Some thoughts on Andy Divine & Janan Ganesh. Old Socialist comments

Among the topics raised in his usual political free association, of October 12, 2018 titled The Danger of Trump’s Political Accomplishments , Andy Divine was surprised at what McConnell and Ryan were able to pass in Congress, controlled by Republicans in both houses:

Now put this in the broader context of Trump’s sole legislative achievement: his massive, budget-busting tax cut. For many mainstream Republicans, this is what they live for. It will be hard to reverse. Which is to say it’s a further justification for the GOP’s going along with populist authoritarianism. No, the tax cut hasn’t proved an electoral godsend, unless you factor in its positive, short-term impact on economic growth. But it sure has helped reconcile the old GOP to the new one.

The desperate hacks of Neo-Liberal Press, on both side of the Atlantic, were fulsome in their praise of  the McConnell ‘Leadership’ , Janan Ganesh at The Financial Times among them:

Headline: Democrats need their own Mitch McConnell

Sub-headline: The left must learn from the Republican majority leader’s tactical successes

Mitch McConnell’s ever-startled face could have been drawn by the cartoonist Tex Avery. The majority leader of the US Senate also does a vivid line in Southernisms: his support for Brett Kavanaugh, whom he navigated on to the Supreme Court, was as “strong as mule piss”.

And there, his outwardly interesting characteristics end. Grey of hair and persona, the distinguished side of 70, Mr McConnell blends into the collage of Republican life so well that you wonder if a country club is missing its chair of governors. His indistinctiveness allows the craftiest politician in the land to work in relative stealth.

And to nation-changing effect. With a one-seat margin in the Senate, he has populated the judiciary with conservatives, secured the highest court for the right and passed an improbable tax cut. He fleeced Barack Obama of his last Supreme Court nominee and changed the rules to install Donald Trump’s first by a bare rather than super majority. He survived the Tea Party’s cull of mainstream Republicans, as well as low approval ratings in his own Kentucky. His passage from state-level moderate to operational arm of Trumpism has been bourbon-smooth. This summer he became the Senate’s longest-serving Republican leader.

That the Pundits are surprised that a Republican Party, now in thrall to the Know-Noting Trump, and the fellow travelers of the Tea Party,  Dixiecrat McConnell and Re-Closeted Randian Ryan, can unite to pass its frontal attacks on what is left of The New Deal and The Great Society: this is not just an expression of the astounding historical/political ignorance, it is cultivated! but part of a self-apologetic, for the perpetual absent exercise of ‘good judgement’ of a coterie of Corporatist hirelings.

In Andy Divine’s essay of November 2, 2018 titled Can the Republic Strike Back? he proves that the Trump’s Strategy of keeping his allies and opponents in a condition of exploitable disequilibrium, is a highly effective tool of his moral/political nihilism, expressed in vulgar terms as an expression of toxic egotism. While Trump stokes the fires of racial/ethnic/political animus, that are the inheritance of Huntington’s ‘Clash’ and ‘Who Are We?  While Bolton proclaims ‘Troika of Tyranny’ of  Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua .  

There are few historical guides. It is hard to think of a precedent for a president who endorses violence against political foes, sees the Justice Department as his own personal prosecutor, calls the press “the enemy of the people,” tears children from parents, brags of multiple sexual assaults, threatens to lock up his opponents, enthuses about war crimes, “falls in love” with the foulest dictator on the planet, refuses to divest of personal holdings in office, lambastes allies, treats the Treasury as a casino, actively endorses the poisoning of the environment, destabilizes NATO, baits minorities, lies incessantly, and oversees a resurgence of the white nationalist right. Any single gesture in any one of these areas would have been political death for most previous presidents. But we live in a time when we have come to expect that all this can now empower and even reward an American politician, rather than ruin him.

Andy Divine is part of a coterie that can be aptly called  The Midwives of Trump. The collapse of the Neo-Liberal Swindle and America’s endless Wars of Empire , called ‘The War on Terror’, provide the essential background to the victory of Trump. For the record of Andy’s support for the War in Iraq see his own 136 page PDF here:

Such is the toxic  egotism of Andy ,that he publishes the record of his -folly is too trivial a concept to encompass the extent of his moral/political culpability – support for this crime! Sack Cloth and Ashes of the penitent are not Andy’s style, he prefers the Public Confessional, awash in melodrama expressed through a low level hysteria,  in which he is the center of attention.

