Mark Blyth on How Liberalism Undermined Democracy and the Failure of the Democratic Party

Yves here. Many readers have seen economist Mark Blyth speak, but if you haven’t yet, you are in for a treat. He gives incisive, spot on readings of US and international political and economic dynamics.

There are admittedly a couple off key moments here, but I think that is in part due to the fact that he has been paired in this speaking gig with an academic who gives prettied-up diehard Democrat talking points. Blyth very calmly and adeptly debunked nearly everything she said. He may have felt the need to agree with her occasionally because being completely in opposition in this type of forum backfires. And separately, the moderator is extremely good.

If nothing else, be sure to listen to his final remarks.

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  1. Phil

    Good discussion. Blyth was a good foil to the hopefulness of Margaret Weir,and the moderator exhibited clear-headed authenticity – he was really ‘in touch’ and asked great questions. Blyth’s pointing out what happened to “hope and change” is very straightforward, and compelling.

    I think Blyth is right on about Trump creating an opening that will be begging for articulation. Will anyone(s) – moderate right/left, or party – have the chops/insight to articulate solutions that resonate with the aforementioned opening? There are a few good voices out there, but structural displacement (automation) in the labor markets; the absolute grip on capital (and capital manipulation) by Plutocrats; expanding populations in developing economies that can’t keep up, etc. make the near long term a scary proposition. Are we too far gone?

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about how a pictorial representation of a human brain’s connected neurons closely resemble a map of IP nodes. The Internet is expanding human communication at an exponential pace; feedback loops are becoming massively more robust, and fast. Perhaps something(s) – some very useful articulations/solutions – will coalesce or evolve from the innumerable combinations and permutations of connection that are making up our new ‘worldwide brain”. A new paradigm? (no “New Ager” here, btw) Will human consciousness, a new kind of consciousness that becomes self-aware of our vulnerability as a species come into play? A consciousness that trends in the general direction of human sustainability? Or, is there a fundamental flaw in our collective cognitive makeup?

    In the near-long-term we are about to find out. Many tipping points are converging. Either humanity finds/generates a new path, or we’re headed for a permanently divided world culture, with enabled wealth at the top, further and faster separating itself from the proles.

    1. Isam Laroui

      Food for thought indeed, Phil. I’ve never even thought of the possibility of an emerging intelligence out of our collective online musings. That’s a scary thought! But it may already be happening and it’s not pretty so far. May the future bring a more enlightened meta-intelligence! :)

    2. digi_owl

      thats been an ongoing dream since the 80s if not earlier, and its not happening. If anything it is less feedback loops and more echo chambers, as it becomes easier and easier to find like-minded while isolating oneself from critics etc.

      1. susan the other

        filling the void. it’s not really an existential crisis or a crisis of survival so much as it is a crisis of pointlessness. we evolved in a rough world; taking care of emergencies and catastrophes and grieving our losses by believing in things like god… now we are faced with a world that knows how to plan for things, how to practice some triage and eliminate the most destructive conditions – but that know-how doesn’t yet translate into security. We revert to ancient instincts and fight or flight reaction. I betcha even that mild mannered moderator freaks out occasionally. Bec. we really are lizards. And now we are looking like Lizards Without a Cause. I like the idea of an emotional synergy that will come from more communication. Why not?

    3. Lambert Strether

      > the hopefulness of Margaret Weir

      hopefulness -> haplessness.

      Fixed it for ya.

      Great moment at 24:50 when Weir argues that Democrats are going to “rise to the occasion” and “defend” programs that “offer a chance” of a decent life — not provision a decent life, mind you — like “Social Security, Medicare….” and then she just freezes up and can’t think of anything more. In other words, FDR, LBJ, and after that a big blank. It’s very telling that ObamaCare doesn’t even occur to her.

      1. purplepencils

        I kinda think she’d given up by then. She was there to stand her ground but probably realised not all that deep down that she was wrong.

      2. Skip Intro

        Also inadvertently brilliant was her defense of Obama as a progressive hope for putting in a Republican health insurance scheme, blaming the GOP for not supporting their own plan. She didn’t seem to grasp that starting with a GOP scam for health insurers was already a betrayal of progressive values.

  2. Collapsar

    He nailed it with his comment that dismissing Trump’s voters as deplorables gives democrats an excuse to avoid any sort of self examination about how the policies they produced may have alienated people and need a rethink. A recent example of this has been the statements coming from Nancy Pelosi that she sees no reason to change direction, and they just need to work harder at getting their message out. Short of voting her out, I don’t see any way to get through to her that everyone has gotten the message, and that’s why they keep losing.
    When Blyth’s co-panelist said that she believed that democrats would rise to the occasion to defend social programs like social security and medicare, I guess Blyth was too polite to point out that the last two democrat presidents couldn’t wait to gut SS.

    1. nippersdad

      Good points, but I thought that Pelosi’s far more telling statement was when she shrugged off any expansion of social programs at a recent forum by saying “we are a capitalist country.” She appears to have not recognized that her base doesn’t have any capital; most of them don’t even have the $400.00 necessary to meet an unexpected expense.

      As Lambert routinely says: they have forgotten nothing and learned nothing.

      1. Moneta

        Capitalism = capital in private hands

        But it does not specify its distribution throughout the population.

        As soon as we propose this capital be evenly distributed the word commie gets blurted out.

        1. Alejandro

          “capitalism” as a standalone seems to describe a ‘network'( aka tptb) that seeks to impose a social order without any social responsibility. In this context, “capital” seems like a euphemism for “power”,i.e., the power to disrupt any challenges to this “order”. At least that’s the only “explication” that makes any sense to me, in explaining why and how such a small few can accumulate at such absurd rates, other somewhat larger “few” can accumulate, many can keep, but the overwhelming majority seem exhausted from treading without traction seemingly ad infinitum…the trickle in “trickle down” implies leakage, AND a “rising tide” assumes you have a boat(a metaphor for ‘property’) or at least a floating device, which the overwhelming majority certainly DO NOT. Without a social ‘contract’ of social security, universal healthcare, job guaranty etc., “capitalism” has proven incapable of “self-regulating” AND incapable of reconciling “its” self-destructive tendencies.

          1. Montanamaven

            Well said. But it’s even worse. Most of us are bobbing in the ocean as the guys in the yachts (lots of property) speed by and throw us a “how to swim” booklet and some shark repellant. Or how about that tower metaphor. Reward the guys at the top and they will send the elevator back down the tower and get the rest of us. Nope, that didn’t and not gonna happen.

            In light of a new system other than capitalism, have we discussed here The Revolution of Rojava in Syria? They are making a new way of governing and it’s real feminism happening.
            Revolution in Rojava

            1. Montanamaven

              Well, maybe not a new way, but alternatives that were around centuries ago and also existed here in N. America before the Europeans arrived. Very inspiring. Here’s another article on the anarchist/socialist group in The Guardian

        2. Grebo

          Capitalism = capital in private hands

          Most people, including Steve Keen who is very familiar with Marx, seem to use “Capitalism” as a synonym for “commerce” or “an economy” most of the time.

          Your formulation is commonly heard when arguing with “capitalists”, their corollary being that Socialism is government ownership of (all) capital. They are wrong on both counts.

          Capitalism is fundamentally about the distribution of newly produced wealth, not existing capital.
          How should the new wealth created by the workers using the capitalists’ capital be divided between the workers and the capitalists? Let the capitalists decide. That is Capitalism.

        3. Scott

          Industrial Service banks are not commie! Just banking that keeps doing what we used to think shocks did. Private property is a good thing. Whole life for all from birth with two pay outs,one for ed & one for death. My fix for commie fail.

        4. Allegorio

          It is not even a matter of capitalism or liberalism, it is a matter of corruption! Whether it is communist corruption as in Stalin or Capitalist corruption as in Hillary Clinton. Ism Shism.

          The banking system creates money out of thin air and distributes it to the ethnically privileged elites, who then go around buying up everything including elections and politicians and charging outrageous rent to the rest of us. Where did all this wealth the .01% possess come from, industriousness? Counterfeiting plain and simple. Modern Monetary Policy for the ethnically privileged, austerity for the rest of us.

          There are all kinds of brilliant solutions, but it is the purpose of the Nancy Pelosis of this world to stop them dead in their tracks. As Mark Blyth brilliantly states above, politics has devolved into blocking strategies by the ethnically privileged. They have climbed the ladder of socially provided success and they are kicking it down behind them.

      2. susan the other

        I dunno. It doesn’t mandate any ‘ism’ in the constitution; it does protect property – I assume everyone considers property to be private property – but we are less and less propertied these days. Where Nancy gets off making a stupid comment about being a “capitalist country” without even understanding squat is disgusting. She should stick to all the other things she doesn’t understand that aren’t so damaging to this nation of people. If she is proud of being a (fictitious) ‘capitalist country’ she should make sure capitalism is working for everyone. She’s an idiot.

      3. Propertius

        She appears to have not recognized that her base doesn’t have any capital; most of them don’t even have the $400.00 necessary to meet an unexpected expense.

        Which is why they’re not her base anymore.

  3. b1daly

    I find this type of analysis to be stupifying, even if it is on point in places.

    There is a lot to criticize here, but my main point of contention is with the acceptance of ideology as a prime structerer of society.

    When he sums up what he calls the “new-liberal” concept as being, you kmow, liberal democracy, pro trade, use of free markets, letting market forces determine the characteristics of employment, my thought was: “does he really think anyone believes this shit?”

    I don’t know anyone who believes this. In fact, only a tiny fraction of my acquaintance would even be familiar with using the term “liberal” in this way, And I live in a highly educated city.

