Links Australia Day 2013

Slideshow: Sperm Whales Adopt Deformed Dolphin Science (Aquifer). Aaaw.

New PIOMAS vid Arctic Sea Ice Blog (Chuck L)

Andean glaciers melting at ‘unprecedented’ rates Guardian (Aquifer)

Great Lakes Map Shows Greatest Ecosystem Stress in Lakes Erie and Ontario Circle of Blue (Aquifer). Lake Michigan stressed near Escanaba ….and Escanaba has only 12,000 people

Antibiotic-resistant diseases pose ‘apocalyptic’ threat, top expert says Guardian

Davos take note: we don’t trust you Gillian Tett, Financial Times. The poll was of the “informed public” as in “uninformed” don’t count. Jonathan R noted the informed are:

Note: Informed publics are defined as people age 25 to 64, college-educated and in the top quartile of incomes for their age group in each country, who say they regularly follow the news. Figures are based on online responses from 500 people in China and the United States and 200 in other countries. Surveys were conducted in October and November of the preceding year.

So if are working age and unemployed, for instance, you can’t be informed, unless you are a trust fund baby.

Lagarde: Women promoted to ‘basket case’ jobs Telegraph. OK, I take it back, not everything said at Davos is useless, just pretty much everything. But what about Carly Fiorina? She destroyed Lucent (she was responsible for selling equipment and getting paid in dot coms’ stock) and she somehow got the nod at HP. (In fairness, Lagarde said “often” not “always”)

Cyprus’s now-certain default Felix Salmon (Scott)

Britain is experiencing “worse slump than during Great Depression” Telegraph (George Washington). Some caveats in order. Britain didn’t do too badly in the Depression because 1. it was a debtor and 2. it left the gold standard early

Sarah Palin Parts Ways With FOX News Real Clear Politics (Scott via Clusterstock)

Assault Weapons Ban Lacks Democratic Votes to Pass Senate Bloomberg. Obama didn’t have the votes in the Senate to get Bernanke confirmed either, until he whipped for him personally. We said his speech on gun control (by its noteworthy absence of his typical Orwellianisms) indicated he was going through the motions on this fight (with a Republican majority in the House, this was theater from the get go). Expect him to get at most something token passed (the article suggests a ban on high capacity magazines as a fallback) and move on.

Stuff about the inaugural speech riverdaughter (Lambert). Nails it.

Colley Cibber redivivus Stop Me Before I Vote Again (Lambert)

Stephen King: ‘How many have to die before we will give up these dangerous toys?’ Raw Story

Everything is awful Grist (Aquifer). Um, he noticed only now? :-) Although the particulars, like filibuster non-reform, are interesting.

White House condemns court ruling on ‘unconstitutional’ Obama appointments Guardian. So much for his 11th dimensional chess move of not putting his weight behind filibuster reform.

More Than 300 Labor Board Decisions Could Be Nullified New York Times

Catholic Hospital Argues Fetuses Are Not People In Malpractice Suit Huffington Post. See, not everything is awful.

Can Silicon Valley Save Grover Norquist? Atlantic (Paul Tioxon). Hoping Grover Norquist will randomly not be awful will not make him not awful.

Grover Norquist to push for statehood for Puerto Rico Daily Caller (Paul Tioxon). Ooh, the Republicans are trying to make friends in the Latino community.

Geithner ruling out a move into top Fed job Independent

Timothy Geithner On ‘Justice’ After Financial Crisis: ‘I Never Felt That Was My Thing’ Huffington Post (Aquifer)

Dispatches XXIV: Please Proceed Governor Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser. Nicely done.

Cloudy future for REO-to-rental asset class Housing Wire. Analysts take “show me” stance on promoter claims that they can achieve operating efficiencies.

Longform meltdown (cont.) Columbia Journalism Review

Manhattan to Get First ‘Micro-Unit’ Apartment Building Bloomberg

JPMorgan Chase Trying To Block Shareholder Vote On Breaking Up Bank Reuters

Restoring the Commons Archdruid

The Red and the Black Jacobin (Avedon)

Antidote du jour (Brindle):

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    1. skippy

      Premier Campbell Newman said Gladstone and Bargara had been declared disaster areas.

      In Gladstone, the region has had about 700mm in the last four days – and is bracing for another 200mm to 400mm in the next 24 hours.

      Coupled with an extraordinarily high tide tomorrow, authorities fear flooding around Tannum Sands and Boyne Island – areas which narrowly escaped inundation today – and they have ordered residents to leave the towns of Jambin and Goovigen as a water volume almost six times greater than their last flood approaches.

      THE WEATHER bureau has warned of heavy rain and destructive winds of up to 125km/h for Brisbane from tonight as central Queensland is slammed by severe weather.

      Skippy… Ok…. off now to eat roast dinner at the wife’s folks house!

      PS. We just finished fixing up every thing around here from 2010… almost… sigh…

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? When I lived there (2002-2004) Queer as Folk ran on “free to air” (broadcast) at 10:00 PM. It’s a cross between soap opera and soft porn. Gay soft porn, mind you. Plenty accessible, in other words.

      1. David

        Yes, I was surprised too and thought it relatively mild. After all it was once said that SBS TV only
        offered soccer, sub-titles and sex.

        1. Working Class Nero

          Surely this was banned for political content. There is clearly a localist, nationalist, citizenist bent to that commercial that is an affront to Neoliberal Globalization which is strongly supported (albeit for different reasons) by both the Left and the Right everywhere. The Right love Neoliberal Globalization because it pits their local working classes against the world’s poorest peasants. Such a matchup can only result in more profits for owners of capital. The Left love it because they despise their local working classes for cultural reasons and they think Neoliberal Globalization makes their countries more vibrant and diverse.

      2. skippy

        Hes viewed as a Pauline Hanson sort of crank (immigration stance), the context is not really an issue.

        Skippy… neoliberlism has been hard at work over here since you left.

        © 2007 The Author 1Conference Presentation © 2007 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia
        (Neo)Liberal Doses of Inequality: Advance Australia Where?


        The University of Sydney
        The relationship between social background and achievement has preoccupied educational researcherssince the mid-20
        century with major studies in the area reaching prominence in the late 60s. Despite fivedecades of research and innovation since, recent studies using OECD data have shown that the relationshipis strengthening rather than weakening. In this paper, the systematic destabilisation of public education in Australia is examined as a philosophical problem stemming from a fundamental shift in political orientation,where “choice” and “aspiration” work to promote and disguise survivalism. The problem for educationhowever extends far deeper than the inequity in Federal government funding. Whilst this is a major problem, critical scrutiny must also focus on what states can do to turn back aspects of their own education policy that work to exacerbate and entrench social disadvantage.

        Concluding remarks

        This essay has been principally concerned with the activities of the Labor government
        and its period of office from 1983 to 1996. There is, however, little to indicate that the current Liberal-National Party coalition government is likely to deviate from the direction Labor has established, however. Indeed, Labor has already cleared many of the obstacles that might have proved difficult for a coalition government to overcome.

        The move toward enterprise bargaining and the decentralisation of the industrial relations system seems likely to continue at an even greater pace, as does further
        reform and reduction of the public service, and the increasing marketisation of the education sector. Labor’s achievement – if it may be described as such – has been the 13 reconstitution of central elements of Australia’s institutional infrastructure, a transformation that has been reinforced by the systematic attempt to inculcate new
        values in the population at large. Whether these are described as ‘entrepreneurial’, ‘flexible’, or simply as more ‘competitive’, their intent was to facilitate a style of governance that may most usefully be understood as flowing from a distinctive neoliberal political rationality.

        Constrained by external economic forces on the one hand, and a new conception of the economy and its constitutive elements on the other, successive Australian governments have increasingly sought to operate where they retain legitimacy and effective political authority: over the construction of domestic social relations.

        Paradoxically, therefore, at a time when conventional monetary and fiscal policymaking tools are losing much of their usefulness, government policy initiatives
        designed to enhance national economic security have become more comprehensive and broad-ranging.

        Public policy under successive Labor governments has, therefore, seen the emergence and consolidation of a new style of and rationale for government intervention. Although this has had an impact on a range of public policies its impact is most apparent in the economic sphere. This is hardly surprising. Economic policy increasingly takes precedence over all areas of public policy. At its most
        encompassing, the neoliberal political rationality that has increasingly come to inform Australian public policy is a strategy for extending market mechanisms to areas of
        individual and organisational activity that had previously been considered as nonmarket spheres of allocation, with major implications for the conduct of private and
        public life. In short, the dominance of a neoliberal approach to governance combined with an associated discourse of competitive individualism has profoundly affected our understanding of economic processes and of our own places within them. The remarkable rise and consolidation of a neoliberal political rationality has rapidly come to shape our ‘common sense’ understanding of the world, aa Bourdieu (1991) reminds us, all the more powerful for that reason.

  1. change agent

    Yves, the ads from MFS Investment are highjacking my computer and making it impossible to read your site. Please email when things settle down.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m sorry, but I need the ad revenue. The ads produce more than the fundraiser. And I’m already giving up high CPM ads that are more intrusive (my ad service is all over me for that). If I don’t run ads, there won’t be any site. I’m not joking, I can’t afford to continue to doing this otherwise.

      1. different clue

        Well then, the least we can do is to read the ads or watch the ads. In all seriousness. We don’t have to buy the products. But if the ad placers get the feeling we aren’t even reading or watching, will they keep paying to place ads?

        1. Lambert Strether

          Presumably they have their own metrics. That said, I really don’t think that we want to be breaking NC’s rice bowl.

          Think of the smidge of attention as your in-kind contribution of the day.

      1. psychohistorian

        I would suggest folks get a Firefox or Opera browser and use it specifically for NC viewing. If you set up the browser “adequately” you shouldn’t see a bunch of that crap. Switching back and forth between browsers shouldn’t load the system of most of the users of this site….I just use Opera.

        Just my $.02

  2. Jim Haygood

    ‘Note: Informed publics are defined as people age 25 to 64, college-educated and in the top quartile of incomes for their age group in each country, who say they regularly follow the news.

    By that standard, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Dell all fall into the ‘uninformed’ lumpenproletariat.

    They’re more likely to own news outlets than to pollute their minds with MSM drivel and 19th-century industrial-style rote education.

    College, comrades. Get a degree in Criminal Justice, and you can help feed the Gulag!

    1. Klassy!

      If you don’t fit the “informed public” demographic don’t despair! Every dog has its day. Since it is perpetually campaign season, they do care what you think: “Now looking forward to 2018 is your opinion of Hilary Clinton favorable, mostly favorable…”

      1. Jim Haygood

        An example from this morning: after reviewing some home sales stats, a CNN news anchor gushed that ‘This is a GREAT time to buy a house or refinance!!!

        Her opinion might be correct (or not), but it goes right past most ‘informed’ viewers that this is crude cheerleading [advertisers love upbeat econo-chatter], not reporting. Consume too many hours of media feed, and their memes become your memes.

        1. Klassy!

          I like it because any housing story in my paper uses someone from the local board of realtors. As it turns out it is pretty much always a good time to buy a house. Lately, it’s been more like “you better jump now, sellers are getting multiple offers– and this is not the time for lowball offers!”.

  3. gcjo

    “Britain is experiencing “worse slump than during Great Depression” Telegraph (George Washington). Some caveats in order. Britain didn’t do too badly in the Depression because 1. it was a debtor and 2. it left the gold standard early”

    Steam-powered Britain was also self-sufficient in coal, so it didn’t have to worry about using a devalued currency to pay for energy—unlike nearly every Western economy today.

