janan.ganesh@ft.com profound ignorance of American History. American Writer comments.

It used to be at least interesting to read Mr. Ganesh! His latest essay posits the ‘as if’ the Pandemic, and its effects on working people, at all levels of employment is a mystery, that Mr. Ganesh ‘solves’ with a sentence that starts here ‘A lockdown with no peacetime precedent cost just 3.5 per cent of national output;’ ! Not to forget the Headline writers contribution to his politicalyarn:

Headline: America’s economic boom and civic bust

Sub-headline: The story is not that a rich country is so politically broken but that a politically broken country is so rich

Here follow pairs of facts about the contemporary US. The economy added 850,000 jobs in one month; a third of voters believe the last presidential election was stolen. A lockdown with no peacetime precedent cost just 3.5 per cent of national output; states as large as Georgia are curbing the independence of election officials. At 7 per cent, anticipated economic growth this year is that of mid-2000s China; a twice-impeached president is near-favourite to clinch the next Republican nomination.


On the vexing question of ‘civic bust’ : I recall 1968: the assassination of Martin Luther King and the riots that followed, the assassination of Robert Kennedy , The Democratic Convention, Mayor Dailey, and its Police Riot, the fact that George Wallace received 9 million votes in the Presidential election. All of this framed by the Vietnam War, the The Best and the Brightest’s murderous neo-colonialism.

Mr. Ganesh can’t address his own ignorance of American history, but marvel at his cast of rhetorical players:

A Tale of Two Cities, The End of History and the Last Man, Weimar Germany, pre-Caesar Rome, “Glorious Thirty”, Algerian war, the Fourth Republic, Charles de Gaulle, May ‘68, The Sorrow and The Pity.

The three final paragraphs of his essay are framed by this pronouncement:

The lesson here is consoling or chilling, according to taste. A nation can prosper despite its politics.

Out of the thicket of chatter, this stands in higher relief :

Viewed from this angle, California is not a world unto itself but the nation in miniature: a place where woeful politics and scarcely believable dynamism cohabit.

Here is a sobering report from Equal Times:

Headline: Homeless in Silicon Valley: how the heartland of global tech became the epicentre of a housing crisis

If California was a country it would have the sixth largest GDP in the world, directly behind the United Kingdom and slightly ahead of France. However, as the economy has grown, so has income inequality. According to the most recentAnnual Homeless Assessment Report by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, California accounts for nearly half of all unsheltered people in the country.

For Amie Fishman, the executive director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), it is the “Ground Zero” of America’s housing crisis. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the San Francisco Bay Area, which as well as being home to Silicon Valley and some of the world’s richest companies is also home to a population of service workers who can barely afford to live there.

“We are facing the gravest crisis in housing unaffordability and inequity in recent history,” says Fishman. “We are in a new period where housing has become a commodity and private consumer good bought and sold by institutional investors,” she says.


American Writer

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
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