Don’t Side With Neoliberalism in Opposing Trump

Yves here. As reader John Z pointed out, the policy program described in this post is very much in synch with the recommendations Lambert has been making. One small point of divergence is that Leopold reinforces the idea that taxes fund Federal spending. Taxes serve to create incentives, and since income inequality is highly correlated with many bad social outcomes, including more violence and shorter lifespans even for the rich, progressive taxation is key to having a society function well. However, he does get right (as very few do) that the purpose of a transaction tax is to discourage the activity being taxed, rather than raise money (aside from the MMT issue, the tax would shrink the level of transactions in question, making it not very productive in apparent revenue terms).

By Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, who is currently working with unions and community organizations to build the educational infrastructure for a new anti-Wall Street movement. His new book Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice serves as a text for this campaign. All proceeds go to support these educational efforts. Originally published at Alternet

During the Bernie Sanders campaign I heard a high-level official give a powerful speech blasting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Act for the harm it would bring to workers, environmentalists and to all who cared about protecting democracy.

Donald Trump now has signed an executive order pulling out of the TPP negotiations.

Is this a victory or a defeat for the tens of thousands of progressives who campaigned to kill the TPP?

On the same day Trump killed the TPP, he met with corporate executives saying he would cut taxes and regulations to spur business development. But he also warned that “a company that wants to fire all of the people in the United States and build some factories someplace else and think the product is going to flow across the border, that is not going to happen.” He said he would use “a substantial border tax” to stop those practices.

Is this a victory or a defeat for workers and unions who for three decades have been begging politicians to stop the outsourcing of decent middle-class jobs?

Breaking the Spell of Neoliberalism

Our answers may be clouded by four decades of the neoliberal catechism—tax cuts on the wealthy, Wall Street deregulation, privatization of public services and “free” trade. Politicians, pundits and overpaid economists long ago concluded that such policies will encourage a “better business climate,” which in turn will lead to all boats rising. Instead those very same policies led to a massive financial crash, runaway inequality and a revolt against neoliberalism which fueled both the Sanders and Trump insurgencies. (See enough facts to make you nauseous.)

This ideology is so pervasive that today no one is shocked or surprised to see Democratic governors on TV ads trying to lure business to their states by promising decades of tax holidays. No one gags when politicians lavish enormous tax gifts on corporations—even hedge funds—in order to keep jobs from leaving their states.

Similarly, we have grown accustomed to the neoliberal notion that we should go deeply into debt in order to gain access to higher education. Free higher education, which was the norm in New York and California until the 1970s, was “unrealistic” until Sanders rekindled the idea.

More troubling still, elites propagated the idea that public goods should not be free and available to all via progressive taxation. Rather public goods were denigrated and then offered up for privatization. Even civil rights icon Representative John Lewis used the neoliberal framework to attack Bernie Sanders’ call for free higher education and universal health care: “I think it’s the wrong message to send to any group. There’s not anything free in America. We all have to pay for something. Education is not free. Health care is not free. Food is not free. Water is not free. I think it’s very misleading to say to the American people, we’re going to give you something free.”

Obama/Clinton Didn’t, Trump did

Ironically, while Lewis is defending neoliberalism, Trump actually is attacking two of its foundational elements—free trade and unlimited capital mobility. Not only is Trump violating neoliberal theory, he also is clashing with the most basic way Wall Street cannibalizes us. Without the free movement of capital, assisted by trade deals, financial elites and their corporate partners would not be able to slash labor costs, destroy unions and siphon off wealth into their own pockets.

In particular, we should be extremely worried about how Trump is approaching the loss of manufacturing jobs. The neoliberal fog should not cause us to miss the obvious: presidents Obama and Clinton did absolutely nothing to stop the hemorrhaging of middle-class manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries. (U.S. manufacturing fell from 20.1 percent of all jobs in 1980 to only 8.8 percent by 2013.) Not only did Obama and Clinton fail to stop even one factory from moving away, but they truly believed that capital mobility and free trade were good for America and the world. In other words they had sipped plenty of the neoliberal Kool-Aid.

Meanwhile, Trump is all in. He is saying that jobs in the U.S. are more important than the long-run benefits of capital mobility and TPP/NAFTA agreements. If he keeps bashing corporations for moving jobs abroad and if he manages to ignite even a mini U.S. manufacturing jobs boom, Trump could be with us for eight long years.

But What About the Poor in Other Countries?

To many progressives, saving American jobs sounds jingoistic and “protectionism” is a bad word. Isn’t global trade helping the poor become less so around the world? Isn’t it selfish only to protect American jobs? Isn’t it more moral to share scarce manufacturing jobs with the poor in Mexico and Asia? After all, even if a plant closes in the Rust Belt, service sector jobs can be found at wages that still are far higher than what the poor can hope for in low-wage countries.

You can be sure corporations will be playing this tune if Trump tightens the screws on capital mobility.

These arguments however have little to do with how the world actually functions.

  • First, the big winners in the outsourcing game are the corporations and their top Wall Street investors. (In fact Wall Street is driving the process by endless pressure for stock buybacks.) It’s hard to make the case that the poor in Mexico have been the beneficiaries of NAFTA.

  • Second, it is morally suspect to argue that someone else should give up his or her standard of living so that the product made here can be produced abroad by the same company and imported back into the U.S. No worker can afford to donate his or her job to developing nations.

  • Third, outsourcing to low wage areas always involves increasing health, safety and environmental hazards. In almost every case production moves from more stringent standards to weaker standards. Plus, the increased distances the products must travel mean there will be more carbon emissions than if production remained here.

No, it’s not possible to make a credible progressive case for outsourcing your neighbor’s job

What Do We Do?

The progressive instinct, and rightfully so, is to trash Trump. If he’s for it, we must be against it. When it comes to immigration, civil rights, abortion, freedom of the press and many, many other issues, that’s a sound strategy.

But trashing Trump for saving jobs in the U.S. is suicidal.

In opposing Trump, we must not slip into defending neoliberalism. It’s not okay for corporations to pack up and leave. We should have some control over our economic lives and not leave all the crucial decisions to Wall Street and their corporate puppets. Trade deals are bad deals unless they enforce the highest health, safety, environmental and labor standards. And those measures must be enforceable by all the parties. The race to the bottom is real and must stop.

In the U.S. We Should Be Mobilizing the Following Areas:

1. Organize the outsourced: We should identify and organize all those at risk from off-shoring. We need to make sure Trump and Congress hear from these actual and potential victims. Trump needs to be reminded each and every day that there are millions of jobs he must protect. At the same time we should be rounding up support for the Sanders bill to stop off-shoring.

2. Resist:Trump has made it clear to corporate America that in exchange for job creation in the U.S. he will cut their taxes and regulations. We should demand that all tax “reforms” include a new financial speculation tax (Robin Hood Tax) on Wall Street to slow down their insatiable greed. Also, we need to fight tooth and nail against any weakening of workplace health, safety and environmental regulations. We have to destroy the Faustian bargain where jobs are protected but the workers and the communities are poisoned.

3. Connect: More than 3 million people protested against Trump. But it is doubtful that dislocated workers and those facing outsourcing were involved in these marches. That’s because the progressive movement has gotten too comfortable with issue silos that often exclude these kinds of working-class issues. That has to change in a hurry. We need to reach out to all workers in danger of off-shoring—blue and white collar alike.

4. Expand: Many key issues—from having the largest prison population in the world to having one the lowest life-spans—are connected through runaway inequality. Outsourcing is deeply connected to the driving force behind runaway inequality—a rapacious Wall Street and its constant pressure for higher returns. We need to broaden the outsourcing issue to include stock buybacks and the other techniques used by Wall Street to strip-mine our jobs and our communities. It’s time for a broad-based common agenda that includes a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street, free higher education, Medicare for All, an end to outsourcing, fair trade and a guaranteed job at a living wage for all those willing and able.

5. Educate: In order to build a sustained progressive movement we will need to develop a systematic educational campaign to counter neoliberal ideology. We need reading groups, study groups, formal classes, conferences, articles and more to undermine this pernicious ideology. Some of us are fortunate to be part of new train-the-trainer programs all over the country. We need to expand them so that we can field thousands of educators to carry this message.

Yes, all of this is very difficult, especially when it seems like a madman is running the country. It is far easier to resist than to tear apart neoliberalism. But we have to try. We need to recapture the job outsourcing issue and rekindle the flames that ignited Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders campaign.

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  1. Gerard Pierce

    Les Leopold explained some of his beliefs on the Smirking Chimp. I made a comment to that article that I think should be repeated here ==>

    At the moment, it’s hopeless because we do not have a platform.

    Most of the supposed liberals out there cannot defend welfare of any kind, cannot defend Social Security and cannot defend most of what they supposedly stand for in any kind of intelligent way.

    There are circumstances where “welfare” is a moral necessity. There are also circumstances where you tell the claimants to get a job. Sometimes you help them to get that job.

    It’s necessary to be able to tell the difference and to be able to explain the difference.

    Too many supposed liberals do not understand how the labor movement became corrupt enough that “right to work” looked good to people who were paying dues and getting little back.

    If you do not understand your own “liberal” beliefs, some uneducated red-state buffoon will make you look like the bad guy

    You not only need to understand your own beliefs, but you need to be able to debate them with other wanna-be liberals until you have a platform that means something.

      1. BeliTsari

        Yep, everything Trump will do to bait Liberal “resistance,” they will eagerly fall for. It leaves a LOT of wiggle room for a movement to get between DC’s Kleptocrats and Trump’s supposed constituency (victims? marks?) about to lose their jobs, homes, equity, retirements & kids to imperialistic wars. If there’s a Left in this country, it simply HAS to be more than white kids on TV, in black face masks… we need to dodge Trump’s trolling and fight unremittingly FOR living wages, job safety, healthcare, upwards mobility & AGAINST a predatory FIRE sector, ALEC kleptocracy & their media’s 24/7 reality infomercial. For way too long, the whole good cop/ bad cop scam has been Yuppie liberals vs Oligarch’s running dogs, we’ve tried to live off any chunks that’d trickle down through the maelstrom above our heads, to which we were not invited

      2. Mel

        Quite. No reason Sanders’ platform can’t be used. There’s also a 5-point platform right in plain sight at the end of Leopold’s article.
        Some people seem to have this urge to outsource the platform to somebody else — the Democrat Party, or maybe others. No. No need to go elsewhere. There’s two platforms right here. Use them.

