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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@TheEconomist (‘The father of Iran’s nuclear programme is assassinated’)

‘You’ quote two members, in good standing, of The American National Security State. Brennan is a notorious liar, not speak of a maladroit practitioner of subterfuge: he is an incompetent liar and propagandist!


The significance of the latest killing is contested. “It no doubt undermines morale and might temporarily disrupt whatever projects Fakhrizadeh might have been working on,” says Eric Brewer of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington, and a former director for counter-proliferation on America’s National Security Council.


John Brennan, head of the CIA in 2013-17, says that Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s assassination was a “criminal…act of state-sponsored terrorism” which would risk “lethal retaliation and a new round of regional conflict”.

https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2020/11/27/the-father-of-irans-nuclear-programme-is-assassinated?utm_campaign=editorial-social&utm_medium=social-organic&utm_source=twitter

StephenKMackSD

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@FT Katrina Manson on the return of ‘American Exceptionalism’. Old Socialist comments

Katrina Manson opens her essay with Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She is part of  ‘A global team of respected professionals’ at Albright Stonebridge Group in Washington, D.C.

https://www.albrightstonebridge.com/


Mr. Biden can respect a fellow self-promoter! Joe Biden & Son is a Corporation with a Vision for the Future!

After Thomas-Greenfield makes her appearance garnished with home-style kitsch, comes the appearance of ‘a senior Republican congressional aide’. Nothing adds to the piquancy of a political commentary like an anonymous source.

Next in order of appearance is part of a tweet from ‘Marco Rubio, the Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee’

Then Joe Biden’s appearance on NBC pronouncing that a Biden Administration is not an ‘Obama Third Term’.

The utterly amorphous ‘Some in the US foreign policy establishment’ makes its formulaic appearance. This rhetorical strategy makes possible the opinions of a ‘reporter’ – it adds a necessary strategic distance from the writer.

The next ‘walk -on’ is ‘Washington foreign policy veteran Tony Blinken’ For the particulars on Blinken. see America’s Political Gossip Sheet Politico:

https://www.politico.eu/article/nine-things-to-think-about-antony-blinken/

Blinken is a partisan of The American Empire, and its ‘Middle East’ ally of the Zionist State. ‘talked of a need for “equal measures of humility and confidence” on the world stage while also praising America’s history as the “last best hope on earth”.

More walk-ons:

Jake Sullivan: Mr Biden’s pick for national security adviser, pledged to be “vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism”.

Karim Sadjadpour, a foreign policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,

Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador now at the Council on Foreign Relations,

Charles Kupchan, an informal Biden adviser during the campaign

Andrew Bacevich the last and most valuable comment, to be quoted in this essay, not a member, but a dissident to this collection of Foreign Policy Technocrats: who express a full, but chastened faith in the Manifest Destiny writ large of the American Empire.

“The notion that we are called upon to be the world’s moral leader is presumptuous,” said Andrew Bacevich, president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a non-partisan think-tank that advocates for greater restraint in US foreign policy.

https://www.ft.com/content/7b687a78-109c-416e-9795-793bb017f964

Note that the Foreign Policy Technocrats are afflicted with a sclerotic conformity. How could a possible critic, of American Exceptionalism, rise from within that academic lock-step? All those who might supervise a dissertation, that takes a critical stance to the myth of American Exceptionalism – where might they be?

The most prominent critics of that ‘Exceptionalism’ are Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald,  Chris Hedges, Robert Scheer, Max Blumenthal, Aaron Maté etc. None of these writers/thinkers are members of that Foreign Policy Establishment, which is what makes them so utterly valuable, as critics of this toxic mythology!

Old Socialist

  

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Robert Colvile & Rishi Sunak: The Sunday Times vs. The Financial Times? Political Cynic comments

Should the reader look to Robert Colvile’s essay in The Sunday Times of November 22, 2020, for his answer to the conundrums enunciated by Mr. Sunak, and reported upon here at The Financial Times ? The headline gives the game away:



Headline: In case no one has told you yet, debt’s piling up and there’s only one way out — growth


The headlines could have been from parallel dimensions. One day the prime minister was announcing the biggest boost to the defence budget in decades. The next, the Treasury was reported to be preparing a public-sector pay freeze amid record borrowing figures and a national debt topping £2 trillion.

This hairpin turn from boom to bust doesn’t just suggest schizophrenic media management. It reflects the fact that despite the ejection of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, the government is still deeply divided over the fundamental issue of how much we can afford to spend.

During the pandemic, the government has spent and borrowed at extraordinary levels. Billions upon billions have been ploughed into furlough, test and trace, the desperate trolley dash for PPE and all the rest of it. It will surpass the 2018-19 budget for NHS England three times over.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/in-case-no-one-has-told-you-yet-debts-piling-up-and-theres-only-one-way-out-growth-prllcwpmx


Its ‘as if’ the ghosts of Hayek and Thatcher have conspired to inhabit Mr. Colvile, in tandem, producing the tinny echo of Neo-Liberalism’s collapsed Utopianism. 

