The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Square circles


I just want to draw some attention to this post on Naked Capitalism that I thought was an excellent analysis of the dilemma of left-wing electoral politics.

They have done so mainly by convincing a layer of affluent, middle-aged professionals that the Left ultimately represents a threat to their most cherished social values: meritocratic, individualistic, cosmopolitan liberalism. In the US, this perceived threat has mainly taken the form of a repeated insistence (against absolutely all psephological evidence) that a Sanders candidacy would inevitably lose to Trump, thereby extending the life of his cartoonishly villainous regime. This same threat was used to convince older Black Democratic voters in the South that the defence of centrist liberalism was the only alternative to a perpetuation of Trumpian white supremacism. In the UK, the same effect was achieved by convincing a small but strategically crucial section of middle-class voters that Jeremy Corbyn was an advocate for Brexit and an antisemite, and that voters should instead lend support to the Liberal Democrats or the Greens (or abstain).

Secondly, again in each case, a nationalist, and increasingly irrationalist, populism on the Right has attracted enough support from some of the social constituencies who we might have hoped would unite around a radical social democratic agenda to make it impossible for that programme to win a majority. In the UK this was the constituency which voted for Johnson to ‘get Brexit done’. In the US, Trump’s economic nationalism and nativist populism mobilised lots of his base.

His failure to deliver on any of his promises (either to build a wall on the Mexican border or to bring jobs back to the rust belt) has undermined much of his credibility with that section, which is partly why increasingly deranged conspiracy theories are circulating among his die-hard supporters. There isn’t much reason left to vote for Trump, if you didn’t benefit from his tax cuts, or don’t believe he’s engaged in a secret war with the ‘deep state’.

This is exactly right, but I would cast it in another way.  There is still a large segment of opinion on the left that wants to engage in electoral politics but without taking into account voter subjectivity.  Well, of the votes meaningfully available to the left (construed as generously as possible) in Western countries, they do not conceive of the universe in the way that many people, particularly on the economic and environmental left, want them to.  If you are interested in exerting power via electoral politics, you must seriously engage with the subjective reality that these voters live in.  In the USA, one large group views Trump and all his supporters to be a critical values threat (what I’ve been calling the “dire aesthetic emergency” — keep in mind that I do not use “aesthetic” in a derogatory and trivializing way), another group (black voters) exist in a state of justified mistrust towards the rest of the electorate, and another group wants economic improvement but only if it is obtained through an aggressive posture towards those they view as an outgroup.  How these groups formed is a matter of a complex social history that is not fully amenable to class politics via “vulgar Marxism”.

Perhaps because it is, ultimately, the expression of inchoate and malleable emotional forces, nationalism can become attached to various political projects and tendencies. Its most extreme manifestation may have been in the murderous modernity of mid-twentieth century fascism, but the New Right of Thatcher and Reagan also managed to convince xenophobes and nationalists that they were on their side, willing to endorse racist and militarist projects as long as they also got to sell off public utilities and slash taxes for the rich. So the discourse of nationalist authoritarianism has proven remarkably flexible over the years, being used to justify everything from imperialist war to the destruction of the British coal industry. But the purpose that conservative nationalism always serves is to provide alternative explanations for historical events to those that would inform a progressive response: blaming unemployment on immigration; blaming union unrest on unpatriotic militant workers; blaming crime on the supposed moral degeneracy of ethnic minorities.

In the UK, the most recent and powerful iteration of this narrative was the Right-wing argument for Brexit. The Brexit story offers a compelling and plausible account of almost all of the cultural, social, political and economic changes of recent decades that many UK citizens have cause to regret, while promising an easy remedy to them. The weakening of our democratic institutions, the collapse of manufacturing industry and the consequent loss of secure employment in many places, the changing cultural composition of our cities and other communities: all could be laid at the door of EU membership. Of course a few of the people who voted Leave did so out of a hard-headed Left-wing understanding of the EU as an institution committed to the implementation of neoliberalism. Of course almost everyone who took such a view was a committed supporter of lifelong anti-racist Jeremy Corbyn. But absolutely every relevant survey suggests that the proportion of leavers who were motivated by this view, free from any nationalist fantasies of ‘recovering sovereignty’ or restoring cultural purity, was statistically negligible. A certain section of the American Left loves the idea that Brexit was in fact a vote against neoliberal policy rather than the reactionary form taken by dismay at some of its effect. The truth is, for most of its supporters and opponents, a vote for or against Brexit was the precise symbolic equivalent of a vote for or against Trump’s border wall.

There is a strong temptation, again especially among economic leftists, to see favorite leftist bugbears (e.g., the construction of European institutions while neoliberalism still seemed to bear the Mandate of Heaven) as the “real” thing that underlies the false consciousness of nationalist resentment.  Arguing this requires the kind of psychologizing that typically heralds weak armchair sociological reasoning.  Perhaps if one were already in power, one could use economic policy or withdrawal from neoliberal globalization to abate the underlying impulses that motivate proto-fascist ideation in the population.  This is putting the cart before the horse.  There is no evidence that catering to those impulses before attaining power enables you to create a cadre of voters that is more motivated by economic policy than by latent cultural resentments.

There are therefore two overall options:

  1. Accept the electorate as it is (yes, fully understanding the power of capitalist media to shape public opinion without overestimating it or imputing omnipotence to it). Then make a decision as to what are the palatable compromises in order to exert power.
  2. Set aside electoral politics as the center of available political progress and do the hard work, outside the question of elections, of raising public consciousness and reshaping the attitudes of the electorate.

This is, of course, not a complete dichotomy, since a combination of the two is possible.  The option that has not been available at this present time, however, is running on a platform that centers economic and environmental improvement, given the constraints of the electoral system and its social history to date.  This is not a circle you can square.  The prospects for this have improved (the fact that Corbyn and Sanders got as far as they did is a relevant indicator), but the world is not “there” yet.


Two Tips For Dealing With Smoke


The Theocratic Mantra Of Our Age


  1. S Brennan

    So many words on subject so simple three short paragraphs would cover it but for the divisive doctrine.

    Simply said, the left has to give on certain subjects in order to rule. Collectively it must decide what is aesthetics and what is essential, that is the reality of the world, as it has always been and as it always shall be. The left has to accept reality, it needs to do what all humans must do in order accomplish a goal, prioritize.

    Now the useful dialogue is what is to be included and what is to be left undone. And it is here that the left has always fallen down.

    Is being anti-war part of the left? Bernie supporters said no, Tulsi supporters said yes…in 2020 Bernie’s pro-war faction won out. The majority of the left is pro-war, far more so than conservative Southerners I[‘ve] know[n]. The left wouldn’t want those people onboard anyhow..think of the aesthetics? Besides, why argue over 75% of the US’s budget, today’s “left” has bigger fish to fry.

    Is being pro open borders part of the left, it didn’t used to be but, in 2020 no right-minded “leftist” wasn’t for open borders. US Social Security, food stamps, medicaid for all the citizens of the world! Corporatist have somehow grafted onto the left the idea that an ever growing labor pool will increase wages and job security. So let’s not argue about that shall we?

    I could go on but…

    The short version is, not only does the “left” have to set priorities, it needs to set priorities that are consistent with one another.


    I kinda thought FDR already did this exercise once before but I’ve been informed by “leftist” on this blog that FDRism is passé, just like those Chicago School boys did in the late 60’s & 70’s. So be it, let’s start from scratch, let’s ignore the compromises that worked in the past. F the blue collar vote, F the rural vote, F the…well, you get the idea, only cool kids in this clubhouse!

