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Neoliberalism as a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism

Neoliberalism = Casino Capitalism = "Transnational elites, Unite!"
(It is a neoTrotskyism with the word "proletarians" substituted by the word "elites"
 in famous "Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" slogan
and "Color revolutions" instead of Communist  "Permanent revolution"  )

Version 6.0

Skepticism and Pseudoscience  > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing

News An introduction to Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Anti-globalization movement Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization
Globalization of Financial Flows Neoliberalism and Christianity Alternatives to Neo-liberalism by Alex Callinicos Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Neoliberal rationality Key Myths of Neoliberalism  US Presidential Elections of 2016 as a referendum on neoliberal globalization
Zombie state of neoliberalism and coming collapse of neoliberalism Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism  Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Definitions of neoliberalism Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories Populism
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neocons New American Militarism Casino Capitalism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism War is Racket Inverted Totalitarism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Neoliberal corruption Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Corruption of Regulators "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries   Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom' Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization
Elite Theory Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Gangster Capitalism  Key Myths of Neoliberalism Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"
If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Super Capitalism as Imperialism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality Blaming poor and neoliberalism laziness dogma Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime
Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump The Deep State Predator state Disaster capitalism Harvard Mafia Small government smoke screen  
The Great Transformation Monetarism fiasco Neoliberalism and Christianity Republican Economic Policy  In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Ronald Reagan: modern prophet of profligacy Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment History of neoliberalism Humor Etc


Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right, "Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

- New York Times

Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists

May '68 and its Afterlives [Review]

GB: once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans

The Kremlin Stooge

Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page --  Neoliberalism: an Introduction


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(Research materials to the paper Neoliberalism: an Introduction)

Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2016 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2015 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2014 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2013 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2011 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2009 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2008

[Dec 02, 2016] Trumpism as bastard neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... It might well be a mistake to see neoliberalism and Trumpism (and Brexiteerism, and their international cousins) as sharply opposed. ..."
"... The dominant economic ideas taken together created a framework in which deviation from declared orthodoxy would be punished by dynamics unleashed by globalization and financialization. The system depended not merely on actors having the specific interests attributed to them, but in believing in the theory that said that they did. ..."
"... Trump's neoliberalism is definitely "neoliberalism without globalization and offshoring of domestic manufacturing". ..."
"... He also reject neoliberal interventionism, which was the main reason people voted against Hillary with her crazy jingoism and attempts to outdo Senator McCain in anti Russian rhetoric. ..."
"... But still Trump's "bastard neoliberalism" is a pretty questionable political and economic platform, as you can't be half-pregnant. On the other hand the return to New Deal capitalism is hardly possible. So somebody needs to find an alternative that works. That's might spell troubles for Trump. Or may be not: in a way this looks similar to Stalin's rejection of Trotsky idea of global proletarian revolution and put forward his idea of "Socialism in a single country" ..."
"... I think Trump platform might be viewed as "Neoliberalism in a single country". ..."
"... BTW Trump rejection of neoliberalism goes belong globalization and includes some forms of privatization. For example, Trump used to be against privatizing Medicare - a part of the platform of Republicans in Congress ..."
Dec 02, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

engels 11.29.16 at 1:41 am 4

It might well be a mistake to see neoliberalism and Trumpism (and Brexiteerism, and their international cousins) as sharply opposed. An alternative analysis (which I don't necessarily endorse every word of but found thought-provoking):

The dominant economic ideas taken together created a framework in which deviation from declared orthodoxy would be punished by dynamics unleashed by globalization and financialization. The system depended not merely on actors having the specific interests attributed to them, but in believing in the theory that said that they did. [This is one of the reasons that Trumpism has generated confusion among economic actors, even as his victory produced an early bout of stock-market euphoria. It does not rebuke neoliberalism so much as replace it with its own heretical version, bastard neoliberalism, an orientation without a theory, whose tale has yet to be written.]

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/trumpism-has-dealt-a-mortal-blow-to-orthodox-economics-and-social-science.html

likbez 11.30.16 at 1:36 am 58

@4
engels 11.29.16 at 1:41 am

I agree that Trumpism is a complicated phenomena, but the idea that

Trumpism = "bastard neoliberalism"

, while definitely a huge simplification, looks attractive to me, because it catches internal contradictions in Trump's political and economic views. Trump's neoliberalism is definitely "neoliberalism without globalization and offshoring of domestic manufacturing".

He also reject neoliberal interventionism, which was the main reason people voted against Hillary with her crazy jingoism and attempts to outdo Senator McCain in anti Russian rhetoric.

But still Trump's "bastard neoliberalism" is a pretty questionable political and economic platform, as you can't be half-pregnant. On the other hand the return to New Deal capitalism is hardly possible. So somebody needs to find an alternative that works. That's might spell troubles for Trump. Or may be not: in a way this looks similar to Stalin's rejection of Trotsky idea of global proletarian revolution and put forward his idea of "Socialism in a single country"

I think Trump platform might be viewed as "Neoliberalism in a single country".

BTW Trump rejection of neoliberalism goes belong globalization and includes some forms of privatization. For example, Trump used to be against privatizing Medicare - a part of the platform of Republicans in Congress (the following quote from Trump book was taken verbatum from Amazon customer review
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2RP80CXZGIJ9W/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1621574954 )

"It's not unreasonable for people who paid into a system for decades to expect to get their money's worth - that's not an "entitlement," that's honoring a deal. We as a society must also make an ironclad commitment to providing a safety net for those who can't make one for themselves."

This view is also not compatible with classic neoliberalism.

[Dec 02, 2016] The incomes of the financial sector are mostly pure rents so there are fewer gains from trade possible here than there are for more productive sectors. Trade negotiations on this are therefore more win-lose rather than potentially win-win

Notable quotes:
"... The incomes of the financial sector are mostly pure rents so there are fewer gains from trade possible here than there are for more productive sectors. Trade negotiations on this are therefore more 'win-lose' rather than potentially 'win-win'. ..."
Dec 02, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

derrida derider 11.29.16 at 2:09 am 5

T's right – the economic impact of Brexit on the UK will overwhelmingly depend on how the EU "passport" entitlements for the banks are negotiated. And of course the Germans (with Frankfurt) and the French (with Paris) have a strong incentive to make sure that a good slab of the City's business goes to them.

The incomes of the financial sector are mostly pure rents so there are fewer gains from trade possible here than there are for more productive sectors. Trade negotiations on this are therefore more 'win-lose' rather than potentially 'win-win'.

I think the result will certainly be lower aggregate GDP for the UK but it might well be better distributed (eg London property prices may be less absurd). The City has long made the rest of the UK economy suffer from a form of Dutch disease through an overvalued pound sterling. So those Sunderland Brexit voters might prove ultimately correct in their assessment of their economic interests – just not in the way they think.

[Dec 02, 2016] Neoliberalism may be a smoking ruin intellectually, but it remains the default ideology today across most of the political spectrum, for lack of an articulated alternative

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism marches on in the centre-left critique of Brexit: Brexit's political motivation is a racist nationalism, there is no good or practical alternative to the EU and its four freedoms of unmanaged movements of capital, people, goods. ..."
"... The essence of left neoliberalism was the collaboration of the educated, credentialed managerial classes in the plutocratic project and the abandonment of the cause of defending what used to be called the working classes and the poor from predatory capital. ..."
"... the neoliberal trap in which what passes for left politics ..."
"... Brexit may never happen or its management may be taken over by other hands in a further reversal of political fortune on one side or the other of the Channel. A Eurozone collapse can scarcely be ruled out as Italy crumbles and France chooses between a proud neoliberal unaware of that collapse thingee and a right-wing of the old school. That would create opportunities I can scarcely imagine; there might be an alternative after all. ..."
"... [I]inequality is deadly for democracy, and for the equal political status of citizens. Because the power and influence high earners derive from their income threatens such status equality, there is a strong public interest in constraining it, even if doing so raises no money at all ..."
"... "Chauvinism" is a good thought, but you can see the problem. You read all manner of implications into "tribalism" that I don't see at all, but want to read fifty years or so of usage out of "chauvinism". ..."
"... Well neo-liberalism worked for some. Guess you had to be in early enough. I wonder if Paris or Frankfurt will allow its banking jobs to be outsourced to India? ..."
Dec 02, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

David 11.29.16 at 12:08 pm 19

I think there's a real risk of confusing two things: on the one hand, ideology, on the other a mechanism for mobilizing political and electoral support.
Neoliberalism may be a smoking ruin intellectually, but it remains the default ideology today across most of the political spectrum, for lack of an articulated alternative. But it's not a good way to mobilize electoral support ("vote for me and I'll outsource your job to India"). Historically, that mobilizing role was played by divisions of wealth and power, but with the end of class politics, the only obvious alternative is tribalism, or whatever we want to call it, with it's message "I represent your group interests, vote for me." On the "right" this manifests itself through the tribalism of tradition, language, culture etc; on the "left" through the tribalism of identity politics. You can't really construct functioning political parties around purely abstract ideas (tolerance, for example) – you need voters. This was perfectly well demonstrated by the Clinton election campaign, where the ideology was neoliberal, but the mobilizing device was tribalism ("you are X therefore you should vote for me").

Much of the confusion in contemporary politics, therefore, results from competitive attempts to foist tribal identities on people, and the resistance of potential voters to this tactic. Now, traditional mobilizing factors did have the virtue of clarity; you were objectively poor, unemployed, property-owning, share-owning or whatever, and it was fairly obvious what the consequences of voting for this or that party would be. In the new dispensation, the "right" is doing better at this game at the moment than the "left" because its tribal markers (language, history, nation etc.), whilst not uncontested or unproblematic, mean more to people than the race and gender-based markers of the "left". Someone with black skin may not feel that that defines the way they should vote, in preference to say, their economic interests. This is why in France, for example, the Socialists have effectively lost an increasingly prosperous and predominantly socially conservative immigrant vote to the Right.

Likbez@5

"Brexit is just a symptom of growing resistance to neoliberalism, and the loss of power of neoliberal propaganda."

Broadly agree. After all, neoliberalism (and its child, globalization) was created and is enforced by nations, and its destruction, if that happens, must begin at the national level. My own, totally unrealistic, hope is that if Brexit looks like happening and similar things follow elsewhere, the EU will be frightened enough that some of the neoliberal poison will seep out, and Europe will go back to being what it was, and always should have been. Some hope.

Peter K. 11.29.16 at 3:22 pm 33 ( 33 )

What about Dean Baker's speculation?

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/the-end-of-austerity-a-brexit-dividend

"Apparently, the conservative government has now abandoned its plans for further austerity and a balanced budget. It is expected to spend an additional $187 billion over the next five years (roughly 1.0 percent of GDP) to boost the economy and create jobs. According to the NYT, this spending is a direct response to concerns over the plight of working class people who voted for Brexit in large numbers.

This outcome is worth noting, because the boost to the economy from additional spending is likely to be larger than any drag on growth as a result of leaving the European Union. This would mean that the net effect of Brexit on growth would be positive. Of course the UK government could have abandoned its austerity path without Brexit, but probably would not have done so. Given the political context, working class voters who wanted to see more jobs and a stronger welfare state likely made the right vote by supporting Brexit. This doesn't excuse the racist sentiments that motivated many Brexit supporters, but it is important to recognize the economic story here.

There is a deeper lesson in this story. The elites that derided Brexit were largely content with austerity policies that needlessly kept workers from getting jobs and also weakened the welfare state. Many were willing to push nonsense economic projections of recession in order to advance their political agenda. In this context, it is not surprising that large numbers of working class people would reject their argument that Brexit would be bad for the UK."

WLGR 11.29.16 at 5:06 pm 36

Rather than rehash my objections to "tribalism" as far as the racialized and imperialist connotations of the term itself, drawing off of likbez @ 6 and the recent sociobiology/evopsych thread, here's another objection: to the extent that it relies on a vague idea of modern far-right nationalism as just a modern manifestation of some deeper general human tendency toward ingroup/outgroup moral reasoning, it goes much too far in naturalizing far-right nationalism, making it out to be a core aspect of immutable human nature instead of the historically contingent political and economic phenomenon it is. (Cf. Kevin Drum's misapprehension of the term "white supremacy" , which doesn't refer to any abstract idea that white people are or should be superior, but the historical reality of their tangible efforts to create and maintain a superior material position.) On a certain level fascists are fascists because they perceive the subjugation of other races and nationalities to be in their interest based on their understanding of how global capitalist society works, and in some sense their understanding of the subjugation and domination necessary for capitalism to function is much clearer than the understanding of a proverbial "bleeding-heart liberal".

Accordingly, the ideological implication of "tribalism" that the guards at Auschwitz were doing fundamentally the same thing as the chimpanzees in 2001: A Space Odyssey , resembles what some old bearded leftist once described as an effort "to present production as encased in eternal natural laws independent of history, at which opportunity bourgeois relations are then quietly smuggled in as the inviolable natural laws on which society in the abstract is founded". No, fascism isn't inevitable, or at least it's only inevitable as long as capitalism is too.

WLGR 11.29.16 at 7:24 pm ( 45 )

JQ: "I don't know how I could have been clearer that the current upsurge of tribalism is a historically contingent political and economic phenomenon arising from the collapse of neoliberalism."

Saying "the current upsurge of tribalism" isn't the same thing as saying "tribalism". The implication of the former is that tribalism has been here all along under the surface and our modern historical moment isn't creating it so much as uncovering it, with the "it" in question implied to be something premodern and primitive to which we're returning or even regressing. At best it's a vague and partial metaphor that needs to be closely monitored to avoid implying any deeper comparison, and if it's intended in any way as a pejorative, it works via our perception of something inherently wrong or even evil about "primitive" modes of social existence, something that demands a unilateral civilizing intervention by the enlightened imperialists of the mind. If you're really searching for a proper response to "tribalism", the ideology embedded in the term "tribalism" seems to itself imply the very same kind of paternalist liberal response you otherwise seem to rightly abhor.

Here's a thought: why not "chauvinism"? Just because in recent years it's widely become shorthand for "male chauvinism", don't forget it was originally coined for excessive and potentially bigoted nationalism, after a (likely apocryphal) Napoleonic-era French soldier named Nicolas Chauvin. As far as historical allusions for a tendency claimed to encompass everyone from Hitler to George Wallace to Donald Trump, using a word derived from the dictatorial personality-cultish nationalist reaction to the first true modern universalist revolution seems to be on solid ground, especially compared to a word that implies continuity between racist oppression in modern nation-states and the alleged backward savagery of the very populations being oppressed.

John Quiggin 11.29.16 at 7:41 pm

"Chauvinism" is a good thought, but you can see the problem. You read all manner of implications into "tribalism" that I don't see at all, but want to read fifty years or so of usage out of "chauvinism".

Trying Google, I find that just about all the top hits for "tribalism" are in the sense I use, and nearly all of the top hits for "chauvinism" are associated with male chauvinism, even in some dictionary definitions.

bruce wilder 11.29.16 at 7:46 pm ( 47 )

Brexit has not been defined in any detail, so calling for speculation is inviting any and all kinds of counterfactual speculative projection. That may be interesting, to the extent it reveals worldview or even more theoretical presupposition. But, what I get from the OP and many of the comments is that neoliberalism has not collapsed at all.

Neoliberalism marches on in the centre-left critique of Brexit: Brexit's political motivation is a racist nationalism, there is no good or practical alternative to the EU and its four freedoms of unmanaged movements of capital, people, goods.

The great difficulty of renegotiating the Gordian knot of regulation tying the EU together looms large, as it would for the socio-economic class of people tasked with creating and recreating these sorts of systems, systems of finance, administrative process and supply chain that loom so large in our globalised economy - pay no attention to the sclerosis, please! How will we get visas?!?

The deep and persistent poverty that scars England and the struggles of local displacement that shadow the fantastic globalised wealth imported into the core of the Great Metropolis are mentioned by a few commenters as a dissent (my interpretation, alternative welcome). There is in this leftish discussion little skepticism expressed about how healthy it is that the UK is so invested in global and European finance. What is engaged is scorn for the idea of a Tory social conscience. (I have never seen one myself.) But what goes unmentioned is the absence of a Left economic conscience.

Which brings me back around to question the ostensible premise of the OP, the alleged collapse of neoliberalism. What has collapsed politically - as any reader of news headlines must surely know - is the social democratic left. (USA, France, Italy at any moment)

The essence of left neoliberalism was the collaboration of the educated, credentialed managerial classes in the plutocratic project and the abandonment of the cause of defending what used to be called the working classes and the poor from predatory capital. I do not yet see the left critique of Brexit departing from either the collaboration or the abandonment. In British politics, the continuing civil war in the Labour Party between the old leftists and the new membership on the one hand and the Blairite careerists in the PLP and their supporters among the cosmopolitans would seem to furnish a stark illustration of how disabled the left is at this juncture, mere spectators as a weak Tory Party bungles its way forward unimpeded.

Mumbling about "tribalism" says more about the neoliberal trap in which what passes for left politics appears fatally trapped than it does about right populism.

Sure, we want to shout "fascism" but if this is the second coming of that incoherent political tendency, it is even more farce than it was the first time around.

This very weak tea populism that is Trump or May's one nation conservatism redux is only possible, imho, because there is no left populism to compete credibly for those "working class" constituencies, whose political worldviews and attitudes are - shall we say, unsophisticated? Rather than compete for the loyalty of those authoritarian followers (to use a term from political psychology), the left organizes its own form of "tribal" identity politics around scorning them as a morally alien out-group. And, the new (alt?) right leverages the evidence of class contempt and so on for their own populist mobilization.

This right is not very credible as populists, but it is a matter of out running a bear in the woods – the bear is the loss of elite legitimacy – and it has only been necessary to outrun the left, which so far will not even tie its shoes.

Brexit may never happen or its management may be taken over by other hands in a further reversal of political fortune on one side or the other of the Channel. A Eurozone collapse can scarcely be ruled out as Italy crumbles and France chooses between a proud neoliberal unaware of that collapse thingee and a right-wing of the old school. That would create opportunities I can scarcely imagine; there might be an alternative after all.

SamChevre 11.29.16 at 9:42 pm

Discussions of Brexit, and its economic effects, continues to remind me of this Chris Bertram post from 2014.

[I]inequality is deadly for democracy, and for the equal political status of citizens. Because the power and influence high earners derive from their income threatens such status equality, there is a strong public interest in constraining it, even if doing so raises no money at all .[W]e need to shift the balance of voice in favour of the unemployed teenager and against the City trader.

Hidari 11.29.16 at 9:44 pm ( 51 )

@47

Maybe not just the social democratic left. Maybe the whole left. This whole capitalist experiment is so new, historically speaking (in its industrialised form only going back a few centuries) we simply have no idea how it will play out long-term. Maybe what we have known as 'the left' was simply a 'reactive formation' to initial stages of capitalism, facilitated by wars and the early,' factory' model of capitalism. Maybe in our 'post-modern' era of capitalism (which might, after all, last for centuries), with low unionisation, high unemployment/underemployment, massive income inequality, slow growth, and a 'bread and circuses' media, the left simply no longer has any political role.

After all, the collapse of the social democratic left follows in the wake of the collapse of the radical left in the 1980s and 1990s, which (despite occasional 'dead cat bounces' as we have seen in Greece and Spain) shows no sign of returning. And the centre (e.g. the LibDems in the UK) died a long time ago.

As Owen Jones has been amongst the few to point out perhaps the future of Europe lies in Poland where the left and centre have simply ceased to exist, and all of political life consists of neo-Thatcherites fighting ethno-nationalists for a slice of the political pie.

Helen 11.29.16 at 10:07 pm

"Chauvinism" is a good thought, but you can see the problem. You read all manner of implications into "tribalism" that I don't see at all, but want to read fifty years or so of usage out of "chauvinism".

Trying Google, I find that just about all the top hits for "tribalism" are in the sense I use, and nearly all of the top hits for "chauvinism" are associated with male chauvinism, even in some dictionary definitions.

Ethnocentrism?

T 11.29.16 at 10:28 pm ( 53 )

@35 Engels & JQ

Well neo-liberalism worked for some. Guess you had to be in early enough. I wonder if Paris or Frankfurt will allow its banking jobs to be outsourced to India?

In the US, the pres-elect has just nominated a health secretary who is for killing Obamacare while Trump's party is talking about privatizing (thereby killing) Medicare. So much for the complete death of neo-liberlism JQ. There's always time for one final looting.

WLGR 11.29.16 at 10:30 pm

Point taken, although if we're taking our intellectual cues from mainstream definitions now, someone should notify the laypeople confused about non-mainstream scholarly definitions of words like "liberalism" and "racism" that they were actually right all along. From my understanding, the typical scholarly view of "tribe" as a concept ranges from vague and essentialist on one end (cf. "feudalism") to a racism-tinged pejorative on the other end (cf. "savage"), and in neither case is it considered particularly respectable to deliberately orient a theory of human society around the distinction between what is or isn't "tribal".

But if you're not necessarily convinced that the term "tribalism" is offensive in itself, another line of attack might resemble this :

The instinct to explain the seemingly inexplicable rise of Trump by blaming a foreign influence–or likening it to something from non-white or Slavic countries–is as lazy as it is subtly racist. Trump is Trump. Trump is American. His bigotry, his xenophobia, his sexism, his contempt for the media, his desire to round up undesirables, all have American origins and American explanations. They don't need to be "like" anything else. They are like us. While acknowledging this may be uncomfortable, doing so would go a lot further in combating Trump than treating him as anomalous or comparable only to those poor, backwards foreigners.

In other words, even if we assume there's nothing inherently problematic about calling groups like the Sioux or the Igbo "tribes" (although tellingly enough it's more common for such groups to self-identify with the term "nation") the very act of casting fascists/ethnonationalists/whatevers in terms of a foreign type of social organization acts as a means of disavowal, intentionally or unintentionally letting ourselves off the hook for the extent to which the evil they express is entirely that of our own society. Which, I might add, at least somewhat resembles the ideological maneuver of the fascists/ethnonationalists/whatevers themselves: casting the antagonism and instability inherent to any capitalist society as the result of a foreign intruder, whose removal will render the nation peaceful and harmonious once again. Obviously the two aren't comparable in many other ways, but the end result in either case is to avoid facing the immanent contradictions of one's own national identity too directly.

[Dec 02, 2016] Economists View Some Concrete Proposals for Economists and the Media

Dec 02, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
likbez : December 02, 2016 at 09:47 AM
There is no economics, only political economy. That means that financial oligarchy under liberalism puts the political pressure and takes measures to have the final say as for who occupy top academic positions.

Indirect negative selection under neoliberalism (much like in the USSR) occurs on multiple fronts, but especially via academic schools and indoctrination of students. The proper term for political pressure of science and creating an academic school that suppressed other is Lysenkoism.

So far this term was not mentioned even once here. But this what we have in the USA. Of course there are some dissidents, some of them quite vocal, but in no way they can get to the level of even a department chair.

In best traditions of Lysenkoism such people as Greg Mankiw, Krugman, DeLong and Summers after getting to their lucrative positions can do tremendous, lasting decades damage. The same is true for all other prominent neoliberal economists. It's not even about answers given, it is about questions asked and framework and terminology used.

Fish rots from the head. It is important to understand that essentially the same game (with minor variations, and far worse remuneration for sycophantism ) was played in the USSR -- the Communist Party essentially dictated all top academic position assignments, so mostly despicable sycophants had managed to raise to the top in this environment. Some people who can well mask their views under the disguise of formal obedience also happened, but were extremely rare. Situation in the past in the USA was better and such people as Hyman Minsky (who died in 1996) while not promoted were not actively suppressed either. But He spend only the last decade of his career under neoliberal regime.

What was really funny, is how quickly in late 80th prominent USSR economists switched to neoliberalism when the wind (and money) start flowing in this direction.

Such despicable academic charlatans, who previously swear to dogmas of Marxism, were very receptive of foreign grants, conferences trips and cash :-). Much like Summers was receptive for sky high honorarium from various banks (see http://www.prosebeforehos.com/article-of-the-day/04/10/the-corruption-of-larry-summers/ )

I would suggest that there are non are trivial links between Soviet political and economic science and neoclassical economics in the USA -- both are flavors of Lysenkoism.

[Nov 30, 2016] https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2RP80CXZGIJ9W/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8 ASIN=1621574954

Nov 30, 2016 | www.amazon.com

"It's not unreasonable for people who paid into a system for decades to expect to get their money's worth - that's not an "entitlement," that's honoring a deal. We as a society must also make an ironclad commitment to providing a safety net for those who can't make one for themselves."

This view is also not compatible with classic neoliberalism.

[Nov 30, 2016] Trumpism Has Dealt a Mortal Blow to Orthodox Economics and 'Social Science' naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... "The Anti-Corn Law League was a successful political movement in Great Britain aimed at the abolition of the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners' interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread at a time when factory-owners were trying to cut wages to be internationally competitive." ..."
Nov 30, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
likbez November 26, 2016 at 10:37 pm

I used to respect Krugman during Bush II presidency. His columns at this time looked like on target for me. No more.

Now I view him as yet another despicable neoliberal shill. I stopped reading his columns long ago and kind of always suspect his views as insincere and unscientific. In this particular case the key question is about maintaining the standard of living which can be done only if manufacturing even in robotic variant is onshored and profits from it re-distributed in New Deal fashion. Technology is just a tool. There can be exception for it but generally attempts to produce everything outside the US and then sell it in the USA lead to proliferation of McJobs and lower standard of living. Creating robotic factories in the USA might not completely reverse the damage, but might be a step in the right direction. The nations can't exist by just flipping hamburgers for each other.

Actually there is a term that explains well behavior of people like Krugman and it has certain predictive value as for the set of behaviors we observe from them. It is called Lysenkoism and it is about political control of science.

See, for example:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism
http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/lysenkoism.shtml

Yves in her book also touched this theme of political control of science. It might be a good time to reread it. The key ideas of "ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism " are still current.

John Wright November 27, 2016 at 9:34 am

Another factor in maintaining manufacturing in the USA is what is referred to as furthering the "next bench syndrome".

This is where one is made aware of a manufacturing problem to solve due to proximity to the factory floor, and the solution leads to new profitiable products that can be used both inside/outside the original factory.

This might be an improved process or an improvement in manufacturing tooling that had not been anticipated before.

New products will be created with their profits/knowledge flowing to the country hosting the manufacturing plants.

The USA seems to be on a path of "we can create dollars and buy anything we want from people anywhere in the world".

Manufacturing dollars and credit rather than real goods might prove very short sighted if dollars are no longer prized.

Perhaps the TPP, with its ISDS provisions, indicates that powerful people understand this is coming and want additional wealth extraction methods from foreign countries.

Boris November 27, 2016 at 4:44 pm

We got ECONned all right.

It goes back to the late 1800's.

Excerpts from The Corruption of Economics

http://www.politicaleconomy.org/gaffney.htm

http://masongaffney.org/links.html

Henry George and The Reconstruction Of Capitalism
by Dr. Robert V. Andelson

http://schalkenbach.org/on-line-library/works-by-robert-v-andelson/henry-george-and-the-reconstruction-of-capitalism/

Beyond Left and Right

http://www.henrygeorge.org/isms.htm

Actus Purus November 26, 2016 at 10:35 am

The author mentions globalization and financialization. But what seems to be always left out (and given a pass) in these discussions is the role of central banks and monetary policy.

Central banking policy (always creating more money/credit) lies at the nexus of almost all that is wrong with modern capitalism and is the lubricant and fuel that enables financialization's endless growth.

Financialization leads to asset bubbles and deindustrialization. It hollows out industries. When money/credit are created in ever increasing quantity, the makeup of how we "work" shifts from goods producing to "finance".

Then through globalization, what we lack in goods, foreigners who accept our paper, seem to provide. At least for now. In a closed system, financialization has its natural limits. But enabled by cross-border trade, it metastasizes.

In the short run, it appears to be a virtuous circle. We print paper. They make real stuff. They take our paper. We take their stuff. We feel very clever.

But over time, wealth inequality grows. Industries are hollowed out. The banking sector dominates.

And then we get a populist uprising because people realize "something is wrong".

But mistakenly, they think it's globalization. Or free trade. Or capitalism. When all along, it's just central banking. Central banks are the problem. Central bankers are the culprits.

BecauseTradition November 26, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Central banks are the problem. Actus Purus

Yes, insofar as they create fiat for the private sector since that is obviously violation of equal protection under the law in favor of the banks and the rich.

Otoh, all citizens, their businesses, etc. should be allowed to deal directly in their nation's fiat in the form of account balances at the central bank or equivalent and not be limited to unsafe, inconvenient physical fiat, a.k.a. cash.

IDG November 27, 2016 at 4:12 am

Central banks are part of the problem, but not because any of the things you say. Abandon monetarism, is just wrong, on everything.

CB's do not control the rates effectively during the upturns (they are just procyclical as they add to savings though higher rates).

CB's "creating money" would mean loanable funds theory is right, but as it has been demonstrated over and over it's horribly wrong. Banks suffice themselves to expand credit on upturns, and CB'ers can do nothing about it. On downturns they cna try, and fail, because the appetite for credit is just not there. Credit expansion and contraction is endogenous and apart of of what CB's do, not to speak about all the forms of shadow money which are the real outliers and trouble makers.

What CB's do, in practice, is to prevent capitalism from collapsing on crisis, making "bad money" good, by stabilising asset prices. All their tools are reactive, not pro-active, so they cannot create any condition, because they react to conditions. They neither set the rates in reality, nor "create money" that enters the real economy in any meaningful way.

The religion of "central bankism" is part of the problem, but as it is the religion of "monetarism" (which are the same) on which many of those ideas are based.

BecauseTradition November 27, 2016 at 9:40 am

Banks suffice themselves to expand credit on upturns, and CB'ers can do nothing about it IDG

Yes, "loans create deposits" but only largely virtual liabilities wrt to the non-bank private sector. We should fix that by allowing the non-bank private sector to deal with reserves too then it would be much more dangerous for banks to create liabilities since bank runs would be as easy and convenient as writing a check to one's cb account or equivalent. Of course, government provided deposit insurance could then be abolished too since accounts at the cb or equivalent are inherently risk-free.

Our system is a dangerous mess because of privileges for depository institutions – completely unnecessary privileges given modern computers and communications.

Actus Purus November 27, 2016 at 9:42 am

In other words, another "pass" for central banks. It's not their fault. It's just the economy. It's how "markets" work.

stefan November 26, 2016 at 10:38 am

Get ready for real kleptocracy.

Breitbart obscurantism + Trump/Bannon misdirection = turkeys vote for thanksgiving.
Sessions views on race at Justice = curtailed civil rights.
Wilbur Ross pension stripping = privatize Social Security.
DeVos at education = privatize the golden egg of public education.
85% tax credit for private infrastructure spending = fire sale of the public square (only rich need apply).
3~4 Military generals in the cabinet = enforcement threat for crypto-fascist state.
McGahn at counsel + Pompeo at CIA = Koch Bros.
Ryan at speaker = privatize Medicare

Welcome to government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, for the billionaires.

btw, if Giuliani is appointed to a cabinet post, he will have to explain his foreknowledge of the NY FBI→Kallstrom→Comey connection→to Congress under oath (if they aren't too afraid to ask).

a different chris November 26, 2016 at 9:15 pm

I worry along with you, but again: When somebody Ms DeVos opens her mouth people just naturally recoil. Trump doesn't seem to have grasped the only thing that mattered in his election – you want your enemies to suck. His appointees are people that suck. Hillary would have appointed smooth-talkers who could effortlessly move between "private and public" positions.

PS: Paul Ryan is a good counterexample – people fall for his BS because he isn't quite a stupid as, say Guiliani. Of course he was elected, not picked by Trump.

Robert Dannin November 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

mr reddy solves the riddle of the Great Refusal but doesn't far enough: certainly mainstream economists were wrong to act as cheerleaders for the kleptocracy, yet they were also complicit in a material sense by furnishing all the necessary algorithms to boost the derivatives industry into the realm of corporate cyber-theft. that genie isn't going back into bottle. what's in store for us then? economic apartheid. just read what the new team has been saying about walls, guns, police, military and terrorism. the bannon plan is for heavily policed gated communities monopolizing vital resources; high surveillance, rights abatement zones for the proletariat; and a free-fire wilderness of lumpen gangsters, gun-toting vigilantes, survivalist cults, etc. competing for subsistence. mad max, only run by people worse than mel gibson. close to what we already have but once legislated into existence impossible to reverse without a violent revolution. once again mr. reddy is correct: hobbes' leviathan is the negation of social science.

Waldenpond November 26, 2016 at 11:39 am

hmmmm .. Trump said quite a few contradictory things during his campaign and it would seem an error to believe anything a candidate says on either side of an issue. Have the Koch brothers (who are involved w/Trump) been particularly unhappy with the numerous billions they've accumulated under Obama? I expect this regime to be more along the 'different globalization' side (more a shuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic). Manufacturing will be back in relation to the degree – penalties are eliminated on 'repatriated' funds, land is eminent domained on behalf of oligarchs, private profit is granted primacy over pollution, then build their factories with public money and abolish the minimum wage. Austerity will continue but the new con will be private/public partnerships. Don't you want to buy you friend/family member/neighbor a job? Don't you?

The elite, including the Trump's, are going to continue their actions until they've taken it all.

Wendell Fitzgerald November 26, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Since you mention land you might be interested in the idea of land value taxation a way to take the land back from the oligarchs an idea that has been around for a long time assiduously ignored by folks like Naked Capitalism.

JEHR November 26, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Mr. Fitzgerald, if you search in NC for "land value taxation" you will see many articles, especially from Mr. Hudson. NC has thoroughly covered a lot of territory regarding this topic.

a different chris November 26, 2016 at 9:24 pm

Yes you could probably catch us restlessly muttering "Henry George" in our sleep half the time.

The problem is it's a really, really hard sell. It just sounds funny. Pittsburgh actually had it until a few years ago when it was "discovered" and before there was even a discussion the Democratic mayor and City Council who should have known better had rescinded it before anybody got a chance to say anything.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_value_tax_in_the_United_States

" during 2001 after years of underassessment, and the system was abandoned in favor of the traditional single-rate property tax. The tax on land in Pittsburgh was about 5.77 times the tax on improvements."

To be good Russian plants, we do actually need to know things about Amerika

Anyway, here's the problem: people just voted for a billionaire how you gonna get this type of taxation approved given the Pittsburgh example?

Allegorio November 26, 2016 at 11:24 pm

It seems to be forgotten that this was a vote against Clinton and not a vote for Trump. If Trump goes back on his progressive platform, jobs jobs jobs there will be a backlash so fast that it will give everyone, especially the billionaires whiplash. Let them touch one hair on Social Security's head or privatize Medicare, there will be another big surprise in the mid-term elections. When the good people of the rust belt find out about the plans to put rentier tolls on all that public infrastructure, trust me the pitchforks will come out from their corners quick as you blink The best laid plans of billionaires and their lackeys often go awry. The curtain has been lifted. If Trump thinks he can satisfy the working class by giving another huge tax break to the .01%, he better think again. They do not have enough rubber bullets nor pepper spray.

Michael November 27, 2016 at 3:38 am

Nah, as long as Trump keeps blaming folks of color, he's got a good six years. You overestimate the people of Flyover. Yes, they got hosed by Obama, but they've been electing Republicans to flog them for 30 years.

Lambert Strether November 27, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Speaking of blaming

I love the Democrat attitude that "Democrats can never fail. They can only be failed," in this case by approximately 50% of the population.

Anonymous November 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm

It's a hard sell for good reason. Many Americans are land rich and cash poor. The idea that they'd have to sell property to pay such a tax offends even the simplest conception of sound land planning. If a lot more property came on the market at once, as it would have to under the land tax scheme, we'd be Japan all over again.

BecauseTradition November 27, 2016 at 11:41 am

Taxes should be unavoidable to avoid violating equal protection under the law and land taxes are certainly unavoidable in that land can't be hidden as income, for example, can be.

Another unavoidable tax, except for the existence of physical fiat* (notes and coins), would be a tax on fiat, i.e. negative interest.

*Yet these can be taxed when bought and sold to the central bank with/for "reserves"**
**Just another name for fiat account balances at the central bank when the account owners are depository institutions.

animalogic November 28, 2016 at 1:11 am

Here's a few old fashioned & long derided ideas for taxes:
An Estate Tax of 30% on estates larger than say, 5 million. Yes I know the US has one, but isn't it suffering death by a thousand cuts ?
A sales tax (say 30%) on Luxury goods ? If you can afford that Rolls Royce, you can afford the tax
Tax on financial transactions (ie: a Tobin tax).
I'm sure we could add a couple dozen more tax ideas to the list. (The idea is not surpluses, but to reduce inequality )

BecauseTradition November 28, 2016 at 9:17 am

but to reduce inequality ) animalogic

The goal should be to reduce injustice – preferably at its source. And the source of much injustice is surely government privileges for private credit creation and other welfare for the rich such as positive interest paying sovereign debt.

Still, there's previous injustice to deal with so asset redistribution should be on the table too and that could include taxing the rich to give to the poor – certainly not to run a surplus (or even a balanced budget) as you say.

Altandmain November 26, 2016 at 11:47 am

Mainstream analysts don't want to recognize the real problem. They failed the people have lost their legitimacy to govern.

Not saying Trump is the solution (I'm hoping for a solution from the left and think that Trump could enable his cronies, but nothing else), but the Establishment is unworthy to govern.

Wendell Fitzgerald November 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm

A solution that most people would consider being from the left but which is the radical center (taking valid ideas from both left and right) is land value taxation the wedge issue to tax the various sources of unearned income (estimated at 40+% of GNP however you determine it) thus allowing for the elimination of taxation of earned income from wages and profit from the investment of real capital in the real economy. Taxing community created land value and making the distinction between earned and unearned income has been assiduously ignored and avoided by mainstream economists, most of our vaunted/sainted public intellectuals and sources like naked capitalism but since all of that has failed there is nothing to lose by considering what this author, Sanjay Reddy, says is necessary: "It [social science] can only save itself through comprehensive reinvention, from the ground up." I suggest that the this has already been done literally from the ground up by the analysis that has been around for a very long time that takes land, how its value is created, who owns it and what happen when you tax its value into account. Happy day.

Oregoncharles November 27, 2016 at 1:37 pm

I recognize the concept, but suggesting some sources would help follow up on your point.

Michael November 27, 2016 at 3:38 am

I still have no idea what the point of an economist who didn't raise a flag before the 2007 crisis is.

Why would any of them retain their jobs?

Lambert Strether November 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm

The same goes for The Blob.

Rosario November 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

We finally made it to the post-modern wasteland. It is pretty weird to see the post-modern methods used by social scientists for decades to dissect culture actually manifest in practiced culture.

susan the other November 26, 2016 at 1:14 pm

TINA was definitely an ideology – an idea backed by interest. They were making fun of Thatcherism last nite on France 24 because it had been so devastating and now one of the candidates in France is talking her old trash again. Humor is effective against ideology when all else fails but it takes a while. But as defined above, we actually do have an alternative – our current alternative is "illiberal majoritarianism". Sounds a tad negative. We should just use the word "democracy".

pzoellner November 26, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Excellent thinking. Thanks to all

Sound of the Suburbs November 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm

The problem with free trade, a historical lesson:

"The Anti-Corn Law League was a successful political movement in Great Britain aimed at the abolition of the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners' interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread at a time when factory-owners were trying to cut wages to be internationally competitive."

The landowners wanted to increase their profit by charging a higher price for corn, but this posed a barrier to international free trade in making UK wage labour uncompetitive by raising the cost of living for workers.

In a free trade world the cost of living needs to be the same in West and East as this sets the wage levels.

The US has probably been the most successful in making its labour force internationally uncompetitive with soaring costs of housing, healthcare and student loan repayments.

These costs all have to be covered by wages and US businesses are now squealing about the high minimum wage.

US labour can never compete with Eastern labour and will have to be protected by tariffs.

Free trade has requirements and you must meet them before you can engage in free trade.

The cost of living needs to be the same in West and East.

BecauseTradition November 27, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Assume, for the sake of argument, that all assets in the West were equally owned by its citizens? Then wouldn't free trade with the East be a universal blessing for the citizens of the West and not a curse for some (actually many) of them?

So the problem is unjust asset distribution? But how could that occur if our economic system is just? Except it isn't just since government subsidies for private credit creation are obviously unjust in that the poor are forced to lend (a deposit is legally a loan) to banks for the benefit of the rich.

Oregoncharles November 27, 2016 at 1:31 pm

A technical note, to avoid possible confusion: "corn" in British means wheat and other small grains – a "corn" is a kernel. Maize was not a big factor in Britain; too far north.

Otherwise, good point.

Sound of the Suburbs November 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm

There are two certainties in life – death and taxes.

There are two certainties about new versions of capitalism; they work well for a couple of decades before failing miserably.

Capitalism mark 1 – Unfettered Capitalism

Crashed and burned in 1929 with a global recession in the 1930s.
The New Deal and Keynesian ideas promised a bright new world.

Capitalism mark 2 – Keynesian Capitalism

Ended with stagflation in the 1970s.
Market led Capitalism ideas promised a bright new world.

Capitalism mark 3 – Unfettered Capitalism – Part 2 (Market led Capitalism)

Crashed and burned in 2008 with a global recession in the 2010s.

We are missing the vital ingredient.

When the first version of capitalism failed, Keynes was ready with a new version.

When the second version of capitalism failed, Milton Freidman was waiting in the wings with his new version of capitalism.

Elites will always flounder around trying to stick with what they know, it takes someone with creativity and imagination to show the new way when the old way has failed.

Today we are missing that person with creativity and imagination to lead us out of the wilderness and
stagnation we have been experiencing since 2008.

Sound of the Suburbs November 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

What is missing from today's economics?

1) The work of the Classical Economists and the distinction between "earned" and "unearned" income, also "land" and "capital" need to be separated again (conflated in neoclassical economics)

Reading Michael Hudson's "Killing the Host" is a very good start

2) How money and debt really work. Money's creation and destruction on bank balance sheets.

3) The work of Irving Fisher, Hyman Minsky and Steve Keen on debt inflated asset bubbles

4) The work of Richard Koo on dealing with balance sheet recessions
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk

5) The realisation that markets have two modes of operation:

a) Price discovery
b) Bigger fool mode, where everyone rides the bubble for capital gains

There may be more

The Euro was designed with today's defective economics.
Oh dear, no wonder it's going wrong.

a different chris November 26, 2016 at 9:29 pm

>The Euro was designed with today's defective economics.

Man I didn't think of that. What comically lousy timing. I do like this post because it similar to sigh, ok it asserts my belief but still don't think I'm in an echo chamber here, I actually want people to know what I think so they can reinforce the good and whittle out the bad anyway, asserts my belief that "economics" isn't a science but when used in the best way is a toolkit, here we need an hammer (austerity), here we need a screwdriver (some tweaking). It isn't one tool for all jobs for all time.

Sound of the Suburbs November 27, 2016 at 1:24 pm

American's are brainwashed from birth about capitalism and Milton Freidman may have been as susceptible as the next man.

He may not have realised he was building on a base that had already been corrupted, the core of neoclassical economics.

The neoclassical economists of the late 19th century buried the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income.

These economists also conflated "land" and "capital" to cause further problems that were clear to the Classical Economists looking out on a world of small state, raw capitalism.

Thorstein Veblen wrote an essay in 1898 "Why is economics not an evolutionary science?".

Real sciences are evolutionary and old theory is replaced as new theory comes along and proves the old ideas wrong.

Economics needs a scientific, evolutionary rebuild from the work of the classical economists.

Most of the UK now dreams of giving up work and living off the "unearned" income from a BTL portfolio, extracting the "earned" income of generation rent.

The UK dream is to be like the idle rich, rentier, living off "unearned" income and doing nothing productive.

This is what happens when stuff goes missing from economics.

Keynes realised wage income was just as important as profit.
Wage income looks after the demand side of the equation and profit the supply side.
I think we will find he was right, this knowledge has just gone missing at the moment.

Keynes studied the Great Depression and noted monetary stimulus lead to a "liquidity trap".
Businesses and investors will not invest without the demand there to ensure their investment will be worthwhile.
The money gets horded by investors and on company balance sheets as they won't invest.
Cutting wages to increase profit just makes the demand side of the equation worse and leads you into debt deflation.
Central Banks today talk about the "savings glut" not realising this is probably Keynes's "liquidity trap".
It's more missing stuff.

When Keynes was involved in Bretton Woods after the Second World War they put in mechanisms for recycling the surplus, to keep the whole thing running.