    Does he think anyone in the proverbial “one-percent” actually “believes” in the tenets of “neo-liberalism?” Doubtful. Such people are all about the Benjamin’s.

    It’s one of those post hoc labels that is used in one of two ways: These vague theories will be turned to on occasion by policy makers, on occasion out of the desire for real policy alternatives, but usually as a fig leave of justification for decisions that are motivated by other reasons.

    The other way the term “neo-liberal” is used is among the tiny, wonkish, set of people interested in political theory. Usually people who need a simple label for a set of real life circumstances that they don’t like.

    I was amazed to see these three obviously bright and thoughtful people declare that what was needed for political progress was a “big idea” around which a better political movement could be structured.

    While it may be true that masses of people can only be motivated to act in concert when a charismatic leader presents a pitifully oversimplified view of the society’s problems, and a fantasy solution for it, I think this is a sad state of affairs. Not to be encouraged.

    IMO, ideological based political movements are doomed to fail, as the fantasy solution evaporates in the face of the challenges of the “real world,”

    I think Obama did alright, considering the unbelievably difficult job he had. I agree with some of the critism presented here, on specific policies. But to expect him to transform he fundamental structure of our society is delusional. One person? A black man, no less?

    If some left wing political movement actually starts to bring “machine guns to the gun fight,” whether rhetorical or real, woe be upon us.

    Just sayin

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? I don’t know where you get your information or who you are in contact with, but I find your take to be remarkable. You must live in a very cloistered world.

      Large swathes of US society accept without question the core tenets of neoliberalism, that “the market” not only trumps all other considerations, but most believe things work better that way, that markets are virtuous. As a result, they believe in “free trade,” the oxymoron of “free markets,” and the false notion that the Federal government must balance its budget. A large contingent in the US believes in a strong form of neoliberalism, that government is always and ever getting in the way of markets and therefore needs to be made as small and weak as possible.

      1. b1daly

        I’m making a fact claim about the beliefs of the population of the US, as an educated guess. My contention is this: the vast majority of US citizens would have no idea what you are talking about if you asked them if they believe in the concepts of ” neo-liberalism.”

        Most people in the US associate the term “liberal” with the policies of the Democratic Party. Some Fox News watchers might have a notion that “libruls” are those people that raise taxes, give money to poor people, and tell everyone they can’t be racist.

        Adding the prefix “neo” renders the word moot, on a practical level.

        I think people who write and hand out on sites like NC can get a very distorted view of the balance of opinions out in the world, because niche sites concentrate like minded people.

        People in the US believe a lot of weird shit, most of which makes little to no sense IMO. The anecdote about people believing the government should balance the budget is telling.

        To the extent that you can say an individual “believes” that the government should balance the budget (say you ask them in a poll), there is a simple explanation for this: blowhard politicians campaign by drawing a (false) analogy to how a household should balance a budget.

        I don’t think you will find a strong correlation between people who answer this question affirmatively, and people who give similar answers on questions about whether the government should join free trade agreements, consider labor as simply another input into the economic system, and the importance of holding down inflation through austerity measures.

        So I’m arguing that if you don’t know about a theoretical construct, that goes by the name “neo-liberalism,” you by definition can’t believe in it.

        Amongst the tiny percentage of people in the world who could give you a definition for “nor-liberalism,” as used here, there are probably some people who believe in its validity as a conceptual framework for making policy. I don’t know, maybe someone like Christine Lagaurde.

        I doubt any US policy makers really believe in it, as I’ve proposed. Maybe some of the more thoughtful people in finance believe it, but not many. My sense about people that work at Goldman is that they are really focused on making money, by hook or crook. I don’t think they even care about the dimension of governance we are discussing. Perhaps if they are drafted into a political administration, they ring up old Larry Summers to see what they should do.

        I won’t belabor the point. My larger point is that to the extent one is interested in contributing to solving troubling economic and political problems, an accurate picture of of the various players and parameters is vital.

        In my perspective, most individuals, of all socioeconomic levels, have little more than a set of “folk tales” from which they might venture an analysis of the the economic-political system. People actual decision making processes, and actions, are sometimes understandable, sometimes inscrutable, often irrational, and self-justifying almost always.

        Anyhow, I’m rambling on here, I hope some of what I am saying makes sense.

        Thank you your reply to my comment!

        1. Moneta

          Most people do not understand the system so their belief system is based on a flawed world view.

          Here in Canada, I only started hearing people use the term neoliberal a couple of years ago and that’s been on Radio-Canada. Never once in a real life conversation. I don’t think the general population has even heard of it.

        2. HBE

          “So I’m arguing that if you don’t know about a theoretical construct, that goes by the name “neo-liberalism,” you by definition can’t believe in it.”

          This seems an absurd thing to say to me. Neoliberalism is a word used to describe a system based in a particular ideology that exists today and has grown to prominence over the last several decades to become the primary foundation of how the US and by extension much of the world functions and governs.

          It is a word that describes something that already exists, it could be called neoturtlism or anything else as long as that was the generally accepted term for the system and ideology it describes. The operating principles and beliefs that make up neoliberalism do not stem from the word itself, neoliberalism is merely the term chosen to describe the manifestation and implementation of a particular ideology.

          Whether one is aware that the particular system and ideology they pursue is called neoliberalism is irrelevant to their belief in it, their action in support of or within it, illustrates their belief in the ideology of neoliberalism.

          One may read Marx, believe in the worker solidarity, full redistribution of wealth, and the primacy of labor (among many other factors), and work towards achieving (and achieve) the implementation of that belief system and ideology.

          Most would call that ideology and system, communism. What you’re saying is that if adherents of the system and ideology we call communism, were unaware it was called communism they could not believe in it, or work towards its implementation, maintenance or growth as an ideology / system!?


          1. b1daly

            Well, yes, in part that is what I am saying. Some people are genuinely motivated by ideology (ideologs). I don’t think an “ideology” can exist that doesn’t have a name. At least, I’ve never heard of people using the term this way.

            The central hallmark of ideology is that is has a primary tenet, or simplifying concept, that governs the actions of a believer.

            I don’t think this applies to the loose conglomeration of concepts that are being lumped together under the rubric of “neo-liberalism.”

            There are many examples of people describing themselves as “communists”, “nationalists”, “fascists.” People write books in favor of said concepts (or against).

            I have never heard anyone describe themselves as a “neo-liberal.” (Not saying it hasn’t happened, just that it’s rare).

            I have a related view that “Capitalism” is not really an ideology either, though it has been thought of that way. It again it seems like a loose collection of concepts, haphazardly applied to analyze existing situations.

            Even the term capitalist can be used to describe a business owner.

            To the extent that people have attempted to articulate the details of “Capitalist” ideology, they are absurd, and I can’t take them seriously. For example, a person who prattles on about how the “free market” is responsible for all the great things in society is either delusional, confused, or obfuscating to hide their true objectives.

            1. HBE

              People write books on neoliberalism too, many in fact. To say it doesn’t exist or isn’t an ideology with knowing and unknowing adherents is clearly false.

          2. Jeff W

            …if you don’t know about a theoretical construct…you by definition can’t believe in it.

            This seems an absurd thing to say to me.

            I agree —it’s absolutely absurd. People for millennia did not know about the “theoretical construct” of geocentricism, they simply assumed it was the case that all the celestial bodies revolved around the Earth.

            There are all sorts of unconscious assumptions in every society that its members would be unable to name. Do those people “believe” these assumptions, even though they are unaware of them? It’s semantics to argue one way or the other. The point is that those assumptions do shape people’s behavior, including what is talked about and how, what is not talked about (because it is considered “normal”), and so on.

            I think naming an ideology (a particular set of these assumptions) such as neoliberalism is often a major advance because it makes conscious what was previously largely unconscious. It allows people to act with respect to—and often against—an ideology in more effective ways.

        3. Mel

          You seem to be saying that since most people don’t understand anything, therefore nobody needs to understand anything. Get one big idea, “the benjamins”, say, and just leave it there.

        4. Justcia

          Just because you don’t see the glass when you’re looking out the window doesn’t mean it’s not there. We see the world through our belief systems and rarely do we step back to look at the beliefs themselves, or what they reflect back on us.

      2. Anonymous

        What’s interesting (and perhaps frustrating) about b1day’s comment is that there are democrats who still don’t know what their party supports. I’ve seen plenty on the campaign trail – typically Hillary supporters who vote on identity politics. The dead giveaway is the defense of Obama. When presented arguments like those of Blythe, one very common way of dealing with the cognitive dissonance is to just say “my party doesn’t do that”.

        In the end, I feel bad for voters like b1day who are so absolutely confident with her/his comments. The cringeworthy part was the question “Does he think anyone in the proverbial “one-percent” actually “believes” in the tenets of “neo-liberalism?” ”

        Yes, absolutely, b1day. As you noted, such people are all about the Benjamins.

        1. jsn

          b1day is trying to use what Kahneman calls “fast thinking”, heuristic thinking, to get out of a “slow thinking”, computational systems box he doesn’t want to take the time to understand, to figure out.

          The 1%s with b1day’s “Benjamins” pay for a vast infrastructure (see the Peterson Institute, get to know its players, where they got their money and what they do with it, or look into The Heartland Institute, just to name two) who’s deliberate goal is to indoctrinate our courts (see Hamilton Project), to prejudice out local governments (see ALEC) and to consolidate our press into a uniform corporate propaganda organ for a market utopian ideology.