Old Socialist





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@BretStephensNYT on Trump’s obliteration of ‘the moral guardrails that keep bigotry down.’ Almost Marx ponders the question.

Mr. Stephens points at Trump and his obliteration ‘the moral guardrails that keep bigotry down.’ The ‘as if’ here is that his readers will develop ‘political/moral amnesia’ , on Mr, Stephens’ shameless advocacy of the IDF’S mass murder of Palestinians!

That shopworn Anti-Semitic trope of ‘duel loyalty’ does not apply to Mr. Stephens, as respectable bourgeouise apologist, for mass murder committed by his political/religious allies, but to the twin Tribalisms of  Zionism and the Starussian Mendacity with the name of Neo-Conservatism!

Is this just another definitional frame that reflects the notion that ‘identity’ is not a singularity but a plurality, as presented in Amartya Sen’s Identity and Violence:The Illusion of Destiny’ ?


Almost Marx



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment on ‘The Politics of Absolutes’. Almost Marx comments

Mr. Ganesh never ties of speaking in platitudes, under the guise of valuable insight, the paragraph below is a telling example of this unimpressive political strategy.

The calls for political civility run up against another limitation. They are essential as far as they go, but they only go as far as exterior behaviour. The underlying problem in modern politics, in the US and elsewhere, is an excess of intellectual certitude. The basis of democracy — of civilization — is doubt. A person who is reasonably confident that their ideological programme is correct is unlikely to harm anyone to advance that programme. A person who is absolutely certain might.

In present American political climate this seems more like what? The failure of the Neo-Liberal Elite, to somehow fix the  catastrophe they have made, has proven futile? The wan attempt at Keynesian Interventionism, allied with its successor ‘Austerity’ have proven futile. The 99% are caught in a web of debt as servitude, to utterly corrupt Banks and their apologists. While the 1% flourish as in The Gilded Age, except now the Oligarchs are named Zuckerberg, Bezos and the notorious Tax Evader at Apple Tim Cook. While the elusive ‘Self-Correcting Market’ remains the unrealized myth of the Free Market Swindle!

Mr. Ganesh fails the mention one of the pervasive problems of American Life: the Cult of Toxic Masculinity. From the Mayflower to the present this toxicity has rule American life and politics. Look to the Iconic Founder George Washington. The bourgeois respectable notion of  ‘displacing its Native inhabitants’ is academic code for genocide!

Iroquois Indians called him Conotocarious, or “Town Destroyer”. We know him as George Washington, America’s premier Founding Father. Could this really be the same man? In his magisterial The Indian World of George Washington, Colin G. Calloway answers with a definite yes. Establishing the new nation and displacing its Native inhabitants went hand in hand, he argues, and Washington took part in both endeavours.

Or look to American popular culture as in ‘The Birth of a Nation’ the D.W. Griffiths movie based on the novel ‘The Klansman’ and it glorification of racist violence against blacks! Add to that list John Wayne’s cowboy epics, and his Vietnam propaganda film of ‘The Green Berets’ , the revenge films of Charles Bronson steeped in violence ,even sadism. The ‘Dirty Harry’ films of Clint Eastwood. And their precursors the films of Sam Peckinpah ‘The Wilde Bunch’ and ‘Straw Dogs’ . Mr. Ganesh’s ignorance of American culture, both political and popular, makes him an utterly unreliable even, an inept  commentator. He  relies on Pseudo-Delphic platitudes as a defense of his ignorance of a  country he fails to grasp in all of its various, confusing historical/political/cultural  iterations!

Also  look to the the novels of Norman Mailer, particularly ‘An American Dream’ a novelistic  expression of his  misogyny.  And the continuing debate between Gore Vidal and Mailer provide a measure of insight on the intransigence of this Cult of Toxic Masculinity.

