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Thread: Questions for CJ

  1. #581
    Administrator RevForum Administrator CornetJoyce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions for CJ

    Thanks. It's an excellent survey of life in the Empire.
    Einstein on marxology:
    "In the realm of the seekers after truth there is no human authority.
    Whoever attempts to play the magistrate there founders on the laughter of the Gods."

  2. #582
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Yeah, he's a very lucid thinker and writer on politics, quite rare these days.

    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  3. #583
    Administrator RevForum Administrator CornetJoyce's Avatar
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    There are no liberals left to listen. We're all progressives now.
    Einstein on marxology:
    "In the realm of the seekers after truth there is no human authority.
    Whoever attempts to play the magistrate there founders on the laughter of the Gods."

  4. #584
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    How do you draw the distinction between the two?

    It seems for many "progressive" and "neoliberal" has taken up the prior opposition between "liberal" and "left" in the US context, with "liberal" referring to less radical types (e.g., contrast the position of liberals like Johnson on foreign policy with many self-proclaimed progressives now, who basically share the New Left's position of anti-interventionism).
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  5. #585
    Administrator RevForum Administrator CornetJoyce's Avatar
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    Back in the days when we had a Left, it's most prominent figure was Debs:
    "Do you know of a party that is not a progressive party? I don’t.
    Do you know of any man or woman in this country who will
    confess himself or herself a reactionary? I don’t. Rockefeller is a progressive. So is Morgan. So are all the rest of them progressive"

    In recent times (the 60s) the "left" was the left wing of liberalism (the operative term was "the liberal left" or "lib-lab." ) The left was much too tiny to be in binary opposition to liberalism but was effective in assailing and ridiculing it, thereby preparing the public for the ensuing and deciding assault from the right.

    The binary opposition to liberalism was conservatism, with which they shared an anticommunist view of the world, "partisanship stops at the water's edge," as they said. The left's major bone of contention was the war- to be more specific, military conscription, the end of which ended mass demonstrations and the career of the New Left.

    Liberalism was understood to be synonymous with the New Deal and its articles of faith included social security, unions, welfare, and other programs progressives look upon with indifference at best. When the Clinton crowd swarmed into Washington, they made it quite clear that they were progressives destined to drive the "liberal dinosaurs" into extinction.

    And so they did. The traditonal New Deal anthem was eliminated from the convention that renominated Clinton.
    Einstein on marxology:
    "In the realm of the seekers after truth there is no human authority.
    Whoever attempts to play the magistrate there founders on the laughter of the Gods."

  6. #586
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Yes but the story doesn't end there. After Clintonite dominance and the rise of Obama, the liberal/progressive distinction came to be made between New Dealers and those who were apathetic about it, namely the Clinton/Obama crowd. They were cast into the category of mere liberals while the New Dealers took on the mantle of progressivism to distinguish themselves from them, which in today's context has a different connotation (you'll be hard pressed to find any billionaires referring to themselves as politically "progressive").

    Sanders added socialism back into the mix for the first time in a long time, but still it was the progressive/liberal divide that was used to distinguish between the New Dealers and those apathetic about it. Note the primary debates where the anchors had to ask Clinton whether she's really a progressive or not, clearly asking about her left-wing, New Deal credentials: Sanders was assumed to be in that category already.

