At The Financial Times: Greece and the costs of ‘Market Discipline’. Almost Marx scoffs!

Jim Brunsden and Kerin Hope recite the Neo-Liberal Catechism as if it were Revealed Truth. The Greeks must meet the Austerity Standards set by its creditors, the recitation of Neo-Liberal Propaganda: Hit the targets, Stimulate the economy,Fix the banks, Create an investor-friendly environment.  Political Economy tarted up with Statistical Data! the policy of ‘Austerity’ is a FAILURE where ever  it has been visited upon populations by bankrupt Technocrats!

Here is the central propaganda claim of this polemic, the Welfare State is the enemy of the Market Ideology, enunciated by the trio of charlatans Hayek/Mises/Friedman! Privatisation is the answer:

Another challenge to build investor confidence is to complete flagship privatisations such as the €8bn Hellinikon project to redevelop Athens’ former international airport as a business, residential and leisure centre. “Hellinikon is a large enough project to be a catalyst for changing the Greek economy,” said Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of the centre-right New Democracy party.

Greece came 67th in the World Bank’s latest annual assessment of the “ease of doing business” in different countries — ahead only of Malta among EU member states.

On the human costs of this policy, all the reader need do is read this New York Times news story:

Headline:  Greece’s Bailout Is Ending. The Pain Is Far From Over.

But the price of Greece’s apparent turnaround has been steep. A wrenching downturn, combined with nearly a decade of sharp spending cuts and tax increases to repair the nation’s finances, has left over a third of the population of 10 million near poverty, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

To make the economy more competitive, Greece’s creditors — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission — set austerity terms that included suspending collective bargaining and easing conditions for firing. Salaries in the public and private sectors fell more than 20 percent. The monthly minimum wage was cut to €586 in 2012, the second-lowest in the eurozone, from €751.

The cost of ‘Austerity’ is the impoverishment of ten million human beings, who must submit to ‘Market Discipline’, this is political, moral Bankruptcy!

Almost Marx

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Hans Kundnani reviews Jan Zielonka’s ‘Counter-Revolution’ at The Times Literary Supplement. Political Observer comments

It is, without doubt, presumptuous to truncate Mr. Kundnani’s review of  Mr. Jan Zielonka’s book ‘Counter Revolution’, but these historical insights as reviewed, explicated, indeed,  illuminated by Kundnani, need to be shared with the largest possible readership!

Zielonka seeks not so much to defend the status quo based on the particular form of liberalism that has prevailed throughout the West in the past forty years, as to ask what went wrong with the wider liberal project. His critique of the complacency of Western and especially European elites is particularly powerful. As populist figures, movements and parties became stronger, he writes, centre-left and centre-right parties joined forces against them and refused to admit mistakes or reverse policies. “The official narrative became black and white”, he writes. “The establishment insisted on continuing with projects that gave Europe ‘prosperity and peace’ and it accused critics of trying to undermine its noble efforts. Self-reflection, let alone self-criticism, have been missing.”

Unlike much of what is currently being written about “liberalism”, Zielonka also recognizes the complexity inherent in the term, which, he writes, “does not represent a single coherent phenomenon”. He is particularly helpful in disaggregating liberalism into distinct “streams”. “When we talk about the successes and failures of liberalism we need to specify which types of liberalism we are talking about”, he writes. Thus he is sensitive to the tensions between different elements and forms of liberalism and suggests that liberals have themselves betrayed the liberal project. In particular, he argues, neoliberalism “captured and perverted” liberalism and is “the prime factor behind the series of crises currently facing Europe”.

The difficult question is where the EU – seen by some, particularly on the Right, as an illiberal project and by others, particularly on the Left, as a neoliberal project – fits into this picture. Zielonka writes that the EU needs to be “reinvented” and should reject the “neo­liberal agenda of deregulation, marketization and privatization” that it has “progressively embraced”. He also notes the connection between neoliberal economics and migration – neoliberalism, he writes, is dependent on continued availibility of cheap migrant labour”. Yet he stops short of questioning the principle of freedom of movement or its evolution in practice since the end of the Cold War.

