The Financial Times defends ‘Liberalism’! Old Socialist comments

This interview with Putin began the Financial Times’ defensiveness about  ‘Liberalism’:

After a lengthy shaming of Putin , for lives lost in the ‘Middle East’ ,with no mention of American murderous political adventurism, since The War on Terror was declared by Bush The Younger in 2003 , the reader is presented with these two paragraphs:

The Russian leader detects a shift in the political balance of power from traditional western liberalism to national populism, fuelled by public resentment about immigration, multiculturalism and secular values at the expense of religion.

“Have we forgotten that all of us live in a world based on biblical values?” asks Mr Putin, dismissing Karl Marx’s dictum that religion is the opium of the masses. Similarly, in the Russian president’s view, liberal ideology has “outlived its purpose”.

Lionel Barber and Henry Foy follow this with the notion of ‘Fragmentation‘:

Fragmentation characterises the world of 2019. In response, Mr Putin casts himself as a cheerleader of globalisation alongside his increasingly close ally, President Xi Jinping of China. It is an improbable role for Russia and China, but one vacated by the US under President Donald Trump, who has made “America First” his mantra.

The 2014 annexation of Crimea is also mentioned, but not a word about the American, via NATO, and the EU financed Ukrainian Coup.  The natural conflict between America and China is described by Graham Allison, an American Political Technocrat as Thucydides’s trap. How enamored these technocrats are of their Grand Narratives, in fact its a rhetorical disease process.

Headline:Year in a Word: Thucydides’s trap

Sub-headline: The thesis that rivalry leads to war captures the attention of Washington and Beijing

Professor Graham Allison first used the phrase in print in a 2012 article in the Financial Times, in which he argued that “the defining question about global order in the decades ahead will be: can China and the US escape Thucydides’s trap?” He elaborated on the concept in a book, Destined for War (2017), in which he examined the historical precedents of rivalry between established and rising powers: in 12 of 16 such cases, the rivalry ended in conflict. He concluded that “China and the US are currently on a collision course for war”.

The interview is interesting in itself, but the obvious political bias’ of Barber and Foy, provides  the Financial Times with a pretext for an  ‘editorial reply’ on the vexing question of Liberalism, as Putin presents it as having  “outlived its purpose”.  Their reply to Putin, the Editorial Board can’t quite contain its political hysteria, under the rubric of ‘work harder to defend values and address discontent’. Yet the question remains, where is the evidence for this argued work harder , defend values and address discontent?


Headline: No, Mr Putin, western liberalism is not obsolete

Sub-headline: Mainstream US and EU politicians must work harder to defend values and address discontent 

There is an air of triumphalism in Vladimir Putin’s claim — in an interview with the Financial Times this week — that liberalism is obsolete. Since returning as Russian president in 2012 Mr Putin has sought to undermine the liberal western order. Yet his victory cry is hollow. Liberal, market-based democracy remains the organising principle in most non-petrostate countries with the highest living standards — and vital to the dynamism that generated their prosperity. Mr Putin’s statement is a signal, nonetheless, that western politicians must step up efforts to defend liberal values against the challenge from populist nationalists.

That challenge is real. The post-cold war global dominance of America and the EU, and the system they represent, is over. The challenge also comes partly from within. Mr Putin’s comments chime with those of both east and west European nationalists such as Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban and Matteo Salvini; or of Steve Bannon, onetime consigliere to US president Donald Trump — and of Mr Trump himself. Indeed, with his tariffs and contempt for multilateralism, the US president is arguably a bigger threat to the liberal west’s cohesion than his Russian counterpart.


Next in line in defense of ‘Liberalism’ is  Martin Wolf :

Headline:Liberalism will endure but must be renewed

Sub-headline: It is a work in progress, not a utopian project

The root word in liberal is liber, the Latin adjective denoting a free person, as opposed to a slave. Liberalism is not a precise philosophy, it is an attitude. All liberals share a belief in individual human agency. They trust in the capacity of human beings to decide things for themselves. This belief has radical implications. It implies the right to make their own plans, to express their own opinions and to participate in public life. These attitudes were realised in the system we call “liberal democracy”.

