Wednesday, June 04, 2014

A Thumbnail Political Bestiary -- and the right's bizarre Putin-worship

A Thumbnail Political Bestiary … and a weird, 1960s almost happened!

I want to tell you about an almost-happened trend that once seemed unstoppable and that might have changed everything, but that is now (strangely) almost-forgotten.  


Also a remark about the cult of worship of Vladimir Putin, that is surging across the American right.

But first, I keep being asked for a CHART of American politics, as I see it.  Let me start with something simple, based on the metaphor I despise most.  The so-called left-right axis.

== litmus tests? ==

Can a machine tell whether you are liberal or conservative? A topic that's been much circulated, lately, including on this very blog, a few postings ago.

Want an even better way to predict political leanings? How about hypocrisy: many of the states that received the most federal recovery aid to cope with climate-linked extreme weather have federal legislators who are climate-science deniers. The 10 states that received the most federal recovery aid in FY 2011 and 2012 elected 47 climate-science deniers to the Senate and the House. Nearly two-thirds of the senators from these top 10 recipient states voted against granting federal emergency aid to New Jersey and New York after Superstorm Sandy.

Liberal-Letist-libertarianWant the thumbnail political bestiary? Because some of you asked for one… and fully aware that I often rail against oversimplification and the stupid, lobotomizing left-right "axis…" here goes.

(Note, I have an even better 3-D model here.)

All right. Sigh. Here goes. A True "Leftist" wants the world remade for the better… but primarily through allocation of resources by state bureaucrats. Coercion may be necessary. Cooperation = good, even if it must be enforced.  Competition is inherently suspect. 

"rightist" wants the same coercive allocation of resources done by an even narrower clade of secretive "deciders"... aristocratic owner oligarch Lords -- the cartel of 10,000 golf buddies who appoint each other onto interlocking corporate directorates. Rightists ignore that owner-oligarchy oppressed humanity for 6000 years, crushing markets, freedom and competition in 99% of human cultures, far more often than bureaucrats ever did. If it's private, it must be sacred. Hence they, too, work against fair and flat and open competition, even despite claiming to love it!  They are the truest enemies of open-fair markets.

I despise both kinds of competition-destroying tyranny. Americans used to be able to turn their heads and see Big Brother looming in varied directions… till culture war stiffened our necks to face only, insipidly, either left or right (take your pick: but choose only one!)

Me? I can turn my head.  I despised communism and the USSR… and I worry about the seemingly inevitable return of truly massive left-wing radicalism…

...but it is the return of feudal owner-lordship that's looming right now, with wealth disparities skyrocketing to French Revolution levels. And their propaganda machine smears anyone who opposes the current putsch, calling even mild objectors "leftist." Hence, they do not want anyone reading Adam Smith anymore, who denounced owner-oligarchy.

There are two other major zones in U.S. politics. "Liberals" are the true  heirs of Adam Smith... (whom most historians rightly call "the first liberal")… though millions mistakenly believe liberals are "leftist-lite."

leftist-liberal-brinThey are not! 

Leftists want to equalize *outcomes*. Liberals want to equalize the *starting blocks* so that all children get everything they need (health, food education) so that they can then... compete! As Adam Smith called for. There is a huge difference! And were Adam Smith around today today he would be a democrat.

Finally there are libertarians. But they come in many sub-flavors.  I consider myself a Smithian/Heinleinian libertarian, who believes devoutly in individualism and creative competition on a flat and transparent playing field. But that makes me a heretic to the Rothbardist-Randian fanatics who have taken over much of the movement and who actually think that oligarchs are friends of flat-open-creative capitalism. Something that has never, ever been true.

Freedom-Fest-2014Hah! I shall speak of this at Freedom Fest in July when I will stand up for Smithian/Heinleinian Libertarianism! If I am lynched or otherwise disposed of, you'll know how far the freedom movement has drifted...

There. I gave it a shot. A capsule summary of why those denouncing the lying-evil treason being foisted on us by Rupert Murdoch are not "leftists." They are Americans. More can by found at: http://tinyurl.com/polimodels

In fact though? To hell with the lobotomizing "left right axis!" We should be negotiating with nuance, like adults.