Political Cynic

https://www.ft.com/content/8250fec7-0581-477e-a525-bc2ab2dd5a11


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Bagehot: In search of a modern Machiavelli. Political Observer comments

Bagehot ( Adrian Wooldridge) in his November 21, 2020 essay at The Economist:

Headline : In search of a modern Machiavell

Sub-headline: The ideal political adviser is hard to find

After some preliminary commentary on Johnson’s advisers, their costs and their ‘bromides’ Bagehot offers this advice to Downing Street ,not to Boris Johnson.

But a better way would be to read a few books. Start with Machiavelli’s “The Prince”—the first book on politics to describe men as they are, warts and all, rather than as moralists would like them to be, and a wonderful source of eternal insights. Then imitate Machiavelli’s method and “step inside the courts” of previous leaders by reading lots of history.

According to Bagehot, the vital part of the success of a politician is her/his chief advisor, names ‘James Baker, chief of staff to both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush’,  ‘Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s chief of staff’.

But Bagehot’s political ignorance or mendacity gets in his way with this: ‘Patrick Moynihan brought out the best in Richard Nixon.’ Moynihan provided the political twin of the Southern Strategy, un-mentioned by Bagehot.

The complete text of Moynihan’s “benign neglect” memo was printed in the New York Times in January 1970. Particular sections of this explosive document bear reproducing:

You are familiar with the problem of crime. Let me draw your attention to another phenomenon, exactly parallel and originating in exactly the same social circumstances: Fire. Unless I mistake the trends, we are heading for a genuinely serious fire problem in American cities. In New York, for example, between 1956 and 1969 the over-all fire-alarm rate more than tripled from 69,000 alarms to 240,000. These alarms are concentrated in slum neighborhoods, primarily black. In 1968, one slum area had an alarm rate per square mile 13 times that of the city as a whole. In another, the number of alarms has, on an average, increased 44 per cent per year for seven years.

Many of these fires are the result of population density. But a great many are more or less deliberately set. (Thus, on Monday, welfare protectors set two fires in the New York State Capitol.) Fires are in fact a “leading indicator” of social pathology for a neighborhood. They come first. Crime, and the rest, follows. The psychiatric interpretation of fire-setting is complex, but it relates to the types of personalities which slums produce. (A point of possible interest: Fires in the black slums peak in July and August. The urban riots of 1964-1968 could be thought of as epidemic conditions of an endemic situation.) . . .

The time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of “benign neglect.”The subject has been too much talked about. The forum has been too much taken over to hysterics, paranoids, and boodlers on all sides. We may need a period in which Negro progress continues and racial rhetoric fades. The Administration can help bring this about by paying close attention to such progress — as we are doing-while seeking to avoid situations in which extremists of either race are given opportunities for martyrdom, heroics, histrionics, or whatever, Greater attention to Indians, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans would be useful.

https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/3145-benign-neglect-and-planned-shrinkage  

How could Bagehot have so missed the mark? Undaunted Bagehot continues his testament to ‘adult supervision’ in first term of Clinton by David Gergen. The 1996 best seller Primary Colors by Anonymous could not have been stopped, by even a master of ‘supervision’ like Gergen? Here is a link to an insightful review by Alexander Cockburn. He was on the campaign with the Clintons.

What follows is a two paragraph testament to the value that the ‘modern Machiavelli’ can offer. It is the two most interesting paragraphs of the whole of his essay, although, at times, couched in the vocabulary of such current political catch phrases as ‘when to play nice‘.

The modern Machiavelli has to be willing to prick ideological bubbles. There is nothing more dangerous for an organisation than self-congratulatory groupthink. Advisers need to be well versed in past mistakes so that they can probe their bosses’ ideas and plans for weaknesses before rivals or reality expose those flaws. At the same time, whenever hubris turns to despair, as it so often does in politics, they need to be able to put the babble of daily headlines into perspective. Machiavelli’s injunction that both princes and advisers should study history and “note the actions of great men” is even more germane today, when too many politicians study economics or, even worse, management science.

The ideal adviser needs to know when to pick fights and when to play nice. Machiavelli was right that change is dangerous because “he who innovates will have as his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new”. But too many Tories have come to believe that, because you can’t make progress without making enemies, the mere existence of enemies is a sign that you’re making progress. Demonising the establishment as a reactionary blob is less effective than co-opting its members by appealing to a mixture of their ambition and their better natures. Not all of the government’s ideas for universities, the civil service and the bbc are daft, and a little digging reveals that many insiders agree with some of them.

https://www.economist.com/britain/2020/11/21/in-search-of-a-modern-machiavelli

Bagehot offers this to ‘Advisors’ :

 Advisers need to help their bosses build coalitions across the political nation, supping not just with journalists, mps and civil servants but also with city mayors, who rightly feel slighted by the London-focused political system.