  4. JGordon

    “Some caveats in order. Britain didn’t do too badly in the Depression because 1. it was a debtor and 2. it left the gold standard early”

    That’s supposition and dependent upon several ideologically based value judgements that were developed from a non-empirical pseudoscience. And if you know about real scientists, even real scientists never, ever say that anything was “proven”. So stating that as a known fact when it philisophically possible for that to be a known fact is fairly annoying. And I’m not being facetious there. I get extremely annoyed whenever someone says that scientists “proved” something because I hate seeing crappy, unempirical thinking being taken seriously, such as that frequently spread by economists.

    That said, the earth was overflowing with resources back in the 1930’s. All the easy stuff is gone now however. So apples to apples comparisons of what “should” happen given various monetarist policy tweaks are one 1) impossible and 2) disastrous when attempted, given the different set of circumstances today.

  5. from Mexico

    @ “The Red and the Black” Jacobin

    Great article, and a thoughtful follow-up to the discussion that occurred on the following thread between Jim and jsmith following an interview of Kalle Lasn linked by Peter Pinguin Society:

    Jim argues that MMT is yet another Utopian vision like Communism and Neoliberalism, based on the same epistemology and ontology.

    1. jsmith

      I concur the Jacobin article is really a great read filled with interesting points. For example, the article references research done showing that efficiency of socialist planned economies matched or bettered the efficiencies of their capitalist counterparts:

      “But a great deal of contrary evidence had accumulated in the meantime. Around the time of the Soviet collapse, the economist Peter Murrell published an article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives reviewing empirical studies of efficiency in the socialist planned economies. These studies consistently failed to support the neoclassical analysis: virtually all of them found that by standard neoclassical measures of efficiency, the planned economies performed as well or better than market economies.


      “First he reviewed eighteen studies of technical efficiency: the degree to which a firm produces at its own maximum technological level. Matching studies of centrally planned firms with studies that examined capitalist firms using the same methodologies, he compared the results. One paper, for example, found a 90% level of technical efficiency in capitalist firms; another using the same method found a 93% level in Soviet firms. The results continued in the same way: 84% versus 86%, 87% versus 95%, and so on.”

      Yes, yes, I know that I come off as a raving Marxist loon much of the time here but the underlying point of my raving is that there has been a purposefully manufactured dearth of discussion/research/acknowledgement of the intellectual and historical record of socialism in the West – especially in the US – since the Cold War and beyond and that this conscious suppression of Marxist/socialist politics and thought has disallowed the common worker/peon/debt slave the necessary tools by which to best understand the exploited situations he/she now finds themselves in.

      Furthermore, the sophistication of the capitalist propaganda/co-opting system in the US and West has been honed to such an advanced degree that in its unparalleled capacities it easily and deftly shunts those disaffected with the system they live under into avenues that are either completely amenable to the capitalist overlords or which at least buys them some more time to cook up another “crisis” or set of distractions by which to pacify the populace.

      Paralleling the state’s overkill concerning the physically repressive methods in dealing with even the most peaceful of protestors there has been just as much overkill in regards to the crushing/undermining of the politico-philosophical re-emergence of anything resembling/recalling Marx or socialism whether it be from the incessant cascade of neoliberal nonsense or the creating of “leftist” groups who inevitably eschew addressing the politico-economic realities of the day.

      As Ackerman’s piece shows Marx and socialism are/can/should be – at the very least – common starting points for serious politico-economic discussions in this day and age by those on the left and as this is exactly what TPTB do not want.

      Contrary to what Lasn and Jim believe – shills that I think they are – discussion among much of today’s Left hasn’t even BEGUN to truly address/include Marxist concepts and the potentialities of socialism and those who believe that the Left is either 1) tired of Marx and his ideas or 2) has become wedded to some Communist orthodoxy circa 1919 are either ignorant or being compensated in some way to appear so.

      You may not have had a police baton smash your face at an Occupy event but you’ve had your psyche consistently assaulted and battered over the last few decades so that real conversation and change don’t even begin.

      Again, there’s no need/reason to hammer out the details of how long the lunch hours will be on the state run asparagus farms but when we start talking about a more humane future it helps people to realize that these ideas are part of a historical tradition that goes back hundreds of years by alluding to/citing Marx and other writers – e.g., Kalecki – whose inclusion will only deepen and solidify the conversation wherever it may lead.


      1. JohnL

        Efficiency may no longer be an apt measure. The question now is what, if anything, do these “isms” have to tell us about how to develop and nurture a society that must live on dwindling resources? Where “productivity” can no longer ignore externalities, where there is not going to be enough “work” for everyone to have a “job”. These relics of the industrial age may be arguing aboit the answer to the wrong question.

        1. jsmith

          Agreed and I mostly posted the article as it showed what kind of analysis the West has been lacking/paying attention to in our “bubble”.

          Right, let’s debate the “isms” but not forgo discussing one of the them – ie. Marxism – because we’ve been told/directed/commanded not to for so long.

          Many it seems want to just say: the contemporary/modern crises of resources and externalities obviate any need to address the ideological systems that have come before.

          This time it’s SO different that we have to necessarily reject anything that doesn’t address the problems of the here and now ie, we have to build something completely from scratch.

          I think this is seriously and unnecessarily weakening the debate and leaving it wide open for being co-opted and tempered to the whims of the elite as many of the “old” thinkers did indeed think on some of the issues that survive to this day.

          For another example, here are the musings of Pete Cooper at heteconomist about the future vis a vis MMT, Marxism etc

          His points are debatable but I include b/c I think they point in the right direction – or left, that is.

          “On a personal level, this argument is actually quite a departure for me. It is not an idea I would have seriously entertained as recently as a few months ago. In response to the argument, I expect most Marxists would retort that capital is what drives – and is most fundamental to – the existing system, and I would have argued the same thing myself until recently. But I now think modern monetary theory (MMT) shows that government and fiat money are logically prior to capital. Fiat money is apart from capital, and not contingent on the existence of capital. Following Marx, I do think capital drives – and is fundamental – to the sphere of private capitalist activity. In a commodity-money or commodity-backed money system, which is what Marx analyzed, this capitalist activity tends to encroach on all other activities, subsuming them into its logic or eliminating them. In these systems, although society can try to ignore the dictates of capital by expanding public-sector activities (and in fact did so in many areas), there will always be an unrelenting pressure for these activities to be resubjected to the logic of capital (e.g. the pressure to privatize, roll back social gains, etc.). But fiat money is external to capital, and is not – or, rather, need not be – subject to the same pressures as capital, and so need not be subjected to its demands. The fact that governments have continued to operate as if fiat money is commodity-backed money (as if they are financially constrained) has meant that these pressures on public-sector activities to revert back to profit imperatives have remained in full force. But if we realize that fiat money can do as it pleases – as we please – and that capitalists can like it or lump it, things can be different.”

          Might not be able to respond cuz running out.

        2. from Mexico

          JohnL says:

          These relics of the industrial age may be arguing aboit the answer to the wrong question.

          Socialism is hardly a “relic of the industrial age.” Christian socialism existed for almost two thousand years before Marx, as Hannah Arendt put it, “made socialism scientific.” But in the Modernist era, after Adam Smith gooed over self-interest with a scientific veneer and made it the alpha and omega of industrial society, the pieties of Christian socialism could no longer cut the mustard. As Arendt goes on to explain:

          The tremendous practical advantage of Marx’s “scientific” over Utopian socialism was, and still is, that it liberated the socialist movement from its worn-out moralizing attitudes, and recognized that the class questions in modern society could no longer be solved by a “passion for justice” or on the basis of a slightly modified Christian charity.

          Marx’s epistemology and ontology were a recognition that the admonitions to Christian charity or Kant’s transcendental idealism were no match for the liberals’ “objective,” materialistic “science.”

          Now that Modernity is entering a new, and what I believe will be final, crisis, the playing field and rules of engagement may well change. However, the age-old antinomy between freedom and nature will not go away.

          What experience has taught us is that all the schemes that hold out the promise of making the conflict between nature and freedom disappear, along with the democratic method that is used to mediate the conflict — and this is true whether they be articulated in the language of Christianity, liberalism, or Marxism — have led to authoritarian regimes. That’s why, of all the alternatives that Ackerman reviews, the “social democratic solution” is the one I’m most drawn to. It doesn’t try to make the conflict go away, but its methods of trying to resolve the conflict are the most ethical. As Martin Luther King — sandwiched as he was between “the force of compacency” and the “force of bitterness and hatred” — put it, his philosophy was “the philosophy which says that the means must be as pure as the end, that in the long run of history, immoral destructive means cannot bring about moral and constructive ends.”

          In the end, I don’t believe that Ackerman deals with Marxism’s fatal flaw, which it shares with liberalism: Its obliviousness to the many forms of initiative that arise in society that are not driven by materiality. As Reinhold Niebuhr put it:

          The false abstraction of “economic man” remains a permanent defect in all bourgeois-liberal ideology. It seems to know nothing of what Thomas Hobbes termed “the continual competition for honor and dignity” in human affairs. It understands neither the traditional ethnic and cultural loyalties which qualify a consistent economic rationalism; nor the deep and complex motives in the human psyche which express themselves in the desire for “power and glory.” All the conflicts in human society involving passions and ambitions, hatreds and loves, evnies and ideals not recorded in the market place, are beyond the comprehnsion of the typical bourgeois ethos.

          And then as Niebuhr goes on to explain:

          Marxism added another mistake to this error. It ascribed economic power purely to ownership, thus hiding the power of the manager and the manipulator… According to this theory, the [democratic] checks are not necessary since no one owns property; and ownership is the only source, both of the power and of the self-interest which prompts power to defy the welfare of the community.

          Ackerman believes that eliminating the profit motive will somehow make the manager and the manipulator’s motivations more benevolent and noble. There is no historical evidence, however, to justify this rosy outlook. Niebuhr, therefore, was correct when he concluded: “Man’s capcity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

          1. Aquifer

            I have long considered that limiting the discussion to Marxism v Capitalism was far too limiting – ISTM that both were/are materialist philosophies – the conflict being simply about who owned “the pie”, not about “the pie” itself nor whether there was anything more than “the pie”…

            As for “socialism” it seems to me that, unfortunately, it has suffered the same fate as other terms, like “liberal” or “progressive” – in that it has so many negative connotations with so many folk that frankly i think it a mistake or at least a waste of energy to try to rehabilitate the term – let us talk about the ideas behind it instead …

            And if one cannot talk about the ideas behind “socialism” without invoking Marx as anything other than an interesting fellow who had a lot to say about it, then it seems to me that it is a very fragile concept to build an economy on …

          2. jurisV

            Thx to you “from Mexico” —

            That last bit really nailed it for me:

            >Niebuhr, therefore, was correct when he concluded: “Man’s capcity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. <

            Whatever the sweet, beautiful theories say they need to all be predicated on allowing the people, individually, to have a say in what can happen to them. At the proverbial "50,000 foot" elevation this is almost perfect. The only glitch is how do you prevent the rich, powerful, or clever from manipulating the people.

            I like the phrase "The Power to Cloud Men's Minds" from my youth — as a 6 year old listening intently to the radio drama "The Shadow" on Saturday evenings after our baths. The Shadow was my hero in those dreamlike days of youth. Unfortunately, the PR and Propaganda industry have taken over the work of The Shadow and have clouded our minds quite well, thank you!

            The rich, powerful, and clever can't fool the people forever — it's unsustainable in my opinion. But in the short term are there any theories on how to inoculate us from voting democratically against our own welfare???????

          3. JohnL

            I was referring specifically to Marxism, which was developed entirely in a 19th century industrial context, but appreciate your comment anyway. One could argue that socialism only became an ism in the same context. We need a less loaded word.

