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

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Delusion Regarding the Fall of Neoliberalism and Globalization

So, the article below was published December 8th, 2015.

The pull quote is:

Neo-liberalism is nearing the end of its cycle. It will kill a lot of people dying, but its death is now ordained and can only be slowed by fanatical levels of police state repression in a few countries. And its death convulsions and the birth pangs of the new system will create a new age of war and revolution which will kill far more.

This is now as close to inevitable as human affairs, endlessly complicated and subject to unexpected shocks, can be.

Nothing has changed, the process has simply continued. Notice the repression going on in the US right now. Since I wrote it, the UK left the EU, there was massive resistance to Macron in France, and so on. We have massive fires all over the world: Australia, California, South Africa the Amazon and more. Wealth continues to concentrate at the top, etc, etc…

These convulsions take time. Slap the start of the actual fall as 2020, with the UK’s Brexit, and we’ve got 12 to 20 years to go. This one’s going to be bad, really, bad, simply because of climate change and our vast over-exploitation of limited resources. There’s going to be a lot of real hunger and lack of water, and so on.

The next age is undetermined, but one possibility is a centrifugal period. It is hard to imagine a future in which, India, for example, survives as a unified nation. For that matter, I’m not sure I’d put my money on China holding together over the middle run: 50/50 it’s fallen into warlordism by 2050 to 60.

The simple way to make your guesses is ask if a country can feed itself with domestic production AFTER the effects of climate change. If it can’t even feed itself now (or only barely); or if it is going to have serious water issues (water, obviously affects agriculture, so it’s not really two things), then the smart money is that it’s going to break up or lose effective control of various hinterlands.

And if you’ve got resources a more powerful nation on your border wants, well, that could go very badly for you. (My fellow Canadians, who seem clueless about how violent Americans are, should take note here.)

On the upside, this will be a very interesting period to be alive, if you can stay that way.

Natalie Nougayrède writes in the Guardian about The Front National’s victory in France:

Marine Le Pen has no solution for France’s problems, her economic programme is all about retreating from the outside world and Europe. Her social vision is of a mythical, homogeneous France that never existed. What she has to sell is an illusion. It’s only because so little else is on offer that people are buying.

This analysis is, there is no kinder way to put it, delusional.

And Nougayrède should know it, because she writes:

The impact of globalisation marked the end of what the French demographer Jean Fourastié coined Les Trente Glorieuses (The Glorious Thirty), the 1945-1975 period when France was modernising and increasing its international influence. There is much twisted nostalgia in the rise of the National Front.

Nougayrède blames this on the oil shocks, which the entire West failed to handle (note that Japan, far more vulnerable to the oil shock, DID handle it. Their later failure had other causes). She notes that France’s elites have not, since 1975, been able to turn things around, something I have noted as well.

But she is wrong about a retreat from globalization being delusional. The simple fact is that in France and almost every other country (including, by the way, most African countries), growth was better before globalization, and the proceeds of that growth were distributed to their populations much more evenly.

This is a fact, and you can only argue against it by invoking China (which used classic mercantalist policies, and was not meaningfully party to the 1945-1975 consensus economy.)

There will always be trade. There will always be global movement in goods, capital, and ideas, but more is not always better.  In fact, one can easily argue that more is rarely better.

As for “Europe,” the fact is that increased integration has not been to the benefit of most Western Europeans. That assertion is, again, extraordinarily hard to argue against and is especially true of the creation of the Euro.

Nougayrède wants France’s leaders to fix things, and not to fail, but she is very nearly as delusional as them. She admits that their failure has led to the rise of Front National, but cannot admit that their policies have failed, economically, along the lines that Marie Le Pen says they have.

Just because someone is a near-Fascist does not mean they are wrong about everything. I have no tolerance for LePen’s brand of Imperialism and cultural supremacy, but she, like Trump, is telling a lot of truths to a lot of people who feel like their country has been on the wrong track for a long time. (In the U.S., white, working class male salaries peaked in 1968. No matter how much you scream about white privilege, you are a fool if you expect white males to gravitate towards anyone who doesn’t at least pay lip service to reversing that.)

As an economic project, the EU is a failure for many of its members, including France. There are exceptions (Germany, Poland, etc.) but the losers cannot be expected to just sit there and take the beating forever. The “beating” has been exacerbated by Europe’s deliberate imposition of austerity. It is not just that Europe’s elites have failed to create a good economy, it is that they have deliberately made the economy worse for the majority of residents in many of its countries.

