Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More from Hedges

On another sell out by the liberal class, we have Vietnam. Hedges again: "The role of the liberal class in defending the purportedly good intentions of the power elite was on public display in 1985, when Foreign Affairs published a tenth-an...niversary retrospective on the Vietnam War. The liberals in the magazine, writers such as David Fromkin and James Chace, argued that the military intervention in Vietnam was 'predicated on the view that the United States has a duty to look beyond its purely national interests,' and that, prusuant to its 'global responsibilities,' the U.S. must serve 'the interests on mankind.' In moral terms, in other words, the intent of the military intervention was good. It was correct to oppose 'communist aggression' by the Vietnamese. But the war, these liberals argued, was ultimately wrong because it was impractical, because 'our side was likely to lose.' The liberal class critiqued the war on practical but not moral grounds. They were countered by the militarists who argued that with more resolve the North Vietnamese could have been defeated on the battlefield. The virtues of the nation, even in an act of war, are sacrosanct. the liberal class cannot question these virtues and remain within the circles of the power elite." [pp. 37-8]

Now, this is exactly what some liberals at Assumption argue, at times claiming to ignorant of foreign affairs. Liberals cannot see, perhaps, the connection between foreign policy and domestic policy or, as I like to say, that foreign policies are really only domestic policies in disguise or supplements to domestic policies that serve the entrenched elites and their self-interested policies. I think, though, liberals like Clinton and Kerry and Obama can see the connection and reinforce it so that they can remain "in the game." Otherwise, like Kucinich on the left and Ron Paul on the right, they will be ostracized, an old political practice recognized by Plato and Aristotle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Interesting new book

An interesting new book is Christopher Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class. Here is one example of Hedges' concerns:

"Anger and a sense of betrayal: these are what Ernest Logan Bell and tens of millions of other disenfranchised workers express. These emotions spring from the failure of the liberal class over the past three decades to protect the minimal interests of the working and middle class as corporations dismantled the democratic state, decimated the manufacturing sector, looted the U.S. treasury, waged imperial wars that can neither be afforded or won, and gutted the basic laws that protected the interests of ordinary citizens. Yet the liberal class continues to speak in the prim and obsolete language of policies and issues. It refuses to defy the corporate assault. A virulent right wing, for this reason, captures and expresses the legitimate rage articulated by the disenfranchised. And the liberal class has become obsolete even as it clings to its positions of privilege within liberal institutions."

While I might disagree that this phenomenon is only three decades old, I have no problem with Hedges' take on today's "liberals." For an illustration that these people are as Hedges describes them, it is only necessary to read the New York Times and what passes these days for political analysis. An especially revealing piece was published today, Nov. 15, 2010, dealing with Obama's troubles with a Congress that is, allegedly, unpredictable. But what emerges from the article is that what is going to happen is, actually, fairly predictable. The election, that is, the show is over and now it is time for the two parties to resume their collusion meant to secure their prominence in our political order.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Now this funny!

Now, here is a really, genuinely funny thing that is going on in this nation. The Tea Party is supporting Republicans for office, thinking that they will reduce the size and scope of the national government - no, not the "federal" government as it has not been "federal" for a pretty long time. What is so funny about this? Well, think first the name "Dick Cheney." Then think the phrase: "Presidential power." Now, put the two phrases together and see what you get. If you have been paying attention at all to what went on in Washington, D.C. when Dick Cheney was vice president [I almost wrote "president"], you will know that if you are concerned with limiting government, then voting for Republicans is not the way to do it.

If the name "Dick Cheney" and the phrase "Presidential power" don't work for you, then think of the law labeled "No Child Left Behind." Of course this was Shrub's contribution to the attempts of the national government to regulate - read "control" - education in this nation, taking the power of regulation away from the states and assigning it to bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Or if "No Child Left Behind" does not work for you, then think of the law called the "Patriot Act." Of course, this law was passed after 9/11 and increased the powers of the national government immensely, even allowing the government to spy on American citizens without warrants, which means without having to provide any justification for such spying. Perhaps this blog is being spied upon. Who knows? You don't and I don't. And that is the point: If you are genuinely concerned about limiting the powers of the national government, then I would suggest you have to find some other party to vote for than the Republicans. No, I don't think the Democrats will do, as they are no more interested in limiting the powers of the national government than are the Republicans. So, I guess the bottom line is this: If you are genuinely interested in limiting the powers of the national government you are shit out of luck - or you need to become a rebel or insurgent and attempt to overthrow or undermine the political system as it functions today. But if you take the latter tack, ask Russ Feingold, former Senator from Wisconsin, how it worked out for him.

