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This Article is so Much Fun

Posted by elvis 4b WI (My Page) on
Sat, Nov 17, 12 at 21:15

I was looking for something else, and came upon this article from "Counterpunch" from a few weeks ago. The timing is still good. This should have at least a ring of truth for anyone who is paying attention. Or maybe that's just me.

Weekend Edition October 12-14, 2012

Under the Cloak of Liberalism

America on the Cusp of Fascism

by NORMAN POLLACK

"I use "fascism" here not as a cliche, but as an historical-structural formation principally rooted in the mature stage of capitalism, in which business-government interpenetration (what the Japanese political scientist Masao Maryuma called the "close-embrace" system) has created hierarchical social classes of wide differences in wealth and power, the militarization of social values and geopolitical strategy, and a faux ideology of classlessness to instill loyalty for the social order among working people. In fact, each of these factors is already present to a high degree in America, superbly disguised however by the rhetoric of liberalism, as in Mr. Obama's presidency.

This said, my provocative hypothesis (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) is that in the coming election Romney is preferable to Obama. Why? In broad terms, we see varying degrees of sophistication in the mad dash across the finish line (i.e., fascism proper, midway between nascent and full-blown), with Romney and Republicans representing plebeian fascism, and Obama and Democrats a sophisticated corporatist form. Everything charged against Romney may be true, from Social Darwinist beliefs and gut-militarism to cultural intolerance and xenophobia, and perhaps even more so for the party as a whole, though that is a moot point; an overt negation, on all grounds,of what we mean by democracy. (Not that America has honored or achieved that state of political-economic development through most of its history!) To pursue the candidacy of Romney involves one in a societal nightmare of unrestrained wealth (and the perks that go with it, from horribly skewed taxation policy to categorical setbacks to unions, wage rates, and an antilabor climate) and severe cuts in the social safety net. All this is known, predictable, transparent; part of my argument for viewing Romney as preferable to Obama. Clearly, Trotsky in popularized form is in the back of my mind.

By contrast, Obama is unassailable, enjoying the protective cloak of the state secrets doctrine (which, also as the National Security State, he invokes constantly), the liberal glossing on all policy matters, thanks to the extremely able spinmeisters Axelrod and Rhodes, and an adoring, submissive, uncritical base, in deep denial and for whatever reasons unwilling to examine the administration's record. That record confirms the long-term political, economic, and moral bankruptcy of the Democratic party, whose differentiating character setting it apart from the Republicans lies in the magnitude of skilled evasion and/or deception surrounding policies which themselves replicate the central elements in those of their opponents.

Republicans sincerely criticize Obama because they are too ignorant to recognize, in their rush to antigovernment rhetoric, that he takes the same position as they smoothed out to please a base at best composed of pretend-radicalism and, equally, to ward off criticism from those who desperately want to believe his earlier promises. This comes down to political theater at its cruelest.

The list of actual betrayal is long and virtually covering his public policy without exception. (A good start can be found in the critical essays in Hopeless, a true icebreaker for the uninformed prepared to listen.) Let me select several obvious examples. 1) Health care, in which Obama savaged the single-payer system, thus preparing the way for the same on the public option, meanwhile silencing, or rather, delegitimating all dissident voices, at the same time as exempting health insurers from antitrust prosecution and favoring Big Pharma; 2) Civil liberties, a good litmus test of democratic governance, in which Obama's Department of Justice argued against granting habeas corpus rights to detainees, invoked the Espionage Act against whistleblowers, carried surveillance beyond that of previous administrations, with the National Security Agency one of the culprits practicing the black magic of eavesdropping, while renditions and "black holes" continue and even agencies like FDA spy on its employees; 3) militarism, from which foreign policy, including trade policy, cannot be excluded, in which the drone,as Obama's signature weapon,terrorizes whole populations reeking destruction from the skies, naval power displayed from the South China Sea to the Mediterranean, a whole new generation of nuclear weapons in the pipeline (exempt from potential budgetary sequestration), a military budget itself second to none, and what appears to be a permanent state of war; 4) the omissions, which by their absence speak volumes about the purposes and policies of his administration, in which job creation and foreclosures have not been addressed, climate change, wholly disappeared, gun control, nonexistent, poverty never, never mentioned, and business and banking regulation the compounding of phoniness on phoniness, not unexpected considering Obama's belief in deregulation and bringing in the Clinton-Rubin crowd of free marketeers.

How much more or worse damage can Romney and the Republicans do? They might fuss about same-sex marriage and contraception, while Obama, in his Pacific-first geopolitical vision and concrete strategy, wants to encircle China, and press for an economic agenda promoting further corporate-wealth concentration.