=One of the biggest obsessions and might-have-beens that you never heard-of=

Now this is going to be obscure.  I know lots of economists and such, and only the very oldest of them remember what was once the top concern discussed in every business journal, decades ago.

"Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. Thus integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated." - Das Kapital

UNION-PENSION-FUNDSIt is almost forgotten today. But books and books were written about a "problem" when I was young. In the 1970s, capitalists were terrified by the fact that Union Pension funds seemed to be the main accumulating pools of capital -- and by 2020 workers would -- in effect -- own the means of production.

Even around 1965 there were countless papers declaring it "obvious." Amid much hand-wringing, the punditry caste - especially William F. Buckley - discussed how it seemed inevitable that corporate capital would thus be majority "owned" by the workers, though not via Karl Marx's revolution or expropriation. Rather, through an organic and natural process of regulated savings.

Some saw this as a good thing, potentially ending the class system forever! Especially since it would happen "fair and square," with all stockholders seeing their shares bought by those pension funds at fair market value, with no real losers. No expropriation of wealth from the already-rich.  Just a working class getting steadily richer.

Others saw the prospect as a disaster… for exactly the same reasons... and began planning ways to change the rules and system, so that the looming threat would go away. They began by banning the pension funds from participating much in control over the companies they invested in, or unions from giving orders to their pension funds. There were some sound reasons… and others were just rationalizations to keep control in the hands of major individual stockholders. 

I believe much of the Reagan "revolution" was specifically targeted to end that dire threat… through the quelling of unions, the underfunding of pensions, the empowerment of nested shell-ownership, and the vast tsunami of tax largesse to the top aristocracy via "supply side" voodoo. And they succeeded, which is historically unsurprising.

What I do find mind-boggling is that not even one pundit today ever mentions this reversal of what was once seen as an inevitable, unstoppable trend toward a Rooseveltean-style "soft socialism" that would owe zilch to either Marx or revolution, and that would be just as capitalist, only with worker ownership the norm.

How weird that even top economists scratch their heads when I mention this… before a light of dawning memory shows in their eyes (the older ones, that is) and they say… "oh… yeah, that was something we used to talk a lot about, wasn't it!"

It was once topic #1, much discussed in the 1960s and 1970s. Now gone from the mind. Weird, huh?

== Putin Worship ==

You'd have to be unconscious not to have noticed the surge of admiring paeans to Vladimir Putin that have been surging across the punditry caste of the American right.

praise-putinThe goofiness of Putin-adoration was starkly portrayed by Doyle McManus in his LA Times op-ed "Putin, master player." This fetish to portray the Russian President as some latter-day Peter the Great, for having seized Crimea and defied western sanctions, while poking at some eastern Ukrainian cities, manifestly ignores the elephant in the room.  Which is the Ukraine, itself.

Putin is... a winner?  He has lost the Ukraine as a pro-Russian puppet state, which it was, under ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.  Now veering westward toward stronger ties with the west, Ukraine is no longer a pliant buffer state of the sort that all Russian strongmen have desperately sought since Ivan the Terrible. 

 We should not play that game, nor think of these events as a win for "our side" in some kind of new-coldwar contest. But you can be sure that is how most Russians view it. Vladimir Putin's nibble-back of Crimea - and possibly some portions of the Donbass Region - are not the moves of a "master player," but a politician striving hard to salvage something out of a strategic disaster.

What is fascinating? The frenzied efforts of Mr. McManus and others in media to divert attention from the big picture, stoking fear and bogeyman tensions and suppressing any talk of the upside of recent events. At best this is myopia.

50 comments:

Alex said...

Well said about Putin. While he antagonizes Ukraine further, Russia is also losing influence in Central Asia, to the Chinese.

I had never heard this story about the workers taking over through pension funds. I'm only 28, so I guess that's my excuse. I was also a history major in college, so maybe not so much. Can you recommend anything I could read on the subject?

Walter Guyll said...

Putin does not attract the exact same Western demographic that Mussolini did but the circles overlap.

Andy said...

Although, Russia is making moves to obtain closer ties with other countries - hearing more about that pipeline through North Korea that you mentioned: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/04/putin-north-korea_n_5446624.html

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/02/optimism-responsibility-and-satire.html

Alex Tolley said...