On the Rubber levers of power:

Finally, successful advisers also need to roam beyond Downing Street. One of the commonest complaints of prime ministers is that they grasp the levers of power only to discover that they are made of rubber:

Note that this attempts to offer an explanation of the self-interested manipulation of ‘the rubber levers of power’: the Grand Game as described by an Oxbridger, who is in search of a rhetorical formula, to impress his readers, that he has grasped the essentials, of the care and maintenance of that power. What is left out of Bagehot’s list of imperatives, is the power that a Leader can exert, via the expressed will of his followers to influence, pressure, demand political action, from the lower orders of that political system. Bagehot is the natural inheritor of an Economist tradition, whose self-presentation is that of the inherent virtue of a class of men, educated and convinced of their natural affinity for the management of that power.

Boris Johnson plays a minor role in Bagehot’s self-congratulatory polemic, as an object of scorn.

But none of his fine words about the green industrial revolution will mean a fig unless he can find a modern Machiavelli strong enough to drive policy forward and self-effacing enough to devote himself to the greater glorification of King Boris.

… 

Political Observer

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On Robert Colvile’s prescription for the debt being piled up by Boris Johnson! Old Socialist comments

Reading Robert Colvile Sunday Times essay titled ‘In case no one has told you yet, debt’s piling up and there’s only one way out — growth’ of November 22, 2020 demonstrates the Thaterism isn’t quite dead yet.

As Mr. Colvile ‘runs’ , his own words, the Centre for Policy Studies, which declares itself ‘Center Right‘. Its ‘as if ‘ the Economic Collapse of the Neo-Liberal Swindle of 2008 had not occured, nor a devastating Pandemic and the near total closing of Capitalist enterprises, and its newest iteration chronicled by Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy by Jonathan Haskel, Stian Westlake. Here part of an interview with co-author Westlake by James Pethokoukis of AEI :

“The right should be unashamed of the fact that it wants to make Britain boom again — to create good jobs, to enrich people in the places they live, and to give them the freedom and opportunity to lead better lives. Informed by the principles we’ve identified – the importance of productivity growth, agglomeration effects, intangible capital, and Britain’s persistently low levels of investment – the policies we set out below are a plan for creating prosperity in the UK.”

Dealing with the intangible economy: A long-read Q&A with Stian Westlake

Mr. Colvile’s unalloyed enthusiasm for ‘growth’ in the Age of Global Warming, and its various expressions, like melting glaciers, rising seas, out of control wild fires and other phenomenon. Is about the fact that Thatcherism, and its epigones, are a destructive political anachronism, still mired in the Economic Romanticism of Hayek, and his ‘Road to Serfdom’! This coterie has been eclipsed by the cumulative effects of that Free Market toxicity, since 1976: the immiseration of the working and middle classes. A quote from Westlake is instructive about that ‘Capitalism’:

Westlake: This big change that’s been going on in the economies of the rich world is about the nature of capital. The nature of what businesses invest in.

Once upon a time, what businesses invested in was mostly physical things — machines, factory buildings, vehicles, computer hardware — things that, if you hit it with your foot, you’d stub your toe. That’s been gradually changing for at least 40 years, and each year, businesses gradually invest less in that physical stuff and more in what we would call “intangible assets.”

These are things that, like physical capital, have a long term value. But they’re immaterial. Things like research and development, designs, organizational capability, and even brands, marketing, and artistic originals.

The reader need only look to the Financial Times of November 18, 2020, by Jonathan Wheatley, for a panoramic perspective on the effect of The Pandemic on debt levels

Headline: Pandemic fuels global ‘debt tsunami’

Sub-headline: Governments and companies took on $15tn more borrowing in first nine months of 2020, says IIF

The rise in emerging market debt was driven by a surge in non-financial corporate debt in China, bringing total emerging market indebtedness to $76tn. Excluding China, the US dollar value of debts in other emerging markets declined this year, reflecting the falling value of local currencies against the dollar.

Mr Tiftik said financial institutions had tried to “build buffers against the Covid shock”. “A significant proportion of their new debts has been directed to clients, which has been very useful in absorbing the initial shock of the crisis,” he said.

Debts in advanced economies rose by more than 50 percentage points this year to hit 432 per cent of GDP by the end of September. The US accounted for nearly half of this; its debts are set to reach $80tn this year, from $71tn at the end of 2019.

https://www.ft.com/content/18527e0c-6f02-4c70-93cb-c26c3680c8ad

Mr. Colvile is just another Political Technocrat, and newspaper pundit, in either case, with a product to sell. Though the vexing, many layered political/economic crisis, renders his notion of ‘growth’ into a convenient reductivism. That is in fact propaganda, with Boris Johnson acting as it’s spendthrift villain. The reader can only wonder what Mr. Colvile would write, had Corbyn been elected?