Liberals share a belief that agency depends on possession of economic and political rights. Institutions are needed to protect those rights — independent legal systems, above all. But agency also depends on markets to co-ordinate independent economic actors, free media to allow the spread of opinions, and political parties to organise politics. Behind these institutions are values and behaviours: the distinction between private gain and public purpose needed to curb corruption; a sense of citizenship; and belief in toleration.

I have been selective in my quotation Mr. Wolf ‘s essay, while not ignoring its opening paragraph steeped in the wisdom , or just the risible cliches of a system, Liberalism, that capitulated en mass to Neo-Liberalism: its political creatures New Labour and The New Democrats, that has collapsed of its own mendacious practice! Putin is the necessary impetus to Wolf ‘s defense of that utterly defunct ‘Liberalism’.

“There is also the so-called liberal idea, which has outlived its purpose. Our western partners have admitted that some elements of the liberal idea, such as multiculturalism, are no longer tenable.” Thus, did Vladimir Putin claim to be on the right side of history, in a remarkable interview with the Financial Times. But, as Mark Twain might have said, the report of liberalism’s death is an exaggeration. Societies based on core liberal ideas are the most successful in history. They need to be defended against their enemies.

Next in order of consideration is the political greenhorn Janan Ganesh, commenting on ‘Liberalism’ in the current Democratic Party’s over crowded field of Neo-Liberals masquerading as Liberals, in sum a collection of Clinton Surrogates.


Headline: Populists beware: liberalism can be a fighting creed too

Sub-headline: America has become more tolerant since the election of Donald Trump, not less

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect, the US ceased its economic embargo on Vietnam after two bitter decades and Madonna swore like a sailor on the David Letterman Show without sinking either her career or his. Such was the belle époque of liberalism. We can only imagine how much kinder people were to outsiders than they are now.

‘ Such was the belle époque of liberalism.’ Mr. Ganesh’s talent for evocative hyperbole, as the in order too of his cliche mongering. Does it evolve/devolve , via the use of credible statistical evidence, into the last three paragraphs of self-serving political chatter illumined by the notion of ‘Militant Liberalism’? Mr.  Ganesh’s  ignorance of American Politics Past, in the use of the term ‘Radical Center’ , by pundits and thinkers trying to present themselves as politically potent, was in fact, a clear demonstration of their verifiable political eclipse.

Still, it should trouble populists that righteous energy, a resource they used to monopolise, is spilling to the other side. The smarter among them will listen to what liberals are intimating: we can do anger too.

Liberalism’s enemies have always had it down as a pale and watery thing. Italy’s strongman-saluting Futurists called it “utilitarian cowardice” a century ago. Clerical authoritarians thought it too decadent to withstand them.

But just because a philosophy envisions a looser society, it does not itself have to be held in a loose way. There is such a thing as militant liberalism. If it is a coming force, there was nothing inevitable about this. It was inadvertently awakened by populists. Those who despise liberalism might yet be the making of it.

Old Socialist



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@BretStephensNYT @soledadobrien has your number!

Mr. Stephens @soledadobrien has your number! But the paraphrase of Sen. Dirksen… , some of us watched ‘The Ev & Charley Show’ on network news, back in the day!

‘Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, authors of ‘The Coddling of the American Mind,” that Party Line was  enunciated, in the last Century, by the old political hysteric Alan Bloom, in his ‘Closing of the American Mind’ , featured rhetorical player,  Rock and Roll is addling the minds of our youth.

Now deservedly forgotten, this classic of political paranoia was steeped in  Starussian mendacity, if that isn’t a tautology! Like Imhotep in the old Horror film ‘The Mummy’  reanimated not by the “Scroll of Thoth”, but a new team of political hysterics Lukianoff and Haidt! Who have reanimated the Bloom cadaver for the New American Century.