          4. from Mexico

            jurisV said:

            The rich, powerful, and clever can’t fool the people forever — it’s unsustainable in my opinion. But in the short term are there any theories on how to inoculate us from voting democratically against our own welfare???????

            I don’t think so. But nevertheless, as you say, the status quo is not sustainable. Here’s how George Orwell put it:

            The intelligenstia are the people who squeal loudest against fascism, and yet a respectable proportion of them collapse into defeatism [like Vattimo and Zabala, as discussed below] when the pinch comes. They are far-sighted enough to see the odds against them, and moreover they can be bribed — for it is evident that the Nazis think it worthwhile to bribe the intellectuals. With the working class it is the other way about. Too ignorant to see through the trick that is being played on them, they easily swallow the promises of fascism, yet sooner or later they always take up the struggle again. They must do so, because in their own bodies they always discover that the promises of fascism cannot be fulfilled. To win over the working class permanently, the fascists would have to raise the general standard of living, which they are unable or unwilling to do. The stuggle of the working class is like the growth of a plant. The plant is blind and stupid, but it knows enough to keep pushing upwards towards the light, and it will do this in the face of endless discouragements. What are the workers struggling for? Simply for the decent life which they are more and more aware is now technically possible.

            — GEORGE ORWELL, “Looking Back on the Spanish War”

      1. RanDomino

        “there is no way a decentralized system could continually generate and broadcast so much quantitative information without the use of prices in some form.”

        That’s just an assertion. Even if it’s true, it assumes it’s necessary to have a single integrated economy. It assumes real scarcity (an understandable assumption in a world of planned obsolescence and artificial scarcity)- neglecting the fact that, for most people, “scarcity” means not having food, clothing, warm/dry shelter, and possibly healthcare, education opportunity, and efficient transportation- only when those things are take care of do people fret about the “scarcity” of iPods or new cars.

        Since there is far more than enough productive capacity to ensure that everyone has plenty of all of the truly necessary things, scarcity does not exist and maximizing efficiency does not need to mean that some people have to starve in a gutter. If eliminating hunger and want meant halving the worldwide GDP (and that’s probably a false choice) it would still be well worth it.

        Rather than worrying about scarcity and efficiency, we should be thinking about the economy in the sense that the excess productivity granted by technology has been stolen by the so-called 1%.

        “and the total value of a person’s requests may not exceed his or her personal “budget,” which is determined by how much he or she promises to work that year.”

        IOW capitalism.

        “Since the initial prices are only tentative estimates, a network of direct-democratic councils must feed everyone’s consumption lists and work pledges into computers, in order to generate an improved set of prices that will bring planned levels of production and consumption (supply and demand) closer to balance. This improved price list is then published, which kicks off a second “iteration” of the process: now everyone has to rewrite their consumption requests and work pledges all over again, according to the new prices. The whole procedure is repeated several times until supply and demand are finally balanced.”

        This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Even my admittedly-limited understanding of Parecon gave it more credit than this. I thought it was more like the Gosplan-lite of Syndicalism except with the decision-making bodies democratically elected. But, no, they somehow managed to come up with an even more unworkable system.

        “profit-hungry capitalists will use their social power to obstruct the necessary policies”

        This, at least, is an extremely important point that always seems to be lost on government true-believers.
        I fail to see how the described solution would overcome it. Yes, sure, there are myriad solutions that would ‘work’ and which are all brilliant, and which the current power structure would never allow. The only way to overthrow a power structure is with a better power-structure, which almost certainly has to be based on a better economic system if history is any indication. That means organization.

        So, let me lay out my own unfeasible utopian vision: rather than organizing as mass-based parties or unions, the fundamental unit should be the small group which exists for a particular task, currently called a Collective. A person might be a member of several Collectives. Any task which requires 5-25 or so people working closely together could be a Collective; not coincidentally, that accounts for pretty much every productive activity, even today. Think about your own work and social lives- even when you’ve supposedly been part of a large group, organic divisions into smaller groups have almost certainly occurred. Resisting this tendency leads to confusion, inefficiency, and likely failure.

        At this level, anarchy is functional because everyone is able to intuitively understand the function, desires, and personalities of everyone else involved. The best system to use is Consensus, and at this level it will probably be used informally anyway, even if voting is foolishly employed, simply because everyone will be able to understand and account for everyone else’s concerns. This means a General Assembly, which works for groups of this size.

        Collectives can coordinate through the use of Federation, with the decision-making handled through Spokescouncils, which are meetings of delegates. This can handle an entire medium-sized firm, such as a factory. In Delegation, persons appointed by each Collective are sent to the Spokescouncil with specific instructions, and are obligated to report back to the Collective’s GA. A Spokescouncil is essentially a GA of Collectives; a Federation is essentially a Collective of Collectives.

        This scales up. Spokescouncils can coordinate with other Spokescouncils. Collectives might be members of multiple Federations. Federations can federate, likely based on region or industry. Four iterations can encompass an entire mid-sized city or industry; five, a large city or industry; six, an entire country; seven, the entire world… but to have a meeting of anything higher than the third level should be extremely rare, and higher than the fifth almost unheard of.

        This system has several advantages, primarily that it is ferociously democratic. With Consensus, groups can freely split; attempts to seize power would be futile, because there would be so many layers it would have to go through in order to be relevant. At worst, an individual or small group would be highly unlikely to control more than a few dozen people. Furthermore, in order for people to make a decision, they would be able to demand all information related to it; why contribute to a project you know nothing about?

        It’s also possible to organize this prefiguratively. You can go out and form a collective today. Right now! By starting new economic and social-political projects on this model, we can build capacity and organize “the new world in the shell of the old”.

        What is really necessary to make this happen is to have no taxation, particularly property tax (even more particularly, property tax on primary residences). Tax (and rent) creates artificial pressure on people to acquire dollars. That requires selling something- either commodities or labor-time. It forces people to become servants. This explains, for example, why squatters are resented- why should they get something for free when I have to pay for it? The answer is that you shouldn’t have to either. I will also note that property tax is a wholly artificial government invention, not found in nature in any sense.

        A Collective-based system requires (or rather allows) a gift-economy, in which people give freely because of the inherent human desire to support one’s community, both out of altruism and due to honor gained by doing so. Honor is an aspect of human nature which is completely overlooked by, apparently, all economic theories; but it’s probably the second most important motivation for people (behind the desire to protect their children). Honor is essentially self-image with regard to others- how you ‘look’. On one hand it means avenging insults, but it also means appearing competent/powerful; and an excellent way to do that is by giving, because it says “Look at how awesome I am- I’m so great that I can give away all this cool stuff and not even bat an eye”.

        That the Gift is an integral part of human nature is something the ossified Left will probably never understand.

        1. different clue

          The Collective as I understand you to be meaning it reminds me of the band from times before human populations were high as today. Man evolved as a pack animal (like wolves if you please) or a troop animal ( like baboons if you please), but definitely NOT as a herd animal (like the thundering herds of buffalo or wildebeest.) Now man lives in vast herds, or more precisely, in vast colonies . . . like the Social Insects. In fact the whole history of Civilization is the story of Man’s attempts to live like the Social Insects.

          I have trouble understanding how activities which require the co-ordinated actions of tens of thousands of people . . . like making steel or running transcontinental railroads . . . can be undertaken by associations of Tribal Bands even if we rename those Tribal Bands as Collectives.
          But the experiment deserves to be run somewhere to see if a chunk of Organized Mankind can indeed operate vast Social Insectoid Civilizational Activities by means of packs and troops (Bands/Collectives).

        2. jrs

          There’s a lot of other reasons people have to work besides just paying for houses and no it’s not primarily food, food is plentiful. It is a medical system that requies them to work to have medical care pretty much. But why don’t doctors freely give their services as gifts? Not just because they have to pay for housing but they probably have student debt. So yea debt another reason people work. When it’s really analyzed you’ll get all the corrupt monopolistic economic entities in our time.

          1. RanDomino

            First, modern medicine is largely unnecessary even now (a healthy diet and exercise are free), and things like cancer and diabetes would be far less of a concern if there wasn’t the profit motive driving corporations to push poisonous food and spew pollutants.

            Second, specialized education could easily be supported by the labor federation as another commodity, such as with the example of the IWW-affiliated Work People’s College in Duluth from roughly 1910-1940

  6. Ned Ludd

    The riverdaughter article did a good job calling out Obama. Her remark suggesting that Hillary Clinton would be a good president (albeit “too late to make a difference” in 2016), overlooks Hillary Clinton’s own past in selling lies to the U.S. public: “Hillary Clinton Iraq War Vote Speech”.

    When the U.S. bombed Libya, Secretary of State Clinton went on Meet the Press on March 27, 2011, and advocated for this attack on a foreign nation, a nation that “did not attack us”, because of oil and other national interests of NATO members.

    I mean, did Libya attack us? No. They did not attack us. Do they have a very critical role in this region and do they neighbor two countries–you just mentioned one, Egypt, the other Tunisia–that are going through these extraordinary transformations and cannot afford to be destabilized by conflict on their borders? Yes. Do they have a major influence on what goes on in Europe because of everything from oil to immigration? […]

    When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the UK, France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interest.

    Support for Hillary Clinton is support for militarism and imperialism.

    1. Aquifer

      Ned –

      I quite vividly remember listening to that speech on my car radio (when it still worked ..) – As i remember it, she calmly and rationally outlined all the reasons not to go to war and i was smiling and saying “Go, Hillary!” and then she dropped the “nevertheless” bomb and my jaw dropped – that was when i realized she was just another ambitious pol who had stuck her finger out the window and noticed which way the political winds were blowing …

      1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        That goes to confirm one of my core beliefs: some of the most important news is bits and pieces of news 8 years old and even more.

        1. Aquifer

          Yeah – i just watched that clip – hmmm, my memory as to exactly what she said may well have failed me – what i do remember quite distinctly, though, is my reaction to her words – I had voted for this broad in ’00 – with some misgivings, with crossed fingers – but after that speech/vote and a few other things, there was no way I would have voted for her in ’06, or ever again, for that matter …

    2. Lambert Strether

      Yep. Not to relitigate 2008, but Obama and Hillary (first name so as not to confuse with Bill) were a wash on the empire (and let’s not get into Obama’s famous Iraq speech, for which no contemporaneous reporting exists).

      The differences between the two were marginal, but not insignificant. On health care, Hillary suppported a mandate-based solution but at least accepted the principle of universal coverage which Obama never did and never has (ObamaCare still leaves 23 million uncovered after “complete implementation”). On housing foreclosures, Hillary supported HOLC, a New Deal-style solution. Obama wanted to “study” HOLC, and in the end did less than nothing.

      Yes, I know these are marginal differences and incremental changes. They also would have made a difference to many millions of people — especially HOLC, where Ohama’s “foam the runway” policies under HAMP just turned out to be raw evil, entrapping peple into losing their homes after entering the program.

      We’ll never know whether Hillary would have risen to the occasion. What we do know is that Obama was a miserable failure; the FDR moment came and went. Absent a do-over after a second, worse crash, the moment won’t come again.

      I think RiverDaughter really nails it here:

      He has very little integrity, he’s surrounded by advisors who calculate exactly how much or little effort to expend on your behalf and the trust is gone.

      That was exactly what the 2012 election was all about — Obama putting together just enough support with just enough “concrete material benefits” (e.g., swing state Keynesianism in the auto bailout). I keep telling my Obama supporting 40-something technocratic cohort that Obama only came for me first, and he’ll come for them soon enough, when he doesn’t need them, but it doesn’t seem to penetrate. Even though this cohort is also strongly anti-fracking….