Old Socialist

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/in-case-no-one-has-told-you-yet-debts-piling-up-and-theres-only-one-way-out-growth-prllcwpmx

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Old Socialist scoffs at Zanny Minton Beddoes’ collection of self-serving political cliches, in almost praise of a Joe Biden presidency.

Should any reader be surprised that Beddoes is an Oxbridger? It’s an Economist Tradition. Note this from the Economist:

Ms. Minton Beddoes joined The Economist in 1994 after spending two years as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where she worked on macroeconomic adjustment programmes in Africa and the transition economies of Eastern Europe. Before joining the IMF, she worked as an adviser to the Minister of Finance in Poland, as part of a small group headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard University.

Wikipedia supplies more detailed information on Beddoes IMF responsibilities:

After graduation, she was recruited as an adviser to the Minister of Finance in Poland, in 1992,[3] as part of a small group headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard. She then spent two years as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where she worked on macroeconomic adjustment programmes in Africa and the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanny_Minton_Beddoes

Beddoes is member, in very good standing, of the Economic Elite, that is only reinforced by her service with the IMF. She worked with the ‘Shock Therapy’ obsessed Prof. Sachs, who now denies his toxic prescriptions, for implementing those destructive policies across Eastern Europe. See ‘Europe Since 1989: A History’ by Philipp Ther for a telling history of Sach’s destructive ideological fixsation.

Chapter 4: Getting on the Neoliberal Bandwagon

Chapter 5: Second-Wave Neoliberalism 

Beddoes being the first women to be the Editor of the Economist. She is a long time employee of the newspaper since 1994. Her ideological conformity is a proven political quantity. Reading the opening paragraph of her essay demonstrates that fact.

Some years loom large in history. Usually it is the end of a war or the onset of a revolution that punctuates the shift from one chapter to another. 2020 will be an exception. The defeat of Donald Trump marked the end of one of the most divisive and damaging presidencies in American history. A once-in-a-century pandemic has created the opportunity for an economic and social reset as dramatic as that of the Progressive era. The big question for 2021 is whether politicians are bold enough to grasp it.

Call this restrained political melodrama. She has been schooled, by that Economist team of Micklethwait & Wooldridge, that team of Economist Writers, who have proven to be the best re-write men in Journalism. Taking their shorter Economist articles and fleshing them out, into those best selling 400 page paperbacks.

Next:

Covid-19 has not just pummelled the global economy. It has changed the trajectory of the three big forces that are shaping the modern world. Globalisation has been truncated. The digital revolution has been radically accelerated. And the geopolitical rivalry between America and China has intensified. 

Then comes this astounding sentence, ever uttered by any editor of this reactionary newspaper:

At the same time, the pandemic has worsened one of today’s great scourges: inequality. 

One of the most enlightening aspects of reading ‘Liberalism at Large: The World According to the Economist’ by Alexander Zevin is that a self-serving political/moral hypocrisy is the very sine qua non of this newspaper. So Beddoes mention of inequality brings to mind:

From May 5th 2014

By R.A.

Headline: Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarised in four paragraphs

Sub-headline: A very brief summary of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

It is the economics book that took the world by storm. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, written by the French economist Thomas Piketty, was published in French in 2013 and in English in March 2014. The English version quickly became an unlikely bestseller, and it prompted a broad and energetic debate on the book’s subject: the outlook for global inequality. Some reckon it heralds or may itself cause a pronounced shift in the focus of economic policy, toward distributional questions. The Economist hailed Professor Piketty as “the modern Marx” (Karl, that is). But what is his book all about?

https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2014/05/04/thomas-pikettys-capital-summarised-in-four-paragraphs

And this:

May 3,2014

Headline: A modern Marx

Sub-headline: Thomas Piketty’s blockbuster book is a great piece of scholarship, but a poor guide to policy

WHEN the first volume of Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” was published in 1867, it took five years to sell 1,000 copies in its original German. It was not translated into English for two decades, and this newspaper did not see fit to mention it until 1907. By comparison, Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is an overnight sensation. Originally published in French (when we first reviewed it), Mr Piketty’s vast tome on income-and-wealth distribution has become a bestseller since the English translation appeared in March. In America it is the top-selling book on Amazon, fiction included.