  2. bruce wilder

    I read yesterday the referenced essay by Jeremy Gilbert, notably titled, Professor of Cultural and Political Theory at the University of East London

    The original essay began its discourse with the split within the Center-Left, between the Left part and the Center part, with the Center establishment ruthlessly shutting the Left down. Before you get to blaming the stinky, smelly voters, you might want to consider a bit more the relation of the Left to the Party and Media establishment, who have efficiently made the Left into an impotent rump. [“(against absolutely all psephological evidence)” — I love British professors!]

    Only then did this professor of culture and politics get into the cultural politics of various ideas promoted on the Left and the reaction they provoke among various electoral demographics.

    The essay to read alongside the Gilbert one would be, Angela Nagle and Michael Tracey, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce: The Collapse of the Sanders Campaign and the “Fusionist” Left at

  3. Mallam

    I don’t necessarily see a square that cannot be circled even if that’s true it couldn’t be in the past. In mythologies past, white suburbia was the bulwark against the declining and crime infested cities and urban dwellers. That’s the world Trump thinks exists anyway. Is he right? The evidence doesn’t seem to to be bearing this out. The suburbs are flipping left, and the cities are moving even more left. The suburbs are also now extremely diverse. “Abolish the police” is a statement important enough to be polled (only gets 20-25%, but still). Many of these upper class suburban types can be convinced to bring about their “own destruction” and build lots of apartments and triplexes, effectively reducing their own wealth. But you present it as fighting Trumpism. Charter schools are Trumpism; “private schools” is Trumpism. Opinions are already rapidly shifting. The biggest differential here is “age” and “wealth ownership”. And even though a lot of these high earning suburban people would be paying more in tax, they don’t “own” anything. Vulgar Marxism works just fine. Indeed, it
    makes total sense to me that a plumber and CEO might have the same political interest as a janitor and professor.

  4. Willy

    Elite corporatists control the narrative, the culture, and the judgements, for (around here) obvious reasons.

    Good Americans are (or behave) whiter, cleaner, and traditional. Their IQs are higher. They embrace our most sacred traditions, such as consuming trendy consumables and respecting wealth and power because wealth and power earns their wealth and power through courage and hard work. They wear the latest in freedom styles and carry American flags and wear Christian crosses. Freedom, patriotism, and Jesus are all facets of the same thing.

    Bad Americans are (or behave) darker, dirtier, and socialist. They have lower IQs. They ignore our most sacred traditions which made America great. They hate wealth and power because they’re too lazy to get their own, and this poisons our economy. Disbelieving in God, they put their faith in academics, cultures, and George Sorostrians of unamerican and Satanic flavors. They wear black, modify their bodies, and always want to control others in the most invasive of ways.

    Sounds ludicrous. But I know many who firmly believe these things, even well-educated people. I’m betting that the vast majority of Americans have also bought into this narrative, at some subconscious level. My point is that there’s a pervasive cultural backdrop with roots in corporate brainwashing of course, which is a major part of this “subjectivity” of which we speak.

  5. Joan

    @bruce wilder, thank you for linking that article about the Bernie campaign. That was very informative. The Bernie I voted for in 2020 was the Bernie of 2016: anti-establishment and focused on economic issues. I didn’t bother to follow him in the intervening years, or else he likely would have lost me as a voter if he was Russia-gating and allowing people to advocate for open borders under his name. Not that I would have had anyone better to vote for, but still.

  6. Willy

    Why is it that even if people like Corbyn or Sanders behave impeccably, or even just better than the typical politician, that they’re still as readily attackable as are the far more obviously nefarious political power players?

    In our current world George Bailey wouldn’t stand a chance against Mr. Potter (especially if the latter took lessons at smiling, waving, glad-handing and kissing babies).

  7. js

    But Sanders ran on issues that were popular like Medicare For All which is why he did as well as he did. It’s extremely doubtful foreign policy would get that much interest, in fact I don’t think there is evidence of it almost ever doing so.

  8. js

    Also I think it breaks down in the U.S. context, did Biden somehow appeal to those factions and Sanders didn’t? Biden ran on nothing, and is forever putting his foot in his mouth and saying the wrong thing. People probably voted fear of 4 more years of Trump holding us hostage than they did anything else. Biden has greater appeal among Lincoln project republicans I guess, whatever that amounts to, I mean more Republicans will vote for him than would Sanders no doubt, but so what.

  9. S Brennan

    Great article Mr Wilder;

    It’s good to see Bernie and pro-Bernie folks called out for their betrayal of Tulsi.

    “…many pro-Bernie commentators…were ruthlessly hostile toward Tulsi Gabbard—After Liz ambushed Bernie as a malevolent sexist, it was Tulsi who rose to his defense. And when Warren mused that it might, after all, be just fine for superdelegates to thwart Sanders’s nomination, Gabbard was the only other candidate to object. And when Sanders permitted himself to be “Russiagated” in the critical period before the South Carolina pri­mary—appearing to accept the nonsensical premise of a Washington Post article alleging that the all-powerful Vladimir Putin was once again “interfering” in U.S. democracy, this time on Sanders’s behalf—it again fell to Gabbard to defend him more vigorously than even Sanders chose to defend himself…the vitriol against Gabbard in the left-wing press was unremitting”

    And it’s good to note that the rust-belt didn’t fall for Bernie’s shtick twice

    “…The argu­ment was that Bernie’s strong performance among rural and midwestern voters in particular—that fled from Hillary Clinton in disgust after having twice voted for Barack Obama, and either voted for Trump or didn’t vote at all, demonstrated that he would’ve been the superior general election nominee. But in 2020, those very same demographics abandoned him in droves. With that, another pillar of the rationale undergirding the second incarnation of the Sanders campaign had disintegrated.”

    And speaking the truth about Bernie’s making fools of his most ardent supporters

    “…The harsh reality is that, by 2020, Sanders was not quite the threat to “establishment” interests that his most ardent backers supposed. Indeed, Sanders expedited his campaign’s suspension to enter a fruitful working relationship with his “good friend” Joe, allegedly the evil establishment juggernaut that represented everything Sanders stood against. It is clearly an exaggeration to say that Sanders posed an “existential threat” to these interests when he maintained cordial and complimentary rela­tions with not just Biden but Barack Obama. Sanders is reported to have confided in Obama via phone calls throughout the race, most consequentially as his campaign was nearing its end and a party-unifying “exit strategy” needed to be arranged. Now, Bernie and Joe are happily collaborating…How exactly does a “revolutionary” maintain such friendly relations with the power elite of the country’s center-left political party? This contradiction was never quite internalized by steadfast Sanders supporters, who overlooked it in their zeal to cast him as some sort of establishment-crushing renegade. But would such a committed enemy of the establishment hire an alumnus of former Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s office, Faiz Shakir, as his campaign manager?”

    And then on to Bernie’s dead-enders continuing support of his nationwide fraud.

    “To the extent that Sanders supporters are willing to engage in self-criticism, it’s usually “Bernie was too nice,”..Others cite Sanders’s principled aversion to the ordinary ugliness of politics.. It wasn’t that Sanders declined to play the “inside game” for some purehearted reason. He did play that game. It just didn’t work.”

    Then into the American “left’s” foolishness, buying into the DNC’s cartoonish portrayal of Trump.

