on Carl Schmitt. Old Socialist comments

Mr. Rachman’s choice of Jan-Werner Müller as not just a representative, but advocate, for a nostalgia that has at its center, a return of a ‘Liberalism’ of the kind that takes as its exemplars : ‘Isaiah Berlin, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Karl Popper, and Raymond Aron’ is misbegotten.
See Mr. Müller’s essay titled ‘What Cold War Liberalism Can Teach Us Today’ at The New York Review of Books of November 26, 2018:  Some revelatory quotations and commentary:

But if liberal democracy itself is under threat of collapse because of this weakened center, why are the great defenders of the “open society” such as Isaiah Berlin, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Karl Popper, and Raymond Aron so little invoked?

Mr. Berlin demonstrated what kind of ‘Liberal’ he was. Read Isaac and Isaiah: The Covert Punishment of a Cold War Heretic by David Caute! *Read Tariq Ali’s enlightening  review of Mr. Caute book here:

That ‘weakened Center’ is now constituted by the New Democrats and the Neo-Conservatives, in sum , The Party Of War and or The Party of Empire.

But what Schlesinger outlined in an influential 1949 book called The Vital Center was not a matter of mere pragmatism, let alone triangulation between extreme left and right. These thinkers sought to craft a principled politics of freedom for the circumstances of the twentieth century.

What Schlesinger advocated with his ‘Vital Center’ was a politics that viewed anyone outside that center, meaning the Left, excluding the Cold War Liberals, were not welcome to participate in America’s electoral process, in sum, that ‘Vital Center’ was  McCartyite. Its institutional expression was the Americans for Democratic Action.

This was very different from the tendency of today’s disoriented centrists to preemptively enact the agenda of populists—…

There are no ‘disoriented centrists’ just the alliance between the bellicose Mrs. Clinton and her Neo-Con cadre, led by Wm. Kristol,Robert Kagan and Jeffrey Goldberg.

Rather than looking forward to a perfected future, right-wing populists in particular conjure up a fantasized past of a homogeneous, pure volk. In fact, they tend to reduce all political questions to questions of belonging: they insinuate that those citizens who do not share their conception of the people do not properly belong to the people at all; if citizens criticize populists, they are quickly condemned as traitors.

This reader recognizes the above technique from the 2008 Republican Campaign, that portrayed Obama as ‘not one of us’!

Please read the rest of Mr. Müller’s essay, his bad judgement is on full display.

To the question of Carl Schmitt, read this enlightening essay by Mark Lilla, from May 17, 1997 issue of The New York Review of Books, in which he reviews eleven books by or about Schmitt titled ‘The Enemy of Liberalism’ .

See also ‘The Enemy: An Intellectual Portrait of Carl Schmitt’ by Gopal Balakrishnan published in 2000 by Verso:

One of the books reviewed by Mr. Lilla Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss:The Hidden Dialogue:

The reader has to wonder that Mr. Schmitt and his writing exists, as a revelation to the ‘Chief foreign affairs commentator’ of the prestigious Financial Times!

The resurgence of interest in Schmitt is testimony to a global backlash against liberalism. As the Princeton political theorist Jan-Werner Müller puts it, Schmitt was “the [20th]century’s most brilliant enemy of liberalism”.

My encounter with Schmitt’s books and ideas began with the Lilla essay, that I have linked to. That led me eventually to Balakrishnan’s ‘Intellectual Portrait’ and to Heinrich Meier’s book, on the relation between Strauss and Schmitt.

Another puzzling revelation in the Balakrishnan book, is that on page 292 note 15 – Schmitt wrote a letter of recommendation for Leo Strauss, to the Rockefeller Foundation, that enabled Strauss to travel to Britain, to do research on his Hobbes book in or very near 1932. Did Schmitt save the life of Strauss? This might just put Mr. Rachman’s penultimate paragraph in a some what different light?

