@FT, Ben Hall, William Drozdiak on the political fate of Emmanuel Macron! Old Socialist comments

M. 37% has an ally in The Financial Times, and its reviewer Ben Hall. Mr Hall presents an argument about the ‘baffling’ ‘sheer opprobrium’ that French citizens hold for this arrogant little enarque:

The sheer opprobrium many French citizens hold for their president is baffling to many outsiders, even taking into account his hauteur and impetuosity. It still threatens Mr Macron’s chances of re-election in 2022. But we do not find out much more about it here. This book is not an examination of the state of France or of the low-trust society it appears to have become. There are few critical perspectives or opposition voices.

Could it be that the final vote in the election, in which of voters rendered their ballots counted as ‘abstentions’ and  ‘spoiled’ adds up to 15,461,894?. Greater than the final total cast for Le Pen 10,584,464. Macron’s final vote was 20,257,167. But 16,046,358 of votes ‘against’ Macron, by the aggregates of the these numbers of  votes for Le Pen, and non-votes of ‘abstentions’ and ‘spoiled ballots’, might be a beginning of an honest inquiry into the why of this ‘baffling’ ‘sheer opprobrium‘ of the opposition to Macron’s Neo-Liberalization Project? 

My source for the election figures:


For a very carefully laundered report on that election:

Headline: French election results: Macron’s victory in charts

Sub-headline: President-elect won decisively with wealthier and better-educated voters


‘Low Trust society’ ,  the useful vocabulary of the Technocrat , in sum, a term of opprobrium, a descriptor of the lower orders: a gloss on a superior classes special kind of knowledge!     

William Drozdiak a member of the Brookings Coterie of prophets and their advocacy for  NATO and the faltering European Project: its latest episode:

Headline: How can Europe solve the crisis created by Germany’s highest court?

Sub-headline: Berlin, Brussels and Frankfurt weigh response to judgment on ECB’s bond-buying programme


Mr. Hall reduces Macron’s now utterly forgotten gaseous Jupertarian Politics, that has evolved into a beauty contest via Drozdiak, with the garnish of ‘ambitious and visionary’. While the political world has been remade by Covid-19, and a galloping return of  Keynesianism.

Drozdiak’s is a largely admiring account of how Mr Macron recovered his poise after the gilets jaunes protests to become Europe’s most ambitious and visionary leader. Drawing mostly on newspaper reports, interviews with Élysée Palace advisers and the president himself, Drozdiak gives us a tidy primer on Mr Macron’s sophisticated world view. 

Compare the above with this Vanity Fair gush: 


Sub-headline: The politician takes us behind the closed doors of his Élysée office and shows us what a typical workday looks like, with photographer Annie Leibovitz documenting his every move.


Mr. Macron’s project is about the Neo-Liberalization of France, the last European bastion of Democratic Socialism. Mr. Drozdiak’s aim is to provide an apologetic for Macron, which uses his talents as a Technocrat, and like the canny Capitalist he has something to sell, his expertise, via his position as ‘a senior advisor for Europe with McLarty Associates, an international strategic consultancy firm based in Washington, D.C.’ Add to this his experience as a newspaperman, at The Washington Post, his very impressive C.V. :

William Drozdiak

Mr. Drozdiak is a Macron propagandist/apologist, with the help of  Mr. Hall. 

Drozdiak’s aim in this book is to distill Mr Macron’s thinking about how, in an era of great power competition between the US and China, Europe needs to be more strategic and assertive in protecting its own interests.

Mr. Hall’s final paragraph is instructive. In sum the Macron Project is the Neo-Liberalization of France, that becomes the sine qua non of Mr. Drozdiak’s propaganda intervention.  

The bigger impact may be domestic. Mr Macron’s mission to end the French people’s overdependence on a bloated state had become a political liability. The pandemic calls for reimagining the protective state. It is, as the president put it in a recent televised address, a “chance to reinvent ourselves, me first of all”.