The assumption today is that capitalism will just reach stable equilibriums by itself.

The Euro is based on this idea, but Greece has just reached max. debt and collapsed, it never did reach that stable equilibrium.

Recycling the surplus would probably have worked better.

Science is evolutionary for a reason.

Michael November 27, 2016 at 3:40 am

Energy and true scarcity in the form of the biosphere are still missing from today's economics.

BecauseTradition November 27, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Ethical fiat and credit creation are missing and have been for centuries.

UserFriendly November 26, 2016 at 8:09 pm

I disagree that we don't have a ready to go replacement. MMT. We just have TPTB throwing $$$ around to make sure no one hears about it, much less does anything.

Barry disch November 26, 2016 at 5:16 pm

Well written concentrated synopsis of how our economy has evolved over the last 35 years.

JEHR November 26, 2016 at 5:39 pm

I believe that our way out of this morass is to start by buying locally. There are always people who make things and they need to be supported. We may not get the cheap products, but we can build our communities up gradually over time. Our standard of living will be different but we will have our dignity and the means for creating prosperous communities.

Arizona Slim November 26, 2016 at 6:29 pm

I have been a member of a localist group here in AZ. Said group does a great job of appealing to people from across the political spectrum. And that is a good example to follow.

Ulysses November 27, 2016 at 7:06 am

"I believe that our way out of this morass is to start by buying locally."

I very much like the localist movement, and I try very hard to support it in upstate NY, among other places. The problem with this approach is that there are simply way too many people for us to painlessly revert back to an artisanal, agrarian 18th c. lifestyle.

To put this in Empire State terms: we might just be able to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people who used to work for Kodak, I.B.M, or Xerox upstate– in new jobs making craft beer or high-quality string instruments, etc. Yet what do we do with the many millions of people, who live downstate, who currently work in jobs very dependent on a globalized economy?

Greg November 26, 2016 at 11:25 pm

We've seen a few economists posting lately to say that all social sciences got it wrong, and especially economics. What's curious to me is that non of the examples given apply to any social science except economics.

Is this the same discipline that refuses to acknowledge the value of other disciplines and cross-discipline research, ducking for cover behind the very disciplines it's been snobbing?
'All social sciences' indeed.

John k November 27, 2016 at 12:53 am

The election was less about trump gaining voters in the rust belt than Clinton losing hers. Romney lost with exactly as many votes as trump got because 6 million that voted for black Obama preferred to stay home rather than vote for white Clinton.
All the dems need to do is to run a candidate willing to spend quality time in the swing states, somebody not totally corrupt and not verbally advocating confrontation with Russia would also be a big help, though this already rules out most dem elites.

Of course if trump manages to get a lot of infra built, and gets a lot of decent jobs, his support in 2020 will grow, maybe to the point only a strong progressive could beat him.
But today's dem elites will fight tooth and nail to keep real progressives from controlling the party, as instructed by their corp overlords remember, bankers might go to jail if the wrong person gets AG. First indication is Keith on dec 1 can/will big o keep him out?

LifeIsLikeABeanstalk November 27, 2016 at 2:17 am

I liked this 'take' by Prof. Reddy a lot in terms of looking at what happened to bring us to a Trump Presidency (with an observation that Orange Duce hasn't YET been sworn in).

But if he thinks that a Tea Party shaped Republican House and Senate and soon to be skewed Supreme Court aren't about to launch a season of Rent Taking and Austerity to levels previously only attained in Arthur Laffer's wet dreams he needs his otherwise rational head examined.

Schofield November 27, 2016 at 9:22 am

Don't go so excited the "Trump Revolution" like the "Obama Revolution" will likely end up as "hopeless" for ordinary folk. So for starters Trump's tax breaks will save the 1% fifteen percent and the rest of us 2 percent! Already the msm including my local paper are already grinding out the counter-propaganda against raising tariff barriers for China. The majority of the electorate are too ignorant to figure much of it out and come 2024 will be voting Ivanka Trump in as president!

GregoryA November 28, 2016 at 12:44 am

If Trump raises MORE(notice that word son) tariffs against China, he will get a nice uppercut across the forehead when China cancels contracts one after another and jobs start being lost in the next NBER recession. His ego can't take that.

He was the Mercers introduction to the elite, nothing more or less. If anything, the Republicans are more Jewy than ever.

Oregoncharles November 27, 2016 at 1:09 pm

"The dominant economic ideas taken together created a framework in which deviation from declared orthodoxy would be punished by dynamics unleashed by globalization and financialization."

IOW, it isn't science; it's political ideology.

The environmental economist Herman Daley traces that back to the very beginning of the field; he says the earliest economists essentially chose sides in the contest then raging between landowners (resource based) and merchants (trade based). That made them propagandists, not referees. And it's the reason economics, from the beginning, suppressed the distinction between natural resources, like land, water, and minerals, and human-created capital. It recognized only two "production factors," when in reality there are at least three. Marx picked up the same self-serving :"error."

Oregoncharles November 27, 2016 at 1:20 pm

" illiberal majoritarianism"
That's an unfortunate word choice, considering that Trump lost the election by nearly 2 million votes. It was an extraordinary demonstration of the defective Electoral College system. Maybe now we'll get some action on the Popular Vote initiative.

It's important to remember that the rebellion is "illiberal" mainly because the "liberal" parties refuse to offer a "liberal" populism, aka the New Deal. You could call it an old, proven idea. Some of us see that as weak tea, but even that isn't on offer outside the marginalized Left. (This is the essential point of Thomas Franks' "What's the Matter with Kansas.")

Of course, that's just a further illustration of the author's point.

Paul Hirschman November 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm

One of the most insightful chapters in Karl Polanyi's THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION is about something Karl calls "the discovery of society." It is the story of how those who wrestled with the fundamental falsehoods of the "self-regulating market" [our Libertarian friends' dreamworld] had to begin thinking about how people in their everyday lives actually, really, incompletely, made a life for themselves in a world defined by trickle-down economics. It was never a pretty sight, but the lesson was that the "self-regulating market" was going to be regulated somehow by non-economic actors with non-economic considerations foremost in mind, like it or not, or face destruction by human beings whose lives were distorted beyond what would be tolerated by ordinary people. Most people put up with neoliberal BS for a generation because that's what most people do, most of the time, even when they know they're being sold a bunch of horsecr*p. But the limit of what people will tolerate in a society defined by the false gods of market capitalism is reached periodically. Trump's victory tells us that one of these limits has been reached. The question now is, "What are we going to "discover" about ourselves and about the society we want to live in–and will we find a way to create it, assuming it's something good?" (Or flee from, if it turns sour.)

TINA folks will repeat, over and over, that "there is no alternative," but that bugaboo has just been smashed. Clinton, Summers, Obama, Rubin, Schumer, and the many, many lesser lights of Neo-Liberalism have become "old hat" almost overnight. Let's hope our discovery of society includes a stronger dose of Reason and Solidarity than would seem to exist in Trumpworld.

Phil November 28, 2016 at 3:33 am

Here's the deal:
Automation is hallowing out work *at all levels*. Don't believe me? Read this.
http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf
Summary:
http://www.eng.ox.ac.uk/about/news/new-study-shows-nearly-half-of-us-jobs-at-risk-of-computerisation

Add to the above:
Projected population increases, worldwide -including some demographic vertical projections
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/03/10-projections-for-the-global-population-in-2050/

ergo: Less work (at all levels) + increasing population (which includes some explosive variables, like a large increase of older persons who will require economic support from fewer younger workers) = a massive increase in tension re: the struggle for available necessities.

Technology innovation will help with some of this, but the great, looming problem is: how are billions of idle people with nothing to do going to be motivated to remain non-disruptive? I can see a massive surveillance state controlling the "idles"; perhaps new technologies that permit people to jack their brains into the network for diversion (but how long before people become desensitized to that?). Will there be a "spiritual" revolution that is not attached to current dogmatic religions, that values having less, sharing more, cooperating with others, etc.? Hard to say.

Anyway, it's coming, yet very few policy makers are talking about it. I'll bet the Pentagon is planning for this scenario, among others.

In twenty years – maybe a few more – we should be able to begin to migrate away from earth. It will probably be a LONG time before extra-earth settlements are feasible and sustainable. That said, we here on earth are going to have our hands full.

Can humanity somehow find ways to overcome its wired propensity for status reflected by material wealth, and somehow change that status-seeking to a sharing model that is not top-down?

I've been pondering this for a while. People much smarter than I will hopefully lead the way. We have our work cut out for us.

I don't have any answers

[Nov 30, 2016] How the Global Left Destroyed Itself

Notable quotes:
"... Each of these was based fundamentally upon the principle that language was the key to all power. That is, that language was not a tool that described reality but the power that created it, and s/he who controlled language controlled everything through the shaping of "discourse", as opposed to the objective existence of any truth at all ..."
"... When you globalise capital, you globalise labour. That meant jobs shifting from expensive markets to cheap. Before long the incomes of those swimming in the stream of global capital began to seriously outstrip the incomes of those trapped in old and withering Western labour markets. As a result, inflation in those markets also began to fall and so did interest rates. Thus asset prices took off as Western nation labour markets got hollowed out, and standard of living inequality widened much more quickly as a new landed aristocracy developed. ..."
"... With a Republican Party on its knees, Obama was positioned to restore the kind of New Deal rules that global capitalism enjoyed under Franklin D. Roosevelt. ..."
"... But instead he opted to patch up financialised capitalism. The banks were bailed out and the bonus culture returned. Yes, there were some new rules but they were weak. There was no seizing of the agenda. No imprisonments of the guilty. The US Department of Justice is still issuing $14bn fines to banks involved yet still today there is no justice. Think about that a minute. How can a crime be worthy of a $14bn fine but no prison time?!? ..."
"... Alas, for all of his efforts to restore Wall Street, Obama provided no reset for Main Street economics to restore the fortunes of the US lower classes. Sure Obama fought a hostile Capitol but, let's face it, he had other priorities. ..."
"... This comment is a perfect example of the author's (and Adolf Reed's) point: that the so-called "Left" is so bogged down in issues of language that it has completely lost sight of class politics. ..."
"... It's why Trump won. He was a Viking swinging an ax at nuanced hair-splitters. It was inelegant and ugly, but effective. We will find out if the hair-splitters win again in their inner circle with the Democratic Minority Leader vote. I suspect they missed the point of the election and will vote Pelosi back in, thereby missing the chance for significant gains in the mid-term elections. ..."
"... One of the great triumphs of Those Who Continue To Be Our Rulers has been the infiltration and cooptation of 'the left', hand in hand with the 'dumbing down' of the last 30+ years so few people really understand what is going on. ..."
"... That the Global Left appears to be intellectually weak regarding identity politics and "political correctness" vs. class politics, there is no doubt. But to skim over Global Corporate leverage of this attitude seems wrong to me. The right has also embraced identity politics in order to keep the 90% fully divided in order to justify it's continual economic rape of both human and physical ecology. ..."
"... Every "identity politics" charge starts here, with one group wanting a more equitable social order and the other group defending the existing power structure. Identity politics is adjusting the social order and rattling the power structure, which is why it is so effective. ..."
"... I think it can be effectively argued that Trump voters in PA, WI, OH, MI chose to rattle the power structure and you could think of that as identity politics as well. ..."
"... On the contrary, the (Neo-)Liberal establishment uses identity politics to co-opt and neutralise the left. It keeps them occupied without threatening the real power structure in the least. ..."
"... Hillary (Neoliberal establishment) has many supporters who think of themselves as 'left' or 'liberal'. The Democratic Party leadership is neither 'left' nor 'liberal'. It keeps the votes and the love of the 'liberals' by talking up harmless 'liberal' identity politics and soft peddling the Liberal power politics which they are really about. ..."
"... Just from historical perspective, the right wing had more money to forward its agenda and an OCD like affliction [biblical] to drive simple memes relentlessly via its increasing private ownership of education and media. Thereby creating an institutional network over time to gain dominate market share in crafting the social narrative. Bloodly hell anyone remember Bush Jr Christian crusade after politicizing religion to get elected and the ramifications – neocon – R2P thingy . ..."
"... Its not hard once neoliberalism became dominate in the 70s [wages and productivity diverged] the proceeds have gone to the top and everyone else got credit IOUs based mostly on asset inflation via the Casino or RE [home and IP]. ..."
"... Foucault in particular advanced a greatly expanded wariness regarding the use of power. It was not just that left politics could only lead to ossified Soviet Marxism or the dogmatic petty despotism of the left splinters. Institutions in general mapped out social practices and attendant identities to impose on the individual. His position tended to promote a distrust not only of "grand narratives" but of organizational bonds as such. As far as I can tell, the idea of people joining together to form an institution that would enhance their social power as well as allow them to become personally empowered/enhanced was something of a categorial impossibility. ..."
"... There is no global left. We have only global state capitalists and global social democrats – a pseudo left. The countries where Marxist class analysis was supposedly adopted were not industrial countries where "alienation" had brought the "proletariat" to an inevitable communal mentality. The largest of these countries killed millions in order to industrialize rapidly – pretending the goal was to get to that state. ..."
"... Bigotry. Identity centered thinking. Neither serves egalitarianism. But people cling to them. "I gotta look out for myself first." And so called left thinkers constantly pontificate about "benefits" and "privileges" that some class, sex, and race confer. Hmmm. The logic is that many of us struggling daily to keep our jobs and pay the bills must give up something in order to be fair, in order to build a better society. Given this thinking it is no surprise that so many have retreated into the illusion of safety offered by identity based thinking. ..."
"... "Simultaneously, capitalism did what it does best. It packaged and repackaged, branded and rebranded every emerging identity, cloaked in its own sub-cultural nomenclature, selling itself back to new emerging identities. Soon class was completely forgotten as the global Left dedicated itself instead to policing the commons as a kind of safe zone for a multitude of difference that capitalism turned into a cultural supermarket." ..."
"... But why does the Dem estab embrace the conservative neoliberal agenda? The Dem estab are smart people, can think on multiple levels, are not limited in scope, are not racist. So, why then does the Dem estab accept and promote the conservative GOP neoliberal economic agenda? ..."
"... Because the Dem estab isn't very smart. ..."
"... Conservative is: private property, capitalism, limited taxes and transfer payments plus national security and religion. ..."
"... Liberalism is not in opposition to any of that. Identity politics arose at the same time the Ds were purging the reds (socialists and communists) from their party. Liberalism/progressivism is an ameliorating position of conservatism (progressive support of labor unions to work within a private property/corporatist structure not to eliminate the system and replace it with public/employee ownership) Not too far, too fast, maybe toss out a few more crumbs. ..."
"... There is a foundation for identity politics on the liberal-left (see what I did there?) – it rests in the sense of moral superiority of just this liberal-left, which superiority is then patronisingly spread all over the social world – until it meets those who deny the moral superiority claim, whereupon it becomes murderous (in, of course, the name of humanity and humanitarianism). ..."
"... This is why the 1% continue to prevail over the 99%. If the 1% wasn't so incompetent this would continue forever. They know how to divide, conquer and rule the 99%, however they don't know how to run a society in a sustainable way. ..."
"... But I will say one thing for the Right over the Left: they have taken the initiative and are now the sole force for change. Granted, supporting a carnival barker for president is an act of desperation. Nevertheless he was the only option for change and the Right took it. Perhaps the Left offering little to nothing in the way of change reflects its lack of desperation. ..."
"... Excellent comment, EoinW! You just summed up years of content and commentary on this site. Obviously as the "Left" continues to defend the status quo as you describe it stops being "Left" in any meaningful way anymore. ..."
"... The Koch brothers are economically to the very right. They are socially to the left, perhaps even more socially liberal than many of your liberal friends. No joke. There's a point here, if I can figure out what it is. ..."
"... Trump isn't Right or Left. Trump is a can of gasoline and a match. His voters weren't voting for a Left or Right agenda. They were voting for a battering ram. That is why he got a pass on racist, misogynist, fascist statements that would have killed any other candidate. ..."
"... PC is a parody of the 20th Century reform movements. ..."
"... In the 70's the feminists worked against legal disabilities written into law. Since the Depression, the unions fought corporate management create a livable relationship between management and labor. Real struggles, real problems, real people. ..."
"... What's interesting is that in an article pushing class over identity. he never tried to set his class ethos in order to convince working class people or the bourgeoisie why they should listen to him. ..."
"... "This site, along with the MSM, has flown way off the handle since the election loss." ..."
"... "Our nation's problems can be remedied with one dramatic change" ..."
"... Bringing C level pay packages at major corporations in line with the real contributions of the recipients would be great. How would we do it? With laws or regulations or executive orders banning the federal government from doing business with any firm that failed to comply with some basic guidelines? ..."
"... It's an academic point right now in any event. The Trump administration – working together with the Ryan House – is not going to make legislation or sign executive orders to do anything remotely like this. Which is one of the many reasons why bashing Democrats has taken off here I suspect. This election was theirs to lose, and they did everything in their power to toss it. ..."
"... You do realize that the wealthy are both part of and connected to the legislative branch of every single country on this planet right? As long as that remains so (as it has since the dawn of humans) then good luck trying to cap any sort of hording behavior of the wealthy. ..."
"... The post-structural revolution transpired [in the U.S.] before and during the end of the Cold War just as the collapse of the Old Soviet Union denuded the global Left of its raison detre. ..."
"... Foucault was not entirely sympathetic to the Left, at least the unions, but he was trying to articulate a politics that was just as much about liberation from capitalism as classic Marxism. To that end, discourse analysis was the means to discovering those subtle articulations of power in human relations, not an end in itself as it was for, say, Barthes. ..."
"... Imagine inequality plotted on two axes. Inequality between genders, races and cultures is what liberals have been concentrating on. This is the x-axis and the focus of identity politics and the liberal left. ..."
"... On the y-axis we have inequality from top to bottom. 2014 – "85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world" 2016– "Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world's population" ..."
"... The neoliberal view L As long as everyone, from all genders, races and cultures, is visiting the same food bank this is equality. ..."
"... You can see why liberals love identity politics. ..."
"... labor is being co-opted by the right: the Republican Workers Party I think this rhymes with Fascist. But then, in a world soon to be literally scrambling for high ground and rebuilding housing for 50 million people the time honored "worker" might actually have a renaissance. ..."
"... But the simple act of writing checks cost me n-o-t-h-i-n-g in terms of time, energy, education, physical or mental exertion. ..."
"... A much more nuanced discussion of the primacy of identity politics on the Left in Britain and the US is http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/29/prospects-for-an-alt-left/ "Prospects for an Alt-Left," November 29, 2016, by Elliot Murphy, who teaches in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College, London. ..."
"... The electorate is angry (true liberals at the Dems, voters in select electoral states at "everything"). If democracy is messy, then that's what we've got; a mess. Unfortunately, it's coming at the absolutely wrong time (Climate Change, lethal policing, financial elite impunity). ..."
"... But certainly the fall of the USSR was the thing that forced capitalism's hand. At that point capitalism had no choice but to step up and prove that it could really bring a better life to the world. ..."
"... A Minsky event of biblical proportions soon followed (it only took about 10 years!) and now all is devastation and nobody has clue. But the 1990 effort could have been in earnest. Capitalists mean well but they are always in denial about the inequality they create which finally started a chain reaction in "identity politics" as reactions to the stress of economic competition bounced around in every society like a pinball machine. A tedious and insufferable game which seems to have culminated in Hillary the Relentless. I won't say capitalism is idiotic. But something is. ..."
"... Left and Right only really make sense in the context of the distribution of power and wealth, and only when there is a difference between them about that distribution. This was historically the case for more than 150 years after the French Revolution. By the mid-1960s, there was a sense that the Left was winning, and would continue to win. Progressive taxation, zero unemployment, little real poverty by today's standards, free education and healthcare . and many influential political figures (Tony Crosland for example) saw the major task of the future as deciding where the fruits of economic growth could be most justly applied. ..."
"... So until class-based politics and struggles over power and money re-start (if they ever do) I respectfully suggest that "Left" and "Right" be retired as terms that no longer have any meaning. ..."
"... powerlessness, of course, corrupts. There's always someone weaker than you, which is why identity politics is essentially a conservative, disciplining force, with a vested interest in the problems it has chosen to identify ..."
"... Identity politics is a disaster ongoing for the Democratic Party, for reasons they seem to have overlooked. First, the additional identity group is white. We already see this in the South, where 90% of the white population in many states votes Republican. ..."
"... When that spreads to the rest of the country, there will be a permanent Republican majority until the Republicans create a new major disaster. ..."
"... So soon we forget the Battle of Seattle. The Left has been opposed to globalization, deregulation, etc., all along. Partly he's talking about an academic pseudo-left, partly confusing the left with the Democrats and other "center-left," captured parties. ..."
"... I mean, Barack Obama was our first black president, but most blacks didn't do very well. George W. Bush was our first retard president, and most people with cognitive handicaps didn't do very well. ..."
"... But we can boil it all down to something even simpler and more primal: divide and conquer. ..."
Nov 29, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This piece gives a useful, real-world perspective on the issues discussed in a seminal Adolph Reed article . Key section:

race politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature. An integral element of that moral economy is displacement of the critique of the invidious outcomes produced by capitalist class power onto equally naturalized categories of ascriptive identity that sort us into groups supposedly defined by what we essentially are rather than what we do. As I have argued, following Walter Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people. It would be tough to imagine a normative ideal that expresses more unambiguously the social position of people who consider themselves candidates for inclusion in, or at least significant staff positions in service to, the ruling class.

This perspective may help explain why, the more aggressively and openly capitalist class power destroys and marketizes every shred of social protection working people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations have fought for and won over the last century, the louder and more insistent are the demands from the identitarian left that we focus our attention on statistical disparities and episodic outrages that "prove" that the crucial injustices in the society should be understood in the language of ascriptive identity.

My take on this issue is that the neoliberal use of identity politics continue and extends the cultural inculcation of individuals seeing themselves engaging with other in one-to-one transactions (commerce, struggles over power and status) and has the effect of diverting their focus and energy on seeing themselves as members of groups with common interests and operating that way, and in particular, of seeing the role of money and property, which are social constructs, in power dynamics.

By David Llewellyn-Smith, founding publisher and former editor-in-chief of The Diplomat magazine, now the Asia Pacific's leading geo-politics website. Originally posted at MacroBusiness

Let's begin this little tale with a personal anecdote. Back in 1990 I met and fell in love with a bisexual, African American ballerina. She was studying Liberal Arts at US Ivy League Smith College at the time (which Aussies may recall was being run by our Jill Kerr Conway back then). So I moved in with my dancing beauty and we lived happily on her old man's purse for a year.

I was fortunate to arrive at Smith during a period of intellectual tumult. It was the early years of the US political correctness revolution when the academy was writhing through a post-structuralist shift. Traditional dialectical history was being supplanted by a new suite of studies based around truth as "discourse". Driven by the French post-modern thinkers of the 70s and 80s, the US academy was adopting and adapting the ideas Foucault, Derrida and Barthe to a variety of civil rights movements that spawned gender and racial studies.

Each of these was based fundamentally upon the principle that language was the key to all power. That is, that language was not a tool that described reality but the power that created it, and s/he who controlled language controlled everything through the shaping of "discourse", as opposed to the objective existence of any truth at all .

... ... ...

The post-structural revolution transpired before and during the end of the Cold War just as the collapse of the Old Soviet Union denuded the global Left of its raison detre. But its social justice impulse didn't die, it turned inwards from a notion of the historic inevitability of the decline of capitalism and the rise of oppressed classes, towards the liberation of oppressed minorities within capitalism, empowered by control over the language that defined who they were.

Simultaneously, capitalism did what it does best. It packaged and repackaged, branded and rebranded every emerging identity, cloaked in its own sub-cultural nomenclature, selling itself back to new emerging identities. Soon class was completely forgotten as the global Left dedicated itself instead to policing the commons as a kind of safe zone for a multitude of difference that capitalism turned into a cultural supermarket.

As the Left turned inwards, capitalism turned outwards and went truly, madly global, lifting previously isolated nations into a single planet-wide market, pretty much all of it revolving around Americana replete with its identity-branded products.

But, of course, this came at a cost. When you globalise capital, you globalise labour. That meant jobs shifting from expensive markets to cheap. Before long the incomes of those swimming in the stream of global capital began to seriously outstrip the incomes of those trapped in old and withering Western labour markets. As a result, inflation in those markets also began to fall and so did interest rates. Thus asset prices took off as Western nation labour markets got hollowed out, and standard of living inequality widened much more quickly as a new landed aristocracy developed.

Meanwhile the global Left looked on from its Ivory Tower of identity politics and was pleased. Capitalism was spreading the wealth to oppressed brothers and sisters, and if there were some losers in the West then that was only natural as others rose in prominence. Indeed, it went further. So satisfied was it with human progress, and so satisfied with its own role in producing it, that it turned the power of language that it held most dear back upon those that opposed the new order. Those losers in Western labour markets that dared complain or fight back against the free movement of capital and labour were labelled and marginalised as "racist", "xenophobic" and "sexist".

This great confluence of forces reached its apogee in the Global Financial Crisis when a ribaldly treasonous Wall St destroyed the American financial system just as America's first ever African American President, Barack Obama, was elected . One might have expected this convergence to result in a revival of some class politics. Obama ran on a platform of "hope and change" very much cultured in the vein of seventies art and inherited a global capitalism that had just openly ravaged its most celebrated host nation.

But alas, it was just a bit of "retro". With a Republican Party on its knees, Obama was positioned to restore the kind of New Deal rules that global capitalism enjoyed under Franklin D. Roosevelt. A gobalisation like the one promised in the brochures, that benefited the majority via competition and productivity gains, driven by trade and meritocracy, with counter-balanced private risk and public equity.

But instead he opted to patch up financialised capitalism. The banks were bailed out and the bonus culture returned. Yes, there were some new rules but they were weak. There was no seizing of the agenda. No imprisonments of the guilty. The US Department of Justice is still issuing $14bn fines to banks involved yet still today there is no justice. Think about that a minute. How can a crime be worthy of a $14bn fine but no prison time?!?

Alas, for all of his efforts to restore Wall Street, Obama provided no reset for Main Street economics to restore the fortunes of the US lower classes. Sure Obama fought a hostile Capitol but, let's face it, he had other priorities. And so the US working and middle classes, as well as those worldwide, were sold another pup. Now more than ever, if they said say so they were quickly shut down as "racist", "xenophobic", or "sexist".

Thus it came to pass that the global Left somehow did a complete back-flip and positioned itself directly behind the same unreconstructed global capitalism that was still sucking the life from the lower classes that it always had. Only now it was doing so with explicit public backing and with an abandon it had not enjoyed since the roaring twenties.

Which brings us back to today. And we wonder how it is that an abuse-spouting guy like Donald Trump can succeed Barack Obama. Trump is a member of the very same "trickle down" capitalist class that ripped the income from US households. But he is smart enough, smarter than the Left at least, to know that the decades long rage of the middle and working classes is a formidable political force and has tapped it spectacularly to rise to power.

And, he has done more. He has also recognised that the Left's obsession with post-structural identity politics has totally paralysed it. It is so traumatised and pre-occupied by his mis-use of the language of power – the "racist", "sexist" and "xenophobic" comments – that it is further wedging itself from its natural constituents every day.

Don't get me wrong, I am very doubtful that Trump will succeed with his proposed policies but he has at least mentioned the elephant in the room, making the American worker visible again.

Returning to that innocent Aussie boy and his wild romp at Smith College, I might ask what he would have made of all of this. None of the above should be taken as a repudiation of the experience of racism or sexism. Indeed, the one thing I took away from Smith College over my lifetime was an understanding at just how scarred by slavery are the generations of African Americans that lived it and today inherit its memory (as well as other persecuted). I felt terribly inadequate before that pain then and I remain so today.

But, if the global Left is to have any meaning in the future of the world, and I would argue that the global Right will destroy us all if it doesn't, then it must get beyond post-structural paralysis and go back to the future of fighting not just for social justice issues but for equity based upon class. Empowerment is not just about language, it's about capital, who's got it, who hasn't and what role government plays between them.

All sex is not rape, but most poverty is.

Big River Bandido November 29, 2016 at 1:28 pm

This comment is a perfect example of the author's (and Adolf Reed's) point: that the so-called "Left" is so bogged down in issues of language that it has completely lost sight of class politics. Essentially, the comment vividly displays the exact methodology the author lambasts in the piece - it hijacks the discussion about an economic issue, attempts to turn it into a mere distraction about semantics, and in the end contributes absolutely nothing of substance to the "discourse".

rd November 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm

It's why Trump won. He was a Viking swinging an ax at nuanced hair-splitters. It was inelegant and ugly, but effective. We will find out if the hair-splitters win again in their inner circle with the Democratic Minority Leader vote. I suspect they missed the point of the election and will vote Pelosi back in, thereby missing the chance for significant gains in the mid-term elections.

Dave Patterson November 29, 2016 at 7:00 am

One of the great triumphs of Those Who Continue To Be Our Rulers has been the infiltration and cooptation of 'the left', hand in hand with the 'dumbing down' of the last 30+ years so few people really understand what is going on.

Explained in more detail here if anyone interested in some truly 'out of the box' perspectives – It's not 'the left' trying to take over the world and shut down free speech and all that other bad stuff – it's 'the right'!! http://tinyurl.com/h4h2kay .

JCC November 29, 2016 at 9:01 am

Although I haven't yet read the article you posted, my "feeling" as I read this was that the author inferred that the right was in the mix somehow, but it was primarily the fault of the left.

That the Global Left appears to be intellectually weak regarding identity politics and "political correctness" vs. class politics, there is no doubt. But to skim over Global Corporate leverage of this attitude seems wrong to me. The right has also embraced identity politics in order to keep the 90% fully divided in order to justify it's continual economic rape of both human and physical ecology.

anonymouse November 29, 2016 at 10:15 am

>The right has also embraced identity politics

So many people critiquing the Dems' use of identity politics seem to miss this point.

Art Eclectica November 29, 2016 at 11:23 am

Exactly. My guess is that this plays out somewhat like this:

Dems: This group _____ should be free to have _____ civil right.

Reps: NO. We are a society built on _____ tradition, no need to change that because it upends our patriarchal, Christian, Caucasian power structure.

Every "identity politics" charge starts here, with one group wanting a more equitable social order and the other group defending the existing power structure. Identity politics is adjusting the social order and rattling the power structure, which is why it is so effective.

I think it can be effectively argued that Trump voters in PA, WI, OH, MI chose to rattle the power structure and you could think of that as identity politics as well.

Grebo November 29, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Identity politics is adjusting the social order and rattling the power structure, which is why it is so effective.

On the contrary, the (Neo-)Liberal establishment uses identity politics to co-opt and neutralise the left. It keeps them occupied without threatening the real power structure in the least.

jrs November 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

When have they ever done any such thing? Vote for Hillary because she's a woman isn't even any kind of politics it's more like marketing branding. It's the real thing. Taste great, less filling. I'm loving it.

Grebo November 29, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Hillary (Neoliberal establishment) has many supporters who think of themselves as 'left' or 'liberal'. The Democratic Party leadership is neither 'left' nor 'liberal'. It keeps the votes and the love of the 'liberals' by talking up harmless 'liberal' identity politics and soft peddling the Liberal power politics which they are really about.

They exploit the happy historical accident of the coincidence of names. The Liberal ideology was so called because it was slightly less right-wing than the Feudalism it displaced. In today's terms however, it is not very liberal, and Neoliberalism is even less so.

Paul Art November 29, 2016 at 7:14 am

If I was in charge of the DNC and wanted to commission a very cleverly written piece to exonerate the DLC and the New Democrats from the 30 odd years of corruption and self-aggrandizement they indulged in and laughed all the way to the Bank then I would definitely give this chap a call. I mean, where do we start? No attempt at learning the history of neoliberalism, no attempt at any serious research about how and why it fastened itself into the brains of people like Tony Coelho and Al From, nothing, zilch. If someone who did not know the history of the DLC read this piece, they would walk away thinking, 'wow, it was all happenstance, it all just happened, no one deliberately set off this run away train'. Sometime in the 90s the 'Left' decided to just pursue identity politics. Amazing. I would ask the Author to start with the Powell memo and then make an investigation as to why the Democrats then and the DLC later decided to merely sit on their hands when all the forces the Powell memo unleashed proceeded to wreak their havoc in every established institution of the Left, principally the Universities which had always been the bastion of the Progressives. That might be a good starting point.

skippy November 29, 2016 at 7:38 am

My response at MB

Sigh . the left was marginalized and relentlessly hunted down by the right [grab bag of corporatists, free marketers, neocons, evangelicals, and a whole cornucopia of wing nut ideologists (file under creative class gig writers)].

Just from historical perspective, the right wing had more money to forward its agenda and an OCD like affliction [biblical] to drive simple memes relentlessly via its increasing private ownership of education and media. Thereby creating an institutional network over time to gain dominate market share in crafting the social narrative. Bloodly hell anyone remember Bush Jr Christian crusade after politicizing religion to get elected and the ramifications – neocon – R2P thingy .

Its not hard once neoliberalism became dominate in the 70s [wages and productivity diverged] the proceeds have gone to the top and everyone else got credit IOUs based mostly on asset inflation via the Casino or RE [home and IP].

...

flora November 29, 2016 at 8:12 am

Yes, it's interesting that the academic "left" (aka liberals), who so prize language to accurately, and to the finest degree distinguish 'this' from 'that', have avoided addressing the difference between 'left' and 'liberal' and are content to leave the two terms interchangable.

JTFaraday November 29, 2016 at 11:28 am

The reason for that is that when academic leftists attempted a more in depth critique, of one sort or another, of the actually existing historical liberal welfare state, the liberals threw the "New Deal-under-siege" attack at them and attempted to shut them down.

There is very little left perspective in public. All this whining about identity politics is not left either. It is reactionary. I can think of plenty of old labor left academics who have done a much better job of wrapping their minds around why sex, gender, and race matter with respect to all matters economic than this incessant childish whine. The "let me make you feel more comfortable" denialism of Uncle Tom Reed.

Right now, I would say that these reactionaries don't want to hear from the academic left any more than New Deal liberals did. Not going to stop them from blaming them for all their problems though.

Maybe people should shoulder their own failures for a change. As for the Trumpertantrums, I am totally not having them.

hemeantwell November 29, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Since the writer led off talking about an academic setting, it would be useful to flesh out a bit more how trends in academic theoretical discussion in the 70s and 80s reflected and reinforced what was going on politically. He refers to postructuralism, which was certainly involved, but doesn't give enough emphasis to how deliberately poststructuralists - and here I'm lumping together writers like Lyotard, Foucault, and Deleuze and Guattari - were all reacting to the failure of French Maoism and Trotskyism to, as far as they were concerned, provide a satisfactory alternative to Soviet Marxism.

As groups espousing those position flailed about in the 70s, the drive to maintain hope in revolutionary prospects in the midst of macroeconomic stabilization and union reconciliation to capitalism frequently brought out the worst sectarian tendencies. While writers like Andre Gorz bid adieu to the proletariat as an agent of change and tried to tread water as social democratic reformists, the poststructuralists disjoined the critique of power from class analysis.

Foucault in particular advanced a greatly expanded wariness regarding the use of power. It was not just that left politics could only lead to ossified Soviet Marxism or the dogmatic petty despotism of the left splinters. Institutions in general mapped out social practices and attendant identities to impose on the individual. His position tended to promote a distrust not only of "grand narratives" but of organizational bonds as such. As far as I can tell, the idea of people joining together to form an institution that would enhance their social power as well as allow them to become personally empowered/enhanced was something of a categorial impossibility.

When imported to US academia, traditionally much more disengaged from organized politics than their European counterparts, these tendencies flourished. Aside from being socially cut off from increasingly anodyne political organizations, poststructuralists in the US often had backgrounds with little orientation to history or social science research addressing class relations. To them the experience of a much more immediate and palpable form of oppression through the use of language offered an immediate critical target. This dovetailed perfectly with the legalistic use of state power to end discrimination against various groups, A European disillusionment with class politics helped to fortify an American evasion or ignorance of it.

ejp November 29, 2016 at 7:41 am

There is no global left. We have only global state capitalists and global social democrats – a pseudo left. The countries where Marxist class analysis was supposedly adopted were not industrial countries where "alienation" had brought the "proletariat" to an inevitable communal mentality. The largest of these countries killed millions in order to industrialize rapidly – pretending the goal was to get to that state.

The terms left and right may not be adequate for those of us who want an egalitarian society but also see many of the obstacles to egalitarianism as human failings that are independent of and not caused by ruling elites – although they frequently serve the interests of those elites.

Bigotry. Identity centered thinking. Neither serves egalitarianism. But people cling to them. "I gotta look out for myself first." And so called left thinkers constantly pontificate about "benefits" and "privileges" that some class, sex, and race confer. Hmmm. The logic is that many of us struggling daily to keep our jobs and pay the bills must give up something in order to be fair, in order to build a better society. Given this thinking it is no surprise that so many have retreated into the illusion of safety offered by identity based thinking.

Hopefully those of us who yearn for an egalitarian movement can develop and articulate an alternate view of reality.

flora November 29, 2016 at 8:04 am

"Simultaneously, capitalism did what it does best. It packaged and repackaged, branded and rebranded every emerging identity, cloaked in its own sub-cultural nomenclature, selling itself back to new emerging identities. Soon class was completely forgotten as the global Left dedicated itself instead to policing the commons as a kind of safe zone for a multitude of difference that capitalism turned into a cultural supermarket."


"Meanwhile the global Left looked on from its Ivory Tower of identity politics and was pleased. Capitalism was spreading the wealth to oppressed brothers and sisters, and if there were some losers in the West then that was only natural as others rose in prominence. Indeed, it went further. So satisfied was it with human progress, and so satisfied with its own role in producing it, that it turned the power of language that it held most dear back upon those that opposed the new order. Those losers in Western labour markets that dared complain or fight back against the free movement of capital and labour were labelled and marginalised as "racist", "xenophobic" and "sexist". "

Great post. Thanks.

JTFaraday November 29, 2016 at 11:40 am

That is not it at all. The real reason is the right wing played white identity politics starting with the southern strategy, and those running into the waiting arms of Trump today, took the poisoned bait. Enter Bill Clinton.

People need to start taking responsibility for their own actions, and stop blaming the academics and the leftists and the wimmins and the N-ers.

JTFaraday November 29, 2016 at 12:01 pm

And THAT is why "race" has a primary place in American political discourse, however maladaptive a response today's D-Party partisans may present.

Conservatives put over their neoliberal agenda BECAUSE RACISM.

flora November 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm

But why does the Dem estab embrace the conservative neoliberal agenda? The Dem estab are smart people, can think on multiple levels, are not limited in scope, are not racist. So, why then does the Dem estab accept and promote the conservative GOP neoliberal economic agenda?

UserFriendly November 29, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Because the Dem estab isn't very smart. I doubt more than half of them could define neoliberalism much less describe how it has destroyed the country. They are mostly motivated by the identity politics aspects.

Propertius November 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Because the Dem estab isn't very smart.

No, but they make up for it with arrogance.

Waldenpond November 29, 2016 at 5:28 pm

Conservative is: private property, capitalism, limited taxes and transfer payments plus national security and religion.

Liberalism is not in opposition to any of that. Identity politics arose at the same time the Ds were purging the reds (socialists and communists) from their party. Liberalism/progressivism is an ameliorating position of conservatism (progressive support of labor unions to work within a private property/corporatist structure not to eliminate the system and replace it with public/employee ownership) Not too far, too fast, maybe toss out a few more crumbs.

witters November 29, 2016 at 6:00 pm

There is a foundation for identity politics on the liberal-left (see what I did there?) – it rests in the sense of moral superiority of just this liberal-left, which superiority is then patronisingly spread all over the social world – until it meets those who deny the moral superiority claim, whereupon it becomes murderous (in, of course, the name of humanity and humanitarianism).

EoinW November 29, 2016 at 8:09 am

We live in a society where no one gets what they want. The Left sees the standard of living fall and is powerless to stop it. The Right see the culture war lost 25 years ago and can't even offer a public protest, let alone move things in a conservative direction. Instead we get the agenda of the political Left to sell out at every opportunity. Plus we get the agenda of the political Right of endless war and endless security state. Eventually the political Left and Right merge and support the exact same things. Now when will the real Left and Right recognize their true enemy and join forces against it? This is why the 1% continue to prevail over the 99%. If the 1% wasn't so incompetent this would continue forever. They know how to divide, conquer and rule the 99%, however they don't know how to run a society in a sustainable way.

But I will say one thing for the Right over the Left: they have taken the initiative and are now the sole force for change. Granted, supporting a carnival barker for president is an act of desperation. Nevertheless he was the only option for change and the Right took it. Perhaps the Left offering little to nothing in the way of change reflects its lack of desperation.

After all, the Left won the culture war and continues to push its agenda to extremes(even though such extremes will guarantee a back lash that will send people running back to their closets to hide). The Left still has the MSM media on its side when it comes to cultural issues. Thus the Left is satisfied with the status quo, with gorging themselves on the crumbs which fall from the 1% table. Consequently, you not only have a political Left that has sold out, you also have the rest of the Left content to accept that sell out so long as they get their symbolic victories over their ancient enemy – the Right.

Until the Left recognize its true enemy, the fight will only come from the Right. During that process more people will filter from the Left to the Right as the latter will offer the only hope for change.

integer November 29, 2016 at 8:27 am

I think left and right as political shorthand is too limited. Perhaps the NC commentariat could define up and down versions of each of these political philosophies (ie. left and right) and start to take control of the framing. Hence we would have up-left, down-left, up-right, and down-right. I would suggest that up and down could relate to environmental viewpoints.

Just a thought that I haven't given much thought, but it would be funny (to me at least) to be able to quantify one's political stance in terms of radians.

Minnie Mouse November 29, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Left and Right are two wings on the same bird and the bird is a turkey. Where is the hard perpendicular?

Ed November 29, 2016 at 8:28 am

Excellent comment, EoinW! You just summed up years of content and commentary on this site. Obviously as the "Left" continues to defend the status quo as you describe it stops being "Left" in any meaningful way anymore.

Katharine November 29, 2016 at 9:19 am

This seems to assume that change is an intrinsic good, so that change produced by the right will necessarily be improvement. Unfortunately, change for the worse is probably more likely than change for the better under this regime. Equally unfortunately, we may have reached the point where that is the only thing that will make people reconsider what constitutes a just society and how to achieve it. In any case, this is where we are now.

flora November 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

The economic left sees its standard of living fall. The social right sees its cultural verities fall.

The Koch brothers are economically to the very right. They are socially to the left, perhaps even more socially liberal than many of your liberal friends. No joke. There's a point here, if I can figure out what it is.

susan the other November 29, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Gary Johnson claims the libertarian mantra is what I used to think was the liberal mantra: economically conservative, socially liberal.

flora November 29, 2016 at 2:07 pm

One of Koch brothers, David Koch, was the 1980 Libertarian Party's VP candidate.

Karl November 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm

"He [Trump] was the only option for change and the Right took it."

You forget Bernie. The Left tried, and Bernie bowed out, not wanting to be another "Nader" spoiler. Now, for 2020, the Left thinks it's the "their turn."

The problem is, the Left tends to blow it too (e.g. McGovern in 1972), in part because their "language" also exudes power and tends to alienate other, more moderate, parts of the coalition with arcane (and rather elitist) arguments from Derrida et. al.

Lambert Strether November 29, 2016 at 3:29 pm

> not wanting to be another "Nader" spoiler.

And a good thing, too.

rd November 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Trump isn't Right or Left. Trump is a can of gasoline and a match. His voters weren't voting for a Left or Right agenda. They were voting for a battering ram. That is why he got a pass on racist, misogynist, fascist statements that would have killed any other candidate.

Trump is starting out with some rallies in the near-future. The Republicans in Congress think they are going to play patty-cake on policy to push the Koch Brothers agenda. We are going to see a populist who promised jobs duke it out publicly with small government austerity deficit cutters. It will be interesting to see what happens when he calls out Republican Congressmen standing in the way of his agenda by name.

scraping_by November 29, 2016 at 8:48 am

PC is a parody of the 20th Century reform movements. I n the 60's the Black churches and the labor unions fought Jim Crow laws and explicit institutional discrimination. In the 70's the feminists worked against legal disabilities written into law. Since the Depression, the unions fought corporate management create a livable relationship between management and labor. Real struggles, real problems, real people.