    1. b1daly

      The problem is that economic systems are complex, emergent phenomena. They influenced by culture, chance, ideas, tribal instincts, technology (including financial technology), geography, tradition, the environment, human nature, migration, religion, and on and on.

      This notion that something as complex as human society can be analyzed under an intellectual construct, whether neo-liberalism, socialism, or Rastafarianism defies common sense. Centuries of intense theorizing by some very smart people have led to an understanding of parts of social systems. But, for example, economists disagree profoundly on basic aspects of macroeconomics.

      Neo-liberalism is not even a well defined concept. I don’t know of any politician in the US who declare themselves “neo-liberal.” Read the Wikipedia article to see just how poorly this concept is defined.

      Among some self-imagined progressives it’s become a perjorative term to apply to leaders who they disagree with. IMO, politicians do not govern according to abstract concepts. The honest ones are simply trying to govern, in the context of the society they live in. At times, historically unique situations arise, and political leaders are stumped for solutions. At such a time, some kind of think tank might propose their pet theory to be considered as a factor in making decisions (the “neo-cons” had their chance in the build up to the Iraq war).

      I want Trumps ability to wreak havoc on the economy and civil infrastructure minimized, and him gone as President as soon as possible. This is not going to be easy. If, at the same time, think you can throw in the reform of global economic structures, and succeed, you’re delusional.

      FWIW, to the extent that policians like Chuck Shumer or Hilary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas, it is at the level of ideas. People can change their mind, or have it changed, on things like this. Quickly. In contrast to something like pro-Zionist policies, to which a polician might have a deeper attachment, very resistant to change.

      1. Outis Philalithopoulos

        I was a bit confused by this comment.

        The first two paragraphs are making a broad sort of argument, which if taken with its full force seems to mean that any attempt to use theoretical generalizations to understand the world is oversimplifying and therefore questionable.

        The third and fourth paragraphs take issue more specifically with the term “neoliberalism.”

        However, the fifth paragraph seems to imply that anti-neoliberalism involves “reform of global economic structures,” and therefore maybe isn’t as poorly defined as the previous paragraphs would have led one to assume.

        Meanwhile, the sixth paragraph undercuts the fifth. The fifth implies that opposing Trump is so important that we should temporarily abandon any attempt to move the discourse on the overall economic direction of the country or the world. The reason given is that moving said discourse is supposed to be a herculean, nearly impossible task. The sixth paragraph, instead, suggests that Schumer and HRC can have their mind changed “quickly” on these sorts of issues, and so maybe the overall project isn’t so infeasible after all.

        1. H. Alexander Ivey

          Now that is how to handle trolls, if I may be so indiscreet as to label b1daly as such. I’ve always dreaded replying to them because I tend to engage point by point – a very tiring exercise and one that leads nowhere, the end game of the troll. But Outis shows a concise, clear, and not too taxing on one’s time, reply. A hat tip to you sir for your efforts

      2. Vatch

        “FWIW, to the extent that policians like Chuck Shumer or Hilary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas, it is at the level of ideas.”

        I’m skeptical about this. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas at the level of massive donations to their campaign committees or family foundation.

      3. jrs

        If you just get Trump gone, another Trump or worse will be produced in a decade or so (never mind Pence in the meantime, that we could endure, I’m focusing longer term). An awful system, that makes everyone poor (mass impoverishment), stupid, and exhausted, produces awful results in terms of governance (money in politics does not help of course).

      4. old flame

        I always took neo-liberalism to mean world domination by banks FIRE sector and neoconservatism by the military and their suppliers and also oil which greases the military wheels. Farms fall into the latter I guess for the defense of the “landed gentry”. Watched the farm reports lately and they are quite upset by the non-passage of the TPP which would have given them higher price supports. All of it is ruled by multi-nationals’ money and clout so there is overlap.

          1. flora

            adding: Wall St speculates in grain and farm/food commodities. Wall St isn’t happy with the demise of TTP. This from a few years back, but still relevant.

            ” Futures markets traditionally included two kinds of players. On one side were the farmers, the millers, and the warehousemen, market players who have a real, physical stake in wheat….

            “On the other side is the speculator. The speculator neither produces nor consumes corn or soy or wheat, and wouldn’t have a place to put the 20 tons of cereal he might buy at any given moment if ever it were delivered. Speculators make money through traditional market behavior, the arbitrage of buying low and selling high. And the physical stakeholders in grain futures have as a general rule welcomed traditional speculators to their market, for their endless stream of buy and sell orders gives the market its liquidity and provides bona fide hedgers a way to manage risk by allowing them to sell and buy just as they pleased.

            “But Goldman’s index perverted the symmetry of this system. The structure of the GSCI paid no heed to the centuries-old buy-sell/sell-buy patterns. This newfangled derivative product was “long only,” which meant the product was constructed to buy commodities, and only buy. At the bottom of this “long-only” strategy lay an intent to transform an investment in commodities (previously the purview of specialists) into something that looked a great deal like an investment in a stock — the kind of asset class wherein anyone could park their money and let it accrue for decades (along the lines of General Electric or Apple). Once the commodity market had been made to look more like the stock market, bankers could expect new influxes of ready cash. But the long-only strategy possessed a flaw, at least for those of us who eat. The GSCI did not include a mechanism to sell or “short” a commodity. ”

            More neoliberalism in action. It doesn’t benefit either the small farmer or the person buying groceries.

      5. PH

        I agree many people here get caught up in labels. I think there is value in iconoclasm, but ultimately we have to take practical actions if we want to avoid trouble. Or, at least, avoid the worst trouble.

        Many who comment do not seem to take seriously the danger of right wing fanaticism. I am not sure what would convince them.

        Unfortunately, we may find out someday.

        1. that guy

          You might be right. I certainly don’t take right wing fanaticism seriously. Moreover I don’t think it should be taken seriously, and unless things seriously changed recently, I live in a state that, statistically, has a lot of right wing fanatics.

          They’re not organized, they don’t have a message that truly appeals, they don’t have messengers with mass appeal, there’s nothing there anyone can build on. Moreover, anti-immigrant sentiment comes and goes. In the 1840’s we were having riots and people were beating Irishmen in the street because the economy sucked. But when things don’t suck so bad economically, that evaporates like the morning fog.

          Until right wing fanaticism can look like anything other than some angry guy with too many tattoos shouting angry slogans, or some weird dude who wants to actually create White America that srsly nobody listens to, y’know, until there’s some unifying figurehead who can take it further and make it sensible-sounding and mainstream to the folks at home who work a 9-to-5, it’s not even worth worrying about. I’m more worried about left wing extremists who show up in huge mobs and cause property damage, personally.

    2. Altandmain

      They are liberals, not left wing people.

      By that I mean, they want neoliberal econoimcs with a socially left wing platform. No wonder they hate the left and supported Clinton so much. They want the status quo. Many are safely in the upper middle class, as the comments on the Women’s March in Washington DC have revealed. They will never have to deal with the consequences of neoliberalism.

      The Sanders base by contrast wants left wing economics and socially.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The neoliberals don’t even want left wing social identity progress. They just use it as a tool to capture voters. Team Blue types did jack to advance social issues until they were forced too or were simply bypassed. Obama’s “personal endorsement” of gay marriage was covered by his support of state rights.

      2. jrs

        Is anyone all that safely in the middle class these days? Even if they have a nice middle class job, so much that they don’t have to worry about age discrimination as they get older? I don’t think so. So much that even if they have a nice plum insurance plan at work, they never have to worry about healthcare for themselves or their loved ones? I’m not so sure …

        But sure it’s not as immediate a threat, doesn’t have the immediacy of say facing immediate eviction for the lack of a rent payment or something.

  2. Michael Berger

    What appeals to me most is the recognition here (item 3.) of the same concern for visa holders being locked out of entering the country needing to be shown to the laboring class already in the country.

    For those laborers, seeing a few hundred (or goodness gracious, a few thousand) people protesting another production line being shipped off is better “messaging” than anything our ruling class will ever manage to conceive.

    Seriously, I can think of no better image than social justice warriors standing up for workers desperate enough to vote Trump (or resigned enough to not vote at all).

    There are potential friendships – or allyships if you prefer – to be created that could do wonders for much beyond economic concerns.

    1. John Rose

      This has been my position from the early days of the Tea Party movement when I couldn’t understand why the Democratic Party immediately sent organizers to help them with both organization and more importantly consciousness-raising.

  3. Kramer

    My problem is that I’m in a Red state. Democrats don’t win elections here. I need a political organization that can give me the best possible republican. This would look like America first economics to protect American jobs (there is a huge appetite for this among the Republican voters I talk to.) It would mean accepting conservative social positions. The democratic party might be able to this but it would require one hell of a make over.

    1. b1daly

      It would, but it might be doable. A lot of the divide in American politics is around “the culture wars.” I think people can adopt new ideas, and ways of looking at things, if they get that “tribal sanction.”

      This is just arm chair theorizing, but one of the big hang ups is that cultural difference is interwoven with historical precedents that operated at a more substantive, fundamental level in the society. For example, the theories of white supremacy were used to justify the appalling institution of slavery in the US. At that time, this enabled the dominant culture to benefit at the expense of the exploited.

      But when cultural conditions change, such that economic systems like slavery are no longer operative, the ideas of white supremacy can live on as simply cultural identity.

