Saturday, December 24, 2011

Parsing the 99%

Matt Taibbi argues that "[w]hat makes people furious" with the oligarchs "is that they have stopped being citizens." This is true.

But what motivates the petty-minded woe-is-us claptrap of the oligarchs? Neoliberalism,. In the course of   the neoliberals' long march through the institutions included and includes the notion that the oligarchs ought not be citizens of any state and that their, and really the only real, allegiance is to the market. This claim has been amplified by dimwits and useful idiots until it is now sacredly true. When, for example, Kevin Drum, a moderate neoliberal,writes of how the current economic collapse "radicalized" him, his response is a list of tepid moderate neoliberal responses that will do nothing to make the systemic changes necessary if we are going to created a just society.

When Dean Baker writes a book sternly taking liberals and progressives to task for their failure to take the system seriously and, consequently, blames them for allowing the oligarchs to seize control, he engages in the same kind of tepid reformism that is going to get us exactly nowhere in the short or long run.

Paul Krugman cites a Joe Nocera column in which the latter exposes hard core neoliberal lies about the economic wreck wrought by the neoliberal consensus. Krugman gives himself and Nocera props for being brave truth tellers in these dark times. True as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. Keynesism papers over the structural inequality built into market capitalism.

Why, one wonders, is it that exactly at that moment when reality exposes the fundamental idiocy of "market" capitalism that everyone on the "left" responds with reform ideas that range from lukewarm to ice cold?  It is a case of 1848 all over again. The centrists won't make common cause with radicals because? No idea.

What is to be done? If I had a vote it would be for market socialism.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Killing or Kisses

The New York Times reports on a horrific case of bullying and a resultant suicide of an American who was trying to serve his country. The world, one want to say, sucks. On the other hand, adults who love one another are increasingly able to show the love:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not Bad For an Economist

Paul Krugman has two nice posts up on Hungary from an actual expert. Go figure.

History Remains a Discipline; Economics is a Bunch of Blather

Over to Naked Capitalism there is a two part series on economics and how it got that way. One interesting point is that 
the grey- beards summarily expelled both philosophy and history from the graduate economics curriculum; and then, they chased it out of the undergraduate curriculum as well. This latter exile was the bitterest, if only because many undergraduates often want to ask why the profession believes what it does, and hear others debate the answers, since their own allegiances are still in the process of being formed. The rationale tendered to repress this demand was that the students needed still more mathematics preparation, more statistics and more tutelage in ‘theory’, which meant in practice a boot camp regimen consisting of endless working of problem sets, problem sets and more problem sets, until the poor tyros were so dizzy they did not have the spunk left to interrogate the masses of journal articles they had struggled to absorb.
In other words, if you want to assure that you will be wrong for evermore on any issue of importance assume that you are now and for evermore right and that this righness arose without and prolonged period of intellectual struggle.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Historians Rock

More reasons to adore Jill Lapore.

Anarcho-Syndicalism Isn't Chaos

Recently one or another of the nephews has been learning about various political whatchamacallits. The official answer for Anarchism is chaos. I've been reading Orwell on Spain. He does a really nice job of liming Anarcho-Sydicalism and, I think, Anarchism more generally in Chapter 5 of Homage. This post does a nice job of differentiating Hitchens from Orwell, although I think he underestimates Orwell condescension toward the "common man"; nonetheless, Orwell  was on the right side of this debate:

And this one:

Hitchens wasn't. More importantly, the one or another of the nephews' teacher fails entirely to understand that Anarchism is the logical culmination of buy local or think global act local arguments.It is also, pace theological nonsense, the logical culmination of Camus faith in humanity's ability to perfect the world, which is closely allied to Havel's notion of hope in the face of absurd death.

In short, the Anarchist argument hinges on the humanist impulse and the humanist impulse hinges on the "Enlightenment Project" of leaving self-imposed tutelage and thinking for one's self. It is true, as Hamann argued, that Kant suggests the tutelage of reason instead of the unreason of faith. It is also true that Kant was right and Hamann wrong.

These Are People Who Died

In the past couple of days several people died. One a deranged dictator, one a hack, and one a decent human being and humanist. From the last link we find this lovely and totally true argument:
But history is not something that takes place elsewhere; it takes place here. We all contribute to making it. If bringing back some human dimension to the world depends on anything, it depends on how we acquit ourselves in the here and now.
As to the hack, Elvis' point about Thatcher seems apposite:

He begins by arguing for her death but soon realizes that the outpouring of faux grief and disingenuous praise is more appalling. See also. The same is true about Greenwald's point about Hitchens and Reagan.

We all recognize that ridiculing the enforced public grief about Kim Jong-il is correct but for those men and women that ruined the world? Let us now praise famous men.

This is Not Going to End Well

America has been out of Iraq for what a day? And already the stable democracy we spent so much money and wasted sacrificed so many lives is paying those all important regional stability bonus points:
Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government was thrown into crisis on Monday night as authorities issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president, accusing him of running a personal death squad that assassinated security officials and government bureaucrats.
Fortunately, the R2P doctrine means that we can re-invade with more freedom bombs when the Sunni on Shia or the opposite violence gets out of hand.