To engage in reductivism, for want of both space and patience with  Mr. Ganesh’s self -congratulatory rhetoric: look to the cultural/political despair of the victims of the failed Neo-Liberal Swindle, for manifestations like the Opioid Crisis, The Proud Boys, Charlottesville and the Know-Nothing Trump and  even Jair Bolsonaro. 

Any real hope for a viable future lies with Left-Wing Social Democrats, in the American political context, a New-New Deal. The patient reader will be rewarded by Mr. Ganesh’s  flaccid apologetic for Trump, in his antepenultimate  paragraph. With the proviso that the notion of ‘at relative peace’ is self-serving agitprop!

The US is nearing a decade of economic growth. Unemployment is under 4 per cent. The country is at relative peace with the world. If politics is as raw as it is now, we have to entertain the prospect that it will become worse in the event of a souring domestic or international context.

Almost Marx



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Guillaume Duval (@gduval_altereco) answers his own 2017 question! Old Socialist comments

Guillaume Duval asked the question, in his May 18, 2017 essay, titled Can Macron Move Europe Forward?

The more than patient reader has her answer in his October 30, 2018 essay titled Trump, Putin, Orbán, Kaczyński, May, Salvini… An Opportunity For Europe:

Might Emmanuel Macron be the one, as he proclaims, to seize this bundle of opportunities to finally relaunch European construction? That’s clearly desirable since it is he who, as president of the French Republic, could start doing so straight away but nothing is less certain, however. His obsession with advancing the Franco-German tandem is counter-productive because it seriously rubs other Europeans up the wrong way. His ‘Jupiter-like’ manner of intervening in Europe, as he does in France, raises the hackles of all our neighbours who still fear, after all the havoc wrought over the entire continent by Napoleon Bonaparte, French ambition and imperialism in Europe.

What’s more, the way in which he has continued at home the irresponsible policy begun in 2015 by his predecessor on the question of migration – whereby France refused to take its share of welcoming them in – significantly contributed to the turn towards Euroscepticism that took place in Italy. Last but not least, economically and socially he does little more than back the continuation and heightening of the deflationary policies that have prevented Europe from recovering post-2008 and have fed everywhere Euroscepticism and the rise of the populists. If we are to profit from the present cluster of factors that favour a relaunch of European construction we unfortunately need to find, without delay, another engine…

Macron, M. 37%, rounding up the number of spoiled,unmarked or otherwise uncountable ballots in the final election. His ‘Jupertarian Revolution’, Rule by Decree has reached its point of stasis , not just the precursor to its ultimate decline but indicative of its actuality, as key Ministers depart, but not quietly .

@BretStephensNYT was one of the most vociferous advocates of Macron’s ‘Revolution’, not just of  énarque Macron, but of the likely ‘Death of French Socialist State’ . Mr. Stephens is an American intellectual/political hick, one of a breed of dullards that The New York  Times favors for their Editorial and Opinion pages.

Old Socialist





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Three telling insights from Dave Kotz’s ‘End of the NeoLiberal Era?’ At The New Left Review

Regime change

Neoliberal restructuring promised a reversal of the decline in profits. Couched in the language of individual freedom, it would raise profits by undermining the bargaining power of labour, cutting taxes on capital and opening new profit centres through privatization and deregulation. In addition, capital had resented the expansion of the regulatory state in the 1960s into environmental protection, consumer safety and occupational health. Neoliberal restructuring would reverse those changes. Big business abandoned its previous compromise with labour and allied with small business, which had never accepted the regime of regulated capitalism, and was able to rapidly push through neoliberal restructuring. This began not with Reagan, but during the last two years of the Carter Administration. The us, supported by the uk, then took the lead in pushing through the neoliberal restructuring of global economic institutions. Free-market or neoliberal ideas had been growing in influence from the late 1960s; they now displaced Keynesianism to become the new orthodoxy, motivating and justifying the institutional shifts. The capital–labour compromise was replaced by a drive to fully subordinate labour to capital. [6]


