Abrams tanks for Ukraine, unlocking German Leopard 2 tanks’ are the point of focus of a possible view of Biden in 50 years?

Look at, and marvel, at the remaining cast of characters, that are the brought on stage to buoy this blatant War Mongering. The jaundiced reader might think of the political/historical monstrosities of @anneapplebaum, featured in Neo-Liberal/Neo-Con publications, in a circumspect and reductivist way? Yet Stephens offers this collection:

Franklin Roosevelt, Lend-Lease, trans-Atlantic unity in the face of Russian aggression, Finland and Sweden and NATO membership, But Biden, like F.D.R., Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Iran, Taiwan, Chinese invasion,

For just a rhetorical moment Stephens offers this ;

It’s time to arm Ukraine with the arms it needs to win quickly — including F-16s — not just to survive indefinitely.

North Korea, Middle East, …

Another segue into political hysteria!

…Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, head of the Air Mobility Command, sent a memo to his officers with a blunt warning: “I hope I am wrong,” he wrote about the prospect of the United States getting into a war with China. “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.”

The final paragraph:

In 50 years, they’ll know. Biden’s sentence could be, “He defeated Trump, and then he defeated Putin, Khamenei and Xi.” Or it will be, “He defeated Trump, but then he came up slightly but fatally short.” Time will tell.

Philosophical Apprentice

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@TheEconomist Shames Goldman Sachs, and the re-writing of History.

Old Socialist comments.

The title of this polemic should be: ‘The Economist Shames Goldman Sachs , yet :

Leaders | Goldman sags

Headline: The humbling of Goldman Sachs

Sub-headline: The struggle to reinvent a firm trapped by its own mythology

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2023/01/26/the-humbling-of-goldman-sachs

Compare this headline to the twitter headline:

Can Goldman Sachs recover its swagger? It is hard to reinvent a firm trapped by its own mythology

The Reader needn’t wonder at this ‘essay’ about Goldman Sachs. This corporation benefited from the intervention of some very powerful political/economic actors. Perhaps that has led this corporation, to the exercise of ‘a hubris’ as The Economist presents it?


A valuable place to begin an inquiry is a history of Lehman Brothers collapse offered by The New York Times of September 29, 2014 :

Headline: Revisiting the Lehman Brothers Bailout That Never Was

By James B. Stewart and Peter Eavis

Inside the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, time was running out to answer a question that would change Wall Street forever.

At issue that September, six years ago, was whether the Fed could save a major investment bank whose failure might threaten the entire economy.

The firm was Lehman Brothers. And the answer for some inside the Fed was yes, the government could bail out Lehman, according to new accounts by Fed officials who were there at the time.

But as the world now knows, no one rescued Lehman. Instead, the firm was allowed to collapse overnight, a decision that, in cool hindsight, let problems at one bank snowball into a full-blown panic. By the time it was over, nearly every other major bank had to be saved.

Why, given all that happened, was Lehman the only bank that was not too big to fail? For the first time, Fed officials have offered an account that differs significantly from the versions that, for many, have hardened into history.

Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman at the time, Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury Secretary, and Timothy F. Geithner, who was then president of the New York Fed, have all argued that Lehman Brothers was in such a deep hole from its risky real estate investments that Fed did not have the legal authority to rescue it.

But now, interviews with current and former Fed officials show that a group inside New York Fed was leaning toward the opposite conclusion — that Lehman was narrowly solvent and therefore might qualify for a bailout. In the frenetic events of what has become known as the Lehman weekend, that preliminary analysis never reached senior officials before they decided to let Lehman fail.

Understanding why Lehman was allowed to die goes beyond apportioning responsibility for the financial crisis and the recession that cost millions of ordinary Americans jobs and savings. Today, long after the bailouts, the debate rages over the Fed’s authority to bail out failing firms. Some Fed officials worry that when the next financial crisis comes, the Fed will have less power to shield the financial system from the failure of a single large bank. After the Lehman debacle, Congress curbed the Fed’s ability to rescue a bank in trouble.

Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson said in recent interviews with The Times that they did not know about the Fed analysis or its conclusions.

Interviews with half a dozen Fed officials, who spoke on the condition they not be named, so as not to breach the Fed’s unofficial vow of silence, suggest some Fed insiders believed that the government had the authority to throw Lehman Brothers a lifeline, even if the bank was nearly broke. The Fed earlier came to the rescue of Bear Stearns, after doing little analysis, and only days later saved the American International Group. The government subsequently saved the likes of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Ultimately, whether Lehman should have gotten Fed support was a judgment call, not a matter of strict statute, these people said.

“We had lawyers joined at our hips,” said one participant. “And they were very helpful at framing the issues. But they never said we couldn’t do it.”

As another participant put it, “It was a policy and political decision, not a legal decision.”

Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson said in recent interviews with The Times that they did not know about the Fed analysis or its conclusions.

Interviews with half a dozen Fed officials, who spoke on the condition they not be named, so as not to breach the Fed’s unofficial vow of silence, suggest some Fed insiders believed that the government had the authority to throw Lehman Brothers a lifeline, even if the bank was nearly broke. The Fed earlier came to the rescue of Bear Stearns, after doing little analysis, and only days later saved the American International Group. The government subsequently saved the likes of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Ultimately, whether Lehman should have gotten Fed support was a judgment call, not a matter of strict statute, these people said.

“We had lawyers joined at our hips,” said one participant. “And they were very helpful at framing the issues. But they never said we couldn’t do it.”

As another participant put it, “It was a policy and political decision, not a legal decision.”

Whether and how much the Fed could lend Lehman depended on those teams’ findings, although the final decision rested with Mr. Geithner, Mr. Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Board.

What happened that September was the culmination of circumstances reaching back years — of ordinary people too eager to borrow, of banks too eager to lend and of Wall Street financial engineers reaping multimillion-dollar bonuses. Even so, saving Lehman from complete collapse might have shielded the economy from what turned out to be a crippling blow. And as the subsequent rescue of A.I.G., the insurance giant, demonstrated, a rescue could have included substantial protections for taxpayers.

In recent interviews, members of the teams said that Lehman had considerable assets that were liquid and easy to value, like United States Treasury securities. The question was Lehman’s illiquid assets — primarily a real estate portfolio that Lehman had recently valued at $50 billion. By Lehman’s account, the firm had a surplus of assets over liabilities of $28.4 billion.

A group of bankers summoned to the Fed by Mr. Paulson, who was hoping they would mount a private rescue, did not accept Lehman’s $50 billion valuation for its real estate and could not decide whether Lehman was solvent. But potential private rescuers had a motive to lowball Lehman’s value. Fed officials involved in the valuation stressed that the Fed could hold distressed assets for much longer than private parties, allowing time for those assets to recover in value. Also, because the Fed sets monetary policy, it exerts enormous influence over the assets’ ultimate value.