Sincerely yours,

Myra Breckenridge

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Oligarch/Technocrat Michael O’Sullivan riffs on selected themes provided by Huntington’s ‘Clash’, or what the world of collapsed Neo-Liberalism needs is one more Grand Theory! Old Socialist scoffs!

Headline: Globalisation is dead and we need to invent a new world order

Sub-headline: A book excerpt and interview with Michael O’Sullivan, author of “The Levelling”

Mr O’Sullivan: Globalisation is already behind us. We should say goodbye to it and set our minds on the emerging multipolar world. This will be dominated by at least three large regions: America, the European Union and a China-centric Asia.

Read Mr. O’Sullivan’s CV, that is not just instructive, but confirms who he is and what he represents :

‘Michael O’Sullivan is the Author of The Levelling.

Until May 2019 he was a CIO and Managing Director of Credit Suisse in the Private Banking & Wealth Management Division, based in Zurich. He was Chief Investment Officer for the International Wealth Management Division. He joined Credit Suisse in July 2007 from State Street Global Markets. Prior to joining Credit Suisse Michael spent over ten years as a global strategist at a number of sell-side institutions and has also taught finance at Princeton and Oxford Universities. He was educated at University College Cork in Ireland and Balliol College in Oxford, where he obtained M.Phil and D.Phil degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. He is an independent member of Ireland’s National Economic Social Council.

Like a good Neo-Liberal O’Sullivan avoids  the mention of the complete collapse of the Neo-Liberal system in 2008-this is utterly verboten political/economic territory. The Party Line of The Economist and their  technocrat/oligarch interviewee share a verifiable political/economic propinquity.

The Economist: What killed globalisation?

Michael O’Sullivan: At least two things have put paid to globalisation. First, global economic growth has slowed, and as a result, the growth has become more “financialised”: debt has increased and there has been more “monetary activism”—that is, central banks pumping money into the economy by buying assets, such as bonds and in some cases even equities—to sustain the international expansion. Second, the side effects, or rather the perceived side-effects, of globalisation are more apparent: wealth inequality, the dominance of multinationals and the dispersion of global supply chains, which have all become hot political issues.

How telling is it that the Levellers  are shown as victims of Cromwell and the Grandees, and that he mentions ‘Change UK’ ,  but not the very real possibility, that the next Prime Minister will be Jeremy Corbyn, and that a cadre of reformers, within the Labour Party, that is seeking the wholesale overturning of the Thatcherite New Labour!

Second, they are interesting for the way the movement was countermanded and then snuffed out by the military leader Oliver Cromwell and the Grandees (the elites of their day). Like so many idealistic political start-ups, the Levellers failed. This should encourage the growing number of new political parties, like Change UK and new candidates to be worldy-wise in how they approach the process of political reform and change.

‘Change UK’ was Neo-Liberal , in sum Anti-Corbyn:

Headline:How Change UK crashed and burned

Sub-headline:New centrist party hoped to remake politics but failed to match Brexit party — or Lib Dems

Is the quick demise of ‘Change UK’ the point of O’Sullivan’s admonition to be ‘worldy-wise in how they approach the process of political reform and change’ ?

The argument progresses, eventuates or just devolves into the positing of two types of societies: Leveller-type and Leviathan-type societies.

As the world evolves along the lines of Leveller-type and Leviathan-type societies, it is possible that in some countries, such as Russia, a Leviathan-like approach—that is, order in exchange for reduced democracy and rights—will be the accepted way of life. In other countries, most interestingly China, as its economy loses momentum and evolves, there may be a growing tension between groups holding the Leviathan view (supported inevitably by Grandees) and opposing Leveller-like groups (who favor equality of opportunity and a multiparty system). The role and views of women, especially in China, and of minority groups like the gay community will be pivotal.