    All these terms are highly malleable and context-sensitive anyway (meaning is use!), but I understand what people mean when they call themselves progressives in opposition to liberals, in the US Democratic Party context, and I am not sure if it would be better if they simply let that label go in favor of something like socialist, which despite Sanders' successes still seem like a tough sell for the US market as a primary means of political self-identification (it's of course totally different in the UK).
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  7. #587
    Administrator RevForum Administrator CornetJoyce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amoeba View Post
    Yes but the story doesn't end there. After Clintonite dominance and the rise of Obama, the liberal/progressive distinction came to be made between New Dealers and those who were apathetic about it, namely the Clinton/Obama crowd. They were cast into the category of mere liberals while the New Dealers took on the mantle of progressivism to distinguish themselves from them, which in today's context has a different connotation (you'll be hard pressed to find any billionaires referring to themselves as politically "progressive").
    As Debs suggested, you'd be pressed much farther to find billionaires calling themselves reactionaries. Gates' favorite word is "innovation" so I think "progressive" sounds right to him, and Frank tells us about Mrs Gates bopping with Hillary. Of course, a typical billionaire is unlikely to refer to himself as political at all, because Capital is above human volition. Not that I know any billionaires to ask. The richest guy I know has maybe 100 million, and he regards himself as a progressive, having been in the Atari democrat vanguard.
    Clintonite dominance didn't end. Soon after O'Bomber- who as a senator had declared himself a Hillary Clinton democrat- settled on the throne, Al From announced the end of his DLC (Democrats of the Leisure Class, Jesse Jackson called it) because "it's work is done. " From and friends had reconstructed the politics of America and the world.
    The DLC is gone but the DNC progresses on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amoeba View Post
    Sanders added socialism back into the mix for the first time in a long time, but still it was the progressive/liberal divide that was used to distinguish between the New Dealers and those apathetic about it. Note the primary debates where the anchors had to ask Clinton whether she's really a progressive or not, clearly asking about her left-wing, New Deal credentials: Sanders was assumed to be in that category already.
    There aren't enough New Dealers left in office to make a ripple, even if H. Clinton did encounter the ghost of Eleanor in the white house.


    Quote Originally Posted by Amoeba View Post
    All these terms are highly malleable and context-sensitive
    Indeed they are, and subject to the vicissitudes of the means of communication, which can even color the Right "red."

    I understand what people mean when they call themselves progressives in opposition to liberals. They mean what liberals meant when they denounced Herbert Hoover decade after decade: discrediting the foe takes work and resources, and a discredited political mummy is a political asset not to be wasted. Ultimately, they mean whatever the owners of the means of communication decide they mean.
    Einstein on marxology:
    "In the realm of the seekers after truth there is no human authority.
    Whoever attempts to play the magistrate there founders on the laughter of the Gods."

  8. #588
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Here you a perfect illustration of Frank's point:

    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  9. #589
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    This is from 2012, from another book by Frank, but it describes what's going on right now rather perfectly:

    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  10. #590
    Administrator RevForum Administrator CornetJoyce's Avatar
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    Another splendid rap; but re the New Deal allow me to point out that FDR was by no means swept into the DP nomination by an angry populace. He appealed to the party elite and, having secured the nomination, he stuck rather closely to a boilerplate message. In office, he greatly exceeded expectations.

    He was "swept into office," as were most DP candidates in the general election. Hoover wasn't terribly popular even in the GOP: he lost most of the primaries. Roosevelt was practically running against an empty chair.

    Such are the politics of monarchy. Americans live in hope that the next king will be another Good King, and in realistic fear that he won't.
    Einstein on marxology:
    "In the realm of the seekers after truth there is no human authority.
    Whoever attempts to play the magistrate there founders on the laughter of the Gods."

  11. #591
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Yeah, there's a lot of mythology about FDR which serves a practical purpose in current struggles over establishing political visions of the world, but when you zoom in on the period as a historian FDR was actually pretty conservative in his political leanings and had to be pushed to the left by social movements and those in the circles around him like Wallace.

    From Rachway's book on the Great Depression and the New Deal:

    "In Albany, the governor of New York state and Democratic presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt read about the Bonus March in the New York Times. Looking at the coverage, he told an aide that they scarcely needed to take Hoover seriously as an opponent after this disaster. Roosevelt said he might feel sorry for Hoover if he did not already feel sorry for the marchers. Indeed, Roosevelt himself did not think the government could afford to pay the men a bonus—indeed, he would veto a bonus bill as president— but, he thought, the men still deserved some sympathetic attention. He thought for a while, smoking. Still, he said, the men making their claim on the government, abused by the administration, ‘‘made a theme for the campaign.’’

    (...)