[Tinfoil hat on)]

At the same time the reformist subset was losing themselves in style points, being 'nice', and passive aggressive intimidation, the corporate community was promoting the anti-government screech for the masses. That is, at the same time the people lost sight of government as their counterweight to capital, the left elite was becoming the vile joke Limbaugh and the other talk radio blowhards said they were. This may be coincidental timing, or their may be someone behind the French connection and Hamilton Fish touring college campuses in the 80's promoting subjectivism. It's true the question of 'how they feel' seems to loom large in discussions where social justice used to be.

[Tinfoil hat off]

There are many words but no communication between the laboring masses and the specialist readers. Fainting couch feminists have nothing to say to wives and mothers, the slippery redefinitions out of non-white studies turn off people who work for a living, and the promotion of smaller and more neurotic minorities are just more friction in a society growing steeper uphill.

Ulysses November 29, 2016 at 8:52 am

"She was studying Liberal Arts at US Ivy League Smith College at the time (which Aussies may recall was being run by our Jill Kerr Conway back then). So I moved in with my dancing beauty and we lived happily on her old man's purse for a year."

I hate to be overly pedantic, but Smith College is one of the historically female colleges known as the Seven Sisters: Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Smith College, Vassar College, and Wellesley College. While Barnard is connected to Columbia, and Radcliffe to Harvard, none of the other Sisters has ever been considered any part of the Ancient Eight (Ivy League) schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale.

I find it highly doubtful that someone, unaware of this elementary fact, actually lived off a beautiful bisexual black ballerina's (wonderful alliteration!) "old man's purse," for a full year in Northampton, MA. He may well have dated briefly someone like this, but it strains credulity that– after a full year in this environment– he would never have learned of the distinction between the Seven Sisters and the Ivy League.

The Trumpening November 29, 2016 at 9:24 am

The truth of the matter is not so important. The black ballerina riff had two functions. First it helped push an ethos for the author of openness and acceptance of various races and sexual orientations. This is a highly charged subject and so accusations of racism, etc, are never far away for someone pushing class over identity.

Second it served as a nice hook to get dawgs like me to read through the whole thing; which was a very good article. Kind of like the opening paragraph of a Penthouse Forum entry, I was hoping that the author would eventually elaborate on what happened when she pirouetted over him

What's interesting is that in an article pushing class over identity. he never tried to set his class ethos in order to convince working class people or the bourgeoisie why they should listen to him.

Ulysses November 29, 2016 at 10:10 am

I have never, ever known Brits to claim an "Oxbridge education" if they haven't attended either Oxford or Cambridge. Similarly, over several decades of knowing quite well many alumnae from Wellesley, Smith, etc. I have never once heard them speak of their colleges as "Ivy League."

I do get your point, however. Perhaps Mr. Llewellyn-Smith was deliberately writing for a non-U.S. audience, and chose to use "Ivy League" as synonymous with "prestigious." I have seen graduates of Stanford, for example, described as "Ivy Leaguers" in the foreign press.

PlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 10:31 am

I have never, ever known Brits to claim an "Oxbridge education" if they haven't attended either Oxford or Cambridge

As a graduate of OBU, I've heard it several times (but usually, it must be said, tongue in cheek).

7 November 29, 2016 at 9:54 am

Lisa gives a good tour

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hElhGMkRtyM

PlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 9:58 am

I think the gradual process whereby the left, or more specifically, the middle class left, have been consumed by an intellectually vacant went hand in hand with what I found the bizarre abandonment of interest by the left in economics and in public intellectualism. The manner in which the left simply surrendered the intellectual arguments over issues like taxes and privatisation and trade still puzzles me. I suspect it was related to a cleavage between middle class left wingers and working class activists. They simple stopped talking the same language, so there was nobody to shout 'stop' when the right simply colonised the most important areas of public policy and shut down all discussion.*

A related issue is I think a strong authoritarianist strain which runs through some identity politics. Its common to have liberals discuss how intolerant the religious or right wingers are of intellectual discussion, but even try to question some of of the shibboleths of gender/race discussions and you can immediately find yourself labelled a misogynist/homophobe/racist. Just see some of the things you can get banned from the Guardian CIF for saying.

LA Mike November 29, 2016 at 10:14 am

This site, along with the MSM, has flown way off the handle since the election loss. Democrat-bashing is the new pastime.

Our nation's problems can be remedied with one dramatic change:

Caps on executive gains in terms of multiples in both public and private companies of a big enough size. For example, the CEO at most can make 50 times the average salary. Something to that effect. And any net income gains at the end of the year that are going to be dispersed as dividends, must proportionally reach the internal laborers as well. Presto, a robust economy.

All employees must share in gains. You don't like it? Tough. The owner will still be rich.

Historically, executives topped out at 20-30 times average salary. Now it's normal for the number to reach 500-2,000. It's absurd. As if a CEO is manufacturing products, marketing, and selling them all by himself/herself. As if Tim Cook assembles iPhones and iMacs by hand and sells them. As if Leslie Moonves writes, directs, acts in, and markets each show.

Put the redistributive mechanism in the private sphere as well as in government. Then America will be great again.

integer November 29, 2016 at 10:22 am

"This site, along with the MSM, has flown way off the handle since the election loss."

I presume you forgot to add "in my opinion" to the end of this sentence.

"Our nation's problems can be remedied with one dramatic change"

Ha!

FluffytheObeseCat November 29, 2016 at 11:16 am

Bringing C level pay packages at major corporations in line with the real contributions of the recipients would be great. How would we do it? With laws or regulations or executive orders banning the federal government from doing business with any firm that failed to comply with some basic guidelines?

It's an academic point right now in any event. The Trump administration – working together with the Ryan House – is not going to make legislation or sign executive orders to do anything remotely like this. Which is one of the many reasons why bashing Democrats has taken off here I suspect. This election was theirs to lose, and they did everything in their power to toss it.

inhibi November 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

You do realize that the wealthy are both part of and connected to the legislative branch of every single country on this planet right? As long as that remains so (as it has since the dawn of humans) then good luck trying to cap any sort of hording behavior of the wealthy.

Michael November 29, 2016 at 10:21 am

As someone who grew up in and participated in those discussions:

1) It was "women's studies" back then. "Gender studies" is actually a major improvement in how the issues are examined.

2) We'd already long since lost by then, and we were looking to make our own lives better. Creating a space where we could have good sex and a minimum of violence was better. Reagan's election, and his re-election, destroyed the Left.

3) We live in a both/and world.

Uahsenaa November 29, 2016 at 10:58 am

I feel like this piece could use the yellow waders as well. Instead of simply repeating myself every time these things come up, I proffer an annotation of a important paragraph, to give a sense of what bothers me here.

The post-structural revolution transpired [in the U.S.] before and during the end of the Cold War just as the collapse of the Old Soviet Union denuded the global Left of its raison detre. But its social justice impulse didn't die, [a certain, largely liberal tendency in the North American academy] turned inwards from a notion of the historic inevitability of the decline of capitalism and the rise of oppressed classes, towards the liberation of oppressed minorities within capitalism[, which, if you paid close attention to what was being called for, implied and sometimes even outright demanded clear restraints be placed upon the power of capital in order to meet those goals], empowered by control over the [images, public statements, and widespread ideologies–i.e. discourse {which is about more than just language}] that defined who they were.

The post-structural turn was just as much about Derrida at Johns Hopkins as it was about Foucault trying to demonstrate the subtle and not-so-subtle effects of power in the explicit context of the May '68 events in France. The economy ground to a halt, and at one point de Gaulle was so afraid of a violent revolution that he briefly left the country, leaving the government helpless to do much of anything, until de Gaulle returned shortly thereafter.

Foucault was not entirely sympathetic to the Left, at least the unions, but he was trying to articulate a politics that was just as much about liberation from capitalism as classic Marxism. To that end, discourse analysis was the means to discovering those subtle articulations of power in human relations, not an end in itself as it was for, say, Barthes.

A claim is being made here regarding the "global left" that clearly comes from a parochial, North American perspective. Indian academics, for one, never abandoned political economy for identity politics, especially since in India identity politics, religion, regionalism, castes, etc. were always a concern and remain so. It seems rather odd to me that the other major current in academia from the '90s on, namely postcolonialism, is entirely left out of this story, especially when critiques of militarism and political economy were at the heart of it.

The Trumpening November 29, 2016 at 11:36 am

The saddest point of the events of '68 is that looking back society has never been so equal as at that point in time. That was more or less the time of peak working class living standard relative to the wealthy classes. It is no accident, at least in my book, that these mostly bourgeois student activists have a tard at the end of their name in French: soixante-huitards.

In the Sixites the "Left" had control of the economic levers or power - and by Left I mean those interested in smaller differences between the classes. There is no doubt the Cold War helped the working classes as the wealthy knew it was in their interest to make capitalism a showcase of rough egalitarianism. But during the 60's the RIght held cultural sway. It was Berkeley pushing Free Speech and Lenny Bruce trying to break boundaries while the right tried to keep the Overton Window as tight and squeaky clean as possible.

But now the "Right" in the sense of those who want to increase the difference between rich and poor hold economic power while the Left police culture and speech. The provocateurs come from the right nowadays as they run roughshod over the PC police and try to smash open the racial, gender. and sexual orientation speech restrictions put in place as the left now control the Overton Window.

Sound of the Suburbs November 29, 2016 at 11:19 am

The Left and Liberal are two different things entirely.

In the UK we have three parties:

Labour – the left
Liberal – middle/ liberal
Conservative – the right

Mapping this across to the US:

Labour – X
Liberal – Democrat
Conservative – Republican

The US has been conned from the start and has never had a real party of the Left.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century US ideas changed and the view of those at the top was that it would be dangerous for the masses to get any real power, a liberal Democratic party would suffice to listen to the wants of the masses and interpret them in a sensible way in accordance with the interests of the wealthy.

We don't want the masses to vote for a clean slate redistribution of land and wealth for heaven's sake.

In the UK the Liberals were descendents of the Whigs, an elitist Left (like the US Democrats).

Once everyone got the vote, a real Left Labour party appeared and the Whigs/Liberals faded into insignificance.

It is much easier to see today's trends when you see liberals as an elitist Left.

They have just got so elitist they have lost touch with the working class.

The working class used to be their pet project, now it is other minorities like LGBT and immigration.

Liberals need a pet project to feel self-righteous and good about themselves but they come from the elite and don't want any real distribution of wealth and privilege as they and their children benefit from it themselves.

Liberals are the more caring side of the elite, but they care mainly about themselves rather than wanting a really fair society.

They call themselves progressive, but they like progressing very slowly and never want to reach their destination where there is real equality.

The US needs its version of the UK Labour party – a real Left – people who like Bernie Sanders way of thinking should start one up, Bernie might even join up.

In the UK our three parties all went neo-liberal, we had three liberal parties!

No one really likes liberals and they take to hiding in the other two parties, you need to be careful.

Jeremy Corbyn is taking the Labour party back where it belongs slowly.

left – traditional left
liberal – elitist left

Sound of the Suburbs November 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

Imagine inequality plotted on two axes. Inequality between genders, races and cultures is what liberals have been concentrating on. This is the x-axis and the focus of identity politics and the liberal left.

On the y-axis we have inequality from top to bottom. 2014 – "85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world" 2016– "Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world's population"

Doing the maths and assuming a straight line .
5.4 years until one person is as wealthy as poorest half of the world.

This is what the traditional left normally concentrate on, but as they have switched to identity politics this inequality has gone through the roof. They were over-run by liberals.

Some more attention to the y-axis please.

The neoliberal view L As long as everyone, from all genders, races and cultures, is visiting the same food bank this is equality.

left – traditional left – y-axis inequality
liberal – elitist left – x -axis inequality (this doesn't affect my background of wealth and privilege)

You can see why liberals love identity politics.

UserFriendly November 29, 2016 at 1:42 pm

https://www.politicalcompass.org/counterpoint-20161110

The main page has a test you can take but that is a nice little post mortem.

susan the other November 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm

labor is being co-opted by the right: the Republican Workers Party I think this rhymes with Fascist. But then, in a world soon to be literally scrambling for high ground and rebuilding housing for 50 million people the time honored "worker" might actually have a renaissance.

UserFriendly November 29, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Identity politics does make democrats lose. The message needs to be economic. It can have the caveat that various sub groups will be paid special attention to, but if identity is the only thing talked about then get used to right wing governments.

TK421 November 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm

If identity politics is a winning issue, where are the wins?

readerOfTeaLeaves November 29, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Empowerment is not just about language, it's about capital, who's got it, who hasn't and what role government plays between them.

Empowerment is very much about capital, but the Left has never had the cajones to stare down and take apart the Right's view of 'capital' as some kind of magical elixir that mysteriously produces 'wealth'.

I ponder my own experiences, which many here probably share:

First: slogging through college(s), showing up to do a defined list of tasks (a 'job', if you will) to be remunerated with some kind of payment/salary. That was actual 'work' in order to get my hands on very small amounts of 'capital' (i.e., 'money').

Second: a few times, I just read up on science or looked at the stock pages and did a little research, and then wrote checks that purchased stock shares in companies that seemed to be exploring some intriguing technologies. In my case, I got lucky a few times, and presto! That simple act of writing a few checks made me look like a smarty. Also, paid a few bills. But the simple act of writing checks cost me n-o-t-h-i-n-g in terms of time, energy, education, physical or mental exertion.

Third: I have also had the experience of working (start ups) in situations where - literally!!! - I made less in a day in salary than I'd have made if I'd simply taken a couple thousand dollars and bought stock in the place I was working.

To summarize:
- I've had capital that I worked long and hard to obtain.
- I've had capital that took me a little research, about one minute to write a check, and brought me a handsome amount of 'capital'. (Magic!)
- I've worked in situations in which I created MORE capital for others than I created for myself. And the value of that capital expanded exponentially.

If the Left had a spine and some guts, it would offer a better analysis about what 'capital' is, the myriad forms it can take, and why any of this matters.

Currently, the Left cannot explain to a whole lot of people why their hard work ended up in other people's bank accounts. If they had to actually explain that process by which people's hard work turned into fortunes for others, they'd have a few epiphanies about how wealth is actually created, and whether some forms of wealth creation are more sustainable than other forms.

IMVHO, I never saw Hillary Clinton as able to address this elemental question of the nature of wealth creation. The Left has not traditionally given a shrewd analysis of this core problem, so the Right has been able to control this issue. Which is tragic, because the Right is trapped in the hedge fund mentality, in the tight grip of realtors and mortgage brokers; they obsess on assets, and asset classes, and resource extraction. When your mind is trapped by that kind of thinking, you obsess on the tax code, and on how to use it to generate wealth for yourself. Enter Trump.

Matthew G. Saroff November 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm

One small correction: Smith is not an Ivy League school, it is one of the "Seven Sisters:
Ivy League:
Brown
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
Harvard
Penn
Princeton
Yale

Seven Sisters:
Barnard
Bryn Mawr
Mount Holyoke
Radcliffe
Smith
Vassar
Wellesley

Theo November 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm

A much more nuanced discussion of the primacy of identity politics on the Left in Britain and the US is http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/29/prospects-for-an-alt-left/ "Prospects for an Alt-Left," November 29, 2016, by Elliot Murphy, who teaches in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College, London.

And let's not forget that identity politics arose in the first place because of genuine discrimination, which still exists today. In forsaking identity politics in favor of one of class, we should not forget the original reasons for the rise of the phenomena, however poorly employed by some of its practitioners, and however mined by capitalism to give the semblance of tolerance and equality while obscuring the reality of intolerance and inequality.

Lambert Strether November 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Trivially, I would think the last thing to do is adopt the "alt-" moniker, thereby cementing the impression in the mind of the public that the two are in some sense similar.

Adamski November 29, 2016 at 6:22 pm

The blogger Lord Keynes at Social Democracy for the 21st Century at blogspot suggests Realist Left instead of alt-left. I think how people are using the term "identity politics" at the moment isn't "actual anti-racism in policy and recruitment" but "pandering to various demographics to get their loyalty and votes so that the party machine doesn't have to try and gain votes by doing economic stuff that frightens donors, lobbyists and the media". Clinton improved the female vote for Democratic president by 1 percentage point, and the black and Latino shares of the Republican were unchanged from Romney in 2012. Thus, identity politics is not working when the economy needs attention, even against the most offensive opponent.

Trigger warning November 29, 2016 at 12:41 pm

So to repress class conflicts, the kleptocracy splintered them into opposition between racists and POC, bigots and LGBTQ, patriarchal oppressors and women, etc., etc. The US state-authorized parties used it for divide and rule. The left fell for it and neutered itself. Good. Fuck the left.

Outside the Western bloc the left got supplanted with a more sensible opposition: between humans and the overreaching state. That alternative view subsumes US-style identity politics in antidiscrimination and cultural rights. It subsumes traditional class struggle in labor, migrant, and economic rights. It reforms and improves discredited US constitutional rights, and integrates it all into the concepts of peace and development. It's up and running with binding law and authoritative institutions .

So good riddance to the old left and the new left. Human rights have already replaced them in the 80-plus per cent of the world represented by UNCTAD and the G-77. That's why the USA fights tooth and nail to keep them out of your reach.

Anon November 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm

To All Commenters: thanks for the discussion. Many good, thoughtful ideas/perspectives.

Mine? Living in California (a minority white populace, broad economic engine, high living expenses (and huge homeless population) and a leader in alternative energy: Trump is what happens when you don't allow the "people" to vote for their preferred candidates (Bernie) and don't listen to a select few voters in key electoral states (WI,MI,PA).

The electorate is angry (true liberals at the Dems, voters in select electoral states at "everything"). If democracy is messy, then that's what we've got; a mess. Unfortunately, it's coming at the absolutely wrong time (Climate Change, lethal policing, financial elite impunity).

Hold this same election with different (multiple) candidates and the outcome is likely different. In the end, we all need to work and demand a more fair and Just society. (Or California is likely to secede.)

Jerry Denim November 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm

"Meanwhile the global Left looked on from its Ivory Tower of identity politics and was pleased. Capitalism was spreading the wealth to oppressed brothers and sisters, and if there were some losers in the West then that was only natural as others rose in prominence."

I can only imagine the glee of the wealthy feminists at Smith while they witnessed the white, lunch pailed, working class American male thrown out of work and into the gutter of irrelevance and despair. The perfect comeuppance for a demographic believed to be the arch-nemesis of women and minorities. Nothing seems quite so fashionable at the moment as hating white male Republicans that live outside of proper-thinking coastal enclaves of prosperity. Unfortunately I fail to see how this attitude helps the country. Seems like more divide and conquer from our overlords on high.

TK421 November 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

You might find this interesting: link

Anon November 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm

just more whining from the Weekly Standard. While men may have been disproportionately displaced in jobs that require physical strength, many women (nurses?) likely lost their homes during the Great Financial Scam and its fallout.

The enemy is a rigged political, financial, and judicial system.

susan the other November 29, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Identity Politics gestated for a while before the 90s. Beginning with a backlash against Affirmative Action in the 70s, the Left began to turn Liberal. East Coast intellectuals who were anxious they would be precluded from entering the best schools may have been the catalyst (article from Jacobin I think).

But certainly the fall of the USSR was the thing that forced capitalism's hand. At that point capitalism had no choice but to step up and prove that it could really bring a better life to the world.

A Minsky event of biblical proportions soon followed (it only took about 10 years!) and now all is devastation and nobody has clue. But the 1990 effort could have been in earnest. Capitalists mean well but they are always in denial about the inequality they create which finally started a chain reaction in "identity politics" as reactions to the stress of economic competition bounced around in every society like a pinball machine. A tedious and insufferable game which seems to have culminated in Hillary the Relentless. I won't say capitalism is idiotic. But something is.

David November 29, 2016 at 2:47 pm

"Perhaps the NC commentariat could define up and down versions of each of these political philosophies (ie. left and right) and start to take control of the framing."

Well, I'll have a first go, since I was around at the time.

Left and Right only really make sense in the context of the distribution of power and wealth, and only when there is a difference between them about that distribution. This was historically the case for more than 150 years after the French Revolution. By the mid-1960s, there was a sense that the Left was winning, and would continue to win. Progressive taxation, zero unemployment, little real poverty by today's standards, free education and healthcare . and many influential political figures (Tony Crosland for example) saw the major task of the future as deciding where the fruits of economic growth could be most justly applied.

Three things happened that made the Left completely unprepared for the counter-attack in the 1970s. First, simple complacency. When Thatcher appeared, most people thought she'd escaped from a Monty Python sketch. The idea that she might actually take power and use it was incredible.

Secondly, the endless factionalism and struggles for power within the Left, usually over arcane points of ideology, mixed with vicious personal rivalries. The Left loves defeats, and picks over them obsessively, looking for someone else to blame.

Third, the influence of 1968 and the turning away from the real world, towards LSD and the New Age, and the search for dark and hidden truths and structures of power in the world. Fueled by careless and superficial readings of bad translations of Foucault and Derrida, leftists discovered an entire new intellectual continent into which they could extend their wars and feuds, which was much more congenial, since it involved eviscerating each other, rather than seriously taking on the forces of capitalism and the state.

And that's the very short version. We've been living with the consequences ever since. The Left has been essentially powerless, and powerlessness, of course, corrupts. There's always someone weaker than you, which is why identity politics is essentially a conservative, disciplining force, with a vested interest in the problems it has chosen to identify continuing, or it would have no reason to exist.

So until class-based politics and struggles over power and money re-start (if they ever do) I respectfully suggest that "Left" and "Right" be retired as terms that no longer have any meaning.

FluffytheObeseCat November 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm

" powerlessness, of course, corrupts. There's always someone weaker than you, which is why identity politics is essentially a conservative, disciplining force, with a vested interest in the problems it has chosen to identify "

Yes. As long as the doyens of identity politics don't have any real fear of being homeless they can happily indulge in internecine warfare. It's a lot more fun than working to get $20/hour for a bunch of snaggle-toothed guys who kind of don't like you.

integer November 29, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Very interesting. Thank you.

George Phillies November 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm

I read: "Traditional dialectical history was being supplanted by a new suite of studies based around truth as "discourse". Driven by the French post-modern thinkers of the 70s and 80s, the US academy was adopting and adapting the ideas Foucault, Derrida and Barthe to a variety of civil rights movements that spawned gender and racial studies."

Of course, I have been a college professor since the late 1970s. On the other hand, I am a physicist. The notion that truth is discourse is, in my opinion, daft, and says much about the nature of the modern liberal arts, at least as understood by many undergraduates. I have actually heard of the folks referenced in the above, and to my knowledge their influence in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics–the academic fields that are in this century actually central*–is negligible.

*Yes, I am in favor of a small number of students becoming professional historians, dramatists, and composers, but the number of these is limited.

Identity politics is a disaster ongoing for the Democratic Party, for reasons they seem to have overlooked. First, the additional identity group is white. We already see this in the South, where 90% of the white population in many states votes Republican.

When that spreads to the rest of the country, there will be a permanent Republican majority until the Republicans create a new major disaster.

Second, some Democratic commentators appear to have assumed that if your forebearers spoke Spanish, you can not be white. This belief is properly grouped with the belief that if your forebearers spoke Gaelic or Italian, you were from one of the colored races of Europe (a phrase that has faded into antiquity, but some of my friends specialize in American history of the relevant period), and were therefore not White.

Identity politics is a losing strategy, as will it appears be noticed by the losers only after it is too late.

Oregoncharles November 29, 2016 at 3:41 pm

An extremely important point, but overblown in a way that may reflect the author's background and is certainly rhetorical.

So soon we forget the Battle of Seattle. The Left has been opposed to globalization, deregulation, etc., all along. Partly he's talking about an academic pseudo-left, partly confusing the left with the Democrats and other "center-left," captured parties.

That doesn't invalidate his point. If you want to see it in full-blown, unadorned action, try Democrat sites like Salon and Raw Story. A factor he doesn't do justice to is the extreme self-righteousness that accompanies it, supported, I suppose, by the very real injustices perpetrated against minorities – and women, not a minority.

The whole thing is essentially a category error, so it would be nice to see a followup that doesn't perpetuate the error. But it's valuable for stating the problem, which can be hard to present, especially in the face of gales of self-righteousness.

TG November 29, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Well said. An excellent attack on 'identity politics.'

I mean, Barack Obama was our first black president, but most blacks didn't do very well. George W. Bush was our first retard president, and most people with cognitive handicaps didn't do very well.

But we can boil it all down to something even simpler and more primal: divide and conquer.

[Nov 30, 2016] Identity politics is a more accurate term than any alternative such as racism, fascism, ethnonationalism. In the latter case it is just the identity in question is that of the majority

Nov 30, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

RichardM 11.30.16 at 8:52 am 64

'Identity politics' is both more accurate, and more useful, a term than any alternative such as racism, fascism, ethnonationalism, etc. It's just the identity in question is that of the majority.

Voters voted for Trump, or Brexit, because they identified with him, or it. In doing so, they found that whatever they wanted is what that represents.

But the action always comes before the consequences; you can't get upset about Trump supporters being called racists unless you already identify with them. The action is the choice of identity, the consequence is the adoption of opinion.

[Nov 28, 2016] Bill Black Howard Dean Wants to Continue Austeritys Assault on the Working Class

Nov 28, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com by By Bill Black

I researched Dean's statements about austerity to try to understand why a man who opposed the DLC would be so enthusiastic about inflicting austerity on the working class. I found part of the answer. Dean was Vermont's governor. Dean explained to a conservative " Squawk Box " host why he supported austerity based on his experience as a governor.

There's a balance sheet that has to be met here and every Governor knows that, both Republicans and Democrats. And you got to do that when you're the President.

The first sentence is correct. The second sentence is false. States do not have sovereign currencies. The United States has a sovereign currency. A nation with a sovereign currency is nothing like a state when it comes to fiscal policy – or a household. I cannot explain why Dean does not understand the difference and has apparently never read an economic explanation of the difference. But we can fill that gap. Again, I urge his supporters who have the ability to bring serious policy matters to his attention to intervene. Dean is flat out wrong because he does not understand sovereign currencies. The consequences of his error are terrible. They would lock the Democratic Party into the continuing the long war on the working class through austerity. That is a prescription for disaster for the Nation and the Democratic Party.

Progressive Democrats enlisted in the New Democrats' austerity wars because they seemed to be politically attractive. The political narrative was as simple as it was false. The austerity creation myth was told first by Bob Woodward in the course of writing his sycophantic ode to Greenspan as the all-knowing "Maestro" of the economy. Bill Clinton, as President-Elect, was given an economics lecture by Alan Greenspan. The economics lecture – from an Ayn Rand groupie – was (shock) that austerity was good and New Deal stimulus was evil. Bill's genius was taking the "Maestro's" words as revealed truth and turning his back on the New Deal. Bill embraced austerity. The economy grew. Bill ran a budget surplus – the holy grail of austerity. Bill was followed by Bush under whose administration economic growth slowed and the federal deficits reemerged. There was a Great Recession.

The creation myth was clear. The newly virtuous New Democrats (after instruction in economics by Saint Greenspan) embraced austerity and all was good. The vile Republicans, hypocrites all, had renounced the true faith of austerity and they produced mountains of evil debt that caused poor economic growth.

Dean pushed this narrative in his Squawk Talk appearance. When asked to explain the specific Bush policies that he claimed were to blame for poor growth continuing under President Obama, Dean went immediately and exclusively to Bush's increases in the federal "debt" to answer the question. "The biggest ones are the deficits that were run up . The deficits were enormous."

The New Democrats' narrative, which Dean parroted, is false. One of the definitive refutations of the Greenspan (and Robert Rubin) as Genius myth was by the economists Michael Meeropol and Carlos F. Liard-Muriente in 2007. Their refutation was inherently incomplete because it was "too early" – the collapse of the housing bubble in 2007, the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession were vital facts that helped reduce the myth to the level of farce. These facts were unavailable to academic authors publishing in 2007. The authors discuss the enormous role that the stock bubble played in the Clinton expansion, but they do not discuss the housing bubble's contribution.

Any tale that begins with Alan Greenspan providing Bill Clinton with the secret to economic success is justly laughable today. Clinton was our luckiest president when it came to economics. His expansion was largely produced by the high tech stock bubble. When it collapsed, the housing bubble, explicitly encouraged by Greenspan as a means of avoiding a severe recession, took up much of the slack. Bush eventually inherited from Clinton a moderate recession that led inevitably to moderately increased (not "enormous") federal deficits. The housing bubble then hyper-inflated, bringing the economy rapidly out of the moderate recession. The hyper-inflation, of the housing bubble, however, was driven by the three most destructive epidemics of financial fraud in history and it caused a global financial crisis and the Great Recession. A great recession leads inevitably to a very large increase in the federal budget deficit.

Greenspan, Bob Rubin, and Bill Clinton were lucky in their timing – for a time. The historical record in the U.S. demonstrates that periods of material federal budget surpluses are followed with only modest lags by depressions and, now, the Great Recession. Fortunately, such periods of running material budget surpluses have been unusual in our history. As my colleagues have explained in detail, the U.S., which is extremely likely to run balance of trade deficits, should typically run budget deficits.

We all understand how attractive the myth of the virtuous and frugal Dems producing great economic results under Clinton while the profligate Republicans produced federal deficits and poor economic growth was to Democratic politicians. But the Dems should not spread myths no matter how politically attractive they are. The catastrophic consequences of President Obama and Hillary Clinton coming to believe such myths were shown when, as I have just described in several columns, they promised to lead the long war against the working class that is austerity.

If people like Dean focused on the origins of the Clinton creation myth they would run from its lies. The original actual creation myth is found in the book of Woodward. The brilliant Greenspan converted the young Bill Clinton by exposing him to the one true faith (theoclassical economics) and successfully calling on Clinton to renounce the devil (FDR) and all his work (the New Deal) and to sit at the (far) right hand of Ayn Rand. The result was economic nirvana. Politically, that's a terrible creation myth for Democrats to tell around the campfire – or to voters. Economically, it's a lie, indeed, a farce.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published at New Economic Perspectives Soulipsis November 28, 2016 at 6:30 am

This is one of the arguments, the making of which I've never understood. How could Dean not know what he's doing by supporting austerity? How could the 0.001% not know? Of course they know! Sometimes I think hyperacademics like who can be found trolling around this website are so involved in the prestige of their discipline that they lose track of the world of wordless import that makes up most of reality. This is why illiterate people are sometimes very wise, they have no choice but to remain immersed in the wisdom of the Creation. I think Black and others are wasting their breath on explanations and urgings such as this. And I think the brutality of Daesh and the Saudis is the brutality of the 0.001%, and it's a delusion to think they don't have the social model that is on display in Syria planned for the domestic U.S. market. What else is the 2012 NDAA for? NSPD 51, and the National Incident Management System. It's coming, and Dean is just a little player. He probably got photographed doing something he shouldn't've and now he's stuck. Whatever, how could he not know? He knows. Bill Clinton doesn't or didn't know? Please.

David England November 28, 2016 at 6:52 am

I am no economist, but it seems to me that this power of sovereign currency (to borrow increasing amounts indefinitely) only works so long as people believe that they will be repaid. If one continues to to rack up an exponentially growing debt, eventually that belief will be challenged. There are numerous areas of expenses which could be trimmed, but they generally involve a relinquishing of our empire.

Skip Intro November 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm

One key to maintaining the appearance of sustainability for increasing debts is making sure much of the deficit spending is going into productive infrastructure investments. In this case the increasing debt will be accompanied by actual growth.

susan the other November 28, 2016 at 3:33 pm

It puzzles me that private parties are allowed to buy sovereign debt. It changes the debt from sovereign to private. Making it no longer an instrument of use but of exchange. Selling sovereign debt destroys sovereignty. Much better to force the privateers to come up with their own investments for which they bond and trade with each other and leave sovereign money out of it. The banksters and their ilk like George Soros, King of the Vigilantes, should be detained until they pay back everything they embezzled. and etc. It's just too easy for banksters to buy sovereign debt (with a commodity they are legally allowed to create at the sovereign's expense) and then demand interest on it. So clearly Howie Dean is a ditz.

Steve C November 28, 2016 at 7:12 am

Dean as governor wasn't known as particularly progressive. He emerged as such when he went national.

divadab November 28, 2016 at 7:23 am

Yup – he was never the leftie he was presented as. He and Bernie are opposed on many issues.

Also he's worse on foreign policy than Bernie (who's mediocre art best) and even Trump – he's in the Neocon camp.

Vatch November 28, 2016 at 10:06 am

I've read similar things in comments at NC and elsewhere about California Governor Jerry Brown, whose left wing moonbeam reputation doesn't match his big business friendly actions.

polecat November 28, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Jerry Brown is or was, if I recall, a practicing Jesuit ..

Penance people !

Buttinsky November 28, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Jerry Brown - Zen Jesuit:

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/29/world/kamakura-journal-zen-jerry-brown-and-the-art-of-self-maintenace.html

Michael November 28, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Dean has his failings, but being the first Governor to sign a Civil Unions bill, implementing a 99%+ child health care access law, and creating a systematic way for elementary school teachers to get resources to families with kids that are in trouble is a pretty sound Progressive legacy.

Ruben November 28, 2016 at 7:13 am

It is not clear to me that Austerity is a long war against the working class. It might be that Austerity turns out class neutral, or even pro-working class, depending on how gov't expenditures shortages are applied across sectors? If Austerity is a war against the working class then the opposite of Austerity, Stimulus, necessarily is pro-working class but we have seen that Stimulus might be used to bail out non-working class sectors leaving working class wages and employment opportunities depressed.

Dirk77 November 28, 2016 at 8:26 am

I suspect it is the way it is applied. The shocking hypocrisy of the current pro-austerity people is what jars Black I guess. I mean these same austerity people were for tax cuts for the rich, giving trillions to Wall Street, forgiving their (real) crimes, and spending trillions more on wars whose result was to cause misery for millions of people and make the world an even less safe place. And then they talk about keeping a tight budget? Hell needs to add a ninth circle for these people.

Dirk77 November 28, 2016 at 8:46 am

*tenth

Dave November 28, 2016 at 11:43 am

Man, I love this site. I get more out of the comments than the articles sometimes. Your paragraph does more to encapsulate reality than do ten long pages of learned professors.

Vatch, re "Moonbeam Brown", just google

"Something's not right about this California water deal, L.A. Times"

Steve H. November 28, 2016 at 9:02 am

It's MMT for me,
And austerity for thee.

[From Mexico]

PlutoniumKun November 28, 2016 at 10:22 am

Austerity is primarily against the working class because it is deflationary. It benefits creditors over debtors. And creditors are invariably the wealthy (i.e. the owners of capital). A moderately inflationary fiscal/monetary policy with a focus on full employment puts power in the hand of workers. An austerity policy (by which I mean one which puts an emphasis on balancing the books over employment) gives power to the owners of capital.

Ignacio November 28, 2016 at 11:09 am

Well, tell us a case in which austerity was inflicted against the richest when the government cuts on private airports, ah no they are private.

Disturbed Voter November 28, 2016 at 7:15 am

Response to Ayn Rand A doesn't equal A if you are in government. Politicians can talk out of both sides of their mouth at the same time.

Response to Howard Dean Dean who? ;-)

knowbuddhau November 28, 2016 at 7:32 am

> But the Dems should not spread myths no matter how politically attractive they are.

All myths are not created equal. I rue the day when "myth" became pejorative.

I dare say Prof. Black lives by one. If Jung was right, and I think he was, we all do, albeit ignorantly, as in, we ignore their functioning (even my beloved science is mythological, but that doesn't make it untrue). And his recasting of the myth of austerity in biblical terms is as potent as it is funny. Our denigration of myths is complete enough that Prof. Black can say the above, and yet do some very effective countermyth-making nonetheless.

Do the high priests of economics and politics really believe their public myth-making? Or is their a private understanding that better fits the phenomena?

I know I must sound like a broken record, but due to its regrettable unfamiliarity, this bears repeating.

1. The first function of mythology [is] to evoke in the individual a sense of grateful, affirmative awe before the monstrous mystery that is existence

2. The second function of mythology is to present an image of the cosmos, an image of the universe round about, that will maintain and elicit this experience of awe. [or] to present an image of the cosmos that will maintain your sense of mystical awe and explain everything that you come into contact with in the universe around you.

3. The third function of a mythological order is to validate and maintain a certain sociological system: a shared set of rights and wrongs, proprieties or improprieties, on which your particular social unit depends for its existence.

4. The fourth function of myth is psychological. That myth must carry the individual through the stages of his life, from birth through maturity through senility to death. The mythology must do so in accords with the social order of his group, the cosmos as understood by his group, and the monstrous mystery.

(From http://www.trinity.edu/cspinks/myth/campbell_4_functions_myth.pdf .)

As we all know so well. the myth of neoliberalism is as succinct as it is brutal. "Because markets" and "Go die," though, don't fulfill all four functions. If I had the economic and financial chops, I'd examine Saint Alan and the Church of Neoliberalism's mythology methodically and systematically with the intent to creatively destroy it. But that wouldn't be enough. It'd be helpful to offer an alternative, but I don't have that, either. Fat lot of good I am.

That's why I like Prof. Black's retelling so much. It puts the absurdity of the pseudo-mythology of neoliberalism in terms familiar enough that that absurdity stands right out.

And I also dare say what we desperately need now is a fully functioning and genuine mythology that leads us out of neoliberal hell and into a more perfect union of nature and society. First party to do so wins the future.

Andrea Greenberg November 28, 2016 at 9:54 am

Surprised that Black refers to Dean as a "progressive voice". That has never really been the case and it's especially not true now. Also surprised that Black supports Ellison whose foreign policy includes support for a no- fly zone in Libya- mirroring the position held by Clinton.

jo6pac November 28, 2016 at 3:51 pm

My thought also on both counts.

tegnost November 28, 2016 at 9:58 am

I sense a connection between this and the peak oil demand article. In the '80's and beyond, financial services have sought and gained a control economy effect with student loans and more recently the ACA, and feel that fracking, QE and the housing bubble all fit in there somewhere as well. Basically it boils down to being easier to make money at the top when they choose where the income stream comes from, i.e., in the New Deal citizens got money in some form of cash payment, from SS to welfare, and could choose to spend the money on what they wanted to spend it on, which in turn caused uncertainty in the finance arena, not so much that they couldn't survive, but the financiers could envision a better world for themselves, enter student loans and now any kid without wealthy parents has a lifetime of unpayable debt, a drag on their professional income, or no advanced education with it's implicit restriction on income, or a combo of all three. This same dynamic led us to the ACA which is, as opposed to a medicare style plan that could potentially curtail costs, become little more than a payment stream, a class marker, and has nothing to do with healthcare except in the sense that high costs make indebted heath industry workers able to pay their own student loan, and a class warfare tool such that those wealthy healthcare industroids can separate their offspring from the herd by being able to pay for their offspring's education, as it does with the finance industry that manages the payment stream. I don't currently see this dynamic changing, alas but maybe the newfound vigor of the purple dems could be mobilized in this direction if they can ignore the payoffs for doing nothing.
As to the hyper inflation comment, I think any renter who has struggled with the disruptions caused by increased rents would say yes, that's hyperinflation, and indeed feels a lot like needing a wheelbarrow of cash to pay.

sharonsj November 28, 2016 at 11:17 am

Let's talk about reality. For most folks, more austerity is going to kill us. We are so squeezed now that we can barely pay our bills and save our homes. We have rampant price inflation, which both the government and the media pretend does not exist. And the latest figures for Xmas shopping show that although more people are buying stuff, they are spending less money. If the idiots running the country think tax breaks for the rich will boost the economy, then they have learned nothing from the last 30 years.

Arizona Slim November 28, 2016 at 12:29 pm

ISTR hearing that, if you want to grow your business, you need to get more people to buy more of your goods or services more often. Having more people buying less? Doesn't sound like a recipe for success.

Horatio Parker November 28, 2016 at 11:30 am

I'm glad someone is saying that a correct understanding of the economy is where the Democrats need to be. Imagine the impact if a candidate ran on payroll tax relief, expanded SS and a job guranteee.

I like Keith Ellison as well, but I can't find anything about his economic policies. If Dean's economics are disqualifying, and Ellison suggested as an alternative, shouldn't we know if he's an improvement?

Dave November 28, 2016 at 11:39 am

The Democrats are going to have to completely reinvent themselves if they ever want to get a vote or a dollar from me again.

I went to a Democratic Party whine and cheese party the other day where the local "leadership" tried to harness some kind of crowd energy against Trump based on the mere fact that they had a D in front of their names.

The delicious moment came in the Q&A. I waited until after the usual regurgitations of racismphobiahatethreatsdisaster about Trump to ask my question:

"You had a winner in Bernie and your party chose that corrupt disaster Hillary–now we're supposed to trust you to lead us?" I thought the moderator was going to have a stroke. Her face turned an appropriate shade of blue-purple.

An agreeing buzz of people around me. It was positively sadistic watching the scrambling of the Democratic excusemakers shuffling their papers.

larry November 28, 2016 at 11:45 am

It is worse than you say for the Dems. Trump has once indicated that he understands the nature of a sovereign currency. If he wasn't bullshitting, then the Dems are in for an economic shock, at the very least.

flora November 28, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Thanks for this post. Great final paragraph. The DLC neolib Dems' greatest achievement has been in presenting this terrible destruction as virtuous. 'We have to destroy the 90%'s economy in order to save it.'

Sound of the Suburbs November 28, 2016 at 1:34 pm

We have been through a re-run of history.

1920s/2000s – high inequality, high banker pay, low regulation, low taxes for the wealthy, robber barons (CEOs), reckless bankers, globalisation phase

1929/2008 – Wall Street crash

1930s/2010s – Global recession, currency wars, rising nationalism and extremism

Milton Freidman used the old 1920s economics, neoclassical economics, as his base but didn't fix any of its problems.

Wall Street did exactly the same thing.

Jim Rickards ("Currency Wars" and "The Death of Money") has explained how the removal of Glass-Steagall allowed Wall Street to repeat 1929.

In 1929, they carried out margin lending into the US stock market to artificially inflate its value. They packaged up these loans in the investment side of the business to sell them on.

In 2008, they carried out mortgage lending into the US housing market to artificially inflate its value. They packaged up these loans in the investment side of the business to sell them on.

The FED responded with monetary policy that didn't work again, the "New Deal" pulled the US out in the end.

Richard Koo explains:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk
(In the first 12 mins)

In 1929, the FED wasn't quite so quick with monetary policy and stocks were a much more liquid asset and so the crash was so fast no one had a chance to deal with it as it was occurring.

Monetary policy did stop the initial crash in asset prices but didn't reflate the economy; you need a "New Deal" for that.

The only real difference.

Why are multi-nationals hoarding cash and not investing?

Oh look it's Keynes's liquidity trap, its exactly the same.

Keynes studied the Great Depression and noted monetary stimulus lead to a "liquidity trap".

Businesses and investors will not invest without the demand there to ensure their investment will be worthwhile.

The money gets horded by investors and on company balance sheets as they won't invest.

Cutting wages to increase profit just makes the demand side of the equation worse and leads you into debt deflation.

Fiscal stimulus is needed (the "New Deal")

Sound of the Suburbs November 28, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Austerity is neoclassical mumbo-jumbo put forward by economists who don't understand money, debt and the money supply.

It's all in the Richard Koo video above.

Richard Koo has provided us with a graph of how it was IMF imposed austerity that killed the Greek economy at about 54 mins.

You can look at the IMF projection as well for a laugh.

What the IMF know about economics you could fit on the back of a postage stamp, its full of neoclassical economists.

RBHoughton November 28, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Yanis Varoufakis gives a very brief outline of austerity and why it cannot work here (8 minutes)

https://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2016/11/23/austerity-in-8-minutes-why-it-does-not-work-why-it-is-still-practised/

susan the other November 28, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Then there is the dutiful austerian Angela Merkel who stated that all members of the EU had "shared sovereignty" – and so that was why they had to tighten their belts to the last notch so the bond buyers could be paid back?

flora November 28, 2016 at 6:07 pm

Meanwhile .

"Democrats don't see a need to change policy – just the way they sell it"
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article117525968.html#storylink=mainstage

as Thomas Frank says:
"What our modernized liberal leaders offer is not confrontation [with corporate corruption] but a kind of therapy for those flattened by the free-market hurricane: they counsel us to accept the inevitability of the situation."

Yep. Better PR will fix everything . /s

David November 28, 2016 at 8:00 pm

I'm sure this is explained elsewhere but I still am perplexed; states have to pay their debts but sovereign money-printing governments print money. So why not shift state expenses (schools, police, garbage pickup, pensions ) to the sovereign government which can print the money to cover the expense?