    “The wildly histrionic terms in which Trump was depicted by liberal political and media elites—that he was some sort of mad Nazi-empowering tyrant—were more or less echoed by the activist and media Left. In short, these leftists actively aided in creat­ing a popular con­ception of Trump which, if taken seriously by the Democratic primary electorate, would make a transformative left-wing political project almost impossible. You can’t spend four years frantically warning these voters that the country has been overrun by a “literal fascist”—who is both conspiring with the Kremlin and pre­siding over a network of “literal concentration camps”—and then blame them when they evince no appetite for challenging the vested interests of the Democratic Party. Voters’ priority, thanks to the propaganda on­slaught in which the Left enthusiastically participated, may have been finding the “safest” candidate to remove Trump as quickly and painlessly as possible.”

    And the part about Sanders participating in Hillary’s McCarthyism is too funny because the article accurately points out Bernie was implicated by Mueller

    “Take Sanders’s awkward posture toward the whole Russian collu­sion and impeachment melodrama. Warren gained widespread acclamation for declaring her support for impeaching Trump on the basis of allegations in the Mueller Report—Sanders ham-handedly avoided the topic for six weeks, be­fore un­enthusiastically declaring his support as well. In an alternate universe, it’s at least conceivable to imagine a version of Sanders who rejected the fallacious premises of the “Russian interference” narrative from the outset, not least because he was also named in the Mueller Report…the concessions he made to liberal elite sensibilities were clearly of no tangible benefit…the notion that Sanders was ever going to be the natural candidate of Democrats primarily concerned about Trump’s supposedly sinister dealings with Putin—the type of well-off voter who spends an unhealthy amount of time watching msnbc—always seemed quite far-fetched. Yet by embracing almost every conventional anti-Trump talking point, Sanders eroded the distinctions that made him a novelty in 2016…in fruitlessly catering to this demographic, Sanders jettisoned the sense of being distinct from the rest of the mainstream Democratic Party.”

    But..but..but..Bernie was cheated…AGAIN!!!

    “Since 2016, most states which previously held caucuses—arcane, party‑run affairs prone to dirty tricks and chicanery—had converted to higher-turnout primaries. This was in part a reaction to the de­mands of Sanders supporters who had been appointed to the so-called DNC Unity Reform Commission—a body created at the 2016 con­vention by Democratic officials as a gesture of goodwill to Sanders delegates sour that the primaries that year appeared to have been “rigged” against him…Left-wing press touted the final set of recommendations produced by the commission in 2018 as “a major victory for the Sanders wing of the party.” The much-maligned superdelegates—party apparatchiks seen as constitutionally hostile to Sanders—had been significantly stripped of power and denied the ability to vote for the pres­idential nominee on the first ballot at the next convention. A longtime fear of Bernie activists was therefore allayed; many had been utterly con­vinced that Democratic functionaries would move to thwart them even if Sanders entered the convention with a sizable delegate advan­tage. Far from being exiled to the wilderness, then, the activists were in fact invited to impose their will on the central party structure. This was just one of several major accommodations offered by a chastened “establishment,” desperate to avoid even the slightest perception that the scales were being tipped against Sanders after the divisive tumult of 2016. With that context in mind, it is more than a little preposterous for Sanders supporters to now decry the 2020 primaries as having once again been “rigged.””

    Sadly, Bernie only did really well in caucus states…

    Other lifted quotes.

    “the delusional premise that the Left in 2020 was a tribune of the material interests of the American working class…for years, polling data has been telling us very clearly that the vast majority of the public is to the left of the status quo on matters of economics and to its right on matters of culture. The Left is incapable of absorbing this truth, because to do so would mean genuinely putting the will of the actually existing American working class first—instead of trying to ride them to power…The primary cycle was, above all, a resounding defeat for left-wing factions animated principally by parochial culture war obsessions. Joe Biden won in states he didn’t even campaign in…“AOC” is only a nationally known political figure because she won a single low-turnout primary race in Queens and the Bronx over a sclerotic incumbent…the media drew the fallacious conclusion that the AOC style of politics is both culturally ascendant and electorally popular…it was she who the Sanders brain trust chose to dispatch to Michigan ahead of that make-or-break primary shows how painfully aloof the campaign ultimately was…

    Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The organization, founded during the Cold War, sought to re­define the Left. At its 2019 convention, DSA officially en­dorsed “open borders” (in a res­olution using exactly that phrase), formed a prison abolition working group, engaged in a host of bizarre practices including a prohibition on clapping so as not to trigger attendees with PTSD… Polling shows that Biden had more than double Sanders’s sup­port nationwide among voters with a high school education or less. While educated people stood to benefit in a very direct way from Bernie’s sweeping student debt forgiveness policy proposal, it was of little help to the two-thirds of Americans who do not have a college degree…the Bernie campaign suf­fered from a flaw remarkably similar to many Left parties in Europe—the perils of an overly youth-focused set of campaign priorities…Upon the final suspension of his campaign, Bernie declared “our movement has won the ideological struggle.” But the point of his 2020 campaign was not merely to win some ill-defined “struggle” or “battle”—it was to win power. That endeavor was an unambiguous failure.”

  10. S Brennan

    Willy/JS read the article posted by Bruce Wilder…your answers lie there.

  11. Simply said, the left has to give on certain subjects in order to rule. Collectively it must decide what is aesthetics and what is essential, that is the reality of the world, as it has always been and as it always shall be. The left has to accept reality, it needs to do what all humans must do in order accomplish a goal, prioritize.

    Now the useful dialogue is what is to be included and what is to be left undone. And it is here that the left has always fallen down.

    The devil, of course, is in the details, and that is precisely what the NC article and my post are about. When you say, “the useful dialogue is what is to be included and what is to be left undone”, you are using a euphemism. What you are asking is who is to be thrown overboard? The NC article correctly alludes to the fact that significant constituencies already suspect economic progressives of being willing to throw them over the side in order to pursue a particular vision of class politics, which is why they ultimately vote for centrists who at least elevate their representatives and mention their causes.

    What the NC article is pointing out is that the “what is to be included” that you seem to want may not be enough to create a winning coalition, simply by alienating other coalition partners.

    Is being pro open borders part of the left, it didn’t used to be but, in 2020 no right-minded “leftist” wasn’t for open borders. US Social Security, food stamps, medicaid for all the citizens of the world! Corporatist have somehow grafted onto the left the idea that an ever growing labor pool will increase wages and job security. So let’s not argue about that shall we?

    To me, it is much more that border enforcement under present-day conditions involves creating a state apparatus that is very quickly and easily turned against the domestic left. Once you accept that ICE (etc.) is not actually there to enforce a social contract that protects you against competition (except for long enough to get your consent to establishing these entities), then the next logical step is to accept that physical barriers to migration are not a solution.

    Pro tip: do not allow a concentration camp infrastructure with professional concentration camp managers to be built.

    I kinda thought FDR already did this exercise once before but I’ve been informed by “leftist” on this blog that FDRism is passé, just like those Chicago School boys did in the late 60’s & 70’s. So be it, let’s start from scratch, let’s ignore the compromises that worked in the past. F the blue collar vote, F the rural vote, F the…well, you get the idea, only cool kids in this clubhouse!

    Again, aside from the, well “F” bombs, this is very abstract and euphemistic, when you mention “the compromises that worked in the past”. What were those compromises, at the time of FDR? Who will you have to coerce to give up what to make it work?

    You cannot simply replay the past. You can learn lessons from FDR, sure, but they can’t be fully translated into the present. No historical phenomenon can.

  12. KT Chong

    I just threw up in my mouth a bit.

  13. KT Chong

    From watching the video, I meant.

  14. KT Chong

    I do not watch Fox News, and I have set all my social media accounts (including YouTube) to filter out and never recommend anything from Fox News. So I had missed this very important segments on Tucker Carlson earlier this week:

    A brilliant move by Glenn Greenwald to appeal to Trump’s ego to pardon Julian Assange and Ed Snowden.