This historically dull-witted binary is the political destiny of human kind? ‘A New World Order’ as posited by O’ Sullivan, will appeal to the Neo-Liberal’s of American Corporate Journalism: The New York Times, Washington Post etc. and America’s desperate elected  political class, to act as intellectual veneer, for their policy proposals, steeped in xenophobia, bourgeois respectable racism and rampant sexual hysteria. And a politics in American re-defined by the Rucho et al, v.  Common Cause  et al  decision of the Supreme Court that allows partisan gerrymandering to be unencumbered in its exercise.

The emergence of a new world order, based on large regions and coloured by Leveller and Leviathan modes of governance, echoes several periods in history. The challenge in the next few years will be for Leviathan-oriented nations like China to maintain economic stability so that rising unemployment, for instance, does not break the “Leviathan contract”. Equally, the challenge in Leveller countries will be to maintain open, fraternal societies in the face of political and potentially economic volatility.

Old Socialist










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Clinton Surrogate Harris attacks Clinton Surrogate Biden. On the bankruptcy of The New Democrats! Old Socialist comments

Sen.Harris was too eager to play the respectability game with sclerotic Biden, at least until she could deliver the ‘I was that girl’ coup de grace about ‘busing’! Who can forget this Harris nonpareil:

‘Sitting onstage during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference last March, Sen. Kamala Harris dropped an anecdote about her own unlikely brush with Zionism as a Jamaican-Indian American girl growing up in Oakland. “As a child, I never sold Girl Scout cookies,” the California senator told the audience, according to a participant who tweeted about it. “I went around with a [Jewish National Fund] box collecting funds to plant trees in Israel.”

The Senator from OneWest Bank, AIPAC and Attorney General of California who threatened poor people with jail time for the truancy of their children:

Headline:Kamala Harris: resurfaced video on truancy prosecutions sparks backlash

Sub-headline: Critics responding to 2010 speech said they disapproved of her willingness to use law enforcement tactics on parents of truant children

Harris’s anecdote about the homeless mother captures “the disaster of American social policy”, James Forman Jr, a scholar and critic of mass incarceration, wrote on Twitter in response to the clip. “That’s the American way: what little help we offer poor people comes under threat of prison.”

The people prosecuted for the “crime” of having their children miss school are overwhelmingly poor, black and brown, Forman, the author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment Black America, wrote. “Poor parents don’t need the threat of jail to get their kids to school. They need what the wealthy take for granted: good schools, lead-free water, safe parks, healthy food, well-stocked libraries, etc.”

One widely shared tweet compared Harris’s remarks on truancy to Hillary Clinton’s racist 1996 comment about juvenile “super-predators”.

Harris is THE wrong person to lecture Clinton Surrogate Biden! After all, she too is a Clinton Surrogate.

Old Socialist

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment on Joe Biden’s self-serving ‘nostalgia’: Political Observer comments

Mr. Ganesh frames his essay on Joe Biden with the Shakespeare tragedy Romeo and Juliet and the ‘“ancient grudge” between the Montagues and the Capulets.’ Garnished with his jejune observations, masquerading as telling insights on ‘the human condition’.

Posh Boy education collides with an utterly provincial American politician. If one can define Joe by means of the greatest playwright and poet in the  English language – his play  deserves more that its hollowing out, by the political desperation/opportunism of a writer, on American politics, suffering from an advanced case of historical/political ignorance.

As for Joe’s ‘nostalgia’  for the notion of an absent political comity see this Nation essay:

Headline: When Joe Biden Collaborated With Segregationists

Sub-headline: The candidate’s years as an anti-busing crusader cannot be forgotten—or readily forgiven.

In an education-policy proposal released by his campaign on May 28, Biden briefly spoke of encouraging diversity by giving grants and guidance to districts that are willing to pursue it. But he said nothing to disown his long history as a fierce opponent of school busing and a scathing critic of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

“We’ve lost our bearings since the 1954 Brown v. School Board desegregation case,” Biden said in 1975, in an interview that he gave to a newspaper in Delaware that was recently unearthed by The Washington Post. “To ‘desegregate’ is different than to ‘integrate.’”