      1. jurisV

        How do we figure out how to inoculate the voting public against the PR, Propaganda, and general BS that the rich, powerful, and clever use to bamboozle us? I, personally find myself occasionally succumbing, temporarily, to the Illusions that are continually draped in our view to cover the mischief behind the curtained Illusions.

        The NC crowd is, in my opinion, minimally affected by the general BS — but I happen to believe that we are, unfortunately, an incredibly small minority. There has to be a way to reach the rest of the 99% — those that don’t have the time to delve into the excruciatingly entwined details of the parade of shiny objects in our simulacra (thanks to McMike’s comments). Until there’s a way to banish the Illusions, or make them more transparent, we are in a long, slow slog toward ?????

        1. jurisV

          Although we may not be rich, do we need to become Anti-Propagandists ourselves with clever memes of our own?

          On second thought — wasn’t the Occupy movement a first step in that direction? And actually still is with the ongoing work of Occupy Wall Street Alternative Banking Group and Econ4. Thanks Ives…

        2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

          It’s high time to write a realistic history of the post-WWII United States of America. It saw the rise of the military-industrial complex, for one thing. There are many other reasons.

        3. Glenn Condell

          ‘There has to be a way to reach the rest of the 99% — those that don’t have the time to delve into the excruciatingly entwined details of the parade of shiny objects in our simulacra’

          There is a way, but it involves putting in place permanent mechanisms for securely recording the aspirations and preferences of the citizenry on any/every issue they feel concerned enough to bestir themselves about. So that, rather than futile attempts to ‘reach’ millions of fellow citizens with parties and ‘movements’ and what-all, each and every one of them has via keyboard and mouse the capacity to be not just a target to be reached, but a direct participant in a decision to be made.

          As the intro to the 6 Million Dollar Man used to intone ‘We have the technology’… all we need is the smarts and the will.

          I was intrigued to read this from links the other day:

          A legal basis for claiming internet connection as a universal public good to be guaranteed by government, like access to food, water, shelter, religious freedom and personal security.

          That understanding needs to be taken one step further, into a realm where an official open source citizen preference machine becomes a part of the everyday furniture of life, like the TV or the phone or the car.

          I am not sure to be honest whether the apparent failure of the 99% to get off their collective arse derives from their being more susceptible to the glitter of shiny objects than the 1% are, or even from their time-poor lives being unable to support delving into their excruciating details; equally I can’t imagine that the proportion of 99%ers who ‘get it’ is much lower than its counterpart cohort in top hat territory.

          I believe there is a very large mandate for change at the psychological level; the impediment in other words is less sentiment than the inadequate political structures we have for channeling that majority sentiment into change, and the attendant elite-friendly structures that actively divide and/or suppress that general sentiment.

          Lack of understanding admittedly is fairly general, but to me that is because the modes of mass communication are so lock stock and barrel owned and operated by and on behalf of the 1% – TINA to top down conventional wisdom (notwithstanding blogs like this one, where you will find lots of wisdom, rarely conventional – exceptions to prove the rule, gown in fertile private gardens outside of the MSM).

          Any effective alternative cannot be wished for – it must be built. Opposition to it would be total from virtually all current holders of stakes but if Crash 2 occurs, there is an opportunity to demand a modern, responsive re-set of the machinery of our political arrangements, the hidebound, archaic nature of which has lately permitted their wholesale capture by elites for their benefit, and our ruin.

          Opportunity and motive, all we need are the means. The components are there, but as yet no plan to cohere them. If we could turn our democracy into a living thing, a chance each day to participate as well as vent, then all these cherished destinations might seem more like possibilities than the mirages they currently are. If you want to reach your destination you will need to build a road.

          1. different clue

            It may also be due to the failure of past efforts. The people who voted for Kennedy saw the change they voted for get assassinated at High Noon. The committed elements of 99 percenters saw many leaders at many levels marginalized or assassinated. There has been a 24/7 total psy-war propaganda effort for decades. Many people may be in various levels of surrender and despair. Then too, many people sense the sour wisdom in the old saying . . . ” they told me if I voted for Goldwater I’d get a war in Vietnam. Well, that’s what I did . . . and that’s what I got.”

            And people are well aware of the Suppression State people and weapons systems rolled out already and more on the way. How useful will mass protest be in the face of LRAD cochlear-whizzerators and Raytheon Heat-Death Oven Ray machines? (The Raytheon Heat-Death Directed MicroWave RayGuns may be frustratable by crowd-possession of thousands of distilled water mist-spray fire extinguishers.
            A dense mist of distilled water in the air all around the demonstrators would absorb the Raytheon Rays before they reached protester skins and bodies. If the authorities agree with that concept, they will beat down any demonstrator with a water-mist fire extinguisher and take away that fire extinguisher . . . if they have Raytheon RayGuns ready for use).

            What might work over time? Millions of people practicing legal methods of economic rebellion and underminement. If Civil Disobedience is dead, perhaps Uncivil Obedience . . . grudging Obedience without Compliance . . . “Live To Rule” . . . might be in the future.

          2. Carla

            “If you want to reach your destination you will need to build a road.”

            I suggest that we start by saying: If WE want to reach OUR destination WE will need to build a road.

      2. different clue

        And also, it appears in hindsight that Hillary won the majority of elected delegates and the Catfood Democrat Leadership gave the nomination to Obama the same way the Supreme Court gave the 2000 election to CheneyBush. So the entire Obama nomination was illegitimate in hindsight.

        So whatever Hillary did or did not stand for, there were/remain basic issues of fairness and truth-in-nominating.

    3. Jackrabbit


      RD wasn’t “calling out Obama”, she was explaining – rather nicely – to her lefty, progressively-oriented friends why Obama was not who they think he is.

      RD’s post was actually very frustrating to me because:
      1) She is so matter of fact – like when saying that we’ll live through this and her attitude of ‘it is what it is’; and

      2) if these ‘progressives’ don’t understand who Obama is by now, then they are hopeless. (Yeah that’s not a very ‘progressive’ attitude but isn’t it time that people face facts?)

      Given all we know about the Obama Administration, those who continue to work with and accommodate the Administration should be progressive outcasts. Instead, these collaborators get a ‘wake up call’ (which they will no doubt ignore – with no consequence).

      True progressives resist evil. Faux progressives find ways to accommodate, explain, or excuse it. Those who are still working with, let alone adoring Obama and his Administration are not progressives. They are _at best_ co-dependent enablers. These people need an intervention, not a nudge.

      The ‘institutional left’ is no longer progressive. Organizations that work on behalf of traditional liberal issues like: Labor, Gays, Women, Minorities, the Elderly, etc. are today viewed by the public merely as special interests and those who lead these organizations seem untroubled by Obama as their glorious leader.

      Support from the ‘Democratic base’ is conditioned almost exclusively on a friendly attitude (results? not really) toward their own narrow interest. As a result, the left has largely lost their ‘mojo’: the moral high ground.

      Stand together or fall apart? The ‘left’ chooses the latter every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

      It seems to me that true progressives should not embroil themselves in a futile battle to win over the ‘Democratic base’, but instead focus on systemic issues like inequality and money in politics. In this effort they may find that they have more in common with many conservatives than with the ‘institutional left’.


      PS I have yet to see anyone comment on Obama’s decrying inequality THEN – only a few sentences later – touting how American exceptionalism means that a poor child has an equal opportunity to succeed. This was the best indication to me that the speech was just BS.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Perhaps it is impossible to separate the ‘progressive’ label from traditional liberal politics.

        Perhaps it would be better to form a new Abolitionist Movement/Party instead so that people from any political party or affliation would be comfortable joining. Such a group would be better able to seek to “abolish” money from politics – the issue at the core of many of our problems today including TBTF Banks, Corporate Welfare, climate change, income/wealth disparity, wars on credit cards, etc.

        Is there such a group already?

        1. Carla

          @Jackrabbit: “Such a group would be better able to seek to “abolish” money from politics – the issue at the core of many of our problems today including TBTF Banks, Corporate Welfare, climate change, income/wealth disparity, wars on credit cards, etc.

          Is there such a group already?”

          YES. There is. It is a NON-PARTISAN, grassroots movement: Please join us!

    4. Ed

      I do believe these neo-liberals (Obama, Clinton) are even worse than W. Although, judging relative “worseness” is a speeding train-wreck-waiting-to-happen.

  7. rjs

    pissed off at the reporting on yesterdays new home sales again…

    here’s my take:
    this report allows for a large margin of error which renders the widely watched and reported monthly data nearly useless…the census report:s “Sales of new single-family houses in December 2012 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000…7.3 percent (±15.3%)* below the revised November rate of 398,000”;
    virtually all reports on this data focus on just the annualized number and the monthly change without mentioning the large margin of error…the actual census estimate for homes sold in december was a much less impressive 26,000, with 15,000 of those in the South, and 5,000 in the West…census takes that rough estimate of 26,000 and plugs it into a program which compares it to other recent decembers and computes what annual sales would be if that december sales level were continued through the entire year; so when they say “sales were (±15.3%)* below the revised November rate of 398,000” they mean they are 90% confident that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new home sales fell someplace between 337,106 and 458,894, or that it’s fairly likely that the monthly change in new home sales was somewhere between a gain of 8.0% and a decline of 22.6% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate…the comparison to last December’s home sales is no more useful: “(December 2012’s seasonally adjusted annual rate) is 8.8 percent (±24.8%)* above the December 2011 estimate of 339,000” that’s almost a range of 50%!

  8. Ep3

    Yves, u mention escanaba as having stress on the great lakes. Remember escanaba is a large coal port. But hey, no connection between coal and damage to the environment (sarcasm).

    1. Ep3

      I always forget something. I notice heavy stress on lake Michigan on the areas to the south east of the lake (lower western part of lower Michigan). A lot of that is high development area, lots of beach front development, huge homes built by job creators like the devos’s, etc.

        1. different clue

          Isn’t the core of the cornbelt mostly South and/or West of the Great Lakes Basin watershed?

          1. frosty zoom

            well, the summer of 2012 wasn’t nearly as bad, but 2011 lake erie became unswimmable because of the algae.

            green, it was.

  9. Eureka Springs

    Indeed. When it comes to Clinton R.D. has long been as blind as any of her Dem counter Obots.

    Are we heading for at least a six year run from I have a drone to she has a drone…. and calling that progressive or liberal?

    1. Lambert Strether

      “Because I used to love her / but that’s all over now…” [lambert sings]

      “It’s too late, baby, it’s too late…” [sings again]

      * * *

      Again, not to relitigate 2008, but I take issue with “blind.” Anybody who supports any political personality (including Jill Stein!) is going to have similar feelings of attachment. If you support a framework of electoral politics, and if you accept electoral politics as practiced by the legacy parties, then the case for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in 2008 was perfectly rational (see above at “marginal but not insignificant”). I also give credit to RiverDaughter for standing up to an incredible volume of abuse from Obama’s rump Democrats, who seized the nomination through corrupt practices. “Take what you like and leave the rest.”

      Now, I don’t make either of those assumptions any more; I dis-identified myself with the Democrats, and hence with the legacy parties, after Obama gutted the Fourth Amendment by giving the telcos retroactive immunity from prosecution for warrantless surveillance in 2008 under FISA reform, which should have told anybody who was paying attention what he was.

      1. LucyLulu

        To quote Maya D’Angelou,

        “We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better”.

        It’s all anybody can do.

        1. Aquifer

          Just saw Maya on a clip the other day – she is still in Obama’s camp – I guess at a certain point it is just too painful to let go of the illusion …

      2. Aquifer

        “if you accept electoral politics as practiced by the legacy parties,”

        Aye, there’s the rub ….