The book’s success has a lot to do with being about the right subject at the right time. Inequality has suddenly become a fevered topic, especially in America. Having for years dismissed the gaps between the haves and have-nots as a European obsession, Americans, stung by the excesses of Wall Street, are suddenly talking about the rich and redistribution. Hence the attraction of a book which argues that growing wealth concentration is inherent to capitalism and recommends a global tax on wealth as the progressive solution.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2014/05/03/a-modern-marx

To be fair R.A. published a revelatory set of essays on Piketty’s book. The first essay in this valuable set of commentaries on ‘Capital’.

LAST year Thomas Piketty, an economist at the Paris School of Economics and a renowned expert on global inequality, published a book titled “Capital in the Twenty-first Century”—in French. It will be released in English on March 10th. We reviewed the book earlier this year, but it is detailed and important enough, in our opinion, to deserve additional discussion. We will therefore be publishing a series of posts over the next few weeks—live-blogging the book, as it were—to draw out its arguments at slightly greater length. Starting today, with the book’s introduction.

Capital, as I will refer to Mr Piketty’s book from here on out, is an incredibly ambitious book. The author has self-consciously put the book forward as a companion to, and perhaps the intellectual equal of, Karl Marx’s Capital. Like Marx, Mr Piketty aims to provide a political economy theory of everything. More specifically, he attempts to re-establish distribution as the central issue in economics, and in doing so to reorient our perceptions of the trajectory of growth in the modern economic era. Mr Piketty’s great advantage in attempting all this, relative to past peers, is a wealth of data and analysis, compiled by himself and others over the last 15 or so years.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/02/book-clubs

This newspaper has never had any interest in ‘inequality’. Look at this depiction of Jeremy Corbyn, the foremost political reformer in British politics. Who attacked the very ‘inequality’ of both New Labour and the Tories, that Beddoes finds so compelling. This is pure political pose!

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2015/09/19/backwards-comrades

A selection of quotations from the Beddoes essay is instructive, of the level of political posturing, wedded to an unslakable hypocrisy-the very life-blood of this newspaper! As Beddoes moves from imperative to imperative, as she describes it, I will try to be brief and make some choices that will incite criticism:

On Globalization:

Although globalisation will still be about goods and capital crossing borders, people will travel less. The Asian countries that controlled the virus most effectively were also those that shut their borders most strictly. Their experience will shape others’ policies. Border restrictions and quarantines will stay in place long after covid-19 caseloads fall. And even after tourism restarts, migration will remain much harder. That will dent the prospects of poor countries that rely on flows of remittances from their migrant workers abroad, reinforcing the damage done by the pandemic itself. Some 150m people are likely to fall into extreme poverty by the end of 2021.

Global commerce will be conducted against an inauspicious geopolitical backdrop. Mr Trump’s mercurial mercantilism will be gone, but America’s suspicion of China will not end with the departure of “Tariff Man”, as the president was proud to be known. Tariffs, now levied on two-thirds of imports from China, will remain, as will restrictions on its technology companies. The splintering of the digital world and its supply chain into two parts, one Chinese-dominated and the other American-led, will continue. Sino-American rivalry will not be the only fissiparous influence on globalisation. Chastened by their reliance on imported medical supplies and other critical goods (often from China), governments from Europe to India will redefine the scope of “strategic industries” that must be protected. State aid to support this new industrial policy has become and will remain ubiquitous.

https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2020/11/17/after-the-crisis-opportunity

On China:

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/10/04/chinese-investment-and-influence-in-europe-is-growing

With the West battered and China crowing, plenty of pundits (including in this publication) will declare the pandemic to be the death knell for a Western-led world order. That will prove premature. For all its “vaccine diplomacy”, China inspires fear and suspicion more than admiration. And for all his determination to bring China centre-stage, its president, Xi Jinping, shows little appetite for genuine global leadership. Although Mr Trump’s contempt for allies and forays into transactional diplomacy have shaken trust in the American-led global order, they have not destroyed it.

On Biden, as the political antidote to a ‘dangerous Leftism’ = Left-Wing Social Democrats. Medicare for all is not an integral part of ‘Bidenomics’ (Call this neologism what it is a dull-witted placeholder for actual argument)

But he could be just the right person. Mr Biden’s policy platform is ambitious enough. Behind the slogan of “build back better” is a bold, but not radical, attempt to marry short-term stimulus with hefty investment in green infrastructure, research and technology to dramatically accelerate America’s energy transformation. From expanding health-care access to improving social insurance, the social contract proposed by Bidenomics is a 21st-century version of the Progressive era: bold reform without dangerous leftism.

This selective quotation, from the final paragraph of Beddoes’ essay is less that enthusiastic about Biden, that descends into demotic moralizing.