Re: Union pension fund & socialism
I'm not sure that it was widely written about, but here is Peter Drucker's book on the phenomenon, published in 1976.

It was the era of rapidly growing wages and generous defined pension plans. By the 1980's these plans were being raided to pay for corporate takeovers, labor was being massively reduced and executives were starting to vote themselves huge compensation packages. Unions really dropped the ball on that one.

Jonathan S. said...

At the forums at SJGames.com, there's a thread being kept open despite some trolls' best efforts, giving us the news from Ukraine as delivered by an honest-to-Cthulhu Ukranien in Kyiv. (We've made him promise to execute his exit plan if things start blowing up there in town, but he doesn't seem to find it likely.)

It's the best way I have right now of finding out what's actually going on there - everything else I've found has been filtered by either the official Russian or Iranian news agencies.

Hank Roberts said...

> Freedom Fest

Too bad you're not one of the keynote speakers. Futurist? They don't care about the future. Remember this double-reversal? He's one of the keynoters:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/11/13/1182511/grover-norquist-abruptly-reverses-position-on-carbon-tax-after-facing-criticism-from-koch-backed-group/

Carl M. said...

I rather like the idea of worker ownership of mature industries. Then you have union member power restrained with accountability. (There's a Lazarus Long quote on this subject that I'm too lazy to look up at the moment.)

I don't like the idea of the UAW owning the auto companies. This smells of monopoly. Let GM workers own GM and Ford workers own Ford or fractions thereof.

How about legalizing company unions for corporations which meet certain conditions (like union representative on the board)?

Robert said...

I'd have been interested to see an actual depiction of your three-dimensional political chart. What you had with the link was... confusing. As for your two-dimensional one, I disagree with it.

Liberal | Conservative
----------------------
Leftist | Reactionary

Going into the three-dimensional chart then, the Z-axis would have two areas. One I think should be Libertarian. The second is Authoritarian.

It is entirely possible to have a Liberal Authoritarian government. It probably wouldn't be a stable government and would depend on the whims of the "nice" oligarch in charge, but you could see a government where there are few liberties but that ensures everyone has an even starting point and equal education and then goes into the field they are best suited for - perhaps in a meritocratic fashion.

A leftist authoritarian government would be along the lines of the original communist takeover of Russia before Stalin subverted it.

---------

The Right's worship of Putin is simple, and I'm surprised you've not perceived it, Dr. Brin. The Right is for Putin because they want a renewal of the Soviet Union. They see Democratic foreign policy as weak and lackluster. They can claim in 2016 that Obama was weak and as a result the Arab Spring fell apart and Russia is now resurgent and thus you NEED to elect a good old Republican to once again lead the world.

Putin is everything they want. He is the boogeyman they can use to frighten voters into returning the White House to them... and maybe even the Senate. You'll likely see new voter ID laws passed on a Federal level that forces photo identification without funding it and new Supreme Court justices to ensure these new laws remain in power. And thus a minority "Conservative" government will gain control and retain control over the nation.

---------

As a sad aside, on Facebook I recently witnessed what I believe is the true failing of the Left and of activism in the U.S. - as a very liberal (indeed leftist) person proceeded to protest at length over the "sick out" of public transportation workers in San Francisco. He felt they were paid too much and had excellent pensions... and that their service was vital and thus should not be allowed to strike.

He was pretty much anti-union there. A leftist being against the unions... because it inconvenienced people he knew. This is why we have climate deniers. It's why we have anti-intellectualism. People don't want to be "inconvenienced" and will thus resist anything they see as causing them extra work.

In short... laziness is the bane of the Left.

Rob H.

Dennis Jernberg said...

Actually, I think the Right's infatuation with Putin has more to do with his efforts to make himself the "great conservative hope". He's swept away all but the "Potemkin village" fa├žade of democracy and taken it upon himself to enact the entire Christian Right and corporatist agenda. If anything, his American fans are redbaiting America.