Until we can honestly evaluate the failures of neo-liberalism, and gut globalist cant which claims more trade and capital flows are always a good thing (and, even if they aren’t, are “inevitable”) we cannot fix the economy.

France, like about half of the EU, should leave the Euro. It should re-impose tariffs on a wide variety of goods and produce them in their own countries. Yes, they would cost more, but wages would be higher. It should also move radically to non-oil-based energy (as is true of, well, almost everyone).

These basic policies are not difficult. Corbyn is not wrong to say “make the necessary adjustments so it will work today, and go back to post-war policies.”  It failed,  yes, but it was the last economy which spread money evenly through the economy.  Make sure it’s not sexist and racist, update it for new energy technology, and try it. It may not be the best solution (I’d like some fairly radical changes), but it’s certainly not crazy, given that it did give France those 30 great years.

The failure to deal with the oil price shock doomed the post-war world, yes. But it is 40 years later and we have technology and knowledge they did not have.

Until the developed world’s sanctioned intellectuals (as opposed to pariahs like myself and my ilk) and their masters come to grip with these facts, the population will continue to turn elsewhere. They may turn to sane and reasonable people like Corbyn, or they may turn to people like LePen and Trump, but people will not put up with “it’s going to get worse for the forseeable future” forever.

We can have reasonable policies, which will make the world better for everyone (even if that means there will be a lot less billionaires–the Corbyn solution), or we can have the rise of fascists and their left-wing equivalents.

The room in the mushy middle for those who aren’t willing to do something radical to fix the economy and other problems is narrowing. It will continue to narrow.

Our current elites will not adjust, so the question is: Who will we get? Corbyn and FDR? Mussolini, LePen, Trump?

Neo-liberalism is nearing the end of its cycle. It will kill a lot of people dying, but its death is now ordained and can only be slowed by fanatical levels of police state repression in a few countries. And its death convulsions and the birth pangs of the new system will create a new age of war and revolution which will kill far more.

This is now as close to inevitable as human affairs, endlessly complicated and subject to unexpected shocks, can be.

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When Are You Guilty for the Crimes of Your Group

One of the most stable political situations in the West is the use of charges of anti-semitism to attack those who criticize Israel.

Alexandria Occasio-Cortez, who championed Palestine in her primary run, was quickly broken by the pro-Israeli lobby, before she was even elected. The UK Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn has been under constant attack for “anti-semitism” because Corbyn is sympathetic to Palestinians. And recently, Representative Ilhan Omar suggested that donation from AIPAC are why Congress supports Israel.

(I don’t think that’s mostly correct. They fear AIPAC for far more than monetary reasons.)

Anyway, Ilhan was forced to apologize.

I tend to avoid the Israel-Palestine issue because it’s so dangerous. It’s the only issue I’ve ever been told to shut my mouth about or else (a donor strike, in that case).

But let’s state this simply: Israel is a religious-ethnic apartheid settler state, where the land and homes of much of the people who lived there were seized by force.

The problem is that criticism if Israel, a particularly evil state, is deliberately conflated with criticism of Jews, because Israel is an explicitly Jewish state.

So, here’s the formula:

Jews: Wonderful.

Israelis: Citizens of an apartheid, colonial state running the world’s largest open air prison. Any Israeli who opposes their government’s Palestinian policies is good in that regard.

Any Israeli who supports the government is evil. It’s not hard.

Let us extend this:

Germans: Wonderful.

Germans who supported the Nazis. Evil.

Germans who opposed the Nazis. Good.


Americans: Wonderful

Americans who supported the Iraq War: Evil.

Americans who opposed the Iraq War: Good.

(We could instead say, oh, Whites, or African Americans, or women, then move to Americans.)

People have responsibility exactly equal to their power. Nonetheless, if you support evil, you are culpable.

Most ethical situations are, in fact, black and white. We like to pretend they aren’t. Let’s take another situation:

Raising the price of Insulin 1000 percent in a few years: Evil.

People who do it? Mass murderers.

Correct punishment? Same as for any other murderers.

None of this is to say redemption is impossible. One of my friends supported the Iraq War. He quickly realized his mistake, reversed his position and has consistently opposed shitty American wars since then.

George Bush wouldn’t get off so easy: He had a lot of power, therefore his responsibility is much greater and as he’s no longer in power, he can no longer “make it up”.

The rule for redemption is as follows:

First stop doing evil. Apologize. Make it up. Those insulin execs: Drop the prices back down. Disgorge all the profits you made, with a priority to the families of those you killed. That’s all it takes.

But if you keep doing it or supporting it you are responsible or complicit.