Yves Smith Post author November 28, 2016 at 8:21 pm

That is what that great socialist Richard Nixon did with revenue sharing. The Federal government gave states block funding, with anti-fraud oversight. Nixon figured that lower levels of governments had a better sense of their needs than the Feds did.

Ronald Reagan ended revenue sharing.

ChrisAtRU November 28, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Wow #TIL

Thanks!

Onlyindreams November 28, 2016 at 8:24 pm

If the "best of the best" Stephanie Kelton couldn't even get Sanders to break the cycle of mainstream economic "myths", who you gonna call ? If a simpleton like me can understand and believe basic MMT principles, I can not imagine the "brainiacs" running the country ( or vying to run the country) are innocent of the crime (assault with a deadly myth).

Who knows, with some luck, and he seems to be having a ton lately, the presumptive POTUS could be that accidental MMT'er. But I'm sure he would deny that luck had anything to do with it.

[Nov 28, 2016] History Lesson

jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
Tsar Nicholas II: I know what will make them happy. They're children, and they need a Tsar! They need tradition. Not this! They're the victims of agitators. A Duma would make them bewildered and discontented. And don't tell me about London and Berlin. God save us from the mess they're in!

Count Witte: I see. So they talk, pray, march, plead, petition and what do they get? Cossacks, prison, flogging, police, spies, and now, after today, they will be shot.

Is this God's will? Are these His methods? Make war on your own people? How long do you think they're going to stand there and let you shoot them? YOU ask ME who's responsible? YOU ask?

Tsar Nicholas II: The English have a parliament. Our British cousins gave their rights away. The Hapsburgs, and the Hoehenzollerns too. The Romanovs will not. What I was given, I will give my son.

"People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich."

John Kenneth Galbraith

[Nov 28, 2016] The Incredible Lightness of Thinking In the Liberal Professional Class and the Ascended Masters of Hypocrisy

Notable quotes:
"... The continuing reaction of the liberal elite to the repudiation of the Democratic establishment by their traditional constituencies of the young and working people is a wonder to behold. They thrash back and forth between a denial of their failure, and disgust at everyone else they can blame for it. ..."
"... It is frustrating because they do not know how to extract themselves from it, admit their errors and reform the system, without undermining the very assumptions that entitle them, in their own minds at least, to rule as the highly honored insiders, the elect of professional accomplishment. ..."
Nov 28, 2016 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"Listening to the leading figures of the Democratic party establishment, however, you'd never know it. Cool contentment is the governing emotion in these circles. What they have in mind for 2016 is what we might call a campaign of militant complacency. They are dissociated from the mood of the nation, and they do not care...

What our modernized liberal leaders offer is not confrontation [with corporate corruption] but a kind of therapy for those flattened by the free-market hurricane: they counsel us to accept the inevitability of the situation."

Thomas Frank


"Too many of America's elites-among the super-rich, the CEOs, and many of my colleagues in academia-have abandoned a commitment to social responsibility. They chase wealth and power, the rest of society be damned."

Jeffrey Sachs


"This elite-generated social control maintains the status quo because the status quo benefits and validates those who created and sit atop it. People rise to prominence when they parrot the orthodoxy rather than critically analyze it. Intellectual regurgitation is prized over independent thought. Real change in politics or society cannot occur under the orthodoxy because if it did, it would threaten the legitimacy of the professional class and all of the systems that helped them achieve their status.

Kristine Mattis, The Cult of the Professional Class


The continuing reaction of the liberal elite to the repudiation of the Democratic establishment by their traditional constituencies of the young and working people is a wonder to behold. They thrash back and forth between a denial of their failure, and disgust at everyone else they can blame for it.

cf Paul Krugman, The Populism Perplex .

It could not possibly be because of anything they might have done or failed to do. And so they are caught in a credibility trap.

It is frustrating because they do not know how to extract themselves from it, admit their errors and reform the system, without undermining the very assumptions that entitle them, in their own minds at least, to rule as the highly honored insiders, the elect of professional accomplishment.

Caution on language.


[Nov 26, 2016] Obama changes his mind on Russia

Notable quotes:
"... BHO was hired to read speeches as they all have been, since Reagan, at least. The System filters out anyone with a genuinely positive agenda, a mind of his/her own and a corruption-free (secret) history. We should be focused on the Unelected (ie Actual) Rulers instead. ..."
"... For Obama – read Kissinger/Brzezinski change his mind for him – it seems to me – to lay the diplomatic groundwork for Trump to pivot away from a 'unipolar' world (where the American hegemon is in direct conflict with Russia and China – the classic Cold War scenario) – to the 'multipartner' world – where America foments chaos, then under a banner of shared responsibility draws in Russia and China and lets them fight it out like two moles in a bag over the Middle East. America then picks off the last one standing. ..."
"... Obama, Cameron, Johnson, H. Clinton, Nuland, McCain, Holland, Poroshenko, Merkel, the WMSM – the list of the damned goes on and on ..."
"... "constant since I first came into office" Indeed you have Mr President, a constant disappointment, a constant liar, a constant weakling who failed to stand up to the US Jewish lobby, a constant war criminal, in fact a complete and total constant failure. Bravo! ..."
Nov 26, 2016 | off-guardian.org
It's been quite a progression, hasn't it?

Part One: Weak, Regional, Failing

Netherlands, 25 March 2014

" Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors - not out of strength but out of weakness.

Economist interview, 2 August 2014

" But I do think it's important to keep perspective. Russia doesn't make anything. Immigrants aren't rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking. And so we have to respond with resolve in what are effectively regional challenges that Russia presents. We have to make sure that they don't escalate where suddenly nuclear weapons are back in the discussion of foreign policy. And as long as we do that, then I think history is on our side.

State of the Union Address, 20 January 2015

" Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, as we were reinforcing our presence with frontline states, Mr. Putin's aggression it was suggested was a masterful display of strategy and strength. That's what I heard from some folks. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters. That's how America leads - not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve. (Applause.)

Part Two: Maybe not

Washington, 18 October 2016

" The bottom line is, is that we think that Russia is a large important country with a military that is second only to ours, and has to be a part of the solution on the world stage, rather than part of the problem.

Part Three: Powerful, Worldwide

Berlin, 17 November 2016

" With respect to Russia, my principal approach to Russia has been constant since I first came into office. Russia is an important country. It is a military superpower. It has influence in the region and it has influence around the world. And in order for us to solve many big problems around the world, it is in our interest to work with Russia and obtain their cooperation.


"constant since I first came into office"

StAug says November 25, 2016

BHO was hired to read speeches as they all have been, since Reagan, at least. The System filters out anyone with a genuinely positive agenda, a mind of his/her own and a corruption-free (secret) history. We should be focused on the Unelected (ie Actual) Rulers instead.
BigB says November 25, 2016
Excellent comment!

For Obama – read Kissinger/Brzezinski change his mind for him – it seems to me – to lay the diplomatic groundwork for Trump to pivot away from a 'unipolar' world (where the American hegemon is in direct conflict with Russia and China – the classic Cold War scenario) – to the 'multipartner' world – where America foments chaos, then under a banner of shared responsibility draws in Russia and China and lets them fight it out like two moles in a bag over the Middle East. America then picks off the last one standing.

Not much of a plan – especially as Russia and China are both 'eyes wide open' – but it is the best the two senile old twats – who are both overdue in the mortuary – can come up with. Obama of course has no mind of his own. Trumps pick for Secretary of State may indicate his.

Kissinger once said that "the elderly are useless eaters" – maybe it is time for him to take his own counsel and move on. Perhaps he could take Soros and Brzezinski with him?

StAug says November 25, 2016
Indeed! If only we could pop some corn and watch from a safe space on another planet
tutisicecream says November 25, 2016
Should be titled "Putin's Progress".

During this tale many of the would be pretenders have fallen or are falling by the wayside.

Obama, Cameron, Johnson, H. Clinton, Nuland, McCain, Holland, Poroshenko, Merkel, the WMSM – the list of the damned goes on and on

Their Faustian Bargain seems to have failed them and given rise to Mephistopheles incarnate Trump.

Ψystein Blix says November 25, 2016
Putin, at least, seems to have a spine

DavidKNZ says November 24, 2016

What a lesson this man has been.
Came in with soaring rhetoric, a promise of a new beginning, and a Nobel peace prize.
Failed to deliver on any of these, but did deliver:
Death by drone, without trial
Death by military misadventure in the middle east
Death of a civil economy via unaccountable military spending

And now trying to 'burnish' his 'legacy' of lies. With more lies.

At least Russia's Putin, ruthless as he is, does seem to have a moral compass

Amer Hudson says November 24, 2016
He's been worked like a ventriloquist's dummy. And badly at that.
Alec says November 24, 2016
"constant since I first came into office" Indeed you have Mr President, a constant disappointment, a constant liar, a constant weakling who failed to stand up to the US Jewish lobby, a constant war criminal, in fact a complete and total constant failure. Bravo!

[Nov 26, 2016] Trumpism Has Dealt a Mortal Blow to Orthodox Economics and Social Science

Notable quotes:
"... Grappling with the shock of Donald Trump's election victory, most analysts focus on his appeal to those in the United States who feel left behind, wish to retrieve a lost social order, and sought to rebuke establishment politicians who do not serve their interests. In this respect, the recent American revolt echoes the shock of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, but it is of far greater significance because it promises to reshape the entire global order, and the complaisant forms of thought that accompanied it. ..."
"... Ideas played an important role in creating the conditions that produced Brexit and Trump. The 'social sciences' - especially economics - legitimated a set of ideas about the economy that were aggressively peddled and became the conventional wisdom in the policies of mainstream political parties, to the extent that the central theme of the age came to be that there was no alternative. The victory of these ideas in politics in turn strengthened the iron-handed enforcers of the same ideas in academic orthodoxy ..."
"... The role of economics in furnishing the now-rebuked narratives that have reigned for decades in mainstream political parties can be seen in three areas. ..."
"... The combination of globalization and financialization produced a new plutocratic class of owners, managers and those who serviced them in global cities, alongside gentrification of those cities, proleterianization and lumpenization of suburbs, and growing insecurity and casualization of employment for the bulk of the middle and working class. ..."
"... Financialization also led to the near-abandonment of the 'national' industrial economy in favor of global sourcing and sales, and a handsome financial rentier economy built on top of it. Meanwhile, automation trends led to shedding of jobs everywhere, and threaten far more. ..."
"... Third, there is the push for austerity, a recurrent trope of the 'neoliberal' era which, although not favored by all, has played an important role in creating conditions for the rise of popular movements demanding a more expansionary fiscal stance ..."
"... The dominant economic ideas taken together created a framework in which deviation from declared orthodoxy would be punished by dynamics unleashed by globalization and financialization. The system depended not merely on actors having the specific interests attributed to them, but in believing in the theory that said that they did. [This is one of the reasons that Trumpism has generated confusion among economic actors, even as his victory produced an early bout of stock-market euphoria. It does not rebuke neoliberalism so much as replace it with its own heretical version, bastard neoliberalism, an orientation without a theory, whose tale has yet to be written.] ..."
"... Mainstream accounts of politics recognized the role of identities in the form of wooden theories of group mobilization or of demands for representation. However, the psychological and charismatic elements, which can give rise to moments of 'phase transition' in politics, were altogether neglected, and the role of social media and other new methods in politics hardly registered. ..."
"... Trumpism is a crisis for the most prestigious methods of understanding economic and social life, ennobled and enthroned by the metropolitan academy of the last third of a century. It has caused mainstream 'social science' to fall like a house of cards. It can only save itself through comprehensive reinvention, from the ground up. ..."
"... Neoliberalism -> c(Globalization, Financialization, Austerity) ..."
"... Just one caveat: Neoliberalism is not really market-fetishism, unless fetishism is understood as fake devotion. Neoliberalism is a State ideology of the economy, its central tenet being that the State must directly help the rich, the poor will be better off as a by-product. ..."
"... Remember, though, that neoliberal social sciences now insists that everything is "post fact". "Post fact" society. "Anti intellectualism". And so on. ..."
"... We can look forward to too post-neoliberslism . - which would be liberalism, as the post and neo cancel out. ..."
"... As early as 1967 Greenspan was well known as an academic whore and a Rockefeller Puppet which now is a vast army of dial up opinions. ..."
"... The author mentions globalization and financialization. But what seems to be always left out (and given a pass) in these discussions is the role of central banks and monetary policy. ..."
"... Central banking policy (always creating more money/credit) lies at the nexus of almost all that is wrong with modern capitalism and is the lubricant and fuel that enables financialization's endless growth. ..."
"... Financialization leads to asset bubbles and deindustrialization. It hollows out industries. When money/credit are created in ever increasing quantity, the makeup of how we "work" shifts from goods producing to "finance". ..."
"... Trump doesn't seem to have grasped the only thing that mattered in his election – you want your enemies to suck. His appointees are people that suck. Hillary would have appointed smooth-talkers who could effortlessly move between "private and public" positions. ..."
"... PS: Paul Ryan is a good counterexample – people fall for his BS because he isn't quite a stupid as, say Guiliani. Of course he was elected, not picked by Trump. ..."
"... mr reddy solves the riddle of the Great Refusal but doesn't far enough: certainly mainstream economists were wrong to act as cheerleaders for the kleptocracy, yet they were also complicit in a material sense by furnishing all the necessary algorithms to boost the derivatives industry into the realm of corporate cyber-theft. ..."
"... Mainstream analysts don't want to recognize the real problem: those who failed the people have lost their legitimacy to govern. ..."
"... We finally made it to the post-modern wasteland. It is pretty weird to see the post-modern methods used by social scientists for decades to dissect culture actually manifest in practiced culture. ..."
"... TINA was definitely an ideology – an idea backed by interest. They were making fun of Thatcherism last nite on France 24 because it had been so devastating and now one of the candidates in France is talking her old trash again. Humor is effective against ideology when all else fails but it takes a while. But as defined above, we actually do have an alternative – our current alternative is "illiberal majoritarianism". Sounds a tad negative. We should just use the word "democracy". ..."
"... "The Anti-Corn Law League was a successful political movement in Great Britain aimed at the abolition of the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners' interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread at a time when factory-owners were trying to cut wages to be internationally competitive." ..."
"... The US has probably been the most successful in making its labour force internationally uncompetitive with soaring costs of housing, healthcare and student loan repayments. ..."
"... Today we are missing that person with creativity and imagination to lead us out of the wilderness and stagnation we have been experiencing since 2008. ..."
"... The work of the Classical Economists and the distinction between "earned" and "unearned" income, also "land" and "capital" need to be separated again (conflated in neoclassical economics) Reading Michael Hudson's "Killing the Host" is a very good start ..."
Nov 26, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Grappling with the shock of Donald Trump's election victory, most analysts focus on his appeal to those in the United States who feel left behind, wish to retrieve a lost social order, and sought to rebuke establishment politicians who do not serve their interests. In this respect, the recent American revolt echoes the shock of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, but it is of far greater significance because it promises to reshape the entire global order, and the complaisant forms of thought that accompanied it.

Ideas played an important role in creating the conditions that produced Brexit and Trump. The 'social sciences' - especially economics - legitimated a set of ideas about the economy that were aggressively peddled and became the conventional wisdom in the policies of mainstream political parties, to the extent that the central theme of the age came to be that there was no alternative. The victory of these ideas in politics in turn strengthened the iron-handed enforcers of the same ideas in academic orthodoxy .

It is never clear whether ideas or interests are the prime mover in shaping historical events, but only ideas and interests together can sustain a ruling consensus for a lengthy interval, such as the historic period of financialization and globalization running over the last 35 years. The role of economics in furnishing the now-rebuked narratives that have reigned for decades in mainstream political parties can be seen in three areas.

First, there is globalization as we knew it. Mainstream economics championed corporate-friendly trade and investment agreements to increase prosperity, and provided the intellectual framework for multilateral trade agreements. Economics made the case for such agreements, generally rejecting concerns over labor and environmental standards and giving short shrift to the effects of globalization in weakening the bargaining power of workers or altogether displacing them; to the need for compensatory measures to aid those displaced; and more generally to measures to ensure that the benefits of growth were shared. For the most part, economists casually waved aside such concerns, both in their theories and in their policy recommendations, treating these matters as either insignificant or as being in the jurisdiction of politicians. Still less attention was paid to crafting an alternate form of globalization, or to identifying bases for national economic policies taking a less passive view of comparative advantage and instead aiming to create it.

Second, there is financialization, which led to increasing disconnection between stock market performance and the real economy, with large rewards going to firms that undertook asset stripping, outsourcing, and offshoring. The combination of globalization and financialization produced a new plutocratic class of owners, managers and those who serviced them in global cities, alongside gentrification of those cities, proleterianization and lumpenization of suburbs, and growing insecurity and casualization of employment for the bulk of the middle and working class.

Financialization also led to the near-abandonment of the 'national' industrial economy in favor of global sourcing and sales, and a handsome financial rentier economy built on top of it. Meanwhile, automation trends led to shedding of jobs everywhere, and threaten far more.

All of this was hardly noticed by the discipline charged with studying the economy. Indeed, it actively provided rationales for financialization, in the form of the efficient-markets hypothesis and related ideas; for concentration of capital through mergers and acquisitions in the form of contestable-markets theory; for the gentrification of the city through attacks on rent control and other urban policies; for remaking of labor markets through the idea that unemployment was primarily a reflection of voluntary leisure preferences, etc. The mainstream political parties, including those historically representing the working and middle classes, in thrall to the 'scientific' sheen of market fetishism, gambled that they could redistribute a share of the promised gains and thus embraced policies the effect of which was ultimately to abandon and to antagonize a large section of their electorate.

Third, there is the push for austerity, a recurrent trope of the 'neoliberal' era which, although not favored by all, has played an important role in creating conditions for the rise of popular movements demanding a more expansionary fiscal stance (though they can paradoxically simultaneously disdain taxation, as with Trumpism). The often faulty intellectual case made by many mainstream economists for central bank independence, inflation targeting, debt sustainability thresholds, the distortive character of taxation and the superiority of private provision of services including for health, education and welfare, have helped to support antagonism to governmental activity. Within this perspective, there is limited room for fiscal or even monetary stimulus, or for any direct governmental role in service provision, even in the form of productivity-enhancing investments. It is only the failure fully to overcome the shipwreck of 2008 that has caused some cracks in the edifice.

The dominant economic ideas taken together created a framework in which deviation from declared orthodoxy would be punished by dynamics unleashed by globalization and financialization. The system depended not merely on actors having the specific interests attributed to them, but in believing in the theory that said that they did. [This is one of the reasons that Trumpism has generated confusion among economic actors, even as his victory produced an early bout of stock-market euphoria. It does not rebuke neoliberalism so much as replace it with its own heretical version, bastard neoliberalism, an orientation without a theory, whose tale has yet to be written.]

Finally, interpretations of politics were too restrictive, conceptualizing citizens' political choices as based on instrumental and usually economic calculations, while indulging in a wishful account of their actual conditions - for instance, focusing on low measured unemployment, but ignoring measures of distress and insecurity, or the indignity of living in hollowed-out communities.

Mainstream accounts of politics recognized the role of identities in the form of wooden theories of group mobilization or of demands for representation. However, the psychological and charismatic elements, which can give rise to moments of 'phase transition' in politics, were altogether neglected, and the role of social media and other new methods in politics hardly registered. As new political movements (such as the Tea Party and Trumpism in the U.S.) emerged across the world, these were deemed 'populist'-both an admission of the analysts' lack of explanation, and a token of disdain. The essential feature of such movements - the obscurantism that allows them to offer many things to many people, inconsistently and unaccountably, while serving some interests more than others - was little explored. The failures can be piled one upon the other. No amount of quantitative data provided by polling, 'big data', or other techniques comprehended what might be captured through open-eyed experiential narratives. It is evident that there is a need for forms of understanding that can comprehend the currents within the human person, and go beyond shallow empiricism. Mainstream social science has offered few if any resources to understand, let alone challenge, illiberal majoritarianism, now a world-remaking phenomenon.

Trumpism is a crisis for the most prestigious methods of understanding economic and social life, ennobled and enthroned by the metropolitan academy of the last third of a century. It has caused mainstream 'social science' to fall like a house of cards. It can only save itself through comprehensive reinvention, from the ground up.

KK November 26, 2016 at 5:41 am

I was surprised at how reasonable my plumber's quote was and when l asked him about this, he said that he couldn't increase his prices or the work would go to 'Eastern Europeans' who continued to undercut him. Wasn't it plumbing and hairdressing that we got taught about in 1970's economics classes as not being subject to international competition?

rd November 26, 2016 at 9:49 am

Both plumbing and appliance repair are becoming disassemble and reassemble jobs. You don't fix a faucet anymore. You just take the old one out and put and new one in because that is cheaper than repairing. Same with many appliances. Even the repairs are taking out an entire part or circuit board and no dropping a new one in.

So the skill set now is diagnosis and occasionally brute strength to take apart the old joint.

ambrit November 26, 2016 at 9:58 am

Yep, those were supposedly "immigrant proof" occupations. Hah! Were we ever wrong!

It turns out that even "skilled labour," into which, much to their dismay, technical occupations are now included, is subject to wage suppression by importation of cheaper workers. The fact that there is a H1B visa program at all should tell us something fundamental about the amoral character of management labour relations in America.

fresno dan November 26, 2016 at 3:42 pm

ambrit

November 26, 2016 at 9:58 am

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/shortage-of-mexican-workers-is-hurting-us-businesses-2016-11-25

Many business owners who rely on low-skilled labor say the real trouble is too few Mexicans heading north, not too many. "Without Mexican labor our industry is at a standstill," says Nelson Braddy Jr., the owner of King of Texas Roofing Co., which is helping build a sprawling new Toyota North American headquarters in a Dallas suburb. He says he would hire 60 roofers right away if he could find them. "It's the worst I have seen in my career," he adds.

========================================================
The CEPR also talks about low wages
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/what-happened-to-job-killing-robots-businesses-complain-about-shortage-of-low-skilled-workers?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+beat_the_press+%28Beat+the+Press%29

I think the comments are better than the article, in that the commenters simply state that the upper class and government are in cahoots to keep wages low.

ambrit November 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm

You are onto something here. I always wondered if the suppression of wages would lead to a decline in the population of people even willing to learn a task due to a perceived lack of incentive to make the effort. This would work alongside a seldom mentioned fact; the limits to the supply of appropriately skilled "foreigners" to perform a task. The resultant mix must be generating an industry of active recruiters in foreign lands for in demand, for less, skill sets. I would lay money on the bet that eventually, things will reach the point where criminal activities make more sense than the miserable jobs on offer.

John Wright November 26, 2016 at 5:04 pm

I know someone who had a small roofing company in Los Angeles.

Some time ago he commented that he had not been able to raise his labor rates in 20 years.

He also had a wry comment about the glass ceiling in roofing, saying that there are no women in roofing, but there is no apparent societal pressure to break this version of the glass ceiling.

Roofing is a hazardous job, requiring working outside in all types of weather, for low pay.

But if the pay is high enough, even hazardous jobs, with weather exposure, are prized, as one can witness watching NFL football.

The Cleaner November 26, 2016 at 8:01 pm

I don't think these were considered "immigrant proof" as much as "outsourcing proof" which makes sense if you think about it.

Sandy November 26, 2016 at 10:12 am

Important to note there's quite a lot of Europeans who stay illegally in the US by entering on the visa waiver program as tourists and simply overstaying. Irish and eastern Europeans especially. If you're in the Northeast it's common to see Irishmen working maintenance jobs at buildings here, or as bartenders or other cash jobs – 90% are going to be out of status. But this issue gets almost zero media attention.

sunny129 November 26, 2016 at 5:12 pm

'But this issue gets almost zero media attention'

If I mentioned "colored skin' stands out than those of Europeans, will I be labelled racist?

Whenever there is immigration raid,on an establishment 'brown & blacks'(illegals!) ran out but NOT the fair skinned Europeans, who were always confident that they won't be affected or bothered! And they were 100% right!

Seen it, been there and fed up with it!

Dignan November 26, 2016 at 2:38 pm

I'm told by my father that in Berkely Springs, West Virginia, men can get haircuts for as little as $1.75. Perhaps these are eastern European barbers? More likely it is simply a product of the crushing desperation we see in our broken economy. But hey, unemployment is under 5% so everything's fine, right? The dismal science indeed.

His Grace November 26, 2016 at 5:47 am

Bravo!

Ruben November 26, 2016 at 6:20 am

Neoliberalism -> c(Globalization, Financialization, Austerity)

Just one caveat: Neoliberalism is not really market-fetishism, unless fetishism is understood as fake devotion. Neoliberalism is a State ideology of the economy, its central tenet being that the State must directly help the rich, the poor will be better off as a by-product.

So if the push of the populace is strong enough, a new State ideology of the economy (aka mainstream economic dogma) would develop around the concepts of Self-suficiency (as opposed to Globalization), Industrialism (as opposed to Financialization), and Stimulus (as opposed to Austerity). Probably MMT has something to say about the latter, but what about Self-sufficiency and Industrialism?

BecauseTradition November 26, 2016 at 10:26 am

its central tenet being that the State must directly help the rich, the poor will be better off as a by-product. Ruben

Yes, government-subsidized* private credit creation being a (the?) prime example of this.

*e.g. forcing the poorer to lend (a deposit is legally a loan) to banks to lower the borrowing costs of the more so-called creditworthy, the richer, or else be limited to dealing with unsafe, inconvenient physical fiat, cash.

Disturbed Voter November 26, 2016 at 8:33 am

The Academy are direct and indirect employees of the State. The Ivy League are direct and indirect employees of plutocrats (thru the university endowment). The State officials are plutocrats or more commonly indirect employees of the plutocrats. What is not to like? How can the Academy be reformed, when it has been oligarchic since Plato (an oligarch) invented it the first Rand Corporation

cnchal November 26, 2016 at 8:46 am

Who knew that destroying little people's lives would finally have consequences?

Prrresidennntt Trrrummppp (just rolls off the tongue) can have a field day.

When do the mass firings of inept economists begin? Starting with Larry "Pretty Air" Summers and all the rest of the Haaaarvaaard asshats.

ambrit November 26, 2016 at 10:01 am

I want to know when those characters will be sent to the FEMA camps for "re-education?" Something with a faint affinity to the Cultural Revolution looms.

ambrit November 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Reactionaries will be purged. The Markets of Historical Determinism will demand it.
Cut to view of parade down Main Street USA of politicians and business people with computer keyboards hung around their necks. Many wear signs around their necks proclaiming their crimes. "I facilitated consumers to buy insurance policies for the ACA," says one. "I front ran the market for Uncle Sam," says another. The lines of armed guards lining the parade route are there to protect the penitents, as various short action shots show. The crowd is in an ugly mood. Storm clouds lower in the distance.

cocomaan November 26, 2016 at 8:47 am

Remember, though, that neoliberal social sciences now insists that everything is "post fact". "Post fact" society. "Anti intellectualism". And so on.

Synoia November 26, 2016 at 11:30 am

We can look forward to too post-neoliberslism . - which would be liberalism, as the post and neo cancel out.

Damian November 26, 2016 at 9:27 am

Tell me where you want to go and I'll provide the selective facts and the subjective interpretation of those facts to reach the desired conclusions = Economists

-- or merely arbitrarily change the cell definitions in excel as Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

As early as 1967 Greenspan was well known as an academic whore and a Rockefeller Puppet which now is a vast army of dial up opinions.

fresno dan November 26, 2016 at 9:31 am

From the article:
"Ideas played an important role in creating the conditions that produced Brexit and Trump. The 'social sciences' - especially economics - legitimated a set of ideas about the economy that were aggressively peddled and became the conventional wisdom in the policies of mainstream political parties, to the extent that the central theme of the age came to be that there was no alternative. The victory of these ideas in politics in turn strengthened the iron-handed enforcers of the same ideas in academic orthodoxy."

Yesterday I posted a link from Krugman saying that manufacturing CANNOT be restored in the US.
Not that laws, rules, trade agreements make it difficult, but that something akin to the "arrow of time" or entropy prevents it – " that there was no alternative." Which is why I so vehemently disagree with the man. 1st, economics is not a physical science. 2nd, the loss of manufacturing in this country is due to man made conventions. Men made the rules, men can unmake the rules.

Just like prohibition was thought to be a good idea, but with the passage of time, it was revealed that whatever benefits arise of not drinking, it is more than offset by the setbacks.
I used to believe in "free trade" – but a thing called reality whacked me upside the head and disabused me of the notion. Whether GDP is going up fast enough or not, there is overwhelming evidence that the vast majority of GDP is not distributed to the 90% of the members of society.

Like a lot of things, we did the experiment – it doesn't work, but a few who gain advantage by that state of affairs want it to continue. The emperor has been exposed as having no clothes, and once you see the nakedness, you can't unsee it.

vlade November 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

of course you could institute that all manufacturng used 1960s technology – or maybe even 1860s, that would generate even more jobs.
short of doing that, todays higly automated factory will use about tenth of blue collar workforce than in 1960s with the same productivity but creating much more complex products.
I've seen reshoring happen (into compartively high labour cost country) and it created a thousand jobs or so. the previus offshoring costed close to five or six thousands iirc.

fresno dan November 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm

vlade
November 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Than why are so many Chinese employed doing it

Optimader November 26, 2016 at 6:15 pm

FD
Because they are paid next to nothing by 1st world standards.
Even so, Chinese policy makers realise they are in a state of "peak labor". Flogging productivity with a policy of "many hands make project small" has hit it's scaling potential. They understand that.

https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2016/09/23/chinese-whispers-the-most-populous-nation-on-earth-wants-to-replace-millions-of-human-workers-with-industrial-robots-it-plans-to-manufacture/7353/

John Wright November 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm

I work in the electronics industry and had a minor observation point for some of the outsourcing of electronics manufacturing from the USA to, primarily, Asia, starting in the late 1980's.

At first USA employees were told not to worry as only excess capacity would be built overseas.

But, that was proven to be an optimistic(?) statement, as even the managers making these statements also disappeared.

If one looks at the value of raw electronic "ingredients" produced in Asia, for example, Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), one can see how much capacity has been built up overseas.

Here are some numbers pulled from report I have access to:

For 2015, 26.5 billion dollars of PCB's were produced in China.

Taiwan and South Korea produce 7.8Billion and 7.3billion respectively.

Even high priced Japan produces 5.36 billion dollars of PCB's

The North American number is 2.846 billion.

China + Japan + Taiwan + South Korea +Other Asia = .51.94 billion vs 2.8 billion in North America.

So Asia produces 18.55 x as much dollar volume of PCBs than North America (Canada + USA)

In my simple minded labor model, when a country allows very free migration of capital overseas, importation of foreign workers by migration or temporary visas and outsourcing of labor by computer networks to overseas workers, it seems implausible one would argue that USA wages would not tend lower in response.

But we have Obama and numerous economists, pushing the Free Trade mantra, via TPP, as good for American workers.

And a further factor is the US military and State Department strive to make it safer for American businesses to function anywhere in the world, lowering business risk while pitching increased national security to the USA population (who bears the military cost).

It will be difficult to bring American manufacturing back, especially when the alleged high paying white collar college jobs are pushed as the solution to USA wage stagnation.

susan the other November 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Steve Keen said similarly in Forbes – that once you offshore an industry it is too expensive to reinstall, and that some old factory for making furnaces cannot be retooled to make textiles, etc. even tho' you might have a comparative advantage for doing textiles – sounds like corporate raiding and big time looting more and more because once you devastate an industry you really cannot do anything economically with those facilities and those workers.

Which explains why after clever men like Mitt Romney finish with your corporation's takeover nobody dashes in to re-up something new. Like pulling a tree out by its roots and then expecting it to grow into some kinda shrub.

a different chris November 26, 2016 at 9:09 pm

Well I like Steve Keen but he and PK are finally on the same page, where neither knows not what the f he is talking about.

A lot of "offshoring" of the steel industry happened as the US plants themselves were passing the "invest or wind down" point in their life. Since the US labor force was considered intractable and foreign governments had much newer facilities the TPTB in steel just punted on US manufacturing. I am going to try to find a link, but there was a lot of debate between the union and US Steel (? one of them? ) about building a continuous caster plant in the 70's. Foreign companies had them, we didn't. I think they didn't, but the point is the, all other things being equal, any plants of any type of manufacturing go thru the same technological vs ageing cycle, and the US is as likely to gain "back" - quotes because like continuous casting, it's steelmaking but not the same as before - an industry as it is to have lost it in the first place. Factories like to be located where they make sense.

And what is all this about "well they don't need anybody in manufacturing, it's all gonna be machines now". Yeah, right. Been on a manufacturing floor lately? People have yet to be born that are going to be working in something called "manufacturing". And if the machines cut the work need by 10x, we may well need 10x as much stuff as long as it is the right stuff.

Well, if we had universal heathcare and Germanic trade education, but that would require elections not between carrot-heads and Queen Wannabes.

nothing but the truth November 26, 2016 at 9:26 pm

hang on. why can manufacturing work in germany but not in the US?

Actus Purus November 26, 2016 at 10:35 am

The author mentions globalization and financialization. But what seems to be always left out (and given a pass) in these discussions is the role of central banks and monetary policy.

Central banking policy (always creating more money/credit) lies at the nexus of almost all that is wrong with modern capitalism and is the lubricant and fuel that enables financialization's endless growth.

Financialization leads to asset bubbles and deindustrialization. It hollows out industries. When money/credit are created in ever increasing quantity, the makeup of how we "work" shifts from goods producing to "finance".

Then through globalization, what we lack in goods, foreigners who accept our paper, seem to provide. At least for now. In a closed system, financialization has its natural limits. But enabled by cross-border trade, it metastasizes.

In the short run, it appears to be a virtuous circle. We print paper. They make real stuff. They take our paper. We take their stuff. We feel very clever.

But over time, wealth inequality grows. Industries are hollowed out. The banking sector dominates.

And then we get a populist uprising because people realize "something is wrong".

But mistakenly, they think it's globalization. Or free trade. Or capitalism. When all along, it's just central banking. Central banks are the problem. Central bankers are the culprits.

BecauseTradition November 26, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Central banks are the problem. Actus Purus

Yes, insofar as they create fiat for the private sector since that is obviously violation of equal protection under the law in favor of the banks and the rich.

Otoh, all citizens, their businesses, etc. should be allowed to deal directly in their nation's fiat in the form of account balances at the central bank or equivalent and not be limited to unsafe, inconvenient physical fiat, a.k.a. cash.

stefan November 26, 2016 at 10:38 am

Get ready for real kleptocracy.

Breitbart obscurantism + Trump/Bannon misdirection = turkeys vote for thanksgiving.

Sessions views on race at Justice = curtailed civil rights. Wilbur Ross pension stripping = privatize Social Security. DeVos at education = privatize the golden egg of public education. 85% tax credit for private infrastructure spending = fire sale of the public square (only rich need apply).
3~4 Military generals in the cabinet = enforcement threat for crypto-fascist state.

McGahn at counsel + Pompeo at CIA = Koch Bros.

Ryan at speaker = privatize Medicare

Welcome to government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, for the billionaires.

btw, if Giuliani is appointed to a cabinet post, he will have to explain his foreknowledge of the NY FBI→Kallstrom→Comey connection→to Congress under oath (if they aren't too afraid to ask).

a different chris November 26, 2016 at 9:15 pm

I worry along with you, but again: When somebody Ms DeVos opens her mouth people just naturally recoil. Trump doesn't seem to have grasped the only thing that mattered in his election – you want your enemies to suck. His appointees are people that suck. Hillary would have appointed smooth-talkers who could effortlessly move between "private and public" positions.

PS: Paul Ryan is a good counterexample – people fall for his BS because he isn't quite a stupid as, say Guiliani. Of course he was elected, not picked by Trump.

Robert Dannin November 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

mr reddy solves the riddle of the Great Refusal but doesn't far enough: certainly mainstream economists were wrong to act as cheerleaders for the kleptocracy, yet they were also complicit in a material sense by furnishing all the necessary algorithms to boost the derivatives industry into the realm of corporate cyber-theft.

That genie isn't going back into bottle. what's in store for us then? economic apartheid. just read what the new team has been saying about walls, guns, police, military and terrorism. the bannon plan is for heavily policed gated communities monopolizing vital resources; high surveillance, rights abatement zones for the proletariat; and a free-fire wilderness of lumpen gangsters, gun-toting vigilantes, survivalist cults, etc. competing for subsistence. mad max, only run by people worse than mel gibson. close to what we already have but once legislated into existence impossible to reverse without a violent revolution. once again mr. reddy is correct: hobbes' leviathan is the negation of social science.

Waldenpond November 26, 2016 at 11:39 am

hmmmm .. Trump said quite a few contradictory things during his campaign and it would seem an error to believe anything a candidate says on either side of an issue. Have the Koch brothers (who are involved w/Trump) been particularly unhappy with the numerous billions they've accumulated under Obama? I expect this regime to be more along the 'different globalization' side (more a shuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic). Manufacturing will be back in relation to the degree – penalties are eliminated on 'repatriated' funds, land is eminent domained on behalf of oligarchs, private profit is granted primacy over pollution, then build their factories with public money and abolish the minimum wage. Austerity will continue but the new con will be private/public partnerships. Don't you want to buy you friend/family member/neighbor a job? Don't you?

The elite, including the Trump's, are going to continue their actions until they've taken it all.

Wendell Fitzgerald November 26, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Since you mention land you might be interested in the idea of land value taxation a way to take the land back from the oligarchs an idea that has been around for a long time assiduously ignored by folks like Naked Capitalism.

JEHR November 26, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Mr. Fitzgerald, if you search in NC for "land value taxation" you will see many articles, especially from Mr. Hudson. NC has thoroughly covered a lot of territory regarding this topic.

a different chris November 26, 2016 at 9:24 pm

Yes you could probably catch us restlessly muttering "Henry George" in our sleep half the time.

The problem is it's a really, really hard sell. It just sounds funny. Pittsburgh actually had it until a few years ago when it was "discovered" and before there was even a discussion the Democratic mayor and City Council who should have known better had rescinded it before anybody got a chance to say anything.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_value_tax_in_the_United_States

" during 2001 after years of underassessment, and the system was abandoned in favor of the traditional single-rate property tax. The tax on land in Pittsburgh was about 5.77 times the tax on improvements."

To be good Russian plants, we do actually need to know things about Amerika Anyway, here's the problem: people just voted for a billionaire how you gonna get this type of taxation approved given the Pittsburgh example?

Altandmain November 26, 2016 at 11:47 am

Mainstream analysts don't want to recognize the real problem: those who failed the people have lost their legitimacy to govern.

Not saying Trump is the solution (I'm hoping for a solution from the left and think that Trump could enable his cronies, but nothing else), but the Establishment is unworthy to govern.

Wendell Fitzgerald November 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm

A solution that most people would consider being from the left but which is the radical center (taking valid ideas from both left and right) is land value taxation the wedge issue to tax the various sources of unearned income (estimated at 40+% of GNP however you determine it) thus allowing for the elimination of taxation of earned income from wages and profit from the investment of real capital in the real economy.

Taxing community created land value and making the distinction between earned and unearned income has been assiduously ignored and avoided by mainstream economists, most of our vaunted/sainted public intellectuals and sources like naked capitalism but since all of that has failed there is nothing to lose by considering what this author, Sanjay Reddy, says is necessary: "It [social science] can only save itself through comprehensive reinvention, from the ground up."

I suggest that the this has already been done literally from the ground up by the analysis that has been around for a very long time that takes land, how its value is created, who owns it and what happen when you tax its value into account. Happy day.

Rosario November 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

We finally made it to the post-modern wasteland. It is pretty weird to see the post-modern methods used by social scientists for decades to dissect culture actually manifest in practiced culture.

susan the other November 26, 2016 at 1:14 pm

TINA was definitely an ideology – an idea backed by interest. They were making fun of Thatcherism last nite on France 24 because it had been so devastating and now one of the candidates in France is talking her old trash again. Humor is effective against ideology when all else fails but it takes a while. But as defined above, we actually do have an alternative – our current alternative is "illiberal majoritarianism". Sounds a tad negative. We should just use the word "democracy".

Sound of the Suburbs November 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm

The problem with free trade, a historical lesson:

"The Anti-Corn Law League was a successful political movement in Great Britain aimed at the abolition of the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners' interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread at a time when factory-owners were trying to cut wages to be internationally competitive."

The landowners wanted to increase their profit by charging a higher price for corn, but this posed a barrier to international free trade in making UK wage labour uncompetitive by raising the cost of living for workers. In a free trade world the cost of living needs to be the same in West and East as this sets the wage levels.

The US has probably been the most successful in making its labour force internationally uncompetitive with soaring costs of housing, healthcare and student loan repayments.

These costs all have to be covered by wages and US businesses are now squealing about the high minimum wage. US labour can never compete with Eastern labour and will have to be protected by tariffs. Free trade has requirements and you must meet them before you can engage in free trade.

The cost of living needs to be the same in West and East.

Sound of the Suburbs November 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm

There are two certainties in life – death and taxes.

There are two certainties about new versions of capitalism; they work well for a couple of decades before failing miserably.

Capitalism mark 1 – Unfettered Capitalism

Crashed and burned in 1929 with a global recession in the 1930s.
The New Deal and Keynesian ideas promised a bright new world.

Capitalism mark 2 – Keynesian Capitalism

Ended with stagflation in the 1970s.
Market led Capitalism ideas promised a bright new world.

Capitalism mark 3 – Unfettered Capitalism – Part 2 (Market led Capitalism)

Crashed and burned in 2008 with a global recession in the 2010s.

We are missing the vital ingredient. When the first version of capitalism failed, Keynes was ready with a new version. When the second version of capitalism failed, Milton Freidman was waiting in the wings with his new version of capitalism.

Elites will always flounder around trying to stick with what they know, it takes someone with creativity and imagination to show the new way when the old way has failed.

Today we are missing that person with creativity and imagination to lead us out of the wilderness and stagnation we have been experiencing since 2008.

Sound of the Suburbs November 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

What is missing from today's economics?

  1. The work of the Classical Economists and the distinction between "earned" and "unearned" income, also "land" and "capital" need to be separated again (conflated in neoclassical economics) Reading Michael Hudson's "Killing the Host" is a very good start
  2. How money and debt really work. Money's creation and destruction on bank balance sheets.
  3. The work of Irving Fisher, Hyman Minsky and Steve Keen on debt inflated asset bubbles
  4. The work of Richard Koo on dealing with balance sheet recessions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk
  5. The realisation that markets have two modes of operation: a) Price discovery b) Bigger fool mode, where everyone rides the bubble for capital gains

There may be more

The Euro was designed with today's defective economics. Oh dear, no wonder it's going wrong.

a different chris November 26, 2016 at 9:29 pm

>The Euro was designed with today's defective economics.

Man I didn't think of that. What comically lousy timing. I do like this post because it similar to sigh, ok it asserts my belief but still don't think I'm in an echo chamber here, I actually want people to know what I think so they can reinforce the good and whittle out the bad anyway, asserts my belief that "economics" isn't a science but when used in the best way is a toolkit, here we need an hammer (austerity), here we need a screwdriver (some tweaking). It isn't one tool for all jobs for all time.

UserFriendly November 26, 2016 at 8:09 pm

I disagree that we don't have a ready to go replacement. MMT. We just have TPTB throwing $$$ around to make sure no one hears about it, much less does anything.

[Nov 26, 2016] EconoSpeak Comments on Milanovic on Marx

Nov 26, 2016 | econospeak.blogspot.com

I am a Marxist economist (Professor of Economics, Mount Holyoke College) and I appreciate Branko Milanovic's open-mindedness and his efforts in a recent post on his blog to educate economists who often have a crude and superficial misunderstanding of Marx's labor theory of value.

For context for my comments on Milanovic, I will first say a few words about my interpretation of Marx's labor theory of value (LTV). In my view, Marx's LTV is primarily a macro theory and the main question addressed in Marx's macro LTV is the determination of the total profit (or surplus-value) produced in the capitalist economy as a whole. Profit is the main goal of capitalist economies and should be a key variable in any theory of capitalism. Marx's theory of the total profit is that profit is the difference between the value produced by workers and the wages they are paid, i.e. that profit is produced by the "surplus labor" of workers.