Argument continues today over the value of Lehman’s assets. A report compiled by Anton R. Valukas, a Chicago lawyer, at the behest of the bankruptcy court overseeing Lehman concluded in 2010 that nearly all of the firm’s real estate valuations were reasonable. It also suggested that Lehman’s chaotic bankruptcy caused many of the losses later borne by the firm’s creditors. Other analysts have argued that Lehman was deeply insolvent.

So why, then, was Lehman allowed to die?

Mr. Paulson has said that politics did not enter into the decision. But he had endured months of criticism for bailing out Bear Stearns in March 2008, and the outcry only intensified after the Treasury provided support to the mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in the first week of September. During a conference call on the Thursday before Lehman’s collapse, Mr. Paulson declared to Mr. Bernanke, Mr. Geithner and other regulators that he would not use public money to rescue Lehman, saying he did not want to be known as “Mr. Bailout.”


The New York Times November 21, 2009, offers an earlier examination of Goldman, as the beneficiaries of those very powerful political/economic actors.

Headline: Wall Street’s Spin Game

By Graham Bowley

Just last week, Goldman announced that it would spend $500 million to help thousands of small businesses recover from the recession. At the same time, Mr. Blankfein acknowledged that Goldman had made mistakes. “We participated in things that were clearly wrong and we have reasons to regret and apologize for,” he said.

As the Chicago demonstration made clear, the image problems aren’t confined to Goldman and could have a cost. Wall Street banks are under regulatory pressure, and come election time, if unemployment is still above 10 percent and Wall Street is still paying itself big bonuses, lawmakers’ wrath might force broader pay curbs, tougher restrictions on what banks can do, or even a break up of the biggest banks.

It is a tough brief, even for Manhattan’s skilled public relations industry. Last week, New York State’s comptroller reported that Wall Street profits this year are on track to exceed the record set at the height of the credit bubble. So what to do? Here are some suggestions about making the unloved Masters of the Universe loveable again.

The quickest way for the banks to redeem themselves could be to admit they played a role in the crisis and that their survival depended on taxpayer money.

Several public relations executives pointed to John J. Mack, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, as an example of a banker wisely getting in front of the problem early. It was Mr. Mack who offered a full-throated mea culpa at a Congressional hearing last February for his bank’s role in fueling the crisis. “We are sorry for it,” he told lawmakers.

One public relations executive, who does not work for Mr. Mack and who asked not to be identified for fear it could hurt his relationships with other bankers, said: “They have done the best job of anybody of navigating the crisis.” Not every bank has been willing to apologize even though “maintaining otherwise manifestly contradicts the reality that most people see,” according to Stephen Davis, executive director at the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance at Yale University.

Goldman’s apology, for instance, was a grudging start but it may not be enough. “They should be taking advertisements, they should hold seminars, news conferences,” said Howard J. Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Associates, who argues for a more effusive mea culpa. “This is a time for gratitude and attitude. One letter to the editor, one news conference, one speech does not make an image.”

Franz Paasche, a reputations specialist at Communications Consulting Worldwide in New York, argues that a bad reputation can also harm a company’s ability to fight for what it wants in Washington.

“Reputation has value and strong reputations create permissions to grow and prosper,” he said. As Wall Street banks’ reputations sink, “they are losing the more active seat at the table in discussions about policy.”

If the government did take wider measures against the banks, it would leave a very different Wall Street. There would be less swagger to those Masters of the Universe. But perhaps only then would the rest of us finally be able to love them.


I’ll offer a more easily comprehended ‘reduction’ of The Economist’s shaming polemic against Goldman. That seeks, in its way, to echo the schoolmasterish tone of Adrian Wooldridge, writing as Bagehot!

To understand Goldman today, take a walk down Wall Street. After he financial crisis of 2007-09, two big American banks reinvented themselves. JPMorgan Chase successfully pursued vast scale across a wide range of business lines. Morgan Stanley built a thriving arm managing the assets of the wealthy, which mints reliable profits. Goldman, however, stuck to its game of trading, advising on deals and bespoke investing. Penal new capital rules made this less lucrative, but the firm staked a Darwinian bet that the resulting shakeout would kill off many competitors. Instead, it badly underperformed the stockmarket for years and got ensnared in the 1mdb scandal, in which officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi received $1.6bn of bribes in 2009-14. A Goldman subsidiary pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and the firm admitted “institutional failure”. 

Yet look more closely and the project to remake the bank is vexingly incomplete. Diversification has been patchy: transaction-banking revenues are tiny and the asset-management arm is often dragged down by opaque proprietary bets. The dream of creating a consumer bank has soured. Goldman has 15m customers, but has also faced large losses and bad-debt charges, which is why it is now winding down part of the operation. 

As the prospects for a big new earnings machine have receded, everything still rests on the traditional business. The profitability of the trading arm has improved but remains volatile and, on average, pedestrian.

Goldman’s struggles point to several lessons. One is that it still excels, but in a bad industry. Investment banking combines the drawbacks of a regulated activity (capital requirements and red tape) with the vices of a speculative one (volatility and capture by employees). The firm says it has become more disciplined on pay but last year forked out $15bn, its second-highest salary and bonus bill since the financial crisis, even as profits halved to $11bn and the firm barely beat its cost of capital.

Another lesson is that it is hard to compete in winner-takes-all digital markets. Goldman thought that brains and brand were enough.

A final lesson is that the stagnation of globalisation has shrunk Wall Street’s horizons. In the decade after Goldman listed, international revenues provided half of its growth, as its bankers conquered Europe and then broke into Asia.

Can Goldman recover its swagger? Mr Solomon is wisely laying off staff and shrinking the bank’s proprietary investments.

Yet there is something uniquely hard about reforming elite firms whose unwritten code is that they are smarter than everyone else. Just ask McKinsey, a scandal-magnet once known as the world’s most-admired consultancy. Goldman’s culture of self-regard remains at odds with the facts. Instead it now needs to be self-critical. For yesterday’s masters of the universe, that may be the hardest leap of all.

The pressing question of whether Goldman can ‘recover its swagger’, offers a touch of Flashman, as resurrected by George MacDonald Fraser? Not Adrian Wooldridge writing as Bagehot, in his tattered schoolmasterish drag!

Old Socialist

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@TheEconomist gives writing credit to Arkady Ostrovsky, in its ‘The World Ahead 2023’ series.

Almost Marx surveys this broad historical landscape, and its cast of characters.

The World Ahead | The World Ahead 2023

Headline: Russia risks becoming ungovernable and descending into chaos

Sub-headline: There is growing opposition to President Putin at home

It is unusual for this news magazine to grant credit to one of its ‘writers’. The Reader might begin her exploration of the career of the Economist’s writer Arkady Ostrovsky:

The New York Times of July 13, 2016 offers a New York Times respectable bourgeoise opinion, about Mr. Ostrovsky, by Serge Schmemann:

Headline: Review: ‘The Invention of Russia’ Examines the Post-Soviet Path’

by Serge Schmemann

Anyone who has spent time in Russia over the past 30 years should be deeply grateful for Arkady Ostrovsky’s fast-paced and excellently written book, “The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War.”