          Complex systems, poorly understood, do enormous damage by confusing well intentioned people who haven’t taken the time to understand them. As a result such people are subject manipulation by deliberate, well funded, agents who abuse their blindness to their own ideology to make them think they are “non-ideological” to the point that when seeing someone like Blythe talk about ideology, they can’t see he is talking about them specifically.

          1. b1daly

            I’m sorry, your assumptions about me are insulting. Is so hard to believe that someone with a considered opinion has a different view than yourself?

            I’m aware of organizations like ALEC, and what they do. An open question in my mind is whether the architects of the legislation they sponsor really have a sincere belief in whatever ideology they espouse. As opposed to be more of a general purpose lobbying group.

            Similarly with the Koch brothers. Do they really “drink their own koolaid?” Or do they just come up with whatever justification suits their purpose. Which largely seems to be making a lot of money.

            To some extent, they strike me as sincere, just from reading articles about them, and interviews. But their ideology seems to so match their own economic interests, that I’m suspicious about how sincere they are.

            I don’t know. More generally, I’ve always found the notion of class consciousness to be hard to grasp.

            But most people are just not ideological inclined, in my experience. They will superficially adopt positions that have some ideological support, if they find them congenial, have social sanction for them, and have been successfully propagandized.

            1. jsn

              My bad on the assumptions.

              Most people are “non ideological” but that does not mean they are not subject to the dominant ideology that structures the systems they’re material existence is integrated with. The NeoLib ideology of “free markets”, an entirely fictional construct that cannot exist (coercive property rights regimes are a necessary precondition for both monetary exchange and markets), may be beyond the attention of most people, but every time they vote for someone who says we need to “balance the budget” or that “nothing is free” or that everyone “needs skin in the game” they are subjecting themselves to an ideology whether knowingly or not.

              That the rich need to be paid more to be motivated while for the poor, to get them going you need to pay them less, is so imbedded in our politics and so without empirical foundation that to suppose it is not a deliberate construct is to be willfully blind. So you may not believe in NeoLiberalism but you’re entirely subject to it until you’re willing to name it and understand its implicit and explicit assumptions and figure out to what extent they are or are not founded in reality.

              I expect Obama accomplished most of what he intended to accomplish with the disappointment of the TTP failure in the election just past taking the shine, from his perspective, off an otherwise successful Presidency. He was elected with majorities in both houses and a popular mandate to reverse the direction of the country at a moment that Wall Street and the MIC, the core NeoLiberal power centers were flat on their backs. Instead of ending the filibuster so he could impose a “resolution trust corporation” S&L crisis solution on the prostrate bankers, he handed them back every piece and benefit of their discredited power. Instead of prosecuting the perpetrators of the surveillance state, torturers and assassins, he institutionalized and funded their expansion and continuation. Instead of ending the filibuster and expanding VA or Medicare coverage to all Americans, a step that would have saved the nation trillions of dollars and prevented the rising mortality rate we’re now seeing, he implemented a Heritage Foundation plan to make Americans pay taxes to private insurance companies and then self fund the first few thousand dollars of their own medical care before the tax farmers in insurance were obligated to even consider paying for anything. He chose to do this. He had other choices available and chose not to pursue them.

              He institutionalized all the Bush/Cheney foreign policy disasters from torture (see how easily that came back?) to extrajudicial assassination to undeclared war. Yes, after 2010 he lost much of his flexibility because rather than using the power the electorate gave him to change things in 2008 he gave that power back to all the institutions and agencies that created all the problems in the first place. That you consider this a success under the conditions he was given is what lead me to believe your opinion, while different from mine, isn’t considered. However it may be there is simply a difference of values. I believe my grievances listed here against Obama were policies he chose because I watched him carefully and pointedly avoid using the power he was given to do something else.

              1. PrairieRose

                +1,000,000, jsn, on your summation of the Obama presidency. I listened to his soaring rhetoric and dared to hope. Then when he failed to close Guantanamo, failed to stand up to Wall Street, and met secretly with Big Pharma so’s they didn’t have to participate in the ACA, that was almost it. What clinched it for me is, as a Constitutional law professor he bought into the Dick Cheney Cabal’s “enemy combatant” designation, effectively doing away with our most basic Constitutional right, that of due process. And then there are the drone strikes. Just unforgivable. After a couple of months in office, I could no longer listen to him speak. And my heart broke for our democratic republic, now in ashes.

        2. b1daly

          Please, I’m not absolutely confident in my opinions. I have enough humility to know I am often wrong, and have changed my mind on many subjects.

          FWIW, many of the more leftist viewpoints expressed here are ones I am very familiar with. I grew up in a left wing family, and have been thinking about these things since I was a child (I’m 51 now).

          In this case, I am pushing back against what I see as facile analysis by people who should know better. I am making a conjecture, based on an educated guess. (I’m not a professional Political Scientist).

          But I have studied economics, and generally worked to keep myself well informed. I’ve been a long time reader of this site, and have found it to be very informative and thought provoking. That doesn’t mean I just accept whatever thesis’ that are ratified here as being “fact.”

      3. Stephen C

        Many people I know and work with hold the exact views you ascribe to neoliberalism. Yes, they believe in the wisdom of free markets and free trade in all circumstances and never see how both can and do fail, or the human suffering that results. They would scoff at being called “neoliberal”. They are all diehard Republicans, not liberals, “neo” or otherwise. None of the liberals/progressives/Democrats I know hold the views you claim they hold.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Anyone who votes Democrat is at best making a compromise with neoliberals. If you and your friends don’t understand that, they are not looking at their own party’s positions at all carefully.

          And for starters, do you read Paul Krugman? He’s repeatedly defended the TPP as a trade deal. And even when he’s advocated running bigger deficits, he has always made it clear that the budget should eventually be balanced, which is a neoliberal position.

          Similarly, when I first saw Elizabeth Warren speak, at a Roosevelt Institute event, at the very top of her speech, she gave a long introduction about how she loved markets, how she’d taught contracts, and thought they were just terrific. I’m not making this up. I was appalled.

          I could go on and I invite other readers offer examples.

          1. Brian M

            and don’t forget her heroic vote for The Mumbler for HUD Secretary. And the peevish justification thereof!

    2. Dead Dog

      Incoherent mate. You must have watched another video. This man speaks the truth.

      Obama did alright? What planet have you been living on? He said all the right things and did the opposite. He has gutted the country and obliterated the middle class. Anything the MIC wants, fine, we have money for that. But free education, health care, decent retirement benefits? New jobs that only pay a fraction of the pay and benefits their parents saw 30 or 40 years ago? As Pelosi said, we have capitalism (get used to it)

      If he’d been my President, I would turn my back every time I saw him, in person or on tv. He deserves derision everywhere he goes.

    3. Kukulkan

      I think Blyth is articulating something most people just assume and treat as aspects of reality — not unlike a linguist clearly stating the rules of grammar of a particular language. In that sense, you’re right: most speakers of that language wouldn’t use any of the technical terms the linguist uses, or be aware of the grammatical rules in any formal sense. But they would still use those rules automatically when speaking and writing, regarding those that didn’t use those rules as deficient. To them what the linguist says would seem to be either self-evident or nonsensical.

      As the old adage has it: We don’t know who discovered water, but it wasn’t a fish.

      Alternately, what do you think shapes the pursuit of Benjamins? There are various ways of going about that pursuit, but over the last few decades there is distinct pattern to how those in charge go about it. What do you think shapes that pattern? And what would you call that shaping force?

      1. b1daly

        I understand your point, but don’t agree. In my experience, “everyday people” don’t have a coherent perspective on these issues. I don’t think people have a strong notion about what a free market is. A lot of people hold contradictory view points, and depending on their mood, and the last dose of propagandist talking points they received, they will give you one answer or another.

        I think a lot voting in the US is based on tribal affiliation. The major parties are both awkward coalitions, that lack stable ideological foundations.

        The question about what a sophisticated financial pro, dedicated to making money, has in terms of political beliefs is interesting.

        I don’t know many such people, but my guess is that they believe they should be able to make money with their skills and knowledge.

        How about a trader who works markets using techniques of regulatory arbitrage? What would such a persons belief about the role of government be in regulating society.

        They might have very strange views. They would like regulatory systems that are unstable. Pro regulation in general, as long as they could be changed. The actual content would not matter so much.

        1. Moneta

          Financial pros want neoliberalism and financial engineering.

          Up to the 70s pension plans focused on fixed income. Somewhere in the 70s, it was thought that markets would fund the boomer bulge’s retirement.

          The current pension system is feeding the financial system. And the top 15-20% who have a guaranteed pension or have been well served by the markets and real estate want the status quo for another 20 years.

          And you won’t get change until this top 15-20% sees an incentive to do so.

          1. susan the other

            I think this is very accurate. When Blyth says that the boomers are hogs at the trough, skewing the distribution of wealth, he’s right. But it isn’t the boomers’ fault. It is the fault of a stubborn system that forced everyone to be responsible for their own retirement in a rigid capitalistic system that then pulled the rug from under everyone and offshored all the jobs. What nitwits. That system is no longer working and we need to do something a tad smarter than mainline money (sovereign money no less) to the private banks to continue their folly of expanding finance as a substitute for capitalism and blahblahblah… Let’s ask Nancy Pelosi to expound on this wonderful “capitalism”.

            1. Moneta

              I agree. It’s not the boomers’ fault but it is in the sense that that’s how the cookie crumbles…

              Everyone seems to think I am trying to start an intergenerational war when they don’t seem to see that their own political views and desires are leading us into one!

              What many progressives want is cemented in consumerist views which is a worldview that has led us into this dire situation.