For Mr. Hall, Mr. Drozdiak and M. Macron, the Neo-Liberal Project is an idée fixe . The vexing question is what will happen after the end of Social Distancing, as The Covid-19 crisis abates ? Will the gilets jaunes protests begin anew? Or will the cementing of the rules governing public congregations/demonstrations , be used as a weapon against dissidents, in the name of a fragile public safety? 

Old Socialist 





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gideon.rachman@ft.com on the imperative ‘It’s time for a liberal fightback’. Old Socialist comments

The  ‘as if’ of his the latest political/economic intervention with the comic bellicose frame of It’s time for a liberal fightback’ signals the abandonment of Liberalism’s revered rationality? Two books, in the political worldview of Mr. Rachman, do not exist:

Liberalism: A Counter-History by Domenico Losurdo


And the revelatory history of The Economist, that even mentions Mr. Rachman, as part of the Posh Boy Network, that supplies newspapers with the apologists for a political present, ruled by the variant of ‘Liberalism’ named ‘Neo-Liberalism’   :

Liberalism at Large: The World According to the Economist by Alexander Zevin


Mr. Rachman in high dungeon, another seriocomic moment, in extended play. The Enemies of the Moment ‘ nationalist right and radical left’  :

If the liberal creed had entered this crisis with broad popular support and understanding, it would be easier to ensure that all these infringements on freedom are temporary. But the opposite is the case. Liberalism has had a miserable decade, with the financial crisis and its aftermath turning “liberal” into a term of abuse for both the nationalist right and the radical left.

Another book ‘Europe Since 1989’ by Philipp Ther , in its Chapters:   4 titled ‘Getting On The Neo-Liberal Bandwagon’ &  5 Second -Wave Neo-Liberalism explains in detail the toxicity of Neo-Liberal’s benighted reign in Mitteleuropa.

Another ‘as if’ : Colloque Walter Lippmann of 1938 didn’t mark the alliance of ‘Liberalism’ with ‘Neo-Liberalism’! Mr. Rachman defensive anger , that morphs into rhetorical bellicosity, at those who expose this benighted history, is not unexpected from a member of  a very exclusive club of apologists! But this next paragraph is part of an almost canny acceptance, of the other’s arguments, an expression of ‘Liberalism’ argumentative tolerance?   

The liberal willingness to see the other side of the argument, mocked by Frost, means I am happy to accept that the critiques of both left and right have some merit. The liberal urge to roll back the frontiers of the state has contributed to increased economic insecurity in the west. And the right is correct to say that many liberals were too relaxed about the consequences of globalisation. 

My patience with Mr. Rachman’s political intervention is at its end. But I can’t resist quoting this sentence, a kind of wan apologetic for Tony Blair: possibly a representative of  the Liberalism/Neo-Liberalism that he defends as the epitome of political rationalism?

But Tony Blair — also often accused of “neoliberalism” — supported higher public spending and redistributive taxation.

I’ll close my comment with this collection of telling sentence fragments: a collection of his closely held beliefs/suppositions that define his ‘Liberalism’ from the remainder of Rachman’s angry polemic, as representative of Liberal Rationalism?  

Sensible liberals understand that…, But, real liberals differ from the communitarians of the far right and far left…, That means liberals also know …, That belief in the universal rights of man…, As the extremes of the left and the right limber up…, …liberals do not believe in destroying their enemies.   

Old Leftist 






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On the fictional valorization of Hillary Clinton, just in time ? American Writer comments

How opportune! As Senile Old Joe marinates in his cognitive decline , sequestered from public view. His campaign, such as it is, carefully managed ‘interviews’ with friendly media, and short videos. Curtis Sittenfeld’s ‘Counter Factual Biography’ of Hillary Clinton, to be published under the title ‘Rodham’ adds what to the American political conversation?  Here is her picture provided by The Sunday Times:


Here is a quote from Bryan Appleyard  about the ‘why’ of the book:

Sittenfeld writes women better than anybody else, and women read her in huge numbers with the joy of recognition. If anybody can turn Hillary into a fictional heroine, she can.