Friday, November 5, 2010

An exchange on the election

Here is an exchange with a friend and former student that I thought was interesting.

Nice article Peter but I'm a little confused. Using your logic the Republicans would have "gone along" with the President following their defeats on 2006 and 2008 but instead the did exactly the opposite and regained power not by going along, and not through vigorous debate but through staunch and unbreakable opposition. Or is your argument that only Democrats behave this way?

On Nov 4, 2010, at 10:57 PM, Peter
No, the Republican few did what they needed to do to preserve their power. If they went along with the Democrats they would lose their base, as they did in part anyway via the Tea Party. They will now, I predict, reassert their control via controlling Palin and, as noted in my piece, already criticizing the Tea Party for losing the Senate. I predicted - and my predictions are usually horrible - that Sharron Angle would lose Nevada and that would be fine with the Republicans. Do you really think that the Republicans wanted O'Donnell to win in Delaware? I don't. They don't even care about Miller in Alaska. In fact, I suspect they like the fact that he is losing to Murkowski, as he is Palin's guy.

Both parties or the syndicates in both parties want, first and foremost, to preserve their power. If that requires losing some elections, so be it. Just look at Brown's votes since he was elected and how he has pissed off the Tea Party. He is no dope and he wants to be a senator. The Tea Party cannot get him that honor in two years.

On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 11:18 PM, William
So why would the Democrats go along with the republicans now? Why not double down on the party of no plan that the republicans did for the last two years? Wouldn't the dems lose their base as well or are the bases fundamentally different?
I do agree that the republican power base wants nothing to do with Sarah plain as a presidential candidate nor were they sad to see Sharon Angle or O'Donnell lose as they are so far out of whack with even mainstream Republicanism that they can only hurt the party elite but I still don't quite get the assertion that the dems will simply go along with the new leadership unless it's the theory that that's just what they do.

To William;
Because that is how the Democrats, the syndicate, preserves its power. If they double down on the Republicans they will instigate those who are interested in real change, not the faux stuff of Obama. Why did Obama not come out swinging on health care - when he had a super majority in the Senate and the House - but pretended to be incompetent and then overwhelmed by the allegedly "conservative" leanings of the American people? Because if he passes real health care, then he strengthens those forces in the party that would displace "the syndicate" with other people. [Has any Democrat lamented the loss of Russ Feingold in Wis.? Not to my knowledge. It is a defeat that has not even garnered much play in the media and it is probably the most important loss of the night for those in the Dem. party who want genuine change.] The Dems are, in my opinion, "disciplining" their base, just as the Republicans are doing the same thing by illustrating how the Tea Partiers are "losers." By "disciplining" I mean that the syndicate is "teaching" the "base" that they cannot have want they what - just as they did when they had the super majority in the Senate and did very little with it. Why was that? To "teach" the base "the reality" of politics.....The Republicans are doing the same thing. John Boehner represents real change, the kind of change the Tea Partiers are interested in?? Please.....!!!!!

There is danger to the few, to the syndicate of the party in a super majority and in success. The latter feeds the people and might make them think that they can have a government they want, and not one controlled by the likes of Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, or, I am sad to say, B. Obama.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Election as "the opium of the people"

"With [a] recession deepening,...'debate' [is] more dangerous than ever and fairness yet more explosive." [Walter Karp, Buried Alive, p. 222]

Elections, and even this last election which has been touted in the media as of momentous importance, can serve in this republic as a narcotic, as an opiate by which the people, the "masses" are lulled to sleep so that the political establishment can preserve its power. This works as follows.