This isn’t hard. Don’t do evil. Don’t support evil. If you do or support evil, then you are stained by that evil.

As for Israelis: It is not their fault they are Israelis. However, if they support their government’s policies against Palestinians, well, they’re evil.

The same is true of Jews, as it is of individuals belonging to identity-group you wish to name.

With respect to Israel, well, all it has to do is offer all Palestinians full citizenship and give them reparations equal to what was stolen. This will probably mean the end of Israel as an religious-ethnic state, but, umm, are religious ethnic states a good thing?

We all know what is required when we do wrong. Stop doing harm, apologize, and recompense the victim(s) as best one is able. (Yeah, this applies to black descendents of slavery in the US, though not so much as it does to the remaining Native Americans in the US, Canada, and elsewhere.)

While often what we should do as individuals isn’t true of states, for redemption and forgiveness, it is. Stop doing evil. Say sorry. Make it up as best one can.

But first stop doing evil.

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The Hung UK Parliament

The final results are 318 for the Conservatives, 262 for Labour, 35 for the SNP (Scottish), 12 for the Liberal Democrats, 10 for DUP (Democratic Unionist) and 13 “Other.”

There are 650 seats total, meaning 326 are needed for a majority.

DUP is who the Conservatives will govern with, and they are the Protestant Unionists in Northern Ireland. Not very nice people and associated with violence carried out on behalf of staying in the UK.

Labour will not be forming the government, odds are, but this is a victory for Labour in that the Conservatives’ majority is reduced to a minority.

72 percent of 18-24 year olds voted, which is unprecedented to my knowledge.

The takeaway is simple: Left-wing neoliberalism is dying (and with luck is dead), in England. A straight up message of nationalizing railroads and energy, of free tuition, of building homes, did far better than the neoliberals have done in years.

This was a two party election–third parties shed followers.

Corbyn outperformed massively, which is the risk of demonizing one’s enemies. Having screamed about how terrible he was, Blairites are reduced to saying, “Anyone else would have done better, May was awful.” After they’ve lost two elections to Corbyn and been wrong about him three times, this sounds weak.

Center-right parties are dying or reinventing themselves. There is no appetite for mealy-mouthed neoliberalism. Go all right, or go what passes these days for hard-left. The demographics are 100 percent on the left’s side: The younger people are, the more left-wing they are, and now, they’re even voting when offered politics which appeal to them.

I mean, given the university loans crisis, it seems like basic, no-brainer politics to offer them debt-forgiveness and free tuition.

In more immediate terms, the question is whether May will survive. Boris Johnson is likely sharpening his knife collection as we speak: She didn’t have to call this election and she lost her majority in it, after a terrible personal performance in which she appeared scared to be in the same room as Corbyn.

The second issue is when the next election will be. Is a coalition with the DUP in the works? Is it a strong coalition? It wouldn’t take much for the Conservatives to lose a vote of no-confidence and be back at the polling booths, though other parties will be reluctant to knock them out–and with good reason, fearing that Britons will punish them for having to go back to the polls so immediately.

A new election may be necessary, soon, and accepted as such, if the Conservatives find themselves unable to effectively negotiate Brexit.

I shall be interested to see if Labour MPs, who still hate Corbyn, launch another attack. There have been gestures of peace, but many will never give Corbyn credit for anything, and genuinely do disagree with his politics. I assume, however, that they will at least wait a while, while continuing to snipe and leak in hopes of weakening him.

We shall see.

Overall, I’m very happy with this result. I expect(ed) the realignment to take till 2020/24 for demographic reasons, but this is an early earthquake sign of better politics to come.

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The Labour Surge in Britain (Election Day Thread)

Update 2: Betting markets now think Corbyn will be PM. I cannot, in my entire life, recall an election I have been so happy to watch.

Update: Exit polls point to a hung parliament, Tories with the most seats, which means they’ll be given the first chance to form a government. But we’ll see.

Leaving this up on election day. Anecdotally, more young people are voting than usual. We’ll see. Corbyn’s probably the best candidate I’ve seen in my adult life and I’m hoping he wins. Use this is a thread related to the election.

So, Brits vote on Thursday for a new government. When the election was called, the Conservatives under May were up over Labour by more than 20 percent in most polls. Today, the spread has tightened, with Labour behind in most polls–but not all.

As was the case in the US with Sanders v. Clinton, the divide is generational. Those aged under 44 are for Corbyn and aged over 44 are for May. The younger they get, the more they’re for Corbyn. The problem, as everyone has pointed out, is turnout: Youngs tend to vote less.