… Mr Biden himself is too focused on repairing yesterday’s world rather than building tomorrow’s, and too keen to protect existing jobs and prop up ossified multilateral institutions to push for the kind of change that is needed. The biggest danger is not the leftist lurch that many Republicans fear—it is of inaction, timidity and stasis. For America and the world, that would be a terrible shame.

https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2020/11/17/after-the-crisis-opportunity

Beddoes is like so many self-appointed political technocrats ,obsessed with ‘policy’, rather than what effect those policies have on human lives. Its ‘as if’ these technos are in a laboratory, rather than the unpredictable, and utterly ungovernable human world. This was called ‘Social Engineering’, in the days of the Soviets, but not a subject that the once ascendet Neo-Liberals, and their fellow travelers, would dare to broach about their own Utopianism, now in a state of ungovernable collapse.

Old Socialist

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Thomas B. Edsall diagnoses the trouble with The New Democrats, in The New York Times of November 18, 2020 . Old Socialist comments

Mr. Edsall’s opening sentence: ‘The Democratic Party is struggling with internal contradictions, as its mixed performance on Election Day makes clear.’

It doesn’t dawn on this writer, that the ‘internal contradictions’ facing the Democrats is about a conflict between the New Democrats, Neo-Liberals, and a resurgent New Deal Democrats, following the 2008 Financial Collapse. Not to mention the rise and destruction of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by Bloomberg and Obama. Or the rise of Piketty, as, perhaps, its intellectual contemporary ? The next sentence should not surprise:

Analysts and insiders are already talking ­— sometimes in apocalyptic terms — about how hard it will be for Joe Biden to hold together the coalition that elected him as the 46th president. 

Mr. Edsall frames his comments via the opinions of these ‘anaysists and insiders’. And quite impressive they are! Call these political actors, what they are ‘Technocrats’ as is Mr. Edsall. But his cast of players is epic, like Cecil B. De Mille’s cinematic hyperbole.

Jonathan Rodden, a political scientist at Stanford 

Julie Wronski, a political scientist at the University of Mississippi,

A Democratic operative with experience working on elections from the presidency on down

Abigail Spanberger, who represents the 7th Congressional District in Virginia

Representative Rashida Tlaib

Tom Emmer, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee,

Marc Farinella — a frequent adviser to Democratic campaigns

Dane Strother, a Democratic consultant

Bruce Cain, a political scientist at Stanford

Bernard Grofman, a political scientist at the University of California-Irvine

Darren Kew, a professor in the University of Massachusetts-Boston Department of Conflict Resolution

 New Deal StrategiesJustice DemocratsSunrise Movement and Data for Progress

Michael Podhorzer, senior adviser to Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO

Eitan Hersh, a political scientist at Tufts

Dani Rodrik, a Harvard economist

With all the rhetorical ballast, not to speak of a rampant appeal to authority, Edsall ends with well worn political cliches, in these two paragraphs:

It is the very determination of each of these blocs to place a priority on its own agenda that casts doubt on the ability of the Democratic Party to unite in support of the kind of economic platform Rodrik describes, a step that would require the subordination of narrower interests in favor of the party’s collective interest. Unfortunately, this demand for a willingness to sacrifice or compromise factional interests comes at a time when there has been a steady erosion of a national commitment to collective responsibility.

In a way, this is yet another tragic legacy of the Trump administration. Liberal advocacy groups have become more in-your-face, more intense, partly in reaction to the intransigence of the Trump regime, a development that is in turn irrevocably linked to the intensity of the conflicts across the country and within the Democratic Party itself.

The fact that Neo-Liberalism, in America, from Ronald Reagan to the political present is ignored. The ‘as if’ here is that the economic collapse of 2008 was, somehow, not about the very failure of that Economic/Political Mirage of the Free Market. That was to be the beginning of a New Age of prosperity, much like the post-war boom, and its twin the Cold War, and a Defense Industry that fueled that prosperity.

It was the Clintons and Joe Biden, the New Democrats, whose:  ‘The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996’ , the 1994 ‘Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act’ and  GrammLeachBliley Act (GLBA), the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999. These laws Reagan could not enact , but the Clintons and their ally Joe Biden did, with catestprohic effect.

Mr. Edsall wan attempt to diagnose the state of the Democratic Party’s ‘internal contradictions’, fails to confront the betrayal that the Clintons and Joe Biden are to that New Deal Tradition!

Old Socialist  

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Excerpt from New Historian Benny Morris’ Ha’aretz interview, via CounterPunch

“Remember another thing: the Arab people gained a large slice of the planet. Not thanks to its skills or its great virtues, but because it conquered and murdered and forced those it conquered to convert during many generations. But in the end the Arabs have 22 states. The Jewish people did not have even one state. There was no reason in the world why it should not have one state. Therefore, from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them.”

And morally speaking, you have no problem with that deed?

“That is correct. Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.”

And in our case it effectively justifies a population transfer.

“That’s what emerges.”

And you take that in stride? War crimes? Massacres? The burning fields and the devastated villages of the Nakba?