              1. Montanamaven

                Right. Non boomers, Tip O’Neill and Reagan doubled the payroll taxes to supposedly pay for SS. Then they took away company pension plans and gave us the great scam of the 401K. Shareholders over workers and R&D. During Carter administration they got rid of usury caps. Oh then rewarding CEOs for short term profits. I remember people trying to vote third party or rallying to Jackson’s Rainbow coalition, but the more socialist factions got the Bernie Sanders treatment time and time again by the Dems. And Thatcher preached “There is no such thing as society and there is no alternative.”

            2. Ptolemy Philopater

              Private pensions were an effort by the owner class to undermine support for social security, that great threat to Social Darwinism that they so abhor, and to a large degree it has worked. There was never any intention to actually fund those pensions, only as a Ponzi scheme. Even now all the financial engineering derivatives et alia are designed to loot these pensions.

    4. Foppe

      So basically, because you “don’t think people are ideological in this way”, you find this “stupefying” even though “on point in places”.
      Pray tell, in which places — when Blyth describes “policy outcomes” — is he, in your estimation, not on point?
      To me, the question whether people are aware of their ideological leanings, and assign a label to it (or, v.v., object to / don’t recognize / acknowledge said label, when others apply it to them) is largely irrelevant, and basically a ‘thread hijack’. What matters is whether it’s accurate. In this vein, your response seems to me very much a distraction from what really matters.

      (Feel free to provide an empirically-based counter-narrative that others can judge on its merits, however.)

      1. b1daly

        I understand that a description about the beliefs of a population as a whole could be accurate, even if the people in question don’t have an awareness of the beliefs, or a name for it,

        My argument is that the collection of beliefs about governance that can be described as “neo-liberal” is not a set of views that any significant number of real people hold, let alone use to make decisions.

        So if you are trying to describe the world, and give an explanation as to why it is the way it is, using he concept of “neo-liberalism” as a primary driver of the outcomes is inaccurate.

        I don’t claim to understand why the world is the way it is, I just don’t think the explanation given by the speaker is a good one.

        I do have some ideas to explain aspects of the world, which are held provisionaly. And not strongly.

        I tend to view human societal structures as being emergent systems. Ideology is just one factor in a chaotic and complex system that defies easy explanation.

        The impulse to resort to simple ideas that o explain complex systems seems to be irresistible to humans. That’s what I think these professors are doing. Constructing elaborate strawmen, to knock over.

        To give a specific example, consider the topic discussed in he video about why Obama was such a “disappointment” to these individuals. Did they actually think one person could single handedly change the social-economic fabric of the whole WORLD?

        Personally, think Obama did about the best he could, in difficult circumstances. Of all the fierce criticism directed at him on this site, I have yet to hear a substantive argument about what he should have done differently.

        How, exactly, should he have implemented a single payer health care system?

        I agree with the criticism, to a degree, about how the banks were bailed out. However, I do not really understand why he, and a whole bunch of other people, did what they did. I’m not an expert on this subject. I know that there were reasons. My guess has always been that it was a complex and unpredictable emergency. He brought in advisors who came at it from the perspective of insiders. It’s hard to say how much the policy makers thought they were doing what was really the best thing for the country, how much they were influenced by biased belief systems, how much was a form of class favoritism, perhaps unconscious, and how much was naked self interest.

        The one area of the Obama administration that really disturbs me was the continued growth and financing of the I military-industrial complex, under the guidance of the Obama administration. And the “metasticisng” nature of the US military activities. Why is this happening? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s because Obama thinks war is a great thing. I don’t think the problem is that we just “got fooled” by Obama, who hid his true beliefs.

        I also can’t imagine what the President has to actually deal with, on a day to day basis.

        My operating theory is that the military-industrial complex is so deeply entrenched in our society, that it simply can’t be stopped. There’s to many powerful interests who benefit from the system as it is.

        Anyhow, I know this sounds like a tepid endorsement of Obama, and it is, barely that. I always saw him as a straight establishment candidate. His most notable feature, his race, probably made him that much more locked into establishment positions. I don’t think the first black President was going to be the one to “tear down the system” and build our glorious, utopian future. It’s more like, who can sit on the powder keg (literally in this case) and keep the whole system from blowing up.

        To the extent that one claims to support “the blowing up of the system,” then I part ways.

        One of the frustrating thing about the discourse in this site is that there is a lot of righteous criticism of real world politicians. And fealty to the notions of social justice. I know what people are advocating for, and I agree with the goals. What I’m not seeing is any discussion or support of a real world politician who meets the stringent ideological criteria imposed. Basically, from the point of view of building a political movement, there is no foundation I can see for such an enterprise.

        For this reason, I support efforts to strengthen the Democratic Party. I find the argument that there is room for more progressive politicians within the coalition persuasive. I also find the general points that the Democratic Party failed both tactically, and morally, by not doing more support the middle class in he US.

        However, I don’t think this was politically viable up until recently. But to argue this either way is a “counter-factual,” to done as a thought exercise.

        1. Foppe

          So you think that Reaganomics wasn’t a thing, and that privatization, the introduction of “market mechanisms”, the intoning “there is no society, only individuals and their families”, coupled with the invocation of “personal responsibility” all the time, everywhere, was just a peculiar accident? Because that’s neoliberalism in a nutshell, even if the social democratic/liberal parties tend to distract from their own endorsement of their belief in market mechanisms by reference to the “inevitability” of “globalization”, etc..

          As for the rest, you’re asking the wrong questions. It may or may not have been impossible to implement single payer, but a. he didn’t even propose it (not even as leverage), and b., he and his proxies went out of his way to marginalize and hate on anyone who did (presumably to justify his own stance, by reinforcing the “unfeasibility”). In the case of banker prosecution, please keep in mind that that falls under the exec branch, and requires (next to) no congressional approval. Etc.
          Would really recommend you read Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal, an introduction to which can be found here:

          1. b1dal

            OMG, this is my whole point! No, I do not believe Reagonmics was a thing. There were undoubtedly some people who really “believed” in these things as conceptual frameworks.
            Who knows what Reagan really believed. He made his cracks about the government being the source of problems, not the solution.

            Then he went and increased the size of the federal government. This does not seem consonant with the behavior of a “true believer.”


            Most people who espouse pro “free market” propoganda strike me as opportunists, who see some personal utility from adopting a position. They just shove whatever bullshit down the throats of a credulous populace they can get away with.

            Some of these Tea Party nutcases, on the other hand, might actually believe their own rhetoric. True believers can be a real menace.

            1. Foppe

              Again, you’re missing the forest for the trees. The question that matters is not whether reaganomics was internally consistent, or a marketing lie. Of course it was a lie that meant socialism for corporations combined with austerity for the poor and middle class. Point is, as among others Blythe and Frank explain, starting in the 1980s, a certain wide-spread set of changes started to take place, enacted by lots of politicians who all had roughly the same idea in mind. If you want to say that this broad set of changes was in fact wholly due to chance, and that neoliberalism “doesn’t exist” because “people don’t do things on the basis of ideological beliefs”, I cannot help you, because you’re choosing to not understand what matters when it comes to understanding & explaining human behavior. You are of course wholly free to do so, but if that is your intent, I don’t really see the point in continuing this (or any) discussion on this and related topics.

              1. b1daly

                Just thought I would reply to this, as it gets at my larger point. Which is: there is a significant difference between political technicians taking theoretical concepts of economists, package them into simplistic propaganda memes, which are used to manipulate public opinion, and ideologies like “Communism” which are fairly well thought out, and coherent.

                The reason being, people do act, and they have motivations for those acts.

                If such a person, or organization, is acting in ways that you want to oppose, it behooves one to understand the real motives and objectives of your opponent.

                If your opponent is using proganda and mind control tricks to manipulate public opinion, to act in ways which legitimize their untrue, motives is to fall victim to the proganda itself.

                If your political opponents, in the course of a high stakes, negotiated conflict, announce that they want X, because the have a theory that magic fairies will come to save the day, its stupid to argue that relying on magic fairies is not a good idea, because of reasons A,B,C.

                That’s how debates about the terms of the Greek bailout, for example, look to me.

            2. Skip Intro

              Reaganomics may not have been a thing, but it was many things, and they became, through the efforts of professionals like Frank Luntz, ‘common sense’. People remember false slogans and memes about balancing household budgets (though many of them are always in debt), about bootstraps, about everything having a price and the impossibility free lunches, about mean/dumb/lazy bureaucrats and fearless entrepreneurs and welfare queens. The ideology you believe is invisible, like the air you breathe, and tends to be forgotten, but it remains very real.

              1. b1daly

                The ideas of “Reagonomics” don’t make a lick of sense. My contention is that the entities that popularized these sort “folk tale” memes, to justify their policies did not believe them. They were consciously created as propaganda, by very cynical political operatives.

                This is not always the case in public debates about policy. Sometime policy makers are sincere in their suggestions, sometimes they aren’t. And mixed motives are surely a factor.

                1. Brian M

                  You all seem to be talking past each other. I think b1daly’s LAST point makes a lot of sense.

                  Given where we are today, of course Reaganomics doesn’t make sense. But at the same time, many of the people involved either believed it or, as b1 says, used it as a convenient mythology.

                  At the same time, most people HAVE internalized these myths. Even academics. They have more power than b1 grants. Heck, they totally dominate political discussion in the world today. That is a pretty powerful mythos, even if the 0.1% pulling the strings are cynically just using the mythos.

        2. Carla

          “I agree with the criticism, to a degree, about how the banks were bailed out. However, I do not really understand why he, and a whole bunch of other people, did what they did.”