Advocates of neoliberal restructuring had promised a big increase in investment as business was unshackled from state regulation, high taxes and trade-union pressures. However, business investment in the neoliberal era has been lacklustre, apart from the investment boom in new information-processing and communications technologies in the 1990s. Instead, the long expansions were propelled by debt-financed consumer spending. Both the share of consumer spending in gdp (Figure 7), and the level of consumer spending as a percentage of disposable personal income (Figure 8), trended upward after the early 1980s. While us gdp growth in the era of regulated capitalism had been led by investment and government spending, now it was driven by consumer spending, with the growth in investment and government spending lagging behind (Table 1). [9]


Structural crisis of neoliberal capitalism

The 2000s economic expansion was sustained by the huge real-estate bubble. However, every asset bubble bursts eventually, and when real-estate prices stopped rising in 2006 and began to fall in 2007, these unsustainable long-term trends brought about both the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The deflating real-estate bubble rapidly drove down the market value of the new derivative securities, which constituted a significant fraction of the assets of the banks that had accumulated so much debt. In September 2008, the major us banks suddenly became reluctant to engage in the essential overnight lending that kept the financial system afloat, as they couldn’t be confident of repayment. The system froze up, the banks faced failure.


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Andy Divine of October12 & 26, 2018. Old Socialist comments

Recall Andy Divine’s essay of October 12, 2018?

Headline: The Danger of Trump’s Political Accomplishments

It was the usual political travelogue that is Andy’s  specialty. ‘Kanye and Khashoggi and even Kavanaugh’

The Kavanaugh-Ford showdown also helped upend the overly simple view that women somehow form a monolithic bloc, all united around “women’s” issues, with those issues being defined by the left. In fact, partisanship and tribe trump gender, and always have. Women are no more a single ideological bloc than men, as a majority of white female voters proved in the 2016 election, when they voted for the gross dude over the feminist icon. (One of the really eye-opening parts of Jill Lepore’s new history of the United States, These Truths, is her account of how indispensable women were to the construction of the conservative movement.) These cultural fights, after all, are dynamic. They can rebound on you. If you’d predicted that the Kavanaugh hearings would have been a net-plus for the GOP a couple of weeks ago, people would have deemed you crazy. Today? Not so much. By November, who knows?

Andy can’t suppress his political enthusiasm for Conservatives and their opinions. note the insights of Jill Lapore’s book that provides information , on the part played by women in the rise of Conservatism.  Andy’s ignorance of American political history in terms of Conservative women-the names Phyllis Schlafly and Peggy Noonan are just two of the well known writers/activists.

There are some other ‘points of interest’ on his itinerary but Andy finally lites on Christopher Browning essay at The New York Review of Books titled “The Suffocation of Democracy.” Political Melodrama resonates with Mr. Divine, and Weimar, and its ‘suffocation’ by the Nazis, is rife with a usable example of a more than possible historical recrudescence, in American terms. Reader beware! as the New York Review of Books has become the headquarters for Ukrainian Coup propaganda authored by Timothy Snyder and his fellow travelers. The New Cold Warrior has many cunning guises, and writes ideologically usable propaganda. How historically convenient that this essay should suit Mr. Divine ideological needs.

Next under the political analysis of Mr. Divine, he considers  Reihan Salam’s Melting Pot or Civil War?, but a more careful look reveals that the full title of the book is Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders’ Mr. Salam is a First Generation American, meaning that his parent immigrated to America and is executive editor of National Review. He could more accurately be described as that favorite Conservative hybrid , the ‘Libertarian’ or should it be termed more like an light coating of whitewash.

The reason why Salam’s book  deserves mention is that it plays the part of sub-text to Mr. Divine’s essay of October 26, 2018 titled:

Headline:  Democrats Can’t Keep Dodging Immigration As a Real Issue

More political travelogue but with a full scale attack on the New Democrats for their failure to take a position on ‘Border Security’ . The  security he is speaking of is the Southern Border, where the great unwashed Mestizo Horde will invade and not just dilute Anglo-Protestant culture, as outlined in the paranoid hysteria of Samuel P. Huntington’s 2004 book Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity, but will cast it into mongrel status! Mr. Divine plays on the historical ignorance of his readership allied to his own cynical mendacity! There is no excuse for his ignorance of this Huntington racist tract!