I argue that Marx's "surplus labor" theory of profit has very significant and wide-ranging explanatory power. Marx's theory provides straight-forward and robust explanations of the following important phenomena of capitalist economies: conflicts between capitalists and workers over wages, and over the length of the working day, and over the intensity of labor (i.e. how hard workers work, which determines in part how much value they produce); endogenous technological change (in order to reduce necessary labor and increase surplus labor and surplus-value); increasing concentration of capital and income(i.e. increasing inequality); the trend and fluctuations in the rate of profit over time; and endogenous cycles due to fluctuations in the rate of profit rate of profit. (A more complete discussion of the explanatory power of Marx's theory of profit is provided in my " Marx's Economic Theory: True or False? A Marxian Response to Blaug's Appraisal, " in Moseley (ed.), Heterodox Economic Theories: True or False?, Edward Elgar, 1995).

This wide-ranging explanatory power of Marx's surplus labor theory of profit is especially impressive when compared to mainstream economics. In mainstream macroeconomics, there is no theory of profit at all; profit (or the rate of profit) is not even a variable in the theory! I was shocked when I realized in graduate school this absence of profit in mainstream macro, and am still shocked that there is no effort to include profit. Indeed, DSGE models go in the opposite direction and many models do not even have firms!

Mainsteam micro does have a theory of profit (or interest) – the marginal productivity theory of distribution – but it is a weak and largely discredited theory. Marginal productivity theory has been shown by the capital controversy and other criticisms to have insoluble logical problems (the aggregation problem, reswitching, cannot integrate intermediate goods, etc.). And marginal productivity theory has very meager explanatory power and explains none of the important phenomena listed above that are explained by Marx's theory.

Milanovic agrees that Marx's LTV is primarily a macro theory, but he interprets it in this post as only the assumption that "sum of values will be equal to sum of production prices". And he continues: "The former is an unobservable quantity so Marx's contention is not falsifiable. It is therefore an extra-scientific statement that we have to take on faith.

I argue, to the contrary, that Marx's macro LTV is primarily a theory of profit and my conclusion that Marx's theory is the best theory of profit we have is not based on faith but is instead based on the standard scientific criterion of empirical explanatory power. It is much more accurate to say that marginal productivity theory is accepted by mainstream economists on faith, as Charles Ferguson famously said in his conclusion to the capital controversy.

Now to my comments on Milanovic's three main points:

1. Milanovic's main point is that the LTV is often misinterpreted as a simple micro theory that assumes that the prices of individual commodities are proportional to the labor-times required to produce them. Milanovic argues that is not true in a capitalist economy because of the equalization of the profit rate across industries with unequal ratios of capital to labor, so that according to Marx's theory, long-run equilibrium prices are determined by the equation: w + d + rK, where w is wages, d is depreciation and r is the economy-wide rate of profit (missing in this equation is the cost of intermediate goods, but I will ignore this).

Milanovic emphasizes that Walras and Marshall had essentially the same equation for long-run equilibrium prices. I agree that all three theories of long-run equilibrium prices have this same form, but there is an important difference. Marx's theory provides a logically rigorous theory of the rate of profit in this equation (based on his theory of the total profit discussed above) and Walras and Marshall just take the rate of profit as given , disguised as an "opportunity cost", and thus provides no theory of profit at all . Therefore, I think Marx's theory of long-run equilibrium prices is superior to Walras' and Marshall's in this important sense.

2. Milanovic's second main point is that Marx's theory of long-run equilibrium prices are "clearly very, very far from derisive statements that the labor theory of value means that people are just paid for their labor input regardless of what is the 'socially necessary labor' required to produce a good." I presume that this derisive statement means that workers produce more value than they are paid and thus are exploited in capitalism. But Branko is mistaken about this. Marx's theory of long-run equilibrium prices is based on his macro theory of profit according to which the source of profit is the surplus labor of workers. This conclusion is indeed derisive and that is the main (non-scientific) reason that Marx's theory of profit is rejected by mainstream economists in spite of its superior explanatory power.

I know from previous correspondence that Milanovic understands well Marx's "exploitation" theory of profit, but he seems to overlook the connection between Marx's micro theory of prices of production and his macro theory of profit.

3. Milanovic's third point is that Marx's labor theory of value is most helpful in understanding pre-capitalist economies and the relation between capitalism and non-capitalist economies today. I argue, to the contrary, that Marx's labor theory of value and profit is the best theory we have to understand the most important phenomena of capitalist economies, including 21 st century capitalism.

It would be one thing if mainstream economics had a robust theory of profit with significant explanation power. But it has almost no theory of profit. Therefore it would seem to be appropriate from a scientific point of view that Marx's surplus labor theory of profit should be given more serious consideration.

Thanks again to Milanovic and I look forward to further discussion.

[Nov 26, 2016] Lysenkoism in the USA: Krugman and other neoliberal economists role in suppression of science.

likbez

I used to respect Krugman during Bush II presidency. His columns at this time looked like on target for me. No more.

Now I view him as yet another despicable neoliberal shill. I stopped reading his columns long ago and kind of always suspect his views as insincere and unscientific. In this particular case the key question is about maintaining the standard of living which can be done only if manufacturing even in robotic variant is onshored and profits from it re-distributed in New Deal fashion. Technology is just a tool. There can be exception for it but generally attempts to produce everything outside the US and then sell it in the USA lead to proliferation of McJobs and lower standard of living. Creating robotic factories in the USA might not completely reverse the damage, but might be a step in the right direction. The nations can't exist by just flipping hamburgers for each other.

Actually there is a term that explains well behavior of people like Krugman and it has certain predictive value as for the set of behaviors we observe from them. It is called Lysenkoism and it is about political control of science.

See, for example:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism
http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/lysenkoism.shtml

Yves in her book also touched this theme of political control of science. It might be a good time to reread it. The key ideas of "ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism " are still current.

[Nov 26, 2016] Economist's View Paul Krugman The Populism Perplex

Nov 26, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
William Meyer : , November 25, 2016 at 10:32 AM
According to Kevin Drum, a big Hillary supporter, the class issue was real.

"The net loss here is about 2 points of the total vote. It's true that among the working class Clinton lost more among whites than nonwhites, but she lost big among all races. This strongly suggests that the working class was primarily motivated by economic concerns and only secondarily by racial issues. This is the opposite of what I thought during the campaign, but I was wrong."

Per Mr. Kaufman, who I generally respect, the Dems may have to push something directed at the working class in areas hard hit in the last 20 post Nafta years. Maybe trade adjustment public works program and education investment. I mean they need something to offer here.

William Meyer : , November 25, 2016 at 10:47 AM
Sorry I didn't give a link to the Drum piece. You can read the whole thing at:

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/11/why-clinton-lost-bitter-bernie-crooked-comey-and-wounded-working-class

I should mention Drum also blames millenial lack of enthusiasm for Hillary, which he blames on Bernie, and James Comey.

Dan Berg : , November 25, 2016 at 10:54 AM
" The only way to make sense of what happened is to see the vote as an expression of, well, identity politics - some combination of white resentment at what voters see as favoritism toward nonwhites (even though it isn't) and anger ... at liberal elites whom they imagine look down on them.
To be honest, I don't fully understand this resentment"

This epitomizes Professor Krugman and NYTs generally; no matter one's view of Trump, understanding the world in which we find ourselves is not to be found here.

Tom aka Rusty : , -1
Most of the workers, including my friends and relatives, have never read a single economics paper - but they do understand something - their paycheck.

They understand losing a job. They understand bill collectors. They understand patching up the Chevy one more time.

Krugman is desperate to make this about racism. Or class. Or something other than the empty factories.

[Nov 25, 2016] Anti Russian warriors created valueable set of sites that fight that fight neocon/neoliberal propaganda

For them neocon/neoliberal propaganda 24/7 is OK, but pro-Russian propaganda is not. Viva to McCarthyism! The hint is that you do not have a choice -- Big Brother is watching you like in the USSR. Anti-Russian propaganda money in action. It is interesting that Paul Craig Roberts who served in Reagan administration is listed as "left-wing"... Tell me who is your ally ( Bellingcat) and I will tell who you are...
As Moon of Alabama noted "I wholeheartedly recommend to use the list that new anonymous censorship entity provides as your new or additional "Favorite Bookmarks" list. It includes illustrious financial anti-fraud sites like Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism , Wikileaks , well informed libertarian sites like Ron Paul and AntiWar.com and leftish old timers like Counterpunch . Of general (non-mainstream) news sites Consortiumnews , run by Robert Parry who revealed the Iran-contra crimes, is included as well as Truthdig and Truth-out.org ."
www.propornot.com
Name Domain Primary Target Audience Interests Review Article Absurd Pro-Russia Content Source? Repeater?
Infowars / Alex Jones infowars.com Conspiracy Example Example Major Major
Zerohedge zerohedge.com Finance Example Example Major Major
True Activist trueactivist.com Left-wing Example Example Minor Major
Natural News naturalnews.com Health Example Example Major Major
Ending The Fed endingthefed.com Right-wing Example Example Minor Major
Corbett Report corbettreport.com Geopolitics Example Example Major Minor
Washington's Blog washingtonsblog.com General Example Example Major Major
Before It's News beforeitsnews.com General Example Example No Major
Counterpunch counterpunch.org Left-wing Example Example Major Minor
Ron Paul Institute ronpaulinstitute.org Right-Wing Example Example Major Major
Hang the Bankers hangthebankers.com Finance Example Example Minor Major
The Activist Post activistpost.com Left-wing Example Example Major Minor
The Anti-Media theantimedia.org Anti-Media Example Example Major Minor
Veterans Today veteranstoday.com Veterans Example Example Major Major
Southfront southfront.org Military Example Example Major Major
Your Newswire yournewswire.com General Example Example Major Major
America's Freedom Fighters americasfreedomfighters.com Right-wing Example Example Minor Minor
Global Research globalresearch.ca General Example Example Major Major
Paul Craig Roberts paulcraigroberts.org Left-wing Example Example Major Minor

Extended list is here It a real horro to see how deep pro russian propaganga penetrated the US society ;-) This newly minted site lists as allies, and with such allies you can relaibly tell who finance it

[Nov 25, 2016] Recommended links that fight neocon/neoliberal propaganda

The site and the list smells with McCarthyism -- is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. Those are mostly into-establishment, anti status-quo, anti neocon/neolib sites not so much pro-Russian. Some can be called anti US Imperialism sites or anti--war sites. And this represents the value of the list as people may not know about their existence.
The new derogatory label for the establishment for information they don't want you to see has become "fake news." Conspiracy theories do nto work well anymore. That aqures some patina of respectability with age :-). "Since the election's "surprise" outcome, the corporate media has railed against their alternative competitors labeling them as "fake" while their own frequently flawed, misleading, and false stories are touted as "real" news. World leaders have now begun calling out "fake news" in a desperate attempt to lend legitimacy to the corporate media, which continues to receive dismal approval ratings from the American public. Out-going US president Barack Obama was the first to speak out against the danger of "misinformation," though he failed to mention the several instances where he himself lied and spread misinformation to the American public."
For example "Baltimore Gazette is Baltimore's oldest news source and one of the longest running daily newspapers published in the United States. With a focus on local content, the Gazette thrives to maintain a non-partisan newsroom making our content the most reliable source available in print and across the web."
Nov 25, 2016 | www.propornot.com
PropOrNot is an independent team of concerned American citizens with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including professional experience in computer science, statistics, public policy, and national security affairs. We are currently volunteering time and skills to identify propaganda - particularly Russian propaganda - targeting a U.S. audience. We collect public-record information connecting propaganda outlets to each other and their coordinators abroad, analyze what we find, act as a central repository and point of reference for related information, and organize efforts to oppose it. 2 We formed PropOrNot as an effort to prevent propaganda from distorting U.S. political and policy discussions.

We hope to strengthen our cultural immune systems against hostile influence and improve public discourse generally. However, our immediate aim at this point is to empower the American voter and decrease the ability of Russia to influence the ensuing American election.

[Nov 24, 2016] Americas Spiral Into Permanent War Seems More Foolish Than Ever

Notable quotes:
"... Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War. ..."
"... Through the Looking Glass ..."
Nov 18, 2016 | fpif.org

Donald Trump is inheriting the scariest tools of aggression imaginable. A new book explores their dark legacy.

Journalist Mark Danner explores how Washington's disastrous policies in the Middle East became standard operating procedure. (Photo: Berkeley School of Journalism)

"We have fallen into a self-defeating spiral of reaction and counterterror," writes Mark Danner in his new book Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War. "Our policies, meant to extirpate our enemies, have strengthened and perpetuated them."

Danner - an award winning journalist, professor, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations who has covered war and revolutions on three continents - begins Spiral with the aftermath of a 2003 ambush of U.S. troops outside of Fallujah, Iraq.

The insurgents had set off a roadside bomb, killing a paratrooper and wounding several others. "The Americans promptly dismounted and with their M-16s and M-4s began pouring lead into everything they could see," including a passing truck, he writes. "By week's end scores of family and close friends of those killed would join the insurgents, for honor demanded they kill Americans to wipe away family shame."

The incident encapsulates the fundamental contradiction at the heart of George W. Bush's - and with variations, Barack Obama's - "war on terror": The means used to fight it is the most effective recruiting device that organizations like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Shabab, and the Islamic State have.

Targeted assassinations by drones, the use of torture, extra-legal renditions, and the invasions of several Muslim countries have combined to yield an unmitigated disaster, destabilizing several states, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and generating millions of refugees.

Putting War Crimes on the Menu

Danner's contention is hardly breaking news, nor is he the first journalist to point out that responding to the tactic of terrorism with military force generates yet more enemies and instability. But Spiral argues that what was once unusual has now become standard operating procedure, and the Obama administration bears some of the blame for this by its refusal to prosecute violations of international law.

Torture is a case in point.

In the aftermath of the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the Bush administration introduced so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques that were, in fact, torture under both U.S. and international law. Danner demonstrates that the White House, and a small cluster of advisers around Vice President Dick Cheney, knew they could be prosecuted under existing laws, so they carefully erected a "golden shield" of policy memos that would protect them from prosecution for war crimes.

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Obama announced that he had "prohibited torture." But, as Danner points out, "torture violates international and domestic law and the notion that our president has the power to prohibit it follows insidiously from the pretense that his predecessor had the power to order it. Before the war on terror official torture was illegal and an anathema; today it is a policy choice."

And president-elect Donald Trump has already announced that he intends to bring it back.

There is no doubt that enhanced interrogation was torture. The International Committee of the Red Cross found the techniques "amounted to torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." How anyone could conclude anything else is hard to fathom. Besides the waterboarding - for which several Japanese soldiers were executed for using on Allied prisoners during World War II - interrogators used sleep deprivation, extreme confinement, and "walling." Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times, describes having a towel wrapped around his neck that his questioners used "to swing me around and smash repeatedly against the wall of the [interrogation] room."

According to a 2004 CIA memo, "An HVD [high value detainee] may be walled one time (one impact with the wall) to make a point, or twenty to thirty times consecutively when the interrogator requires a more significant response to a question." There were, of course, some restraints. For instance, the Justice Department refused to approve a CIA proposal to bury people alive.

And, as Danner points out, none of these grotesque methods produced any important information. The claim that torture saved "thousands of lives" is simply a lie.

There was a certain Alice in Wonderland quality about the whole thing. Zubaydah was designated a "high official" in Al Qaeda, the number three or four man in the organization. In reality he wasn't even a member, as the Justice Department finally admitted in 2009. However, because he was considered a higher up in the group, it was assumed he must know about future attacks. If he professed that he didn't know anything, this was proof that he did, and so he had to be tortured more. "It is a closed circle, self-sufficient, impervious to disobedient facts," says Danner.

The logic of the Red Queen.

Through the Looking Glass

The Obama administration has also conjured up some interpretations of language that seem straight out of Lewis Carroll.

In defending his use of drone strikes in a 2014 speech at West Point, the president said he only uses them "when we face a continuing, imminent threat." But "imminent" means "likely to occur at any moment" and is the opposite of "continuing." A leaked Justice Department memo addresses the incongruity by arguing, "Imminent does not require the U.S. to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future."

Apparently the administration has now added "elongated" to "imminent," so that "a president doesn't have to deem the country under immediate threat to attack before acting on his or her own." As Humpty Dumpty says to Alice in Through the Looking Glass , "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean."

Danner turns the phrase "American exceptionalism" on its head. The U.S. is not "exceptional" because of its democratic institutions and moral codes, but because it has exempted itself from international law. "Americans, believing themselves to stand proudly for the rule of law and human rights, have become for the rest of the world a symbol of something quite opposite: a society that imprisons people indefinitely without trial, kills thousands without due process, and leaves unpunished lawbreaking approved by its highest officials."

The war has also undermined basic constitutional restrictions on the ability of intelligence agencies and law enforcement to vacuum up emails and cell phone calls, and has created an extra-legal court system to try insurgents whose oversight and appeal process in shrouded in secrecy.

Failure by Any Measure

The war on terror - the Obama administration has re-titled it a war on extremism - hasn't been just an illegal and moral catastrophe. It's a failure by any measure. From 2002 to 2014, the number of deaths from terrorism grew 4,000 percent, the number of jihadist groups increased by 58 percent, and the membership in those organizations more than doubled.

The war has also generated a massive counterterrorism bureaucracy that has every reason to amp up the politics of fear. And yet with all the alarm this has created, a total of 24 Americans were killed by terrorism in 2014, fewer than were done in by lighting.

Terrorism, says Danner, is "la politique du pire," the "politics of the worst" or the use of provocation to get your enemy to overreact. "If you are weak, if you have no army of your own, borrow you enemy's. Provoke your adversary to do your political work for you," he says. "And in launching the war on terror, eventually occupying two Muslim countries and producing Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib celebrating images of repression and torture, the United States proved all too happy to oblige."

Danner argues that idea you can defeat terrorism - which is really just a tactic used by the less powerful against the more powerful - with military force is an illusion. It can and does, however, make everything worse.

Even the Department of Defense knows this. In 2004, the Pentagon's Defense Science Board found that:

Increasingly the war on terrorism (or "extremism," if you prefer) is a secret war fought by drones whose targets are never revealed, or by Special Operations Forces whose deployments and missions are wrapped in the silence of national security.

And as long as Obama calls for Americans "to look forward as opposed to looking backward," the spiral will continue.

As Danner argues, "It is a sad but immutable fact that the refusal to look backward leaves us trapped in a world without accountability that [Obama's] predecessor made. In making it possible, indeed likely, that the crimes will be repeated, the refusal to look backward traps us in the past."

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedge.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com .

[Nov 24, 2016] Trumps National Security Adviser Facilitated the Murder of Civilians in Afghanistan

Nov 24, 2016 | www.truth-out.org
But as an investigation published by Truthout in 2011 revealed , the target list that JSOC used for its "night raids" and other operations to kill supposed Taliban was based on a fundamentally flawed methodology that was inherently incapable of distinguishing between Taliban insurgents and civilians who had only tangential contacts with the Taliban organization. And it was Flynn who devised that methodology.

The "night raids" on Afghan homes based on Flynn's methodology caused so much Afghan anger toward Americans that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, acknowledged the problem of Afghan antagonism toward the entire program publicly in a March 2010 directive.

The system that led to that Afghan outrage began to take shape in Iraq in 2006, when Flynn, then-intelligence chief for JSOC, developed a new methodology for identifying and locating al-Qaeda and Shia Mahdi Army members in Iraq. Flynn revealed the technologies used in Iraq in an unclassified article published in 2008.

At the center of the system was what Flynn called the "Unblinking Eye," referring to 24-hour drone surveillance of specific locations associated with "known and suspected terrorist sites and individuals." The drone surveillance was then used to establish a "pattern of life analysis," which was the main tool used to determine whether to strike the target. We now know from reports of drone strikes in Pakistan that killed entire groups of innocent people that "pattern of life analysis" is frequently a matter of guesswork that is completely wrong.

Flynn's unclassified article also revealed that "SIGINT" (signals intelligence), i.e., the monitoring of cell phone metadata, and "geo-location" of phones were the other two major tools used in Flynn's system of targeting military strikes. JSOC was using links among cell phones to identify suspected insurgents.

Flynn's article suggested that the main emphasis in intelligence for targeting in Iraq was on providing analysis of the aerial surveillance visual intelligence on a target to help decide in real time whether to carry out a strike on it.

But when McChrystal took command of US forces in Afghanistan in mid-2009 and took Flynn with him as his intelligence chief, Flynn's targeting methodology changed dramatically. JSOC had already begun to carry out "night raids" in Afghanistan -- usually attacks on private homes in the middle of the night -- and McChrystal wanted to increase the tempo of those raids. The number of night raids increased from 20 per month in May 2009 to 90 per month six months later. It reached an average of more than 100 a month in the second half of 2009 and the first half of 2010.

At this point, the targets were no longer Taliban commanders and higher-ups in the organization. They included people allegedly doing basic functions such as logistics, bomb-making and propaganda.

In order to rapidly build up the highly secret "kill/capture" list (called the "Joint Prioritized Effects List," or JPEL) to meet McChrystal's demands for more targets, Flynn used a technique called "link analysis." This technique involved the use of software that allowed intelligence analysts to see the raw data from drone surveillance and cell phone data transformed instantly into a "map" of the insurgent "network." That "map" of each network associated with surveillance of a location became the basis for adding new names to the JPEL.

Flynn could increase the number of individual "nodes" on that map by constantly adding more cell phone metadata for the computer-generated "map" of the insurgency. Every time JSOC commandos killed or captured someone, they took their cell phones to add their metadata to the database. And US intelligence also gathered cell phone data from the population of roughly 3,300 suspected insurgents being held in the Afghan prison system, who were allowed to use mobile phones freely in their cells.

What the expansion of cell phone data surveillance meant was that an ever-greater proportion of the targets on Flynn's "kill/capture list" were not identified at all, except as mobile phone numbers. As Matthew Hoh, who served as the senior US civilian official in Zabul Province until he quit in protest in September 2009, explained to me, "When you are relying on cell phones for intelligence, you don't get the names of those targeted."

There was no requirement for any effort to establish the actual identity of the targets listed as cell phone numbers in order to guard against mistakes.

What made Flynn's methodology for expanding the kill/capture list even riskier was that there was no requirement for any effort to establish the actual identity of the targets listed as cell phone numbers in order to guard against mistakes.

Using such a methodology in the Afghan socio-political context guaranteed that a high proportion of those on the kill/capture list were innocent civilians. As former deputy to the European Union special representative to Afghanistan Michael Semple (one of the few genuine experts in the world on the Taliban movement) explained to me, most Afghans in the Pashtun south and east of Afghanistan "have a few Taliban commander numbers saved to their mobile phone contacts" as a "survival mechanism."

Nader Nadery, a commissioner of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in 2010, estimated that the total civilian deaths for all 73 night raids about which the commission had complaints that year was 420. But the commission acknowledged that it didn't have access to most of the districts dominated by the Taliban. So the actual civilian toll may well have been many times that number -- meaning that civilians may have accounted for more than half of the 2,000 alleged "Taliban" killed in JSOC's operations in 2010.

The percentage of innocent people among those who were captured and incarcerated was even higher. In December 2010, the US command in Afghanistan leaked to a friendly blogger that 4,100 "Taliban" had been captured in the previous six months. But an unclassified February 5, 2011, internal document of the Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force responsible for detention policy in Afghanistan, which I obtained later in 2011, showed that only 690 Afghans were admitted to the US detention facility at Parwan during that six-month period. Twenty percent of those were later released upon review of their files. So alleged evidence of participation in the Taliban insurgency could not have existed for more than 552 people at most, or 14 percent of the total number said to have been captured. But many of those 552 were undoubtedly innocent as well. basarov • 9 hours ago

Porter is either a paid CIA/dimocrat party shill or perhaps extraordinarily stupid.
It was OBAMA who implemented the vaunted 'surge" and flooded Afghanistan with an extra 30,000 US mercenaries. And I believe that obama was the US leader in 2009. To whine about a 3 star general, under orders to carry out an obama policy and then blame Trump by association reminds one of a 3 year old trying to make sense of Kabuki....surreal or simply delusional?

We see that america needs a police state oligarchy; americans cannot distinguish between bovine excreta and caviar.

Karl Rowley • 19 hours ago
Obama facilitated the murder of civilians in Afghanistan too. Are you outraged about that?
DofG Karl Rowley • 13 hours ago
And so did the American people by sitting in the passive bubble of patriotism while we continue to scorch the Earth with imperialism abroad while having a surveillance state at home. We are ALL guilty!
Ando Arike • 20 hours ago
Ultimately, isn't it Obama, as commander-in-chief, who's responsible for the dirty work of his team of assassins in JSOC? As far as I know, Obama is not out of office yet...
Michael Valentine • a day ago
Gee I thought we were doing a swell job of killing folks in Afghanistan, that's what we are there for right?
DofG Michael Valentine • a day ago
We are there to keep the poppy crops going which the Taliban had destroyed! You know that heroin/opiates thing.
max's pad Michael Valentine • a day ago
I don't know why we are there or in Iraq. It was the Saudi families and Saudi funding that created the terrorism of 9-11. It was the Bush Admin NeoCons and the Neoliberal philosopy that created the longest war in our history. It is entirely coincidental that this war like Vietnam inflicts its greatest toll on a bunch of impoverished villagers.
Francis max's pad • 6 hours ago
Max - the Saudi's may have helped finance 911 but they certainly were not the ones that pulled it off.blockquote>Jethro_T

max's pad • a day ago

Thanks for mentioning Viet Nam. Flynn appears to have been cut from the same cloth as Gen. Wm. Westmoreland, who first brought us "victory" by body count.

[Nov 23, 2016] Bill Black Hillarys Threat to Wage Continuous War on the Working Class via Austerity Proved Fatal

Notable quotes:
"... persona non grata ..."
"... Why would Obama normally have been thrilled to "start bringing down the deficit?" A budget deficit by a nation with a sovereign currency such as the U.S. is normal statistically and typically desirable when we have a negative balance of trade. No, it is not a "fact" that stimulus "added another $1 trillion to our national debt." Had we not adopted a stimulus program the debt would have grown even larger as our economy fell even more deeply into the Great Recession. ..."
"... Obama admits that stimulus was desirable. He knows that his economists believed that if the stimulus had been larger and lasted longer it would have substantially speeded the recovery. One of the most important reasons why dramatically increased government fiscal spending (stimulus) is essential in response to a Great Recession for a depression is that the logical and typical consumer response to such a downturn is for "families across the country" to "tighten their belts" by reducing spending. That reduces already inadequate demand, which leads to prolonged downturns. Economists have long recognized that it is essential for the government to do the opposite when consumers "tighten their belts" by greatly increasing spending. To claim that it is "common sense" to "do the same" – exacerbate the inadequate demand – because it is a "tough decision" makes a mockery of logic and economics. It is a statement of economic illiteracy leading to a set of policy decisions sure to harm the economy and the Democratic Party. In particular, it guaranteed a nightmare for the working class. ..."
"... No, no, no. I can feel the pain of my colleagues that are scholars in modern monetary theory (MMT). The U.S. has a sovereign currency. We can "pay" a trillion dollar debt by issuing a trillion dollars via keystrokes by the Fed. What Obama meant was that he would propose (over time) to increase taxes and reduce federal spending by one trillion dollars. Such an austerity plan would harm the recovery and reduce important government services. Again, the working class were sure to be the primary victims of Obama's self-inflicted austerity. ..."
"... First, the metaphor is economically illiterate and harmful. A government with a sovereign currency is not a "cash-strapped family." It is not, in any meaningful way, "like" a "cash-strapped family." Indeed, the metaphor logically implies the opposite – that it is essential that because the government is not like a "cash-strapped family" only it can spend in a counter-cyclical fashion (stimulus) to counter the perverse effect of "cash-strapped famil[ies]" cutting back their spending due to the Great Recession. ..."
"... Let's take this slow. In a recession, consumer demand is grossly inadequate so firms fire workers and unemployment increases. We need to increase effective demand. As a recession hits and workers see their friends fired or reduced to part-time work, a common reaction is for workers to reduce their debts, which requires them to reduce consumption. Consumer consumption is the most important factor driving demand, so this effect, which economists call the paradox of thrift, can deepen the recession. Workers are indeed cash-strapped. Governments with sovereign currencies are, by definition, not cash-strapped. They can and should engage in extremely large stimulus in order to raise effective demand and prevent the recession from deepening. Workers will tend to reduce their spending in a pro-cyclical fashion that makes the recession more severe. Only the government can spend in a counter-cyclical fashion that will make the recession less severe and lengthy. ..."
"... The Democrats have to stop attacking Republicans for running federal budget deficits. I know it's political fun and that the Republicans are hypocritical about budget deficits. Deficits are going to be "massive" when an economy the size of the U.S. suffers a Great Recession. We have had plenty of "massive" deficits during our history under multiple political parties. None of this has ever led to a U.S. crisis. We have had some of our strongest growth while running "massive" deficits. Conversely, whenever we have adopted server austerity we have soon suffered a recession. In 1937, when FDR listened to his inept economists and inflicted austerity, the strong recovery from the Great Depression was destroyed and the economy was thrust back into an intense Great Depression. ..."
"... As to the debt "commission" to solve our "debt crisis," it was inevitable that such a commission would be dominated by Pete Peterson protιgιs and that they would demand austerity and an assault on the federal safety net. That would be a terrible response to the Great Recession and the primary victims of the commission's policies would be the working class. ..."
"... For a nation with a sovereign currency, there is nothing good about the "record surpluses in the 1990s." Such substantial surpluses have occurred roughly nine times in U.S. history and each has been followed shortly by a depression or the Great Recession. This does not prove causality, but it certainly recommends caution. Similarly, "pay-as-you-go" has been the bane of Democratic Party efforts to help the American people. Only a New Democrat like Obama would call for the return of the anti-working class "pay-as-you-go" rules. ..."
"... No. It wouldn't have damaged our markets, increased interest rates or jeopardized our recovery. We had just run an empirical experiment in contrast to the Eurozone. Stimulus greatly enhanced our recovery, while interest rates were at historical lows, and led to surging financial markets. Austerity had done the opposite in the eurozone. ..."
"... Let's try actual common sense instead of metaphors that are economically illiterate. Let's try real economics. Let's stop talking about "mountains of debt" as if they represented a crisis for the U.S. and stop ignoring the tens of millions of working class Americans and Europeans whose lives and families were treated as austerity's collateral damage and were not even worth discussing in Obama's ode to the economic malpractice of austerity. Austerity is the old tired battle that we repeat endlessly to the recurrent cost of the working class. ..."
"... ends justify the means ..."
Nov 22, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published at New Economic Perspectives

I've come back recently from Kilkenny, Ireland where I participated in the seventh annual Kilkenomics – a festival of economics and comedy. The festival is noted for people from a broad range of economic perspectives presenting their economic views in plain, blunt English. Kilkenomics VII began two days after the U.S. election, so we added some sessions on President-elect Trump's fiscal policy views. Trump had no obvious supporters among this diverse group of economists, so the audience was surprised to hear many economists from multiple nations take the view that his stated fiscal policies could be desirable for the U.S. – and the global economy, particularly the EU. We all expressed the caution that no one could know whether Trump would seek to implement the fiscal policies on which he campaigned. Most of us, however, said that if he wished to implement those policies House Speaker Paul Ryan would not be able to block him. I opined that congressional Republicans would rediscover their love of pork and logrolling if Trump implemented his promised fiscal policies.

The audience was also surprised to hear two groups of economists explain that Hillary Clinton's fiscal policies remained pure New Democrat (austerity forever) even as the economic illiteracy of those policies became even clearer – and even as the political idiocy of her fiscal policies became glaringly obvious. Austerity is one of the fundamental ways in which the system is rigged against the working class. Austerity was the weapon of mass destruction unleashed in the New Democrats' and Republicans' long war on the working class. The fact that she intensified and highlighted her intent to inflict continuous austerity on the working class as the election neared represented an unforced error of major proportions. As the polling data showed her losing the white working class by staggering amounts, in the last month of the election, the big new idea that Hillary pushed repeatedly was a promise that if she were elected she would inflict continuous austerity on the economy. "I am not going to add a penny to the national debt."

The biggest losers of such continued austerity would as ever be the working class. She also famously insulted the working class as "deplorables." It was a bizarre approach by a politician to the plight of tens of millions of Americans who were victims of the New Democrats' and the Republicans' trade and austerity policies. As we presented these facts to a European audience we realized that in attempting to answer the question of what Trump's promised fiscal policies would mean if implemented we were also explaining one of the most important reasons that Hillary Clinton lost the white working class by such an enormous margin.

Readers of New Economic Perspectives understand why UMKC academics and non-academic supporters have long shown that austerity is typically a self-destructive policy brought on by a failure to understand how money works, particularly in a nation like the U.S. with a sovereign currency. We have long argued that the working class is the primary victim of austerity and that austerity is a leading cause of catastrophic levels of inequality. Understanding sovereign money is critical also to understanding why the federal government can and should serve as a job guarantor of last resort. People, particularly working class men, need jobs, not simply incomes to feel like successful adults. The federal jobs guarantee program is not simply economically brilliant it is politically brilliant, it would produce enormous political support from the working class for whatever political party implemented it.

At Kilkenomics we also used Hillary's devotion to inflicting continuous austerity on the working class to explain to a European audience how dysfunctional her enablers in the media and her campaign became. The fact that Paul Krugman was so deeply in her pocket by the time she tripled down on austerity that he did not call her out on why austerity was terrible economics and terrible policy shows us the high cost of ceasing to speak truth to power. The fact that no Clinton economic adviser had the clout and courage to take her aside and get her to abandon her threat to inflict further austerity on the working class tells us how dysfunctional her campaign team became. I stress again that Tom Frank has been warning the Democratic Party for over a decade that the policies and the anti-union and anti-working class attitudes of the New Democrats were causing enormous harm to the working class and enraging it. But anyone who listened to Tom Frank's warnings was persona non grata in Hillary's campaign. In my second column in this series I explain that Krugman gave up trying to wean Hillary Clinton from her embrace of austerity's war on the working class and show that he remains infected by a failure to understand the nature of sovereign currencies.

What the economists were saying about Trump at Kilkenomics was that there were very few reliable engines of global growth. China's statistics are a mess and its governing party's real views of the state of the economy are opaque. Japan just had a good growth uptick, but it has been unable to sustain strong growth for over two decades. Germany refuses, despite the obvious "win-win" option of spending heavily on its infrastructure needs to do so. Instead, it persists in running trade and budget surpluses that beggar its neighbors. England is too small and only Corbyn's branch of Labour and the SNP oppose austerity. "New Labour" supporters, most of the leadership of the Labour party, like the U.S. "New Democrats" that served as their ideological model, remain fierce austerity hawks.

That brings us to what would have happened if America's first family of "New Democrats" – the Clintons – had won the election. The extent to which the New Democrats embraced the Republican doctrine of austerity became painfully obvious under President Obama. Robert Rubin dominated economic policy under President Clinton. The Clinton/Gore administration was absolutely dedicated toward austerity. The administration was the lucky beneficiary of the two massive modern U.S. bubbles – tech stocks and housing – that eventually produced high employment. Indeed, when the tech bubble popped the economy was saved by the hyper-inflation of the housing bubble. The housing bubble collapsed on the next administration's watch, allowing the Clintons and Rubinites to spread the false narrative that their policies produced superb economic results.

When we think of the start of the Obama administration, we think of the stimulus package. In one sense this is obvious. The only economically literate response to a Great Recession is massive fiscal stimulus. When Republicans control the government and confront a recession they always respond with fiscal stimulus in the modern era. Obama's stimulus plan was not massive, but it sounded like a large number to the public. Two questions arise about the stimulus plan. Why was Obama willing to implement it given his and Rubin's hostility to stimulus? Conversely, why, given the great success of the stimulus plan, did Obama abandon stimulus within months?

Rubin and his protιgιs had a near monopoly on filling the role of President Obama's key economic advisors. Larry Summers is a Rubinite, but he is infamous for his ego and he is a real economist from an extended family of economists. Summers was certain in his (self-described) role as the President's principal economic adviser to support a vigorous program of fiscal stimulus because the Obama administration had inherited the Great Recession. Summers knew that any other policy constituted economics malpractice. Christina Romer, as Chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and Jared Bernstein, Vice President Biden's chief economist, were both real economists who strongly supported the need for a powerful program of fiscal stimulus. Each of these economists warned President Obama that his stimulus package was far too small relative to the massive depths of the Great Recession.

Rubin's training was as a lawyer, not as an economist, so Summers was not about to look to Rubin for economic advice. In fairness to Rubin, he was rarely so stupid as to reject stimulus as the appropriate initial response to a recession. He supported President Bush's 2001 stimulus package in response to a far milder recession and President Obama's 2009 stimulus package. Rubin does not deserve much fairness. By early 2010, while Rubin admitted that stimulus is typically the proper response to a recession and that the 2009 stimulus package was successful, he opposed adding to the stimulus package in 2010 even though he knew that Obama's 2009 stimulus package was, for political reasons, far smaller than the administration's economists knew was needed.

Here's ex-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin–one of the chief architects of the global financial crisis–articulating the position of his proteges at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Robert Rubin: "Putting another major stimulus on top of already huge deficits and rising debt-to-GDP ratios would have risks. And further expansion of the Federal Reserve Board's balance sheet could create significant problems . Today's economic conditions would ordinarily be met with expansionary policy, but our fiscal and monetary conditions are a serious constraint, and waiting too long to address them could cause a new crisis .

In the spirit of Kilkenomics, we were blunt about the austerity assault that Rubin successfully argued Obama should resume against America's working class beginning in early 2010. It was inevitable that it would weaken and delay the recovery. Tens of millions of Americans would leave the labor force or remain underemployed and even underemployed for a decade. The working class would bear the great brunt of this loss. In modern America this kind of loss of working class jobs is associated with mental depression, silent rage, meth, heroin, and the inability of working class males and females to find a marriage partner, and marital problems. It is a prescription for inflicting agony – and it is a toxic act of politics.

Prior to becoming a de facto surrogate for Hillary and ceasing to speak truth to her and to America, Paul Krugman captured the gap between the Obama administration's perspective and that of most of the public.

According to the independent committee that officially determines such things, the so-called Great Recession ended in June 2009, around the same time that the acute phase of the financial crisis ended. Most Americans, however, disagree. In a March 2014 poll, for example, 57 percent of respondents declared that the nation was still in recession.

The type of elite Democrats that the New Democrats idealized – the officers from big finance, Hollywood, and high tech – recovered first and their recovery was a roaring success. Obama, and eventually Hillary, adopted the mantra that America was already great. Our unemployment rates, relative to the EU nations forced to inflict austerity on their economies, is much lower. But the Obama/Hillary mantra was a lie for scores of millions of American workers, including virtually all of the working class and much of the middle class. As Hillary repeated the mantra they concluded that she was clueless about and indifferent to their suffering. As we emphasized in Kilkenny, Obama and Hillary were not simply talking economic nonsense, they were committing political self-mutilation.

Krugman used to make this point forcefully.

[T]he American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the Obama stimulus surely helped end the economy's free fall. But the stimulus was too small and too short-lived given the depth of the slump: stimulus spending peaked at 1.6 percent of GDP in early 2010 and dropped rapidly thereafter, giving way to a regime of destructive fiscal austerity. And the administration's efforts to help homeowners were so ineffectual as to be risible.

Timothy Geithner, a proponent of austerity, is famous for remarking that he only took only one economics class – and did not understand it. In the same review of Geithner's book by Krugman that I have been quoting, Krugman gives a concise summary of Geithner's repeated lies about his supposed support for a larger stimulus. Jacob Lew, the Rubinite who Obama chose as Geithner's successor as Treasury Secretary, was also trained as a lawyer and is equally fanatic in favoring austerity. In 2009, no one with any credibility in economics within the Obama administration could serve as an effective spokesperson for austerity as the ideal response to the Great Recession.

But Romer, Summers, and Bernstein experienced the same frustration as 2009 proceeded. The problem was not simply the Rubinites' fervor for the self-inflicted wound of austerity – the fundamental problem was President Obama. Obama's administration was littered with Rubinites because Obama was a New Democrat who believed that Rubin's love of austerity and trade deals was an excellent policy. Of course, he had campaigned on the opposite policy positions, but that was simply political and Obama promptly abandoned those campaign promises. Fiscal stimulus ceased to be an administration priority as soon as the stimulus bill was enacted. Romer and Summers recognized the obvious and soon made clear that they were leaving. Bernstein retained Biden's support, but he was frozen out of influence on administration fiscal policies by the Rubinites.

By 2010, the fiscal stimulus package had begun to accelerate the U.S. recovery. Romer left the administration in late summer 2010. Summers left at the end of 2010. Bill Daley (also trained as a lawyer) became Obama's chief of staff in early 2011. Timothy Geithner, and finally Jacob Lew dominated Obama administration fiscal policy from late 2010 to the end of the administration in alliance with Daley and other Rubinite economists. It may be important to point out the obvious – Obama chose to make each of these appointments and there is every reason to believe that he appointed them because he generally shared their views on austerity. In the first 60 days of his presidency he went before a Congressional group of New Democrats and told them " I am a New Democrat ."

Obama began pushing for the fiscal "grand bargain" in 2010. The "grand bargain" would have pushed towards austerity and begun unraveling the safety net. As such, it was actually the grand betrayal. Obama's administration began telling the press that Obama viewed achieving such a deal with the Republicans critical to his "legacy." There were two major ironies involving the grand bargain. Had it been adopted it would have thrown the U.S. back into recession, made Obama a one-term president, and led to even more severe losses for the Democratic Party in Congress and at the state level. The other irony was that it was the Tea Party that saved Obama from Obama's grand betrayal by continually demanding that Obama agree to inflict more severe assaults on the safety net.

Obama adopted Lew's famous, economically illiterate line and featured it is in his State of the Union Address as early as January 2010. What follows is a lengthy quotation from that address. I have put my critiques in italics after several paragraphs. Obama's switch from stimulus to austerity was Obama's most important policy initiative in his January 2010 State of the Union Address .

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

January 27, 2010

Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address

Now - just stating the facts. Now, if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we took office amid a crisis. And our efforts to prevent a second depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt. That, too, is a fact.

Why would Obama normally have been thrilled to "start bringing down the deficit?" A budget deficit by a nation with a sovereign currency such as the U.S. is normal statistically and typically desirable when we have a negative balance of trade. No, it is not a "fact" that stimulus "added another $1 trillion to our national debt." Had we not adopted a stimulus program the debt would have grown even larger as our economy fell even more deeply into the Great Recession.

I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do. But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. (Applause.) So tonight, I'm proposing specific steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Obama admits that stimulus was desirable. He knows that his economists believed that if the stimulus had been larger and lasted longer it would have substantially speeded the recovery. One of the most important reasons why dramatically increased government fiscal spending (stimulus) is essential in response to a Great Recession for a depression is that the logical and typical consumer response to such a downturn is for "families across the country" to "tighten their belts" by reducing spending. That reduces already inadequate demand, which leads to prolonged downturns. Economists have long recognized that it is essential for the government to do the opposite when consumers "tighten their belts" by greatly increasing spending. To claim that it is "common sense" to "do the same" – exacerbate the inadequate demand – because it is a "tough decision" makes a mockery of logic and economics. It is a statement of economic illiteracy leading to a set of policy decisions sure to harm the economy and the Democratic Party. In particular, it guaranteed a nightmare for the working class.

No, no, no. I can feel the pain of my colleagues that are scholars in modern monetary theory (MMT). The U.S. has a sovereign currency. We can "pay" a trillion dollar debt by issuing a trillion dollars via keystrokes by the Fed. What Obama meant was that he would propose (over time) to increase taxes and reduce federal spending by one trillion dollars. Such an austerity plan would harm the recovery and reduce important government services. Again, the working class were sure to be the primary victims of Obama's self-inflicted austerity.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. (Applause.) Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will. (Applause.)

First, the metaphor is economically illiterate and harmful. A government with a sovereign currency is not a "cash-strapped family." It is not, in any meaningful way, "like" a "cash-strapped family." Indeed, the metaphor logically implies the opposite – that it is essential that because the government is not like a "cash-strapped family" only it can spend in a counter-cyclical fashion (stimulus) to counter the perverse effect of "cash-strapped famil[ies]" cutting back their spending due to the Great Recession.