Crucially, Biden didn’t just talk the anti-busing talk. He also took a leading role in fighting what he called “unnecessary busing” by pushing bills that would have forced the federal government to consider other ways of equalizing education—ways that would not have required what old-fashioned bigots used to call race mixing. In a series of letters, recently released by CNN, that he wrote to Dixiecrat Senator James Eastland in 1977, Biden expressed thanks to Eastland for supporting anti-busing legislation that Biden introduced.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help…in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote,” he wrote the Mississippi Democrat, a virulent opponent of civil rights who frequently referred to black people as “an inferior race.”

Is the political comity that is the subject of Joe’s nostalgia, and subject to Mr. Ganesh’s self-satisfied critique- the reader, with patience, makes her way though the thickets of Mr. Ganesh’s arguments to this concluding paragraph:

Anyone who has fallen out with friends over politics in recent years, having once associated such behaviour with bores and fanatics, has learnt something. Some beliefs, it turns out, really are irreconcilable. The job of politics is to contain them, lest they spill into civil disorder. It cannot aspire to do much more. It cannot always even finesse them into constructive legislation that splits the difference. The promise of bipartisanship is always and everywhere rousing to hear. That does not make it any less of a fool’s errand.

Isaiah Berlin,  long ago, considered the vexing question of incommensurables:

One of the knottiest dimensions of Berlin’s pluralism is the idea of incommensurability, which has been open to diverging interpretations. One can make a three-way distinction, between weak incommensurability, moderate incommensurability and radical incommensurability. Berlin goes beyond weak incommensurability, which holds that values cannot be ranked quantitatively, but can be arranged in a qualitative hierarchy that applies consistently in all cases. It is not, however, clear whether he presents a moderate or a radical vision of incommensurability. The former holds that there is no single, ultimate scale or principle with which to measure values—no ‘moral slide-rule’ or universal unit of normative measurement. This view is certainly consistent with all that Berlin wrote from 1931 onwards. Such a view does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that it is impossible to make judgements between values on a case-by-case basis, or that values, just because they can’t be compared or ranked in terms of one master-value or formula, can’t be compared or deliberated between at all.

Berlin does sometimes offer more starkly dramatic accounts of incommensurability, which make it hard to rule out a more radical interpretation of the concept, according to which incommensurability is more or less synonymous with incomparability. The latter states that values cannot be compared at all, since there is no ‘common currency’ in terms of which to compare them: each value, being sui generis, cannot be judged in relation to any other value, because there is nothing in relation to which both can be judged or measured. As a result, choices among values cannot be based on (objectively valid) evaluative comparisons, but only on personal preference, or on an act of radical, arbitrary choice. If this view is adopted, it is difficult to see how pluralism’s practical consequences would differ from those of relativism, although some scholars—most notably John Gray—have attempted to work out a version of pluralism that will both accommodate this more radical interpretation of incommensurability, and yet be differentiated from relativism.

Political Observer







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On Gideon Rachman’s demons. Old Socialist comments

Headline: Brexit is an idea for a bygone era

Sub-headline: Global Britain assumes a world that is moving towards free trade, rather than against it

Look around the world. What appear to be the biggest potential threats?

Strategists worry about the rise of an authoritarian China, a lawless Russia and the threats of new wars in the Middle East or North Korea. Economists highlight the dangers of a trade war. Lawyers point to the Trump administration’s “America First” rejection of international treaties. Environmentalists and a growing number of voters insist on the paramount importance of climate change.

How quickly the Common Market, a coal and steel cartel, became the economic bulwark against the Soviet Union, imagined and brought into being by technocrat supreme Jean Monnet, has been erased from historical memory by the Stalinist Cult of the EU! The Common Market even published its own magazine, I was a subscriber.