    Also, if Trump pardons Assange and Snowden NOW before the tight election, he will flip many progressives who have been alienated and disillusioned by the Democratic establishment, (i.e., TRUE progressives who are anti-war and wand ECONOMIC justice, who are different from the so-called “liberals” nowadays, the SJW and woke identitarians, who only care about “social justice” for certain selected identity groups, meaning ONLY women and blacks.) Those progressives already do not have the stomach to vote for Joe Biden, so most of them will likely sit out this coming elections.

    Right now, they have NO reason to vote for EITHER Trump or Biden, so all their votes are gonna be sitting home and be wasted in November. They are not going to get the economic justice they demand from either Trump OR Biden, (like Medicare-for-All, free public colleges and universities, ending forever wars, etc.) HOWEVER, pardoning Assange and Snowden before the election will give them a strong reason to flip over and vote for Trump. Then, at least Trump will have given them something when Biden and the Democratic establishment have given them NOTHING.

  15. I read the article Bruce linked. There’s some office-politics fun details about the ineptitude of the Sanders campaign but honestly, most of that happens in every large campaign organization. Otherwise, it mainly confirms what the NC post is saying, even if the authors want us to draw the opposite conclusion. That is, it explains the known difficulties in the economic left attempting to hold on to all of its potential constituencies simultaneously, but the authors propose to be pro-active and simply not try to hold on to all those constituencies.

    Where the article goes wrong is, once again, in the abstractness of the proposition: who, among all the people they mock, is to be thrown overboard in the great quelling of “wokeness”?

    Here they attempt to make their proposition a little concrete, towards the end of the article:

    For years, polling data has been telling us very clearly that the vast majority of the public is to the left of the status quo on matters of economics and to its right on matters of culture. The Left is incapable of absorbing this truth, because to do so would mean genuinely putting the will of the actually existing American working class first—instead of trying to ride them to power in the interest of waging a vindictive culture war.

    (emphasis mine)

    This is intended to make the implication that yes, there is some point at which you can throw enough “vindictive culture war” (itself an insidious reversal, but I will leave that for another time) constituencies overboard such that you reach a point that you can seize power and implement an economic program. There is no evidence at this point in time that this will work, or that there is this direct linear relationship. Indeed, experience from several European countries, Australia, etc, suggest that actually, the gaping maw into which you throw various unpopular minorities is pretty insatiable, and the right has no trouble keeping up with this race to the bottom, as soon as you start playing this kind of politics.

  16. KT Chong: I pick the videos strategically with a good understanding of the tastes of my readers.

  17. KT Chong

    Just to prove my point, here is a video conference between several true progressives, and I paraphrase:

    “… no reason for me to vote for Joe Biden, but if Donald Trump pardons Assange between now and November, I WILL VOTE FOR TRUMP.”

  18. Hugh

    The left needs (1) a clear vision, (2) fit its programs into that vision, (3) listen to what a large part of the population is trying to tell it, (4) fight –win, lose or draw– (5) don’t cave and (6) assume that it and its candidates will be sandbagged, and prepare accordingly.

    In the US, for example, progressives should have been telling Democrats: you change the rules in the middle of the game, you mount a coup against our candidate, you don’t support and fight for a lot of our major programs, then we are out of here and will be running our own candidate. See you next time if you want to be serious. And if you don’t, well it’s time for us to go our own way.

    We should always remember that neoliberalism only delivers to the top 20% at the expense of the rest of us. Europe, the UK, or the US, it’s all the same. Neoliberalism doesn’t deliver.

  19. Charlie

    They have done so mainly by convincing a layer of affluent, middle-aged professionals that the Left ultimately represents a threat to their most cherished social values: meritocratic, individualistic, cosmopolitan liberalism.

    Except these professionals are none of those things.

  20. S Brennan


    Thank you for calling attention to my original post with your lame rebuttal, hopefully, folks will take the time to read my original post before assuming your strawman arguments have validly.

    As always, your bête noire,

    S Brennan

  21. bruce wilder

    it mainly confirms what the NC post is saying, even if the authors want us to draw the opposite conclusion.

    That is why I suggested it as a companion essay. The two articles are not completely opposed.

    Where they differ is in who they see as the internal enemy, the untrustworthy “partner”. One thesis is that the centrist establishment is the enemy. The other is that the left is its own worst enemy.

    Both essays consider both theses and take different narrative paths, though not quite opposite positions.

    Nagle & Tracey fault Sanders for going along with the centrist Russiagate and impeachment nonsense. Gilbert faults Corbyn for passively enabling the antisemitism slanders with investigations.

    The problem, to me, is not “priorities” so much as the confusion introduced by cultural politics, particularly a cultural politics funded by business corporations. Are you going to oppose Brexit because other people favor Brexit for what you regard as “wrong” reasons? Even though you have thought it thru and recognize the EU is always going to be a neoliberal meatgrinder? That’s not politics. That is theology.

    If you want to raise consciousness, good on ya. But, that is no politics, which always about agreeing to disagree on a bunch of issues, while finding ways to act together.

    Gilbert states as simple fact, “The twentieth-century labour movement and the institutions of the welfare state were notoriously racist and misogynistic, . . . .” To me that is an example of how the shibboleths of the woke are used to cut off practical policy. In historical fact, organized labor created the forums and means to fight racism and misogyny. The labor movement was a scene of struggle, sure, but often successful struggle. The labor left fought against racism, racism that was a tool of the Man.

    If the only moral yardstick is disparity your concepts of justice are seriously warped. In the U.S. we are in a moral panic over police violence against blacks, fed by a Media that reports police brutality against blacks with a huge amplifier and rarely considers white or Hispanic victims. Moreover the narrative tropes chosen often distort or omit facts. What are the politics of that? Seriously. How does that bias affect the political capacity to build support for reform or undermine opposition to reform? How does it shape the reforms proposed?

  22. Willy

    bruce, I havent read the other comments. If mine is redundant, my apologies to all.

    The American Affairs article you linked to came across to me, as one where the editor told the authors they had to “come up with a 10,000 word opinion piece by next week”. It starts with many conclusions which are provided as fact without much in the way of data backup.

    I came to the realization that a very small percentage of all centrist-liberal-left leaning voters, who aren’t staunch progressives, would have the time or the will to make it all the way through that article. I’ve always strongly doubted that most of those not-reading 90% would have much if a clue about the scope of Bernie’s relationship with Cuomo or even Biden for that matter.

    Bernie lost because he was perceived by the common centrist-liberal-left leaning citizen as being insufficient to defeat Trump, the primary reason being, because most of the other candidates told them so. That’s it.

    Defeating Trump, his “Russian allies”, his criminality, his narcissistic sociopathy, lies, racism, idiotic incompetency, potential for fascism, besmirching of the holy oval office and the good name of the USofA… is far more imperative than any selfish little progressive needs or urgencies.

    A job well done, establishment.

  23. Ché Pasa

    Politics is hard and ugly and often doesn’t get you what you want or something even close to what you want. The Other Guy often wins and isn’t generous in victory. The halcyon days of politics past when everybody got along in the public interest never really existed. There was never a time when politics wasn’t corrupted by the interests — primarily — by the malefactors of great wealth.