    Likewise, the money Congress appropriated for various New Deal programs often later seemed like so many variously sized drops in an ocean of fiscal red ink. In 1932, the federal government spent only about half what the state and local governments spent. By the eve of World War II, the New Deal had more than doubled federal spending. All the while lawmakers, and especially the president, fretted over the millions and billions they added to the federal budget.26 Partly for this reason, CWA did not last. Its expense, and even the gratitude with which Americans greeted it, made Roosevelt nervous. He did not like spending more money than the government took in, nor did he like letting Americans rely directly on the federal government for relief programs. In his skittishness Roosevelt conceded the necessity of a national work relief program, but he did not want it to ‘‘ become a habit with the country.’’ And before spring he had ordered Hopkins to fire his four million workers, in the vain hope that the brief program had provided enough of a push.27 Despite the phased demobilization of CWA, staggered to prevent too many people from going on the market at once, it left people writing Hopkins plaintively for ‘‘some kind of aid a job any where any kind of work’’ and administrators complaining that a public work half done was worse than one never begun.

    (...)

    Mild as toleration of a labor union’s right to exist may seem, management fought it. In 1934, the country’s factories exploded in strikes as corporations refused to recognize unions. Strikes shut down entire cities. Roosevelt established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to settle disputes. Investigations showed the managers of American industries had determined to abort unions’ birth, using infiltration, threats, speedups, and, bluntest instrument of all, the desperate job market: ‘‘Look out the window,’’ employers said, in numerous variations in numerous workplaces, ‘‘and see the men waiting in line for your job.’’ John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers famously told his men, ‘‘The President wants you to join a Union.’’14 Lewis exaggerated: Roosevelt disliked promoting confrontation with businessmen who would lead the country’s economic recovery and viewed unions with mistrust. But as on other issues, congressmen of Roosevelt’s party pushed the president. Senator Robert Wagner drafted a bill to create a permanent NLRB and specifically to prevent the formation of company unions or the intimidation of union organizers. The law not only required companies to bargain with union representatives elected by workers but also instituted a majority rule providing that if a majority of workers in a shop voted for a union, that union would have the power to represent the whole shop.

    (...)

    The report CES sent to Roosevelt called for universal coverage of the American elderly by pensions paid for partly by their own contributions and increasingly, over time, out of the general revenues of the U.S. Treasury. Roosevelt rejected this plan, declaring it was ‘‘the same old dole under another name’’—he wanted a selffinancing plan under which old-age pensions worked on the model of insurance premiums.Workers and their employers would pay into a fund a percentage of their paychecks. In the event of retirement in old age, workers would draw a pension funded by their savings. The program would thus constitute ‘‘a wholly contributory scheme with the government not participating,’’ as Roosevelt asked.23 Critics immediately pointed out the drawbacks of this plan. No other country financed social insurance this way, and for good reason. Contributions calculated as a percent of payroll put a relatively heavier tax burden on poorer earners. Within the administration, Harry Hopkins pointed out the regressivity of the payroll taxes and recommended a tax on wealthier Americans’ incomes instead. In the press, opinion-makers fretted that ‘‘the law is almost a model of what legislation ought not to be,’’ as the New Republic wrote. (...) The limits on Social Security would not last, nor did administration officials think they would. Privately, the experts knew that the contributory scheme would soon need supplementing from the general treasury. Publicly, they avowed their intention to expand the program to cover more workers when they could. As amended in 1939 and 1950, the system fulfilled these expectations. But for the moment of its creation, Social Security stuck to the limits Roosevelt set on it.

    (...)

    If, as many later commenters would claim, Social Security became the basis for the American welfare state, it did so despite its framers’ apparent intentions. Its principal provisions do not qualify as welfare at all, nor as relief, owing to Roosevelt’s insistence that they draw on beneficiaries’ contributions rather than the general revenue. Americans did not enjoy these benefits as a matter of right, only by virtue of their having bought into the plans, as they might have with a private insurance program. Roosevelt wanted to limit federal contributions to the barest minimum in the interest of fiscal soundness—hence the contributory plan, hence the state unemployment plans, hence the matching basis for old-age assistance. ‘‘Not one nickel more. . . . Not one solitary nickel. Once you get off the . . .matching basis the sky’s the limit, and before you know it, we’ll be paying the whole bill.’"