      For all the problems of our society, we have made progress, and the overt, legal racism that existed just 50 years ago has been minimized. So perhaps people interested in social justice can relax the hyper-vigilant, hyper-accusatory attitudes of political correctness, to make common cause with populations they have common interests with.

      When social justice activists use the label of “racist” as a badge of shame on someone who transgresses whatever social line, it tends to cause hurt feelings. And accusations of reverse racism. Sigh. It could be different.

      1. Allegorio

        The Kulture Wars were specifically designed to put economic and Class issues on the back burner, Divide and Rule. What is the point of Lady Gaga waving her pussy in our faces at the super bowl, but to drive the socially conservative working class into the Republican party. Frankly the issue of who sleeps with who, who marries who and who has a baby, is done , covered by the assertion of privacy protection by the constitution. In any case, economic justice should take precedence. Time to move on from socially divisive issues.

        1. Booqueefius

          Love your line about Lady Gaga. It is as if the powers that be understand completely the “backfire effect” and deploy it consciously to their advantage.

    2. Steve H.

      I completely disagree. While party organizations in red states may have little impact on those elected from their state, a hostile takeover of a state party can have real impact in terms of control of the national organization.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Democratic Parties in red states especially are interested in keeping their invitations to Inaugural balls and holding Jefferson-Jackson (one would think these would have been renamed by now given how totes woke Team Blue types are, sarc) dinners. Who knows what could happen if they cared about results?

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I disagree. “Good Democrats” can win. People respect people who fight for their values or seem to fight for those values more than say a Hillary. The messaging of Hillary as a defender for women and children wasn’t an accident.

      The problem for the “deplorables” in regards to Team Blue is the neo liberals treat their concerns with contempt and have a recent history of betrayal.

      It might take a while, but Virginia’s fifth congressional district is the largest district by area east of the Mississippi. It’s bigger than New Jersey and a relatively good Democrat (probably not the most pro choice person) won in 2008 against a Republican who won by huge numbers every years. That win didn’t start in early 2008. It started in 2001 with a couple of sacrificial lambs to build operations to register voters, making sure the blue precpincts were registered and to go into the precincts that should be blue believed they can win.

      I believe people will make good choices when presented with options, but putting up a non entity with cash who bemoans partisanship especially those “tax and spend liberals” is why Democrats fail. How did Alan Grayson get into Congress despite running in a district that went for Bush/Cheney twice while an adjacent district that went for Gore and Kerry keeps sending Republicans to Congress? The answer is people respect when they aren’t being pondered too, and that is all Clinton Inc knows how to do.

      1. John Rose

        This is probably how it needs to be done, district by district. Was this entirely home-grown or was there outside help from move-on or other groups?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Entirely home grown for all intents and purposes. Lynchburg produced a fair amount of volunteers and money despite not being in the actual district.

          Dean’s 50th the strategy didn’t come from no where. The Internet existed before Facebook, and people have long memories of Democrats that did organization before 1994 (gee, I wonder who was in charge of Team Blue) and the destruction of the then permanent Democratic majority. People discussed this all over. Admittedly, I didn’t entirely buy it until Kaine thumped a well liked Republican in 2005 running up the vote tally in areas where people had been organizing.

          There is a reason why Clinton Inc is despised by otherwise seemingly, sensible Democratic types. The Clintons under perform because they run childish goldilocks campaigns. In 1992, Bill mustered 43% of the vote against 41 and a guy who basically wanted to bring back prohibition.

          1. Philip Martin

            Thanks for bringIng up Dr. Dean’s 50 state strategy. What the heck happened to that? I’m convinced that the strategy was a good part of Obama’s victory in 2008. In Kansas, the Dems took a seat from the Republicans that year, and won Indiana and North Carolina. Lost Missouri by only 4000 votes. We could compete in these states and others (Arizona, Texas, Georgia) if the state Democratic parties would arouse themselves and do a bit of listening to people in their state.

  4. ArkansasAngie

    No more wedgies.

    We are so wedged that we cannot form coalitions.

    The Fallacy of the false dilemma.

    Example … we are wedged on refugees. How about we stop bombing Syria so that the urgency of refugees is reduced.

    1. different clue

      How do we stop “bombing Syria”? The DC FedRegime isn’t doing very much bombing in Syria. It is doing a little bombing in the ISIS area. The Syrian Arab Republic’s Air Force and Helicopter Force is doing most of the bombing in most of the country. The reason they ( the Legitimate Government) are doing the bombing is to try defeating the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadi rebellion in Syria. The reason the CLEJ ( Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis) are so hard to defeat is because of massive aid the CLEJs get from DC FedRegime allies in the region . . . and crucial covert aid from the DC FedRegime itself.

      If the Legitimate Government of Syria could get the CLEJ rebellion comprehensively exterminated, the Legitimate Government of Syria would not have to bomb anymore. So if you want to stop the Syrian government bombing in order to stop the outflow of refugees, get the DC FedRegime to switch sides and support the R + 6 in helping Syria to exterminate the CLEJ rebellion within the borders of Syria as soon as possible, in order to make it possible for the Syrian government to stop the bombing.

  5. PH

    Not sure study groups are the answer. Couldn’t hurt, I suppose.

    The article makes it sound like there was nothing but a clash of ideas for 40 years.

    Out of the 70’s there was a lot of racism and resentment at the stagflation that got channeled into Reagan. The right wing think tanks started an Amen chorus, abortion wars reached a fever pitch, and Dems started scrambling to try to win elections that they used to win on a FDR platform.

    Then came the bubble of the 90s, and Wall Street Dems looked like geniuses.

    A lot of people were drinking the Koolaid. Not just sold out Dem pols.

    New day now. Lessons have been learned. Unfortunately, many people have learned the wrong lessons, nodding to the siren call of fanatical nationalism and Trump.

    I am not sure what plan the proprietors of this blog favor, but I hope it includes the Dem party because that thin reed is the only thing between us and authoritarian rule for the billionaires.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Thin Reed? Authoritarian rule for the oligarchs…

      The Dems are the very embodiment of neoliberalism, representatives of oligarchs and soft sellers of authoritarian rule. Far far on the wrong side of the thin reed.

      As the post mentioned – Largest imprisoned, in the world. Lowest life expectancy, for highest expenditures.Allowing millions to be foreclosed upon while further enriching the banksters who rigged the system. That’s authoritarian in an extreme… and only a few oligarchs benefit. Neoliberalism/Liberalism is authoritarian. Dems are the first to shoot down those who challenge them with so much as polite rhetoric. Feckless as Sanders was he clarified that for anyone who dare look-see, admit it to themselves.

      If Dems were the only party in existence we would be where we are today, if not far worse. Just the way they structure and operate their party is more than enough to prove these points.

      Love the post title but I would wear a t-shirt which say either of these things:

      Don’t Side With Neoliberalism in Opposing Trump.

      Don’t Side With Democrats in Opposing Trump

      In fact I would prefer the latter.

        1. Mel

          Who said prefer? The thing with siding with the Democrats in opposing Trump is that in four or eight years we’re left with nothing but siding with somebody else in opposing the Democrats. How about getting something done, finally? Crazy dream: make the Democrats side with us in opposing Trump.

          1. Cujo359

            Crazy dream: make the Democrats side with us in opposing Trump.

            Fabulous idea! The only way the Democrats will do what we need them to do is if they must earn their place.

      1. different clue

        We need a way to distinguish Legitimate Opposition from Clintonite Trojan horse “Resistance”.

        Perhaps someone should register or start a Twitter hashtag called ” NotMyResistance”. It might be devoted to outing every Clintonite agent and Grima Wormtongue infiltrating or skulking around any Opposition which might try to form itself.

        #NotMyResistance. I give it away for free to anyone who might want to use it.

        1. aab

          Eh. Anybody who could be reached by that tactic can be reached by Left Twitter generally. It’s either persuasive or its not. Those people are already being called out all day and all night on Twitter.

          We don’t need more hashtags. We need better means of helping people to understand the vital importance of purging the neoliberals out of the Democratic party. We can see from just the generally well-informed, well-intended, activist-inclined members of this commentariat that that’s a heavy lift for a lot of people. It’s a difficult challenge to face, arguably more daunting the more you know and understand about our system and situation. So the temptation to simply hope things will get better because they should is understandable.

    2. tegnost

      Naked Capitalism is both a reading and study group…hey here’s a thought, why don’t the dems try to include usians, we’re not democrats we’re americans, after all, and we don’t need them if they’re going to continue to play the game as they have been playing it, supporting authoritarianism and heaping favors on billionaires. I don’t see lessons having been learned, none of the hillary marchers I know can have a cogent , fact based conversation, it’s just omg trump, marching is good, globalization o care what will the poor illegal immgrants do, cheap labor is essential, self driving trucks blah blah blah bail out wall st while fraudulent MERS documents are fabricated to steal peoples homes, remember linda green, remember non dischargeable student loans? Have you noticed all those tents under the bridges? The dems ruled for the 10% but it’s a big country and a numbers game. You need to get out more. If the dems wanted to win bernie was the ticket. Instead they chose wall st and war then lost like they deserved to lose. In a representative democracy they are supposed to represent us, we’re not supposed to represent the dems. They’ll be included when they deserve to be, no one owes them allegiance.

      1. PH

        I understand you do not like Dem leaders. But ultimately, the politics are not about them. It is about us.

        How do we protect our kids, our parents, and our friends.

        It involves organizing behind candidates at election time.

        And at this point in time (where we are now) that means organizing through the Dems, through the Repubs, or some third party.

        None of those options are obvious paths to success.

        But we have to pick one, or do nothing.

        1. jrs

          “And at this point in time (where we are now) that means organizing through the Dems, through the Repubs, or some third party.”

          Sometimes I figure it may as well be the Repubs (but not of course with their current platform, yea I know people think the Dems is an easier party to take over, but due to LOTE voting I’m not so sure.