          I’ll tell you exactly why Obama “and whole bunch of other people” did what they did: because they were and are employees of the banking system. They were never, ever working for us.

          Please read “Chain of Title” by David Dayen for the very best, in-depth analysis of the mortgage fraud that the FIRE sector and their wholly owned subsidiary Obama Inc. inflicted upon the American people.

        3. B1whois

          Lots and lots of big and pretty words. A rich man’s word salad. How is it that your username is sometimes b1dal and sometimes b1daly?
          To sum up, how one who knows so many words could know so little thought is beyond me, and I suspect your intentions.

    5. The Trumpening

      I see what you are attempting to say here, that there is only economic and military power. You would do well the read Michael Mann’s, The Sources of Social Power. Notice that he places Ideological Power first above the other types of societal power.

      One of the generalizing frameworks that he uses throughout all four volumes is what he refers to as the “IEMP model” of social power: ideological, economic, military, and political. He believes that these aspects of social reality are largely independent sets of institutions and processes, and they create different though complementary sources of power for individuals and groups within a given state of society. Here is the thumbnail he offers for each of these four high-level features of social power in Volume 3:

      Ideological Power derives from the human need to find ultimate meaning in life, to share norms and values, and to participate in aesthetic and ritual practices with others. (V3, 6)

      Economic Power derives from the human need to extract, transform, distribute, and consume the products of nature. Economic relations are powerful because they combine the intensive mobilization of labor with very extensive circuites of capital, trade, and production chains, providing a combination of intensive and extensive power and normally also of authoritative and diffused power. (V3, 8)

      Military Power. Since writing my previous volumes, I have tightened up the definition of military power to “the social organization of concentrated and lethal violence.” (V3, 10)

      Political Power is the centralized and territorial regulation of social life. The basic function of government is the provision of order over this realm. (V3, 12)

      I participate in a diverse and vibrant selection of political forums and I can assure you the main tenets of Liberalism are very powerfully embedded in people of many different cognitive levels.

      In terms of the power of money in politics Mark Blyth succinctly explained this in a recent appearance on Tucker Carlson, you can find it on YouTube.

      If you really believe a black man is less likely to be able to bring change than for example a white man, why would anyone ever bother voting for a black man. In your opinion would a woman also be less able to bring change?

      The one very slight criticism I would have on this discussion was accepting the ideal that the Replicans “blocked” Obama’s agenda. After 2011 perhaps; but Obama had total control of both houses of congress his first two years. We see how much a high-energy guy like Trump at least makes the appearance of accomplishing. It wasn’t the color of Obama’s skin that held him back, it was his total lack of urgency or energy to actually change things (assuming of course he actually wanted to) during his first two years.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, I did not spell out my disagreement, but it is ludicrous to blame Obama’s sorry record on Republicans. Obama campaigned as leftist but governed center right. He would regularly as his first gambit move 75% of the way to the Republican position in bargaining. During one of the debt ceiling fights, he offered bigger cuts than Boehner and the Republicans were seeking! He similarly included the public option only as a bright shiny toy for the leftist; he traded that away without getting a single concession. And as we’ve also recounted, Obama systematically undermined bona fide leftist groups.

        The reason the Democrats lost at all levels of government was due to Obama’s abject neglect of ordinary Americans. The reason the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate was the direct result of his having all the losses of the crisis fall voters, rather than the traditional approach of imposing costs on both borrowers and lenders. The propensity for voting districts in Mass to vote for Scott Brown was highly correlated with their level of foreclosures…many of which would have been avoided with better policies.

        1. Moneta

          I would say the biggest reason we are in a pickle is because most people lack introspection and can’t read other people.

          Obama did not accomplish much because he was not on the left.

          The big question is why can’t people see through the charades?

          1. Julia Versau

            The people I know who love Obama, “miss” Obama, and/or think he was a “great president” are classic liberals who are saying more about themselves than Obama. They both voted for and supported him in an effort to prove they were not racist, that they were open-minded, that they were a cut above those red state rednecks.

            Their take on Obama is self-referential and self-reverential. What do they actually understand about Obama’s policies and actions, if pressed to discuss? Bupkis.

            1. Pat

              Or they know the policies were bad, but accept the finger pointing that the Republicans forced him to do this. Or didn’t allow him to change it. Failing to notice that he initiated this or had the power of the veto or…

              It is some ways amusing when you think about this adoration elevates someone they make excuses for being ineffectual to a position of one of the best Presidents ever. Especially since his successor is making clear that the Presidency is very powerful.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner


            Obama’s mendacity came through in text (Pat Buchanan loves O’s speeches; let that sink in), and this is the problem. People know they only watched the spectacle. A couple years ago, there was a flurry of articles about where did the “great” speeches of Obama go, but these same articles never quoted to old “great” speeches because they don’t exist.

            Obama noted in “Audacity of Hope” that people projected onto him their own values. This is simply what happened. There is one thing people hate more than cons, conmen, and being conned and that is conning themselves.

            The other day someone commented about how the mean old deep state worked against JFK who ran as an anti war candidate. Lambert noted JFK ran on the missile gap. JFK was a cool guy. What What he said was relevant than the values projected onto him. It’s over 50 years later, and people still like to pretend Jack was some peacenik.

            1. financial matters

              Relative to JFK, I think the more correct phrasing would be that he developed into an antiwar posture. During the Cuban missile crisis he was often at odds with strong pro-war types such as Allen Dulles and Curtis LeMay. He resisted their advice of a preemptive attack on Soviet missile sites in Cuba but instead brokered a backdoor deal with Khrushchev to remove US missiles in Turkey.

              The Bay of Pigs was a CIA run operation. It was anticipated to fail requiring an invasion by US Marines which the CIA thought JFK would be forced to authorize. When it did fail, JFK refused to authorize the invasion as he had said he would from the beginning. He realized he had been drawn into a trap by the CIA and threatened to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces. Kennedy fired Allen Dulles, director of the CIA.

              After JFK’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson appointed Dulles to serve on the Warren Commission. (JFK and the Unspeakable, Why He Died and Why it Matters by James W. Douglass)

        2. b1daly

          It’s been a while, but I don’t remember Obama campaigning as a leftist. I actually voted for Clinton in 2008 primary, as she struck me as being slightly more in line with my progressive preferences. I remember him campaigning as a straight centrist. His big slogan “Hope and Change” is about as vague as it comes. Not that far from “Make America Great Again.” The big deal was he was black. I do think his being elected represents a tremendous amount of progress for our society.

          1. Lambert Strether

            People projected that onto Obama, with very little reason, since his policy proposals were slightly to the right of Clintons*, and there was a huge debate after he won but before the inaugural about whether he was a “progressive” “in his heart” or some such formulation. That was their great concern in the midst of the financial crash.

            The thinking did seem to be as simple as “Obama’s a progressive, because how could my cool black friend not be” (although of course there was the whole “community organizer” thing).

            NOTE * In Iowa, he differentiated himself from Clinton by putting Social Security in play, which the press loved; his health care proposal had no mandate, hence not even a pretence of universality; Clinton proposed a version of FDR’s HOLC for the housing crisis, and Obama said he’d study it. I always felt it was a wash on foreign policy, and as Obama racked up the drone strikes it looked like I was right, but bless his heart, he avoided getting sucked in to Syria (much), didn’t let Vicky Nuland foment war with Russia, and did the Iran deal. I think he lost faith in Clinton after she suckered him into the Libyan debacle, and rule number one with Obama is don’t make him look bad.

          2. Grebo

            The Political Compass likes to place politicians in their ideological landscape. They put Obama and Romney about a millimeter apart, which seemed about right to me.

        3. Justcia

          Add to the catalogue of the O’Democrat failings is the complete neglect of state level party infrastructure and cultivation of talent from the bottom up. As leader of the party he flunks Politics 101. And then there was DWS at the DNC. Can’t anybody here play this game?

          Thanks for the video, Yves. Excellent analysis of politics of O’care and other sad triumphs of liberalism. But I’m more optimistic than Blyth about possibilities of political realignments that DJT’s sell out of his working class voters will create.

    6. purplepencils

      You don’t have to know the term “liberal” to be one, imo. Your comment ignores the way in which ideology spreads.

    7. financial matters

      Most Americans want single payer healthcare and good social security benefits. The most common reason you hear about why these won’t work is that we can’t afford it.

      It’s hard to convince people that money comes from the government which puts it in people’s pockets and that these sort of programs can be beneficial to society both in terms of general well-being and economic stimulation.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The problem is at least on the Democratic side is the perception Team Blue elites support these positions but are foiled by dastardly Republicans. It wasn’t cost in 2009 but the filibuster that prevented good policy. The filibuster excuse is fraudulent, but people like Pelosi are tolerated when they do nothing for their voting base.

        “I saw political X in person, and he seemed genuine and friendly.” Really? A political was charming in person? I assumed they were actual lizards.

        1. financial matters

          Yes, there definitely was a great opportunity missed there. And its success and popularity could have led to other useful programs.

        2. aab

          Pelosi is a Congressional representative for San Francisco, one of the most unequal cities in the country.

          She represents her constituents well.

      2. witters

        Yeah, its NL ideology.
        ‘We, the US, are the richest nation in the world! Of course we can’t afford publlic healthcare systems like some other insignificant nations!”

        Beneath is the Neoconservative/exceptionalist (‘identity politics’) subtext on which the fallacy depends: ‘We are full and real people, and they are not, and can’t be. I mean look at their publlic healthcare system!’