The Myth of Europe in service to Mr. Rachman’s collection of  rhetorical demons:   ‘authoritarian China’, ‘lawless Russia‘, ‘the threats of new wars in the Middle East or North Korea’ , ‘ the dangers of a trade war’, ‘“America First” ‘, ‘rejection of international treaties’, ‘the paramount importance of climate change’ : More of the same nearly modulated political hysterics, not about the actual failure of that ‘Federalism’ . As window dressing for Monnet’s Cartel, steeped in a nostalgia for an etiolated Hegelian pseudo-mystical vision of a European Super-State, is an idea for a bygone era!

In the Greek Crisis the EU showed its true colors, as reported in these pages by Gillian Tett:

Headline: A debt to history?

Sub-Headline: To some, Germany faces a moral duty to help Greece, given the aid that it has previously enjoyed

Last summer I found myself in that spot for a conference, having dinner with a collection of central bank governors. It was a gracious, majestic affair, peppered with high-minded conversation. And as coffee was served, in bone-china crockery (of course), Benjamin Friedman, the esteemed economic historian, stood up to give an after-dinner address.

The mandarins settled comfortably into their chairs, expecting a soothing intellectual discourse on esoteric monetary policy. But Friedman lobbed a grenade.

“We meet at an unsettled time in the economic and political trajectory of many parts of the world, Europe certainly included,” he began in a strikingly flat monotone (I quote from the version of his speech that is now posted online, since I wasn’t allowed to take notes then.) Carefully, he explained that he intended to read his speech from a script, verbatim, to ensure that he got every single word correct. Uneasily, the audience sat up.

For a couple of minutes Friedman then offered a brief review of western financial history, highlighting the unprecedented nature of Europe’s single currency experiment, and offering a description of sovereign and local government defaults in the 20th century. Then, with an edge to his voice, Friedman pointed out that one of the great beneficiaries of debt forgiveness throughout the last century was Germany: on multiple occasions (1924, 1929, 1932 and 1953), the western allies had restructured German debt.

So why couldn’t Germany do the same for others? “There is ample precedent within Europe for both debt relief and debt restructuring . . . There is no economic ground for Germany to be the only European country in modern times to be granted official debt relief on a massive scale and certainly no moral ground either.

“The supposed ability of today’s most heavily indebted European countries to reduce their obligations over time, even in relation to the scale of their economies, is likely yet another fiction,” he continued, warning of political unrest if this situation continued.

Find the demons that Mr. Rachman is on the hunt for, not in the dull-witted Posh Boy Trinity of Brexteers, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove, who are the current representatives of the utterly collapsed Neo-Liberal Swindle, and the Common Market and its successor the EU, but in the Technocrats and their propagandists, like Rachman, whose enthusiasm for the myth of The Free Market, and the EU as its point of political arrival, has defined their journalistic careers!.

Old Socialist


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The tedious ennui of a Posh Boy: in honor of Janan Ganesh.The Ghost of Joris-Karl Huysmans comments

Headline: Save me from the tyranny of choice

Sub-headline:In a world of cacophonous information, the absence of it is life-improving

Here is the key paragraph of Mr. Ganesh latest feuilleton:

Good. If they went yet further, and did not tell us what we were eating, either verbally or via a paper menu, all the better. In a world of endless choice, expert curation is precious. In a world of cacophonous information, the absence of it is life-improving.

His essay resembles not the cloyingly sweet Pavlova but,  the ‘wildly over the top’, Spanische Windtorte: the recipe :

The last paragraph is so larded with overwrought  descriptors e.g. : ‘the Cartesian order of Washington’  that its a pastiche of a pastiche!

Outside Mãos, having made no decisions for three hours, I brave the coiled entrails of the London street system, or anti-system, with its myriad permutations, so unlike the Cartesian order of Washington or the numbered right angles of New York. Complexity can be designed out of our lives, as those places show. When it comes to the built environment, as much is lost as is gained. When it comes to the humdrum consumption that takes place within it, I see no cost, just a kind of emancipation. I want to be led so I can be free.

Best regards,

The Ghost of Joris-Karl Huysmans



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