Too often, the story of post-Soviet Russia is presented through a Western prism as a clash of good Westernizers and evil reactionaries, or as a lamentation about what the West could, and should, have done once it “won” the Cold War. Mr. Ostrovsky doesn’t waste time on that. A first-class journalist who has spent many years covering Russia for the London publications The Financial Times and The Economist, he is also a native of the Soviet Union, with an instinctive understanding of how politics, ideas and daily life really work there.

In Mr. Ostrovsky’s book, the West plays a minor role — as a utopia for liberal intellectuals, a scapegoat for Vladimir V. Putin or a place of exile for fallen oligarchs. His is an insider’s story about how the uniquely Russian contest of ideas, myths and invented histories shaped the chaotic search for a new Russia, once Communist rule crumbled — from Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s illusion that Soviet rule could be reformed and democratized, to what Mr. Ostrovsky calls the “hatred and aggression” of Mr. Putin’s kleptocratic state.

In “The Invention of Russia,” those primarily responsible for Russia’s “emergence from authoritarianism and for its descent back into it” and the great dramas that accompanied it — Boris N. Yeltsin’s firing on his Parliament, the Chechen wars, the hostage-taking in a Beslan school — are the Russians who invented (as the book’s title proclaims) a progression of narratives, either in print or, more powerfully, on television. It was there, on the media front, Mr. Ostrovsky argues, that the real struggles over Russia’s future were fought.

Serge Schmemann offers this, on Arkady Ostrovsky:

I spent many years as a reporter in Moscow, and yet Mr. Ostrovsky’s original and trenchant observations repeatedly had me exclaiming, “Of course, that’s how it was!” His riff on the failures of the intelligentsia, for example, ends with this pithy indictment: “Used to raising toasts to ‘the success of our hopeless cause,’ it did not know what to do when its cause succeeded.” Of course!

Arkady Ostrovsky repeats the ‘Party Line’ :

When russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, invaded Ukraine on February 24th 2022, he set out to grab territory, deprive it of sovereignty, wipe out the very idea of its national identity and turn what remained of it into a failed state. After months of Ukraine’s fierce resistance, its statehood and its identity are stronger than ever, and all the things that Mr Putin had intended to inflict on Ukraine are afflicting his own country.

Here are my selections from this ‘Putin Bill Of Attainder’:

Mr Putin’s war is turning Russia into a failed state, with uncontrolled borders, private military formations, a fleeing population, moral decay and the possibility of civil conflict.

Consider its borders. Russia’s absurd and illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine—Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia—before it could even establish full control over them, makes it a state with illegitimate territories and a fluid frontier.

Another feature of a failing state is a loss of monopoly on the use of physical force. Private armies and mercenaries, although officially banned in Russia, are flourishing. Evgeny Prigozhin, a former convict nicknamed “Putin’s chef” and a front man for the Wagner Group, a private mercenary operation, has been openly recruiting prisoners and offering them pardons in exchange for joining his forces. Wagner, he says, has no desire to be “legalised” or integrated into the armed forces.

The Russian state is failing in the most basic function of all. Far from protecting the lives of its people, it poses the biggest threat to them, by using them as cannon fodder.

The mobilisation caused a shock in Russia far greater than the beginning of the war itself. Some of its effects are already visible: recruitment centres were set ablaze, and at least 300,000 people fled abroad (on top of the 300,000 who left in the first weeks of the war).

While urbanites flee, tens of thousands of their poorer compatriots are being rounded up and sent into the trenches. By bringing his “special military operation” home Mr Putin has broken the fragile consensus under which people agreed not to protest against the war in exchange for being left alone.

Mr Putin cannot win, but he cannot afford to end the conflict either. He may hope that by making so many people collude in his war, and subjecting them to more of his poisonous, fascist propaganda, he will be able to drag things out.

As Alexei Navalny, Russia’s jailed opposition leader, said in one of his court hearings: “We have not been able to prevent the catastrophe and we are no longer sliding, but flying into it.

Its appropriate that Arkady Ostrovsky should end his Anti-Putin Bill of Attainder with Alexei Navalny. Here is Masha Gessen’s hand-wringing about Navalny, in his February 15, 2021 essay, in the The New Yorker:

Navalny’s reputation as an ultranationalist stems from statements and actions that are more than a decade old.In 2007, he left the socialist-democratic party Yabloko, where he had served as the deputy head of the Moscow chapter, to start a new political movement. He and his co-founders called their movement narod, the Russian word for “people” and, in their case, also an acronym for National Russian Liberation Movement. Navalny recorded two videos to introduce their new movement; they were his début on YouTube. One was a forty-second argument for gun rights. The other, a minute long, featured Navalny dressed as a dentist, presenting a slightly confusing parable that likened interethnic conflict in Russia to cavities and argued that fascism can be prevented only by deporting migrants from Russia. Navalny closed his monologue with “We have a right to be [ethnic] Russians in Russia. And we will defend this right.” It is decidedly disturbing to view. Around the time Navalny released the video, and for a couple of years after, Navalny took part in the Russian March, an annual demonstration in Moscow that draws ultranationalists, including some who adopt swastika-like symbols. In 2008, Navalny, like an apparent majority of Russians, supported Russian aggression in Georgia. In 2013, he made illegal immigration from Central Asia a central theme of his campaign for mayor of Moscow. In 2014, after Russia occupied Crimea, he said that, while he opposed the invasion, he did not think that Crimea could be just “handed back” by a post-Putin Russian government. In the past seven years, though, Navalny appears to have not made any comments that could be interpreted as hateful or ethno-nationalist. He has publicly apologized for his comments on Georgia.

Navalny’s political views have developed in an unusually public way over the past decade. He has never apologized for his earliest xenophobic videos or his decision to attend the Russian March. At the same time, he has adopted increasingly leftleaning economic positions and has come out in support of the right to same-sex marriage. This strategy of adopting new positions—without ever explicitly denouncing old ones—is probably the reason the suspicion of ethno-nationalism continues to shadow Navalny.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-evolution-of-alexey-navalnys-nationalism

Almost Marx

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Jon Stewart and Paul Lawrence Rose on Heine.

Philosophical Apprentice comments.

In his history of ‘Hegel’s Century’ Prof. Jon Stewart explores the role of Heine: Chapter 3 – Heine, Alienation, and Political Revolution: from Part II – The First Generation.

A summery provided by Cambridge:

Summary

Chapter 3 is dedicated to Hegel’s student, the poet Heinrich Heine. It provides an account of Heine’s life and his personal relations to figures such as Hegel and Marx. An analysis is given of Heine’s On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany, with specific attention paid to the role he ascribes to Hegel. Heine portrays Kant and Fichte as philosophers of the revolution and Schelling as the philosopher of the Restoration. If Schelling is the villain, then Hegel is the hero of the story of German philosophy that Heine wants to tell. Hegel is portrayed as the high point of the development of the revolution of German thought. Heine compares the revolution of the mind that took place in Germany with the French Revolution that took place in the real world. He predicts a great German revolution that will begin a new period in European history. An interpretation is given of Heine’s poem “Adam the First,” which takes up some of the motifs from Hegel’s analysis of the Fall. An account is also given of Heine’s “The Silesian Weavers,” a poem written on occasion of the rebellion of weavers in Silesia in Prussia in 1844.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/abs/hegels-century/heine-alienation-and-political-revolution/A35DB9EA83E4FBD95E269EAF2E2AF85D

The single comment that Prof. Stewart makes, about about Heine and his relation to his Jewishness seems inadequate, for a writer I hold in the highest esteem!