        As for rd – she’s still hangin’ in there with Dems? You stated what it was for you to leave, what’ll it take for the rest?

        As far as “being attached” to candidates – my attachment is conditional to their “attachment” to certain core principles – once they leave those, I leave them …

        Clinton (both), Gore, Kerry, Obama, even Kucinich (IMO), all abandoned (or, I suppose, one could argue, never had) such attachments, so, as far as i was concerned, at that point, they didn’t deserve my support …

        If Stein falls off the wagon in that regard – I’ll stop pulling it …

        1. different clue

          Well, she was agitating for Third Party voting in election 2012 . . . and boycotting the Dems until they became New Deal Loyalists again.

          1. Aquifer

            Well, good for her – i am not a follower of her stuff (no particular reason, other than time ..) so was only responding to what i read/saw in this post …

          2. different clue

            Well . . . there’s a million blogs, and a hundred thousand
            good blogs, and ten thousand excellent blogs, and a thousand
            tippy toppest super dee duperest blogs in the world. So one can’t follow even all the blogs which most deserve to be followed.

        2. different clue

          Kucinich was heavily extorted by Obama. I wonder what Obama threatened Kucinich with on that plane ride.

          And right after the Kucinich “Cave”, Al Giordano wrote a proud gloating article about how Obama and the Obama volunteers and so forth arranged psycho-extortionate pressure on Kucinich in visible public. Al Giordano thought Obama was a ground breaking Progressive then, and he still thinks so today. It would make an interesting case in the annals of political psychiatry.

      3. Carla

        You know, Lambert, “legacy parties” is way too nice a name for that bunch of criminals. We have to come up with a better…uh, I mean more accurate, name.

        They ain’t MY legacy…

    1. Aquifer

      Well the difference is the occupant of a jail cell is not paying the rent …. Apt occupant can leave, although with a lease, i guess it is a bit like doing time …

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe we should also make our children smaller – micro people who are more bio-energetically efficient.

      1. Aquifer

        So “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” was actually an ad for smaller dwelings?

        Hmm the Irish are ahead of us there, what with the little people and all …. Now if they (and we) had just shrunk their (our) banks to match …

    3. direction

      The artist rendering is simply “inspired.” If there’s 2 people hanging out in the sliding glass doorway, then that’s at least an 8 foot slider. The overview locates this sliding door about one foot away from the bookshelves, but the “rendering” portrays the endwall as being another 8 feet away, thus depicting an apartment more than twice the size of what’s advertized. classic!

      At least the artist chose to depict 8 very stackable diningroom chairs, and you could probably buy a collapsable dining table. Must you shove the chairs and table into the front hall so that you can pull down the Murphy each night? If your microneighbor pulls the fire alarm do you clamber over the chairs to exit or just jump off the balcony?

  10. Aquifer

    riverdaughter –

    “Pining for Hillary to take over in 2016 doesn’t help those of us who needed a better choice back in 2008 and by 2016, it will be too late to make a difference.”

    Oh dear – she gives a fine clear piece on why Obama is a schmuck and then opts for – Hillary?

    We HAD a better choice in ’08 and ’12 and hopefully in ’16, the problem is too many folks like rd keep refusing to make it …

    Another one of those farmers who spends the day milking the cow, then kicks the bucket over …

    1. Lambert Strether

      Actually, the words you cite don’t say what you claim they say (“opts for”).

      Given that she says it’s “too late” — and it certainly is too late for one of Clinton’s policies I point to, HOLC — I guess I’m a little surprised that you’re castigating her for past choices as opposed to making the case for better ones.

      I mean, sheesh. I don’t have numbers, but anecdotally from people I’ve talked, a large faction of the Democratic party, female activists, simply walked away* from the party after 2008, not only because their candidate lost, or even how their candidate lost (caucus fraud; the Rules and Bylaws committee), but because of the really vile sexism and misogyny that the Obama campaign, and many of its supporters, especially online, practiced. If the Greens want to become viable, I would seem to me that consideration might be given to appealing to this bloc of voters, rather than taking them to task for the choices they made. I and others thought there was some chance that the Democrats would rediscover the “better angels” of their nature, but such was not to be; we took a shot, and lost, badly. Do you want people like me to vote for your candidates? Or do the Greens plan to throw us under the bus exactly like the Democrats did?

      NOTE * Which would be why the 2012 Obama campaign used a much younger activist cohort brandishing new technology.

      1. LucyLulu

        And some of us, being a bit slower on the uptake, didn’t walk away until 2010 or so. ;) Some are even still standing in the middle of the pile. We’re all on different learning curves.

        Perhaps a bit of patience and tolerance would be helpful?

        Disclaimer: party may stand to gain from product being sold.

        1. Aquifer

          You are right (as in correct), we are at different points on the learning curve – I remember in ’04 when i was supporting Kucinich, folks on the left were chiding me for my naivete – but I was, and am, a pragmatist – the bottom line was the principles and programs, so if a major party candidate espoused them, so much the better, as far as i was concerned. But when Kucinich didn’t get the nomination, I followed the principles and not the party and voted Nader .. I remember having some “discussions” with some of my fellow Kucinich supporters who went with Kerry in the election – what was the point?

      2. Aquifer

        Lambert – Whoa, whoa, whoa –

        First off i don’t speak as a representative of the Green Party – as i have made clear, i am a registered Independent – so if you a have a beef with me, that’s fine, but don’t take that out on the Greens …. If you don’t like what they stand for, that’s fine – but to X them out because i have pissed you off would be a mistake, IMO …

        Secondly methinks that “opts for” is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of :

        “Pining for Hillary to take over in 2016 doesn’t help those of us who needed a better choice back in 2008 and by 2016, it will be too late to make a difference.”

        That “too late to make a difference” clearly suggests to me that rd believes that if we had gotten Hill sooner, it would have “made a difference” … I don’t believe that, i think that there really was no substantial difference between the 2 – certainly not enough to warrant supporting either …

        I am guessing that perhaps you know rd better than i – so are you saying that if Hill puts herself out there as a candidate in ’16, rd would NOT support her? If you know that for a fact, then i will certainly “back down” …

        Out of curiosity – when Hill lost – for whom did you vote?

        If the “female activists” faction of the Dem party supported Hill qua female – i say “shame on them”, for the same reason I would say shame on Obama supporters who supported him because he was black, or the folks who voted against her/him for the same reasons ..

        Identity politics, IMO, is what keeps lefties down – too many bloody factions, all intent on their candidate because of his/her “identity” – I have watched this going on for years and it drives me to distraction ….

        Was Hillary in ’08, indeed, an example of the “the better angels” of the Dem nature?

        Lambert, i would like folks to vote for the best candidate – the one who represents the interests of ALL the folk – you know, the candidate they all claim they are – I want folks to judge them on the content of their character, not the color of their skin or makeup of their genotype …

        “People like me” – what does that mean, Lambert? Tell me, what does that mean … And what do you mean by the Greens throwing you under the bus, what does that look like to you ? I really want to know, because that would piss me off if they did ….

        1. Aquifer

          PS – i just noticed – I wasn’t the only one to read that into rd’s post:

          from Ned Ludd above;

          “Her remark suggesting that Hillary Clinton would be a good president (albeit “too late to make a difference” in 2016) ….”

  11. Ben Johannson

    The Bank of England “expects” interest rates to rise if the government softens it’s position on austerity.

    Translation: If you don’t keep cutting we’ll raise rates until your campaign donors in finance throw you out of office.

  12. taunger

    I generally love the Archdruid’s historically rich analysis of our current situation, but I fear regarding the common’s and “pre-empire” U.S. gov’t he may be mistaken. The Lockean foundation and the Revolutionary thinkers were all of empire – British and early American (remember, there were people we conquered for this continent). In fact, the early Lockean negative rights which makes up the backbone of the discussion (and which philosopher is never named) come out of a thought scenario that I remember as not having resource constraints.

    1. JohnL

      Yes, I was bothered by his praise of Elinor Ostrom. She listed Hayek among her influences. Her solution to protecting the commons is to scale up from the individual acting selfishly to small groups (but not “governments”) acting selfishly. I’m sure those small groups called corporations would agree.

      1. RanDomino

        Corporations are creations of government. That doesn’t mean mafias and other types of gangs of thugs aren’t a concern… which is why organization is necessary, and why Voluntaryism is only half-right (and what’s the saying about a half-way revolution?).

      2. jrs

        This is really too rich. So archdruid praise Eleanor Olstrim who says one of her influences is Hayek, so now the whole chain is suspect. Sigh .. like some intellectual one drop rule, and endless guilt by association. Really too silly.

        1. JohnL

          Um, no the whole chain is not suspect. Just disagreeing with archdruid about Ostrom. It would be you who’s doing the unwarranted generalising.

      3. jrs

        It might perhaps be an alternate mode of attack in the case of failed states or the “small groups called corporations” hijacking control of the governments (the actual U.S. situation of course). Of course all money out of politics efforts are also good.

    2. from Mexico

      taunger says:

      I generally love the Archdruid’s historically rich analysis of our current situation, but I fear regarding the common’s and “pre-empire” U.S. gov’t he may be mistaken. The Lockean foundation and the Revolutionary thinkers were all of empire…

      I think I’ll throw in my hat with Greer, as I hardly believe things were as clear-cut as you make them out to be. Here’s how J.H. Elliot explains it in Empire of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830:

      While there was a tentsion between the organic view of society inherent in classical republicanism, and the individualism inherent in Locke’s political philosophy, the unanimity with which the Declaration of Independence was received and approved suggests that the two forms of discourse remained at this stage mutually compatible. The strain of radical individualism in Locke’s thinking had yet to be asserted at the expense of its other components, and the men of 1776 drew on a common culture that found space for classical republicanism while being inbued with Lockean principles.

      At the heart of those principles was the belief in a benevolent Deity who created men and women as rational beings, capable of coming together to form civil societies based on consent. The eighteenth-century colonists had become Lockeans almost without realizing it, accepting in principle the notion of a fundamental equality, at least for themselves, although not for Indians and Africans; tolerating a wide variety of opinions as necessary to the successful functioning of a society that must be based on mutual trust; and applying themselves to industrious pursuits with the purpose and expectation of improving their own condition and that of the society in which they lived…

      As used in the Declaration of Independence, however, the notion of happiness acquired its full resonance, as the inaliable right of God’s creatures to enjoy to the maximum their liberty and the fruits of their labours, unmolested by government as they went about their business and their pleasures.

      But the sentiment expressed in the Declaration of Independence, as Hannah Arendt explains in On Revolution, for the American development:

      was not decisive. The founders’ fear of too much power in government was checked by their great awareness of the enormous dangers of the rights and liberties of the citizen that would arise from within society. Hence, according to Madison, ‘it is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of rulers; but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part…’ This, if nothing else, required the constitution of public, governmental power whose very essence could never be derived from something which is a mere negative, i.e., constitutional limited government… [T]he Constitution was by no means the safeguard of civil liberties but the establishment of an entirely new system of power.</blockquote

  13. Gareth

    You have to admit that the Democrats’ surrender on the Filibuster, followed by a Federal Appeals Court decision in the NLRB case which rendered recess appointments unconstitutional was a nice one-two punch from the right-wing.
    Sucker-punching the Dems has never been so easy.

      1. different clue

        Well . . . here’s what I think in this very narrow limited present-moment context.

        Republicans are the Man. Obama is the Dog. Trevor is the sheep who points this fact out. And the other sheep are Obama supporters who don’t want to hear it.