As the situation in the country worsens, the possibility of an explosion, a political explosion, grows, as evidenced these days by the Tea Party "movement." So, as noted in the above quote, debate, that is, real or genuine debate becomes dangerous. And this means dangerous to, among others, what may be called the Democratic Party "syndicate," the few who control the party, ala' Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. As the system fails and these failures grow and are exposed, it is more and more likely that the people will demand change, i.e., real change, which would involve a change in personnel. And this poses a problem for the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid: Would these people really want to give up their places of power and privilege in the Democratic Party for the sake of real change? Probably not. So, they would rather see the Republicans win control of the Congress - or at least a part of it - than give up their roles as "leading Democrats."

Besides, as an added benefit, a Republican victory, especially if it is of impressive proportions or can be made to seem that way in the media, allows the Democrats to claim that they have to "go along" with the Republicans. This is touted as only "realistic" or as the only realistic alternative the Democrats have before them. In this way, they also will "calm" - actually "pacify" or lull - the people, thereby saving their perks and privileges and power by laying to rest any possible insurrection or republican rebellion meant to restore some semblance of popular control on the government. This is made all the easier when the media play along by concocting stories about how, in just two short years, the electorate has become "more conservative." Oh, those fickle masses. First, they seem to be liberal and then, shortly thereafter, they seem to be conservative. No wonder we need elites to govern us.

So, the great election of 2010 has served, in its own way, to fortify the forces of the few in both the parties [the Tea Party is being blamed now by some Republicans for costing that party the Senate. Surprise, surprise!] but especially in the Democratic Party. Order - or is it "oligarchy"? - has been or is being restored and the danger of a republican insurrection or rebellion has been short circuited for the time being. But, strangely, this only serves to confirm the wisdom of Jefferson when he wrote that revolutions in politics are necessary and beneficial, because without them republics cease to exist and "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" vanishes into thin air.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The 2010 Elections

Make no mistake about it: The 2010 elections will provide the opportunity for the political establishment to reassert its control over the political and social orders that have been upset by the twin disasters of the war on terror, including the invasion of Iraq and the continuing war in Afghanistan, and the "great recession" that began in 2008. In light of these twin debacles, it was no longer possible to hide from the American people the failures of the current establishment, which consists of both the Republican and Democratic parties. The success of the Tea Party movement, as it is called, illustrates this all-too-well. Whatever its faults, and they are many and even more than many, the Tea Party illustrates the anger and frustration of those who know that the republic needs to be rescued from the current establishment, as its policies from No Child Left Behind to the war on drugs to the war on terrorism to the bailout and to health care "reform" are characterized by failure. Everyone knows this or at least everyone who knows what day of the week it is knows this. And, of course, because Obama is merely another Chicago Democrat - "Don't Make No Waves, Don't Back No Losers" - he has been unable to successfully paper over these failures and make people think that the republic is functional. More radical surgery is needed and that will come in the form of a Republican Party sweep in tomorrow's elections.

From this perspective, it does not matter to the Democrats all that much that the Republicans will make huge gains in the Congress, perhaps even taking the Senate. What better way to indicate to the American people that now is not the time for embracing the radical republican attitude [definitely small "r" here] that the proper measure of the government's performance is not increasing the GDP or the eradication of evil in the world but, rather, how accurately it "re-presents" the American people and works to satisfy their needs and fulfill their desires? After all, such a standard would require that different people control the Republican and Democratic parties or, put differently, that the current leadership be dethroned. Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner switch places....and then what? I will tell you: Not much that is different. After the Republicans sweep, I can hear it now: "Now is the time to 'consolidate,' to compromise, to work together to 'fix' our political system." But, of course,the "fix" will not involve a change of personnel, just a change from one set of incumbent leaders to the other set. If this is a recipe for change, then I have a recipe for spaghetti sauce that is largely catsup! There will be "working together" just as there was after the 1994 elections when the Republicans took over the Congress with Clinton as president. But there will be no move toward a genuinely republican or representative political system because, well, because that would require radical changes in personnel and leadership and that is not about to happen. But, hey, what the heck! After all, if the GDP increases and we get to kill some more terrorists, who really cares if our republic is functional. We can still, as President Shrub recommended, "go shopping!"