        2. beth

          Maybe you can tell me which is better? Cory Booker voted to prevent importation of Canadian drugs to lower the outrageous rx costs. Ted Cruz voted to import drugs so that we are not held hostage to US companies raising drug costs with impunity. Unless the dems are benefiting citizens why should we support them. Bernie’s bill would have passed except for 14 dem senators voted to keep drug costs high . Who should we vote for in the next election?

          I hope I am not posting too late. Please delete this if you think I am.

          1. PH

            Booker is a phony. Cruz is a creep. Not much to cheer for in either case.

            I am not suggesting that you owe allegiance to any candidate or party.

            I am suggesting that party politics is an avenue for organizing, and Dem party and traditional coalition is the better avenue for action. Not to do the same things, but to work for peace justice and tolerance.

            Where to target work for change.

            The Repubs are not what some people here imagine. And they will do great harm.

        3. different clue

          We could keep purging and burning Clintonites out of the Democratic Party until there are zero Clintonites left anywhere in it or around it. Then we might have some Democrats worth organizing through and voting for.

  6. Ulysses

    “That thin reed is the only thing between us and authoritarian rule for the billionaires.”

    No, that “thin reed” would have continued to obfuscate the existence of authoritarian rule for the billionaires through cynical, insincere manipulation of idpol wedge issues.

    The regime change we are witnessing, here in the U.S., is the cutting out of a layer of cynical, professional grifters between the kleptocrats and the people. In other words authoritarian rule for the billionaires is morphing into direct, in-your-face kleptocracy by and for the billionaires.

    There was an important discussion earlier, here at NC, that I think is relevant to our current situation, sparked by Kalecki’s observation that:

    “One of the important functions of fascism, as typified by the Nazi system, was to remove capitalist objections to full employment.”

    It is understandable that American workers would find a genuine commitment to full employment, after so many decades of neoliberal job outsourcing, exhilarating.

    Yet, smashing unions and “othering” large segments of the population didn’t end well for the Germans in the mid-20th century, and there’s no reason to believe it would work out any better over here.

    1. PH

      Maybe that was a significant aspect of the rise of Nazi rule, but it seems to me a bit reductionist to see the Nazis through such a narrow lense.

      Similarly, I think we should resist the temptation of seeing Trump exclusively through the lenses of our anger at Bluedogs for getting us into this mess. I am angry. And those soulless climbers are still running the show in Congress. I am angry about that too.

      But these are dangerous times. We need to organize. We need to win elections. And we do not have ANY easy path that I can see.

      In my view, we need to channel our energy into primary challenges in the Dem party.

      1. Gman

        The US Democratic Party has more than a little in common with the British Labour Party sadly.

        I wouldn’t pin your hopes on their resolve to stand up for the average working voter in the face of big money interests.

        Both parties have steadily rendered themselves irrelevant to their erstwhile core voters through a toxic combination of venality, hubris, contempt, obsessive virtue signalling/ political correctness, vacuous ideologies, a reliance on endless empty rhetoric, populism, ‘foreign misadventure’ and much more besides.

        Their currency, in the eyes of swathes of once loyal voters, has been so devalued under the leaderships of flag of convenience crypto-neoliberal politicians like Blair, Brown, the Clintons and Obama that this is going to be a Herculean task to row back from in order to recentre and reconnect with betrayed, bruised voters.

        Trump might be a crass out and out shameless, populist, self-serving sociopathic assh#le, but unlike those mentioned above, in the eyes of many of those disenfranchised who backed him, some most likely out of desperation, at least he’s currently less of a lying hypocrite and, more importantly, he hasn’t let them down badly……yet.

        1. Ulysses

          “Both parties have steadily rendered themselves irrelevant to their erstwhile core voters through a toxic combination of venality, hubris, contempt, obsessive virtue signalling/ political correctness, vacuous ideologies, a reliance on endless empty rhetoric, populism, ‘foreign misadventure’ and much more besides.”

          Very well said!

      2. different clue

        That could be a very good channel for energy. People who believe in that should do that. People who believe in something else should do something else. All the different theory-action groups should meet and confer from time to time to compare notes on what works and what doesn’t.

      3. aab

        I agree with your last graf. More expansively, I think:

        – If you can work to take over a state democratic party from the left, do it.

        – If you prefer to focus on third party organizing for the 2018 elections, especially for Congressional seats, great — just really focus on running a real candidate with a real campaign, which means groundwork, a concrete platform with its own elevator pitch, and a means to communicate with voters. I saw a bunch of third party candidates this year not even use their social media accounts effectively.

        – Pushing for left challengers to the Democrats in the primaries is excellent. When the establishment Democrat wins, as they will in most cases, you have to be willing to vote against them. They won’t care unless they start losing their jobs. It looks like we’re going to have to turf every single one of them so that the lobbyists can’t even gnaw on the bones. If you don’t commit to that, institutional power and inertia will keep the neoliberals in power inside the party, and things will just keep getting worse.

  7. Steven Greenberg

    This is not quite right “Trade deals are bad deals unless they enforce the highest health, safety, environmental and labor standards.”

    Labor in the underdeveloped countries consider some of this to be the developed countries’ trick of preventing the people in the underdeveloped countries from getting jobs. There is some truth to this idea. When we negotiate trade deals, we must remember that in a fair negotiation neither side gets everything it wants, but each side must get enough of what it wants to agree to the terms of the negotiation.

    The trouble with past trade pacts is that only the corporations on both sides of the deal were represented. In the future, labor and environment on both sides must be represented in the negotiations.

    1. tegnost

      not quite right, the stateless multinationals play both sides off each other. Globalzation deals like TPP with ISDS clauses are designed to limit sovereignty. We have free trade, you can go anywhere in the world and buy whatever you want to, your “fair negotiation” is a canard and misdirection.

    2. John Wright

      One may also refer to USA communities who will accept higher levels of pollution caused by an EPA targeted local industry/plant that provides local jobs where they are in short supply..

      This is very similar to a foreign country accepting higher pollution in trade for jobs for their citizens.

      When someone is desperate to support their family, compromises are made, and the USA has plenty of examples.

      1. BeliTsari

        That’s kind of representative of the basic problem: before the white working class morphed into The Middle Class during Reagan’s Miracle, they’d long since abandoned hell with the lid off, for suburbia (the nation’s economy was based upon this; unions, political parties, finance… all fed off of upward mobility, basically away from the poor, polluted, neglected, heavily policed industrial areas (bottom feeders like Trump’s dad or DNC’s slumlord super-delegates hardly invented this). EZ Credit, Bail Bonds, Party Stores, doc-in-a-box, PayCheck Loans sucked-up what the politicians’ business associates left behind. As Trump moves on from trolling liberal elites to fomenting race war, mass incarceration, etc, as LBJ, Nixon, Reagan & Clinton did with urban renewal, the war on drugs, welfare reform… some of us will scrambling to figure out just how we’re not just another part of the problem?

    3. different clue

      I like something that Bashar al Assad once said to an interviewer . . . before all the current unpleasantness started. The interviewer asked him why he didn’t do something “nice” for some other country as a “gesture” towards something or other. And Mr. Assad said in reply . . . ” I run a state, not a charity.”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” -Upton Sinclair

      One group of corporate war mongers likes different symbols.

      1. polecat

        A contemporary version of that Sinclair quote could be stated as such :

        “When Neo-fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a Lady Gaga p#ssy-gown and carrying a case of birth-control pills …. while screaming ‘White, Deplorable, F#cker’ !!”

    2. different clue

      Have they? Or have Feminist Neoliberals quite deliberately pursued their very own Neoliberal Feminism?

      Someone should write an article about that simple enough for layfolk like me to understand. It could be titled: “Goldman-Sachs Feminism and the Tiffany Glass Ceiling” or some such.

  8. Gaylord

    Offshore tax sheltered wealth in the trillions must be reigned in, but nobody in a position of leadership is allowed to touch it, only to make token noises about it like Sen. Warren does.

  9. John Wright

    It appears that Leopold misses another issue that hits American workers, that being the “insourcing” of foreign workers, either legally (H1-B’s) or illegally to the USA.

    American workers are certainly aware that some jobs can be outsourced via computer/phone networks to other countries, but are also aware that neo-libs have been more than willing to also let jobs that require a physical presence in the USA be wage arbitraged down via increasing the domestic labor supply via immigration.

    I don’t believe the old assertion that “an immigrant displacing an American worker frees the American to find a better job” gathers much support from American workers/voters, if it ever did.

    Trump tapped into this, and the Democrats will ignore this issue at their peril..

    Neither political party wants to enforce employer sanctions, via mandatory E-Verify, as that would be frowned on by both party’s paymasters.

  10. Sam

    …”Trump actually is attacking two of its foundational elements—free trade and unlimited capital mobility. Not only is Trump violating neoliberal theory, he also is clashing with the most basic way Wall Street cannibalizes us. Without the free movement of capital, assisted by trade deals, financial elites and their corporate partners would not be able to slash labor costs, destroy unions and siphon off wealth into their own pockets.”

    Given the ease with which Trump reverses himself, I wouldn’t take these utterances seriously.

  11. Carolinian

    Good article but needs an addendum: don’t side with Democrats in opposing Trump. There’s a case to be made that Trump himself is really an independent even though he has by necessity stuffed his administration with some GOP trogs. Therefore when Trump does something our side likes he should be praised even though it might diminish the chances of the dearly sought Trumpexit. The US public at large increasingly see themselves as independents rather than supporters of the duopoly and the left–including and perhaps especially Sanders–should stop fooling themselves that they will ever reform the Dems. In fact the thing that might do the most to reform the Dems would be some vibrant third party competition that forces them to protect their left flank.

    1. PH

      Nothing wrong with a third party approach in theory.

      In practice, it would likely take many years. It is not culturally accepted, nor do our voting laws favor third parties.

      I do not think we have that much time.

      1. joe citizen

        But we have enough time to hope the Democratic Party who is completely subservient to corporate interests will suddenly decide to forget about all the money they are making and side with the workers, poor, and the environment? Voting in all new people would take many years, not to mention the party structure that cannot be changed by voting. The majority of registered democrats support neo-liberal candidates. How do you propose this quick change of the democratic party to support traditional leftist policy will take place?