    The Left — in the socialist sense — does not exist in United States politics, the DSA and Bernie and such notwithstanding. After two failed campaigns for the Democratic Party nomination for president, many Bernie fans woke up to the fact that he’s…. not… quite… what they thought he was, that he’s a flawed, compromising, loud but ultimately empty vessel, a politician (shudder) in the guise of a “Leftist Firebrand” — a simulacrum of what he was supposed to be. Worse, he sheepdogs the rubes…

    Well, what did they think he would be given that he’s been in elected office almost all his long adult life and he is completely socialized to that culture and environment. It’s all he knows. He knows politics inside out, knows what can be done within the system, what can’t, and how to get at least a little bit of what you want when the system says you can’t have anything you want. And he knows how long it takes to get there. Nothing comes easy. Nothing comes fast. And much of the time nothing comes at all. “Keep fighting!” You’ll eventually win… really. You will…

    Yeah, no. Political and governmental systems in the West, particularly the United States, but not limited to it, are purpose designed to ensure that you (the Left) never will win. They are designed to wear you down, wear you out, give you crumbs if you’re good and worthy, destroy you if you’re not. But importantly they are designed to keep you engaged. Off the streets most of the time, plugging away on your ever shrinking list of Demands, petitioning your government for redress of your manifest grievances that never truly get addressed let alone resolved in your favor.

    You make a difference in this political environment by making it impossible for the system to work. Look at who is doing that these days — and has been doing that for quite a long time. It isn’t the “Left” in any guise whatsoever.

    Learn from that.

  24. gnokgnoh

    Common centrist-liberal-left leaning citizen, deplorables every one of them. So much deplorability, so much advocacy for wokeness and wearing masks and open borders and stupid little crap like raising the minimum wage. How pathetic.

  25. GlassHammer

    “They have done so mainly by convincing a layer of affluent, middle-aged professionals that the Left ultimately represents a threat to their most cherished social values: meritocratic, individualistic, cosmopolitan liberalism”

    Well yeah, anything built on the idea that “social bonds are paramount” is antithetical to a self oriented world view. Meritocracy is self prosperity, individualism is pure agency of the self, and cosmopolitan liberalism is responsibility for others but lacks a strong doctrine to keep adherents following it (or insist non followers should be made to convert to it) also making it yet another self based effort. Nationalism on the right (like socialism on the left) is yet another “social bonds are paramount movement”.

    The reason we are seeing these “social bonds are paramount” movements come into being is that the lives of people have become unbearably fixed in position and all established roads for change (especially ones relying on the self) have been cut off.

    People have not only recognized/accepted but internalized decades of regional decline (state, county level, and town), the inability to self prosper (meritocracy), the inability for democracy to materially improve life (death of citizenship), and the severing of meaningful social connections (death of faith which must be practiced and manifested with others). They know they are stuck in a condition they dislike but cannot seem to alter.

  26. anon y'mouse

    oh, look! another “economic leftists are really racists” post.

  27. S Brennan

    Here’s challenge for all the commenters on this blog; write a list of 9 priorities…trying to not make them conflict.

    Example, not my set of priorities but…a lot of “lefties” and Bernie diehards have expressed many/all of these. Can anyone see any conflicts? Do you think 50.1% of your fellow citizens would vote for this list

    1] Lower all forms of taxation except the 1%, tax the living shit out of them

    2] A guaranteed income of $50,000/person, regardless of citizenship status.

    3] Free, top notch medical care for all, regardless of citizenship status.

    4] Eliminate the US Borders, all who wish to come to the USA, we welcome you

    5] Disband all the police departments

    6] Confiscate all registered firearms

    7] Continue to support “color revolutions” and resulting foreign wars

    8] Free University

    9] Cancel all student debt

    Now you try it. See if you can list 9 priorities that will win widespread national approval, enough so that a candidate running on a platform would have a decent shot at winning.

    Can’t do 9 non-conflicting items? Try six. This is where the rubber meets the road, not some existential essay on governance.

  28. plaguedoctor

    Nice try, Brennan. Hardly any Bernie supporters support your strawman version of policies, for example, no Bernie supporter I know supports open borders, nor do any Bernie supporters I know support a guaranteed $50k a year income.

  29. Willy

    1) Make America Great Again (and fail miserably)

    2) Drain the Swamp (and work almost exclusively for and with swamp creatures)

    3) Lock her up (yet she’s still free to never shut up)

    4) Build the wall, have Mexico pay for it (his own campaign advisor scammed private citizens who thought they were helping pay for it)

    5) Bring manufacturing jobs back (are you fucking kidding me?)

    6) Replace Obamacare with something much better (are you fucking kidding me, part 2)

    Yet Trump’s approval is holding steady at 42%. I assume that most of those voters would vote for him again no matter what his “priorities” are.

    That fact scares the hell out of median “not-conservative” voters.

    Your typical national informational sources for typical median ‘not-conservative’ voter:
    MSNBC, CNN, local news, Huffington Post, The Daily Show, John Oliver, Steven Colbert, LGM, Joe Rogan, Digbys…

    What percent of their coverage involved something Trump had done (usually something unprecedentedly negative or ridiculous), as opposed to the need for a more progressive society?

    The turning point for Sanders was South Carolina. Millions of blacks, most of them older and seemingly ignorant that MLK was a social democrat, chose to believe that surety in eliminating Trump was far more important than rolling the dice with Sanders.

  30. Willy

    1] Sane taxation (just as it was back when America Was Great) No more episodes of “money is power, fuck the rest of you”. Taxes have to be proven to make sense.

    2] Social safety net paid for by employers and tariffs from extranational employers

    3] Reasonable medical care for all for US citizens only, as a fallback option for those who cannot afford it. Provide reasonable competition against the pharma-medical complex.

    4] Maintain US Borders (just they were back when America Was Great)

    5] Clearly explain that defunding police departments means funding/employing social services in that majority of situations where the police are not required, then implement.

    6] Make firearm ownership a privilege, not a right. Stay safe and sane, build your arsenal. Assault somebody and you lose your guns. Eliminate the black gun market.

    7] Put top leadership on the hook for foreign wars. If one wants to become a war criminal, they may be sent to trial somewhere.

    8] Sliding scale University fees, down to free for those who qualify. Eliminate predatory student loans.

    9] Work with all existing student debt.

    That’s my starting point for what I’d do. But then I haven’t been corrupted yet by kleptocrats sliding large sums into my pockets, so that list might change.

  31. js

    I don’t think many lefties want to lower taxes. They are tax and spend right? I gladly vote for more taxes and I’ll do it again this election. This doesn’t mean every possible tax proposal or spending proposal is a good one, and everything that promises higher taxes is good, noone believes that, things must be weighed on their merits.

  32. S Brennan


    I believe regressive taxes have been mentioned more than once by a true lefty but, if you have proof that’s not where’s your list?

    It’s easy for the left to critique..much harder to put together a list of national priorities that doesn’t conflict with itself and still can resonate 50.1% of the voters.


    Good on you for attempting to have an honest dialogue; are they my priorities? No. No they are not but, it’s a starting point for a conversation/negotiation of peoples who share enough values to make it worthwhile to talk.

  33. different clue

    Here is a paragraph I have copy-pasted from Naked Capitalism’s Water Cooler over to here.
    It helps explain the sinister upper class forces paying to create the problem Mandos wrote this post about.

    ““Progressive Donor Susan Sandler to Give $200 Million to Racial Justice Groups” [New York Times]. “Ms. Sandler’s announcement comes amid skyrocketing investment in racial justice organizations, fueled by the national reckoning on systemic inequities and injustice that swept the country this summer. Small-dollar donations to bail funds after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck, reached over $90 million. In July, the foundation started by George Soros pledged $220 million to groups focused on racial equity, an eye-popping total that gave long-term sustainability to several organizations. Ms. Sandler’s fund will provide several groups with a similar assurance. Taken together, the donations have reshaped the landscape of Black political and civil rights organizations, and made clear that race and identity will remain at the center of American politics.” • Because of what the rich want. There it is! ”

    And there you are.