What more can a reader ask of a reviewer of books, than to present the writers ideas and their expression, through the lens of a critical intelligence and sensibility? Mr. Kundnani demonstrates the value of the exercise of that critical intelligence and sensibility.

Political Observer




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@JananGanesh on VS Naipaul. American Writer comments

Like both Maugham and Greene, Naipaul was a monster. But in addition to Mr. Genesh’s essay read V.S. Pritchett’s review of ‘The Mimic Men’ and ‘A Flag on the Island’ from the April 11, 1968 New York Review of Books. The first paragraph demonstrates Pritchett’s mastery:

Among the younger English novelists Mr. V. S. Naipaul is a virtuoso. A brilliant chameleon from the Caribbean, the descendant of Hindu immigrants, he has grown into the English novel with more lasting assurance than almost all contemporaries in the West Indies or Africa who are in the same case. This has not been achieved by intelligence and education alone; nor by the fact that the West Indies were, in many respects, a very fertilizing Victorian enclave. His advantage is that he shares with many English novelists natural and serious feeling for the fantasy life of his characters. This was obvious in the rich comi-tragedy of Mr. Biswas; also in his one purely English novel, Mr. Stone and the Knight’s Companion, in which he made a careful study of the “little man” and pushed forward the tradition of Pooter, Polly, and the Napoleon of Notting Hill into regions that were more exposed and dangerous, without falling into pastiche or charm. There are poor dogged little clerks all over the world, and Mr. Naipaul, who is above all a diagnostician in his comedy, brought a piercing West Indian eye to what was either a Russian or a London subject. After their first success with their native scene, most African, Indian, or West Indian novelists who have made the emotionally and politically disrupting journey to Oxford or London run aground on the shallows of journalistic writing: assertion and loneliness coarsen them. Everything becomes, crudely, a problem. Mr. Naipaul has had the sensibility and the stamina to avoid this. He feels his pain, but he is in command. His latest novel is a resourceful, compassionate, intensely critical and imaginative statement of a colonial crack-up, but not a bald and impersonal one. It is put together ingeniously as a mosaic of recurring themes.

V.S. Pritchett was one of the great critics of his age! Mr. Ganesh workman like essay can’t quite match the insights offered by a writer and critic who had mastered both forms.

American Writer


@Hollow Man @StephenKMackSD

Thank you for your comment.

‘I certainly was not expecting this comment from you…’

I can only ponder what you mean by this? Although it doesn’t deserve the time nor the space.

‘… a review furthermore that praises him in rather old-fashioned terms.’

Mr. Pritchett essay remains what it is, not just an insightful exercise in literary criticism, but a paradigmatic exercise in the essay form! That has aged not just well, but represents what that endeavor can mean to a reader: every writer deserves a critic who can exercise this kind of literary evaluation, against the background of a tradition. Aided by the vast reading an actual critic can draw upon.

Mr. Ganesh’s gift for caustically framed Tory Hipster political commentary, does not fit with the imperatives of the literary critic.
On the question of Balzac, I’ve read these Penguin Classics: Lost Illusions, Cousin Bette, The Wild Ass’s Skin and found them worthy of my time. His work is a part of our literary tradition, that places his accomplishments with Hugo and Dickens.

I’ve read most of Graham Green’s novels and found even his ‘entertainments’ worthy of praise. For his economy of expression -for me this bring into sharper focus ,what Sartre attempted to explore in his ‘Roads to Freedom’ cycle, in sum, the existential dilemmas of post war humanity, to put it in highfalutin terms.
Look to EnglishRose’s valuable comment, that points to the intrinsic value, indeed necessity, of reading across the span of the history, of writing itself and our engagement with that tradition, as alive to those willing to engage with it.

‘Put differently. what would a modern Naipaul write about and how would he or she write it? Any thoughts?