Perhaps more surprisingly, the study of Schmitt has also entered the academic mainstream. As Professor Müller puts it: “In many ways his thought has been normalised.” In 2017, Oxford University Press published The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt. The blurb notes: “Despite Schmitt’s rabid anti-Semitism . . . the appeal of his trenchant critiques of . . . representative democracy and international law . . . is undiminished.”

Old Socialist

*Note that Mr. Ali provides a link to Christopher Hitches’ essay about Berlin at The London Review of Books. Not to be missed!







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@Les Kaye votes Leave! @StephenKMackSD

Thank you for your reply. In its essence, the term ‘Cultural Marxism’ is a term of abuse that describes ‘Critical Theory’ the product of ‘The Frankfurt School’?.That ‘School’ was founded by Felix Weil, a millionaires son, and called the ‘Institute for Marxism’, that evolved into the ‘The Frankfurt School’ and its two most famous members Adorno and Horkheimer. See this portion of a review of the the Rolf Wiggerhaus book*  :

The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories and Political Significance. By Rolf Wiggershaus. Trans. Michael Robertson Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), 787 Pp.

The question that seems to me as the most pressing is why not use the term ‘Critical Theory’ ? the most obvious answer is that this seemingly benign term lacks the propaganda potential of ‘Cultural Marxism’.

What is erased from this propaganda catch phrase is that Hegel and Freud were the other two thinkers, who were of equal import to both the eventual thought leaders Horkheimer/Adorno. On Adorno see:

Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius by Detlev Claussen

What Mr. Claussen makes crystal clear is Adorno’s opposition to the German student Leftists, who idolized him as a precursor, and looked to him for support. Adorno was an intellectual not a ‘revolutionary’ nor a ‘political subversive’ that that catch phrase ‘Cultural Marxism’ conjures ! For a useful introduction to the thought and career of Adorno that adds philosophical depth to Claussen’s biography :

The Melancholy Science: An Introduction to the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno by Gillian Rose

My reply will not lay the question of ‘Cultural Marxism’ to rest,  but it will add a necessary depth, to place this term in its proper historical/political context: as a propaganda device with which its users inflame the continuing debate, that has at its center the question of rhetorical/political legitimacy.



*I’m looking at my copy, as I write this.


Les Kaye votes Leave!

‘Fluffy academic views of Marxism…’  Bravo! you are in the  territory of Mr. Ganesh’s contemptuous, supercilious feuilletonism: though yours deserves special notice: a rancid poisoned bon bon.

As for the death camps, look to the Middle East’s only ‘Democracy’ and Israel’s open air Death Camp of Gaza! Or America’s genocide against Native Peoples: Benny Morris, in his notorious Haaretz interview, used this as his historical template, for dealing with the recalcitrant indigenous populations of Palestine.  Consider the imprisonment of Asylum Seekers , who have guaranteed legal status, at America’s Southern Border. The separation of children from parents , advocated, but not used by Obama, and endorsed by Clinton. And the death of two of those children. America is ‘A Nation of Immigrants’ the title of a book by John Kennedy, now long forgotten in the politica present, in The United States of Amnesia!

In the historical wake of the Armenian Genocide, the Gulag, the Shoah, what ever happened to John  Donne’s declaration of human solidarity: Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind ?

Your final sentence doesn’t deserve consideration nor comment!




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment writes Trump apologetics like no one else! Old Socialist marvels

Headline: Donald Trump’s stamp on history is greater than his flailing implies

Sub-headline: The furore over the border wall distracts from the president’s effectiveness elsewhere

Two paragraphs of Mr. Ganesh’s essay nearly leapt off the page, for me. The first under consideration voices the notion :  ‘this is the most consequential administration since the end of the cold war.’ If anything is apparent it is that a Sunday Supplement stylist does not make a political writer/commentator.  The fact that Trump had McConnell and Ryan to enact their shared Robber Capital agenda – because Trump is just the Front Man , the Idea Man !