And she really is the heroine. This book is a counterfactual — a “what if?” way of studying the past. The big “what if” here is what if Hillary hadn’t married Bill? Her answer, thanks to the deft way she combines fact and fiction, is wholly convincing. This is clearly how she wanted Hillary to be. And, crucially, about how much she wanted her to become president.

The book, and the timing of its publication are suspicious, to say the least, so it is important that Sittenfeld establish her distance from Hillary Clinton:

She has not met Hillary, although was once “in the same space with her” at Stanford University. But she springs to utterly convincing life in these pages.

“I do feel it’s important for me to emphasise that I’ve never spoken to her. It’s not as if I have any inside scoop. Any research I did was publicly available. I never interviewed someone behind the scenes. But there is a lot of information that’s out there.”

Appleyard probes a bit :

If she did meet her, what would she want to ask? She emails her question: “If you hadn’t become a lawyer and politician, what do you think you’d have done instead?” My question would have been: do you think marrying Bill Clinton held you back? That’s the one that looms behind the book. However, I can tell Sittenfeld doesn’t like that. She’s a detail person, and if that is the looming question, it’s up to the reader to ask it, not her. 

Should the reader of this interview come to the conclusion that Sittenfeld has written counter factual fan fiction?

Did she like Hillary more than when she started this book more than three years ago? “Yes, more, more! You know, for a lot of the last three years I’ve put on a pant suit and blond wig, metaphorically. I would never write a book from the point of view of a character I was unable to sympathise with. I feel very emotional about her. There’s this reflexively negative way of talking about her. Yet she’s such a hero and role model to so many people, especially many women, which doesn’t get acknowledged as much as it should.”

She says she ended up loving her. But she had also fallen for Bill during her research. She had read his big, swaggering autobiography, My Life.

“I mean, this is the thing; while reading it, I felt like I fell in love with him. And it was very surprising to me. But I think a writer needs to be able to feel the emotions her characters feel.”

This is voice of the true believer, or to be pointed, an apologist/propagandist that has produced an ‘imagined’ Hillary Clinton, rendered more palatable by Sittenfeld’s adolescent ‘crush’.  

Even Appleyard provides a bit of gush about ‘Bill’ , and Sittenfeld confirms : 

I tell Sittenfeld about meeting the real Bill at a party. He charmed me in about three seconds, and there was some weird visual effect that made everybody else blur into insignificance.

“Exactly, I’ve heard he has this very particular kind of magnetism that most mortals do not have.”

Not interested in the remainder of the interview focused on Sittenfeld life and literary career. One final comment, neither Appleyard  nor Sittenfeld  have any relation to Graham Greene!

American Writer 






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@TheTLS Psychoanalysis still falls under the rubric of ‘Science’! Philosophical Apprentice comments

Freudian ‘Science’ won’t go quietly! Professor Cohen considers  ‘pondering the tastelessly funny, improbably Freudian coincidence of the centennial of Beyond the Pleasure Principle with a deadly global pandemic.’

Josh Cohen is a psychoanalyst in private practice and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include The Private Life, 2013, and Not Working: Why we have to stop, 2019

I thought the ‘New Party Line’ on Psychoanalysis was that it was about  ‘Jewish Story Telling’ , and or part of the project of ‘Jewish Emancipation’.  

Here is link to my essay, that is a review of Adam Phillips ‘Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst’, my title gives the game away! Phillips is both an ideologically focused ‘historian’ and an incompetent apologist.  

On ‘Becoming Freud’ : Adam Phillips as incompetent Freudian Apologist/Propagandist. A comment by Philosophical Apprentice
Posted on January 4, 2019


Philosophical Apprentice


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Edward Luce’s Damascene moment on ‘the less well off’. Political Observer comments

It isn’t only Mr. Luce that is suddenly concerned with the welfare of ‘the less well off’. The Economist has just as suddenly come to a realization about ‘young minds’ : ‘If schools don’t open soon the effect on young minds could be devastating’. 