  34. Mallam

    Willy’s platform is essentially what Joe Biden is campaigning on, except Biden also plans to implement a $2 trillion climate plan.

    If you want real life examples of the square already circling, look to the Virginia legislature that just elected socialist identifying Democrats and also your standard fare liberals. But they took the chamber, and proceeded to raise the minimum wage, decriminalize marijuana, expand abortion rights, expand voting rights, and capped insulin prices. Now that’s pretty small bore on the grand scheme of the problems, but it’s also proof of concept of urban and suburban coalition working towards a left project. I mean the thing is the coalitions don’t have much choice at this point, and the fracture is observable in every industrialized country except Portugal and to some extent Canada (Canada is shifting too though), and that’s likely because Portugal has lower educational attainment levels. But you’ll never win back what the coalitions were with racism and anti-immigrant bashing. As Adolph Reed has said about Nagle et al’s politics: “they got got”. Where this urban/suburban coalition might fracture is if full on integration is pushed. Whole lotta rich whites bought their school district and would like to keep it that way. What I also know is that the rich suburbs voting for Medicaid Expansion, while the rural populace where hospitals are dying soundly rejected it. And that’s not politicians, that’s the direct voter initiatives in Missouri, Maine, and Oklahoma.

  35. gnokgnoh

    Read how FDR campaigned for president in 1932. Franklin D. Roosevelt: Campaigns and Elections. The parallels are eerie.

    I don’t know how urban professional social values = “meritocratic, individualistic, cosmopolitan liberalism.” Cities are the breeding grounds for communitarianism and group action. The myth of the hardscrabble, individual farmer or rural worker is more about identity than an urban professional. Not buying the generalities and pigeon-holing.

  36. S Brennan

    To Gnokgnoh historical misrepresentation: – “Cities are the breeding grounds for communitarianism and group action. The myth of the hardscrabble, individual farmer or rural worker is more about identity” – Gnokgnoh

    “In the late nineteenth century, a new American political party sprung up to defend the interests of farmers.

    The Populists were an agrarian-based political movement aimed at improving conditions for the country’s farmers and agrarian workers. The Populist movement was preceded by the Farmer’s Alliance and the Grange. The People’s Party was a political party founded in 1891 by leaders of the Populist movement. It fielded a candidate in the US presidential election of 1892 and garnered 8.5% of the popular vote, which was a substantial amount of support for a third party.

    Agrarian activism in the United States

    Beginning in the late nineteenth century, the nation’s farmers began to organize to defend their interests against what they perceived to be the interests of the Eastern establishment and banking elite. As the number of landless tenant farmers rose, and as the debts of independent farmers skyrocketed due to burdensome loan terms and interest rates from banks, discontent among the nation’s agrarian workers burgeoned.

    In 1876, the Farmer’s Alliance was established in Texas with the goal of ending the crop-lien system that had thrown so many farmers into poverty. The crop-lien system operated in the cotton-growing South, among sharecroppers and tenant farmers, both white and black, who did not own the land that they worked. These workers took out loans to obtain the seed, tools, and other supplies they needed to grow the cotton. After the harvest, they were required to pay back the loans in the form of cotton crops. When cotton prices tanked, these workers were sometimes left with nothing after their crops were collected by creditors.1^11start superscript, 1, end superscript

    The Farmer’s Alliance was not the only organization that sprang up to defend the nation’s agrarian workers. The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, known as the Grange, was founded in 1868 in New York to advocate on behalf of rural communities. From 1873 to 1875, local chapters of the Grange were established across the country, and membership skyrocketed.2^22squared This was partly due to the Panic of 1873, a financial crisis that resulted in a number of bank failures and the bankruptcy of several of the nation’s railroads. The Panic of 1873 depressed wages for workers, and the prices of agricultural products plummeted, saddling farmers with massive amounts of debt that they had little hope of paying off.3^33cubed

    The People’s Party

    In 1891, the People’s Party (also known as the Populist Party, or the Populists) was formed as a political party representing the interests of the nation’s agricultural sector. The Farmer’s Alliance was a major part of the Populist coalition.

    The People’s Party nominated James B. Weaver, a former US representative from the state of Iowa, as its candidate in the 1892 presidential election. Campaigning on a platform designed to strengthen farmers and weaken the monopolistic power of big business, banks, and railroad corporations, the People’s Party garnered 8.5% of the popular vote, carrying the states of Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, and Nevada.

    William Jennings Bryan was the presidential candidate for the Democrats in 1896.

    Because of the mass appeal of the Populist movement, the Democratic Party began to champion many of its policy goals. In the 1896 presidential election, the Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan as its candidate, and the Populists agreed to support him. The People’s Party was thus folded into the Democratic Party and began to fade from the national scene.

    The effect of the fusion of the Populist Party and the Democratic Party was a disaster in the South. Though there had always been conflict within the Populist movement about whether African Americans should be included, the Democratic Party in the South was unabashedly racist. Though Bryan performed strongly in the areas of greatest Populist influence, he lost the election to Republican William McKinley.

    The People’s Party continued to function and fielded candidates in both the 1904 and 1908 presidential elections, but the heyday of the party’s influence was over. Although the People’s Party was formally disbanded in 1908, the Progressive movement would take up many of the goals and causes of Populism, including anti-trust legislation, greater federal regulation of private industry, and stronger support for the nation’s agricultural and working classes.”

  37. gnokgnoh

    Wrong century. Less than 2% of the U.S. population in 2018 were farmers; 19.3% were classified as rural; 52% as suburban; and 27% as urban. I would not call the suburbs a hotbed of communitarianism and civic action, agreed. But, I would not call farmers or rural people that, either. There are a few granges left.

  38. S Brennan


    I can’t read minds, you didn’t reference any specific time frame in your statement. The only circa mentioned in your comment was the early 20th century. Both Roosevelts policies arose from the populist movement and as I constantly remind people, if you jump-start “leftism” with the policies of the FDRist years [circa 1932-1978] those who oppose you can’t use the argument “it’ll never work” because it did…and it does…to this day.

    All over the world governments employ FDR’s form of capitalism with great success. An unregulated market is like an unregulated football [American] game. Not a lot of football players writing here, fine, imagine a track meet where people start tripping the people in the other lanes, that is an unregulated track meet…world class times? Forget it, after a while, the starter won’t be the only guy with a gun. A well regulated market with a reasonable safety net will produce the best results, for rich & for poor. Return to what works and make progress from there…

  39. I don’t have too much time, unfortunately (part of why I don’t post often is that I can’t really participate in the comments much anymore), so I’ll briefly respond to Bruce’s main points.

    Are you going to oppose Brexit because other people favor Brexit for what you regard as “wrong” reasons?

    The answer is, in a nutshell, yes. It depends on who is in charge of the Brexit, and what happens afterwards. The fallacy here is that since the EU has neoliberalism enshrined in some of its institutions, leaving the EU means exiting neoliberalism for something better than neoliberalism. But this is not necessarily true in theory and definitely not true in practice, as we watch it unfold. Declaiming what European unificiation will “always” be (as Bruce does in his comment) is the “theological” part. Even more theological is the belief that you can get a good Brexit when it’s for the wrong reasons.