        1. PH

          Most pols, and staff, are quite shallow. They just want to be re-elected. From there, they are “pragmatic.”

          You have to show them thei assumptions about what it takes to win are wrong. Convince them that there is a threat of a primary challenger that can win.

          You will be surprised how fast conventional wisdom will change.

          But the first hurdle is huge. You need at least a couple successful progressive/populist candidates in purple states.

          It will take dedicated organizing. Going door to door. Listening. Convincing the public that your candidate speaks for those voters.

          Lot of work. No glamour. But maybe make some friends along the way.

  12. paul Tioxon

    Note to self: I will not be bamboozled into self-destructive political adventurism by mindlessly opposing the perfectly legitimate President Trump when ever he happens to do something so swell that helps pay the rent, buys food and keeps a roof over my head. I will stop going to ALL of those protest marches that demands that rowhouse Philadelphia give up their jobs in reparations for neo-colonial and hegemonic neo-liberal bad stuff by sending them to Mexico and the Dominican Republic or even Viet Nam or China. I understand that people in America are people too, and need their jobs and do not have trust funds to live off of when they donate their employment with no hope for a replacement job to prevent a downward spiral into poverty.

    I get it, by not focusing on real pocket book issues and major social programs, like the ones we used to get in the afterglow of post WWII economic expansion, we just left the barn door open for all of the wronged white guys in coal mines, all 57,000 of them nationally, to come out in the full force of democracy in action under our definition of democracy, the electoral college. By not recognizing that the iron law of democracy, where the consent of the majority of people is the deciding principle in American politics, and marching after a political loss instead of going out in front of the coal mines and factories and laying down in front of the trucks hauling jobs away, I am a dope. I promise to fete The President Trump in editorial pages, blog sites, graffitti on walls and other public property when he creates jobs as a result, direct or indirect, of his policies. After all, it is axiomatic that if Trump repeatedly fails to do anything of value for our nation, most of us will suffer. If he puts forth an infrastructure financial package with the Japanese and their global investment bank, I will hail as a partnership in progress.

    After all, if we can fix up the country’s faltering highways and bridges and air ports and sea ports, we will modernized America, give people good paying jobs. And that is a good thing. I am all for it. President Trump is supposed to be all for it. So, when the jobs start pouring in with all of the concrete and rebar, I will not protest. I will publicly applaud him. I will however be organizing behind the scenes to crush him like a bug in the next election. I foresee a bidding war in jobs offered to the forgotten and not so forgotten and I expect to come out on top as the highest bidder.

  13. Left in Wisconsin

    Les Leopold is a smart guy and always has interesting things to say. But in this case, I think he glosses over the biggest issue: people will not organize into unions if they believe that doing so, or trying to do so, risks making their personal employment situation worse, not better.

    Anti-union activity by employers is now so routine and expected, and protections for workers trying to organize, either from unions or government, are so weak that the vast majority of working people have come to view trying to organize as insane. (Yes, card check will help in a few situations but is not a game changer.) The purported low unemployment rate does nothing to empower working people because (except for the occasional exception that proves the rule) it is still overwhelming the case that one’s current job is better than any likely other job one would have to get if one lost it. And irritating your boss is still the likeliest way to get fired, or get your department outsourced, or get your entire workplace shut down.

    And the fact that some public sector workers still have workplaces that make them less likely to get fired or replaced for trying to exercise workplace “rights” just points out how poor things are for most private sector workers, resulting in even less sympathy for those workers.

    What Trump gets is that, in this environment, most working people will support the (anti-tax, anti-regulation) platform their boss supports, rather than the (higher-tax, stronger-regulation) one their boss hates, if the (strong union) platform that is good for them that their boss really, really hates is off the table.

    Platforms and study groups are well and good but we need much more. As said above, we need a new labor movement, in particular one that can organize in the private export-sensitive sector. There is no such thing as a(n even moderately) successful labor movement without strong unions in the private export-sensitive sector. But there is no way to organize workers in this sector without being able to demonstrate why being in a union is likely to materially improve their well-being. But one can’t get such a thing without strong government support to ensure trying to organize doesn’t in fact risk resulting in losing your job. Chicken-And-Egg problem.

    1. old flame

      Employers have so much power over workers now: right-to -work laws, tax incentives, H1B and undocumented workers, Chamber of Commerce and lobbyists. Probably the only way to have any clout would be to have a National Strike and boycotts which would be tough to organize. I know that employers in an area will collude with other companies to set and limit wages and benefits. I had a friend that I worked with in a factory back in the 70s who was promoted to the office in a secretarial position who told me about meetings our company had with other ones in the community where they discussed and made agreements on labor issues. This was back in the 70s. They were always threatening us about unions and I never had heard anyone talk about joining one or any kind of union activity.

  14. TG

    Yes, well said as usual.

    As regards the standard of living in third-world countries, it should by now be apparent that the model of ‘development’ that uses low wages to attract foreign businesses simply can not – and does not – increase general prosperity. How can it? The model is that low wages (‘affordable labor costs’) are the engine, therefore the wages need to stay low to keep the multinationals in place.

    Look at the effects of NAFTA: the United States lost a lot of jobs, Mexico gained jobs, but Mexican wages remain low. The NAFTA model is pulling the United States down and not pulling Mexico up. That is now well established. Nobody need feel any guilt about opposing trade agreements like NAFTA.

    Ah, but what about China? Well China is a little different from Mexico – they are more mercantilist. In the long run the established method of creating prosperity is to have a stable or slowly growing population, and slowly but steadily build up endogenous industries and a strong internal market. “Race to the bottom” trade agreements yield exactly what the term suggests.

  15. PQS

    Where do I sign up? I’m ready to go. However, I think one aspect of this transformational mission is missing: MONEY.

    The RW has metric tons of billionaires who use their money to propagate their ideologies and build “think tanks” and other institutions to provide the veneer of respectability. I believe it’s one of the primary reasons that they’ve been so successful in pushing their extreme ideas on everybody. They have an ALEC branch in every statehouse writing laws, which I’m sure they don’t do for free. They can gerrymander, buy off, and otherwise distort the entire process for little more than walking around money for them.

    I know Sanders nearly won with small donors, so perhaps that could be replicated in this scenario, but long term, I think having some serious money to back up these initiatives is going to make the job actually doable. And there are a few actual billionaires who might be amenable to using their wealth for the greater good. Nick Hanauer comes to mind.

  16. JEHR

    During the Depression of the 1930’s in the Maritimes, the Antigonish Movement began:

    The Antigonish Movement blended adult education, co-operatives, microfinance and rural community development to help small, resource-based communities around Canada’s Maritimes improve their economic and social circumstances. A group of priests and educators, including Father Jimmy Tompkins, Father Moses Coady, Rev. Hugh MacPherson and A.B. MacDonald led this movement from a base at the Extension Department at St. Francis Xavier University (St. F.X.) in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

    The credit union systems of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI owe their origins to the Antigonish Movement, which also had an important influence on other provincial systems across Canada. The Coady International Institute at St. F.X. has been instrumental in developing credit unions and in asset-based community development initiatives in developing countries ever since.

    It is noteworthy that the movement began with Adult Education: if people do not understand what has brought them debt and poverty, it will be difficult to counteract them.

    I’m sure that in the US during the Depression, there were many such movements which helped people understand and defeat the Depression.

    Looking back at what succeeded in the past can help towards a better future. Of course, it will have to be adapted for the present problems, but starting with education is a really positive move.

    1. John Rose

      How about online adult education drawing on the talents of charismatic teachers and more local face-to-face seminars to provide the core activists we need.

  17. Jack

    Good article which made some good points.
    “The progressive instinct, and rightfully so, is to trash Trump. If he’s for it, we must be against it.”
    One instance of this is the huge play the immigration fight is getting. I don’t agree with how Trump enacted his immigration “reform” but I agree that immigration needs to be curtailed. Significantly curtailed. H1B visas pretty much need to be done away with, and if you are in this country illegally, you need to leave. And any further immigration needs to be reduced. This outcry against immigration reform by the liberals, what many in this country see as a huge problem, is not winning over any hearts and minds in flyover country. It’s like when Bill Clinton first got elected and he wasted a lot of time and political capital on the gays i the military issue. Only this time the Dems are not even in office. Still a waste of political capital. In my mind this whole immigration reform paranoia is just another form of identity politics by the Democrats. What progressives need to focus on is campaign finance reform, jobs, health care reform, education, and increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Those issues resonate with everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike. It is why Trump won. Don’t fix these problems and immigration will be the least of our worries as a nation. If things get worse in our economy, immigrants and refugees are going to be in a much worse place than they are right now. People who are going hungry and who are sick with no hope on the horizon have to blame someone. And Americans are not known for the high level of intelligence and knowledge of how the world really works. Anyone who looks “different” will be blamed and there will be blood in the streets. I think we are almost to that point now.

    1. jrs

      “This outcry against immigration reform by the liberals, what many in this country see as a huge problem, is not winning over any hearts and minds in flyover country. It’s like when Bill Clinton first got elected and he wasted a lot of time and political capital on the gays i the military issue. Only this time the Dems are not even in office. Still a waste of political capital. In my mind this whole immigration reform paranoia is just another form of identity politics by the Democrats.”

      The Dims maybe, but that’s not why actual people protest, it’s mostly because they know illegals are those who serve their food when they order breakfast, are on the train on the way to work, etc.. I know fly-over just doesn’t get it, because they don’t live among and with illegals as part of their daily life, but it’s hard to see them driven out if one does.

  18. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    re “But What About the Poor in Other Countries?”

    All the points made in answer to that need to be memorized, because if you’re to the left of Andrew Carnegie or Ayn Rand that’s what they’ll throw at you. ‘Americans consume 99% of all fossil fuels and create 98% of all the trash and blah blah!’ We’re a little sick of it.