  14. dearieme

    “Hardin asks us to imagine a common pasture, of the sort that was common in medieval villages across Europe. The pasture is owned by the village as a whole; each of the villagers has the right to put his cattle out to graze on the pasture.” I don’t know about the rest of Europe, but this is an absurdly inaccurate description of how commons were run in Scotland and England.

      1. Tiresias

        The description of Commons – in medieval England anyway – is wildly wrong. The “common pasture” was not “owned by the village as a whole.” The common was, like everything else, owned by the Lord of the Manor, who held it of the Crown. The rights of the villagers over it were defined and limited to: pasture (graze animals), piscary (take fish from rivers and ponds), turbary (take turf and sods for buildings), marl (take sand and gravel), pannage (graze pigs on acorns) and estovers (take wood for building and fires.)

        However various of these rights went with the various kinds of tenancies the villagers held of the Lord under the feudal system, and were all administered by the Manor Court in which the Lord was Chief Justice.

        Hence to suggest that “the common” was something every villager had some sort of equal birthright to and which the village co-operated to maintain for the Utopean benefit of all is a complete fallacy. They were valuable rights used by landowners and ultimately the King to reward the right peasants, punish others by cancelling or withdrawing them and generally keeping the rest in order.

        1. JohnL

          Thanks. Much better than “absurdly inaccurate”. So what we’re left with is something like BLM lands. Which is different than privately owned.

  15. jjmacjohnson

    Micro unit housing is never to be lived in by those who build it or these who govern. Would Mike Bloomberg live there? Smaller apartments and bigger rents. Accept smaller for more money.

    1. MacCruiskeen

      These “micro-unit” apartments are on the planning boards in other high-rent cities like Boston and San Francisco as well, but nowhere does “getting less for more” like New York.

  16. frosty zoom

    i notice lake st. clair is not coloured on the great lakes stress map.

    i guess they’d have to add new colours like the aussie weather bureau.

  17. frosty zoom



    Washington (APE): Sources from the Podium Committee today confirmed that President Obama’s Inaugural Address was performed to audio playback.

    Insiders state that the speech was actually recorded 8 years previously at Camp David in a secret studio session attended by members of various corporate and “financial” interests.

    Nation said to be shopping in response to this brewing scandal…

  18. Hugh

    The kabuki/political theater of gun control measures in response to Newtown and filibuster reform in response to complete breakdown of the legislative process in the Senate followed the same trajectory. As predicted, public disgust and outrage were met with high sounding promises of reform. Then there was a scripted pause to allow public anger to die down and opposing forces to organize. Finally, the dénouement where nothing or next to nothing happens.

    If you look at this from the kleptocratic perspective, these are not signs of dysfunction, but actually how the system works and is meant to work. Newtowns are good for kleptocracy because they keep the populace fearful. As 40 years of kleptocracy have shown, guns in no way challenge or present a threat to the kleptocratic system, but they do keep the public divided and fearful of each other. The filibuster, indeed the undemocratic nature of the Senate itself which gives equal power to California and empty spaces like Wyoming or historical curiosities like Rhode Island, is useful because it adds layers of complexity to the legislative process making it infinitely easier for lawmakers to avoid responsibility and accountability for their votes.

    With regard to the filibuster, it is important to remember that a filibuster can be exhausted. It is just a long and tiring process, and our Senators do neither long nor tiring. The best way to do away with the filibuster is by an organizing resolution at the beginning of a Congress. New Congresses come into being every two years with the election cycle, and no new Congress is bound by the rules of its predecessors. So the Senate follows regular parliamentary rules (majority vote) until it chooses to amend them (with something like the filibuster).

    There is yet another more arcane and controversial means of doing away with the filibuster. A Senator can ask for a ruling from the sitting President of the Senate (the Vice President) on the filibuster. The President of the Senate can then consult with a parlamentarian and declare the filibuster does not apply.

    There is yet one more way. The Senate rules committee can recommend ending the filibuster and its recommendation could be passed by the Senate by simple majority vote.

    In other words, any party holding a majority in the Senate, that wished to, could easily get rid of the filibuster. The cleanest and least controversial is at the beginning of a new Congress, but other alternatives are available including actually forcing Senators to engage in a real filibuster and exhausting it. The reason the political parties keep the filibuster is not to protect us but to deflect responsibility away from themselves. If there were no filibuster, indeed no Senate, could bad legislation pass? Yes, and we could hold those responsible for it accountable at the next elections. That is how a republican democracy is supposed to work. As it is, we still get the bad legislation but there is no responsibility or accountability for it.

  19. Carla

    RE: JPMorgan Chase Trying To Block Shareholder Vote On Breaking Up Bank

    Just thinkin’: What if every NC reader who is able buys between 1 and 100 shares of JPM? It closed at $47.16 on Friday.

    Could we then (together) achieve some sort of standing to support the AFL-CIO proposal?

    Yves, Bill Black, Lambert — is there a way to do this? Would it be a good idea?

    1. J Sterling

      The market cap of JPM:US is $179,400,000,000. At $47.16 a share, I don’t think naked capitalism readers could buy enough shares to do more than make a token protest: a lot of money for very little impact. I could be wrong, but I guess this has been thought of, and the big players know how to shut out any little troublemakers at the meeting.

      The giant numbers show how much “bigger” these people are in money terms than the rest of us put together. If JPM was owned equally by 310,000,000 Americans, it would come to $580 in shares each. And that’s just one company.

      1. Carla

        Ah, yes, reality. I guess I was thinking of it more as a way to support the AFL-CIO’s position, since the union does apparently have enough shares to make JPM take notice.

        A friend of mine says that every time she plants a saved heirloom vegetable seed, she considers it a protest against GMO and says “Take THAT, Monsanto!”

        Guess every time we contribute to NC, we can say “Take that, JP Morgan Chase!” But I sure wish there were a way to ramp up the VOLUME.

        1. direction

          Carla, I hope you check back here and see this reply as well. I would like to encourage you to look into this further.

          Shareholder protest is already a common form of activism which you are welcome to join. I’m sure you can find others online who can give you tips. Basically buying a single share of a publicly held complany allows you to attend the annual shareholder meeting where you get a chance to speak. Voicing your complaint is, of course, futile, but you can really shame them occasionally and That feels pretty satisfying. Plus, if you have a sneaky friend with a camera and some really good soundbites, you might score a viral video that affects national sentiment, and that is a big win.

          So look into it. Direct action is a good idea. You can meet others who have done this or are interested in supporting you. I’d hate to see someone interested in taking real action get discouraged from doing so by anyone in this forum. One such act can be so much more effective than all this armchair philosophy. No offense folks, but that’s just my take on it. Talk distracts some of us, myself included, from spending more time on effecting real change.

          1. Carla

            Thanks for the encouragement, direction. I am an activist. But in this case my real interest is in a shareholder vote to break up JPM.

        2. different clue

          If enough millions of people refused to buy enough Monsanto items enough millions of times, it might add up to more “thats” than Monsanto could sustainably take. But only if enough millions of people steadily refused.

          It would be the steady sort of Mass Leaderless Economic Resistance which could wear down and tear down the target over time. Revenue stream attrition. Denial of support. Scorched Earth Economics.

  20. Jim

    On Jan. 24, 2013 J Smith at 10:05 P.M. stated:

    ” I look at people who claim such laughable ideas as the abandoning of objective truth as some sort of plan for moving forward as nothing more than co-opted shills who purposefully mean to derail any real movement.”

    “The objective truth is that billions of people are getting killed/stolen from/exploited under the Western capitalist regime and for someone to advocate that the Left should piss way the numerical advantages that the objective truth provides….”

    In direct contrast to J Smith, Vattimo and Zabala argue in “Hermeneutic Communism” that the need for domination often results in metaphysically framed political systems which hold that society must direct itself according to truth (the existing paradigm) that is in favor of the strong against the weak. They argue, in addition, that only the strong determine the truth because they are the only ones who have the tools to know, practice and impose it.

    For example, they argue that Stalinism was inspired by the double claim of finally possessing the definite truth of history (the proletariat was entitled to know the truth because, having no interest to protect, it was supposed to be free of all ideological veils and able to see the world “objectively” and of applying a scientific economic doctrine.

    In addition, they maintain that scientific management in economic and social organization has become a strategy adopted by triumphant capitalism for which the free market is the only possible way to create wealth no matter how may people fall victim to intensified exploitation and the “humanitarian” wars that often accompany it.

    Vattimo and Zabala go on it point out that although legislatures, politicians and ownership classes need all members of society to follow their imposed paradigm (of truth) such paradigms cannot be sustained without the support of the intellectual community and among all the disciplines–the empirical sciences– which have maintained a central role in the structure of power not because they manage to maintain better results but because their essence revolves around the revelation of the ultimately truthful context.

    They argue that the end of truth may be the beginning of democracy. They maintain that if this were not the case the supposedly objective laws of economics would prevent the constant crises that our part of our lives.
    And they go on to point out that economic and political crises are not only constant but often also supported by these same laws, since they depend on the metaphysical justification of objective description, that is–of truth.

    According to Vattimo and Zabala– J Smith may have to rethink who is being co-opted.

    1. different clue

      I am a total layman when it comes to this Marxism stuff. I do remember reading copies of AdBusters at the bookstore magazine rack over the years. I lack JSmith’s years-of-study background to be sure, but my impression of Kalle Lasn was that he was a semishallow EuroTrash Intellectual Snob with however some interesting things to say. I never saw him as a “shill” or an “agent” of something.

      I remember reading about him bragging all up and down his magazine about his “black spot sneaker” project and esPECially bragging about how unemployed American shoe-makers was one group of people he would NEver EVer employ in his little sneaker project. I resented his anti-Americanitic culturist snobbery and I resent it to this very day.

      But those Black Spot Sneakers were SOooo KEwwwwllll!!!
      The AdBusters Brand was SOooo KEwwwlll!! What a Cool Black Spot Brand Logo!! They were too kewl for skewl! And definitely too kewl for me.

    2. jsmith

      Fine, let’s look at the men, shall we?

      Gianni Vattimo:

      This dude was a member of the PCI (Communists) in Italy who – surprise surprise – have recently banded to together in Italy to form a “united left” in Italy, a “left without adjectives” meaning that they are bunch of “apolitical” shills who always accede to the demands of the neoliberals while keeping any real Italian left in check as has been documented over and over and over again at the wsws.

      But, Vattimo was not around during these times – where to a party – the “left” of Italy has joined onto the austerity bandwagon of Monti et al so what was he doing?

      What was this great Marxist thinker doing?

      Why, he’s been in the European Parliament!!!

      Yup, Mr. No Objective Truth, The Rulers Get To Write the Rules blah blah blah has spent his time – and acquired money – by being part and parcel of said power structure.

      That’s right, the man calling for the Left to weaken itself is and has been employed by the very power structures he tells us there’s just no need anymore to try and fight against.

      Here’s his f*cking website on which I can’t seem to find anymore space for the EU emblem.

      Here’s his blog:

      He’s also a member of DiPietro’s Italy of Values group which recently called for more spending cuts in Italy at this link and which is a part of the the larger European Parliament Group Alde of which according to his blog he was re-elected to.

      From the Alde Group website:

      “The euro is also of vital importance and in the crisis has proved that the Union stands stronger together. We need to move fast towards the extension of the euro zone thereby bringing much needed stability to some of our newer Member States. Whilst investment in infrastructure is currently required in order to pull us out of recession the precept of the stability pact must not be forgotten and all Member States must demonstrate their commitment towards renewed fiscal rectitude.”

      Care to continue Jim?

      Care to stand by your “Communist” who in addition to wanting the Left to be weak in the face of neoliberal fascism also wants to be part OF THE RULING CLASS OF NEOLIBERAL FASCISTS?