    If the only moral yardstick is disparity your concepts of justice are seriously warped. In the U.S. we are in a moral panic over police violence against blacks, fed by a Media that reports police brutality against blacks with a huge amplifier and rarely considers white or Hispanic victims. Moreover the narrative tropes chosen often distort or omit facts. What are the politics of that? Seriously. How does that bias affect the political capacity to build support for reform or undermine opposition to reform? How does it shape the reforms proposed?

    This is all very abstract, again, for the same reason that the Nagle article is abstract. If we dispense with the “moral yardstick of disparity” or at least deprioritize it, what yardsticks do we then use? Which disparities do we start to ignore? What we do when the people affected by those disparities and the people who sympathize with them react to being pushed to the back? What if they’re not willing to accept the new “moral yardsticks”? Do the new moral yardsticks (whatever they are) authorize ignoring their complaints? Actively suppressing their complaints? And do you not realize that they may already have anticipated your yardstick replacement program?

    Blacks in the USA are disproportionately affected by police violence, and more so than whites and Hispanics. That comes in large part from systemic disparities that in turn come from unaddressed historical injustices, including in educational access and other matters. I don’t know what these other “distorted” or “omitted” facts are. I do know that there is a long-standing, dishonest campaign to construe the group disparity faced by blacks as being a result of an unprovable, deep-seated biological inferiority that would require them to be placed collectively under an exploitative tutelage. And I know that the widespread nature of that pseudo-science alone more than justifies a “moral panic.”

  40. It helps explain the sinister upper class forces paying to create the problem Mandos wrote this post about.

    The fact that you think the problem is created rather than having an independent existence that presents an opportunity for them to practice this kind of politics is part of the problem.

  41. As always, your bête noire,

    *blink* I had a bête noire? And no one told me?

  42. different clue

    “The fact that you think the problem is created rather than having an independent existence that presents an opportunity for them to practice this kind of politics is part of the problem.”

    Well then, paying to deepen and entrench and permanentize the problem, then.

    But okay. I will make the Leftard WokeNazis an offer to see if they will take my concern seriously if I take their concern seriously.

    If Black America (and its Leftard WokeNazi Allies) will support Reparations for Appalachia, I will support Reparations for Black America. Deal?

  43. Hugh

    It’s a standard way of the rich and elites to duck responsibility for the problems they create and exploit by ascribing an “independent existence” to these problems.

  44. gnokgnoh

    Hugh, the independent existence to which Mandos refers is not saying that the rich and elites do not have agency. They do. But the phrase is a reference to an unfettered capitalist system, which has a life of its own (see SBrennan above – his last comment is a good one). The resolve to introduce regulation, reform, and direct creation of jobs after 1929 was made possible due to a crisis. FDR entered the presidency as a moderate, common centrist-liberal-left leaning citizen (love that label).

    A large part of the problem is that the average top 10% professional is mostly indifferent to what happens in government regulation, the playground of the rich and elites in the top 1%. All those Leftard WokeNazi Allies (love that label, too!!) are mostly the children of the top 10%, including the non-white activists. Everyone else is too busy surviving or literally staying alive. They, too, seem indifferent unless the subject is DJT. But, we elect our politicians, not the rich and elite. We all have agency. It’s too easy to simply blame the rich and elites. It’s fun to contemplate the guillotine, but they had the advantage of a single king and his court. Which oligarchs or politicians should we choose? Regardless, we don’t have that kind of time, the sky is orange.

  45. Plague Species

    Any so-called “climate plan” worth its salt shouldn’t cost a damn thing, let alone $2 trillion. In fact, a “climate plan” worth its salt should save $2 trillion in its first year alone. That $2 trillion Biden is offering is yet another gift to Wall Street like the $5 trillion stimulus package was a giveaway gift to the wealthy elite in response to the pandemic.

    As bleak as McCarthy’s The Road is, the one saving grace is that the end is egalitarian. No one, not even and especially the wealthy elite, can evade the apocalyptic harvest. As I’m reading it, I think about Trump and the entire American Establishment and the wealthy elite of the world at large being hunted down and eaten by the blood cults they engendered. I can think of no greater punishment for their crimes against humanity that ultimately set the stage for their horrible fate.

  46. Mallam

    Plague, whether it’s adequate or not wasn’t the question. If you’re going to take that view then you’re just a nihilist. If it is inadequate then what Bernie Sanders proposed was inadequate, meaning there was nothing on offer to save anyone. Indeed, the plan was well received by Sunrise Movement.

    An incorrect nihilist at that, since you’re incorrectly characterizing CARES because that’s not what the Fed even did. I mean, pick one: you shovel money to pay workers at their jobs so they don’t lose their jobs in the face of plummeting demand which is in effect a giant corporate bailout (hey that’s what many commenters here wanted to do! Like Denmark!), or you can do what the US did which is pay people money on unemployment insurance and if the demand picks up be rehired by their job.

    Matt Bruenig provides a good write-up on the Fed:

  47. Plague Species

    Mallam, what concerns me about the CARES Act is not the $2 trillion as much as the $4 trillion that grants the Fed the authority to use those funds to bailout whatever entity it chooses with minimal to no oversight and transparency. Bailout means making the management and the shareholders whole with no such guarantees for the unwashed. One thing that is bothersome and pertinent to both eh $2 trillion and the $4 trillion (could be as much as $6 trillion) is the bailout of the airlines. A bailout is included in the $2 trillion and I have no doubt the Fed will use some of the $4 trillion to bail them out again. imo, air travel is at the heart of the environmental apocalypse now underway. It hypermobilizes and hypermobilization means more growth. Growth is killing the living planet. Bernie’s Green New Deal sought to grow air travel, not diminish it.

    That $4 trillion to $6 trillion is, in effect, a consolidation fund. When this is all said and done, America will be one giant corporation. There will be very little to any competition. Small businesses and even medium sized businesses will be relics of the past.

  48. It’s a standard way of the rich and elites to duck responsibility for the problems they create and exploit by ascribing an “independent existence” to these problems.

    The entire discussion is essentially about whether there are obstacles to left-wing power-taking that are not the immediate result of rich people giving money to causes. If you consider it to be inherently bad faith to suggest that there are such things, then there is no basis for discussion.

    Also, since I was the one who ascribed the “independent existence”, are you saying that you think I am “rich and elite”? *chortle*

  49. Wrote posts twice in a row in response to Different Clue on reparations only to forget to fill in the name, pressed submit and lost the post. Basic summary: am perfectly happy with compensating poor whites from the wealth of rich whites in Appalachia and elsewhere, it’s only a matter of deciding who has the agency to do this, how much, etc.

  50. Hugh

    The rich and their minions invoke hoocoodanode or natural laws/processes to argue that what is their fault has nothing to do with them.

    I see that now at least you recognize that the EU is a neoliberal project although you continue to support it.

  51. Henry Moon Pie

    What Stirling is calling a “theocratic mantra,” I would call a worldview. And where he sees one “theocratic mantra” going down because it fails to handle reality any longer, I see two worldviews competing for dominance, the same two that have been flailing away at each other for 50 years.

    On one side are the “God and Country” folks. Their worldview has been around a long time, and it sees Western European Christian culture as deservedly dominant over both Nature and other cultures. When Trump promises to straighten out the schools with a new commission, he’s promising the “God and Country” folks that he’ll return to the days when the public schools openly taught, or should I say enforced, this worldview.

    On the other side are the technocrats who read Brave New World and thought that sounded pretty cool. After all, the world would give the proper deference to the Alphas and Betas like them. There would be a place for everybody, and everybody better be in his place. And you had soma and the feelies to nudge and manipulate the public. (If only Huxley had thought of smart phones with their tracking and targeting power.) That way you can maneuver the public into wanting what you give them rather than having to worry about giving them what they demand.