Even the best polling doesn’t show a straight up Labour victory, it shows the Tories failing to get a majority. Polls in Britain have tended to be wrong away from Conservatives, but, given how unreliable polls have been over the past few years, I certainly have no idea how this will go. I certainly didn’t expect the election to be this close when it was called, though I’m very glad to be wrong.

Unless Labour wins, expect that Labour MPs will launch another coup attempt against Corbyn, even if his results are good.

I want to emphasize that they are doing so for ideological reasons. The excuse that Corbyn was hopeless doesn’t cut it any longer, but they will still try to take him down. This is because they genuinely don’t believe in his politics: They want to be slightly less cruel Conservatives, not 60s style social democrats updated to treat women and non-whites well.

Those are their genuine beliefs: They’re neoliberals. They blocked censuring Tony Blair for Iraq, they like cruel austerity politics, and war.

It’s interesting how much better Corbyn has done during the campaign: It seems that when the media can no longer lie about him as much, and when May no longer has the media covering for her incoherence and, well, excusing her repeated refusals to appear in public (which are now looking like cowardice not calculation), Corbyn shines.

Certainly, Corbyn regularly gets rock star treatment: The people who like Corbyn really like him. No one is enthusiastic for May.

So, we’ll know soon. No prediction from me, but a preference. May will do incalculable harm if she gets a term: gutting worker and environmental rights, social welfare, and the NHS. Brits have another possibility. This is the last off-ramp. If they don’t take it, it’s on them.


Two Charts Which Explain J.K. Rowling’s Love of Blairism and Hatred of Corbyn

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

So, the author of the Harry Potter books has come out hard against Jeremy Corbyn, and for Blairism. She has defended the Blairite legacy, and she has some good points: There were more nurses and teaching assistants, for example.

One could note that Blairism, as with all neo-liberalism before the crash of 07/8, was unsustainable. It was based on bubbles. Though it is true that Blairites did distribute more money than Conservatives have past the bubble: Insane austerity was not yet the guiding principle of the day.

Unsustainable means “helped cause the crash.” It’s true that Blairites would be less cruel than Conservatives, and it is also true that almost every MP who opposed Corbyn also abstained from voting against Welfare cuts, for example.

I don’t want to get too down on Rowling. As very rich people go, she’s a pretty good one. She doesn’t dodge taxes, she supports social welfare spending, and so on. “High” UK taxes are why she’s no longer quite a billionaire. (Quite; you needn’t worry she’ll be on the rolls again.)

But I think to understand Rowling’s love of Blairism one should understanding three things. First, she got welfare and doesn’t seem, again, to have noticed that the Blairites she loves are now anti-welfare.

Here are the other two things which might be important to understand Rowling’s love of neoLiberalism:


Top Tax Rates

Top Tax Rates

Whatever else is true of Corbyn, if he becomes Prime Minister, he will raise taxes on the rich.


UK one percent share of income to 2005

UK one percent share of income to 2005

Blairism is kinder-gentler Thatcherism. It is neoliberalism, and rich people have done very well under neoliberalism. Though this chart doesn’t show it, the top .1 percent do even better, the top .01 percent even better, and so on.

I don’t doubt Rowling’s good will, or her concern for those who have less money than she does. She’s put up by paying taxes she could have dodged. But that doesn’t alter the fact that neoliberalism has been very good to her, and she’d have been a ton less rich if the policies Corbyn favors, as epitomized by tax rates after WWII, plus far less generous copyright protection, had been in force.

Blairite neoliberalism, like Clintonianism, is the policy regime that lets rich and upper class people feel good about themselves. They get most of the benefits of neoliberalism without having to watch a boot stomping a face over and over again, as under Cameron.

That doesn’t alter the fact that neoliberalism is a cruel, unsustainable policy regime based on exporting British manufacturing, favoring “the City” and the financial industry over all others, and on pushing income and ownership of assets towards a small number of people. Nor did that change under Blairite Labour.

Rowling, of course, also thinks that Corbyn can’t win. Maybe he can, maybe he can’t. It’s certainly true that Labour infighting has seen the polls move heavily against Labour. It’s not clear, however, that this is Corbyn’s fault, or that it will be true come election time, or that a Blairite leader could win election either. Labour has been losing, and its collapse in Scotland did not happen while Corbyn was leader, nor probably would have, as it was driven in part by anger at austerity policies which Labour refused to oppose.

All this, however, is neither there nor that. The bottom line is that being a Blairite, Clintonian, or other third-way type, allows the rich and well-off to have their wealth and their tax cuts, and feel good about themselves.  Rowling may be 100 percent motivated by the milk of human kindness, but she is still supporting a regime that has done very, very well for her against the possibility of a change which would damage her financial position significantly.