      Get this mic out of my f*cking face!

      (kicks over mic stand)

      1. jsmith

        And I didn’t even bother yet going over his nonsense philosophy, here’s from his wiki page:

        In 2004, after leaving the party of the Democrats of the Left, he endorsed Marxism, reassessing positively its projectual principles and wishing for a “return” to the thought of the Trier philosopher and to a communism, rid of distorted soviet developments, which have to be dialectically overcome. Vattimo asserts the continuity of his new choices with the “weak thought,” thus having changed “many of his ideas.” He namely refers to a “weakened Marx,”[3] as ideological basis capable of showing the real nature of communism. The new Marxist approach, therefore, emerges as a practical development of the “weak thought” into the frame of a political perspective. His next political book, co-authored with Santiago Zabala, is Hermeneutic Communism: From Heidegger to Marx (2011).

        Oh wait, so he was a Marxist at first but then a neoliberal but then a Marxist once again but a proponent of a weakened Marx, eh?

        Wait, are you telling me that he’s finding some resonance among established academic circles with a message that says Leftist should cede the levels of power to the neoliberals and engage in a non-objective battle on the field of nonsense?


        A cute cuddly non-revolutionary Marx?

        Gotta run.

        1. jsmith

          Maybe it’s the fact that he is an openly gay man but also a devout Catholic that sends off warning signals, y’know, because he f*cking supports an institution that actively hates him?

          What was that thing about Marx and religion, again?

          Never mind.

          Is that what “weak power” is?

          Yeah, power structures hate my existence but I will topple them by weakly accepting the fact that they f*cking hate me?

          Nice work.


          I’m sure his hero Heidegger – who never really renounced HIS Nazi Past – would see this all as part and parcel of the philosophe’s life, right?

          From wikipedia:

          Heidegger is a controversial figure, largely for his affiliation with Nazism, for which he never apologized nor expressed regret,[9] except in private when he called it “the biggest stupidity of his life” (die größte Dummheit seines Lebens).

          1. jsmith

            And here’s the other f*cking “genius” Santiago Zabala who in an op-ed for the NYT SOMEHOW can state the following all without one mention in his entire piece about Marx:


            Classification and the creation of hierarchies, whether financial, social or educational, are primarily developments of Western metaphysics, the object-oriented knowledge upon which we have modeled not only science but thought in general. The problem with this model is not theoretical, as we’ve been accustomed to believe, but rather ethical because it obliges intellectuals (whether economist, constitutionalist or philosopher) to leave out those who are not included within the hierarchies. The problem in considering our intellectuals — “Newtonian physical scientist[s]” as Richard Rorty pointed out — is that this kind of thinker will center social reforms around “what human beings are like — not knowledge of what Greeks or Frenchmen or Chinese are like, but of humanity as such.” But metaphysical concepts such as “humanity” inevitably impose values and beliefs upon those who do not share them, as we’ve experienced with the horrors of colonialism. If so many philosophers at the beginning of the 20th century (Spengler, Popper and Arendt, for example) were concerned with the “total subordination of reason to metaphysical reality” it’s because, as Herbert Marcuse pointed out, it “prepares the way for racist ideology.”

            So a man who just co-authored a book on Communism when discussing the increasing disparity in the Western world and the hierarchies it creates has not a SINGLE WORD to say about Marx but says that it’s just “Western metaphysics”, huh?

            Gee, now why would the neoliberal NYT and other such rags give such a thinker space to spout?

            Hmmmm, could it be of his glaring omission to anything concerning Marxist philosophies when talking about how the EU and humanity have tried to address/explain the human condtion?

            Do you get my point, Jim?

            People like Vattimo and Zabala are shills for the neoliberal order in that they seem to be on the side of the Left – but gee shucks – omit, deflect and reason away the major tenets of Leftist thought so as to create something entirely new – “weaker” even – and that is THEIR JOB!

            Again, from a piece in Al Jazeera:

            “It is precisely in its great weakness as a political force that communism can be recuperated as an authentic alternative to capitalism. But the fact that it has virtually disappeared from Western politics, that is, as an electoral programme, does not imply it is not valuable as a social motivation or alternative. The point I wish to make is that being a communist (or a protester) today is not only necessary given the existential threats posed by capitalism, but also actually possible because of the failure of Soviet communism.

            Contrary to the opinion of most disillusioned Marxist, it is just this historical defeat that constitutes communism’s greatest possibility to redeem itself not only as a political force, but also as the salvation of human beings in the 21st century. Instead of pursuing once again the contest against capitalism for unfettered development, weak communism can now embrace the cause of economic degrowth, social distribution and dialogic education as an effective alternative to the inequity that global capitalism has submitted us to. ”

            Gee, what’s not to like right?

            Makes sense, huh?

            Well, why is Zabala et al skipping over the VAST MAJORITY of Marxist writings and turning it into a neutered happy happy shell of its former self?

            No discussion of class, productivity, religion, the alienation, etc etc, rather communism – as newly defined by our friends – basically means apolitical kumbaya feel-good horseshit that has absolutely ZERO actual political components.

            It’s basically the libertarian version of the left which – although I don’t disagree with – does need a little bit more flushing out than saying yeah let’s just call ourselves communists without all that other Marxist sh!te right?


          2. skippy

            Indeed… The labor – Left is almost extinct, what we have is a neoleberal left instead. The entire discourse is in market thunkit, completely devoid of humanity.

            Skippy… The left down here is fully corporatist… the PM told a market – corporate consortium… she had their back and would not be influenced by populism… en fin~

          3. from Mexico

            skippy says:

            Indeed… The labor – Left is almost extinct, what we have is a neoleberal left instead…

            Skippy… The left down here is fully corporatist…

            I think that pretty much describes the New Left everywhere.

            If one were to wake up every morning and ask, “What can I do today to make the life of working people around the world more miserable?”, I don’t think one could do a much better job than folks like Vattimo and Zabala.

            The best takedown of the New Left I’ve ever read came from one of your fellow countryment, Robert Hughes:

            When the old New Left students of 60s academe re-entered the university as teachers, they saw the exhilarated hopes of their youth deflate after 1968, collapse under the backlash of the 70s, and become mere archaeology by 1980. None of the beautiful promises came true.

            Their resonse to this trauma was to shift away from classical Marxism, with its emphasis on economic and class struggle in the real world, and embrace the more diffuse and paranoia-driven theories of the Frankfurt school — Theodore Adorno, Herbert Marcuse.

            For these theorists, all human life was ruled by repressive mechanisms embodied, not in manifest politics, but in language, education, entertainment — the whole structure of social communication.

            To this was joined the belief of French poststructuralism, exemplified by Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, that the “subject” — the thinking, single agent, the “I” of every sentence — was an illusion: all you had left was language, not mentality: frustration with pervasive systems of repressive undecidability written everywhere in the surrounding culture, but no means of overcoming it. Once there were writers, but now there is only what Foucault derisively called “the author function.” The intellecutal, under these circumstances, is thought to be as helpless against power and control as a salmon in a polluted stream, the only difference being that we, unlike the fish, know the water is poisoned.

            Thus, by the theory, we are not in control of our own history and never can be. We hold it true that truth is unknowable; we must suspect all utterances, except the axiom that all utterances are suspect. It would be difficult to find a worse — or more authoritarian — dead end than this. John Diggins, in The Rise and Fall of the American Left, puts it in a nutshell: “Today the intellecutal’s challenge is not the Englightenment one of furthering knowledge to advance freedom: the challenge now is to spread suspicion. The influence French post-structuralism enjoys in American academic life…answers a deep need, if only the need to rationalize failure.” …

            But did Vaclav Havel and his fellow playwrights, intellecutals and poets free Czechoslovakia by quoting Derrida or Lyotard on the inscrutability of texts? Assuredly not: they did it by placing their faith in the tranforming power of thought — by putting their shoulders to the immense wheel of the word. The world changes more deeply, widely, thrillingly than at any moment since 1917, perhaps since 1848, and the American academic left keeps fretting about how phallocentricity is inscribed in Dickens’s portrayal of Little Nell.

            The writer who drops in on this world is bound to feel like Gulliver visiting the Royal Academy of Lagado, with its solemn “projectors” laboring to extract sunbeams from cucumbers, build houses from the roof down and restore the nutritive power of human shit, all convinced ot the value of their work.

            ROBERT HUGHES, The Culture of Compalint

          4. skippy


            Grave sitting… LMAO[!!!]

            Skippy… at least they don’t have a Dickens app yet… sigh…

          5. Glenn Condell

            ‘The influence French post-structuralism enjoys in American academic life…answers a deep need, if only the need to rationalize failure’

            Or success, depending on your point of view. Ayn Rand answers the same deep need, so did the Baghwan Rajneesh. Whether you are a big healthy fish in that polluted stream, or just a sick little anchovy, TINA but to go with the flow…

    3. from Mexico

      @ Jim

      While Marx’s original structuralist critique was most insightful and useful, and quite revolutionary at the time, don’t you think that some of the 20th- and 21st-century structuralists like Vattimo and Zabala take it a bit too far?

      I noticed in your comments to jsmith, and in your criticism of MMT the other day, that you do not distinguish between, nor recognize as valid, any truths, whether they be analytic, empirical or logical.

      An antidote to Vattimo and Zabala, and the idea that all knowledge is socially constructed, is offered by Paul Boghossian in his little book called Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism. Boghossian explains what is at stake:

      About morality, for example, some people, philosophers included, are inclined to be relativistis: they hold that there are many alternative moral codes specifiying what counts as good or bad conduct, but no facts by virtue of which some of these codes are more ‘correct’ than any of the others…

      And we have a variety of techniques and methods — observation, logic, inference to the best explanation and so forth, but not tea leaf-reading or crystal ball-gazing — that we take to be the only legitimate ways of forming rational beliefs on the subject…

      Because we believe all this, we defer to the deliverances of science: we assign it a privileged role in determing what to teach our children at school, what to accept as probative in our courts of law and what to base our social policies upon…

      For if science weren’t privilieged, we might well have to accord as much credibility to archeology as to Zuni creationism, as much credibility to evolution as to Christian creationism — precisely the view advocated by an increasing number of scholars in the academy, and increasingly echoed by people outside it.

      Equal validity, then, is a doctrine of considerable significance, and not just within the confines of the ivory tower. If the vast numbers of scholars in the humanities and social sciences who subscribe to it are right, we are not merely making a philosophical mistake of interest to a small number of specialists in the theory of knowledge; we have fundamentally misconceived the principles by which society ought to be organized.

      Boghossian then goes on to conclude why he believes the constructivist views of those like Vattimo and Zabala are a bad idea:

      In the United states, constructivist views of knowledge are closely linked to such progressive movements as post-colonialism and multiculturalism because they supply the philosophical resources with which to protect oppressed cultures from the charge of holding false or unjustified views.

      Even on purely political grounds, however, it is difficult to understand how this could have come to seem a good application of constructivist thought: for if the powerful can’t criticize the oppressed, because the central epistemological categories are inexorably tied to particular perspectives, it also follows that the oppressed can’t criticize the powerful…

      The intuitive view is that there is a way things are that is independent of human opinion, and that we are capable of arriving at a belief about how things are that is objectively reasonable, binding on anyone capable of appreciating the relevant evidence regardless of their social or cultural perspective. Difficult as these notions may be, it is a mistake to think that recent philosophy has uncovered powerful reasons for rejecting them.

    4. JTFaraday

      Actually, I was thinking about this connection you seek to draw between purportedly “objective” description and the promulgation of Capital T Truth claims while reading Robert Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers the other day.