    1. jrs

      “Americans consume 99% of all fossil fuels and create 98% of all the trash and blah blah!’ We’re a little sick of it.”

      It’s all true of course.

      But yea they rely on left/liberals basic goodness (ok not all liberals have any real goodness (or why don’t they oppose the wars more?), most leftists are pretty darn moral though) and they’ll use it to enrich themselves, because they are not good at all, but know how to get good people to be subserviant to their own selfish ends.

  19. Wade Riddick

    Most manufacturing jobs are lost via automation, not outsourcing. What do we plan to do about that?

    The cheaper the capital (e.g., low interest rates), the easier it is to substitute capital for labor. Whenever the Fed bails out a bubble via monetization, labor takes another hit.

    Solar’s more cost-effective and adding more jobs now than the fossil fuel industry – yet official policy now seems hell-bent on ginning up another oil reserve lending bubble.

    Plenty of inconsistencies abound…

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Most manufacturing jobs are lost via automation, not outsourcing.

      Do you a citation for that? I have looked for actual evidence/proof of this claim and have not been able to locate any.

      1. Brad

        Wade is correct. I’ve posted a chart of the BLS statistics on long term manufacturing employment in absolute and relative terms on this site. Manufacturing employment’s relative share of total employment has fallen in a straight and steady diagonal line from upper right to lower left from its peak in the 1950’s to the present. Began long before off-shoring was a thing, and off-shoring doesn’t even clearly show as an independent variable. Otherwise we’d see a significant bend in the curve. Instead, significant deviations are conjunctural, connected to recessions.

        The BLS charts can be easily researched by anybody on this site. I don’t want to hear conspiracy theories about how BLS has politically rigged the stats for 60 years as lazy substitute for critical approaches to BLS statistical methods. If you want to refute the evidence, that’s what is required.

        BTW, as I’ve also mentioned, there is a “revolutionary left” version of this emphasis on off-shoring over automation/mechanization, “Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century” by John Smith,

        It fails to assess the real weight of off-shoring vs automation because Smith doesn’t base his analysis on the effects of automation, and then move to assess the effects of off-shoring. Therefore Smith can never present a clear quantification of the effects of off-shoring on employment in a metropolitan country like the US.

        At root Smith’s limitations are found in his Andre G. Frank “development of underdevelopment” bias. This cannot conceive of under- or uneven- development in an “already developed” country like the US. But that is precisely, palpably, what has happened. And it is inevitable under capitalist automation once it reaches a tipping point. As I believe it has, where only some 25% of the total available labor force is required to produce everything we (very wastefully) consume now, today.

        As an aside, note that off-shoring is not to include products never produced in the US in the first place, like most of Apples’ iProducts. You can’t “off-shore” jobs you never worked at, now can you! This represents a different process, the export of *new* capital investment, in this case in a contract relation with Chinese SEZ capitalists, not the transfer of *existing* productive investment overseas. But Smith includes iProducts in his “off-shoring” mix.

        The Smith example shows this is a matter of the basic facts about capitalism, not about left or right politics. That is exactly why people gravitate towards off-shoring as a prime-mover in job loss, precisely because something politically can be done about that. Yet if you somehow forced all US corporations to 100% invest production in the US, you will only greatly accelerate the trend of job loss due to automation, as it will be the only lever they have left. Unless you want to halt all human progress in the productivity that has already freed up 75% of our labor time to do something other than maintain the current standard of living.

        The real political problem we need to confront is that, despite these real productivity gains, capitalism requires that the whole mob of proles be continuously prodded onto the wage labor market, whether their labor is necessary or not. That’s the fundamental program of the Congressional snakepit and its Statehouse auxiliaries. The wage labor social relation is the source of the social power of capitalists, and without it they and their system go Poof.

        A good reform proposal would be: a guaranteed *medium* income for all (or alternatively, a guaranteed “job” for all at the same income or greater); a system for equitably circulating the total potential labor pool in and out of the pool of necessary labor. It will require a revolution to achieve such a reform.

        1. pricklyone

          “As an aside, note that off-shoring is not to include products never produced in the US in the first place, like most of Apples’ iProducts. You can’t “off-shore” jobs you never worked at, now can you! This represents a different process, the export of *new* capital investment, in this case in a contract relation with Chinese SEZ capitalists, not the transfer of *existing* productive investment overseas. But Smith includes iProducts in his “off-shoring” mix.”

          Doesn’t seem like a different process to those needing work to survive. This is why “economists” are being ridiculed and derided among large swathes of the populace. Distinctions without differences which only serve to fit data into precious formulae, based on preconceived ideals. If I develop a new product in the US, and seek only China manufacture (to save myself the labor cost, and evade the external costs of environment, etc.) the result is the same. “New capital investment ” is just a matter of timing. Lucky me, I didn’t have to go thru the expense of tearing down an existing facility, or relationship, here first.

        2. dragoonspires

          This seems to me one of the more incisive of the comments. So many are coming at it from the framework of what solutions best get us back to a situation that was better, like one we experienced between the 1950s to the turn of the century. This was a unique period of advantage for the US economically and industry-wise that is unlikely to be repeated, imo, and for awhile seemed to have more easy opportunities for all.

          The progressive platform recognizes how the pillars providing for more equality of opportunity have been battered, and I agree with some of its proposals. But just reversing the tax burden shifts and trying to reinstate more affordable healthcare or education still leaves us with the situation where the need for and nature of work may still be changing radically. I have trouble seeing how a conservative half of the country with extremely powerful propaganda outlets, interest groups, and fountains of money will allow some if any of the ideas proposed in this article (hence Brad’s claim that it would require a revolution sways me a good deal).

          I also do not think that Bernie, basically not subjected to any big negative hits in the primary, would have won the general after the right’s smear machine was done with him. Even then, the republican congress would have stopped cold any of his more significant proposals.

          Progressives need to get realistic. This agenda will be slow in coming, unless things get so horrible that a true revolution does occur. What that would entail I do not know, but powerful forces are aligned against it. All who spend time theorizing (including me) on keyboards will have to start and sustain the very hard work of getting into the trenches, spreading and fighting for ideas, and most of all, actually winning primaries and elections and helping to get people out to vote. The right wing started doing this methodically over 45 years ago, with patience and persistence.

          Trump/RW domination needs to be stopped asap, by whatever plausible if less than ideal tools we have. Protests are getting attention, and I hope more participation and results will come next. Purity tests of progressive ideals is a cancer that will only doom the cause. It will be hard and maybe slow, but we’re going to need more than just the faithful to get this turned around. Bernie was a start, but too many are throwing up their hands just because he lost the primary.

          I plan to keep working to change the democratic party for the better, at a pace that is realistic. Getting a more progressive tax structure again to fund any of these ideas is critical first. I also can’t see a guaranteed income without a required work contribution to address the evolving economy, given this country’s attitude towards earning one’s keep. A sort of advanced CCC to work on massively fixing and improving our crumbling infrastructure and public spaces, fighting forest fires, etc. using these tax funds is one idea. Subsidizing quick as possible job training as new jobs evolve with the radical changes in the economy is another. More support for local small business and entrepreneurs (perhaps funding employees who they need for awhile in startup phase as part of minimum guaranteed income in exchange for work) until they prove to be an ongoing concern is another thought. Even if these ideas are flawed, we need to rethink the paradigm of work with which we grew up.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I don’t agree. Obama could not only have done a Roosevelt 100 days, he literally could have re-implemented many of his policies. This was a window of opportunity that he ignored and bizarrely, the public at large airbrushes out of its memory.

            I don’t at all buy that the US can’t afford this. Did you forget we spend ginormous amounts on our military, and that could instead be be redirected to domestic uses? Japan, a less rich country generally considered to be in decline, is vastly more egalitarian than America and scores way above us and every other country in the world on social indicators. Some of that, sadly, may prove out that ethnically mixed societies don’t “do” egalitarianism because some groups don’t want to cut less advantaged groups in.

            The issue is that the elites (a word used only on sites like Alex Jones before the crisis) are all in for increasing inequality. That means not investing in education for the masses and much heavier policing, since unequal societies are more violent, among other things.

          2. aab

            I also do not think that Bernie, basically not subjected to any big negative hits in the primary, would have won the general after the right’s smear machine was done with him.

            Progressives need to get realistic.

            Purity tests of progressive ideals is a cancer that will only doom the cause. It will be hard and maybe slow, but we’re going to need more than just the faithful to get this turned around.

            I have pulled these out of your comments, because they are generally used by tribal Democrats to rationalize the party’s incompetent, destructive behavior. I am not saying that’s why you’re doing it. But I’d like to address them.

            I heartily concur with Yves’ reply to you, to start.

            Second, you mention in other places than the ones I quoted this idea of doing what’s “realistic” and being “realistic.” What do you mean by that? The neoliberal Democrats had a quarter of a century to demonstrate that their way worked for the citizens of the United States and the Democratic Party. They failed on both counts. More of strategy and policy that has a proven record of failure would be unwise — do you agree?

            If you do agree, and you want to reform the Democratic Party, as you state above, then your choice is easy: focus your energies on getting rid of all the entrenched neoliberals and corporate-aligned Democrats, both party functionaries and elected officials. No positive change can occur until that task is completed.

            If you do NOT agree that the neoliberal New Democrats must be purged from the party, what is your vision of realistic change, what makes it realistic, and what makes it change?

            Also, you are simply incorrect about Bernie and the general election. All data we have demonstrates strongly that he would have won. There’s no smear machine in America better than the Clinton machine plus the major corporate media aligned with it. He was smeared constantly with vile falsehoods — one of which you clearly fell for, which is that he wasn’t smeared. He would have held the Democratic states unquestionably, and held the Rust Belt, and thus won the election. Tell me what states you imagine he would have lost to Trump?