All the same, historians must beware recency bias when assessing the president. The non-materialisation of the wall is embarrassing for Mr Trump. It might even cost him re-election. The mistake is to see it as proof of general presidential weakness. If only. In ways domestic and foreign, this is the most consequential administration since the end of the cold war.

But Mr. Ganesh, so as not to appear as too blatant an apologist for the Economic Agenda authored by the Dixiecrat McConnell and the re-closeted Randian Ryan, political/economic Neanderthals, he engages in the time honored CYA!

None of which is actually to praise the substance of his foreign or domestic reforms. Some of us were happy with the world of 2016, thanks, and still hope the west will return to that status quo ante. No, this is about the scale, not the wisdom, of Mr Trump’s doings. He is a more historic president than his present flailing suggests. And he can “achieve” more, even after his loss of the House of Representatives. Deregulation is often a matter of executive fiat. Judicial and bureaucratic nominees are confirmed by the Senate, where Republicans have a majority. As for foreign policy, the constitution gifts him wide powers. We need not picture what an effectual populist would be like. We are living under one. Imagine his historical weight at the four-year mark.

Have I engaged in self-serving reductivism? No less so than Mr. Ganesh!

Political Observer

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Sikorski’s ‘good judgement’ ?

Headline: Sikorski in hot water

Sub-headline: Radek Sikorski said in January in a private conversation that he viewed Poland’s alliance with America as “worthless”.

‘MORE illegal recordings are destabilising the Polish government this week. The juiciest revelation so far is that the foreign minister, Radek Sikorski (pictured), said in January that he viewed Poland’s alliance with America as “worthless”.

Sikorski’s comments were made in a dinner conversation with the former finance minister, Jacek Rostowski, which was illegally recorded and printed in Wprost, a Polish news weekly. During the often vulgar conversation, Mr Sikorski said the alliance with Washington “is complete bullshit. We’ll get into a conflict with the Germans and the Russians and we’ll think that everything is super because we gave the Americans a blowjob. Losers. Complete losers.”


Headline: A shaky compass

Sub-headline: Moving away from Russia and towards the European Union

IT WOULD be “naïve” to believe that Vladimir Putin’s recent call for Ukrainian separatists to delay a referendum was genuine, said Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, during a news conference on May 8th. Instead, the Russian leader’s initiative was “a political game”.

Warsaw’s main response to the danger posed by Moscow in recent months has been to push for speeding up further integration within the European Union. In a speech to the Polish parliament earlier this week, Radoslaw Sikorski, the foreign minister, laid out his vision for Poland’s foreign policy.

Ditching earlier concerns by former finance minister Jacek Rostowski, Mr Sikorski called for Poland to move rapidly to adopt the euro—the last core European institution to which Warsaw does not yet belong. “The decision about the eventual adoption of the common currency will not have just a financial and economic character, but rather it will be mainly political, dealing with our security,” said Mr Sikorski.

This view has yet to gain much traction; Polish public opinion shifted away sharply from the euro in the wake of the eurozone crisis, when Poland’s economy performed well while most of the EU was mired in recession. Recent polls show about two-thirds of Poles opposed to joining the euro. The opposition Law and Justice party is also against, which makes the constitutional changes required to adopt the euro impossible to pass.



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At The Financial Times: Gideon Rachman’s Populist Melodrama. Old Socialist comments

Headline: Populism faces its darkest hour

Sub-headline: But as its rightwing variant flags, the leftwing version could surge

The headline writers Financial Times have produced in the headline a fragment of melodrama that  Mr. Rachman’s wan polemic against Populism can’t vindicate! Both its ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ iterations are subject to the usual recitation of the Party Line of the respectable bourgeois scribbler. As I start to read Mr. Rachman’s essay I see a link to this essay:

Headline: Di Maio pledges his support to France’s yellow vest protesters

Sub-headline: Head of Italy’s Five Star movement urges demonstrators to emulate his party’s success

This seems to reify the link between Italian Neo-Fascism and the gilets jaunes!  The motto of the Financial Times is never let an opportunity go to waste, in the search for the defence of the fantasy of the Post -War Liberal Order, as the definitional point, that provides both historical meaning to the politics of the present, and the fact that this construct is under threat from the forces of extremist anarchy, defined as without foundation.