    8. John Wright

      b1daly wrote:

      “When he sums up what he calls the “new-liberal” concept as being, you kmow, liberal democracy, pro trade, use of free markets, letting market forces determine the characteristics of employment, my thought was: “does he really think anyone believes this shit?””

      Blyth does not say they actually believe this, but one doesn’t have to believe something is true/valid in order to personally profit from it.

      One must not confuse belief in a concept with the marketing of a concept by a self enriching huckster who doesn’t believe in the product they are pushing.

      Obama and Clintons (see HRC’s cynical private vs public positions) have done personally well by pushing neo-liberal concepts.

      Does it matter that they might not believe in them?

      What will cause real change in American politics?

      It took FDR and the Great Depression to establish more liberal programs in America when the economy collapsed.

      In the 1960’s, a time of relative prosperity in the USA, there was LBJ’s personal drive and a supportive Democratic party attempting the War on Poverty, which was undercut by the Vietnam War.

      I suspect the decline of the MSM is a positive sign, as the MSM couldn’t pull their candidate across the finish line this time, so the market value of the MSM to push Neo-liberal concepts has declined.

      1. b1daly

        I think it does matter whether policy makers actions derive from their, true, stated belief, or whether the stated belief is no held truly, and being used in a more propagandist sense.

        Especially if you are opposed to said policies. There is always a “true” reason(s) for decisions, and from a strategic viewpoint, operating with knowledge of the motivations of ones opponent is preferred.

    9. nobody

      “Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism…”

    10. Charlie

      I don’t know. I get tripped up on the neo-liberal/neo-conservative monikers, but I’ve since gone to just neo-liberal as a return to 19th century political and economic theory. Economic theory per Ricardo. Political/Social theory per Spencer. Plus, the philosophy of Nietchze.

      I don’t know if that’s even close to correct, but I see more of the old “liberalism” than anything that could be called “liberal” in the modern sense.

      1. Jeff W

        Thanks for providing those links. I just watched Mark Blyth on Jimmy Dore’s show the other night and was about to recommend them.

    1. Uahsenaa

      I would strongly suggest watching the whole thing posted in nobody’s link. Blyth is genuinely agreeing with many of Weir’s critiques in the first half of the discussion. She’s also on point about education and the maldistribution of public goods. The edit posted above is extremely unfair to the entire range of opinions she expresses.

    1. craazyman

      He doesn’t even have a Tweed jacket and rumpled button down shirt. This guy is professer? No way. And what about that woman. She looks like a librarian! Is she even alive? She just sits there and then, when she has to think about something good the Dems did, she only come up with medicare and social security! That was like 80 years ago.

      They’ve done nothing good in 80 years? What about the Apollo moon landing? She should have thought of that. There’s no way a free market solution would have put a man on the moon. It would have put a 5 star hotel with full body massage for rich people in low earth orbit, then it would have fallen out of the sky and the govermint would have had to clean it up. OK, they repealed Glass Stegal too. Can she give credit (no pun intended) where it’s due (no pun intended).

      No way is this a real video. This is a hoax! I can’t believe Yves bought in to this and posted it.

      1. Moneta

        The consumer products iow consumerism of the last 40 years were all about exploiting the socialist or communal investments of the 50s and 60s… But somehow many are still blind to this.

      2. John Wright

        But one can see that Blyth has sold out to Nike..

        We’ll have to see if Blyth now pulls his punches when Nike is involved ( re-emergence of TPP?)

        Nike must be trying to cover all bases by getting economists to wear their logo.

      3. skippy

        Blyth makes astute points wrt heterodox examination during the relevant time period and what is offered in way of marketing to the unwashed, and what actually occurred…. hard to blame the unwashed [what ever age cohort] increasing… when the product disclaimer was a fiction to start with…

        Yeah saw the Nike track suit gear and was like wtf… when was the last marathon and does it imbue the wearer with special powers… hard to crack a fat about income inequality, oligarchs, and be complicit in cramming down wages via Nike’s market methodology.

        The Dem mouse is a curious case of almost an old SNL “Jane you ignorant slut” set up… its comical…

        Then the moderator basically comes out and says bring out the good old days so I can relive my youthful ignorance in retrospect… because reality sux…. the cog dis is detracting from my dopamine up take level base line established in better times…. for dawgs sack don’t look in the mirror dude…

        disheveled…. wanted to say more but have to run… bbl….

        1. Marco

          Let me defend Blyth donning the Nike attire. They are not just worn by the 1%. They ARE cheaper than a suede-elbowed jacket and on offer at any discounted department or sporting goods store approx $30. Or is that your point?

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Ultimately, everything we wear is a uniform. I found it jarring, but I think it fits into the ‘I’m too radical to power dress, but I don’t want to come off as a hipster by wearing organic fair trade linen shirts, so I’ll be a man of the people by wearing nike (but not in too ironic a manner), but I won’t wear a hoody as that would be too obvious’.

            Well, something like that. Clothes are confusing, as the link yesterday about Putins suits shows.

  4. Dead Dog

    ‘The Dems never miss an opportunity to miss and opportunity’

    He nailed it. Nothing’s going to change there unless the whole Dem leadership cadre is replaced by people who want to work for the interests of people and not corporations and billionaires. Had their chance with Bernie, but not sure even now that he would have beaten Donald.

  5. Isam Laroui

    I agree with a lot, if not most, of what he says. But the message is so pessimistic! I would love to hear him outline the beginning of a solution. He’s so perspicacious that I’m sure his prescriptions would be as just as good as his analyses. As far as implementing them, that would be another story. As for the French election, I personally think the die is not cast yet. A lot can happen between now and May. The “Thatcherian” candidate Francois Fillon, as of now, is political toast, so the field is wide open. We shall see.

    1. purplepencils

      Pessimism is good! American society places far too much faith in optimism — I tend to think this has something to do with narratives of progress as well. There is very little to be optimistic about, worldwide. I am very much reminded of Walter Benjamin’s angel of history.

      I think that being pessimistic reminds us of what an uphill battle it is. A constant dose of reality, so to speak. The situation has become so grave that I’m not sure if anything short of total disaster would help wake us all up.

    2. paul

      B Sanders seemed to have a fairly positive message, but he was was railroaded by the blocking coalition Blyth speaks of.
      Positive thinking won’t get you far without a realistic appraisal of the environment, and that unfortunately leans to pessimism, if not downright despair.
      As for ideology, that’s the glass in the fishtank.
      It’s an engineering neccesity, not a spiritual one.

      1. Marco

        We are letting Sanders off too easily. I don’t think he had a clue when he started how far he would go. $220 million dollars and 45% of the primary Team D electorate. And then he pissed it away and is rewarded by having to defend ObamaCare to a hair salon proprietor on CNN.

    3. Foppe

      Not as open as you would hope. See the article on the vineyard of the saker that I can’t link to without my comment getting eaten, about fillon and Macron.

    4. Moneta

      He gave a hint at one point: make policies that will serve the young. But he probably sees even more control by the ageing cohort as this group continues to grow in and monopolize policy.

      One only has to look at Japan to see how s nation can suffocate its young.

      1. Lambert Strether

        We have the resources to serve the entire population. That is what we should do. Interestingly, the concrete material benefits proposed by Sanders — free college and Medicare for All, combined with increased Social Security — did exactly that. There is no reason we need to lie down on the Procrustean bed of intergenerational conflict, a concept you seem curiously wedded to.

        1. Moneta

          There is no need but that is where we will go.

          Progressives seem to promote policies that deliver on the promises that were made over the last few decades while these were based on a worldview that depends on overconsumption of energy and resources.

          I believe America has consumed more than its fair share of the world’s resources and what we are seeing now is a global redistribution of this consumption. IMO most of the developed works seems oblivious to this…

          I don’t see any policies whatsoever promoting this worldview. All I see is that if the 1% share with the 99% and we add more infra life will be good again.

          The alternative energy ideas seem to promote more energy consumption, not less.

          What I see coming is the growing older cohort protecting its interests while squeezing the young… just like in Japan.

          Maybe we should have an article listing progressive policies and debate how their implementation could help both the old and the young or how it could squeeze the young.

        2. Moneta

          You can have free college, single pay and social security and still squeeze the young.

          Many young don’t want to push wheelchairs nor change diapers…

          1. Alejandro

            I may be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but there’s a whiff of nl-rule #2 in this comment.

            …remember that a federal job guarantee can compensate those willing and able ” to push wheelchairs [or] change diapers”, regardless of the age of who is pushing or being pushed, AND regardless of the age of who is changing the diaper or whose diaper is being changed …and funding would not be a constraint.

            1. Moneta

              My point is that, while there will always be a few Florence Nightingales, I don’t know many young whose dream is to work in geriatrics… The older generation is probably going to control policy and force them to work in sectors that would not be at the top of their list… especially not with university degrees.

              1. Alejandro

                It’s more about taking care of those that can’t take care of themselves, than it is about age. Many have responded to this calling as volunteers, implying that it’s more about a desire to serve than it is about “dreaming”. There is no justifiable reason that these volunteers could not do this socially necessary work, and be compensated with a living wage to do so.

                I personally find particularly vile, the driving of wedges between kids and their parents, or grandparents, to rationalize the abdicating of ‘our’ social responsibility to appease the “market gods”.

    5. Mondo

      My guess would be that Mark Blyth is trying to get the Democratic Party leadership to move beyond the stage of denial, being pessimistic is just a tool to get them there, slowly (besides having the benefit of being a correct assessment, in my view).

      Formulating an optimistic message, ready to be used by the DNC, would just lead to them morphing it beyond recognition, to match their predisposition.

