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.


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.


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:




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

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.