Judging from the number of links featured on their twitter account. What can the reader think of this ‘evolution’
One of the most compelling chapters of ‘Liberalism At Large’ titled ‘Globalism and its Contents’ describes, in detail, the men, and the occasional women, who become writers and editors of newspapers like The Financial Times and The Economist. 

Pages 334 and *335 of ‘Liberalism’ offers some revelatory insights as to the how and why of  career paths, for the favored few, who manage to attend and matriculate/graduate from a small number of exclusive Oxford colleges. A reference to the ‘Magdalen Mafia’ in the context of employment at The Economist provides insights, even Gideon Rachman is mentioned as the beneficiary of an elite education.     

What does my presentation have to do with Mr. Luce’s sudden revelation/evolution on the welfare of ‘the less well off’ ? As a regular reader of this newspaper, this is the first time I can recall Mr. Luce expressing anything like concern for ‘the less well off ‘. Is the reality of the word poor so alien? Mr. Luce, with his mentions of Amazon and Tyson, attempts an unconvincing reaffirmation of his Capitalist Faith.

Political Observer




Screen shot of pages 334 & *335: 




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Peter Spiegel reviews the ‘Deep State Analgesic’ of David Rohde. Political Observer comments

The opening paragraph of this essay reads, in part, as if were written in an American newspaper, during the the height of the McCarthy Purges, in its first sentence, while subsequently  critiquing it: call it maladroit framing, or pastiche journalism, born in the Age of Trump?   

The conviction that pointy-headed intellectuals in the US national security establishment are covertly imposing their worldview on American foreign policy hardly originated with the Trump White House. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade in the 1950s was largely premised on the same paranoia about some establishment “deep state”. Similar views were voiced — with lesser degrees of conspiratorial conviction — by the Reagan and Nixon adminsistrations.

One of the major disadvantages that Peter Spiegel shares, with so many of the writers at The Financial Times, is that their historical memories lack sufficient , what to name it, depth? As they didn’t live through the political era’s they write about, with such confidence! Searching for the right descriptors, for much of what is written in the pages of this newspaper, is a challenge for anyone who actually came of age in 1950’s America. 
Its ‘as if’ the Coup against Mosaddegh never happened, The Bay of Pigs, The Assassination of John Kennedy, and its cover-up: ‘The Warren Report’ and its ‘magic bullet’ theory confected by the late Arlen Spector. Mark Lane, Jim Garrison, and myriad other ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ , a concept cobbled together by the CIA, exposed the Deep State operatives who were the true conspirators. Not to forget the revelations of the long forgotten Phillip Agee in his 1975 book ‘Inside the Company: CIA Diary’.  

What is missing in Peter Spiegel’s  essay is the propaganda opportunity for constructing an apologetic for a ‘Deep State’ that actually exists. David Rohde constructs a valuable National Analgesic, an apologetic for the existence of a National Security apparatus, that like the Pentagon’s budget, cannot be audited! Here is a paragraph from Spiegel’s paraphrase of  Rohde’s book: 

To Rohde, the importance of the Church committee is not so much what it uncovered — unauthorised wiretapping of high-ranking US politicians, infiltration of peaceful domestic political groups, “black bag jobs” that broke into private homes to plant incriminating evidence — as the reforms it spawned. Many of the norms Trump now flouts, Rohde argues, flowed from Church: justice department independence, congressional oversight, independent counsels, inspectors-general.  

The FISA Court was the product of the Church Committee: ‘A Secret Court: Secret Evidence, Secret Witnesses, Secret Trails, National Security Letters’! Without Oversight! A monument, not to Constitutional governance, but the unchecked power of Security State Operatives. 

The two  essays below, do more than support Mr. Spiegel’s rhetorically evolving doubt!

December 18, 2019

Headline: FISA court’s rebuke of the FBI: It broke or ignored the rules and our rights

The presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has issued a stinging rebuke to the FBI in the wake of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the bureau’s serial abuses in the surveillance of Carter Page.