      To me it seems pretty obvious that a new party leadership (or party?) would be needed to effect any meaningful change. That doesn’t seem to be likely right now, so there is another reason to be pessimistic.

      1. Moneta

        The reason why most see his message as negative is because they still have not understood what they are facing. Most are still like Margaret: deluded.

        Only when they understand the beast will they be able to strategize properly.

        1. susan the other

          at some point weather and climate come together – and we will get a full awareness of the things we know are coming now but we are unable to resolve, socially. I don’t think it’ll be hard to do once we have the conviction. right now it seems like we are living in the worst of all possible worlds, socially and environmentally – the two are really one in my mind. but I submit there will be a voluntary sea change (no pun intended) when a sufficient threshold of awareness – and courage – is reached. All the evidence points to humans being rational, despite ourselves. it’s how we know when we’re nuts.

    6. djrichard

      I don’t know if was in this video or another video where Blyth says that the political change we’re going through is a change from neo-liberalism to neo-nationalism. The way he says it suggests that neo-nationalism will have a reign just like neo-liberalism did. And presumably its reign will be eclipsed at some point in the future too.

    7. Jeff W

      Ha-Joon Chang—he and Mark Blyth are probably my two favorite speakers on economics—often paraphrases Antonio Gramsci, saying one needs “pessimism of the intellect but optimism of the will.”

      (I was glad to see a link to Truthout’s interview with Chang in yesterday’s links.)

  6. Portia

    call me clueless, but why do people keep using variations of the word “liberal” to describe what Dems have been saying and doing? it’s just like that same tired old thing from the right saying liberals are evil and not to be trusted. IMNSHO, it’s labels that are not to be trusted. they are clothing worn and thrown by those who wish to perpetuate identity politics.

    1. Big River Bandido

      We use these variations because they have become standard in contemporary political and economic discourse. The term “neoliberal” (or as in Europe, “market liberal”) has been around for 40 years, at least since the rise of Reaganism and Thatcherism.

      The prefix “neo” could almost be replaced with “paleo”, since the ideology in question has more in common with 18th-century “classic Liberalism” (i.e. “Adam Smith”).

      Whatever one calls it, the ideology has nothing in common with 20th-century liberalism, which is probably the source of your confusion.

      1. witters

        Neoliberalism is a business/corporate strategy. It is to open and dominate new markets. It monetises everything it can. It cares only for profit growth for profit taking. In the last book of Wealth of Nations Adam Smith attacks exactly this strategy – he has the East India Company in his sights – and calls it ‘incurably faulty’. It is one of the wonders of the NL age that its first great diognostician and critic is somehow supposed to label the brand.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Neoliberalism as it affects politics is most definitely an ideology. It is the ideology (“because markets”) behind every “privatization” scheme there is, from charter schools to private prisons to selling off city streets to private parking meter companies…all the way up to the initiatives to “privatize” Social Security.

  7. collins

    Around 24:30, where he says the Dems need to publicize ‘what’s going on, here’s how it affects you, here’s how to fix it, and crucially, we’re all in this together’.

    1) That’s how Trump won.
    2) The last point – “we’re all in this together” – is and has always been an American myth. We could believe it for 150 years because of multiple church-based hospitals & charities (secular ones too) could be misconstrued as an ‘American’ character, but they are now a fraction of what they were in mid-20th century. Others have noted how the notion of a civic society in the US is retracting. We are not Germany.

    1. Moneta

      The issue with this strategy is who will be delivering the message? Margaret? I’m not sure she sees the big picture nor do most of the democrats.

  8. Persona au gratin

    Blyth nails it starting at 22:20 when he asserts that “Trump is McDonald’s,” a guaranteed palatable, albeit mediocre meal that’s at least affordable and minimally nourishing for those who don’t have the means for anything better. Welcome to American life in 2017. Yes, Trump is not actually McDonald’s and his potential downside is much, much, worse; but he’s right again that the Dems are “past their sell-by date,” and still won’t pose a viable alternative in 2018, 2020, or anytime thereafter, no matter how much of an opening Trump gives them. Does this signal radical political alternatives of who knows what stripe emerging on the near term horizon? Almost certainly. But we know who to thank for that, don’t we? Are the economically and politically powerless willing to roll the dice and run the risk of cutting off their nose to spite their face? Apparently so, at least once. There’s a lesson to be learned there, but one the Dem elite can be relied upon to ignore again and again.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Or how Hillary had a billion dollars and decades worth of free media and still managed to lose to a clown?

      2. shinola

        Lambert – No, I didn’t notice & have no idea how the ability to collect large numbers of small contributions has been “erased”.

        Further explanation please.

    1. b1daly

      I thought this metaphor was backwards. Hillary is the McDonalds of politicians. If there was ever a politician who you could count on not surprising you, Hilary is it.

      Trump is more like, um, the “Mystery Meat Special.”

      1. Ivy

        There is an element of Super Size Me in the Hillary persona and campaign, and look at how that turned out in the film and the election with interventions of a sort to prevent further degradation of the body politic.

  9. barefoot charley

    How’s this for another bracing view: “the green postmodern leading-edge of evolution itself has, for several decades, degenerated into its extreme, pathological, and dysfunctional forms. As such, it is literally incapable of effectively acting as a real leading-edge. Its fundamental belief—“there is no truth”—and its basic essential attitude—“aperspectival madness”— cannot in any fashion actually lead, actually choose a course of action that is positive, healthy, effective, and truly evolutionary. With all growth hierarchies denied and deconstructed, evolution has no real way to grow, has no way forward at all, and thus nothing but dominator hierarchies are seen everywhere, effectively reducing any individual you want to a victim.

    That’s Ken Wilbur, quoted in a think-piece on the dead-end of liberalism. I’m a long-time left-wing loon, and Wilbur’s philosophizing helps me to grasp the rabbit hole we’ve thunk ourselves down, to the desperate disservice of today’s students as well as workers.

    It’s from this:

    1. Dead Dog

      Yes, all those economists in jobs where they are paid to support the current orthodoxy. They hate him. How dare he challenge austerity, student loans, our beautifully crafted sickness (money extraction) industry…

      A lot of people with no interest in finance are tuning in to what he says.

      Hey, there’s this Scottish American dude that speaks the truth…

      1. redleg

        He’s married to a German. His explanations of EU and ECB policy are delivered with German perspective and humor.

      2. polecat

        Your statement reminded my of another i had read on the Archdruid’s Report …whereby the commentor had mentioned how, at a dinner party, and seated next to a ‘history prof’, he proceeded to state how, in his opinion, history seem revolve in cycles, whereas the professor scoffed at such a ridiculous notion, implying that history ALWAYS moving forward in a positive fashion; as like ‘progress’ …. never to regress ……

        i would say that professor was positively, absolutely …. rigid !!, as are many in academia, and are thus contributing to their own demise in the eyes of the greater public !

  10. susan the other

    When Blyth said the only thing Hillary campaigned on was “Trump is a bad man” it was so right on – she never shut up about it and still Trump – a rookie – managed to turn the “debates” into substance. We might be uneasy with him, but he’s a titan compared to Hillary. For now.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “I’m with her” was the original slogan, and by being in a position to mount a credible run for President, Hillary doesn’t need support. Her campaign was a celebration of Hillary. Vote for Hillary because she lives in a big house, but she really likes the White House.

      The other problem is the Clintons tailor their message for each audience and now live in a society where every appearance is recorded. Putting on her “sassy black women” routine doesn’t fly when she turns around to do a fundraiser at the all white country club. The Clinton strategy was to seem like they are for YOU but not to be for anything for so long that they reached a point where they are non entities running in the wake of one of the most prominent empty suits ever.

  11. Sally

    Mark Blyth is becoming a real star. He is very good at identifying the problems and calling out the bullshit. Dems have to move away from this meanginless phrase “inclusive” whatever that means? Are we all on the same level with Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezoes. (By the way did you see Amazon have admitted breaking sanctions with Iran? Ha ha) So much for Bezoes claim to play the patriot card expelling wickkileaks off his servers.

    This election was way behond Right vs left. Same with BREXIT. This is populist vs Elitist. And you can be on the right or left on both sides. Trump and Sanders on the populist side and Clinton Bush on the elitist side.

    My only beef with Mark is I’m not sure he has many answers. I think he is very complacent about debt in the economy. $20 trillion can’t just be inflated away like the 1960s and 1970s in a world of low inflation. Also he seems very confident the US $ will stay around as the hegemony global currency for many more decades. I’m not so sure. However if it does, and America can still print endless new $ and the rest of the world still wants to own them I guess they can keep the pitchforks away for a while yet. We will see. Interesting times.

    1. redleg

      He identifies debt as a problem- private debt, not US government debt. He discusses this in detail in his work on the EU. He’s in the same orbit as Keen and Kelton.

  12. Steven Greenberg

    There is a terrible confusion in this discussion between liberal, neo-liberal, and libertarian. Liberal is the only liberal among the three. Neo-liberal can be respelled as not-liberal. Libertarian is mostly right wing individualism. The whole discussion only makes sense if the listener makes corrections for the speaker’s confusion.

    1. Altandmain

      Simply put:

      Liberal in the Establishment Democratic sense has become neoliberalism. An ideology which basically comes up with an excuse for the rich to extract economic rent from the rest of society.

      What the left means when they say Liberal is what is known in Europe as a Social Democrat. I’d argue Bernie is a Social Democrat, not a socialist.

      As for Libertarian, there are right and left wing variants, but usually on the Right, it means the “small government” and “Social Darwinist” ideology.