Arundhati Roy and Pankaj Mishra are the two novelists and essayists, writing today, who are the most trenchant critics of the Colonial Project’s abysmal failure and its political/intellectual/moral legacy. They attack with  cogency the idea and practice of Western Hegemony as foundational to the ‘Rationalism’ tout court.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment on the continuing Trump Political Melodrama. Political Observer comments

Fellow Financial Times readers spend some of your valuable time reading some other writers ,than Mr.Luce’s jejune speculations, prognostications, not to speak of a rickety psychological portrait of the Carnival Barker Trump.
First is the American ‘Liberal’ Eugene Robinson’s Hymn of Praise to the ‘Deep State’ in the Washington Post, owned by CIA contractee Jeff Bezos:

Headline: God bless the ‘deep state’.

Before this harebrained and reckless administration is history, the nation will have cause to celebrate the public servants derided by Trumpists as the supposed “deep state.”

The term itself is propaganda, intended to cast a sinister light upon men and women whom Trump and his minions find annoyingly knowledgeable and experienced. They are not participants in any kind of dark conspiracy. Rather, they are feared and loathed by the president and his wrecking crew of know-nothings because they have spent years — often decades — mastering the details of foreign and domestic policy.

God bless them. With a supine Congress unwilling to play the role it is assigned by the Constitution, the deep state stands between us and the abyss.

One can only wonder at the state of ‘Liberalism’, that one of its advocates, representatives  should praise such a lawless band of nihilistic political actors. Such is the manufactured hysteria aided and abetted by the Brennan/Clapper/Clinton political alliance.

Then turn your attention to Ray McGovern’s latest essay. This from a man with some actual long term experience working, with distinction, in that ‘Deep State’

Headline :‘Trump Strikes Back at ‘Ringleader’ Brennan’

Sub-headline: At war with current and former intelligence officials since before he was elected, Donald Trump Wednesday moved to strip Barack Obama’s CIA chief of his security clearance, though worse may be in store for John Brennan, says Ray McGovern.

There’s more than meets the eye to President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearances that ex-CIA Director John Brennan enjoyed as a courtesy customarily afforded former directors.  The President’s move is the second major sign that Brennan is about to be hoist on his own petard. It is one embroidered with rhetoric charging Trump with treason and, far more important, with documents now in the hands of congressional investigators showing Brennan’s ringleader role in the so-far unsuccessful attempts to derail Trump both before and after the 2016 election.

Brennan will fight hard to avoid being put on trial but will need united support from from his Deep State co-conspirators — a dubious proposition.  One of Brennan’s major concerns at this point has to be whether the “honor-among-thieves” ethos will prevail, or whether some or all of his former partners in crime will latch onto the opportunity to “confess” to investigators: “Brennan made me do it.”

The question to the reader then becomes what shall I make of these three opinions, in the most vulgar terms, where might I place my wager? Or can that reader see with growing clarity that the indited Russian Trolls have challenged the Mueller case in court:

Headline:Mueller’s Attempt to Hide Evidence Just Got Torn Apart by Attorneys for Alleged Russian Troll Farm

While making their case for why Mueller’s blanket protective order should not be granted, Concord Management cites the wide-ranging nature of the request itself. Noting, “The Special Counsel seeks the unprecedented process of prohibiting defense counsel from sharing or discussing any discovery with any co-defendant—including the only person affiliated with Concord named in the Indictment—unless those individuals come to the United States to become hostages in this political game of tit-for-tat.”

Concord’s description here is essentially correct. Mueller’s protective order would be unprecedented in the district. As noted later in the filing, no published court opinion in the D.C. Circuit has ever allowed such a blanket protective order for unclassified discovery materials–the case law just isn’t there.

And aside from the district in question, Dubelier also claims that “[n]o reported court case has ever endorsed a blanket protective order of this magnitude for unclassified discovery.” This is another way of saying that Mueller has apparently requested something so prohibitive that there’s arguably no analogue to it in U.S. law. This is a broad accusation and necessarily an open question. Unfortunately for our purposes, it can’t really be analyzed here because Mueller, naturally, only purports to cite a handful of cases in his initial request–and not the entirety of U.S. law and jurisprudence.