            The realistic approach is get rid of the New Democrats utterly and completely. They have failed catastrophically. That will be a hard task, but that doesn’t’ make it unrealistic. To leave them in place and think the party will win back governing power or do anything good for the average citizen would be unrealistic.

            1. dragoonspires

              Let me say first that I like Bernie and progressive ideas a lot. I am in favor of many or most of them. But I also come from a family that has some republicans, unfortunately, and I understand how they and multimillions of other Americans think, in spite of our best efforts.

              You can call me tribal all you want, I don’t care. I know what my full range of thoughts are, and they do not align with wall street at all. Economics is far from the only issue that I care about. In a perfect world, I would probably be a Green, though Stein was an utter abomination whom I would never give my vote.

              I came to my conclusion about Bernie’s electability long before I ever heard the “tribal” version of it. When I finally heard that, it just so happened that it was similar to my thinking before that. Some of the oppo that never got an airing was pretty harsh. But nobody will win this argument because it’s all speculative. I think Clinton won, and I won’t rehash all the voter suppression/Comey/Russian etc arguments here. Yes, she was far from perfect, but my main thrust of my first post was Brad’s comment on the frightening changes to the world of work, not the primary. I still don’t see anyone with a good answer to what’s coming down the pike in the changing work world.

              After Obama was elected, I was furious and felt betrayed when he appointed Geithner and the others. I yelled at him for months, even a few years, about not doing what Yves (whom I admire beyond words) suggests in her reply to my original post. Much of my original thoughts on this came from Yves’ posts in 2007-2009. Ask my wife just how much energy I spent on this! I also despise excess military spending, would like it rerouted to progressive policies. Except, we have to win Congress and the presidency first….and worry if Bannon will seriously take us to utterly horrid unwinnable wars with Iran and China.

              At some point, my yelling no longer did anyone any good. Obama did a lot more good on net than McCain or Romney would have. The environment, civil rights, women’s rights, and equal justice mean as much or more to me than economics.

              I fervently wish Obama had done more with the demo majority, but he ran on bipartisanship and then got hamhocked by the right after 2010, and never got bold when he should have. I honestly believe that a whielash would have whiplashed him too if he had moved too fast. I didn’t really like his governing until he got spine after 2014. For now, until progressive values win a majority of votes, not just the minds of critical thinkers, that’s my metric. I still despise what Nader did to enable bush, even if I liked some of Nader’s policies.

              I am practical and realistic above all. Trump, congress, and the soon to be long term reactionary court system will do incalculable damage. Just wait until you see what Sessions will do to voter rights and gerrymandering. If they get to a constitutional convention and ratify a dominionist amended government, we are really and truly screwed. This is what I wanted to stop, at all costs. With Clinton or Sanders, either way. Because at that point, none of the great critical thinking on this board will be worth shit.

              So I hope all will get active, stop mocking protesters, and realize what’s at stake here. If the blitzkrieg is halted, we may still be able, with a LONG hard fight, to right the ship with more progressive policies. We are in a war with those who want to rule us, not share governance.

              Meanwhile, I’m still highly concerned that this changing world of work and employment contract terms described by Brad has few if any good answers.

              1. JTFaraday

                Well, thats because you say we have to rethink the paradigm of work, but then your ideas didn’t do so at all. Of course you think theres no way out.

              2. aab

                You don’t seem to understand the central problem. The current Democratic Party is anti-worker and anti-citizen. Its voting base is concentrated in a handful of cities. People have learned not to trust the Democratic Party. That’s not because of Republican messaging; it’s because of Democratic governance.

                If you want non-right wing policies, you have to understand that the neoliberal Democrats have been running a long con. There is no majority to be had for its policy preferences. There never was. Bill Clinton never got 50% of the vote. Obama only got more than 50% because he pretended he wasn’t a New Democrat until after he was elected. Whenever the Democratic Party gains a majority by running Blue Dogs and other “centrist” Democrats, those elected representatives tend to be voted out after one term. Because if you want conservative policies, you vote for a conservative. The kind of person who voluntarily drinks skim milk is — surprise, surprise, an affluent neoliberal who can get their pleasures and nutrients elsewhere. As with milk, so with politics. People want it full strength.

                Robust majorities in this electorate want universal benefits and a smaller military. The Democratic Party currently refuses to give most voters what they want. That is why it has failed as a national party. (The Republicans have also failed their voters, but they had the good sense to protect evangelicals who they need for grassroots energy and GOTV. The Democrats are so dumb they weakened unions and public colleges, which used to provide their grassroots energy. So the Republicans can control despite their betrayal of their voters.)

                The protests being fomented by the existing Democratic Leadership are designed to protect the existing Democratic leadership. So if they succeed, the Democratic Party will continue to die and Republican hegemony will continue to expand. That is what is being criticized. Transforming the Democratic Party into an entity that will offer and enact the universal, material benefits Americans desperately need and want is going to be very, very difficult. Being “realistic” means recognizing that and doing the hard work. Thinking that supporting the existing Democratic Party “centrist” leadership will lead to any of the policies you seem to prefer or will return the party to power is unrealistic.

                That is your fundamental error.

                1. dragoonspires

                  Disagree with your conclusion, though not with the fact that the party has problems and needs to change. We favor similar though not identical outcomes. You want it to happen all at once, yet say it is going to be very very difficult. I agree it will be very difficult, and that’s why Bernie didn’t even win the primary. How can you say this is the majority’s will quite yet if Bernie lost, Obama won big, Gore likely won with untainted Florida results, and Hillary won the primary, general popular vote, and most likely the general without the vast voter suppression and other interference? Evidence does not support your contention. Winning primaries and general elections will.

                  If people feel this way then they need to get out and vote accordingly. Let’s run way more progressive candidates, I’ll support them and if the majority of people want them they will win (barring even worse republican voter suppression).

                  The big issue this time was stopping trump by any means necessary, and an all regressive government. You all who refused to help do that with your vote after the primary was decided, because of tainted democrats, seem to gloss over this or ignore it in your eagerness to obliterate anyone who doesn’t meet your ultra high standards. I was perfectly willing to vote for Bernie or Hillary.

                  The seeds for change were being sown with the platform modifications made at the convention, and it will be coming. But it will be so much harder to reverse the next 4 years than if Clinton had won (after Bernie lost and she became the only sane option) while the progressive movement gathers strength. You seem to think electing her would have killed the building progressive movement. No it wouldn’t have, but it sure would have stopped the destruction that is now coming.

                  Funny how so many around here seem to think they are schooling us. I fully understand your point of view, but prefer reality when it comes to hard choices. I’m betting that not too many of the well educated, (and I’ll guess without any proof) mostly white people on this board won’t suffer as much under trump as the Clinton voters who stand to lose health care, possibly go on a registry or otherwise face racial and voter discrimination and many other ills because we now have trump not a democrat.

    2. different clue

      I note with interest your use of the word “are”. That could well be for many jobs automated out of existence from today into the future.

      But if you were to use the word “were”, you would be able to admit that millions of human-performed American jobs WERE outsourced because of NAFTA, MFM for China, WTO type Forced Trade Organizations, etc.

  20. blucollarAl

    Can anyone any longer deceive oneself about the primary meaning and purpose of the Democratic Party? The DP, as it has been redefined and transformed since the Nixon-McGovern election of 1972, is a political vehicle that primarily seeks to represent the interests of mainly urban upper-middle suburban well-educated and well-off professionals, managers, educators, and technologists, along with those other racial/ethnic/social groups that happen to be privileged by elite opinion at any given time.

    If the quixotic Sanders run taught us anything, it is that there is no interest, no room within the DP for critical economic and social argument. Not just radical class-based neo-Marxist criticism but even the kind of economic issue-framing that became a hallmark of the DP in the FDR regime and persisted with sometimes more, other times less strength until the 70’s.

    The so-called “resistance” to Trump has only reaffirmed this conclusion. Insofar as it is being led by DP and DP-leaning media and other talking-head pseudo-intelligentsia, it has focused almost entirely on the same social lifestyle and individual empowerment sexual/gender issues that have characterized it over the past 40 years. This inability to think outside of what too often reduces in final analysis to solipsistic “me-isms”, for example by framing important political questions like immigration, imperial reach, and deregulation in ways that transcend the usual racial-ethnic-gender identity differences, prevents the DP and its sycophants from suggesting deeper grounds for solidarity-in-opposition. Most readers of NC understand what these deeper grounds are!

    As I wrote another time a few years ago, DP players and pundits, often urban in residence and outlook, and often themselves financially well off, ensconced in high-priced city dwellings, shopping at Whole Foods, frequenting high-end fashion boutiques, attending the best schools on mommy and daddy’s dime, often appear more transparently hostile and condescending to what they judge to be the unsophisticated prejudices and religious backwardness of lower, working, and middle class Americans than do the Trumps of the Republican Party. The latter, equally or even more well-heeled than their ersatz opponents, have learned beginning in the Nixon-Colson “silent majority” days, how to project a kind of “rural, small town folksiness”, filling their rallies with country music stars and NASCAR heroes, and who know enough to drag out a “social-cultural conservative” every now and then to show that they “hear and care” for the “forgotten American” even if they consistently ignore these very people in the political arena.

    To be sure, the Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about these things. Applying the categories of the silent-majority Americans, they are as “amoral” as the Democrat special-interest spokespeople. However, when it is a case of neither party addressing the causes that underlie the real deep-rooted rottenness that has become 21st Century America, the blue collar “ordinary” American will often fall back on the party of lip-service that at least to him or her seems to be listening to the anxieties and resentments felt by them. The irony of course is that neoliberal policies consistently applied will destroy (have destroyed) whatever was real and true about the America they think has been left behind.

    1. Livius Drusus

      Great post. As an example of what you are talking about, I see very little concern from Democrats and liberals about the current Republican efforts to pass a national right to work law, even though this will hurt unions which are supposed to be one of the core elements of the Democratic coalition. Is this surprising? Of course not, given Obama’s failure to fight for card check and to give support to the embattled unions in Wisconsin during their fight with Scott Walker. What happened to those comfortable shoes? Did Obama lose them? Unions give the Democrats money and troops during election years and are then kicked to the curb when the Democrats are in power or at most given scraps.