If Republicans come across as Taliban on cultural issues, Democrats almost surreptitiously advance the financialization of the total economy, with the consequent distortions introduced:loss of manufacturing, increasing wealth concentration, and capitalism's Achilles heel, underconsumption. Why Romney? Because his transparency as a Neanderthal may, just may, bring people into the streets, while under Obama passivity and false consciousness appear almost irreversible. I for one will stay home. The lesser-of-two-evils argument is morally obtuse, and dangerous, the first, because it means complicity with policies ultimately destructive, the second, because it induces an undeserved self-righteousness which next time around would yield further compromise. If the people are gulled and lulled into the acceptance of mock-democracy, courtesy of Goldman Sachs and waterboarding apologist Brennan, with Obama presiding over the bread-and-circuses routine, heaven help us."

Norman Pollack is a Harvard Ph.D. and the author of "The Populist Response to Industrial America" (Harvard) and "The Just Polity" (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Now this is an example of true liberalism


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Ya think? Not quite what we've been hearing around here. The author has a clever mind. ;D


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Pollack's interests include the long struggle between the populist parties/movements in rural and Southern America and industrialized societies, basically defending the populism of Jefferson and Jackson against the corporatism and fascism of contemporary eras. He sees no difference between the Republicans and Democrats, just pat differences in rhetoric and styles.

Getting too late in my evening for heavy thinking and typing. All this rain has raised hell with my arthritic fingers.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

"He sees no difference between the Republicans and Democrats, just pat differences in rhetoric and styles."

Fascinating; I have a struggle with that difference (or should I say lack of difference) myself.

Say no more. Good night.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

As an Obama supporter I could agree that 'some' of that essay is basically true. Ralph Nader used to always say "Tweedledee and Tweedledum" about the two parties- that was long before Obama was on the scene.

But I also disagree with the author. Sometimes the better of two evils is good enough. And a community can be under the thumb of a regime a long time before any kind of revolt or revolution comes along. And I'm wary of anyone who says they're going to stay home.

And revolutions are not predictable in their outcomes. It is sometimes better to do what we can to change what we have.

And when I think about the role the Supreme Court played in 'Citizens United', basically allowing the election process to be corrupted with big money, I know there is a difference between a Romney and an Obama administration.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Wow. What a bunch of garbage. Pure opinion based on self-selected arguments couched in pseudo-intellectual lingo. Characters like these are sure to influence.

I don't agree with anything that was expressed.

-Ron-


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Norman Pollack is interesting as long as you have other collegiate players to sit around a play out a long handed game of Populist Ideas. If you roll doubles twice your an elitist. Heady stuff!

What do you get from it Elvis?


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Pollack the Provocateur would love this thread. Populist America is as American as apple pie, so to speak. It preceded and was a counter to the great industrial labor movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, having its roots in agrarian communal movements and was more libertarian than socialistic.

No wonder some here would reject its p.o.v. out of hand.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

I know little of Pollack but would say that he's of the same thought as the leftists who were against FDR. Roosevelt was seen as 'saving capitalism' and impeding a potential revolution that would install a better and different system.

I'm having trouble how the following could be described as 'so much fun:'

Everything charged against Romney may be true, from Social Darwinist beliefs and gut-militarism to cultural intolerance and xenophobia, and perhaps even more so for the party as a whole... To pursue the candidacy of Romney involves one in a societal nightmare of unrestrained wealth (and the perks that go with it, from horribly skewed taxation policy to categorical setbacks to unions, wage rates, and an antilabor climate) and severe cuts in the social safety net.

So elvis thinks the above analysis of her candidate is 'fun' and I'm left speechless.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

I think maybe elvis is trying to lure lefties to defend Pollack, a fellow who would advocate socialism as an antidote to capitalistic plutocracy.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

"So elvis thinks the above analysis of her candidate is 'fun' and I'm left speechless."

All evidence to the contrary :D

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The Hoover Institution has some nice info on that, Nancy. I guess this is what you are referring to. I'm thinking you googled Pollack and got the Roosevelt reference. Here's what I think is a pertinent part of an article published by the Hoover Institution:

"Co-opting the Left

If the Great Depression, with all its attendant effects, shifted national attitudes to the left, why was it that no strong radical movement committed itself to a third party during these years? A key part of the explanation was that President Roosevelt succeeded in including left-wing protest in his New Deal coalition. He used two basic tactics. First, he responded to the various outgroups by incorporating in his own rhetoric many of their demands. Second, he absorbed the leaders of these groups into his following. These reflected conscious efforts to undercut left-wing radicals and thus to preserve capitalism.