And this from America’s Political Gossip Sheet, with pretension, on the Manafort Trial, day thirteen, it takes three reporters to cover this news story:

Headline: Manafort trial Day 13: Jury deliberations begin, verdict timing unknown

Sub-headline: The former Trump campaign chairman has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of tax and bank fraud.

Jurors began deliberating Thursday in Paul Manafort’s trial on bank- and tax-fraud charges, but the possible timing of a verdict remains unknown.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III sent the 12-person jury off with a lengthy list of instructions on how they are to weigh reams of evidence and testimony delivered by special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors and the former Trump campaign chairman’s lawyers over the course of the two-plus week trial in Alexandria, Virginia.

“You may deliberate as long or as little as you like,” Ellis told the jurors before he officially impaneled them. “How long you deliberate is entirely up to you.”

A court security official who briefed reporters later Thursday morning said the jury can work as long as they want each day, even beyond the 5:30 p.m. end time they’ve typically had. The official said a verdict will be read in court immediately after its reached — even if it comes after hours.

Any questions the jurors have for the judge will also be read in open court.

As the wait began, Manafort’s attorneys decamped to the Westin hotel restaurant across the street from the courthouse, along with reporters and players from the New York Jets, who are in town for a pre-season game Thursday night against the Washington Redskins.

The jurors are working out of a ninth-floor conference room because the typical space where they meet is otherwise overcrowded.

To even venture a guess, in this political/legal melodrama can only be left to the vulgar Political Theology of Luce, and his allies: who are scribbles that persuade their readers that they are Pundits. Platonic Guardians ,who are the hirelings of the Corporatist in their many guises.

Political Observer








Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment contemplates the American ‘Age of Fragmentation’. Old Socialist comments

This quote from the originator of the ‘Southern Strategy’ Richard Nixon demonstrates that Mr. Ganesh needs to immerse himself in American political/cultural history, instead of parading his utter ignorance of that history as some kind of what?  An Enlightened stance on the danger of ‘Identity Politics’ and citing the Neo-Straussian Mark  Lilla, masquerading as a ‘Liberal’? His political mentors, two notorious Neo-Cons, Daniel Bell and Harvey Mansfield. Despite the notion of ‘lip service’ that places these pronouncements on the indivisible nation into the category of the dubious !

The difference is that racial politics was, for the most part, implicit. It was a matter of coded language and suggestive television advertisements. At no point did either party stop paying lip service to the ideal of an indivisible nation. “They are black, they are white,” said Richard Nixon, even, of his “Silent Majority” in 1968. “They’re native and foreign born.”

Identity Politics’ is the name used by the defenders of  ‘White Male Privilege’ that has ruled the ‘West’ for millennia! But it is also the name for any  politics that the advocates of that privilege don’t like. It is a simplistic shaming technique, to identify those ‘outside the political mainstream’ because politics ,here, is reduced to a tribalist endeavor: insider vs. outsiders.

Look to the recent Financial Times propaganda tool of ‘The Rebellion Against the Elites’ as a once usable tool, that failed to arrest the dreaded ‘Populist Menace’. Gone is the coruscating cynicism of Ganesh Past, as the reader confronts the new incarnation of Ganesh Present, as Political Prophet:

The dread for the republic is that neither reversal ever happens, and the future is fragmentation.

Old Socialist




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Venture Capitalist Nick Hanauer, the Democrats & Reagan’s 11th Commandment: Political Observer comments

‘Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and the founder of Civic Ventures, a public-policy incubator.’

Its Summer and America’s favorite Political Gossip Sheet opens the ‘Floor’ to another ‘Greedy Capitalist’ to lecture the all and sundry members of the Democratic Party, on how they should proceed, after the Trump win. By the way ‘public-policy incubator’ is the Madison Ave. merde stand in for Think Tank,