In the FISC’s assessment, the derelictions in the Page surveillance warrants are so serious, the court’s judges cannot be confident that any warrant applications the FBI has submitted are accurate and complete — i.e., that the bureau’s assertions have been true and, even if true, were not misleading because of the omission of relevant information. 

Consequently, in an extraordinary public order on Tuesday, the secret court’s presiding judge, Rosemary Collyer, directed the Justice Department and the FBI to conduct a thorough review of all submissions the bureau has made to the FISC. They have about three weeks (until Jan. 10, 2020) to explain what steps have been taken to assure the candor of each submission.



April 30, 2020 

Headline: Michael Flynn case should be dismissed to preserve justice

Previously undisclosed documents in the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn offer us a chilling blueprint on how top FBI officials not only sought to entrap the former White House aide but sought to do so on such blatantly unconstitutional and manufactured grounds.

These new documents further undermine the view of both the legitimacy and motivations of those investigations under former FBI director James Comey. For all of those who have long seen a concerted effort within the Justice Department to target the Trump administration, the fragments will read like a Dead Sea Scrolls version of a “deep state” conspiracy.

One note reflects discussions within the FBI shortly after the 2016 election on how to entrap Flynn in an interview concerning his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. According to Fox News, the note was written by the former FBI head of counterintelligence, Bill Priestap, after a meeting with Comey and his deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

The note states, “What is our goal? Truth and admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” This may have expressed an honest question over the motivation behind this targeting of Flynn, a decision for which Comey later publicly took credit when he had told an audience that he decided he could “get away” with sending “a couple guys over” to the White House to set up Flynn and make the case.



Political Observer







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On the Argentine Debt Crisis, in the pages of The Financial Times, with a link to Jayati Ghosh’s revelatory essay. Political Observer’s collection

From September 1 2019:

Headline: Argentina: how IMF’s biggest ever bailout crumbled under Macri

Sub-headline: With the Peronists waiting in the wings, the country is struggling to avoid a ninth sovereign default

‘The decision to seek what became the biggest bailout in the IMF’s history took only a few minutes.

A loss of faith in Argentina’s reform programme had been visibly demonstrated by a two-week run on the peso in spring last year. President Mauricio Macri had few options left. A long-mooted contingency plan went into action.

“When it came to it, we had discussed it so much, for Macri it was no problem,” says one senior government official recalling the events of last May. “The decision took five minutes . . . back then, Macri was fine and he was very happy with the agreement . . . after all, we had managed to get $50bn.”




Headline: Argentina wrestles with creditors over repayments as default looms

Sub-headline:Buenos Aires to delay coupons until 2023, which one bondholder calls a’non- starter’

Some of the world’s largest institutional investors are locked in a stand-off with Argentina over terms put forward by the government to restructure $65bn of foreign debt, as the cash-strapped country heads towards its ninth sovereign debt default. 

On Wednesday, Buenos Aires skipped about $500m in scheduled payments on three foreign bonds, triggering a 30-day countdown to a formal default. The country’s proposal to reduce its huge debt burden landed with a thud last week, eliciting immediate objections from three groups that represent a large chunk of bondholders.

Asset managers BlackRock, Fidelity, Ashmore and T Rowe Price, which have joined forces with AllianceBernstein, Wellington Management and other institutional investors, criticised the government’s proposal to delay any debt payments until 2023, arguing that it places a “disproportionate share of Argentina’s longer-term adjustment efforts on the shoulders of international bondholders”. 



From April 4, 2020:

Headline: Argentina bondholders snub ‘disproportionate’ debt offer

Sub-headline: Biggest creditors attack government’s proposal to restructure $65bn of foreign debt

Argentina’s biggest bondholders have doubled down on their opposition to the government’s plan to restructure its $65bn foreign debt mountain, all but confirming the failure of the deal, which expires on Friday.

On Monday, three groups representing some of the country’s largest private creditors issued a joint statement confirming they would not support the proposal from Buenos Aires, which calls for interest payments to be delayed until 2023 and principal payments until 2026. 