Let's take this slow. In a recession, consumer demand is grossly inadequate so firms fire workers and unemployment increases. We need to increase effective demand. As a recession hits and workers see their friends fired or reduced to part-time work, a common reaction is for workers to reduce their debts, which requires them to reduce consumption. Consumer consumption is the most important factor driving demand, so this effect, which economists call the paradox of thrift, can deepen the recession. Workers are indeed cash-strapped. Governments with sovereign currencies are, by definition, not cash-strapped. They can and should engage in extremely large stimulus in order to raise effective demand and prevent the recession from deepening. Workers will tend to reduce their spending in a pro-cyclical fashion that makes the recession more severe. Only the government can spend in a counter-cyclical fashion that will make the recession less severe and lengthy.

We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it. (Applause.)

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. (Applause.) This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

The Democrats have to stop attacking Republicans for running federal budget deficits. I know it's political fun and that the Republicans are hypocritical about budget deficits. Deficits are going to be "massive" when an economy the size of the U.S. suffers a Great Recession. We have had plenty of "massive" deficits during our history under multiple political parties. None of this has ever led to a U.S. crisis. We have had some of our strongest growth while running "massive" deficits. Conversely, whenever we have adopted server austerity we have soon suffered a recession. In 1937, when FDR listened to his inept economists and inflicted austerity, the strong recovery from the Great Depression was destroyed and the economy was thrust back into an intense Great Depression.

As to the debt "commission" to solve our "debt crisis," it was inevitable that such a commission would be dominated by Pete Peterson protιgιs and that they would demand austerity and an assault on the federal safety net. That would be a terrible response to the Great Recession and the primary victims of the commission's policies would be the working class.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. (Applause.) And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s. (Applause.)

For a nation with a sovereign currency, there is nothing good about the "record surpluses in the 1990s." Such substantial surpluses have occurred roughly nine times in U.S. history and each has been followed shortly by a depression or the Great Recession. This does not prove causality, but it certainly recommends caution. Similarly, "pay-as-you-go" has been the bane of Democratic Party efforts to help the American people. Only a New Democrat like Obama would call for the return of the anti-working class "pay-as-you-go" rules.

Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree - which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year - (laughter) - when the economy is stronger. That's how budgeting works. (Laughter and applause.) But understand –- understand if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery -– all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

No. It wouldn't have damaged our markets, increased interest rates or jeopardized our recovery. We had just run an empirical experiment in contrast to the Eurozone. Stimulus greatly enhanced our recovery, while interest rates were at historical lows, and led to surging financial markets. Austerity had done the opposite in the eurozone.

From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument -– that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is that's what we did for eight years. (Applause.) That's what helped us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. We can't do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense. (Laughter.) A novel concept.

Let's try actual common sense instead of metaphors that are economically illiterate. Let's try real economics. Let's stop talking about "mountains of debt" as if they represented a crisis for the U.S. and stop ignoring the tens of millions of working class Americans and Europeans whose lives and families were treated as austerity's collateral damage and were not even worth discussing in Obama's ode to the economic malpractice of austerity. Austerity is the old tired battle that we repeat endlessly to the recurrent cost of the working class.

Trump is Not Locked into Austerity

I note the same caution we gave in Ireland – we don't know whether President Trump will seek to implement his economic proposals. Trump has proposed trillions of dollars in increased spending on infrastructure and defense and large cuts in corporate taxation. In combination, this would produce considerable fiscal stimulus for several years. The point we made in Ireland is that if he seeks to implement his proposals (a) we believe he would succeed politically in enacting them and (b) they would produce stimulus that would have a positive effect on the near and mid-term economy of the U.S. Further, because the eurozone is locked into a political trap in which there seems no realistic path to abandoning the self-inflicted wound of continuous austerity, Trump represents the eurozone's most realistic hope for stimulus.

Final Cautions

Each of the economists speaking on these subjects in Kilkenny opposed Trumps election and believe it will harm the public. Fiscal stimulus is critical, but it is only one element of macroeconomics and no one was comfortable with Trump's long-term control of the economy. I opined, for example, that Trump will create an exceptionally criminogenic environment that will produce epidemics of control fraud. The challenge for progressive Democrats and independents is to break with the New Democrats' dogmas. Neither America nor the Democratic Party can continue to bear the terrible cost of this unforced error of economics, politics, and basic humanity. I fear that the professional Democrats assigned the task of re-winning the support of the white working class do not even have ending the New Democrats' addiction to austerity on their radar. They are probably still forbidden to read Tom Frank.

Steve H. November 22, 2016 at 10:29 am

: a real economist from an extended family of economists.

This statement is disturbing in several ways. A distraction from a fine article.

Chauncey Gardiner November 22, 2016 at 10:33 am

Seems to me that Ryan is not Trump's principal impediment, that Trump knows this, and that the battle lines are already in the process of being drawn. Veiled threat?.. or, "Let's make a deal"?

"In addition, with the debt-to-GDP ratio at around 77 percent there is not a lot of fiscal space should a shock to the economy occur, an adverse shock that did require fiscal stimulus," she said.

http://moslereconomics.com/2016/11/18/yellen-statements/

oho November 22, 2016 at 10:36 am

'Each of the economists speaking on these subjects in Kilkenny opposed Trumps election and believe it will harm the public'

hmmm, sounds like Trump will win 2020 in a landslide.

Enquiring Mind November 22, 2016 at 10:43 am

Sovereign currency defense appears to be the primary job for the US both domestically and internationally. There is a house of cards tenuous aspect to the US policies, with looming questions about the ongoing stability of the domestic economy and society. Threats to that sovereign position would seem to be present over the long term from China in particular. To what extent does currency defense justify any manner of harmful policies, certainly given the perceived ends justify the means tacit assumptions?

[Nov 23, 2016] Guillotine Watch, Nov 23, 2016

Notable quotes:
"... Nicholas Kristof's Burden: First class travel and $30,000 speakers fee makes reporting on poverty easier to endure ..."
"... Kristof's wife worked at Goldman Sachs ..."
Nov 23, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

" Nicholas Kristof's Burden: First class travel and $30,000 speakers fee makes reporting on poverty easier to endure " [ Washington Babylon ].

I had no idea Kristof's wife worked at Goldman Sachs . How nice for both of them.

[Nov 23, 2016] War hungry Samantha Power out as UN Ambassador. Trump appoints Nikki Haley to top spot at United Nations

Notable quotes:
"... "humanitarian wars" ..."
Nov 23, 2016 | theduran.com

Luckily a neocon is not going to be heading to the United Nations, and Power, who championed US "humanitarian wars" is being shown the exit door and it could not come soon enough.

... ... ...

In what has been dubbed a "remarkable" shift in the president-elect's mindset, Trump's selection of Haley caps a dramatic year for their political relationship. They started 2016 with a fight and are ending it as allies in a nascent Trump administration, suggesting that far from bearing grudges Trump is willing to reconcile in the name of national interests.

[Nov 23, 2016] A crisis of legitimacy -- recommended links

Nov 23, 2016 | www.economist.com

Legitimation crisis - Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legitimation_ crisis

Jump to International crises of legitimacy - Legitimation crisis refers to a decline in the confidence of administrative functions, institutions, or leadership. The term was first introduced in 1973 by Jόrgen Habermas, a German sociologist and philosopher. ‎ Legitimacy · ‎ Theories of legitimacy · ‎ Legitimation crisis origin · ‎ Historical examples A crisis of legitimacy | The Economist www.economist.com/node/796097

A crisis of legitimacy . People are fed up with politics. Do not blame globalisation for that. Sep 27th 2001 | From the print edition. Timekeeper. Add this article to ... Legitimacy: Legitimation Crises and Its Causes - Political Science Notes www.politicalsciencenotes.com/ legitimacy / legitimacy -legitimation- crises -and-its.../797

Causes of Legitimation Crisis : There are several causes or aspects of legitimation crisis . Habermas and several other neo-Marxists, after studying all the aspects of capitalist societies, have concluded that a number of factors are responsible for the legitimation crisis

The Global Crisis of Legitimacy | Stratfor https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100503_global_ crisis _ legitimacy

The Global Crisis of Legitimacy . Geopolitical Weekly. May 4, 2010 | 08:56 GMT. Print. Text Size. By George Friedman. Financial panics are an integral part of ...

The Legitimacy Crisis in the United States: A Conceptual Analysis - JStor https://www.jstor.org/stable/800195 by DO Friedrichs - ‎1980 - ‎ Cited by 52 - ‎ Related articles A " legitimacy crisis " is widely perceived to exist on the basis of polls of public at- ... causes of a legitimacy crisis may be identified, it has been associated with the ...

[PDF] THEORETICAL BASIS OF CRISIS OF LEGITIMACY AND ... - Dialnet https://dialnet.unirioja.es/descarga/articulo/3640420.pdf

by GE Reyes - ‎2010 - ‎ Cited by 1 - ‎ Related articles Theoretical basis of crisis of legitimacy and implications for less developed countries: Guatemala as a case of study. TENDENCIAS. Revista de la Facultad de ...

[PDF] A Crisis of Democratic Legitimacy? It's about Legitimation, Stupid! aei.pitt.edu/63549/1/EPB21-def.pdf

by A Mattelaer - ‎2014 - ‎ Related articles Mar 21, 2014 - generalised crisis in legitimacy , our democracies face a crisis of legitimation: political choices are in dire need of an explanatory narrative that. The Legitimacy Crisis | RealClearPolitics www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/05/08/the_ legitimacy _ crisis _126530.html

May 8, 2015 - American government - at all levels - is losing the legitimacy it needs to function. Or, perhaps, some segments of the government have ...

The Global Crisis of Legitimacy of Liberal Democracy - Global ... https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/211/44824.html

The third dimension of the crisis that I identify is the crisis of legitimacy of US hegemony. This, I think, is as serious as the other two crises, since, as an admirer of ...

The Crisis of Legitimacy in Africa | Dissent Magazine https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/the- crisis-of-legitimacy -in-africa

The Crisis of Legitimacy in Africa. Abiola Irele ▫ Summer 1992. A bleak picture emerges from today's Africa. One glaring aspect is the material deprivation ...

[Nov 23, 2016] Trump will have as many problems with Ayn Ryan Congress as Obama/Clinton on economic issues

Nov 23, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Cry Shop November 23, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Bankers & Trump

Bankers know you capture catch more flies with money honey.

ewmayer November 23, 2016 at 6:21 pm

"The Trump campaign, meanwhile, delved into message tailoring, sentiment manipulation and machine learning." - Oh, please, this sounds like a stereotypical Google-centric view of things. They of course left out the most important part of the campaign, the key to its inception, which could be described in terms like "The Trump campaign, meanwhile, actually noticed the widespread misery and non-recovery in the parts of the US outside the elite coastal bubbles and DC beltway, and spotted a yuuuge political opportunity." In other words, not sentiment manipulation – that was, after all, the Dem-establishment-MSM-wall-street-and-the-elite-technocrats' "America is already great, and anyone who denies it is deplorable!" strategy of manufactured consent – so much as actual *reading* of sentiment. Of course if one insisted on remaining inside a protective elite echo chamber and didn't listen to anything Trump or the attendees actually said in those huge flyover-country rallies that wasn't captured in suitably outrageous evening-news soundbites, it was all too easy to believe one's own hype.

" former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who has known Trump socially for decades and is currently advising the president-elect on foreign policy issues " - I really, really hope this is just Hammerin' Hank tooting his own horn, as he and his sycophants in the FP establishment and MSM are wont to do.

Brad November 23, 2016 at 6:33 pm

"Trump dumps the TPP: conservatives rue strategic fillip to China" (Guardian)

Another wedge angle for Trumps new-found RINO "friends" to play. Trump will have as many problems with Ayn Ryan Congress as Obama/Clinton on economic issues.

"The TPP excludes China, which declined to join, proposing its own rival version, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which excludes the US." You see, it is all China's fault. No info presented on why China "declined" to join.

And if Abe's Japan were really an independent country, they'd pick up the TPP baton and sell it to China.

[Nov 23, 2016] Expect the Unexpected

Nov 23, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com
This unadmitted ignorance was previously displayed for those with eyes to see it in the Libya debacle, perhaps not coincidentally Clinton's pet war. Cast by the Obama White House as a surgical display of "smart power" that would defend human rights and foster democracy in the Muslim world, the 2011 Libyan intervention did precisely the opposite. There is credible evidence that the U.S.-led NATO campaign prolonged and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, and far from creating a flourishing democracy, the ouster of strongman Muammar Qaddafi led to a power vacuum into which ISIS and other rival unsavories surged.

The 2011 intervention and the follow-up escalation in which we are presently entangled were both fundamentally informed by "the underlying belief that military force will produce stability and that the U.S. can reasonably predict the result of such a campaign," as Christopher Preble has argued in a must-read Libya analysis at Politico . Both have proven resoundingly wrong.

Before Libya, Washington espoused the same false certainty in advance of intervention and nation-building Iraq and Afghanistan. The rhetoric around the former was particularly telling: we would find nuclear weapons and "be greeted as liberators," said Vice President Dick Cheney. The whole thing would take five months or less, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It would be a "cakewalk." As months dragged into years of nation-building stagnation, the ignored truth became increasingly evident: the United States cannot reshape entire countries without obscene risk and investment, and even when those costly commitments are made, success cannot be predicted with certainty.

Nearly 14 years later, with Iraq demonstrably more violent and less stable than it was before U.S. intervention, wisdom demands we reject Washington's recycled snake oil.

Recent polls (let alone the anti-elite backlash Trump's win represents ) suggest Americans are ready to do precisely that. But a lack of public enthusiasm has never stopped Washington from hawking its fraudulent wares-this time in the form of yet-again unfounded certainty that escalating American intervention in Syria is a sure-fire solution to that beleaguered nation's woes.

We must not let ourselves be fooled. Rather, we "should understand that we don't need to overthrow distant governments and roll the dice on what comes after in order to keep America safe," as Preble, reflecting on Libya, contends . "On the contrary, our track record over the last quarter-century shows that such interventions often have the opposite effect."

And as for the political establishment, let Trump's triumph be a constant reminder of the necessity of expecting the unexpected and proceeding with due (indeed, much overdue) prudence and restraint abroad. If Washington so grossly misunderstood the direction of its own heartland-without the muddling, as in foreign policy, of massive geographic and cultural differences-how naοve it is to believe that our government can successfully play armed puppet-master over an entire region of the world?

Bonnie Kristian is a fellow at Defense Priorities. She is a weekend editor at The Week and a columnist at Rare , and her writing has also appeared at Time , Politico , Relevant , The Hill , and other outlets.

[Nov 21, 2016] Obama helped to create ISIS by turning a bling eye on US intelligence reports

Notable quotes:
"... Flynn: "I don't know if they turned a blind eye. I think it was a decision, a willful decision." ..."
"... Hasan (Interviewer): "A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?" ..."
"... Flynn: "A willful decision to do what they're doing, You have to really ask the President what is it that he actually is doing with the policy that is in place, because it is very, very confusing." ..."
www.moonofalabama.org

THIS IS "CHANGE"

The successor of Susan Rice:

Hasan (Interviewer) (From 11.15 onwards into the interview): "In 2012, your agency was saying, quote: "The Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda in Iraq [(which ISIS arose out of)], are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria." In 2012, the US was helping coordinate arms transfers to those same groups. Why did you not stop that if you're worried about the rise of Islamic extremism?"

Flynn: "Well I hate to say it's not my job, but my job was to ensure that the accuracy of our intelligence that was being presented was as good as it could be, and I will tell you, it goes before 2012. When we were in Iraq, and we still had decisions to be made before there was a decision to pull out of Iraq in 2011, it was very clear what we were going to face."

Hasan (Interviewer): You are basically saying that even in government at the time, you knew those groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn't listening?"

Flynn: "I think the administration."

Hasan (Interviewer): "So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?"

Flynn: "I don't know if they turned a blind eye. I think it was a decision, a willful decision."

Hasan (Interviewer): "A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?"

Flynn: "A willful decision to do what they're doing, You have to really ask the President what is it that he actually is doing with the policy that is in place, because it is very, very confusing."

Former US Intelligence Chief Admits Obama Took "Willful Decision" to Support ISIS Rise

http://journal-neo.org/2015/08/13/former-us-intelligence-chief-admits-obama-took-willful-decision-to-support-isis-rise/

[Nov 21, 2016] Chuck Baldwin -- Trump Supporters Must Not Go To Sleep

Notable quotes:
"... Reince Priebus is an establishment insider. He did NOTHING to help Trump get elected until toward the very end of the campaign. ..."
"... On the other hand, Stephen Bannon is probably a very good pick. He headed Breitbart.com, which is one of the premier "alt-right" media outlets that has consistently led the charge against the globalist, anti-freedom agenda of the political establishment in Washington, D.C. Albeit, Bannon is probably blind to the dangers of Zionism and is, therefore, probably naοve about the New World Order. I don't believe anyone can truly understand the New World Order without being aware of the role that Zionism plays in it. ..."
"... To be honest, the possible appointments of Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, John Bolton and especially Newt Gingrich are MORE than troubling. Rudy Giuliani is "Mr. Police State," and if he is selected as the new attorney general, the burgeoning Police State in this country will go into hyperdrive. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is already warning us about this. Chris Christie is a typical New England liberal Republican. His appointment to any position bodes NOTHING good. And John Bolton is a Bush pro-war neocon. But Newt Gingrich is the quintessential insider, globalist, and establishment hack. ..."
"... Newt Gingrich is a HIGH LEVEL globalist and longtime CFR member. He is the consummate neocon. And he has a brilliant mind (NO morals, but a brilliant mind--a deadly combination, for sure). ..."
"... You cannot drain the swamp by putting the very people who filled the swamp back in charge. And that's exactly what Trump would be doing if he appoints Gingrich to any high-level position in his administration. ..."
"... Trump is already softening his position on illegal immigration, on dismantling the EPA, on repealing Obamacare, on investigating and prosecuting Hillary Clinton, etc. ..."
"... What we need to know right now is that WE CANNOT GO TO SLEEP. We cannot sit back in lethargy and complacency and just assume that Donald Trump is going to do what he said he would do. If we do that, we might as well have elected Hillary Clinton, because at least then we would be forever on guard against her forthcoming assaults against our liberties. ..."
"... The difference in this election is that Donald Trump didn't run against the Democrats; he ran against the entire Washington establishment, including the Republican establishment. Hopefully that means that the people who supported and voted for Trump will NOT be inclined to go into political hibernation now that Trump is elected. ..."
Nov 17, 2016 | www.newswithviews.com

After my post-election column last week, a lady wrote to me and said, "I have confidence he [Trump] plans to do what is best for the country." With all due respect, I don't! I agree wholeheartedly with Thomas Jefferson. He said, "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

If Donald Trump is going to be anything more than just another say-anything-to-get-elected phony, he is going to have to put raw elbow grease to his rhetoric. His talk got him elected, but it is going to be his walk that is going to prove his worth.

And, as I wrote last week, the biggest indicator as to whether or not he is truly going to follow through with his rhetoric is who he selects for his cabinet and top-level government positions. So far, he has picked Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and Stephen Bannon as White House chief strategist.

Reince Priebus is an establishment insider. He did NOTHING to help Trump get elected until toward the very end of the campaign. He is the current chairman of the Republican National Committee. If that doesn't tell you what he is, nothing will. Trump probably picked him because he is in so tight with House Speaker Paul Ryan (a globalist neocon of the highest order) and the GOP establishment, thinking Priebus will help him get his agenda through the GOP Congress. But ideologically, Priebus does NOT share Trump's anti-establishment agenda. So, this appointment is a risk at best and a sell-out at worst.

On the other hand, Stephen Bannon is probably a very good pick. He headed Breitbart.com, which is one of the premier "alt-right" media outlets that has consistently led the charge against the globalist, anti-freedom agenda of the political establishment in Washington, D.C. Albeit, Bannon is probably blind to the dangers of Zionism and is, therefore, probably naοve about the New World Order. I don't believe anyone can truly understand the New World Order without being aware of the role that Zionism plays in it.

To be honest, the possible appointments of Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, John Bolton and especially Newt Gingrich are MORE than troubling. Rudy Giuliani is "Mr. Police State," and if he is selected as the new attorney general, the burgeoning Police State in this country will go into hyperdrive. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is already warning us about this. Chris Christie is a typical New England liberal Republican. His appointment to any position bodes NOTHING good. And John Bolton is a Bush pro-war neocon. But Newt Gingrich is the quintessential insider, globalist, and establishment hack.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the globalist elite gave Newt Gingrich the assignment of cozying up to (and "supporting") Trump during his campaign with the sole intention of being in a position for Trump to think he owes Gingrich something so as to appoint him to a key cabinet post in the event that he won. Gingrich could then weave his evil magic during a Donald Trump presidential administration.

Newt Gingrich is a HIGH LEVEL globalist and longtime CFR member. He is the consummate neocon. And he has a brilliant mind (NO morals, but a brilliant mind--a deadly combination, for sure). If Donald Trump does not see through this man, and if he appoints him as a cabinet head in his administration, I will be forced to believe that Donald Trump is clueless about "draining the swamp." You cannot drain the swamp by putting the very people who filled the swamp back in charge. And that's exactly what Trump would be doing if he appoints Gingrich to any high-level position in his administration.

Trump is already softening his position on illegal immigration, on dismantling the EPA, on repealing Obamacare, on investigating and prosecuting Hillary Clinton, etc. Granted, he hasn't even been sworn in yet, and it's still way too early to make a true judgment of his presidency. But for a fact, his cabinet appointments and his first one hundred days in office will tell us most of what we need to know.

What we need to know right now is that WE CANNOT GO TO SLEEP. We cannot sit back in lethargy and complacency and just assume that Donald Trump is going to do what he said he would do. If we do that, we might as well have elected Hillary Clinton, because at least then we would be forever on guard against her forthcoming assaults against our liberties.

There is a reason we have lost more liberties under Republican administrations than Democratic ones over the past few decades. And that reason is the conservative, constitutionalist, Christian, pro-freedom people who should be resisting government's assaults against our liberties are sound asleep because they trust a Republican President and Congress to do the right thing -- and they give the GOP a pass as our liberties are expunged piece by piece. A pass they would NEVER give to a Democrat.

The difference in this election is that Donald Trump didn't run against the Democrats; he ran against the entire Washington establishment, including the Republican establishment. Hopefully that means that the people who supported and voted for Trump will NOT be inclined to go into political hibernation now that Trump is elected.

I tell you again: this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the course of a nation. Frankly, if this opportunity is squandered, there likely will not be another one in most of our lifetimes.

[Nov 21, 2016] Bill Black Bloomberg Notices Paul Romers Indictment of Macroeconomics naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... For more than three decades, macroeconomics has gone backwards," the paper began. Romer closed out his argument, some 20 pages later, by accusing a cohort of economists of drifting away from science, more interested in preserving reputations than testing their theories against reality, "more committed to friends than facts." In between, he offers a wicked parody of a modern macro argument: "Assume A, assume B, blah blah blah and so we have proven that P is true ..."
"... The idea that consumers and businesses always make rational choices pervades mainstream economics. Romer thinks that's not only wrong, but may lead to the misleading conclusion that government action can't fix big problems. ..."
"... There is no better place to be writing this than from (nearly) Minneapolis, for the University of Minnesota's economics department is the most devoted coven worshipping the most extreme form of "rational expectations." The most famous cultists have now relocated, but the U. Minnesota economics department remains fanatical in its devotion to rational expectations theory. ..."
"... All of this means that Romer's denunciations were sure to hit home far harder with mainstream and theoclassical economists than anything a heterodox economist could write. ..."
"... What this paragraph reveals is the classic tactic of theoclassical economists – they simply ignore real criticism. Lucas, Prescott, and Sargent all care desperately about Romer's criticism – but they all refuse to engage substantively with his critique. One has to love the arrogance of Sargent in "responding" – without reading – to Romer's critique. Sargent cannot, of course, respond to a critique he has never read so he instead makes a crude attempt to insult Romer, asserting that Romer has not done any scientific work in three decades. ..."
"... The rational expectations purists have been unable to come up with a response to their predictive failures and their false model of human behavior for thirty years. The Bloomberg article does not understand a subtle point about their non-defense defense, as shown in these key passages. ..."
"... What the rational expectations devotees are actually saying is their standard line, which is a radical departure from the scientific method. Their mantra is "it takes a model to beat a model." That mantra violates the scientific method. Their models are designed to embody their rational expectations theory. Those models' predictive ability is pathetic, which means that their theory and models are both falsified and should be rejected. The academic proponents of modern macro models, however, assert that their models are incapable of falsification by testing and predictive failure. This is not science, but theology. ..."
"... V.V. Chari's criticism of Romer is revealing. He complains that Romer does not want to "build on [rational expectation theory's] foundations." Why would Romer want to commit such a pointless act? Romer's point is that rational expectations is a failed theory that needs to be rejected so macroeconomics can move on to useful endeavors. ..."
"... Rational expectations theory has no such empirical foundations. ..."
"... Further, the dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models routinely fail the predictive test and, as Romer details, fail despite the use of dozens of ways in which the models are "gamed" with arbitrary inputs and restrictions that have no theoretical or empirical basis. Chari is right to describe the modern macro model as an "edifice." I would add that it is a baroque edifice top heavy with ornamental features designed to hide its lack of a foundation. Modern macro collapsed as soon as its devotees tried to build without an empirical foundation. ..."
"... The rational expectation devotees respond that predictive failures – no matter how extreme or frequent – cannot falsify their models or their theories. The proponents claim that only a better model, with superior predictive ability can beat their model. ..."
"... Kocherlakota's summary description is appropriately terse. He later explains the dogmatic gloss that devotees place on each of these five points. The "budget constraint," for example, means that nations with sovereign currencies such as the U.S. cannot run deficits, even to fight severe recessions or depressions. Why? Because theoclassical economists are enormous believers in austerity. As Kocherlakota archly phrased the matter, "freshwater" DSGE models were so attractive to theoclassical macro types because their model perfectly tracked their ideology. ..."
"... Specifying household preferences and firm objectives is equally erroneous, as Akerlof and Romer's 1993 article on "Looting" demonstrated. "Firms" do not have "objectives." Employees have "objectives," and the controlling officers' "objectives" are the most powerful drivers of employee behavior. ..."
"... Kocherlakota unintentionally highlighted modern macros' inability to incorporate even massive frauds driving national scandals and banking crises, despite the efforts of Akerlof (1970) (a market for "lemons") and Akerlof and Romer 1993: ("looting") in this passage. ..."
"... If macroeconomics, outside the cult of modern macro, were a car, it would not be "broken." It would be episodically broken when the rational expectations devotees got hold of monetary or fiscal policy. The rational expectations model fails the most fundamental test of a financial model – people trying to make money by anticipating the macroeconomics consequences of changes in monetary and fiscal policy overwhelmingly do not use their models because they are known to have pathetic predictive ability. The alternative models that embrace Keynesian analysis and are not dependent on the fiction of rational expectations function pretty well. The real world macro car, when driven by real world drivers, works OK. Essentially, the rational expectations devotees say that we can never drive the macro "car" because the public will defeat any effort to drive the economy in any direction. Instead, the economy will lurch about n response to random technological "shocks" that cannot be predicted because they occur without any relationship to any public policy choices. ..."
"... I am completely confused about the prediction of "rational choices". Do they include going bankrupt on purpose and letting your investors take the hit, burning your building down for the insurance money, hostile takeover behavior where businesses are run into the ground on purpose, tax strategies, people going on unemployment when they want a vacation from work, and on and on? These are decisions that have a rationale for the people who make them, and they have not been uncommon. Perhaps "economists" are best off observing not predicting "human behavior". ..."
"... I majored in economics. as you go up higher up into the dismal science, the more deranged it gets. The reason they are vague is because they don't know what they are talking about. They don't consider the real world, and as Bill Black's so brilliantly points out, they are in no hurry to out themselves as frauds. ..."
"... thanks, Simon. there must be something in those mental masturbation models for some people. justification for something the 99 % are all paying for most likely ..."
"... In some natural sciences, abandoning equilibrium models and replacing them with dynamic models have led to great progress, and looking at the actual time evolution of economies, there is a great deal of dynamics, such as growth, recessions, demography, natural catastrophes, immigration/emigration, resource discovery and depletion, technological progress. ..."
"... Since our economy has been gradually going casino for so many years, it makes sense that the folks who hold the reigns would make every effort to assure that all their key players adhere to their singular perspectives. ..."
"... The Nobel Memorial Prize in economics promotes the illusion that economics is a science. It is better conceptualized as a literary genre, and economists should be forced to compete with other writers for the prize in literature. ..."
"... Bill Black has a fascinating opinion on unnecessary complexity and I agree with him 200 percent. ..."
"... interesting about Kocherlakota formerly being a rational expectations devotee just the phrase 'rational expectations' is mind boggling as if there were no reaction to any action anywhere. Jack Bogle was on the news this morning laughing about stock picking and saying that every stock picker that makes money is balanced out by another one who loses money and so the only thing that makes money net-net is the long term progress of the market, (or society I would say – and that requires planning). ..."
"... Not one mention of Chaos or Catastrophe Theory, which are theories of systems with non linear feedback (aka: Fear and Greed), which appear to me to be fundamental aspects of Economics, especially the humans who are the Economy. ..."
"... Two slogans I read somewhere recently seem appropriate for theoclassical economics: Ideology is easy, thinking is hard. Belief is belonging. ..."
"... One doesn't have to have read any Reformation theology, but only to have observed more or less casually that human being are scarcely rational even about their own self-interest, and then only self-deceptively. Thomas Frank has commented effectively on that point in the political arena in What's the Matter with Kansas. To wit: Republicans have, he points out, diverted voters attention to social/cultural issues while picking their pockets. Perhaps one might sense an intersection of politics and economics on the latter point. ..."
Nov 21, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published at New Economic Perspectives

Bloomberg has written an article about the origins of Paul Romer's increasingly famous critique of modern macroeconomics.

His intention actually had been to write a paper that would celebrate advances in the understanding of what drives economic growth. But when he sat down to write it in the months before taking over as the World Bank's chief economist, Romer quickly found his heart wasn't in it. The world economy wasn't growing much anyway; and the math that many colleagues were using to model it seemed unrealistic. He watched a documentary about the Church of Scientology, and was struck by how groupthink can operate.

So, Romer said in an interview at the Bank's Washington headquarters, "I just thought, OK, I'm going to say what I think. I don't know if I'm the right person, but no one else is going to say it. So I said it."

The upshot was "The Trouble With Macroeconomics," a scathing critique that landed among Romer's peers like a grenade.

A bit of background makes the first paragraph more understandable. Romer's specialty is developmental economics.

There are many economists who have said for years that modern macroeconomics is an abject failure. But all economists are not equal, and Romer is both an extremely distinguished economist and the World Bank's chief economist. When he writes that macroeconomics is absurd his position gets vastly more attention from the field.

The Bloomberg article humorously summarizes Romer's article.

"For more than three decades, macroeconomics has gone backwards," the paper began. Romer closed out his argument, some 20 pages later, by accusing a cohort of economists of drifting away from science, more interested in preserving reputations than testing their theories against reality, "more committed to friends than facts." In between, he offers a wicked parody of a modern macro argument: "Assume A, assume B, blah blah blah and so we have proven that P is true."

The idea that consumers and businesses always make rational choices pervades mainstream economics. Romer thinks that's not only wrong, but may lead to the misleading conclusion that government action can't fix big problems.

There is no better place to be writing this than from (nearly) Minneapolis, for the University of Minnesota's economics department is the most devoted coven worshipping the most extreme form of "rational expectations." The most famous cultists have now relocated, but the U. Minnesota economics department remains fanatical in its devotion to rational expectations theory.

A belief that consumers and businesses always make rational choices does not "pervade mainstream economics." Mainstream economics is increasingly influenced by reality, particularly in the form of behavioral economics. Behavioral economics, which has led to multiple Nobel awards, has many currents, but each of them agrees that consumers and business people typically do not make rational decisions even in simpler tasks, much less demonstrate the ability to predict the future required by rational expectations theory. Similarly, even the proponents of modern macroeconomics admit that its predictive ability – and predictive ability is supposed to be their holy grail of legitimacy – is beyond pathetic. What is true is that mainstream economics' most egregious errors have come from assuming contrary to reality in a wide range of contexts that corporate officers, consumers, and investors make optimal decisions that maximize the firm or the household's utility.

In any real scientific field modern macro would, decades ago, have been abandoned as an abject failure. Romer, therefore, is not storming some impregnable bulwark of economics. He is calling an obvious, abject failure an obvious, abject failure. Private sector finance participants typically believe the academic proponents of rational expectations theory are delusional. Romer is calling out elites in his profession who have ignored these failures and doubled and tripled-down on their failed dogmas for decades. This makes the Bloomberg article's title deeply misleading: "The Rebel Economist Who Blew Up Macroeconomics."

Romer is not a rebel. He did not blow up academic, mainstream macroeconomics – the academic proponents of modern macroeconomics blew it up decades ago. Romer is mainstream, and he is sympathetic on personal and ideological grounds to the theoclasscial economist most famous for developing rational expectations theory. Romer has strongly libertarian views and did his doctoral work under Robert Lucas. Romer has long been appreciative of Lucas. All of this means that Romer's denunciations were sure to hit home far harder with mainstream and theoclassical economists than anything a heterodox economist could write.

The same Bloomberg article made a key factual claim that is literally true but misleading.

What's at stake far exceeds hurt feelings in the ivory tower. Central banks and other policy makers use the models that Romer says are flawed.

Central banks and private economic forecasters rarely use modern macro models, though they have begun to use New Keynesian models that are hybrids. They do not do use "freshwater" models because they are known to have terrible predictive ability and because alternative models not based on rational expectations have far superior predictive ability. The private financial sector typically does not rely on modern macro models, even the New Keynesian hybrids. Romer is not saying that the models are "flawed" – he is explaining that they are inherently failed models. Worse, he is saying that the designers of the models know they are failed and respond by gimmicking the models by littering them with myriad assumptions that have no empirical or theoretical basis and are designed to try to make the models produce less absurd results.

I explained that Romer was far from the first to call out modern academic macroeconomics as a failure but that he is a prominent mainstream economist. The Bloomberg article's most interesting reveal was the response by the troika of economists must associated with rational expectations theory to Romer's article decrying their dogmas.

Lucas and Prescott didn't respond to requests for comments on Romer's paper. Sargent did. He said he hadn't read it, but suggested that Romer may be out of touch with the ways that rational-expectations economists have adapted their models to reflect how people and firms actually behave. Sargent said in an e-mail that Romer himself drew heavily on the school's insights, back when he was "still doing scientific work in economics 25 or 30 years ago."

What this paragraph reveals is the classic tactic of theoclassical economists – they simply ignore real criticism. Lucas, Prescott, and Sargent all care desperately about Romer's criticism – but they all refuse to engage substantively with his critique. One has to love the arrogance of Sargent in "responding" – without reading – to Romer's critique. Sargent cannot, of course, respond to a critique he has never read so he instead makes a crude attempt to insult Romer, asserting that Romer has not done any scientific work in three decades.

The rational expectations purists have been unable to come up with a response to their predictive failures and their false model of human behavior for thirty years. The Bloomberg article does not understand a subtle point about their non-defense defense, as shown in these key passages.

Allies of the three Nobelists have been more outspoken, and many of them point out that Romer - unlike Keynes in the 1930s - doesn't offer a new framework to replace the one he says has failed.

"Burning down the edifice, and saying we'll figure out what we'll build on its foundations later, just does not seem like a constructive way to proceed," said V. V. Chari, an economics professor at the University of Minnesota.

Romer's heard that line often, and bristles at it: "I'm saying, 'the car is broken.' And everyone's saying, 'Romer's a terrible guy, because he couldn't fix the car'."

What the rational expectations devotees are actually saying is their standard line, which is a radical departure from the scientific method. Their mantra is "it takes a model to beat a model." That mantra violates the scientific method. Their models are designed to embody their rational expectations theory. Those models' predictive ability is pathetic, which means that their theory and models are both falsified and should be rejected. The academic proponents of modern macro models, however, assert that their models are incapable of falsification by testing and predictive failure. This is not science, but theology.

V.V. Chari's criticism of Romer is revealing. He complains that Romer does not want to "build on [rational expectation theory's] foundations." Why would Romer want to commit such a pointless act? Romer's point is that rational expectations is a failed theory that needs to be rejected so macroeconomics can move on to useful endeavors.

A "foundation" in such a building metaphor is the deep, well-grounded stone or reinforced concrete beneath the visible building that is attached to solid bedrock. Rational expectations theory has no such empirical foundations. It was not based on testing that found that people behaved in accordance with the theory. Behavioral economics and finance, by contrast, is based on a growing empirical base – virtually all of which refutes the first three assumptions of the models. Similarly, the work of Akerlof (1970), Akerlof & Romer (1993), and the work of white-collar criminologists has falsified each of the first three assumptions of the models.

Further, the dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models routinely fail the predictive test and, as Romer details, fail despite the use of dozens of ways in which the models are "gamed" with arbitrary inputs and restrictions that have no theoretical or empirical basis. Chari is right to describe the modern macro model as an "edifice." I would add that it is a baroque edifice top heavy with ornamental features designed to hide its lack of a foundation. Modern macro collapsed as soon as its devotees tried to build without an empirical foundation.

The rational expectation devotees respond that predictive failures – no matter how extreme or frequent – cannot falsify their models or their theories. The proponents claim that only a better model, with superior predictive ability can beat their model. That might sound acceptable to some, but there is a critical unstated twist. The many rival models actually used by the private sector and central banks that produce far superior predictive ability can never be treated as "better models" to these devotees because the models with far superior predictive powers reject rational expectations theory, rational decision-making, and the "budget constraint." To the devotees, only DSGE models that accept this trio of market fictions are eligible to be acceptable "models." Dr. Kocherlakota states that acceptable models "share five key features." These five characteristics define DSGE models.

They specify budget constraints for households, technologies for firms, and resource constraints for the overall economy. They specify household preferences and firm objectives. They assume forward-looking behavior for firms and households. They include the shocks that firms and households face. They are models of the entire macroeconomy.

Kocherlakota's summary description is appropriately terse. He later explains the dogmatic gloss that devotees place on each of these five points. The "budget constraint," for example, means that nations with sovereign currencies such as the U.S. cannot run deficits, even to fight severe recessions or depressions. Why? Because theoclassical economists are enormous believers in austerity. As Kocherlakota archly phrased the matter, "freshwater" DSGE models were so attractive to theoclassical macro types because their model perfectly tracked their ideology.

[A]lmost coincidentally-in these models, all government interventions (including all forms of stabilization policy) are undesirable.

Yes, "almost coincidentally."

Specifying household preferences and firm objectives is equally erroneous, as Akerlof and Romer's 1993 article on "Looting" demonstrated. "Firms" do not have "objectives." Employees have "objectives," and the controlling officers' "objectives" are the most powerful drivers of employee behavior.

As Akerlof and Romer (and every modern crisis) demonstrated, this frequently leads to firm practices that harm the firm, the consumer, and the shareholders. Such behavior, however, is impossible under the second assumption, so any model (such as control fraud or "looting") that violates the assumption is not eligible to be a rival model because it these superior models do not produce "general equilibrium." The "GE" in a "DSGE" model is general equilibrium, so rival models from economics and criminology that note that the economy is not a self-correcting apparatus that produces general equilibrium are ruled out as superior models even though they are superior in that they have an empirical and theoretical basis and demonstrate far superior predictive results.

Kocherlakota unintentionally highlighted modern macros' inability to incorporate even massive frauds driving national scandals and banking crises, despite the efforts of Akerlof (1970) (a market for "lemons") and Akerlof and Romer 1993: ("looting") in this passage.

In the macro models of the 1980s, all mutually beneficial trades occur without delay. This assumption of frictionless exchange made solving these models easy. However, it also made the models less compelling.

He then goes on to a delighted description of macro economists now sometimes building in (arbitrary) lags ("frictions") in the time required to accomplish "all mutually beneficial trades." But what of the three great fraud epidemics that produced the U.S. financial crisis and the Great Recession? Sorry, that's not allowed into the "friction" canon. The market model is still one of perfection (albeit slightly delayed). It does not matter how many massive financial scandals occur in which the largest UK banks and Wells Fargo deliberately abuse their customers by encouraging them to engage in transactions that will harm them and make the bankers rich. It doesn't not matter that over ten million Americans were induced by bankers and their agents to pay excessive interest rates in return for yield spread premiums (YSP) to the bankers and brokers. None of these things are allowed to happen in these models. Your better model, which includes such frauds and abuses, is not allowed precisely because it (a) is better and (b) falsifies the theoclassical ideology underlying "rational expectations" theory.

The assumption of "forward looking behavior" produces "expectations," which are assumed to be accurate and rational. Theoclassical proponents claim that we all have the ability to predict vast aspects of the financial future. While we are not perfect, we are optimal in our forecasts given the state of knowledge. If your rival model lacks rational expectations, it isn't a real model. Romer rejects the rational expectations myth, so he is incapable of presenting a superior model to the devotees of rational expectations.

If macroeconomics, outside the cult of modern macro, were a car, it would not be "broken." It would be episodically broken when the rational expectations devotees got hold of monetary or fiscal policy. The rational expectations model fails the most fundamental test of a financial model – people trying to make money by anticipating the macroeconomics consequences of changes in monetary and fiscal policy overwhelmingly do not use their models because they are known to have pathetic predictive ability. The alternative models that embrace Keynesian analysis and are not dependent on the fiction of rational expectations function pretty well. The real world macro car, when driven by real world drivers, works OK. Essentially, the rational expectations devotees say that we can never drive the macro "car" because the public will defeat any effort to drive the economy in any direction. Instead, the economy will lurch about n response to random technological "shocks" that cannot be predicted because they occur without any relationship to any public policy choices.

Romer takes particular delight in shredding the pretension to "science" in the model's abuse of shocks. Again, however, the Bloomberg article seriously misleads in making it appear that his critique of shocks is novel. Then Minneapolis Fed Chair Dr. Kocherlakota (formerly chair of the U. Minnesota economics department, where he was a "rational expectations" devotee) forcefully owned up to the egregious predictive failures of the models. He acknowledged that "macro models are driven by patently unrealistic shocks."

It is unfortunate that Bloomberg article about Romer's article is weak. It is useful, however, because its journalistic inquiry allows us to know how deep in their bunker Sargent, Lucas, and Prescott remain. They still refuse to engage substantively with Romer's critique of not only their failures but their intellectual dishonesty and cowardice. It is astonishing that multiple economists were awarded Nobel prizes for creating the increasingly baroque failure of modern macro. In any other field it would be a scandal that would shake the discipline to the core and cause it to reexamine how it conducted research and trained faculty. In economics, however, a huge proportion of Nobel awards have gone to theoclassical economists whose predictions have been routinely falsified and whose policy recommendations have proven disastrous. Theoclassical economists, with only a handful of exceptions, express no concern about these failures.

This entry was posted in Dubious statistics , Economic fundamentals , Guest Post , Macroeconomic policy , Market inefficiencies , Ridiculously obvious scams , The dismal science

Portia November 21, 2016 at 11:32 am

I am completely confused about the prediction of "rational choices". Do they include going bankrupt on purpose and letting your investors take the hit, burning your building down for the insurance money, hostile takeover behavior where businesses are run into the ground on purpose, tax strategies, people going on unemployment when they want a vacation from work, and on and on? These are decisions that have a rationale for the people who make them, and they have not been uncommon. Perhaps "economists" are best off observing not predicting "human behavior".

shinola November 21, 2016 at 11:47 am

I was fortunate enough to have an econ. prof. (mid 70's) who was also my student counselor tell me that unless I intended to work for the gov't or teach the subject, a degree in econ. was pointless. What's taught in class has very little to do with the real world.

Anyone who contends that econ is a "science" rather than philosophy is deluded or just trying to protect their place in the hierarchy. Seems that "physics envy" is never going away.

I'll see your DSGE model & raise with with the IBGYBG* model; in theory, you should win that hand but I'll be walking away with the actual money.

*(by the time this blows up) I'll Be Gone & You'll Be Gone

Simon November 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Portia,

I majored in economics. as you go up higher up into the dismal science, the more deranged it gets. The reason they are vague is because they don't know what they are talking about. They don't consider the real world, and as Bill Black's so brilliantly points out, they are in no hurry to out themselves as frauds.

Portia November 21, 2016 at 12:37 pm

thanks, Simon. there must be something in those mental masturbation models for some people. justification for something the 99 % are all paying for most likely

diptherio November 21, 2016 at 3:14 pm

The reason they are vague is because they don't know what they are talking about

Which also explains about 90% of the math

beth November 21, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Thanks again, Bill. A thanks to Paul Romer and Bloomberg too. How long will it take for the NYT , FT, The Guardian and WSJ to understand?