“You have to put things in proportion. These are small war crimes. All told, if we take all the massacres and all the executions of 1948, we come to about 800 who were killed. In comparison to the massacres that were perpetrated in Bosnia, that’s peanuts. In comparison to the massacres the Russians perpetrated against the Germans at Stalingrad, that’s chicken feed. When you take into account that there was a bloody civil war here and that we lost an entire 1 percent of the population, you find that we behaved very well.”

https://www.counterpunch.org/2004/01/16/an-interview-with-benny-morris/

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Apologies to my readers, to @sullydish and Peter Van Buren. StephenKMackSD

I have removed my essay of March 3, 2018 because of my own inexcusable lack of attention, to the responsibilities, that being a writer means. The title was:


‘Peter Van Buren vs Andrew Sullivan on ‘Russiagate’ and its ersatz hero Robert Mueller. Political Cynic comments (Revised)’


My apologies to Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Van Buren, and to my readers: mea culpa!!

StephenKMackSD

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Old Socialist on Two Views of Joe Biden.

As an publication that takes its name from The Dismal Science, adopted by The Economist, to represent a semblance of bourgeois political respectability. While engaging in a politics representing itself as the height of British rationality and probity. The publication of ‘Liberalism at Large” The World According to the Economistby Alexander Zevin demonstrated that this was a self-serving pose, of political/moral/economic virtue. Here, a selection from this essay:

Under the rubric of The Pragmatist

Headline: Joe Biden would not remake America’s economy

Sub-headline: He would improve its fortunes, though

Some leaders , when they come into office, have a powerful economic vision for transforming how their country creates wealth and distributes it. Others approach power as pragmatists whose goal is to subtly shape the political and economic forces they inherit. Joe Biden is firmly in the second camp. He is a lifelong centrist whose most enduring economic belief is his admiration for hard-working Americans and who has shifted with the centre of gravity in his party. But Mr Biden’s ability to go with the flow means that, at the moment, both the left and the right are anxious about the prospect of Bidenomics.

At the same time Mr Biden will head up a party that has indeed shifted more to the left and that has a more radical wing that, while not dominant, is influential and thinks America’s economic model is broken and that the answer is a vastly bigger state. Combined with this, the public is bitterly divided and many people are wary of globalisation. Under President Donald Trump, America’s standing in the world has slumped.

Because of this chaotic backdrop and Mr Biden’s own lack of a fixed economic doctrine, the range of outcomes attributed to a Biden presidency is bewildering and not always benign.

Mr Biden’s long career does not exactly suggest much enthusiasm for economics.

The Diamond State is home to the headquarters of some icons of 20th-century industry, including DuPont, some of whose workers lived in the suburb Mr Biden spent his teens in. His exposure to such folk may help explain his fondness for manufacturing and a more paternalistic capitalism.

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/10/03/joe-biden-would-not-remake-americas-economy?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/thepragmatistjoebidenwouldnotremakeamericaseconomybriefing

This wan endorsement of Biden- the question arises where is Adrian Wooldridge? who might have written a more readable, succinct and stylistically sophisticated essay. Instead of this realization that the Dismal Science, married to an equally dismal Politics, that produces a rhetorical product that hews to the Market Ideology, but nothing beyond that!

Woven into this Economist essay is the predictable Anti-Left hysteria, no matter how benign that ‘Left’ may appear. That ‘Left’ being Left-Wing Social Democrats, that has become an integral part of another of the political monsters, conjured by this ‘newspaper’ , called ‘Populists’. A selection:

As he grapples with this topsy-turvy economy, Mr Biden will have to deal with a second force in the form of the left wing of his party. Over a third of voters in the Democratic primaries supported Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, whose plans involved a giant expansion in annual government spending. Since then Mr Biden has skillfully flattered the more radical left while ignoring their more ambitious proposals, such as nationalised health care and the “Green New Deal”, a package promoted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a congresswomen, among others, which includes a guaranteed job for all. In July a joint Biden-Sanders task force agreed on watered-down policy recommendations. Some of these Mr Biden then further diluted into his own proposals. Even so, the left will still demand jobs in any administration. And the centre of the party remains to the left of public opinion. Opinion polls suggest the typical American is more worried about climate change and China than they used to be, and more relaxed about government borrowing (see chart 2). But 87% of them still believe in free enterprise.

Biden looks like a ‘Leftist’? The Income Tax of the Eisenhower era was 90%!

Mr Biden would raise the headline rate on corporate income from 21% to up to 28%, levy minimum taxes on foreign earnings and remove tax perks for real-estate and private-equity firms. Individuals earning more than $400,000 would see the top band of income tax rise to up to 39.6%, and those earning more than $1m might have to pay a capital-gains rate that is nearer the one they pay on their income.