Mr. Hanauer does not know of, nor does he practice, brevity in this ‘naming and shaming b.s.‘. But the fact is that the Neo-Liberals took over the Party in 1992! And after the Depression of 2008, are loath to give up control of the Party , while it ebbs away in electoral contests outside the Clinton coterie’s reach! A ‘Revolution from below’ that puts Hillary and her minions in a bad light, they need no help in that department, even though Hillary won the popular vote in 2016 by 4 million votes. Think of Mrs. Clinton whining to her staff, they weren’t going to let me have it, or some such locution awash in self-pity: think Aeschylus, Aaron Sorkin, or the long forgotten chronicler of D.C. politics Allen Drury?  
Mr. Hanauer screed is reminiscent of what Matt Miller, writing for the Washington Post editorial page and hosting NPR’s ‘Left, Right and Center’, used, at one point in his political career, to preach about ‘The Radical Center’. Mr. Miller’s political career ended in a lost  political contest for a House seat, and he went to work for an Investment House, surprise! Not that others didn’t opine on the subject, in their desperation to seem politically relevant i.e. Tom Friedman at the New Your Times.

But what Mr. Hanauer is preaching about is Ronald Regan’s , if I recall correctly, 11th Commandment : not to speak ill of another Republican. Just updated for the Democratic Party experiencing an ‘identity crisis’ after the  loss in 2016. The truth that Mr. Hanauer must face is that the Neo-Liberal must go, and what are in essence the New Dealers must take their place. Mrs Clinton and her allies will not let go, so its going to be a long and divisive fight for the ‘soul’ of the Democratic Party, to frame it in terms of Political Theology.  Mr. Hanauer should return to his Thing Tank and hire ghost writer.

Political Observer


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The ‘insights’ of : a collection of quotes and commentary on his London Review of Books essay ‘American Breakdown’. Part One? By Political Observer (Revised)

Mr. Bromwich manages to avoid the current political hysteria ,or simply to mute it, therefore making it more palatable to the reader, than the Corporate Media hysterics.He even manages to shame these political actors, yet at the same moment to exercise a kind of restrained iteration of the current Party Line.

Much of the damage to US politics over the last two years has been done by the anti-Trump media themselves, with their mood of perpetual panic and their lack of imagination. But the uncanny gift of Trump is an infectious vulgarity, and with it comes the power to make his enemies act with nearly as little self-restraint as he does.

Mr. Bromwich’s Bill of Attainder includes Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt to the EPA, and his successor Andrew Wheeler both products of an utterly corrupt American Corporatism. Next in order of consideration is Iran, and the Wars of Empire: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, all fully endorsed by the New Democrats, led by ‘tougher than any man in the room’ Mrs. Clinton. An utter inconvenience to Mr. Bromwich’s reserved indictment.

But the patient, indeed, doubtful reader of this writer’s judgement is taken aback by this deviation from the Party Line:

Russia remains the obsessional concern. Not wanting to restart the Cold War might seem one of the few good ideas attributable to Trump, no matter how he came by it, but the pride of the Democrats is invested in pushing him towards renewed conflict: stiffer sanctions, cyber implants, enhanced deployments and joint military exercises with Nato – nothing (it is said) should be ‘off the table’. American commentators lack even a minimal awareness of the circumstances of the eastward push of Nato after 1990. President George H.W. Bush, in return for a united Germany, had promised that Nato would expand ‘not one inch eastward’; and the evacuation of this pledge in the years that followed, under Clinton, the younger Bush and Obama, has rightly been considered a betrayal by every Russian leader from Gorbachev to Putin.

History intrudes itself into a subject not mentioned, but the constant sub-text of the Anti-Trump coterie’s agitprop : The New Cold War fomented by Mrs. Clinton, her minions, and the perpetually bloodthirsty Neo-Conservatives, who have a continuing political romance with her jingoism, expressed by the notion of her ‘toughness’. History is again utterly inconvenient, Mr. Bromwich should be congratulated for this moment of clarifying honesty. A long quote from the virtuous martyred American political saint Lincoln adds more historical depth.

Next in order of appearance are political hysterics Senator Joe McCarthy and Congressman Adam Schiff. Then to Patrick Buchanan and his :

‘Many Putin actions we condemn were reactions to what we did. Russia annexed Crimea bloodlessly. But did not the US bomb Serbia for 78 days to force Belgrade to surrender her cradle province of Kosovo? How was that more moral than what Putin did in Crimea?’