Heine had a complex self-identity as a German Jew.

Two examples Professor Stewart’s scholarship :

The Cultural Crisis of the Danish Golden Age: Heiberg, Martensen, and Kierkegaard

https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/C/bo20599155.html

And:

Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony, & the Crisis of Modernity

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/sren-kierkegaard-subjectivity-irony-and-the-crisis-of-modernity-9780198747703?cc=us&lang=en& Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony, & the Crisis of Modernity

In Paul Lawrence Rose’s book, in his Chapter 9, explores the question of Revolutionary Judaism and The German Revolution: Börne and Heine, page 135.

Page 161, of ‘Ludwig Borne and Heinrich Heine’  

The picture of Judaism that emerges from the writings of Heine’s aggressively revolutionary years is an ambivalent one and it parallels Borne’s own outlook in many respects. There is, of course, the usual Hegelian contempt for the Jews as a spent Ahasverian historical force: 

A mummified people (Volksmumie) that wanders the earth, wrapped up in its swathing in prescriptive letters, an obstinate piece of world history, a specter that bargains for the maintenance of bills of exchange and old hose.  

This philosophical prejudice was reinforced by an artistic distaste for Judaism as the matrix of the Nazarene spirit. Behind both attitudes it is possible to detect Heine’s resentment against a whole class of wealthy business Jews (including his own family), whose prime function he saw as being the patronage of of such artists as himself. 

At times, Heine hated the merchant class, a Philistines merged into Borne-like denunciation of the wealthy as Mammonists. He despised their ‘counting-house morality’ and inveighed: ‘Money is the god of our time and the Rothchild is his prophet.’ Such feelings turned him into a revolutionary activist in 143-44, when he befriended Marx and the two collaborated on both literary and political projects. Significantly , this was the very time when Marx was writing his essay ‘On the Jewish Question’ (1843 ),the which systematized the sort of incautious remarks on Jews and Mammon that Bourne and Heine were wont to utter. 

… 

Philosophical Apprentice

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A possible approach to @arishavit’s Netanyahu Apologetic?

Political Observer offer an unapologetic reductivist strategy, to ‘parse’ this essay?

Netanyahu in his own words A divisive politician’s harsh philosophy of survival

By Ari Shavit.

I will quote the the first sentences of each paragraph, as examples of the ‘Shavit Methodology’ The Reader can read these paragraphs in full:

The Prologue:

Benjamin Netanyahu is a unique international phenomenon. When he first strode on to the world stage, in 1984, as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States, Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister of the United Kingdom and Freddie Mercury had yet to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at Live Aid.

Netanyahu is also a unique Israeli phenomenon. The time he has spent in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem – more than fifteen years – far outstrips that enjoyed by Yitzhak Rabin (six years), Menachem Begin (six) or Golda Meir (five), let alone Shimon Peres (three) or Ehud Barak (two).

On the human level Netanyahu is similarly unusual. One of his close associates once told me that he has never met a more impressive – and flawed – individual.

Now this singular actor in a Shakespearean tragedy of his own making has published an autobiography: Bibi: My story. He wrote it, as I understand, because he feared his imminent political demise, devoting nine of his recent eighteen months in parliamentary opposition to writing this 654-page account of his life’s war, his life as war.

Act One, Scene One:

I first met Netanyahu twenty-six years ago. On a damp, grey autumn afternoon, I parked my red VW Beetle outside the office of the prime minister in Jerusalem.

Bibi was the enigmatic, recently elected prime minister, viewed with suspicion by the Israeli elites and the international community. I was a young journalist, eager to decipher the enigma.

Act One: Scene Two

Netanyahu inherited this extraordinary perception of reality – and his all-consuming sense of purpose – from his father, Professor Benzion Netanyahu (1910–2012), a scholar of Judaic history.

Of course, when it comes to telling his story, Netanyahu does not actually describe this radical world-view – which I have heard from him, from his father and from several of his close friends over the years.

With surprising candour Netanyahu reveals that only after he was first voted out of office (in 1999) did he devise his vision for Israel: the formula that peace would not bring security, but security would bring peace.

In line with this vision Netanyahu developed a nonconformist discourse: the corollary that peace with the Palestinians was not the path to peace with the Arab world, but that peace with the Arab world was the path to peace with the Palestinians. As he sees it, Clinton, Obama, the entire Israeli left and most of the international community are wholly misguided.

What is most notable about Netanyahu’s vision is what it lacks.

Act Two: Scene One:

After I met the son, I came to know the father. More than twenty years ago I visited him a dozen times in the small limestone-clad home in Jerusalem in which Bibi was raised and forged.

Preventing catastrophes is the life mission of Benzion Netanyahu’s son. And, in his own eyes, he has succeeded.

,,,

Yes and no. True, for more than a decade Bibi has endowed Israel with strategic, economic and political stability.

Like his hero Ronald Reagan, Netanyahu scorns the state. That is why he failed to notice, or care, that during his previous time in office national leadership shrivelled, the political system withered and the civil service atrophied.

Ultimately, what Netanyahu did was to replace Ben-Gurion’s republic with a quasi-royalist regime. The comparison to Trump is instructive.

Act Three : Scene One

On page 190 of Bibi, Netanyahu recounts with pride how, in the early 1980s, he anticipated the fall of the Soviet Union. This sudden premonition came to him, he writes, as he recalled an engineering experiment he once conducted with his classmates at MIT, where he studied architecture.

Israel’s Black November encompasses three unprecedented developments: for the first time a far-right party (the Religious Zionist Party) garnered 11 per cent of the vote; Haredi and ultra- nationalist candidates won more than a quarter of parliamentary seats overall, and make up half of the seats in the governing coalition; and the ruling Likud party plans to hollow out the rule of law by weakening the supreme court and giving politicians powers to undermine the independence of the judicial system.

In the narrow political sense, the elections of 2022 gave Netanyahu a resounding victory: while still standing trial on charges of corruption, he nevertheless managed to destroy the left, defeat the centre and receive a full mandate to govern.

Netanyahu, of course, believes he will prevail – and he will try to ward off this nightmare in two ways: via war and peace. For him the ultimate objective remains Iran.

Epilogue:

Netanyahu, of course, believes he will prevail – and he will try to ward off this nightmare in two ways: via war and peace. For him the ultimate objective remains Iran.

What is missing from Bibi: My life story is empathy and introspection. The man who has experienced and accomplished so much is apparently ill equipped to share any genuinely sincere feelings with his readers. His memoir is light on self- criticism – and heavy on self-adulation.