Tensions have run high between Argentina and its creditors since the proposal was announced last month. The three groups, which represent some of the world’s largest institutional investors including BlackRock and Fidelity, have already rejected the offer independently, with some calling it “unacceptable” and not a product of “good faith” negotiations.

 “Each of the three bondholder groups and the institutions they represent, together with various other investors, wish to reiterate and make clear that they cannot support Argentina’s recently launched exchange offer, and will not tender their bonds in such offer, because, among other reasons, they consider the terms to require Argentine bondholders to bear disproportionate losses that are neither justified nor necessary,” the creditors said in a statement on Monday.



From April 28 2020:

Headline: The Argentina Debt Reduction Proposal by Jayati Ghosh

A Template to Prevent a Global Debt Crisis?

s the United Nations warns that the “Great Lockdown” threatens to become the “Great Meltdown”, it’s now clear that most sovereign debt of developing countries is simply unpayable. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, total public and private debt in developing countries was nearly double their GDP. External short-term debt is a real problem: as much as $1.62 trillion is due to be repaid by developing countries this year, with another $1.08 trillion due in 2021.

This would have been a struggle before; now, the Covid-19 crisis makes it impossible. Developing countries are being battered by a tsunami of falling export and tourism revenues and dramatic outflows of capital, causing sharp currency depreciation. Without quick and substantial action, many governments will be forced into debt defaults.

So does the international community (assuming that there is still one) want a perfect storm of disorderly defaults that could wreck the global financial system? Or a more equitable distribution of costs among lenders and borrowers, with less damage to people? The UN has argued for a new “Global Debt Deal” for developing countries, involving a $1 trillion debt write-off, recognizing that this is one of those unusual moments in history when the fate of the international system hangs in the balance.

Fortunately, there is a concrete example of how this could be done. The new government in Argentina has proposed a set of principles and a framework for debt sustainability that make eminent sense. If adopted by creditors, it would set the stage for a manageable debt reduction in Argentina that would enable the country to grow its way out of the currently unsustainable debt. It would also provide a template for dealing with other unsustainable developing country debt.


Jayati Ghosh’s essay was re-posted at Naked Capitalism by the indispensable Yves Smith! 


Consider this from the Financial Times of October  21, 2019:

Headline: Will Argentina be safe in the Peronists’ hands?

Sub-headline: Leftwing populists are poised to retake power. The priority is a swift renegotiation of the country’s huge debt pile

The victor of this Sunday’s election in Argentina will inherit one of the world’s most unenviable economic messes.

Inflation is running at 55 per cent a year, the economy is in a deep recession, poverty is rising, billions of dollars have fled the country, the peso has plunged and Argentina is unable to pay its $100bn foreign debt. It sounds an all too familiar story in a country that aspired to European levels of prosperity in the early 20th century but has consistently disappointed ever since.

This time was supposed to be different: Mauricio Macri, scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families, came to power four years ago promising that his market-friendly policies and business savvy would finally put the Argentine economy right. 

But after a series of blunders that led to another IMF bailout last year, Mr Macri has achieved what few thought possible, according to a senior executive at an international bank in Buenos Aires: he will hand over Argentina’s economy in a worse state than it was when he inherited it in 2015 from Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a leftwinger criticised by international investors for her repeated bouts of state intervention.

Somewhat improbably against the dire economic backdrop, Mr Macri is running for a second term. But few even in his own team expect him to win. A national primary on August 11, widely regarded as a good barometer of sentiment, was won handsomely by the main opposition candidate, the centre-left Peronist Alberto Fernández, whose running mate is Ms Fernández de Kirchner.


Political Observer


Thinking about the questions raised by the Argentine ‘default’ – calling it vexing is understatement, yet in the Age of The Pandemic, the whole of the World System/Capitalism is facing imminent collapse.

The Technocratic tinkering to mitigate Financial Capital’s excesses, and the Southern Tier’s economic fecklessness: to borrow from the scalding, under the claims of the Virtuous Northern Tier’s defamation of the Greeks- the only real question is what is to be done? With the utter failure of the Technocrats where do ‘we’ turn?









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