    Stirling is absolutely right when it comes to the viability of either of these worldviews. As for the “God and Country” folks, even Rod Dreher recognizes that the days of the U. S. even pretending to be a “Christian nation” are over. The age demographics of church attendance, and before long, “belief in God,” are brutal. This worldview just doesn’t work in a world where the only value is money.

    As for the Gattacans, things don’t look so good for them either. They’ve been engaged in a 50 years long project to “convert” the “God and Country” people using mass media and the educational establishment, but they’ve failed. It’s true that the oligarchs demands for an ever increasing share of national wealth and income has made the task more difficult. Not only were the deplorables going to be suffering a significant decline in their standard of living, but the elites were also going to inform them that their belief system, their worldview, was incompatible with the glittering new globalist, neoliberal world that was being birthed by their policies, a world designed to pass them by. No wonder some people in the hinterlands are pissed while others are offing themselves with generously supplied opioids or other more obviously violent methods of self-destruction.

    This is a worldview clash that’s been unable to arrive at synthesis for 50 years along with a number of other included antitheses: autonomy/authority; progress/tradition; religion/science; and others. All major political conflicts fit into the context of this clash, and even issues with no obvious connection–like the wearing of masks–ends up being appropriated into this framework. It’s divided and exhausted us for half a century, and increasingly, it’s rendered our political system incapable of dealing with any serious challenges whether financial fraud or a nasty virus.

    What is beginning to emerge is a new worldview, one that relies neither on old transcendent gods or the new god of technology. This new worldview will see humans not as the “owners” of the Earth by virtue of some deed from a god but instead as living products of this planet’s evolutionary processes. We’ll wake up to seeing ourselves as beings who must re-find our place among our fellow creatures so that we can live in peace with each other and our environment.

  52. js

    The problem may be that most people are not particularly left wing, and many are not even particularly political at all. And once they obtain some semblance of “middle class” respectability like buying property (for some marriage and kids) they are often even less so. And the destitute don’t vote, even the plain old poor don’t vote much.

    Very few people seem really able to conceive of things being significantly different than the present, it takes a philosopher or an idealist, and most people have spent very little time exploring such ideas. And besides who but such would have time to tilt at such windmills in the first place rather than getting busy with the world as it is, which does not consist of engaging in a political system where they have very little power.

    Sure none of this narrow vision actually works as a social philosophy long term.

  53. Hugh: I have always said that neoliberalism is entrenched in the institutions of the EU because of the time period in which its institutions were developed. Whether the EU is somehow “ontologically”/inherently neoliberal is another matter, I am not sure what that would mean.

    I do not “support” it in the sense of “cheer” for it — although I think some parts of it are quite good — bur rather, I do not blindly support actions against it under the belief that by fighting it, you’re fighting neoliberalism. This is very often not the case.

  54. different clue


    Good answer. Of course Reparations for Appalachia goes trillions of dollars beyond just “rich white people” giving back some system-stolen money back to “poor white people”. Just at the level of “return of money” , rich people of all races got rich off a system which sacked and pillaged Appalachia and does so now. So the rich of all races will be involved in paying.

    And the sack and pillage of Appalachia goes beyond ” diverting money from the poor”. It involves broad scale terracide and ecocide. Many tens of thousands of acres of strip-mined land will not reparticipate in the Water Cycle, Nitrogen Cycle, Oxygen Cycle, Carbon Cycle until it is rehabilitated enough that extensive forest can grow again right where extensive forest used to grow. That land-repair alone will take some work and money. Here are some pictures of what I mean.;_ylt=AwrE19d.jGVfqMkA1BtXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZANDMDE2NF8xBHNlYwNzYw–?p=mountaintop+removal+mining+images&fr=sfp&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tL3NlYXJjaDtfeWx0PUF3cko3Rmx4aUdWZlpjNEFNQkpERFdWSDtfeWxjPVgxTURNVEU1Tnpnd05EZzJOd1JmY2dNeUJHWnlBd1JuY0hKcFpBTjNlVU01Umk1cFZsUnVlUzVyZUV4NFh6aFZkRlZCQkc1ZmNuTnNkQU13Qkc1ZmMzVm5ad014Qkc5eWFXZHBiZ056WldGeVkyZ3VlV0ZvYjI4dVkyOXRCSEJ2Y3dNd0JIQnhjM1J5QXdSd2NYTjBjbXdEQkhGemRISnNBelF5QkhGMVpYSjVBMjF2ZFc1MFlXbHVKVEl3ZEc5d0pUSXdjbVZ0YjNaaGJDVXlNRzFwYm1sdVp5VXlNR2x0WVdkbGN3UjBYM04wYlhBRE1UWXdNRFE1TURZeU1nLS0_ZnIyPXNiLXRvcC1zZWFyY2gmcD1tb3VudGFpbit0b3ArcmVtb3ZhbCttaW5pbmcraW1hZ2VzJmZyPXNmcCZpc2Nxcnk9&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAFbZafUb0mEPAG79gJh7ISLHo3ocbLVSgtKhWog3w0n5eGp4W237v8HOhRuFkIbewx7qiBG7jsHTI1_DQf758CQUn6mHFYShhY697-45nqmrNUkOiRMZvfa2VqR47LDJZkG1Ufx8unSmbSoivHlPX91S5B1m-YbN4lTb00m–B8G&_guc_consent_skip=1600490655

    So when Black America decides to support Reparations for All That, including paying Black America’s fair share of those Reparations, then I will support Reparations for all Black America’s suffering and losses.

  55. different clue

    Its been a while, but I ran across a comment on Naked Capitalism so apropos this topic that I will pull it out of context and copy it here.

    Ready? here goes . . .

    September 23, 2020 at 9:59 pm
    Thank you for this excellent comment. I was aware there was division in the gay community over identity politics but you’ve laid it out in detail. I appreciate it. I should note that living in Manhattan the goodhearted kids I mentioned are in the heart of IDpol, they get the stuff uncut from the source.

    And the pressure to conform is intense. Media icons come to the bars. People they know work in media or academics or politics and they all talk that jive. Young gay people in NYC have a lot less freedom to express their real points of view than in other places, I would hazard to guess.

    A lesbian friend from Poland found this out to her detriment when she questioned the wisdom of blindly supporting the Democrats every election. She was scared when she told me the story, she had been screamed at by her friends. It was telling that she came to me, a straight man, because she literally said she didn’t know who to ask amongst her friends without pissing someone off.

    Which, I am becoming convinced, is the point. “Left” identity political discourse, Wokeness, whatever, is designed to generate drama, literally triggering anger and confusion, and to shut down dissent with hypervictimization of it’s chosen groups, it’s passive/aggressive approach to discussion and it’s Orwellian ability to turn inclusiveness in an exclusive entitlement. I really wonder if it has any shared roots with Spartacus style Trotskyists in that the point is to generate conflict, to literally never be able to find common ground.

    I’ve railed against the fact that at it’s heart there seems to be no identifiable definition of knowledge that allows for other interpretations of the same questions. I don’t agree with monarchists but I bet a monarchist and I could agree on the terms of our debate. Not so with the Crit-dentitarian, who favors bubble tea bead blobs of ideas squirming around to taking any sort of position, any framework that can be latched onto, critiqued, nailed down.

    And that’s the nut of it, it’s a kind of intellectual acid that can never find any sort of balance with another point of view, it’s always in opposition, it is not an honest intellectual position but a subterfuge. And I mean that quite literally. It’s not that every Wokester is engaging in malfeasance but that their ideology is deliberatively obstructionist.

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