Mr. Divine finds an ally in fellow immigrant David Frum:

David Frum is right: “If liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals will not do.” And unless the Democrats get a grip on this question, and win back the trust of the voters on it, their chance of regaining the presidency is minimal. Until one Democratic candidate declares that he or she will end illegal immigration, period, shift legal immigration toward those with skills, invest in the immigration bureaucracy, and enforce the borders strongly but humanely, Trump will continue to own this defining policy issue in 2020.

‘Shift legal immigration toward those with skills’ in sum immigrants like Andy Divine and David Frum are welcome, but the refugees from American murderous political adventurism, in its southern neighbors, that began with The Monroe Doctrine of 1823: in sum, America would be,and is, the ultimate arbiter of the political legitimacy of any and all political regimes in its southern neighbors.

Old Socialist

Further thoughts:

That Huntington, Andy Divine, David Frum are white males who were/are an integral part of a Conservative Elite,  Mr. Salam is jut a fellow traveler employed by the reactionary National Review, are  in their various iterations of xenophobes . Huntington’s xenophobia is the most extreme, as he views ‘The Other’ in  terms of  his Clash of Civilizations ,paranoia writ on a wold wide scale, yet he more specifically points to those Mestizo Hordes in ‘Who Are We?’ as the most imminent threat to American Protestant virtue: this bespeak a kind of extreme historical/political/ideological myopia , or just the prejudice of a white male from the 18th Century!

Frum is an immigrant from a very wealthy Canadian family, who came to America and became a propagandist for ‘The War on Terror’ and over time has ‘evolved’ into a self-proclaimed ‘Wise Republican Elder’, for a Party now utterly in thrall to the Dixiecrat racialist ethos.

Mr. Divine whose political enthusiasm for the ‘Bell Curve’ places him in the long tradition of the British Colonial mentality, that looks at the lesser beings of planet Earth as in need of the civilizing tutelage of The British White Male. With the proviso that ‘they‘ can never quite measure up to that standard, but must persevere under that life long tutelage.

October 28 & 29, 2018 10:55 AM PDT




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Publius: why I won’t be voting for ‘The Lesser of Two Evils’

The American polity is crumbling from the inside, led not just by Trump’s cultivated political irrationalism, but the active participation of the New Democrats, in sum, the utterly corrupt Clinton Coterie that has captured the Democratic Party’s political apparatus, and smothered the reformist wing of the Party led by Sanders, in 2016. Yet Sanders vision has captured the political imaginations of voters, that still animates a resurgent New Dealism,  as opposed to the sclerotic New Democrats.

Both de Blasio and Cuomo represent that Clinton Coterie, that has yet to pay a political price for the unleashing of the Neo-Liberal Swindle on America: except that Trump won the election and the Republicans control both house of congress! The catastrophic consequences of Trump’s victory in the Electoral College, that inaugurated Trump’s political irrationalism, by way of the propaganda tool of NBC’s popular Game Show that featured Trump as a viable ‘Leader’ are now the facts of history!

The political moralizing coming from the New Democrats, and their allies in Corporate Media and the American Academy, is about the search for a check on Trump and Trumpism. Allied to the hope of political advantage by capturing the House in the 2018 Mid-Terms . Why after Chancellorsville are the pipe bombs a surprise? The rage of the ‘Deplorables’, the codification of Mrs. Clinton’s elitist contempt, for the victims of the Neo-Liberal Swindle! Enacted by Bill Clinton and Larry Summers, is a political reality, that the Political Elites, in their various guises, have failed to recognize as they seek to do business as usual.

I will be casting my vote this weekend, by mail, in California. I will not be voting for ‘The Lesser of Two Evils’ as Chomsky argues, but for Greens and others that share a vision of what might just be politically possible. Instead of a casting my vote for New Democrats who refuse to reform themselves, because feeding at the trough is more rewarding than  Reform ,that will leave them unemployed. To this voter, the New Democrats’ self-presentation of there is no alternative is an expression of that unhappy amalgam of both opportunism and nihilism. My voting for actual change is not an exercise in political nihilism, nor a capitulation to Trumpism, but the exercise of the hope for actual change, rather than the political entropy of the irrationalist political present.



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