The bad actors of Populism in Mr. Rachman’s history made to measure: Trump, Bolsonaro, Salvini, Alves, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jeremy Corbyn, López Obrador, and even the ghost of Hugo Chávez. With the added mention, of dull-witted enarque Emmanuel Macron, who makes an appearance to complete the attempt to construct an historical verisimilitude.

As Goya said ‘the sleep of reason bring forth monsters’ : define that slumber as  precipitated by the collapse of the Neo-Liberal Swindle, and the reawakening of political activism on the fringes of the politics of that  ‘Center’ : Mr. Rachman defends as an indispensable part of that Post-War Centrist Myth. Think of Lippmann’s enthusiasm for ‘The Expert’, the precursor of the rule by Technocrats,  as the bulwark  against too much Democracy. And of the Technocrat Supreme Jean Monnet the mastermind of the Common Market, a coal and steel cartel, that remained a cartel with the window dressing of Federalism.

Old Socialist















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Anne-Marie Slaughter Corporate Shill. Old Socialist comments

Don’t the Corporate Shills here at @FT have editors who can provide a more convincing cover for their kowtowing toward Capitalism, and Ms. Slaughter as one of its hirelings?

Headline: New America, a Google-Funded Think Tank, Faces Backlash for Firing a Google Critic

The answer to my rhetorical question is ‘there are no standards’! just the imperatives of self-serving propaganda.

Old Socialist

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John R. Allen ‘fights’ The Islamic State, from the comfort of his office @BrookingsFP! Political Observer comments

Never fear the War Mongers @BrookingsFP: Porcine Spartan Kagan and his sidekick O’Hanlon, now have a new partner in crime, in New Democratic National Security State appointee John Allen, who coincidentally is President of The Brookings Institution.

He not only advocates but defends America’s Thirty Years War. The Obama/Clinton coterie simply continued the policy of endless war, inaugurated by the manipulable dunce Bush The Younger and his Neo-Conservative handlers.

The response to the political victory of Know-Noting Trump, delivered by Clinton’s demonstrable incompetence as a campaigner, wedded to her ‘basket of deplorables’ insult to the victims of the Neo-Liberal Swindle, she and Bill institutionalized! The political ‘Center’ in American life and politics is now defined by the current alliance between the Neo-Conservatives and the New Democrats: an alliance forged in the 9th Circle!

To return to Mr.  Allen’s Thirty Years War advocacy the two final paragraphs are a summation of this pro-war polemic:

To be clear: The Islamic State is not defeated. It remains a local, regional and global threat, and notions to the contrary are misinformed. Though coalition efforts have successfully degraded the Islamic State’s core territories, the departure of U.S. forces leaves the door wide open for the group’s resurgence. Even if, as some reports indicate, this departure may be more drawn out than initially expected, the damage done by the broader message—the abandonment of our local partners and others in the coalition—remains unchanged.

The Islamic State is not defeated until the idea of the caliphate has been defeated. In the absence of U.S. global leadership and, where necessary, its forces, along with a real, long-term alternative to the terrorists’ allure as a regional and global actor, the gains made these past three years remain fragile and incomplete, and could easily unravel—and indeed, under this administration, I fear they will.

America is now defined by the institutionalization of Huntington’s cultural/political paranoia, of the capacious self-serving concept of the Other, as argued in his Clash of Civilizations. Look at Huntington’s polemic as a contemporary advocacy, and defense, of White Man’s Burden in more highfalutin World Historical terms.

Political Observer



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