Franklin Roosevelt demonstrated his skill at co-opting the rhetoric and demands of opposition groups the year before his 1936 reelection, when the demagogic Senator Huey Long of Louisiana threatened to run on a third-party Share-Our-Wealth ticket. This possibility was particularly threatening because a “secret” public opinion poll conducted in 1935 for the Democratic National Committee suggested that Long might get three to four million votes, throwing several states over to the Republicans if he ran at the head of a third party. At the same time several progressive senators were flirting with a potential third ticket; Roosevelt felt that as a result the 1936 election might witness a Progressive Republican ticket, headed by Robert La Follette, alongside a Share-Our-Wealth ticket.

To prevent this, Roosevelt shifted to the left in rhetoric and, to some extent, in policy, consciously seeking to steal the thunder of his populist critics. In discussions concerning radical and populist anticapitalist protests, the president stated that to save capitalism from itself and its opponents he might have to “equalize the distribution of wealth,” which could necessitate “throw[ing] to the wolves the forty-six men who are reported to have incomes in excess of one million dollars a year.” Roosevelt also responded to the share-the-wealth outcry by advancing tax reform proposals to raise income and dividend taxes, to enact a sharply graduated inheritance tax, and to use tax policy to discriminate against large corporations. Huey Long reacted by charging that the president was stealing his program.

President Roosevelt also became more overtly supportive of trade unions, although he did not endorse the most important piece of proposed labor legislation, Senator Robert Wagner’s labor relations bill, until shortly before its passage.

Raymond Moley, an organizer of Roosevelt’s “brain trust,” emphasized that the president, through these and other policies and statements, sought to identify himself with the objectives of the unemployed, minorities, and farmers, as well as “the growing membership of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Norman Thomas’ vanishing army of orthodox Socialists, Republican progressives and Farmer-Laborites, Share-the-Wealthers, single-taxers, Sinclairites, Townsendites [and] Coughlinites.”

The rest is here (I did a link once, but for the life of me, don't remember how, this a.m.):

http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/7076

Yes, I think this is fun stuff. You are pining for snarky stuff; read a couple of the posts above yours.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun for me

Amend that last line: Just one el snarko. Sorry.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

who's being snarky now???

;)


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

I'm thinking you googled Pollack

No, I did not.

I would have thought that the left analysis of FDR's policies was common knowledge, and required no assistance from google on your part.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

The economist Mark Thoma, came out with an interesting blog post that generated a lot of interesting comments before the primary season.

"The Need for Countervailing Power", or what is going to counter the globalized economic reality of powerful capital and technological interests now that the labor union movement has been largely emasculated (my take on what he wrote). Neither party is truly interested in organized labor and confront powerful capitalistic interests.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Need for Countervailing Power


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

This is all burble-every single catch phrase in this stuff has multiple meanings according to who you are referencing so it is easy to create a mash-up to support or defend or deride any point of view whatso ever. It is late night too much wine sophomore year burble.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Well, Pollack is not a sophomore; I may be sophomoric but that's congenital.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Marshall, all Thoma did there is summarize, in a very general way, the union (lack of power) issue. I can only speak from my experience with my union, and I won't get into it here. Suffice it to say that being Chief Steward and a conservative has been interesting.

I do believe that it is true that neither major party gives a fig about the union workers' lot in life. They want our dues and our votes.

One way workers can organize without unions is for units with common job descriptions/duties to band together and hire legal counsel. The trick would be to avoid allowing the same type of hierarchal organizations to form, bringing us full circle. Hopefully someone will figure out how to do this.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

"I do believe that it is true that neither major party gives a fig about the union workers' lot in life."

Elvis, you don't believe that was party is more harmful to your union in WISCONSIN than the other? I think most would disagree.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Elvis, you are describing perhaps guilds which used to involve long apprenticeships and were hierarchical. Both parties are dominated by plutocratic culture, not democratic one. I considered using the word oligarchic but passed that over because not all our oligarchs are interested in the political domination, just economic security. A bit muddled, here, in my thinking, perhaps.

Among the suggestions in the comments following Thoma's posting, consumer unions were suggested as a counter to the transnational interests and powers of corporations and financial giants. The odds of a successful transnational union of, say, auto workers are close to nil. Labor in the nation and across the globe have lost most bargaining power in an age of rapid movements of capital and technological innovation.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

I know, Marshall. I guess the best course of action is to be wildly wealthy and powerful. That would be the ticket.

No more heavy thinking for me today. I'm about to become a dog-grandmother for the first time. I should start a new thread and ask for advice.


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RE: This Article is so Much Fun

Good luck of puppyhood midwifing. Done that with a half dozen kinds of animals and birds.

Would that we all could be wildly wealthy and powerful, but both require much responsibility and crafting defenses to keep wealth and power.


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