    2. Grebo

      Someone is confused, probably not the Political Science professor :-)
      Many Americans are not aware that Liberalism is a well-defined political ideology that was the dominant ideology of the ruling Capitalist class in the West for nearly 200 years. It is quite separate from the popular notion of liberalism which is essentially a vague attitude of “let’s all try to get along and be nice to each other”.
      It is in some people’s interest to have these things confused in the popular mind, which is why you don’t hear politicians explaining it.
      Neo-liberalism is indeed less small-ell-liberal than Liberalism but it too is a well-defined ideology and it has largely replaced classical Liberalism as the dominant ideology worldwide. It is essentially the product of libertarians and authoritarians getting together to “fix” Liberalism.

      1. Mark P.

        Thank you. ‘Liberal’ was a word FDR redefined for the American context, because he didn’t want the tainted labels of ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’ hung on his administration’s New Deal policies.

        Liberalism in the classical sense means like the Liberal party in the U.K., who till 1868 were previously the Whigs, free trade Tories, and free trade Radicals.

    3. Isam Laroui

      The confusion(s) also stems from the fact that “liberalism” means social-liberalism (and more) in the U.S. and economic-liberalism in Europe. The funny thing is that it is now a derogatory term everywhere despite the fact that it means different things to different people.

      In France, a “libéral” or even worse an “ultra-libéral” is a U.S.-style free-market absolutist, anathema to a majority of Frenchmen. In the U.S., a liberal as used by the right-wing is everything they (the right-wing, not the liberals!) hate: Democrats, Obama, the Clintons, identity politics, government programs, political correctness – I would also add common decency but that would give me away! :)

      Oh, the irony, as Paul Krugman would say. Speaking of PK, how do you guys on this enlightened blog view him vis-à-vis Blyth (whom I’m discovering thanks to Yves and her smart intellectual clique)? Some of their view-points do coincide, don’t they? Of course, PK’s cardinal sin has been to dismiss Bernie Sanders and endorse Hillary, thinking she’d be a shoe-in and Bernie a sure loser, then again, many good people fell into that trap….

      1. Foppe

        Paul is worse than useless, because party-political while pretending not to be.
        That aside, he’s also a neoliberal (look at his stance on trade agreements, etc., markets) who only turns into a milquetoast keynesian when it has no impilcations for policy (i.e., when there aren’t votes at stake). I would classify that ar a much bigger problem than his (not) endorsing (the right) people.
        Blyth, otoh, is mostly just descriptive, aware of the blinders that are part and parcel of the neoliberal normative (“analytical”) framework, and brings a decent understanding of politics to the table to boot.

  13. Altandmain

    I’d be prepared to bet that the Democratic Leadership knows exactly why they lost. They just have no sense of integrity to the nation and the people who they are supposed to represent.

    William S. Lind, a former Congressional aide and a Paleoconservative, once noted to his colleague:

    When we arrived on the Hill, at least half the members of the Senate thought their job had something to do with governing the country. Now that figure is at most 10 percent. All the rest think about is having a successful career as a professional politician and retiring very, very rich.

    This is from an insider, no less. The Democratic Establishment knows exactly why they lost, as the slip-up from Tom Perez recently illustrated. They just don’t want to admit it because their real goal is to retire rich.

    In that regard, the Democratic Party is little more than an institution for careerists, who are willing to allow the US to be turned into a kleptocracy so that they can cash in when they retire. The Clintons are a good example of that when they “earned” $150 million in speech money. The GOP is not any different and they mostly use social issues as a distraction.

    Compounding our problems, the Democrats have a bunch of blind followers who think that Obama did good. Folks, good public speaking skills, while admirable, don’t hide an ugly underside. Obama never tried to implement the changes that he campaign on. He was bought from Wall Street from day one. There has got to be a way to get more people to recognize this one. Yes the GOP deserves a lot of blame, but Obama too never even tried. He was corrupt.

    The sad part is that the upper middle class types are not even useful idiots. They are profiting from the demise of their fellow citizens to an extent, just like their 1% counterparts. You can see that in the 10%ers. You can see them in professional jobs, luxury cars, fighting to get their kids to Ivy League or other top universities, and almost entirely indifferent to the plight of their fellow citizens.

  14. VietnamVet

    The human mind has to order the randomness of the world and name it to frame everything into a system of beliefs. The power of the crony corporate government partnership over the last 40 years is that it was never given a name. Its core belief is the free movement of capital, people, goods and services. Its expression is in new transnational corporate institutions (NAFTA and EU). Since 2008 the adverse effects of the rise of finance driven capitalism are obvious to those who are adversely affected from losing their jobs and homes, student loan debt, to the decline of the public health system. This causes massive cognitive dissonance. In my case, it was the restart of the Cold War 2.0. Mark Blyth is a Eureka moment when the world is reframed. He explains Trump, Brexit, and the inexplicable welcoming reaction of Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkle to the flood of millions of Muslim refugees from their never-ending world at war.

  15. Cripes


    In all the millenia prior to Newton’s use of the word gravity in 1641, that unnamed force exerted the same effect upon humans as it does today. Similarly, in the realm of ideology, catholicism bound the understanding of Christians for more than a millennia; a faith that controlled every detail of their lives and followed them into the

    Those peasants had no word for gravity, nor could they read the bible.
    I’m pretty sure this enhanced, rather than reduced, it’s power over them.

    It’s like a brain infection, or an immovable, pantsuit wearing, bobble-headed diversity bombing campaign.
    It’s a non-threatening black guy that bombs seven countries in eight years but can’t even once submit legislation to raise the minimum wage.
    It’s a generation told that There Is No Alternative.
    Study reality judiciously as you will, while we create the reality you live within.
    The ideology that isn’t known is the most effective.
    That’s how neoliberalism works.

  16. Elizabeth

    Margaret Weir states that she’s confident that forces within the Democratic party will rise up and – what? save it? Who are these forces? She also says that Obama’s message was inclusive – I’m not sure what that means. Obama was an epic failure and presided over the gutting of this country’s middle class.

    I think that people want to hear about the reality of what’s happened to this country. We’re lied to every day by the media, how great the economy is, how wonderful Obamacare is, and we’re fed nothing but propaganda when it comes to our ME wars and foreign affairs. People want the truth!

    I think it was aab’s comment yesterday about how angry she is. Yes, I’m angry also – and have been for at least the last 16 years of Bush and Obama. The vile Democrats don’t care – people are right when they say all they care about is maintaining their rich sinecures – damn everybody else.

    Sorry about the rant – I wish Mark Blyth could be heard by a very wide audience – he speaks the truth.

  17. Rageon

    The Democrat party will not change one iota since they are relying on the pendulum swinging back by default in 2, 4, 8 years…That is their only game plan. There is no alternative.

  18. Davidt

    Neocons & Neoliberals I believe are one now.
    The swords wrought by the Neocons produced spoils for the Neoliberals’ Empire.

    Google Neocons (neoconservative) and you will find very little if any information in the U.S. media. Look to older stories in the U.K. press. The same goes for Neoliberal. PBS “Front Line” produced a documentary on Neocons that I believe has since been edited. One must know of these two groups to have a feel for and discuss recent activities by the United States and also our allies (co-conspirators???)

    Discussion of the Neocons seems to have disappeared from almost everywhere and my theory has been since their goals are symbiotic they have become one. It has been said by others that in addition to the Neoliberal philosophical objective they could be described as a jobs program. The Neoliberal cohorts are embedded throughout government, media, academia, and society typically in influential and leadership positions.

    Research these two forces and you will feel “some” clarity of forces and terms to consider. I used to say I know then I changed to saying I see and now I can only say I feel as the certainty of knowing is beyond grasp. It is like the Russian nesting dolls that I can open the top only to find another doll inside. I seems like every mountain of information leads only to a plateau and every plateau has a new mountain of information to climb.

    1. Grebo

      Neocons, it seems to me, are indifferent to ideologies like neoliberalism. They will adopt whatever pose is required to insinuate themselves into the positions which have the power to further their agenda. It won’t matter what the world’s politics are when they rule it.

  19. Mitch Ritter

    Is the NIKE brand whoosh symbol on his sweat jacket an ironic optic given Phil Knight & Nike’s business model?

    Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Shifters
    Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
    Media Discussion List

  20. freedomny

    I’ve listened to several of his presentations and have always thought he was spot on. Although he is not overtly “optimistic” – I did hear in one that he was positive towards Millennials. I tend to agree being close to my own Millenials relatives….a bit of hope….

  21. mpinco

    Some brief thoughts ….

    – As Frank highlighted it is not “the 1%” who are doing well under the current policy trajectory, it is the top 10-15% of technocrats who prefer status quo. In fact the blocking that Blyth refers to is actually performed by that top10/15%. It is the techocrats who reside in the coastal areas. A better characterization would be to move to the “top 10%” in discussions.

    – I doubt the bottom 90% understand neo-liberalism. They are too absorbed with Facebook, zero content in their brief discussions and believe journalist, who know how to leverage emotions. That said, they are waking up from a long slumber. The process has taken over a decade.

    – It is premature to assume that the door of opportunity will not be filled by Trump policy. That assumes failure. We have seen how assumptions have played out. Even Nassim Taleb noted that those who thought Trump could not win were idiots. Then again were those idiots the top 10%? Likely.

    – I do agree that Democrats are in the wilderness and may be there for a long time. I agree with Blyth that they likely will offer nothing in the short term. They are not even close to reform. Change is painful. Refer to the “decade” above.

  22. Sound of the Suburbs

    If you want to find out how wrong neoliberalism is read Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”.

    I have seen one of his videos before, an oasis of sanity in a world gone mad.

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