By this quotation from Mr. Buchanan, identifies Mr. Bromwich as an Apostate to the current New Cold War Mythology!

Next in line are considerations of the Republican Party’s ‘collaboration’ with Trump and the utterly preposterous , but  self-congratulatory notion of the ‘Resistance’. Recall  the quote from Goya: ‘The sleep of reason brings forth monsters’ !

Mr. Bromwich then opines that:

Police, for the most part, haven’t yet shown a pro-Trump disposition, and Democrats should want to keep things that way. Among officers of law enforcement at all levels, Trump’s role as an instigator of popular disorders is the strongest point against him.

The years 2016 and 2017 have escaped the political memory of Mr. Bromwich, in which 2600, mostly black people, were murdered by police in America, without one conviction in a court of law. The Police have already rendered a verdict. The ‘Broken Widows Policy’ of the Manhattan Institute,  has evolved into a siege mentality- the domestic corollary of the War on Terror. A  bourgeois pundit like Mr. Bromwich dare not go that far in his Apostasy.

The first part of Mr. Bromwich’s ends with the ‘Democrats’ and the feckless dullard Comey, playing a new role as FBI Hero, straight out of the manufactured lore of  movies,radio and television propaganda, spanning generations. The scandal of the FBI Crime Laboratory remains unmentioned in Mr. Bromwich commentary:

See John F. Kelly author of Tainting Evidence : Behind the Scandals at the FBI Crime Lab on C-Span address here of July 10, 1998:

And read this Atlantic news story on the same issue here:

Headline: CSI Is a Lie

Comey shares in J.Edgar Hoover’s political paranoia about ‘The Left’ as the embodiment of the political evil, as opposed to the virtues of American Centrism.  His handling of the Clinton e mails demonstrates his political maladroitness, but confirms his faith in his sense of duty to Truth, no matter the political costs. For the lazy, but entitled, Mrs. Clinton and her allies in the National Security Sate apparatus, Brennan and Clapper it was a betrayal that could not be countenanced. But adds  to the gloss of Mrs. Clinton as victim, of the scheming of Trump and his Russian Overlord Putin.

Political Observer



August 17, 2018

I have decided not to write a Part Two on Mr. Bromwich’s essay. But I feel I must comment on one  part of the remainder of his polemic, in which he lauds James Comey as FBI Hero:

Comey’s memoir has now surpassed the combined sales of Michael Wolff’s portrait of the Trump White House, Fire and Fury, and Hillary Clintons’s election elegy What Happened. The book, written in an idiom identical to the one he uses in interviews and press briefings, is clearly the work of an un-ghosted author, and it contains passages most unusual for an official memoir:

There is a place I have visited on the coast of North Carolina where two barrier islands come close together. In the narrow passageway between them, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet the waters of the huge and shallow sound that lies behind the islands. There is turbulence in that place and waves appear to break even though no land is visible. I imagine that the leaders of the Department of Justice stand at that spot, between the turbulent waters of the political world and the placid waters of the apolitical sound. Their job is to respond to the political imperatives of the president and the voters who elected him, while also protecting the apolitical work of the thousands of agents, prosecutors, and staff who make up the bulk of the institution. So long as the leaders understand the turbulence, they can find their footing. If they stumble, the ocean water overruns the sound and the department has become just another political organ. Its independent role in American life has been lost and the guardians of justice have drowned.

This depth of formal piety cannot be faked; the passage shows the burden (as Comey sees it) of maintaining constitutional and legal restraints on Donald Trump.

There is nothing new here, Mr. Bromwich follows the Party Line, on this whole scandal, except that the tone is more measured, a bit less dominated by hysteria. But absent is the elegant rhetorical framing to add a certain depth, in sum, he descends into the demotic.    Bromwich  expresses faith in Comey based on an excerpt from his book. ‘This depth of formal piety cannot be faked; ‘ call this dubious!  A selection of Mr. Comey’s tweets leaves no doubt, that he is the natural successor to  J. Edgar Hoover’s Anti-Left hysteria mongering , not to speak of his historically verifiable record of active persecution of Leftists !




Political Observer




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