A profound sense of mission helped Benjamin Netanyahu to overcome the tragedy underpinning the leader he has become – amplified by his belief that he is Israel’s Winston Churchill. The sure-to-be turbulent years of his latest tenure as prime minister will determine if his talents will indeed secure the future of his nation, or whether his flaws will endanger the very existence of the Jewish state.

Political Observer

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@arishavit & @tomfriedman attempt to come to terms with the toxin of Zionism?

Old Socialist & Almost Marx comment.

Read first these paragraphs of Ari Shavit essay/book review @TLS : these paragraphs, are immediately bathed in hyperbole : Now this singular actor in a Shakespearean tragedy of his own making … This essay/book review is an apologetic of a particular kind. I’ll place in bold font the final sentences of the quoted paragraphs of this excerpt.

Benjamin Netanyahu is a unique international phenomenon. When he first strode on to the world stage, in 1984, as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States, Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister of the United Kingdom and Freddie Mercury had yet to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at Live Aid. When he was first elected prime minister, in 1996, Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office, John Major in 10 Downing Street and Helmut Kohl in the Bundestag. But, decades after his illustrious counterparts have become historical figures, Netanyahu is not only alive and kicking politically, but intent on stirring up new storms. Following his election victory on November 1, he was sworn in as prime minister on December 29 for an unprecedented sixth term.

Netanyahu is also a unique Israeli phenomenon. The time he has spent in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem – more than fifteen years – far outstrips that enjoyed by Yitzhak Rabin (six years), Menachem Begin (six) or Golda Meir (five), let alone Shimon Peres (three) or Ehud Barak (two). This tireless “wizard” (Netanyahu’s political nickname) has even surpassed David Ben-Gurion (thirteen) to become Israel’s longest-serving leader.

On the human level Netanyahu is similarly unusual. One of his close associates once told me that he has never met a more impressive – and flawed – individual. The capabilities of this seventy-three-year-old statesman are striking: he is a man of piercing insight and formidable historical and economic expertise, who has form for identifying profound sociopolitical trends before they fully emerge. He is also notable for his narcissism, suspiciousness, deep-seated pessimism and distinct lack of emotional generosity.

Now this singular actor in a Shakespearean tragedy of his own making has published an autobiography: Bibi: My story. He wrote it, as I understand, because he feared his imminent political demise, devoting nine of his recent eighteen months in parliamentary opposition to writing this 654-page account of his life’s war, his life as war. Netanyahu wrote quickly, in long-hand – and English. His text is trenchant, eloquent, barbed and fat-free. The statesman who admires Ernest Hemingway almost as much as he does Niccolò Machiavelli tries to stick to the facts and build a narrative his detractors cannot refute. Yet he is ultimately less interested in his readers than in the only deity in which he truly believes: the god of history. Netanyahu’s autobiography is the ultimate defence statement, presented to the high court of human chronicles

Compare the above with the first paragraphs of Tom Friedman New York Times essay of January 17, 2023:

If I could get a memo onto President Biden’s desk about the new Israeli government, I know exactly how it would start:

Dear Mr. President, I don’t know if you are interested in Jewish history, but Jewish history is certainly interested in you today. Israel is on the verge of a historic transformation — from a full-fledged democracy to something less, and from a stabilizing force in the region to a destabilizing one. You may be the only one able to stop Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist coalition from turning Israel into an illiberal bastion of zealotry.

I’d also tell Biden that I fear that Israel is approaching some serious internal civil strife. Civil conflicts are rarely about one policy. They tend to be about power. For years, the fierce debates in Israel about the Oslo Accords were about policy. But today, this simmering clash is about power — who can tell whom how to live in a highly diverse society.

The short story: An ultranationalist, ultra-Orthodox government, formed after the Netanyahu camp won election by the tiniest sliver of votes (roughly 30,000 out of some 4.7 million), is driving a power grab that the other half of voters view not only as corrupt but also as threatening their own civil rights. That’s why a 5,000-person anti-government demonstration grew to 80,000 over the weekend.

The Israel Joe Biden knew is vanishing and a new Israel is emerging. Many ministers in this government are hostile to American values, and nearly all are hostile to the Democratic Party. Netanyahu and his minister of strategic affairs, Ron Dermer, had plotted with Republicans to engineer Netanyahu’s 2015 speech in Congress against Biden’s and President Barack Obama’s wishes and policies. They would like to see a Republican in the White House and prefer the support of evangelical Christians over liberal Jews and that of M.B.S. over A.O.C.

This essay is Mr. Friedman’s second attempt, to come to terms with Zionists Fascism, at, 1,454 words, the first attempt, 4 thousand words plus, I addressed only partially in this commentary

StephenKMackSD’s Newsletter

Thomas Friedman is befuddled about what is happening in The Zionist Faschist State!

Headline: What in the World Is Happening in Israel? Dec. 15, 2022 https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/15/opinion/israel-palestinians-arabs-jews.html The first paragraphs, of this highly garnished, and nearly hand-wringing travelogue, betrays Friedman’s state of mind, featuring at first befuddlement, then something like resignation, and at the end faint hope…

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a month ago · stephenkmacksd.com/

The imaginary Memos are the essential part of Mr. Friedman’s political intervention, I will quote these:

Framed by: ‘Biden needs to tell him, (Netanyahu) in no uncertain terms:’ 

Bibi, you are riding roughshod over American interests and values. I need to know some things from you right now — and you need to know some things from me. I need to know: Is Israel’s control of the West Bank a matter of temporary occupation or of an emerging annexation, as members of your coalition advocate? Because I will not be a patsy for that. I need to know if you really are going to put your courts under your political authority in a way that makes Israel more like Turkey and Hungary, because I will not be a patsy for that. I need to know if your extremist ministers will change the status quo on the Temple Mount. Because that could destabilize Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the Abraham Accords — which would really damage U.S. interests. I will not be a patsy for that. 

Framed by ‘Here is my guess of how Netanyahu would respond’, (to Biden)

Joe, Joey, my old friend, don’t press me on this stuff now. I am the only one restraining these crazies. You and I, Joe, we can make history together. Let’s join our forces not to simply deter Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but to help — in any way possible — the Iranian protesters trying to topple the clerical regime in Tehran. And let’s, you and me, forge a peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. M.B.S. is ready if I can persuade you to give Saudi Arabia security guarantees and advanced weapons. Let’s do that and then I’ll dump these crazies.

With this, to call the whole of this exercise in ‘historical speculation’ of the most dull-witted kind, is to describe Mr. Friedman’s career as a New York Times Public Intellectual. The last two paragraphs are indicative of his intellectual procedures , sometimes named Journalism.

I applaud both foreign policy goals, but I would not pay for them with a U.S. blind eye to Netanyahu’s judicial putsch. If we do that, we’ll sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. 

Israel and the U.S. are friends. But today, one party in this friendship — Israel — is changing its fundamental character. President Biden, in the most caring but clear way possible, needs to declare that these changes violate America’s interests and values and that we are not going to be Netanyahu’s useful idiots and just sit in silence.