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Blair, et al. Committed War Crimes

So, the Chilcot report is out and it’s not pretty.

Jeremy Corbyn has apologised on behalf of the Labour party for its role in the 2003 Iraq war, and warned that the people who took the decisions “laid bare in the Chilcot report” must now face up to the consequences.

The Labour leader’s apology went further than he had earlier in parliament, when he responded to the Chilcot report after David Cameron. At that point, Corbyn called the war an “act of military aggression”, arguing that it was thought of as illegal “by the overwhelming weight of international legal opinion”. (emphasis added)

I very much hope this next man, who has far less worth than the toilet paper I clean myself with, is not a Labour candidate in the next election.

As Corbyn issued his excoriating statement to the House of Commons, he was heckled by his own backbencher Ian Austin, who shouted: “Sit down and shut up, you’re a disgrace.”

When you’re screaming at someone for apologizing for a war crime that is identical to that which many Nazi leaders were hung for, you’re officially a waste of human skin.

Corbyn hasn’t actually called for “war crimes trial for Blair,” but he’s made the case. The European Criminal Court, being also basically worthless, had already said that they would not try Tony Blair, but might charge ordinary soldiers.

I have never had any respect for the ECC, whose mandate appears to involve prosecuting the politically powerless, especially Africans, and avoiding anyone with any influence. Justice as unevenly applied as the ECC applies it is not a step in the right direction, it is actually injustice. Saying that they would not charge Blair even before the Chilcot report was out simply confirmed the primacy of political over legal considerations for them.

Yet again, Corbyn has proved he is one of very few honorable people in a den of scum. May he become Prime Minister and, once Prime Minister, may he ensure Tony Blair and those who aided and abetted him in selling the Iraq war with lies, have the fair trial they so richly deserve.

Oh, and as usual, doing so is not just the right thing to do ethically, it would be the right thing to do politically, keeping Corbyn’s primary enemies completely occupied. Because, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the people who fear actual left-wingers or people of principle the most aren’t Tories, they are Blairites.

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Neither Corbyn Nor Labour Need the Rebel MPs

I see a great deal of fear around the idea of Labour splitting. While this is a slight concern, it isn’t a major one:

  • Corbyn has the support of the membership. Even most who don’t support him are unlikely to leave the party if he wins this confrontation.
  • If Corbyn wins, Britons will have a choice between an actual socialist party and a neoliberal party.
  • I suspect that “actual socialists” will do as well or better at the polls than “Tory light.”

It is possible that the rebel MPs, once kicked out through re-selection, will form a rump party. That would be a problem, but the next election is will be so non-standard, and likely wild, that I doubt they will make the key difference.

In any case, if you’re a left-winger, a chance to elect a left-wing party instead of choosing between two neo-liberal parties is too important to pass up. In a first pass, the post-system people eventually lose patience with the lead party and elect the second party, it’s just that simple.

Make sure you control that second party, and you will have your chance to enact your policies.

Labour, as a Blairite party, basically continued Thatcherism, but not as quickly. Labour was, simply, the slower road to hell.

Perhaps a party that offers “not heading to hell” will do better than one which offers the scenic route to the same place Tories want to go.

It’s certainly worth a flier. Hell ain’t that pretty. People should be understanding that by now.

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Corbyn Loses No Confidence Vote 172-40 but Vows to Stay

Picture of Jeremy Corbyn

Picture of Jeremy Corbyn

I hope to hell he means it.

So, the MPs have enough votes to trigger another leadership contest. Most likely, Corbyn would win it, though if they put up just one candidate against him the rebels might win.

Of course, if Corbyn wins, mandatory re-selection of all MPs must be enacted immediately. He can’t run a Labour party in which 80 percent of the MPs won’t work with him.

I wrote, right after Corbyn was elected, the following:

So, you voted for Corbyn. You’re a Labour party member, old or new. What MUST you do to have Corbyn’s back?

Because, be clear, he will fail without you. He will lose. He and his few allies within the Labour party cannot win this fight alone. He will be destroyed by lack of cooperation, scandals, and engineered crises. The vast majority of all media coverage will be negative, etc.

If Labour wants a left-wing leader like Corbyn, they must re-elect him and get rid of the MPs. That will probably cause the MPs to form their own party; so be it.

No one who had Corbyn’s politics would not have faced the same coup, no one. This isn’t about Jeremy, it is about Labour’s refusal to follow left-wing politics.

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