Do $$$ make one "smart?" /sarc

Ruben November 21, 2016 at 12:51 pm

I am not sure which is the greatest shortcoming of the macro-economy theory described by Black: rational expectations or global equilibrium?

In some natural sciences, abandoning equilibrium models and replacing them with dynamic models have led to great progress, and looking at the actual time evolution of economies, there is a great deal of dynamics, such as growth, recessions, demography, natural catastrophes, immigration/emigration, resource discovery and depletion, technological progress.

Jim A November 21, 2016 at 1:14 pm

I sometimes like to use the analogy of the famous failure of the Tacoma Narrows bridge failure. The engineers calculated the maximum force that the wind would have on the bridge, but didn't calculate the dynamic aerodynamic effect as the bridge deck swayed in the wind. The result was a spectacular failure.

Watt4Bob November 21, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Since our economy has been gradually going casino for so many years, it makes sense that the folks who hold the reigns would make every effort to assure that all their key players adhere to their singular perspectives.

The most important of these perspectives is that there is no higher human purpose than to make a lot of money, in essence, that greed is good.

Thus the problem facing economists worshiping at the altar of "rational expectations" is that the only rational expectation that is accepted as 'truly rational', is first and foremost, the love of money.

This leads to problems for businesses, as truly selfish, and money-motivated people are actually rare, as most people have a wide range of possible motivations working in their lives.

This is why business 'leaders' give prospective employees tests to find the people they can 'trust', which is to say find those who are motivated by money, which is the only motivating factor our masters find useful.

Of course those who are motivated exclusively by the love of money are also those who believe that austerity is the proper medicine for the rest of us.

There's one more thing about people who are motivated only by the need to accumulate money, they also tend to steal anything that isn't tied down.

This doesn't bother FIRE sector employers since they are only concerned to ferret-out those whose motivations might be polluted by inclinations other than greed.

Anyway, it seems to me that the importance of 'rational expectations' is in predicting the behavior of FIRE sector employees, not the economy as a whole.

As far as the bulk of humanity goes, the only true 'rational expectation' is that people have many and varied motivations that make it hard to predict their behavior.

shinola November 21, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Speaking of "going casino"

Hey Econ. Prof. – I'll see your DSGE model & raise with my IBGYBG** model. In theory, you'll win the hand but we'll see who actually walks away the money.

**(by the time this thing blows up) I'll Be Gone, You'll Be Gone

shinola November 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

sorry for the repeat – prior disappeared then re-appeared nearly 2 hour later ???

dutch November 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

The Nobel Memorial Prize in economics promotes the illusion that economics is a science. It is better conceptualized as a literary genre, and economists should be forced to compete with other writers for the prize in literature.

Disturbed Voter November 21, 2016 at 1:10 pm

We need to get back to basics, to the real economy of people and necessary supplies to support people. Model a simple city, with a simple agricultural hinterland. You can know how many bushels of grain equivalent are necessary for subsistence economy. You can know how many people you have in the countryside and in the city. You can know how many bushels of grain equivalent are in storage. You can estimate how much of the economy is barter and how much is cash purchase. You can know how much money is in circulation, and from those determine what velocity the money needs to have, to pay for all that bushels of grain equivalent. You don't need calculus, just arithmetic. End the sophistry and obscurity thru unnecessary complexity.

madame de farge November 21, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Bill Black has a fascinating opinion on unnecessary complexity and I agree with him 200 percent.

susan the other November 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

interesting about Kocherlakota formerly being a rational expectations devotee just the phrase 'rational expectations' is mind boggling as if there were no reaction to any action anywhere. Jack Bogle was on the news this morning laughing about stock picking and saying that every stock picker that makes money is balanced out by another one who loses money and so the only thing that makes money net-net is the long term progress of the market, (or society I would say – and that requires planning).

Synoia November 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Not one mention of Chaos or Catastrophe Theory, which are theories of systems with non linear feedback (aka: Fear and Greed), which appear to me to be fundamental aspects of Economics, especially the humans who are the Economy.

To me that is a large omission.

Another Anon November 21, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Two slogans I read somewhere recently seem appropriate for theoclassical economics: Ideology is easy, thinking is hard. Belief is belonging.

Robin Kash November 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Perhaps an approach to a solution for economists who are rightly disgusted with the continuing failures of macroeconomics is to confess that economics is theology/philosophy and not science. Economics lands on the "mammon" side of serving God or mammon.

One doesn't have to have read any Reformation theology, but only to have observed more or less casually that human being are scarcely rational even about their own self-interest, and then only self-deceptively. Thomas Frank has commented effectively on that point in the political arena in What's the Matter with Kansas. To wit: Republicans have, he points out, diverted voters attention to social/cultural issues while picking their pockets. Perhaps one might sense an intersection of politics and economics on the latter point.

There is less need to moralize about "sin" than to see it as an heuristic. That is, one might begin by assuming that businesses and individuals are not only guided by rationality, but to the contrary are aided by economists, say, of the U of Minnesota ilk, to rely upon the myth of rationality to cloak fundamental selfishness, which economists have neutered by casting it as "self-interest." Selfishness is the root of continuing, destructive "irrationality," because it is part of what defines a root of sin, i.e., missing the mark.

An economics of gratitude for shared abundance would be closer to the mark.

diptherio November 21, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Here's the link to the paper by Romer:

http://www.law.yale.edu/system/files/area/workshop/leo/leo16_romer.pdf

[Nov 21, 2016] Belgiums Dutroux Pedophile, Child Rape Affair A Road Map for Deep-State Criminality

Nov 20, 2016 | www.newnationalist.net
Strong, credible allegations of high-level criminal activity can bring down a government. When the government lacks an effective, fact-based defense, other techniques must be employed. The success of these techniques depends heavily upon a cooperative, controlled press and a mere token opposition party.

1. Dummy up . If it's not reported, if it's not news, it didn't happen.

2. Wax indignant . This is also known as the "how dare you" gambit.

3. Characterize the charges as "rumors" or, better yet, "wild rumors." If, in spite of the news blackout, the public is still able to learn about the suspicious facts, it can only be through "rumors."

4. Knock down straw men . Deal only with the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Even better, create your own straw men. Make up wild rumors and give them lead play when you appear to debunk all the charges, real and fanciful alike.

5. Call the skeptics names like "conspiracy theorist," "nut," "ranter," "kook," "crackpot" and, of course, "rumor monger." You must then carefully avoid fair and open debate with any of the people you have thus maligned.

6. Impugn motives . Attempt to marginalize the critics by suggesting strongly that they are not really interested in the truth but are simply pursuing a partisan political agenda or are out to make money.

7. Invoke authority . Here the controlled press and the sham opposition can be very useful.

8. Dismiss the charges as "old news."

9. Come half-clean . This is also known as "confession and avoidance" or "taking the limited hang-out route." This way, you create the impression of candor and honesty while you admit only to relatively harmless, less-than-criminal "mistakes." This stratagem often requires the embrace of a fall-back position quite different from the one originally taken.

10. Characterize the crimes as impossibly complex and the truth as ultimately unknowable.

11. Reason backward , using the deductive method with a vengeance. With thoroughly rigorous deduction, troublesome evidence is irrelevant. For example: We have a completely free press. If they know of evidence that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) had prior knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing they would have reported it. They haven't reported it, so there was no prior knowledge by the BATF. Another variation on this theme involves the likelihood of a conspiracy leaker and a press that would report it.

12. Require the skeptics to solve the crime completely.

13. Change the subject . This technique includes creating and/or reporting a distraction.

[Nov 21, 2016] Obama crosses the line in hypocrisy when he start talking about the values of democracy, and free speech, and international norms, and rule of law, respecting the ability of other countries to determine their own destiny and preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity. What about Libya, Syria and Yemen we would like ask this hypocrite

www.moonofalabama.org

Ghostship | Nov 17, 2016 10:09:56 PM | 47

At least with Trump I expect him to talk crap but Obama talks crap as well when he should know better:

The values that we talked about -- the values of democracy, and free speech, and international norms, and rule of law, respecting the ability of other countries to determine their own destiny and preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity -- those things are not something that we can set aside.

The unbridled hypocrisy makes me want to puke.

[Nov 21, 2016] Ron Paul Reveals Hit List Of Alleged Fake News Journalists

Notable quotes:
"... CNN is Paul's biggest alleged culprit, with nine entries, followed by the NY Times and MSNBC, with six each. The NY Times has recently come under fire from President-elect Donald Trump, who accuses them of being "totally wrong" on news regarding his transition team, while describing them as "failing." ..."
"... CNN's Wolf Blitzer is also amongst those named on the list. In an email from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released by WikiLeaks, the DNC staff discusses sending questions to CNN for an interview with Donald Trump. ..."
"... So-called 'fake news' has been recently attacked by US President Barack Obama, who claimed that false news shared online may have played a role in Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election. ..."
Nov 21, 2016 | www.infowars.com

"This list contains the culprits who told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and lied us into multiple bogus wars,"according to a report on his website, Ron Paul Liberty Report. Paul claims the list is sourced and "holds a lot more water" than a list previously released by Melissa Zimdars, who is described on Paul's website as "a leftist feminist professor."

"These are the news sources that told us 'if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,'" he said. "They told us that Hillary Clinton had a 98% of winning the election. They tell us in a never-ending loop that 'The economy is in great shape!'"

Paul's list includes the full names of the "fake news" journalists as well as the publications they write for, with what appears to be hyperlinks to where the allegations are sourced from. In most cases, this is WikiLeaks, but none of the hyperlinks are working at present, leaving the exact sources of the list unknown.

CNN is Paul's biggest alleged culprit, with nine entries, followed by the NY Times and MSNBC, with six each. The NY Times has recently come under fire from President-elect Donald Trump, who accuses them of being "totally wrong" on news regarding his transition team, while describing them as "failing."

The publication hit back, however, saying their business has increased since his election, with a surge in new subscriptions.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer is also amongst those named on the list. In an email from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released by WikiLeaks, the DNC staff discusses sending questions to CNN for an interview with Donald Trump.

Also listed is NY Times journalist Maggie Haberman, whom leaked emails showed working closely with Clinton's campaign to present the Democratic candidate in a favorable light.

So-called 'fake news' has been recently attacked by US President Barack Obama, who claimed that false news shared online may have played a role in Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election.

Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg has now said that the social media site may begin entrusting third parties with filtering the news.

[Nov 21, 2016] Legutko On The Trump Moment

Notable quotes:
"... The Demon In Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations In Free Societies . ..."
"... Brave New World ..."
"... The Demon In Democracy ..."
"... he explains how Poland cast off the bonds of communism only to find that liberal democracy imposed similar interdictions on free thought and debate: ..."
"... Very quickly the world became hidden under a new ideological shell and the people became hostage to another version of the Newspeak but with similar ideological mystifications. Obligatory rituals of loyalty and condemnations were revived, this time with a different object of worship and a different enemy. ..."
"... The new commissars of the language appeared and were given powerful prerogatives, and just as before, mediocrities assumed their self-proclaimed authority to track down ideological apostasy and condemn the unorthodox - all, of course, for the glory of the new system and the good of the new man. ..."
"... Media - more refined than under communism - performed a similar function: standing at the forefront of the great transformation leading to a better world and spreading the corruption of the language to the entire social organism and all its cells. ..."
"... Trump's victory seems logical as a continuation of a more general process that has been unveiling in the Western World: Hungary, Poland, Brexit, possible political reshufflings in Germany, France, Austria, etc. ..."
"... More and more people say No ..."
"... What seems to be common in the developments in Europe and the US is a growing mistrust towards the political establishment that has been in power for a long time. People have a feeling that in many cases this is the same establishment despite the change of the governments. ..."
"... This establishment is characterized by two things: first, both in the US and in Europe (and in Europe even more so) its representatives unabashedly declare that there is no alternative to their platform, that there is practically one set of ideas - their own - every decent person may subscribe to, and that they themselves are the sole distributors of political respectability; second, the leaders of this establishment are evidently of the mediocre quality, and have been such long enough for the voters to notice. ..."
"... Because the ruling political elites believe themselves to steer the society in the only correct political course it should take, and to be the best quality products of the Western political culture, they try to present the current conflict as a revolt of the unenlightened, confused and manipulated masses against the enlightened elites. ..."
"... The new aristocrats are full of contempt for the riffraff, do not mince words to bully them, use foul language, break the rules of decency - and doing all this does not make them feel any less aristocratic. ..."
"... When eight years ago America elected as their president a completely unknown and inexperienced politician, and not exactly an exemplar of political virtue to boot, this choice was universally acclaimed as the triumph of political enlightenment, and the president was awarded the Nobel Prize in advance, before he could do anything (not that he did anything of value afterwards). The continuation of this politics by Hillary Clinton for another eight years would have elevated this establishment and their ideas to an even stronger position with all deplorable consequences. ..."
"... Many Christians are understandably relieved that the state's ongoing assault on the churches and on religious liberty in the name of sex-and-gender ideology, will probably be halted under the new president. ..."
"... Q: Trump is a politician of the nationalist Right, but he is not a conservative in any philosophical or cultural sense. ..."
"... Had the vote gone only a bit differently in some states, today we would be talking about the political demise of American conservatism. Instead, the Republican Party is going to be stronger in government than it has been in a very long time - but the party has been shaken to its core by Trump's destruction of its establishment. Is it credible to say that Trump destroyed conservatism - or is it more accurate to say that the Republican Party, through its own follies, destroyed conservatism as we have known it, and opened the door for the nationalist Trump? ..."
"... The new generations of the neocons gave up on big ideas while the theocons, old or new, never managed to have a noticeable impact on the Republican mainstream. ..."
"... The Demon in Democracy ..."
"... Today the phrase "more Europe" does not mean "more classical education, more Latin and Greek, more knowledge about classical philosophy and scholasticism", but it means giving more power to the European Commission. No wonder an increasing number of people when they hear about Europe associate it with the EU, and not with Plato, Thomas Aquinas or Johann Sebastian Bach. ..."
"... Considering that in every Western country education has been, for quite a long time, in a deep crisis and that no government has succeeded in overcoming this crisis, a mere idea of bringing back classical education into schools in which young people can hardly read and write in their own native language sounds somewhat surrealist. ..."
"... The results of the elections must have shaken the EU elites, and from that point of view Trump's victory was beneficial for those Europeans like myself who fear the federalization of the European Union and its growing ideological monopoly. There is more to happen in Europe in the coming years so the hope is that the EU hubris will suffer further blows and that the EU itself will become more self-restrained and more responsive to the aspirations of European peoples. ..."
"... The Demon In Democracy ..."
Nov 21, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Ryszard Legutko, Polish Catholic philosopher ( European Parliament/Flickr ) This summer, I told you that J.D. Vance was the man to listen to if you wanted to understand what was happening in contemporary American politics. Now, please hear me when I say that Ryszard Legutko is another critically important voice for our time.

Legutko is a Polish philosopher and politician who was active in the anti-communist resistance. He is most recently the author of The Demon In Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations In Free Societies . In this post from September, I said that reading the book - which is clearly and punchily written - was like taking a red pill - meaning that it's hard to see our own political culture the same way after reading Legutko. His provocative thesis is that liberal democracy, as a modern political philosophy, has a lot more in common with that other great modern political philosophy, communism, than we care to think. He speaks as a philosopher who grew up under communism, who fought it as a member of Solidarity, and who took part in the reconstruction of Poland as a liberal democracy. It has been said that the two famous inhuman dystopias of 20th century English literature - Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World - correspond, respectively, to Soviet communism and mass hedonistic technocracy. Reading Legutko, you understand the point very well.

In this post , I quote several passages from The Demon In Democracy . Among them, these paragraphs in which he explains how Poland cast off the bonds of communism only to find that liberal democracy imposed similar interdictions on free thought and debate:

Very quickly the world became hidden under a new ideological shell and the people became hostage to another version of the Newspeak but with similar ideological mystifications. Obligatory rituals of loyalty and condemnations were revived, this time with a different object of worship and a different enemy.

The new commissars of the language appeared and were given powerful prerogatives, and just as before, mediocrities assumed their self-proclaimed authority to track down ideological apostasy and condemn the unorthodox - all, of course, for the glory of the new system and the good of the new man.

Media - more refined than under communism - performed a similar function: standing at the forefront of the great transformation leading to a better world and spreading the corruption of the language to the entire social organism and all its cells.

And:

If the old communists lived long enough to see the world of today, they would be devastated by the contrast between how little they themselves had managed to achieve in their antireligious war and how successful the liberal democrats have been. All the objectives the communists set for themselves, and which they pursued with savage brutality, were achieved by the liberal democrats who, almost without any effort and simply by allowing people to drift along with the flow of modernity, succeeded in converting churches into museums, restaurants, and public buildings, secularizing entire societies, making secularism the militant ideology, pushing religions to the sidelines, pressing the clergy into docility, and inspiring powerful mass culture with a strong antireligious bias in which a priest must be either a liberal challenging the Church of a disgusting villain.

Read the whole book.

After the US election, Prof. Legutko agreed to answer a few questions from me via e-mail. Here is our correspondence:

RD: What do you think of Donald Trump's victory, especially in context of Brexit and the changing currents of Western politics?

RL: In hindsight, Trump's victory seems logical as a continuation of a more general process that has been unveiling in the Western World: Hungary, Poland, Brexit, possible political reshufflings in Germany, France, Austria, etc. What this process, having many currents and facets, boils down to is difficult to say as it appears more negative than positive. More and more people say No , whereas it is not clear what exactly they are in favor of.

What seems to be common in the developments in Europe and the US is a growing mistrust towards the political establishment that has been in power for a long time. People have a feeling that in many cases this is the same establishment despite the change of the governments.

This establishment is characterized by two things: first, both in the US and in Europe (and in Europe even more so) its representatives unabashedly declare that there is no alternative to their platform, that there is practically one set of ideas - their own - every decent person may subscribe to, and that they themselves are the sole distributors of political respectability; second, the leaders of this establishment are evidently of the mediocre quality, and have been such long enough for the voters to notice.

Because the ruling political elites believe themselves to steer the society in the only correct political course it should take, and to be the best quality products of the Western political culture, they try to present the current conflict as a revolt of the unenlightened, confused and manipulated masses against the enlightened elites. In Europe it sometimes looks like an attempt to build a new form of an aristocratic order, since a place in the hierarchy is allotted to individuals and groups not according to their actual education, or by the power of their minds, or by the strength of their arguments, but by a membership in this or that class. The new aristocrats are full of contempt for the riffraff, do not mince words to bully them, use foul language, break the rules of decency - and doing all this does not make them feel any less aristocratic.

It is, I think, this contrast between, on the one hand, arrogance with which the new aristocrats preach their orthodoxy, and on the other, a leaping-to-the-eye low quality of their leadership that ultimately pushed a lot of people in Europe and the US to look for alternatives in the world that for too long was presented to them as having no alternative.

When eight years ago America elected as their president a completely unknown and inexperienced politician, and not exactly an exemplar of political virtue to boot, this choice was universally acclaimed as the triumph of political enlightenment, and the president was awarded the Nobel Prize in advance, before he could do anything (not that he did anything of value afterwards). The continuation of this politics by Hillary Clinton for another eight years would have elevated this establishment and their ideas to an even stronger position with all deplorable consequences.

For an outside observer like myself, America after the election appears to be divided but in a peculiar way. On the one side there is the Obama-Clinton America claiming to represent what is best in the modern politics, more or less united by a clear left-wing agenda whose aim is to continue the restructuring of the American society, family, schools, communities, morals. This America is in tune with what is considered to be a general tendency of the modern world, including Europe and non-European Western countries. But there seems to exist another America, deeply dissatisfied with the first one, angry and determined, but at the same time confused and chaotic, longing for action and energy, but unsure of itself, proud of their country's lost greatness, but having no great leaders, full of hope but short of ideas, a strange mixture of groups and ideologies, with no clear identity or political agenda. This other America, if personified, would resemble somebody not very different from Donald Trump.

Q: Trump won 52 percent of the Catholic vote, and over 80 percent of the white Evangelical Christian vote - this, despite the fact that he is in no way a serious Christian, and, on evidence of his words and deeds, is barely a Christian at all. Many Christians are understandably relieved that the state's ongoing assault on the churches and on religious liberty in the name of sex-and-gender ideology, will probably be halted under the new president. From your perspective, should US Christians be hopeful about their prospects under a Trump presidency, or instead wary of being tempted by a false prophet?

A: Christians have been the largest persecuted religious group in the non-Western world, but sadly they have also been the largest victimized religious group in those Western countries that have contracted a disease of political correctness (which in practice means almost all of them). Some Western Christians, including the clergy, abandoned any thought of resistance and not only capitulated but joined the forces of the enemy and started disciplining their own flock. No wonder that many Christians pray for better times hoping that at last there will appear a party or a leader that could loosen the straitjacket of political correctness and blunt its anti-Christian edge. It was then to be expected that having a choice between Trump and Clinton, they would turn to the former. But is Trump such a leader?

Anti-Christian prejudices have taken an institutional and legal form of such magnitude that no president, no matter how much committed to the cause, can change it quickly. Today in America it is difficult even to articulate one's opposition to political correctness because the public and private discourse has been profoundly corrupted by the left-wing ideology, and the American people have weaned themselves from any alternative language (and so have the Europeans). Any movement away from this discourse requires more awareness of the problem and more courage than Trump and his people seem to have. What Trump could and should do, and it will be a test of his intentions, are three things.

First, he should refrain from involving his administration in the anti-Christian actions, whether direct or indirect, thus breaking off with the practice of his predecessor. Second, he should nominate the right persons for the vacancies in the Supreme Court. Third, he should resist the temptation to cajole the politically correct establishment, as some Republicans have been doing, because not only will it be a bad signal, but also display naοvete: this establishment is never satisfied with anything but an unconditional surrender of its opponents.

Whether these decisions will be sufficient for American Christians to launch a counteroffensive and to reclaim the lost areas, I do not know. A lot will depend on what the Christians will do and how outspoken they will be in making their case public.

Q: Trump is a politician of the nationalist Right, but he is not a conservative in any philosophical or cultural sense. Had the vote gone only a bit differently in some states, today we would be talking about the political demise of American conservatism. Instead, the Republican Party is going to be stronger in government than it has been in a very long time - but the party has been shaken to its core by Trump's destruction of its establishment. Is it credible to say that Trump destroyed conservatism - or is it more accurate to say that the Republican Party, through its own follies, destroyed conservatism as we have known it, and opened the door for the nationalist Trump?

A: Conservatism has always been problematic in America, where the word itself has acquired more meanings, some of them quite bizarre, than in Europe. A quite common habit, to give an example, of mentioning libertarianism and conservatism in one breath, thereby suggesting that they are somehow essentially related, is proof enough that a conservative agenda is difficult for the Americans to swallow. If I am not mistaken, the Republican Party has long relinquished, with very few exceptions, any closer link with conservatism. If conservatism, whatever the precise definition, has something to do with a continuity of culture, Christian and Classical roots of this culture, classical metaphysics and anthropology, beauty and virtue, a sense of decorum, liberal education, family, republican paideia, and other related notions, these are not the elements that constitute an integral part of an ideal type of an Republican identity in today's America. Whether it has been different before, I am not competent to judge, but certainly there was a time when the intellectual institutions somehow linked to the Republican Party debated these issues. The new generations of the neocons gave up on big ideas while the theocons, old or new, never managed to have a noticeable impact on the Republican mainstream.

Given that there is this essential philosophical weakness within the modern Republican identity, Donald Trump does not look like an obvious person to change it by inspiring a resurgence of conservative thinking. I do not exclude however, unlikely as it seems today, that the new administration will need – solely for instrumental reasons – some big ideas to mobilize its electorate and to give them a sense of direction, and that a possible candidate to perform this function will be some kind of conservatism. Liberalism, libertarianism and saying 'no' to everything will certainly not serve the purpose. Nationalism looks good and played its role during two or three months of the campaign, but might be insufficient for the four (eight?) years that will follow.

Q: Though the Republicans will soon have their hands firmly on the levers of political power, cultural institutions - especially academia and the news and entertainment media - are still thoroughly progressive. In The Demon in Democracy , you write that "it is hard to imagine freedom without classical philosophy and the heritage of antiquity, without Christianity and scholasticism [and] many other components of the entire Western civilization." How can we hope to return to the roots of Western civilization when the culture-forming institutions are so hostile to it?

A: It is true that we live at a time of practically one orthodoxy which the majority of intellectuals and artists piously accept, and this orthodoxy - being some kind of liberal progressivism - has less and less connection with the foundations of Western civilization. This is perhaps more visible in Europe than in the US. In Europe, the very term "Europe" has been consistently applied to the European Union. Today the phrase "more Europe" does not mean "more classical education, more Latin and Greek, more knowledge about classical philosophy and scholasticism", but it means giving more power to the European Commission. No wonder an increasing number of people when they hear about Europe associate it with the EU, and not with Plato, Thomas Aquinas or Johann Sebastian Bach.

It seems thus obvious that those who want to strengthen or, as is more often the case, reintroduce classical culture in the modern world will not find allies among the liberal elites. For a liberal it is natural to distance himself from the classical philosophy, from Christianity and scholasticism rather than to advocate their indispensability for the cultivation of the Western mind. After all, these philosophies – they would say - were created in a pre-modern non-democratic and non-liberal world by men who despised women, kept slaves and took seriously religious superstitions. But it is not only the liberal prejudices that are in the way. A break-up with the classical tradition is not a recent phenomenon, and we have been for too long exposed to the world from which this tradition was absent.

There is little chance that a change may be implemented through a democratic process. Considering that in every Western country education has been, for quite a long time, in a deep crisis and that no government has succeeded in overcoming this crisis, a mere idea of bringing back classical education into schools in which young people can hardly read and write in their own native language sounds somewhat surrealist. A rule that bad education drives out good education seems to prevail in democratic societies. And yet I cannot accept the conclusion that we are doomed to live in societies in which neo-barbarism is becoming a norm.

How can we reverse this process then? In countries where education is primarily the responsibility of the state, it is the governments that may - hypothetically at least - have some role to play by using the economic and political instruments to stimulate the desired changes in education. In the US – I suspect - the government's role is substantially more reduced. So far however the European governments, including the conservative ones, have not made much progress in reversing the destructive trend.

The problem is a more fundamental one because it touches upon the controversy about what constitutes the Western civilization. The liberal progressives have managed to impose on our minds a notion that Christianity, classical metaphysics, etc., are no longer what defines our Western identity. A lot of conservatives – intellectuals and politicians – have readily acquiesced to this notion. Unless and until this changes and our position of what constitutes the West becomes an integral part of the conservative agenda and a subject of public debate, there is not much hope things can change. The election of Donald Trump has obviously as little to do with Scholasticism or Greek philosophy as it has with quantum mechanics, but nevertheless it may provide an occasion to reopen an old question about what makes the American identity and to reject a silly but popular answer that this identity is procedural rather than substantive. And this might be a first step to talk about the importance of the roots of the Western civilization.

You have written that "liberalism is more about struggle with non-liberal adversaries than deliberation with them." Now even some on the left admit that its embrace of political correctness, multiculturalism, and so-called "diversity," is partly responsible for Trump's victory. How do Brexit and Trump change the terms of the political conversation, especially now that it has been shown that there is no such thing as "the right side of history"?

Liberalism, despite its boastful declarations to the contrary, is not and has never been about diversity, multiplicity or pluralism. It is about homogeneity and unanimity. [Neo]Liberalism wants everyone and everything to be [neo]liberal, and does not tolerate anyone or anything that is not liberal. This is the reason why the [neo]liberals have such a strong sense of the enemy. Whoever disagrees with them is not just an opponent who may hold different views but a potential or actual fascist, a Hitlerite, a xenophobe, a nationalist, or – as they often say in the EU – a populist. Such a miserable person deserves to be condemned, derided, humiliated and abused.

The Brexit vote could have been looked at as an exercise in diversity and, as such, dear to every pluralist, or empirical evidence that the EU in its present form failed to accommodate diversity. But the reaction of the European elites was different and predictable – threats and condemnations. Before Brexit the EU reacted in a similar way to the non-[neo][neo]liberals winning elections in Hungary and then in Poland, the winners being immediately classified as fascists and the elections as not quite legitimate. The [neo]liberal mindset is such that accepts only those elections and choices in which the correct party wins.

I am afraid there will be a similar reaction to Donald Trump and his administration. As long as the [neo]liberals set the tone of the public debate, they will continue to bully both those who, they say, were wrongly elected and those who wrongly voted. This will not stop until it becomes clear beyond any doubt that the changes in Europe and in the US are not temporary and ephemeral and that there is a viable alternative which will not disappear with the next swing of the democratic pendulum. But this alternative, as I said before, is still in the process of formation and we are not sure what will be the final result.

There will be elections in several key European nations next year - Germany and France, in particular. What effect do you expect Trump's victory to have on European voters? How do you, as a Pole, view Trump's fondness for Vladimir Putin?

From a European perspective, Clinton's victory would have meant a tremendous boost to the EU bureaucracy, its ideology and its "more Europe" strategy. The forces of the self-proclaimed Enlightenment would have gone ecstatic and, consequently, would have made the world even more unbearable not only for conservatives. The results of the elections must have shaken the EU elites, and from that point of view Trump's victory was beneficial for those Europeans like myself who fear the federalization of the European Union and its growing ideological monopoly. There is more to happen in Europe in the coming years so the hope is that the EU hubris will suffer further blows and that the EU itself will become more self-restrained and more responsive to the aspirations of European peoples.

... ... ...

Again, Prof. Ryszard Legutko develops these themes in his powerful new book The Demon In Democracy . Highly recommended. It is rare to find a book of political philosophy that is so sharply written, so accessible to the general reader, so relevant to its time, and so prophetic. Posted in All Things Trump , Conservatism , Culture war , Political Correctness , Weimar America . Tagged elites , Europe , [neo]liberal democracy , liberalism , philosophy , Ryszard Legutko , Trump .

[Nov 21, 2016] Im beginning to wonder if the Marxist construction of alienated labor isnt itself invalid in our brave new world

Notable quotes:
"... We can't say it's a matter of needing more "good jobs" or better "labor protections," because both those solutions presume a specific paradigm where "working" is synonymous with "being productive" and that may no longer be the case. ..."
"... Food service for people who don't have time to cook (or never had time to learn); childcare for parents who can't be around to do it themselves; house cleaners, landscapers, dog walkers - an entire constellation of careers and "careers" apparently premised on the notion that modern people are just too damn busy to ever come home. Badly paid busy people doing work for underpaid busy people doing work for overpaid busy people who sell services to a hundred other busy people. ..."
"... Consider the lunch break. Something simple: coffee and a sandwich. You can "cook" it in ten minutes and the ingredients will cost you maybe a buck or two, or you can go down to the corner, spend the same ten minutes waiting in line, pay about ten times as much, and get something of roughly the same quality. It's pretty clear what the math favors (even notwithstanding the "I asked for no mayonnaise" contingency), and yet millions of us are buying that coffee and sandwich every day. ..."
Nov 21, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

Dave 11.20.16 at 8:59 am 22

I've been thinking a lot about what, exactly, "work" is and whether our society still needs it, as such. The early socialists recognized that much of what was alleged to be "productive" labor was, in fact, indulgence. Capitalism, since its inception, has exploited the human animal's natural drive toward industry so that the few could profit off the work of the many, but I'm beginning to wonder if the Marxist construction of alienated labor isn't itself invalid in our brave new world.

How can you "alienate" labor that scarcely seems to have a product in the first place? What do we make of that massive sector of the economy that does work that doesn't appear to need doing? How do you harness the power of labor for social change when a huge chunk of the workforce feels like if they quit tomorrow, they could be replaced in a week or, perhaps, not replaced at all.

We can't say it's a matter of needing more "good jobs" or better "labor protections," because both those solutions presume a specific paradigm where "working" is synonymous with "being productive" and that may no longer be the case. What happens when work isn't labor, as such, but rather a kind of anti-labor? An inordinately large portion of the economy consists of people doing jobs for other people that those people would be able to do themselves if they weren't so busy working. Food service for people who don't have time to cook (or never had time to learn); childcare for parents who can't be around to do it themselves; house cleaners, landscapers, dog walkers - an entire constellation of careers and "careers" apparently premised on the notion that modern people are just too damn busy to ever come home. Badly paid busy people doing work for underpaid busy people doing work for overpaid busy people who sell services to a hundred other busy people.

Now, the standard line is that specialized labor is more efficient, more efficient labor is more productive, and increased productivity makes us all richer. Capitalists tend to assume that the market is fair and those riches trickle down (or at least end up in the "right" hands), socialists rightly insist that the market doesn't work that way so wealth must be redistributed. What wealth though?

Consider the lunch break. Something simple: coffee and a sandwich. You can "cook" it in ten minutes and the ingredients will cost you maybe a buck or two, or you can go down to the corner, spend the same ten minutes waiting in line, pay about ten times as much, and get something of roughly the same quality. It's pretty clear what the math favors (even notwithstanding the "I asked for no mayonnaise" contingency), and yet millions of us are buying that coffee and sandwich every day.

This leads me to ask if there's such a thing as counterproductive efficiency (inefficient productivity?). I'm not an economist, so someone else will have to tell me if any of the standard models incorporate "forgetting to go to the grocery store" and "not having time to pack a lunch that morning" as variables, but it seems like as far as economics relates to real people, these petty details aren't just part of the picture, they are the picture. If we can have a "convenience" industry that chiefly exists because the rest of our lives are rather inconvenient, and this is supposed to be more efficient, then something is very wrong with how we model efficiency.

It's not just that our economies are underestimating the true costs of labor (in terms of time, health, and mental energy), it's that we as a society have decided that it's a social duty to do work that impoverishes us. What does it mean to "earn a living?" Consider that phrase. We use it constantly, for many of us it's our main goal in life, and yet it's anathema to the idea of inalienable rights. You cannot have a right to life (and liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.) and an obligation to "earn" that living at the same time. Most of us would be outraged if we were told that we had to "earn" our right to vote, or our right to speak freely, yet our basic right to survival is contingent on participation in a labor system that squanders the better part of our lives, restricts our liberties, and has no patience at all for the pursuit of happiness.

Now, there's much to be said for what was once called the "Protestant work ethic' (before it went global). There will always be jobs that need to be done and people should be in the habit of doing them (and many of us know firsthand how bad things can get when you get out of that habit), but the reverse is also true. Some jobs don't need doing (or only need doing because other people aren't free to do them) and it's high time we started asking why, exactly, we all have to spend so much time doing them.

[Nov 21, 2016] I'm beginning to wonder if the Marxist construction of alienated labor isn't itself invalid in our brave new world

Nov 21, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

Dave 11.20.16 at 8:59 am 22

I've been thinking a lot about what, exactly, "work" is and whether our society still needs it, as such. The early socialists recognized that much of what was alleged to be "productive" labor was, in fact, indulgence. Capitalism, since its inception, has exploited the human animal's natural drive toward industry so that the few could profit off the work of the many, but I'm beginning to wonder if the Marxist construction of alienated labor isn't itself invalid in our brave new world.

How can you "alienate" labor that scarcely seems to have a product in the first place? What do we make of that massive sector of the economy that does work that doesn't appear to need doing? How do you harness the power of labor for social change when a huge chunk of the workforce feels like if they quit tomorrow, they could be replaced in a week or, perhaps, not replaced at all.

We can't say it's a matter of needing more "good jobs" or better "labor protections," because both those solutions presume a specific paradigm where "working" is synonymous with "being productive" and that may no longer be the case. What happens when work isn't labor, as such, but rather a kind of anti-labor? An inordinately large portion of the economy consists of people doing jobs for other people that those people would be able to do themselves if they weren't so busy working. Food service for people who don't have time to cook (or never had time to learn); childcare for parents who can't be around to do it themselves; house cleaners, landscapers, dog walkers - an entire constellation of careers and "careers" apparently premised on the notion that modern people are just too damn busy to ever come home. Badly paid busy people doing work for underpaid busy people doing work for overpaid busy people who sell services to a hundred other busy people.

Now, the standard line is that specialized labor is more efficient, more efficient labor is more productive, and increased productivity makes us all richer. Capitalists tend to assume that the market is fair and those riches trickle down (or at least end up in the "right" hands), socialists rightly insist that the market doesn't work that way so wealth must be redistributed. What wealth though?

Consider the lunch break. Something simple: coffee and a sandwich. You can "cook" it in ten minutes and the ingredients will cost you maybe a buck or two, or you can go down to the corner, spend the same ten minutes waiting in line, pay about ten times as much, and get something of roughly the same quality. It's pretty clear what the math favors (even notwithstanding the "I asked for no mayonnaise" contingency), and yet millions of us are buying that coffee and sandwich every day. This leads me to ask if there's such a thing as counterproductive efficiency (inefficient productivity?). I'm not an economist, so someone else will have to tell me if any of the standard models incorporate "forgetting to go to the grocery store" and "not having time to pack a lunch that morning" as variables, but it seems like as far as economics relates to real people, these petty details aren't just part of the picture, they are the picture. If we can have a "convenience" industry that chiefly exists because the rest of our lives are rather inconvenient, and this is supposed to be more efficient, then something is very wrong with how we model efficiency.

It's not just that our economies are underestimating the true costs of labor (in terms of time, health, and mental energy), it's that we as a society have decided that it's a social duty to do work that impoverishes us. What does it mean to "earn a living?" Consider that phrase. We use it constantly, for many of us it's our main goal in life, and yet it's anathema to the idea of inalienable rights. You cannot have a right to life (and liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.) and an obligation to "earn" that living at the same time. Most of us would be outraged if we were told that we had to "earn" our right to vote, or our right to speak freely, yet our basic right to survival is contingent on participation in a labor system that squanders the better part of our lives, restricts our liberties, and has no patience at all for the pursuit of happiness.

Now, there's much to be said for what was once called the "Protestant work ethic' (before it went global). There will always be jobs that need to be done and people should be in the habit of doing them (and many of us know firsthand how bad things can get when you get out of that habit), but the reverse is also true. Some jobs don't need doing (or only need doing because other people aren't free to do them) and it's high time we started asking why, exactly, we all have to spend so much time doing them.

[Nov 21, 2016] Whether the Democratic Party ever did really represent the workers.

Notable quotes:
"... I see some hope for a revival of worker activism in the Teamster elections. While it appears that the boss-friendly Hoffa slate will just barely hang on to power, many locals have demonstrated that their members won't be satisfied with "business as usual." ..."
"... He (David Graham Phillips ) also helped educate the public on how the senators were selected and that it was held in the hands of a few bosses in a tight circle, helping increase the corruption level. As a result of these articles, only four of the twenty-one senators that Philips wrote about were still in office. ..."
"... Thanks to Picketty's Law, the mass media has lost most of that trust ..."
"... In the 30's large labor was located in or around an owner's physical space (mines, factories, docks, cab companies, etc). So much factory work now has been off-shored. In it's place there is the gig economy, Uber, the single person alone with an app. So many of these app jobs – Uber driving, AirBnB hosting – make money for the app owners and their stock ipo float by breaking local laws and regulations. ..."
"... Why haven't the Dems or GOP stopped the illegal activity by enforcing law? The congress is on the side of "new economy" monopolists, it seems. How does labor today, fragmented and ignored, make demand ? ..."
"... They gain some immunity by making everyone a potential capitalist, per my comment above. That it's a game where all their efforts line the monopolist pocket comes later in the game, when these abuses have become normalized. ..."
Nov 21, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
from Where Was Roosevelt naked capitalism

Ulysses November 20, 2016 at 7:00 am

Our best prospects for change still rest with the "rank-and-file"

I see some hope for a revival of worker activism in the Teamster elections. While it appears that the boss-friendly Hoffa slate will just barely hang on to power, many locals have demonstrated that their members won't be satisfied with "business as usual."

Here's Teamsters for a Democratic Union endorsed candidate Fred Zuckerman:

"As the ballots were tallied this week, we shocked the employers and the Hoffa-Hall slate and won the majority of the vote from Teamsters in the United States. Hoffa-Hall overtook our lead when the Teamsters Canada ballots were counted

We believe in coalitions and bringing union officers and members together and we will continue to do that. The election results show that many officers are badly out of touch. They need to start standing with their members or they will find themselves replaced by a new generation of Teamster leaders.
The International Union vote count is nearing a close. The fight for our future is just beginning."

http://www.tdu.org/fred_zuckerman_statement_on_the_ibt_election

Propertius November 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm

"Begging the question" does not mean what you seem to think it means.

Anon November 20, 2016 at 3:44 pm

In it's original sense, yes. As used in today's language, it is being used very much in the venacular. No need to nitpic: the point is valid.

Cry Shop November 20, 2016 at 10:05 am

Correct on FDR. For example FDR originally didn't want social security, was forced to pass a watered down SS, and then to improve it by movements run by Dr. Charles Townsend(state based social security) , Father Charles Goughlin , and Gov. Huey Long.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/10/economic-recovery-feels-weak-because-the-great-recession-hasnt-really-ended.html#comment-2682679

Left in Wisconsin November 20, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Staughton Lynd – brilliant as always. Some basic takeaways:

1. People (notably "noted" economists and political scientists) who date the beginning of the New Deal to 1935, or even 1937, miss much of the real action, which was in 1933-35, when political outcomes were uncertain. At the time, the elements that we think of as "final" and thus the intended outcomes (Wagner Act, FLSA, Social Security, etc.) were seen as tentative, early compromises that would surely later be improved and built upon.

2. Ditto for the CIO and the big industrial unions (i.e. UAW and USWA). They were helpful in an organizational sense from 1935-36 on to give industrial workers an institutional home within organized labor that wasn't the AFL – but they were as much an effort to harness rank-and-file labor power as unleash it. The UAW was at its most powerful in the early years (through 1941 or so) when various factions were at war with each other and everything was completely chaotic. (Reuther didn't consolidate power until 1947.) Even from the perspective of institutional labor, much more relevant were the AFL Federal Labor Unions (FLU's), which were the local unions created ad hoc by the AFL in 1933-34 into which were dumped the masses of industrial workers spontaneously organizing that the AFL had no idea what to do with, since they didn't fit into the AFL's craft structure and didn't want to.

3. The notion that the Dems or progressives or even "the left" need to coalesce around a particular program or strategy in order to gain power has no historical basis. The left makes gains when capitalists run scared, which is when things are chaotic and outcomes are most uncertain. Organization and institutionalization have value but in times when real change is needed, they are more likely to be an impediment to change than a catalyst. Lambert likes to beat up on Trumka, who I personally don't think is any worse than the others. But I do agree that labor will only become a political force again not when people like Trumka gain influence, but when they are deposed.

Cry Shop November 20, 2016 at 6:30 pm

The general public, not just unions, and other organs, had a powerful influence on the public governance in part due to Muckraking.

He (David Graham Phillips ) also helped educate the public on how the senators were selected and that it was held in the hands of a few bosses in a tight circle, helping increase the corruption level. As a result of these articles, only four of the twenty-one senators that Philips wrote about were still in office.

On the other hand, I wonder how long Philips would have held his job if he had started to cover the mining interests, and other explorations South of the border which were a factor in Hearst's war mongering yellow journalism.

Thanks to Picketty's Law, the mass media has lost most of that trust, but even more, the use of housing as capital, REITS, mutual funds, IRAs, etc; a long with social institutions like gated communities, mass private k-12/charter schools, and suburban sprawl have made everyone a capitalist who hopes his funds do better than his neighbor, destroying solidarity and replacing it with narrowly defined self-iinterest and greed.

flora November 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Thanks for this post. In the 30's large labor was located in or around an owner's physical space (mines, factories, docks, cab companies, etc). So much factory work now has been off-shored. In it's place there is the gig economy, Uber, the single person alone with an app. So many of these app jobs – Uber driving, AirBnB hosting – make money for the app owners and their stock ipo float by breaking local laws and regulations.

Why haven't the Dems or GOP stopped the illegal activity by enforcing law? The congress is on the side of "new economy" monopolists, it seems.
How does labor today, fragmented and ignored, make demand ?