The vexing question remains of where Ari Shavit ends his ‘book review’.

What is missing from Bibi: My life story is empathy and introspection. The man who has experienced and accomplished so much is apparently ill equipped to share any genuinely sincere feelings with his readers. His memoir is light on self- criticism – and heavy on self-adulation. Two noteworthy exceptions are the endless admiration he shows for his father and the abiding love he shows for his older brother, Yonatan. The description of Yoni’s death (in his role as commander of the hostage rescue operation in Entebbe in July 1976) and the anguish that followed are heartbreaking. The young Bibi travelled seven hours from Cambridge, Massachusetts to his parents’ home in Ithaca, New York, to tell them their eldest child was gone.

As I got closer, I saw my father through the big front window. He was pacing back and forth, deep in thought, his hands clasped behind his back. Suddenly he turned and saw me. Bibi, he smiled in surprise, but when he saw my face, he instantly understood. He let out a terrible cry like a wounded animal. I heard my mother scream. If there is a moment in my life worse than hearing about Yoni’s death, it was telling my parents about it. I felt like a man on a rack whose limbs are torn from him one by one. How could I go on living?

A profound sense of mission helped Benjamin Netanyahu to overcome the tragedy underpinning the leader he has become – amplified by his belief that he is Israel’s Winston Churchill. The sure-to-be turbulent years of his latest tenure as prime minister will d.termine if his talents will indeed secure the future of his nation, or whether his flaws will endanger the very existence of the Jewish state.

Call this by its name, a mild critique in the name of The Zionist Project, as the historical/moral sine qua non. Ari Shavit and Benjamin Netanyahu share the same ‘tragic sense of mission’. As the Palestinians are subject to the ‘Zionist’s Genocide On The Installment Plan’ , recorded every day on twitter, as it happens.

Old Socialist & Almost Marx

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@TheEconomist & ‘The great mystery of American politics’

Political Cynic contemplates Oxbridger posturing.

Note the headline, sub-headline and the first paragraph of this self-congratulatory polemic, masquerading as political commentary, its tone, almost catty!

Headline: The great mystery of American politics

Sub-headline: Why is the country divided so evenly? What might change that?

Titillated if not surprised, America’s political obsessives saw some justice in Kevin McCarthy’s struggle to amass enough support to become speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr McCarthy has evaded the encumbrance of principle for so long that, to at least some politicians, it seemed fitting that conservatives would torture him by withholding a few votes, all but making faces while dangling the job just beyond his reach.

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2023/01/05/the-great-mystery-of-american-politics

This paragraph highlights the fact that The Economist, not just inhabits respectable bourgeoise politics of The Right, but can recite its clichés with facility.

With the exception of three previous, brief periods of national fickleness, one party or the other held clear majority control throughout American history. The present partisan equilibrium has lasted 40 years, since Ronald Reagan broke the Democrats’ New Deal coalition. No president since his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, has kept unified control of Congress past a midterm. 

The sentence I’ve highlighted ‘The present partisan equilibrium has lasted 40 years, since Ronald Reagan broke the Democrats’ New Deal coalition.’ Ronald Reagan did not break the New Deal Coalition, The New Democrats, Bill and Hillary Clinton were the betrayers of that New Deal Tradition, they were, in sum, Reaganites. The evidence is irrefutable:

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act

The Oxbridgers present a Political Technocrat the describe the American political landscape:

“There’s nothing like our current era as you look back through us history,” says Frances Lee of Princeton University, who studies Congress. “I’m mystified fundamentally by it, to be honest. How do we have all these constituencies that are safe for one party or the other, yet somehow it adds up to 50-50 nationally?” 

The Writers of this essay then resort to the patois of popular journalistic reductionism, for want of a more accurate term:

In this century Democrats lost ground in the countryside and gained it in the cities, Republicans squandered support in the Silent Generation and acquired it among Millennials, Democrats alienated white voters without college degrees and Republicans alienated white voters with them—and that all netted out, roughly, to parity. 

It is hard to overstate how the Reagan revolution transformed politics.

Reagan took not just the White House but broke Democrats’ grip on the Senate for the first time since 1954, making Republicans believe they could win the House.

Maybe four decades of sharper “messaging” have split the electorate.

Now, as the Republican House squares off with Mr Biden within the arena of the 2024 campaign, its official agenda seems ill-suited to supply the black-or-white contrast that might break the impasse.

All bets are off, however, if the Republican berserker caucus that tormented Mr McCarthy succeeds in commandeering the party.

The White Racist Reagan, of I believe in States Rights, dominates the ‘political imaginations’ of these Oxbridgers. Yet we live in the utter collapse, of his vulgar faith in The Market- that seems to grow in its acuteness, by the day. The Reader must look elsewhere for something resembling political honesty. The Economist writes Political Propaganda!

Political Cynic

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Taking the measure of Tom Clark’s December 16, 2022 essay @TLS, that ‘reviews’ and or mentions various books …

Political Observer & Almost Marx

Headline: Labour’s long road to power

Sub-headline: The opposition’s struggle to create a radical programme

This is a Times publication, steeped in a tradition of Anti-Left hysteria, so the notion of a radical programme is unsurprising, given the smears printed in the Times Newspaper, against Jeremy Corbyn, the dependable Times hack Dominic Sandbrook reviews a ‘biography’ of Corbyn.

Headline: Review: Dangerous Hero: Corbyn’s Ruthless Plot for Power by Tom Bower — portrait of a monomaniac

Sub-headline: If Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister, he would easily be the most dangerous, most indolent and least intelligent holder of the office in history

This is one of the most depressing books I have ever read. It is a forensically detailed portrait of a man with no inner life, a monomaniac suffused with an overwhelming sense of his own righteousness, a private schoolboy who failed one A-level and got two Es in the others, a polytechnic dropout whose first wife never knew him to read a book.

It is the story of a man who does not appear to have gone to the cinema or listened to music, takes no interest in art or fashion and refused to visit Vienna’s magnificent Schönbrunn Palace because it was “royal”. It tells how he bitterly opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, deeply regretted the fall of the Berlin Wall and praised the men who attacked New York on September 11, 2001, for showing an “enormous amount of skill”. In some parallel universe, this man would currently be living in well-deserved obscurity. In reality, Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition and the bookmakers’ favourite to become our next prime minister.

For the veteran biographer Tom Bower, whose previous subjects include Mohamed al-Fayed, Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, Tony Blair and Prince Charles, Corbyn is the easiest target imaginable. The details of his life are well known. Born in 1949, the son of a skilled engineer and a maths teacher, he was brought up in a large 17th-century farmhouse in Shropshire called Yew Tree Manor. At school he was a loner and an underachiever, so lazy that his headmaster told him: “You’ll never make anything of your life.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/review-dangerous-hero-corbyns-ruthless-plot-for-power-by-tom-bower-portrait-of-a-monomaniac-8x0spp3d8

Mr. Clark is a Contributing Editor at Prospect magazine, its self-description:

Since its outset, Prospect has been politically independent, with no party-political affiliation or agenda. It is a not-for-profit organisation, supported by a trust as well as by advertisers and subscribers.