    Nor did Social Security push the United States onto a course like that followed by other modern nations, as American lawmakers chose instead a contributory system of regressive taxation. Adopting a progressive income tax for national benefits would not only have mimicked other countries’ social spending and arguably have served social justice, but it might also have done a better job of fighting the Depression. But the New Dealers did not shape Social Security as a Depression-fighting policy. Rather, it constituted a guarantee of Americans’ future independence from their employers and thus as an underpinning of the strategy for fostering countervailing power around the country. Moreover, it represented a modest step in that direction: reformers on the Committee on Economic Security believed that to make employees properly independent, the United States needed a system of national health insurance—but so vigorously did opponents, particularly the American Medical Association, resist even efforts to research the subject that the committee dropped it.29 Rather than increase the power of the state, New Dealers preferred to increase the power of individual citizens and groups of citizens, and did so within what they regarded as realistic political limits."
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  12. #592
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Just saw this, and I now have a better sense of where you're coming from. Apparently Democrats became scared of the word, and the rejection of self-identifying as such became the hallmark of right-wing Democrats in particular, so left-wingers like McGovern were opposed to this for I assume similar reasons as you.

    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  13. #593
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Also, this is why Schama is a cretin:

    "Last month, the historians Simon Schama and Simon Sebag Montefiore, and the Booker prize winner Howard Jacobson, wrote a letter published in the Times expressing their concern over the “tone and direction of debate about Israel and Zionism” in the Labour party."

    From this rather vile piece: https://www.theguardian.com/politics...er-gilad-erdan

    He also spends his time tweeting stuff like "Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. It’s so much worse than that" (link).

    Also, here's someone pointing out how much of a shit historian he is: https://www.reddit.com/r/badhistory/...amas_citizens/

    Aside from being a right-wing Zionist neoliberal and terrible historian, he's also a cheap reactionary playing to the worst instincts of the Anglo-Saxon public, as some commenters note:

    "Please do not try to teach students from Schama's book. You might suggest they read it out of interest, but it is so far from the mainstream of historiography that to centre a course around it would be wholly misleading. It is a very well-written, individual, narrative perspective on some aspects of what makes the French Revolution an exciting period in history. It neglects almost entirely what other historians thought about the events at the time it was written, and of course is now in no position at all to present a view on a whole generation of later scholarship. The fact that Schama never misses an opportunity to vent his frankly vulgar prejudices against anyone who worked for a living is, compared to that, a minor consideration."

    "I would categorize Schama's big tome precisely as an equivalent of Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners, which appeared about 7 years later.

    Both books were published by Alfred Knopf, which has a long reputation throughout the century for taking on manuscripts that have been controversial in European history; and both were clearly aimed at the popular conscious. Both were written as arguments, as briefs before Rousseau's public tribunal. This informed their style, emphases, and focused imagery. Both were justified by an alleged indifference of the academy in Europe and America to the victims of extensive violence perpetrated by a state that operated through popular majority support. Both authors loved and used the media limelight: see Schama's public talks and BBC television series on British history, as well as Goldhagen's famous tv tour in Germany during 1997...

    They sold...very, very well. And they likely reinforced a popular narrative that was simplistic, but eagerly embraced as an overarching understanding that nicely flattened out all the important incongruities of the past, as least as we try to research. As much as the authors thus meant to challenge an "orthodoxy' at universities, by end-running "to the masses," I might suggest they ended up reinforcing one-sided narrative legitimations of how people could consider themselves today (ie. the French are disorderly and prone to bloody violence, and all Germans before 1970 were deeply anti-semitic Nazis who held an "eliminationist mindset" to Jews.) I've actually rather wondered the one ever influenced the other....

    So yes, I would employ neither Schama nor Goldhagen as a textbook, but then no more so than Soboul or, I hesitate to say it, Palmer's Twelve as stand-alone works. That's not what we want out of a textbook."
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

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