      The upper-middle class professionals and managers who dominate the Democratic Party want to continue the identity politics emphasis with regard to opposition to Trump because they are making out well under neoliberalism and are opposed to anything that would tilt the economy in a direction that is more favorable to ordinary workers because they would lose their relative status. Upper-middle class types don’t want to go back to the days of the mid-20th century when doctors and lawyers might have to share a neighborhood with factory workers.

  21. Elizabeth Burton

    To many progressives, saving American jobs sounds jingoistic and “protectionism” is a bad word. Isn’t global trade helping the poor become less so around the world? Isn’t it selfish only to protect American jobs? Isn’t it more moral to share scarce manufacturing jobs with the poor in Mexico and Asia? After all, even if a plant closes in the Rust Belt, service sector jobs can be found at wages that still are far higher than what the poor can hope for in low-wage countries.

    May I just say that as a deplorable member of the poor white working class who is a bone-deep progressive that these are classist views of people who sit in their comfortable middle-class bubbles and pretend there are n’t people in this country who are suffering from the very things they are so nobly seeking to protect workers in the third world from suffering?

    If you want to know why otherwise sensible, intelligent people voted for Trump, that paragraph right there is a major example. The content is bad enough, but that an author who has written an excellent overview of the situation would automatically attribute that kind of thinking to “progressives” shows just how insidious the academic mindset is, and why the working class, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual preference, automatically shuts out both categories when they stroll in to “educate.”

    1. Tim

      The idealism is correct in thought, BUT, if a nation doesn’t take care of its own then who will? Nobody.

      If everybody took care of those closest to their sphere of influence the world would be a better place.

      1. pricklyone

        Any attempt to equalize wages in “poorer” countries, would also have to address cost-of-living differences, as well.
        You are not allowed, in “developed” nations, to live a subsistence lifestyle, any longer.
        With higher living standards, comes an obligation to provide citizens with a level of income which can sustain that standard.

    2. Gman

      ‘Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

      …after that, who cares?
      He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes.’

      ~ Billy Connolly

      *great comment by the way.

    3. that guy

      Thank you. Better-put than I could have done. Might I add to this that I wasn’t voting for the president of Uruguay or Mexico or whatever, who could reasonably be expected to look out for those people. I was voting for the next president of the United States, who I should be able to reasonably believe will look out for me, as an American, first and foremost.

  22. Jeremy Grimm

    The recent primaries and Presidential election made clear to me how little the concerns of ordinary people mean to the two national parties. However Trump was and remains something of a wildcard — at least promising actions reflecting the concerns of the hoi polli. He has indeed delivered in short order on several of his promises.

    I have trouble characterizing the opposition and protests against Trump. Are they inspired by the Democratic Party’s knee-jerk opposition to anything Trump or Neoliberal opponents to Trump’s dismantling of the grand corporate take-over embodied in the TPP or upper-middle “liberals” fuming about one or another of their pet issues of the moment like immigration or climate change — issues which Trump seems determined to throttle. My daughter was tempted to join the women’s march because she will sorely miss planned parenthood clinics when their funds are cutoff — they were for her the only place she could find real healthCARE at any price.

    At this point I tend to agree with Bernie Sanders assessment of Trump (ref. today’s links — I am glad the US seems more cozy with Russia — worried about the US and China and Iran — glad the TPP has been — at least temporarily — dismantled — in short I view Trump as a very mixed blessing whose actions and intents remain opaque. I believe Trump will benefit the obscenely wealthy classes but I’m not sure yet which portions of the obscenely wealthy. I believe there is a power struggle ongoing between different behemoth factions of the uber-rich but the waters they fight in are darkly murky.

  23. witters

    “upper-middle “liberals” fuming about one or another of their pet issues of the moment like immigration or climate change ”

    Yeah, climate change an ‘issue of the moment’.

    Here is the bedrock of modern political stupdity. A total unconcern for the future of all of us. I don’t care where you think you are on the left/right BS, anyone with your view is just another instance of the great problem.

  24. Scott

    I cannot read all the comments & know my own will be but a wisp in the wind. I am grateful to naked capitalism, Yves & Lambert for publishing the best thinking on the subjects.
    “Workers of the World Unite” is about all I can see as the real option to pursue. How to really do that means using all the means of the winners.
    It’s seems simply impossible on one hand to be nationalistic, and fair to labor internationally at the same time.
    I keep looking at WWI.
    Workers of the World Unite? How? Fair Trade, Internationally the world is a struggle between the Rich who have inherited wealth & get compound interest, pass on deeds that survive as if a neofeudalism is just ordained.
    Ah hell, I say if you cannot even imagine a utopia you ought not call yourself a human being.
    Purchasing Power Parity & World Government?
    Without private property things get weird & corruption grows from elites getting access to all.
    In my Transcendia Insurodollar I overcome the flaw of Communist theory.
    I have a part of it going. I have a gov. in govs. concept workable as permanently small.
    Time to expand. Doubtful, really really doubtful.
    I do recognize Les is on the right track and has the correct goals. The puzzle is how to really work at the Two Nation Solution of Workers & Power, corporate Power is immense.
    They throw out regulations we know are necessary.
    Force & mind control propaganda are levers at their fingertips.
    Force? 8 have so much wealth the majority divided by language & borders a challenge is seen as doomed.
    I shall imagine.

  25. VietnamVet

    I found myself agreeing with most of the points in the post. We must be clear that Donald Trump is anti-Globalist but to get GOP support and appointees he assimilated their tribal beliefs. If he is stupid or crazy we must say so and explain why. If he is right and does something that benefits American citizens such as ratcheting down the Cold War 2.0 with Russia, we must applaud. I am fairly certain that to spite him and keep the bribes flowing, Democrats will not support the re-branding of “Medicare for All” to “TrumpCare”.

    It may be my history or old age; but, I am afraid that the global elite have decided the USA is ripe for a final harvest and have green-lighted a pink revolt here. I have never been subjected to such “big lie” propaganda as now. There apparently are enough safe siloes in New Zealand if things don’t work out.

  26. Sound of the Suburbs

    Wall Street crashed the global economy in 2008 and things have never recovered.

    Western politicians sat back and left things to the technocrat elite in Central Banks.

    Being unimaginative technocrats, they entered an infinite loop of lowering interest rates and QE, and being ideologues, they didn’t really concern themselves with the fact it wasn’t working. It did keep asset prices up for the 10% that own nearly all the assets but that was about it, and inflation figures show the QE never really entered the real economy.

    Western politicians were so taken with the neoliberal ideology they didn’t concern themselves with the fact that the Central Bankers weren’t delivering the goods on the economy.

    The populists started to rise.

    The neoliberal ideology had told Central Bankers and politicians they were at the top because they were the best and they forgot leaders are there to lead and deliver the goods for the rest of the population.

    The Central Bankers and politicians just moaned about the populists, forgetting they were supposed to lead and deliver the goods.

    The populists rose in number until they started to win referendums and elections.

    Democracy still works even with unelected technocrats in Central Banks.

    Trump and Brexit are signs of a failed and complacent status quo.

    Neo-liberalism is dying through its own failure, don’t look back.

  27. casino implosion

    Watching Trump operate behind enemy lines, way inside the left flank of the Democratic Party, has been one of the joys of this political season.

    It took a Republican to ride the wrecking ball into 50 years of free-market rhetoric.

    The Sanders wing of the party should be rounding up every cook and baker, putting a rifle in their hands and riding hell for leather into the gap that Trump has made.

    Getting bogged down in outdated Democratic identity politics now would be a mistake. “The neoliberals ” are on the back foot, for the first time in my memory.

  28. dragoonspires

    It’s not identity politics if you’re an unarmed black man getting executed by cops. Or a million other examples. I’m still trying to bring the sides together, not restart primary wars.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      The term “identity politics,” like many others, has both a broad and a more specific meaning. The broad meaning is simply caring about a range of issues that partially inflect along various demographic-related axes (such as the example you cite). Many people who criticize “identity politics” have no problem with this at all.

      The more specific “identity politics” involves a set of political and discursive practices. One example is responding to a careful critique of discursive practices by bringing up the historical suffering or oppression of minority group members, in a tone implying that this should suffice as a reply.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Neoliberalism was here before and will be here after Trump. And as Sanders points out, on those occasions when Trump does the right thing, like opposing the TPP, he should be supported. Opposing Trump on everything is a manifestation of halo effect, which is a cognitive bias. Trump should be contested when he does or is about to do something troubling, not as a knee jerk reflex.

  29. Mike

    I think we are stuck in a neoliberalism economic ideology.
    •Tax cuts
    •Free trade
    •Privatize services
    •Cuts to social spending

    And u can add bust up the union or any worker protections

    This ideolgy has conquered the world since experiments in chile, Argentina, Brazil and then being Romanticize by Thatcher and Reagon till modern day

    The American worker have been screwed for 3-4 decades but they didn’t know it cause before 08 they had credit cards masking the inequality less visible and not realizing their income have been stagnate . After 08 and banks tightened up on lending and the American worker realize they wasn’t as rich or well off as they thought they where. All that credit was all smoke and mirrors .

    Fast forward to today and they voted for a trump who sounds like a union leader in their eyes and says the right words to get elected but now that’s he is in office his executive orders all sound like the typical neoliberal fundamentalist

    “free-market holy trinity”
    •Cuts to social spending

    Which is the same ideolgy that leads to policies that created the conditions that American workers are facing and are pissed off.

    Trump can possible keep the same neoliberalism ideology but protect American workers. But Not sure how he will do it cause that’s like bringing back the unions and that’s a no-no for corporations. But if he is successful at bringing back manufacturer most of those jobs have been automated and perform by robots.

    Something will have to give and I doubts it’s the multinationals or government

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