Its current editor is Alan Rusbridger :

For most of my working life I have been a journalist – mainly on the Guardian, which I edited for 20 years from 1995-2015.  I was Principal of Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford for six years. Now I’m back editing again – Prospect Magazine, the UK’s leading political monthly.

https://www.arusbridger.com/

Call Mr. Clark and Mr. Rusbridger ‘Liberals’ for want of a better term.

The ‘as if’ of Mr. Clark’s essay composed , eventually, of books mentioned, and some reviewed, after a long introductory political reportage: within very carefully observed political parameters. That, a marriage of opportunism and journalistic survival mechanism. Reminiscent of cobbled together clichés, from a reporters notebook, some garnished , some just quoted from that rough draft. This opening fragment is beyond cliché: All politics is relative…

All politics is relative, which is why, when I arrived at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool back in September, I found the mood comparatively harmonious. Four days earlier the then prime minister, Liz Truss, had blown up the Tories’ reputation by putting large handouts to the rich on the never-never. The markets took fright, mortgage rates spiked and – very suddenly – the sort of single-digit lead that Labour has often mislaid between the midterm and polling day was blossoming into a twenty- or even thirty-point advantage, presaging a sea change.

The factional vitriol that usually pulses through conference was hard to find. Ambitious young suits at a marketopian think tank’s event were not laying into militants, but asking detailed questions about tech entrepreneurship. At a Morning Star rally there was some grumbling, but the self-declared “lifelong socialist” MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy caught the mood with her plea: “Rule 1: stay in Labour”.

That afternoon the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, hitherto little loved by his party’s right and loathed by a left whom he had courted on his ascent, only to abandon at the top, produced a unifying speech. It included some eulogizing for the late Queen, some recycling of Tony Blair (describing Labour as “the political wing of the British people”), but also – at last – a few distinct, and distinctly progressive, policies, including the idea of a new nationalized green power firm, “Great British Energy”.

The latest trove of books on Labour’s irreconcilable schisms, pumped out over the summer and autumn, seemed almost to have been overtaken. But as I was quietly departing, almost ready to believe that peace had broken out, there came a reminder of the strife seared into the party’s past – which still looms over its future. To the tune of “She’ll Be Coming ’Round the Mountain”, two dozen local dockers were serenading comers and goers with “If you don’t stand with the pickets, you’re a scab”. Their burly shop steward was bellowing through his megaphone, all too plausibly given the economic scene: “We’re striking to put food on our families’ table”. He mellowed when I approached to ask what political reaction they’d had at the docks: “We’ve had fourteen MPs down there, the socialist MPs are coming down, John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and a few others. It’s just the frontbench that aren’t coming”.

Mr. Clark acts not like the American Theodore H. White, and his long career of following American presidential elections. At least to the Year of 1972, when Watergate revelations, demanded a re-write of his published book, on that election, he did so. Mr. Clark needn’t bother with what might be named an act of political integrity, in another context, and or maintenance on his reliability as a ‘reporter’ ? That seems unlikely since he is writing for The Times, one of the conspirators against Corbyn.

What might The Reader make of this ?

Headline: Al Jazeera’s Labour Files has blown a hole in the British media’s Corbyn narrative

Sub-headline: Shocking allegations in the documentary series have been largely ignored by the mainstream UK media

Peter Osborne

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/uk-labour-files-al-jazeera-revelations-blown-hole-media-corbyn-narrative

In the years leading up to the 2019 general election, the British media ran a powerful and unremitting campaign that questioned the fitness for office and motivation of Jeremy Corbyn. The most damaging claim was that he turned a blind eye or tolerated antisemitism inside the Labour Party

This narrative often dominated front pages for days on end, and occasionally led coverage on the BBC and other news channels. There is little doubt that these charges inflicted real and lasting damage on the Labour leader, and played an important role in his crushing defeat in the last general election. 

Over the past week, the Qatar-based media network Al Jazeera has challenged conventional wisdom about the Corbyn years by broadcasting a three-part documentary series alleging that many of the claims made against Corbyn’s Labour Party were either false, fabricated or twisted against him. At the same time, it vindicates those around Corbyn against claims that they were lax in dealing with antisemitism.

Surprisingly, the mainstream media has scarcely reported on the series at all. When I checked on Tuesday night, I found only a handful of articles, mostly in regional media. The papers that banged on day after day, and month after month, on allegations that Corbyn was a racist have all but ignored the Al Jazeera reports. The same applies to the BBC, which played a major role in framing the understanding of Corbyn and antisemitism in the run-up to the 2019 election. 

The BBC Panorama report of July that year played a particularly important role, because it provided what appeared to be shocking evidence that people close to Corbyn intervened in the disciplinary process. Those watching the Panorama programme, after the newspaper reporting that preceded it, might have concluded that it was not just reckless, but actually immoral to vote Labour in the general election.

Al Jazeera also alleges that Panorama reflected only one side of the divided Jewish community, failing to speak with supporters of the pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice for Labour group. 

The second episode of the Al Jazeera series examines that Panorama programme in detail. It alleges that in its reporting of allegations made by various former Labour Party staffers, Panorama, the BBC’s premier investigative current affairs programme misrepresented certain facts and made claims that cannot be substantiated. 

Mr. Clarks bloated 3,506 word propaganda never mentions the revelations of the Al Jazeera documentaries, like the good hireling, who follows the script, that is not just flawed. Yet the question for the critic of Mr. Clarke’s propaganda, that combines the journalists note book sketches, his careful revisions of that raw material. A collection of comments on books, succeeded by partial reviews of books by Labour Party Members, and other political actors: demands both lengthy quotation of Mr. Clarks observations, wedded to a critical evaluation.

Let me bein with this representative paragraph, that demonstrates Mr. Clark’s ‘methodology’:

The Labour right is allergic to the very idea of a “neoliberal age” building from the late 1970s until the financial unravelling of 2008, because it lumps together the Thatcher and Blair years into a single chapter of history. Yet, however inconvenient it may be, that is the way the recent past is coming to be understood – across the intellectual spectrum. In the past year alone we have had the Cambridge professor The Labour right is allergic to the very idea of a “neoliberal age” building from the late 1970s until the financial unravelling of 2008, because it lumps together the Thatcher and Blair years into a single chapter of history. Yet, however inconvenient it may be, that is the way the recent past is coming to be understood – across the intellectual spectrum. In the past year alone we have had the Cambridge professor Helen Thompson, something like a British Gaullist, decrying in Disorder (TLS, April 29, 2022) the “finance-centred economies” that have “from the 1970s terminated economic nationhood”; the liberals’ liberal, Francis Fukuyama, warning in Liberalism and its Discontents (TLS, September 2, 2022) that the grotesque inequalities produced by the neoliberal turn have been threatening the institutions of freedom; and, now from the stoutly social-democratic Graeme Garrard, a political theorist at Cardiff, an impassioned case for The Return of the State (Yale University Press, £16.99) to “its proper role as the principal champion of the public good and general welfare” in a “post neoliberal world”. We have also had Gary Gerstle’s The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order (Oxford University Press, £21.99) and Phil Tinline’s The Death of Consensus (Hurst, £20), a study of “turning points” in Britain’s political economy, which argues that a profound reset is due, now that the dominant popular 1970s “nightmare” of “domineering pickets” has been displaced by fears of “parents having to choose between heating and eating”. Next year, a book by the Financial Times’s revered commentator Martin Wolf (The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism; to be reviewed in a future issue), will argue that the rentier capitalism of the past few decades is undermining the foundations of democratic life. decrying in Disorder (TLS, April 29, 2022) the “finance-centred economies” that have “from the 1970s terminated economic nationhood”; the liberals’ liberal, Francis Fukuyama, warning in Liberalism and its Discontents (TLS, September 2, 2022) that the grotesque inequalities produced by the neoliberal turn have been threatening the institutions of freedom; and, now from the stoutly social-democratic Graeme Garrard, a political theorist at Cardiff, an impassioned case for The Return of the State (Yale University Press, £16.99) to “its proper role as the principal champion of the public good and general welfare” in a “post neoliberal world”. We have also had Gary Gerstle’s The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order (Oxford University Press, £21.99) and Phil Tinline’s The Death of Consensus (Hurst, £20), a study of “turning points” in Britain’s political economy, which argues that a profound reset is due, now that the dominant popular 1970s “nightmare” of “domineering pickets” has been displaced by fears of “parents having to choose between heating and eating”. Next year, a book by the Financial Times’s revered commentator Martin Wolf (The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism; to be reviewed in a future issue), will argue that the rentier capitalism of the past few decades is undermining the foundations of democratic life.

Note the cast of characters, and their political books/pronouncements that foretells that elusive ‘Clark Methodology’

Helen Thompson, something like a British Gaullist, decrying in Disorder, Francis Fukuyama, warning in Liberalism and its Discontents, Graeme Garrard, a political theorist at Cardiff, an impassioned case for The Return of the State, Gary Gerstle’s The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order, Phil Tinline’s The Death of Consensus, the Financial Times’s revered commentator Martin Wolf (The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism.

In the next paragraph is ‘prescriptive’ of a very particular kind?

In short, an old order is visibly shaking. But the question remains: can the Labour Party see it? And, if so, can it be creative enough to come up with meaningful answers, then united and effective enough to see them through in government? Insiders involved with Jeremy Corbyn’s “project” during his Labour leadership certainly felt big change was needed, but to read three of their books in rapid succession is to be convinced that they were never going to get it done. One by one, they pretty well admit it.

What follows are quick sketches about books, germane to where the Labour Party may, might, possibly, be headed. Mr. Clark expresses not just doubt, but cynicism about that ‘where’, for the Labour Party is not. The delivery methodology of Mr. Clark’s is the ‘review’ in miniature, that by definition is the practice of propaganda.

In This Is Only the Beginning (Bloomsbury, £20) Michael Chessum, a one-time anti-fees student leader who was later a speechwriter for Corbyn and Momentum’s treasurer, is eloquent on protest (the book is dedicated to the “misfits, troublemakers and idealists, who smashed the plate glass of the Conservative party headquarters and the consensus that enveloped the world”) and the dangers of machine politics. He highlights “the movements and strikes”, including Occupy and UK Uncut, that powered the Corbyn insurgency and caught an unforgivably incurious Fleet Street off guard. It is timely stuff given the drift of Starmer – who once represented environmental activists like those in the McLibel case – towards acquiescence in the “spy cops” bill (making provision for undercover officers to commit crimes while undertaking their duties) and plans to lock up disruptive climate protesters.

The Momentum co-founder and former Corbyn spokesman James Schneider’s Our Bloc: How we win (Verso, paperback, £8.99) shows more interest in the bloc than in the “winning”, at least as that is usually understood. The author’s main practical scheme is an “alliance of social movements, trade unions, the Labour grassroots and socialists in Parliament”, of the sort that mobilized the People’s Assembly protests against George Osborne’s cuts from 2013. Given that those cuts proceeded, and were consolidated by David Cameron’s 2015 election win, I’d have expected a bigger twist than Schneider offers – federalizing the links between the organizations involved.

So I was surprised to find Is Socialism Possible in Britain? (Verso, paperback, £14.99) to be the best of the Corbyn camp’s books. Murray’s disdain for parliament, political personalities, even Labourism itself, creates some detachment and room for disinterested judgement. The huge ten-point advance Corbyn achieved against expectations in the election of 2017 is justly underlined, but so too were the “cracks … immediately apparent in the electoral edifice” back then. Underlying the subsequent fall of the “red wall” was, Murray suggests with Olympian loftiness, “Not Brexit. Not Corbyn. Not even New Labour”, but rather the crumbling of industrial society.

Lane Kenworthy’s Would Democratic Socialism Be Better? (Oxford University Press, paperback, £18.99) offers a compendium of new evidence on how vastly better social democratic capitalist economies perform than all others on poverty, insecurity and life satisfaction, yoked together by the argument that their established advantages are bigger than any plausible gains to be had from socializing the means of production.) In dismissing the Clement Attlee administration that wove the welfare safety net, enshrined the national parks and quit India as a “normal capitalist government”, Murray sounds less interested in real-world politics than in measuring its shortfall against a mystical future in which the “flowering of real human history” begins. He salutes Corbynism for “straining in that direction” and does not judge it for bequeathing a country sliding the other way.

The perils of leftist impossibilism run through Labour’s Civil Wars (Haus, £16.99), a pacy 100-year history by the veteran politician Giles Radice, who recently died aged eighty-five, and Patrick Diamond, a former New Labour policy advisor. Diamond worked on both sides of the Blair-Brown divide, and the book is meticulously fair when it comes to squabbles within the moderate camp.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow cabinet’s punchiest communicator, wants to root public policy in communities, the theme of her new book All In (HarperNorth, £16.99). The more ordinary citizens actively engage with something, she says, the better the outcomes that will emerge, a claim backed with folksy accounts of her constituents’ efforts to save Wigan Athletic FC. There’s some repetition and, as quotes from Karl Marx, JFK, Eric Hobsbawm and the Tory MP Jesse Norman cascade in eclectic succession, it can get dizzying, but at least the mixture suggests an open mind for uncharted times.

After the two biggest fiscal shocks of modern times – the financial crisis and Covid – Britain’s cumulative public debt burden is still lower than it has been for most of the past 250 years, and it remains (behind Germany) the second lowest in the G7. Long-term discipline is needed: the deficit is high and will need reining in. But buy uncritically into the precise and arbitrary parameters of Jeremy Hunt’s figurative black hole and Labour could sink itself from the start. The dreams of a different tomorrow won’t be built by a party, warring or not, that can’t find a way to pay for today.

Political Observer and Almost Marx

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