The New York Times offers a list of contenders for ‘key’ positions in the Biden Administration. The reader can compare this list with The Economist predictions.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/11/us/politics/biden-cabinet.html

A second way Mr Biden could influence the economy, and give licence to his party’s more radical impulses, is through job appointments. Yet it seems unlikely that he will appoint Ms Warren as treasury secretary, or even attorney-general. That would send an alarming signal to the business community when the economy is fragile. It would also trigger a special election to fill her Senate seat in Massachusetts. Instead the front-runners to become treasury secretary are centrists. They include Lael Brainard, a centre-left member of the Federal Reserve Board; Jeff Zients, a co-head of Mr Biden’s transition team; Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a former Obama official and Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former Fed governor and treasury official. If a business figure is needed then Ruth Porat, the finance chief of Alphabet, a tech giant, is also thought to be a contender.

A return to a random selection of the Anti-Left Hysterics, and other telling comments of The Economist, is instructive of this ‘newspaper’s’ sometimes befuddled reactionary politics.

At the same time Mr Biden will head up a party that has indeed shifted more to the left and that has a more radical wing that, while not dominant, is influential and thinks America’s economic model is broken and that the answer is a vastly bigger state

To some Republicans on Wall Street and in boardrooms he would enable a hostile takeover by the radical left. “The country is running the risk of structural changes under the guise of social justice which would take the us into a place where it won’t know how to function,” claims one.

Then there is this seemingly political nosequiter:

By instinct he is an admirer of the middle-class more than the country’s glittering plutocratic elite or its downtrodden.

On the possible danger of Kamala Harris. The fact that this essay’s writer misses is that Harris is just another New Democrat, in sum, a Neo-Liberal, a Biden fellow traveler. Though possessed of an ambition, that led to her merciless attack against Biden on the debate stage.

Based on Mr Biden’s own experience as vice-president, in which he acted as a key counsellor to Mr Obama, Ms Harris would have an important voice in his administration. She sits to the left of him on tax and spending, although she is within the mainstream. And having rejected its signature policies and outmanoeuvred its star figures, Mr Biden might try to placate the left of his party by giving it lots of jobs in the regulatory apparatus where they would emit a cacophony of left-sounding signals.

For a second view of Biden, see Michael Wolff’s review of ‘Joe Biden : American Dreamer’ by Evan Osnos, at the Times Literary Supplement of November 13, 2020. Recall Mr Wolff as the author of two Trump Sagas , Fire and Fury, 2018, and Siege, 2019 and his biography of Murdoch. Mr. Wolff doesn’t seem quite the type, that the TLS used to favor. The Academic reviewing, the books of other Academics, or writers, literati and pretenders on the make. Having listened to an hour long radio interview, of Mr. Wolff, on the publication of the Murdoch biography, he seemed to be suffering from an oversized ego, with the arrogance to go with that. The only thing that stuck me, beside the former impression, was his use of the catch-phrase ‘Great Television’. He seemed enamored of it as some how a telling comment, perhaps he thought of it as Delphic?

Two examples of Mr. Wolff’s canny self-promotion, on the Murdoch biography demonstrates that knows the value of a particular kind of Media Saturation:

RUPERT TO INTERNET: IT’S WAR!

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2009/11/michael-wolff-200911

_________________________________________________________________________

Murdoch’s big secret is that he doesn’t have one

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/murdoch-s-big-secret-is-that-he-doesn-t-have-one

____________________________________________________________________________

Some sample of Wolff’s observations, that he might think of as revelatory apercus, or at the least as something close?

Joe Biden isn’t just a dramatic alternative to Donald Trump but to Barack Obama as well. The cool, charismatic Obama promised to be a transformational figure in politics and culture, possibly the greatest ever leap forwards in American public life. It was the failure of that promise, and its over-hyped nature, that helped to pave the way for the loutish – and in his own way charismatic – Trump, whose margin of victory in 2016 was largely provided by Obama voters who converted to him.

Joe Biden: American dreamer by Evan Osnos, an early-out-of-the-gate primer on the new president, is in itself quite a throwback. 

Osnos’s account of Biden’s life and political education is written in a news magazine style (Time and Newsweek, in their day, were the leading exponents of the obliging political biography). Here we see the journalist in sync with the aspirations and craft of the politician, admiring, often in awe of, his subject’s driving ambition to rise in the political structure, and his skills in accomplishing this.

Biden is an affecting character in the system’s last stand because he is a lover of the system, not a technocrat who strains to make the levers work but an artisan, even an artist. This most unlikely figure, without modern skills and guile, believing what, practically speaking, nobody believes – that the system is good, and that if you trust it enough it will work – has been sent to save us. That’s a fantastic story, any way it turns out.

The reader need only look at both these essays, one steeped in an Economics of a particular brand, and the other one steeped in what can’t exactly be named ‘Entertainment Value’ but is something that is too close to that ‘value’!

Old Socialist

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