Cry Shop November 20, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Flora,

They gain some immunity by making everyone a potential capitalist, per my comment above. That it's a game where all their efforts line the monopolist pocket comes later in the game, when these abuses have become normalized. Uber bled very large sums trying to keep all the drivers in China behind them, even the communist parties can be sensitive to that kind of public appeal,

d shatin November 20, 2016 at 7:09 pm

I really feel sick to my stomach. Unfortunately in the main I see 2 groups of people- the kind, compassionate, other oriented and the competitive, greedy, self oriented that views survival as keeping and staying ahead of everyone else. I am less sanguine especially having watched the film "the Sorrow and the Pity" about inside Vichy France under the Nazis. We really must form an underground in every town secretly and prepare to respond in unity at a moment's notice.

Clonal Antibody November 20, 2016 at 7:09 pm

Michael Hudson's father Carlos Hudson was imprisoned by Roosevelt under the Smith Act in 1941 as a part of the prosecution of the Minneapolis 18. He was sentenced to 16 months at Sandstone MN.

Earlier, he was fired from the WPA for organizing WPA teachers into a union

Louis Proyect November 20, 2016 at 7:16 pm

Always impressed with the acumen of Naked Capitalism commenters. I am working on a series of articles about whether the Democratic Party ever did really represent the workers.

Part one dealt with 19th century Democrats and Woodrow Wilson: https://louisproyect.org/2016/11/14/did-the-democratic-party-ever-really-represent-the-working-class-part-one/

The Lynd piece was "raw footage" for part two, an article I will be posting soon on FDR. Right now I am reading Ahmed White's "The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America", a book I can't recommend highly enough. This was the strike that inspired FDR to say "a plague on both your houses" after a police riot in Chicago killed 10 and wounded 100 steelworkers and their supporters who were peacefully protesting.

[Nov 21, 2016] The Deciders The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... The various accounts present an array of neoconservative thinkers-notably Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and Walter Slocombe-who implemented their own policies rather than those of the president they served. Moreover, one of the major influences on these policies was the Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, who had thought he would be put in charge of postwar Iraq, having "been led to believe that by Perle and Feith," as General Garner related to the journalist Thomas Ricks. And while the responsibility for what happened ultimately lies with George W. Bush-who, to his credit, avers as much in his own memoir-this episode demonstrates how knowledgeable mid-level advisors can hijack the American presidency to suit their own goals. ..."
"... Regarding the de-Baathification order, both Bremer and Feith have written their own accounts of the week leading up to it, and the slight discrepancy between their recollections is revealing in what it tells us about Bremer-and consequently about Wolfowitz and Libby for having selected him. At first blush, Bremer and Feith's justifications for the policy appear to dovetail, each comparing postwar Iraq to postwar Nazi Germany. ..."
"... Simply put, Bremer was tempted by headline-grabbing policies. He was unlikely to question any action that offered opportunities to make bold gestures, which made him easy to influence. Indeed, another quality of Bremer's professional persona that conspicuously emerges from accounts of the period is his unwillingness to think for himself. His memoir shows that he was eager to put Jay Garner in his place from the moment he arrived in Iraq, yet he was unable to defend himself on his own when challenged by Garner, who-according to Bob Woodward in his book State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III -was "stunned" by the disbanding order. Woodward claims that when Garner confronted Bremer about it, "Bremer, looking surprised, asked Garner to go see Walter B. Slocombe." ..."
"... To help untangle these problems, I was fortunate to have Walt Slocombe as Senior Adviser for defense and security affairs. A brilliant former Rhodes Scholar from Princeton and a Harvard-educated attorney, Walt had worked for Democratic administrations for decades on high-level strategic and arms control issues. ..."
"... Although a Democrat, he has maintained good relations with Wolfowitz and is described by some as a 'Democratic hawk,'" a remark that once again places Wolfowitz in close proximity to Bremer and the disbanding order. ..."
"... This further illustrates the disconnect between what was decided by the NSC in Washington in March and by the CPA in Iraq in May. In his memoir, Feith notes that although he supported the disbanding policy, "the decision became associated with a number of unnecessary problems, including the apparent lack of interagency review." ..."
"... I should have insisted on more debate on Jerry's orders, especially on what message disbanding the army would send and how many Sunnis the de-Baathification would affect. Overseen by longtime exile Ahmed Chalabi, the de-Baathification program turned out to cut much deeper than we expected, including mid-level party members like teachers. ..."
"... Perle echoed this view two years later when he told Vanity Fair , "Huge mistakes were made they were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad." ..."
"... illustration by Michael Hogue ..."
Oct 27, 2015 | www.theamericanconservative.com

In May 2003, in the wake of the Iraq War and the ousting of Saddam Hussein, events took place that set the stage for the current chaos in the Middle East. Yet even most well-informed Americans are unaware of how policies implemented by mid-level bureaucrats during the Bush administration unwittingly unleashed forces that would ultimately lead to the juggernaut of the Islamic State.

The lesson is that it appears all too easy for outsiders working with relatively low-level appointees to hijack the policy process. The Bay of Pigs invasion and Iran-Contra affair are familiar instances, but the Iraq experience offers an even better illustration-not least because its consequences have been even more disastrous.

The cast of characters includes President George W. Bush; L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer, the first civilian administrator of postwar Iraq; Douglas Feith, Bush's undersecretary of defense for policy; Paul Wolfowitz, Bush's deputy secretary of defense; I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Richard B. Cheney (and Cheney's proxy in these events); Walter Slocombe, who had been President Clinton's undersecretary of defense for policy, and as such was Feith's predecessor; Richard Perle, who was chairman of Bush's defense policy board; and General Jay Garner, whom Bremer replaced as the leader of postwar Iraq.

On May 9, 2003, President Bush appointed Bremer to the top civilian post in Iraq. A career diplomat who was recruited for this job by Wolfowitz and Libby, despite the fact that he had minimal experience of the region and didn't speak Arabic, Bremer arrived in Baghdad on May 12 to take charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA. In his first two weeks at his post, Bremer issued two orders that would turn out to be momentous. Enacted on May 16, CPA Order Number 1 "de-Baathified" the Iraqi government; on May 23, CPA Order Number 2 disbanded the Iraqi army. In short, Baath party members were barred from participation in Iraq's new government and Saddam Hussein's soldiers lost their jobs, taking their weapons with them.

The results of these policies become clear as we learn about the leadership of ISIS. The Washington Post , for example, reported in April that "almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers." In June, the New York Times identified a man "believed to be the head of the Islamic State's military council," Fadel al-Hayali, as "a former lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi military intelligence agency of President Saddam Hussein." Criticism of de-Baathification and the disbanding of Iraq's army has been fierce, and the contribution these policies made to fueling extremism was recognized even before the advent of the Islamic State. The New York Times reported in 2007:

The dismantling of the Iraqi Army in the aftermath of the American invasion is now widely regarded as a mistake that stoked rebellion among hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers and made it more difficult to reduce sectarian bloodshed and attacks by insurgents.

This year the Washington Post summed up reactions to both orders when it cited a former Iraqi general who asked bluntly, "When they dismantled the army, what did they expect those men to do?" He explained that "they didn't de-Baathify people's minds, they just took away their jobs." Writing about the disbanding policy in his memoir, Decision Points , George W. Bush acknowledges the harmful results: "Thousands of armed men had just been told they were not wanted. Instead of signing up for the new military, many joined the insurgency."

Yet in spite of the wide-ranging consequences of these de-Baathification and disbanding policies, they-and the decision-making processes that led to them-remain obscure to most Americans. What is more, it is unclear whether Bush himself knew about these policies before they were enacted. In November 2003, the Washington Post claimed, "Before the war, President Bush approved a plan that would have put several hundred thousand Iraqi soldiers on the U.S. payroll and kept them available to provide security." There had apparently been two National Security Council meetings, one on March 10 and another on March 12, during which the president approved a moderate de-Baathification policy and a plan, as reported by the New York Times ' Michael R. Gordon, to "use the Iraqi military to help protect the country." (The invasion of Iraq began on March 19.) President Bush later told biographer Robert Draper that "the policy was to keep the army intact" but it "didn't happen."

So the question remains: if CPA Orders 1 and 2 weren't Bush's policies, whose were they? In 2007, Doug Feith told the Los Angeles Times that "until everybody writes memoirs and all the researchers look at the documents, some of these things are hard to sort out. You could be in the thick of it and not necessarily know all the details." Now that the memoirs have been written, it is time to establish just who the policymakers were in May 2003.

The various accounts present an array of neoconservative thinkers-notably Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and Walter Slocombe-who implemented their own policies rather than those of the president they served. Moreover, one of the major influences on these policies was the Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, who had thought he would be put in charge of postwar Iraq, having "been led to believe that by Perle and Feith," as General Garner related to the journalist Thomas Ricks. And while the responsibility for what happened ultimately lies with George W. Bush-who, to his credit, avers as much in his own memoir-this episode demonstrates how knowledgeable mid-level advisors can hijack the American presidency to suit their own goals.

♦♦♦

At the start of May 2003, the chief administrative entity in Iraq was the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (OHRA), which was replaced shortly thereafter by the CPA under Bremer. The head of OHRA was General Garner, who worked "under the eyes of senior Defense Department aides with direct channels to Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Under Secretary for Policy Douglas J. Feith," according to the Washington Post . For his part, Garner strongly favored a policy of maintaining the Iraqi army, and preparations towards this end began almost a year earlier. For instance, Colonel John Agoglia told the New York Times that "Starting in June 2002 we conducted targeted psychological operations using pamphlet drops, broadcasts and all sorts of means to get the message to the regular army troops that they should surrender or desert and that if they did we would bring them back." The Times reported earlier that under Garner's leadership, "Top commanders were meeting secretly with former Iraqi officers to discuss the best way to rebuild the force and recall Iraqi soldiers back to duty when Mr. Bremer arrived in Baghdad with his plan."

In the same story, the Times claimed that "The Bush administration did not just discuss keeping the old army. General Garner's team found contractors to retrain it." Bremer, however, showed up with policy ideas that diverged sharply from Garner's.

In his memoir, Bremer names the officials who approached him for his CPA job. He recounts telling his wife that:

I had been contacted by Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and by Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense. The Pentagon's original civil administration in 'post-hostility' Iraq-the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, ORHA-lacked expertise in high-level diplomatic negotiations and politics. I had the requisite skills and experience for that position.

Regarding the de-Baathification order, both Bremer and Feith have written their own accounts of the week leading up to it, and the slight discrepancy between their recollections is revealing in what it tells us about Bremer-and consequently about Wolfowitz and Libby for having selected him. At first blush, Bremer and Feith's justifications for the policy appear to dovetail, each comparing postwar Iraq to postwar Nazi Germany.

Bremer explains in a retrospective Washington Post op-ed, "What We Got Right in Iraq," that "Hussein modeled his regime after Adolf Hitler's, which controlled the German people with two main instruments: the Nazi Party and the Reich's security services. We had no choice but to rid Iraq of the country's equivalent organizations." For his part, Feith goes a step further, reasoning in his memoir War and Decision that the case for de-Baathification was even stronger because "The Nazis, after all, had run Germany for a dozen years; the Baathists had tyrannized Iraq for more than thirty."

Regarding the order itself, Bremer writes,

The day before I left for Iraq in May, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith presented me with a draft law that would purge top Baathists from the Iraqi government and told me that he planned to issue it immediately. Recognizing how important this step was, I asked Feith to hold off, among other reasons, so I could discuss it with Iraqi leaders and CPA advisers. A week later, after careful consideration, I issued this 'de-Baathification' decree, as drafted by the Pentagon.

In contrast, Feith recalls that Bremer asked him to wait because "Bremer had thoughts of his own on the subject, he said, and wanted to consider the de-Baathification policy carefully. As the new CPA head, he thought he should announce and implement the policy himself."

The notion that he "carefully" considered the policy in his first week on the job, during which he also travelled halfway around the globe, is highly questionable. Incidentally, Bremer's oxymoronic statement-"a week later, after careful consideration"-mirrors a similar formulation of Wolfowitz's about the disbanding order. Speaking to the Washington Post in November 2003, he said that forming a new Iraqi army is "what we're trying to do at warp speed-but with careful vetting of the people we're bringing on."

Simply put, Bremer was tempted by headline-grabbing policies. He was unlikely to question any action that offered opportunities to make bold gestures, which made him easy to influence. Indeed, another quality of Bremer's professional persona that conspicuously emerges from accounts of the period is his unwillingness to think for himself. His memoir shows that he was eager to put Jay Garner in his place from the moment he arrived in Iraq, yet he was unable to defend himself on his own when challenged by Garner, who-according to Bob Woodward in his book State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III -was "stunned" by the disbanding order. Woodward claims that when Garner confronted Bremer about it, "Bremer, looking surprised, asked Garner to go see Walter B. Slocombe."

What's even more surprising is how Bremer doesn't hide his intellectual dependence on Slocombe. He writes in his memoir:

To help untangle these problems, I was fortunate to have Walt Slocombe as Senior Adviser for defense and security affairs. A brilliant former Rhodes Scholar from Princeton and a Harvard-educated attorney, Walt had worked for Democratic administrations for decades on high-level strategic and arms control issues.

In May 2003, the Washington Post noted of Slocombe that "Although a Democrat, he has maintained good relations with Wolfowitz and is described by some as a 'Democratic hawk,'" a remark that once again places Wolfowitz in close proximity to Bremer and the disbanding order. Sure enough, in November 2003 the Washington Post reported:

The demobilization decision appears to have originated largely with Walter B. Slocombe, a former undersecretary of defense appointed to oversee Iraqi security forces. He believed strongly in the need to disband the army and felt that vanquished soldiers should not expect to be paid a continuing salary. He said he developed the policy in discussions with Bremer, Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. 'This is not something that was dreamed up by somebody at the last minute and done at the insistence of the people in Baghdad. It was discussed,' Slocombe said. 'The critical point was that nobody argued that we shouldn't do this.'

Given that the president agreed to preserve the Iraqi army in the NSC meeting on March 12, Slocombe's statement is evidence of a major policy inconsistency. In that meeting, Feith, at the request of Donald Rumsfeld, gave a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Garner about keeping the Iraqi army; in his own memoir, Feith writes, "No one at that National Security Council meeting in early March spoke against the recommendation, and the President approved Garner's plan." But this is not what happened. What happened instead was the reversal of Garner's plan, which Feith attributes to Slocombe and Bremer:

Bremer and Slocombe argued that it would better serve U.S. interests to create an entirely new Iraqi army: Sometimes it is easier to build something new than to refurbish a complex and badly designed structure. In any event, Bremer and Slocombe reasoned, calling the old army back might not succeed-but the attempt could cause grave political problems.

Over time, both Bremer and Slocombe have gone so far as to deny that the policies had any tangible effects. Bremer claimed in the Washington Post that "Virtually all the old Baathist ministers had fled before the decree was issued" and that "When the draftees saw which way the war was going, they deserted and, like their officers, went back home." Likewise Slocombe stated in a PBS interview, "We didn't disband the army. The army disbanded itself. What we did do was to formally dissolve all of the institutions of Saddam's security system. The intelligence, his military, his party structure, his information and propaganda structure were formally disbanded and the property turned over to the Coalition Provisional Authority."

Thus, according to Bremer and Slocombe's accounts, neither de-Baathification nor disbanding the army achieved anything that hadn't already happened. When coupled with Bremer's assertion of "careful consideration in one week" and Wolfowitz's claim of "careful vetting at warp speed," Bremer and Slocombe's notion of "doing something that had already been done" creates a strong impression that they are hiding something or trying to finesse history with wordplay. Perhaps Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran provides the best possible explanation for this confusion in his book Imperial Life in the Emerald City , when he writes, "Despite the leaflets instructing them to go home, Slocombe had expected Iraqi soldiers to stay in their garrisons. Now he figured that calling them back would cause even more problems." Chandrasekaran adds, "As far as Slocombe and Feith were concerned, the Iraqi army had dissolved itself; formalizing the dissolution wouldn't contradict Bush's directive." This suggests that Slocombe and Feith were communicating and that Slocombe was fully aware of the policy the president had agreed to in the NSC meeting on March 12, yet he chose to disregard it.

♦♦♦

Following the disastrous decisions of May 2003, the blame game has been rife among neoconservative policymakers. One of those who have expended the most energy dodging culpability is, predictably, Bremer. In early 2007, he testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Washington Post reported: "Bremer proved unexpectedly agile at shifting blame: to administration planners ('The planning before the war was inadequate'), his superiors in the Bush administration ('We never had sufficient support'), and the Iraqi people ('The country was in chaos-socially, politically and economically')."

Bremer also wrote in May 2007 in the Washington Post , "I've grown weary of being a punching bag over these decisions-particularly from critics who've never spent time in Iraq, don't understand its complexities and can't explain what we should have done differently." (This declaration is ironic, given Bremer's noted inability to justify the disbanding policy to General Garner.) On September 4, 2007, the New York Times reported that Bremer had given the paper exculpatory letters supposedly proving that George W. Bush confirmed the disbanding order. But the Times concluded, "the letters do not show that [Bush] approved the order or even knew much about it. Mr. Bremer referred only fleetingly to his plan midway through his three-page letter and offered no details." Moreover, the paper characterized Bremer's correspondence with Bush as "striking in its almost nonchalant reference to a major decision that a number of American military officials in Iraq strongly opposed." Defending himself on this point, Bremer claimed, "the policy was carefully considered by top civilian and military members of the American government." And six months later Bremer told the paper, "It was not my responsibility to do inter-agency coordination."

Feith and Slocombe have been similarly evasive when discussing President Bush's awareness of the policies. The Los Angeles Times noted that "Feith was deeply involved in the decision-making process at the time, working closely with Bush and Bremer," yet "Feith said he could not comment about how involved the president was in the decision to change policy and dissolve the army. 'I don't know all the details of who talked to who about that,' he said." For his part, Slocombe told PBS's "Frontline,"

What happens in Washington in terms of how the [decisions are made]-'Go ahead and do this, do that; don't do that, do this, even though you don't want to do it'-that's an internal Washington coordination problem about which I know little. One of the interesting things about the job from my point of view-all my other government experience basically had been in the Washington end, with the interagencies process and setting the priorities-at the other end we got output. And how the process worked in Washington I actually know very little about, because the channel was from the president to Rumsfeld to Bremer.

It's a challenge to parse Slocombe's various statements. Here, in the space of two sentences, he claims both that his government experience has mostly been in Washington and that he doesn't know how Washington works. As mentioned earlier, he had previously told the Washington Post that the disbanding order was not "done at the insistence of the people in Baghdad"-in other words, the decision was made in Washington. The inconsistency of his accounts from year to year, and even in the same interview, adds to an aura of concealment.

This further illustrates the disconnect between what was decided by the NSC in Washington in March and by the CPA in Iraq in May. In his memoir, Feith notes that although he supported the disbanding policy, "the decision became associated with a number of unnecessary problems, including the apparent lack of interagency review."

The blame game is nowhere more evident than in a 2007 Vanity Fair article entitled "Neo Culpa," which was previewed online just before the 2006 midterm elections. Writer David Rose spoke with numerous neoconservatives, who roundly censured George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Rumsfeld, and Bremer for the chaos in Iraq. Speaking broadly about the Bush administration, Adelman said, "They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era." And Perle complained, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly. At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible."

Yet Perle's reflection on the timeliness of decisions conflicts with President Bush's account rather strikingly. In his memoir, Bush writes:

I should have insisted on more debate on Jerry's orders, especially on what message disbanding the army would send and how many Sunnis the de-Baathification would affect. Overseen by longtime exile Ahmed Chalabi, the de-Baathification program turned out to cut much deeper than we expected, including mid-level party members like teachers.

In June 2004, Bill Kristol was already censuring the president for his "poor performance," musing that his school of thought has been collateral damage in a mismanaged foreign policy: neoconservatism, he wrote, "has probably been weakened by the Bush administration's poor performance in implementing what could be characterized as its recommended foreign policy." Kristol argued that "This failure in execution has been a big one. It has put the neoconservative 'project' at risk. Much more important, it has put American foreign policy at risk." Perle echoed this view two years later when he told Vanity Fair , "Huge mistakes were made they were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad."

This downplaying of neoconservative influence in "what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad" is curious, and Perle is not the only person to have tried it. Max Boot, writing in the same 2004 collection as Kristol, does the same thing when, after naming Wolfowitz, Feith, Libby, Elliott Abrams, and Perle as neoconservatives who served Bush, he argues:

Each of these policy-makers has been an outspoken advocate for aggressive and, if necessary, unilateral action by the United States to promote democracy, human rights, and free markets, and to maintain U.S. primacy around the world. While this list seems impressive, it also reveals that the neocons have no representatives in the administration's top tier.

But apparently it didn't matter that there were no neoconservatives in top positions-not when one considers the knowledge and prior government experience of Vice President Cheney, the neoconservatives' sponsor. In A World Transformed , George H.W. Bush writes of Cheney that he "knew how policy was made." Barton Gellman observes in Angler , his book about Cheney: "Most of the government's work, Cheney knew, never reached the altitude of Senate-confirmed appointees. Reliable people in mid-level posts would have the last word on numberless decisions about where to spend or not spend money, whom to regulate, how to enforce." In the end avoiding the highest positions in the administration makes it all the more easy to dodge blame.

♦♦♦

Americans are painfully familiar with stories like this one, in which a coterie of advisors takes policy in a dangerous direction with little or no knowledge on the part of the president. But the case of the Iraq War and the decisions that followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein has a unique importance-because we are still living with the consequences, and others are dying for them.

Democrats may be tempted to dismiss all that happened in the Bush years as simply the other party's fault. Republicans have a comforting myth of their own in the belief that President Bush's 2007 "surge" of U.S. forces into Iraq ended the country's instability, which only returned after President Obama fully withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011. But as the role of Walter Slocombe-the Democratic counterpart to Doug Feith in more ways than one-illustrates, Clintons no less than Bushes are susceptible to this personnel problem.

Republicans, meanwhile, should consider retired Lt. Col. Gian Gentile's verdict that "the reduction in violence" in Iraq in 2007 "had more to do with the Iraqis than the Americans," specifically with the Sunni tribesmen's newfound willingness to fight (for a price) alongside Americans against al-Qaeda and with Moqtada al-Sadr's de-escalation of Shi'ite activity. But regardless of what the surge did or did not contribute to quelling the bloodshed in Iraq, the intensity of the civil war that raged there in the first place was in considerable part a product of misguided de-Baathification and disbanding policies-and the Islamic State today depends on the military and intelligence forces that Bremer, Feith, and Slocombe casually dismissed.

When you have the wrong diagnosis, you risk coming to the wrong solution, no matter how clever you think you are. As the GOP candidates for the 2016 presidential election have made their campaigns official, they have been pummeled with hindsight questions about the Iraq War and ISIS, and no one has a harder time facing this than Jeb Bush. In order to correctly address what to do about the Islamic State, it is important to acknowledge what specifically went wrong with decision-making in the Iraq War.

This episode highlights a weakness in the executive branch that is ripe for exploitation under any administration. When the neoconservative Frank Gaffney, speaking about George W. Bush, told Vanity Fair , "This president has tolerated, and the people around him have tolerated, active, ongoing, palpable insubordination and skullduggery that translates into subversion of his policies," it seems incredible to think that he failed to see the irony of his assertion. But for those who have a deep understanding of how the government works, it is quite possible to undermine a president, then step back and pretend to have had minimal involvement, and finally stand in judgment. But now that the story is known, the American people can be the judges.

John Hay is a former executive branch official under Republican administrations.

The Deciders

The disastrous Iraq policies that led to ISIS were not President Bush's.

By John Hay • October 27, 2015 illustration by Michael Hogue

In May 2003, in the wake of the Iraq War and the ousting of Saddam Hussein, events took place that set the stage for the current chaos in the Middle East. Yet even most well-informed Americans are unaware of how policies implemented by mid-level bureaucrats during the Bush administration unwittingly unleashed forces that would ultimately lead to the juggernaut of the Islamic State.

The lesson is that it appears all too easy for outsiders working with relatively low-level appointees to hijack the policy process. The Bay of Pigs invasion and Iran-Contra affair are familiar instances, but the Iraq experience offers an even better illustration-not least because its consequences have been even more disastrous.

The cast of characters includes President George W. Bush; L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer, the first civilian administrator of postwar Iraq; Douglas Feith, Bush's undersecretary of defense for policy; Paul Wolfowitz, Bush's deputy secretary of defense; I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Richard B. Cheney (and Cheney's proxy in these events); Walter Slocombe, who had been President Clinton's undersecretary of defense for policy, and as such was Feith's predecessor; Richard Perle, who was chairman of Bush's defense policy board; and General Jay Garner, whom Bremer replaced as the leader of postwar Iraq.

On May 9, 2003, President Bush appointed Bremer to the top civilian post in Iraq. A career diplomat who was recruited for this job by Wolfowitz and Libby, despite the fact that he had minimal experience of the region and didn't speak Arabic, Bremer arrived in Baghdad on May 12 to take charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA. In his first two weeks at his post, Bremer issued two orders that would turn out to be momentous. Enacted on May 16, CPA Order Number 1 "de-Baathified" the Iraqi government; on May 23, CPA Order Number 2 disbanded the Iraqi army. In short, Baath party members were barred from participation in Iraq's new government and Saddam Hussein's soldiers lost their jobs, taking their weapons with them.

The results of these policies become clear as we learn about the leadership of ISIS. The Washington Post , for example, reported in April that "almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers." In June, the New York Times identified a man "believed to be the head of the Islamic State's military council," Fadel al-Hayali, as "a former lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi military intelligence agency of President Saddam Hussein." Criticism of de-Baathification and the disbanding of Iraq's army has been fierce, and the contribution these policies made to fueling extremism was recognized even before the advent of the Islamic State. The New York Times reported in 2007:

The dismantling of the Iraqi Army in the aftermath of the American invasion is now widely regarded as a mistake that stoked rebellion among hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers and made it more difficult to reduce sectarian bloodshed and attacks by insurgents.

This year the Washington Post summed up reactions to both orders when it cited a former Iraqi general who asked bluntly, "When they dismantled the army, what did they expect those men to do?" He explained that "they didn't de-Baathify people's minds, they just took away their jobs." Writing about the disbanding policy in his memoir, Decision Points , George W. Bush acknowledges the harmful results: "Thousands of armed men had just been told they were not wanted. Instead of signing up for the new military, many joined the insurgency."

Yet in spite of the wide-ranging consequences of these de-Baathification and disbanding policies, they-and the decision-making processes that led to them-remain obscure to most Americans. What is more, it is unclear whether Bush himself knew about these policies before they were enacted. In November 2003, the Washington Post claimed, "Before the war, President Bush approved a plan that would have put several hundred thousand Iraqi soldiers on the U.S. payroll and kept them available to provide security." There had apparently been two National Security Council meetings, one on March 10 and another on March 12, during which the president approved a moderate de-Baathification policy and a plan, as reported by the New York Times ' Michael R. Gordon, to "use the Iraqi military to help protect the country." (The invasion of Iraq began on March 19.) President Bush later told biographer Robert Draper that "the policy was to keep the army intact" but it "didn't happen."

So the question remains: if CPA Orders 1 and 2 weren't Bush's policies, whose were they? In 2007, Doug Feith told the Los Angeles Times that "until everybody writes memoirs and all the researchers look at the documents, some of these things are hard to sort out. You could be in the thick of it and not necessarily know all the details." Now that the memoirs have been written, it is time to establish just who the policymakers were in May 2003.

The various accounts present an array of neoconservative thinkers-notably Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and Walter Slocombe-who implemented their own policies rather than those of the president they served. Moreover, one of the major influences on these policies was the Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, who had thought he would be put in charge of postwar Iraq, having "been led to believe that by Perle and Feith," as General Garner related to the journalist Thomas Ricks. And while the responsibility for what happened ultimately lies with George W. Bush-who, to his credit, avers as much in his own memoir-this episode demonstrates how knowledgeable mid-level advisors can hijack the American presidency to suit their own goals.

♦♦♦

At the start of May 2003, the chief administrative entity in Iraq was the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (OHRA), which was replaced shortly thereafter by the CPA under Bremer. The head of OHRA was General Garner, who worked "under the eyes of senior Defense Department aides with direct channels to Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Under Secretary for Policy Douglas J. Feith," according to the Washington Post . For his part, Garner strongly favored a policy of maintaining the Iraqi army, and preparations towards this end began almost a year earlier. For instance, Colonel John Agoglia told the New York Times that "Starting in June 2002 we conducted targeted psychological operations using pamphlet drops, broadcasts and all sorts of means to get the message to the regular army troops that they should surrender or desert and that if they did we would bring them back." The Times reported earlier that under Garner's leadership, "Top commanders were meeting secretly with former Iraqi officers to discuss the best way to rebuild the force and recall Iraqi soldiers back to duty when Mr. Bremer arrived in Baghdad with his plan."

In the same story, the Times claimed that "The Bush administration did not just discuss keeping the old army. General Garner's team found contractors to retrain it." Bremer, however, showed up with policy ideas that diverged sharply from Garner's.

In his memoir, Bremer names the officials who approached him for his CPA job. He recounts telling his wife that:

I had been contacted by Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and by Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense. The Pentagon's original civil administration in 'post-hostility' Iraq-the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, ORHA-lacked expertise in high-level diplomatic negotiations and politics. I had the requisite skills and experience for that position.

Regarding the de-Baathification order, both Bremer and Feith have written their own accounts of the week leading up to it, and the slight discrepancy between their recollections is revealing in what it tells us about Bremer-and consequently about Wolfowitz and Libby for having selected him. At first blush, Bremer and Feith's justifications for the policy appear to dovetail, each comparing postwar Iraq to postwar Nazi Germany. Bremer explains in a retrospective Washington Post op-ed, "What We Got Right in Iraq," that "Hussein modeled his regime after Adolf Hitler's, which controlled the German people with two main instruments: the Nazi Party and the Reich's security services. We had no choice but to rid Iraq of the country's equivalent organizations." For his part, Feith goes a step further, reasoning in his memoir War and Decision that the case for de-Baathification was even stronger because "The Nazis, after all, had run Germany for a dozen years; the Baathists had tyrannized Iraq for more than thirty."

Regarding the order itself, Bremer writes,

The day before I left for Iraq in May, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith presented me with a draft law that would purge top Baathists from the Iraqi government and told me that he planned to issue it immediately. Recognizing how important this step was, I asked Feith to hold off, among other reasons, so I could discuss it with Iraqi leaders and CPA advisers. A week later, after careful consideration, I issued this 'de-Baathification' decree, as drafted by the Pentagon.

In contrast, Feith recalls that Bremer asked him to wait because "Bremer had thoughts of his own on the subject, he said, and wanted to consider the de-Baathification policy carefully. As the new CPA head, he thought he should announce and implement the policy himself."

The notion that he "carefully" considered the policy in his first week on the job, during which he also travelled halfway around the globe, is highly questionable. Incidentally, Bremer's oxymoronic statement-"a week later, after careful consideration"-mirrors a similar formulation of Wolfowitz's about the disbanding order. Speaking to the Washington Post in November 2003, he said that forming a new Iraqi army is "what we're trying to do at warp speed-but with careful vetting of the people we're bringing on."

Simply put, Bremer was tempted by headline-grabbing policies. He was unlikely to question any action that offered opportunities to make bold gestures, which made him easy to influence. Indeed, another quality of Bremer's professional persona that conspicuously emerges from accounts of the period is his unwillingness to think for himself. His memoir shows that he was eager to put Jay Garner in his place from the moment he arrived in Iraq, yet he was unable to defend himself on his own when challenged by Garner, who-according to Bob Woodward in his book State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III -was "stunned" by the disbanding order. Woodward claims that when Garner confronted Bremer about it, "Bremer, looking surprised, asked Garner to go see Walter B. Slocombe."

What's even more surprising is how Bremer doesn't hide his intellectual dependence on Slocombe. He writes in his memoir:

To help untangle these problems, I was fortunate to have Walt Slocombe as Senior Adviser for defense and security affairs. A brilliant former Rhodes Scholar from Princeton and a Harvard-educated attorney, Walt had worked for Democratic administrations for decades on high-level strategic and arms control issues.

In May 2003, the Washington Post noted of Slocombe that "Although a Democrat, he has maintained good relations with Wolfowitz and is described by some as a 'Democratic hawk,'" a remark that once again places Wolfowitz in close proximity to Bremer and the disbanding order. Sure enough, in November 2003 the Washington Post reported:

The demobilization decision appears to have originated largely with Walter B. Slocombe, a former undersecretary of defense appointed to oversee Iraqi security forces. He believed strongly in the need to disband the army and felt that vanquished soldiers should not expect to be paid a continuing salary. He said he developed the policy in discussions with Bremer, Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. 'This is not something that was dreamed up by somebody at the last minute and done at the insistence of the people in Baghdad. It was discussed,' Slocombe said. 'The critical point was that nobody argued that we shouldn't do this.'

Given that the president agreed to preserve the Iraqi army in the NSC meeting on March 12, Slocombe's statement is evidence of a major policy inconsistency. In that meeting, Feith, at the request of Donald Rumsfeld, gave a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Garner about keeping the Iraqi army; in his own memoir, Feith writes, "No one at that National Security Council meeting in early March spoke against the recommendation, and the President approved Garner's plan." But this is not what happened. What happened instead was the reversal of Garner's plan, which Feith attributes to Slocombe and Bremer:

Bremer and Slocombe argued that it would better serve U.S. interests to create an entirely new Iraqi army: Sometimes it is easier to build something new than to refurbish a complex and badly designed structure. In any event, Bremer and Slocombe reasoned, calling the old army back might not succeed-but the attempt could cause grave political problems.

Over time, both Bremer and Slocombe have gone so far as to deny that the policies had any tangible effects. Bremer claimed in the Washington Post that "Virtually all the old Baathist ministers had fled before the decree was issued" and that "When the draftees saw which way the war was going, they deserted and, like their officers, went back home." Likewise Slocombe stated in a PBS interview, "We didn't disband the army. The army disbanded itself. What we did do was to formally dissolve all of the institutions of Saddam's security system. The intelligence, his military, his party structure, his information and propaganda structure were formally disbanded and the property turned over to the Coalition Provisional Authority."

Thus, according to Bremer and Slocombe's accounts, neither de-Baathification nor disbanding the army achieved anything that hadn't already happened. When coupled with Bremer's assertion of "careful consideration in one week" and Wolfowitz's claim of "careful vetting at warp speed," Bremer and Slocombe's notion of "doing something that had already been done" creates a strong impression that they are hiding something or trying to finesse history with wordplay. Perhaps Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran provides the best possible explanation for this confusion in his book Imperial Life in the Emerald City , when he writes, "Despite the leaflets instructing them to go home, Slocombe had expected Iraqi soldiers to stay in their garrisons. Now he figured that calling them back would cause even more problems." Chandrasekaran adds, "As far as Slocombe and Feith were concerned, the Iraqi army had dissolved itself; formalizing the dissolution wouldn't contradict Bush's directive." This suggests that Slocombe and Feith were communicating and that Slocombe was fully aware of the policy the president had agreed to in the NSC meeting on March 12, yet he chose to disregard it.

♦♦♦

Following the disastrous decisions of May 2003, the blame game has been rife among neoconservative policymakers. One of those who have expended the most energy dodging culpability is, predictably, Bremer. In early 2007, he testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Washington Post reported: "Bremer proved unexpectedly agile at shifting blame: to administration planners ('The planning before the war was inadequate'), his superiors in the Bush administration ('We never had sufficient support'), and the Iraqi people ('The country was in chaos-socially, politically and economically')."

Bremer also wrote in May 2007 in the Washington Post , "I've grown weary of being a punching bag over these decisions-particularly from critics who've never spent time in Iraq, don't understand its complexities and can't explain what we should have done differently." (This declaration is ironic, given Bremer's noted inability to justify the disbanding policy to General Garner.) On September 4, 2007, the New York Times reported that Bremer had given the paper exculpatory letters supposedly proving that George W. Bush confirmed the disbanding order. But the Times concluded, "the letters do not show that [Bush] approved the order or even knew much about it. Mr. Bremer referred only fleetingly to his plan midway through his three-page letter and offered no details." Moreover, the paper characterized Bremer's correspondence with Bush as "striking in its almost nonchalant reference to a major decision that a number of American military officials in Iraq strongly opposed." Defending himself on this point, Bremer claimed, "the policy was carefully considered by top civilian and military members of the American government." And six months later Bremer told the paper, "It was not my responsibility to do inter-agency coordination."

Feith and Slocombe have been similarly evasive when discussing President Bush's awareness of the policies. The Los Angeles Times noted that "Feith was deeply involved in the decision-making process at the time, working closely with Bush and Bremer," yet "Feith said he could not comment about how involved the president was in the decision to change policy and dissolve the army. 'I don't know all the details of who talked to who about that,' he said." For his part, Slocombe told PBS's "Frontline,"

What happens in Washington in terms of how the [decisions are made]-'Go ahead and do this, do that; don't do that, do this, even though you don't want to do it'-that's an internal Washington coordination problem about which I know little. One of the interesting things about the job from my point of view-all my other government experience basically had been in the Washington end, with the interagencies process and setting the priorities-at the other end we got output. And how the process worked in Washington I actually know very little about, because the channel was from the president to Rumsfeld to Bremer.

It's a challenge to parse Slocombe's various statements. Here, in the space of two sentences, he claims both that his government experience has mostly been in Washington and that he doesn't know how Washington works. As mentioned earlier, he had previously told the Washington Post that the disbanding order was not "done at the insistence of the people in Baghdad"-in other words, the decision was made in Washington. The inconsistency of his accounts from year to year, and even in the same interview, adds to an aura of concealment.

This further illustrates the disconnect between what was decided by the NSC in Washington in March and by the CPA in Iraq in May. In his memoir, Feith notes that although he supported the disbanding policy, "the decision became associated with a number of unnecessary problems, including the apparent lack of interagency review."

The blame game is nowhere more evident than in a 2007 Vanity Fair article entitled "Neo Culpa," which was previewed online just before the 2006 midterm elections. Writer David Rose spoke with numerous neoconservatives, who roundly censured George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Rumsfeld, and Bremer for the chaos in Iraq. Speaking broadly about the Bush administration, Adelman said, "They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era." And Perle complained, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly. At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible."

Yet Perle's reflection on the timeliness of decisions conflicts with President Bush's account rather strikingly. In his memoir, Bush writes:

I should have insisted on more debate on Jerry's orders, especially on what message disbanding the army would send and how many Sunnis the de-Baathification would affect. Overseen by longtime exile Ahmed Chalabi, the de-Baathification program turned out to cut much deeper than we expected, including mid-level party members like teachers.

In June 2004, Bill Kristol was already censuring the president for his "poor performance," musing that his school of thought has been collateral damage in a mismanaged foreign policy: neoconservatism, he wrote, "has probably been weakened by the Bush administration's poor performance in implementing what could be characterized as its recommended foreign policy." Kristol argued that "This failure in execution has been a big one. It has put the neoconservative 'project' at risk. Much more important, it has put American foreign policy at risk." Perle echoed this view two years later when he told Vanity Fair , "Huge mistakes were made they were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad."

This downplaying of neoconservative influence in "what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad" is curious, and Perle is not the only person to have tried it. Max Boot, writing in the same 2004 collection as Kristol, does the same thing when, after naming Wolfowitz, Feith, Libby, Elliott Abrams, and Perle as neoconservatives who served Bush, he argues:

Each of these policy-makers has been an outspoken advocate for aggressive and, if necessary, unilateral action by the United States to promote democracy, human rights, and free markets, and to maintain U.S. primacy around the world. While this list seems impressive, it also reveals that the neocons have no representatives in the administration's top tier.

But apparently it didn't matter that there were no neoconservatives in top positions-not when one considers the knowledge and prior government experience of Vice President Cheney, the neoconservatives' sponsor. In A World Transformed , George H.W. Bush writes of Cheney that he "knew how policy was made." Barton Gellman observes in Angler , his book about Cheney: "Most of the government's work, Cheney knew, never reached the altitude of Senate-confirmed appointees. Reliable people in mid-level posts would have the last word on numberless decisions about where to spend or not spend money, whom to regulate, how to enforce." In the end avoiding the highest positions in the administration makes it all the more easy to dodge blame.

♦♦♦

Americans are painfully familiar with stories like this one, in which a coterie of advisors takes policy in a dangerous direction with little or no knowledge on the part of the president. But the case of the Iraq War and the decisions that followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein has a unique importance-because we are still living with the consequences, and others are dying for them.

Democrats may be tempted to dismiss all that happened in the Bush years as simply the other party's fault. Republicans have a comforting myth of their own in the belief that President Bush's 2007 "surge" of U.S. forces into Iraq ended the country's instability, which only returned after President Obama fully withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011. But as the role of Walter Slocombe-the Democratic counterpart to Doug Feith in more ways than one-illustrates, Clintons no less than Bushes are susceptible to this personnel problem.

Republicans, meanwhile, should consider retired Lt. Col. Gian Gentile's verdict that "the reduction in violence" in Iraq in 2007 "had more to do with the Iraqis than the Americans," specifically with the Sunni tribesmen's newfound willingness to fight (for a price) alongside Americans against al-Qaeda and with Moqtada al-Sadr's de-escalation of Shi'ite activity. But regardless of what the surge did or did not contribute to quelling the bloodshed in Iraq, the intensity of the civil war that raged there in the first place was in considerable part a product of misguided de-Baathification and disbanding policies-and the Islamic State today depends on the military and intelligence forces that Bremer, Feith, and Slocombe casually dismissed.

When you have the wrong diagnosis, you risk coming to the wrong solution, no matter how clever you think you are. As the GOP candidates for the 2016 presidential election have made their campaigns official, they have been pummeled with hindsight questions about the Iraq War and ISIS, and no one has a harder time facing this than Jeb Bush. In order to correctly address what to do about the Islamic State, it is important to acknowledge what specifically went wrong with decision-making in the Iraq War.

This episode highlights a weakness in the executive branch that is ripe for exploitation under any administration. When the neoconservative Frank Gaffney, speaking about George W. Bush, told Vanity Fair , "This president has tolerated, and the people around him have tolerated, active, ongoing, palpable insubordination and skullduggery that translates into subversion of his policies," it seems incredible to think that he failed to see the irony of his assertion. But for those who have a deep understanding of how the government works, it is quite possible to undermine a president, then step back and pretend to have had minimal involvement, and finally stand in judgment. But now that the story is known, the American people can be the judges.

John Hay is a former executive branch official under Republican administrations.

EliteCommInc. , says: October 28, 2015 at 10:57 pm
"In a sense – it was analogous with 9/11 nobody in the State Department wanted the consulate to be at risk of being overrun by terrorists anymore than nobody in the intelligence community or DOD wanted the Twin Towers and the Pentagon to suffer hits. Of course, Benghazi was 0.01% as significant a tactical failure as 9/11 was but the failure was due to people who had been properly assigned responsibilities not doing their job."

1. I am not sure what your point is here. Whether anyone wanted the events to occur is not really the question. The issue is simly the behavior of the staff at the embassy in relation to their superiors. The Sec. of State failed to respond to a request for more security. That is her fault – directly. She took no steps based on the record. She ignored the real time assessments. That is not the executive's fault. That is hers. Period. That isn't a tactical failure, that is a supply failure. That is a leadership failre. It is not as if she was not inflrmed.

2. The Pres. of the US cannot be held directly accountable for 9/11 because neither the previous admin. not the releveant organizations informed of very specicif data sets that have changed the history of that day.

The failure rests:

a. the previous admin
b. the agencies responsible for immigration management
the FBI
c. CIA
d the airlines

Well as previously noted. Back to your tactical failure. Well, Libya was foolish on its face. We shuld have informed the UK that under the circumstances further destabilizing the region would be distaterous at best. The tactical problem, weponizing fighters over who we had no command and control. Here again, the utter failure of the State Dept. and the CIA to comprehend who the players were and their capabilities. There's plenty more, but let's leave it at that - again, a major player was the Sec of State. The same could said of Egypt, Syria all areas in which the supposed expertise would come from the CIA and the State Deprtment - That's on Sec. Hillary Clinton – directly. That even playing the tactical and strategic game you intend to muddy the waters of responsibility with were explicated - the fault lies on her desk.

mojrim , says: October 29, 2015 at 10:35 am
Pure Bush/Cheney apologia.

"If only the brilliant neocon plan to invade and reform the middle east had been carried out by competent neocons! Peace and democracy would be flowing the Tigris by now!"

No. Just no.

Jim Houghton , says: October 29, 2015 at 4:19 pm
" it appears all too easy for outsiders working with relatively low-level appointees to hijack the policy process "

Especially when you have a president who's more interested