      As I am not an economist hell bent on preaching the Truths of the Universe to my caricature of the stooopid public, reading something like this can still be an educational experience for me.

      I was struck by Heilbroner’s framing of The Wealth of Nations as an exhaustively descriptive account–a 900 page “living picture of England in the 1770s”– that Heilbroner judges to be a largely accurate description of the market in England at that moment in time.

      Smith then elaborates several generalized “laws of the market” based on his observations. From these several descriptive generalizations, Smith draws the further generalization that these comprise a self regulating system due to the effect of each “law “or market operation on the others. Heilbroner believes that Smith’s general economic laws were likewise generally descriptive of the market economy of 1770s England.

      Heilbroner goes on to suggest that soon however, history passes Adam Smith by. Heilbroner bears this judgment out in subsequent chapters of the book.

      Like almost everyone taking the name of Adam Smith in vain I haven’t actually read him, but from Heilbroner’s description of the Wealth of Nations, it seems plausible to me that Smith’s detailed description of the readily observable street level economic activity of his day lent credence to the “economic laws” that Heilbroner believes were also a viable description of the workings of the 1770s market economy in England– even as that market economy is undergoing a continuous process of change, which change may not be so readily available to immediate observation, but which might in time alter the generalizations an observant person like Smith could still draw.

      However, as Heilbroner notes, self interested players in the market are soon seen deploying in political contests with other interested parties, Smith’s generalized “economic laws” as well as the observation that the operations of the market form a self regulating system that works (over time) in the service of the general good of the whole. Early on, their opponent is not “labor,” which is given little consideration apart from its economic utility, but the agricultural interest of the landed aristocracy which sought things like national trade barriers to protect the high cost of labor’s “crust of bread”– much to the ire of labor intensive industrial capital, which was in need of lots of crusts.

      It seems plausible to me that Smith’s detailed descriptions of aspects of the market economy readily available to observation might once again have rendered his general “economic laws” compelling to disinterested parties technically outside** the dispute between “free market” industrial capitalists and the “national protectionist” landed agricultural interest, even though these general “economic laws” favoring free market policies in the development of the national economy may no longer be so much “descriptive” than something more like the self serving rationalization of a factional interest.

      ie, in Heilbroner’s presentation we see the emergence of ideologically self serving rationalization presented as objectively descriptive “economic laws” that are embedded in a whole web of truth claims, the many descriptive details of which were readily available to observation and therefore appeared to be “objectively” valid, even as the truth status of the generalized “economic laws” derived from Smith’s observation of them is not so readily determined.

      I take it you might call this condition “theoretical insufficiency.”

      **Heilbroner’s example of a person technically “outside” the dispute is William Pitt, the Younger, who he believes attempted, as prime minister, to do what was in the interest of the “wealth of the nation” in negotiating between these elite economic interests at odds with each other. I think it is interesting that the these two interests appear again in Karl Polanyi’s account of the rise of fascism on the continent in The Great Transformation.

    1. direction

      That thread was vetted by the sales department ;)

      I wonder if there’s a way to clue people in without hurting revenue (rather than having them leave the readership).

      1. Aquifer

        Duh, I guess that was pretty dumb of me, duh …

        Oh well, i suppose we all have our moments, some more than others … ;_) (a winky face with its nose out of joint)

  21. Jim

    J Smith Jan. 26 at 4:01P.M. “argued”

    “Care to continue Jim?

    Care to stand by your “Communist” who in addition to wanting the Left to be weak in the face of neoliberal fascism also wants to be part OF THE RULING CLASS

    Get this mic out of my fucking face

    (Kicks over mic stand)”

    Vattimo and Zabala have an interesting section in their new book “Hermeneutic Communism” entitled “Truth’s Violence.”

    Near the beginning of this section they quote Rorty’s famous essay entitled “Solidarity or Objectivity.”

    “The tradition in Western culture which centers around the notion of the search for Truth, a tradition which runs from the Greek philosophers through the Enlightenment, is the clearest example of the attempt to find a sense in one’s existence by turning away from solidarity to objectivity.
    The idea of Truth as something to be pursued for its own sake, not because it will be good for oneself, or for one’s real or imagined community, is the central theme of the tradition.”

    Vattimo and Zabala go on to argue that while most philosophers would agree with Rorty that truth is the central theme of our tradition, not all of them will believe it is responsible for a turn away from solidarity.

    Vattimo and Zabala continue on with the observation that Truth is not only “violent” in that it turns away from solidarity but it is “violence” because it can easily become and imposition on our own existence.

    What do you think J Smith–is there a relationship between your Truth and violence?

    Are you interested in the silencing of others?

  22. MIWill

    re Colley Cibber redivivus

    That was a fun read.
    “…infelicities that howl like timber wolves with the toothache.”

  23. scraping_by

    Not to be bitchy in this serious forum…

    Gov. Palin now leaves the lineup of hate talk hotties on the Fox world of look-don’t-listen. I doubt this is because a famously dumb-as-paint political celebrity was leaving the reservation. I think it was more likely sag.

    In a way, she was a point on the downward trend of hate talk hotties. I mean, Laura Ingrahm and Ann Coulter had law degrees, for what that’s worth. Their bilge was taken up by Gov. Boobs, who at least was elected to a public office. The next cutie to publicly rant that the different are enemies was Miss California 2009, a teenager with implants.

    Now Fox just gets models to mouth their rubbish. Eye candy to sweeten the bile. I don’t think the law and progress viewpoint needs to get into a hottie race with the corporatists. Maybe we’re seeing the end of alpha females endorsing distractions. Or perhaps there’s just juicier bait around.

    1. prostratedragon

      As the concrete-entrenched presiding class gets older, the fantasy targets tend to get younger. The next generation will, indeed, be the next generation until nature takes its course on the other end.

  24. Jim

    From Mexico (Down South):

    Your raise some great points in you 4:45P.M. comments.

    Hopefully over the weeks and months ahead NC will continue to be forum for debating these crucially important issues.

    At the moment I’m fascinated with the attempt by Vattimo and Zabala to connect hermeneutics to an ontology of revolution.

    Obviously supporters of the status quo like jsmith find the contribution of heremeneutics to contemporary political philsophy as disturbing, unsettling and even alarming–all of which, from my persective, are signs they might be onto something!

    1. from Mexico

      Jim says:

      …supporters of the status quo like jsmith…

      I don’t for a moment think that jsmith is “a supporter of the status quo.” But he, like anyone who takes the emancipation of the masses seriously, is trapped in the paradox of Kant’s antinomy of freedom and nature.

      “Nobody can be free who enslaves others,” asserted Marx. He advocated the full political emancipation of the working class, regardless of property and skill qualifications. Never before had any political organism sought to encompass all those who actually lived in it. Man — even in the state of nature and endowed with nothing but his working or laboring capacity — was accepted as a full citizen.

      But the idea that “nobody can be free who enslaves others” crashed head-on with all previous forms of social organization, which held that the masses were to be enslaved so a privileged few could be free of life’s necessities and of the coercion of other men. Economic liberalism was no exception. It was forged in this same crucible, before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, and labor in the liberal regime thus ended up with little more than an obligatory nod.

      But the promises of universal freedom have not been realized, not with Marxism as the guiding philosophy nor with any other philosophy. Here’s how Lawrence Goodwyn describes the paradox that jsmith and anybody else who advocates the emancipation of the masses, either through populism or socialism, gets trapped in:

      [T]he advocates of popular democracy who spoke out of the socialist faith were never able to grapple successfully with the theoretical problem at the heart of their own creed… [T]he political power centered in “concentrated capital” could not be effectively brought under democratic control in the absense of some correspondingly effective source of non-corporate power. While the Populists committed themselves to a people’s movement of “the industrial millions” as the instrument of reform, the history of successful socialist accessions to power in the twentieth century has had a common thread — victory through a red army directed by a central political committee. No socialist citizenry has been able to bring the post-revolutionary army or central party apparatus under democratic control, any more than any non-socialist popular movement has been able to make the corporate state responsive to the mass aspirations for human dignity…

      If it requires an army responsive to a central political committee to domesticate the corporate state, socialism has overwhelmingly failed to deal with the question of who, in the name of democratic values, would domesticate the party and the army.

      If you can explain how Rorty’s or Vattimo and Zabala’s epistemic relativism can solve this paradox, then I’m all ears.

  25. Impunity Strike Force to the Sit Room!

    In a pants-pissing panic at getting its ass kicked by a couple dozen pencil-necked grad students armed with office supplies, the National Command Authority turned its foreign policy over to homocidal maniac Cofer Black, who incriminated the top four NCA echelons in universal-jurisdiction crimes of concern to the international community. But finally, after galvanizing the world to define the crime of aggression by illegally waging and losing not one but two wars, the headless-chicken heroes of 9/11 eventually got their man: John Kiriakou. It’s time to bury this corpse of a state, it’s got flies walking on its eyeballs.

  26. psychohistorian

    I think this sheriff is calling truth to power in a way most people aren’t thinking about.

    Here is the link:

    The thought that came after the “When does Rome start burning” question was that this guy is telling the folks he is responsible to protect to join with him in protecting themselves because he can no longer employee the number of PEACE officers so that they don’t have to… I was taught a tenet of a “civil society” was to provide public funded “services” like fire, police, water, sewer, streets, SS, etc.

    Where are the fucking adults?

    skippy, Hey mate, can I come down under for a spell while the bullets fly up here? I have a spreadsheet of strine from 15 years ago I could brush up on…grin

    1. LucyLulu

      I was under the impression that even with a fully staffed police or sheriff’s department that in most cases any assistance provided will be after the fact. I guess it depends on the department’s average response time, when a call can be made, and how long the perpetrator decides to hang around. I wonder if there are any figures out there relating to how often help arrives in time to “rescue” the citizen from a violent act. I’m assuming ‘violent act’ as base standard for the use of a gun for protection…….shooting somebody for breaking into your home but hasn’t physically threatened anybody’s life is very stupid, ALWAYS a last resort, me or you situation, at least where I’ve lived from a legal sense (actually my state finally passed Castle doctrine a couple years ago, but one or both of us leaving the premises still MY 1st choice, all body parts intact), and everywhere from a plain old common sense perspective.

      In any case, I have read most forces will tell you that they have no legal obligation to respond to crimes in progress, only investigate crimes that have already occurred. That seems silly to me. I bet if asked, most citizens would far prefer they did the former than the latter, esp. given their success rate and little effort towards “solving” reported complaints (e.g. finding thieves and stolen property) and undue diligence pursuing other offenses with no complaining party.

      1. AbyNormal

        “For good reason the statue of lady justice is blindfolded. No more should her innocence be besmirked, her scales tipped, nor her swordhand guided. Furthermore there must be a solemn commitment to freedom of the internet, this last great common space of humanity, and to the common ownership of information to further the common good.”

        “Not this time. This time there will be change, or there will be chaos…”

        1. AbyNormal

          that was a quote from Anonymous statement
          (waiting on 1st cup of java an hit submit too early)

          A. also accepts the ‘collateral damage’ possibilities:

          “We have not taken this action lightly, nor without consideration of the possible consequences. Should we be forced to reveal the trigger-key to this warhead, we understand that there will be collateral damage. We appreciate that many who work within the justice system believe in those principles that it has lost, corrupted, or abandoned, that they do not bear the full responsibility for the damages caused by their occupation.”

          but can ‘we’?

  27. SR6719

    To jsmith, Jim, From Mexico (and others)

    Thanks for one of the most interesting (and entertaining!) discussions I’ve read on this blog in a long time. Hopefully (as Jim says above) it will continue in the weeks ahead.

Comments are closed.