As for libertarians: I'm less impressed by the Rand-Rothbard school by the day. Rand was always big on hero worship; there was always that element of fangirlism and the Stalinist personality cult in her, which she of course transferred to superstar CEOs. Did she ever realize the true depth of her big-biz heroes involvement in anti-free-market protectionism? Blank-out. I distinctly remember reading an article or blog post Nathaniel Branden wrote in which he openly considered writing an essay called "Big Business vs. Capitalism"...

Larry C. Lyons said...

Re: Union pension fund & socialism

I have worked in provincial crown corporations (companies owned by the government), union controlled, and worker controlled companies back in Canada. One thing I noticed in all of them was that there was not a large difference in working at these companies, and more conventionally owned ones.

One difference I did notice was that wages were a bit higher, and the products (hydro electric, auto insurance, and various goods) cost less. There was a large incentive to plough the profits back into the company.

A good example of this is the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation. This crown corporation provides auto and other insurance for the province. Its rates are among the lowest in North America, and frequently (nearly every year since its founding), gives substantial rebates to Manitoba drivers and also provides substantial infrastructure investments (http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/mpi-drives-down-a-new-road-176075991.html)

mk045 said...

I do like the classification of political views; you've posted it before. The one thing that bugs me, well, I may be reading too much into it. The description of Liberal vs. Libertarian seems biased toward the latter. Liberal gets short shrift, but libertarian gets a long word count like it "matters more".

That said, I don't think the two can be detached very far. Liberal concerned with equal outcomes vs. libertarian concerned with equal starting places. Unless one takes all children from their families at birth and puts them into state-run housing and schooling, the outcomes of one generation become the starting point for the next. To ensure fair starting points, you have to constrain outcomes within a reasonable range. There needs to be a damping effect built into "the system" that applies increasing economic force the further one deviates from the average (choose the flavor of average you desire). Only with "reasonable" outcomes can you expect reasonable distribution of starting points. Otherwise, you have the illusion of equality that lasts a few generations at most (e.g. 1950-2000).

I am alarmed at your depiction of the union pension funds issue. The right has been beating on the sides of the diamond for a long time, forcing it back down into a pyramid. It's hard to not lose hope sometimes.

Robert said...

Actually that would suggest then that we should toss out the labels and instead focus on the views of these organizations.

Instead of Liberal/Left and Libertarian/Rightist we should go with the following:

Authoritarian/Democracy
Liberalism/Conservatism
Libertarian/Socialism

Thus you have a three-dimensional format from which you can place a government. For instance, the current U.S. government is borderline between Democracy/Authoritarian, is a little bit Conservatism, and Midway along the Socialism side of things.

You can also take political parties and place them along the three lines.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

Charles Stross noticed the admiration of Putin:
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/04/books-i-will-not-write-yet-ano.html
It's the sort of thing you may not wish to drink liquids while reading.

David Brin said...

HankR: I go to Freedom Fest with trepidation. I’ll be bearding the Randians in their den, speaking up for a distinctly different, older and more basic form of libertarianism. It could get ugly. But I am being paid.

CarlM you should like my Freedom Fest speech. Guys you should know that Carl was the guy who encouraged me to writed the Political Models tract… http://tinyurl.com/polimodels He hosted it too.

Robert, go to http://tinyurl.com/polimodels and see my REAL 3d axis.

Yes, the goppers are nostalgic for the USSR, despite it having been Marshall, Kennan, Acheson & Truman who invented the containment policy that saved the world.

mk045 said...

Further proof that multitasking is making mistakes twice as fast. In my earlier comment, I mentioned David's definitions of liberal and libertarian. That should have been leftist and liberal, respectively. Apologies.

Mark said...

More and more, I find arguments in our society are not based on differences of opinion, but differences of fact. Different people, including those in power, simply believe different sets of "facts".

That would seem to be the real third axis. Unfortunately, everyone would claim the Fact Based edge as their own. Perhaps if we call Science versus Faith we'd see more choosing the opposite of Fact Based.

Anonymous said...

There is no "Putin worship" All you see and hear is "Putin demonization".

They pull "Putin" into it even though he has nothing to do with anything.

We have a democratic government that was overthrown in a coup, then a violent far right government imposed, then we had US CIA visit and encourage the new coup government, then we had the coup government ignore referendums in Ukraine, then we had the coup government launch tanks, jets, helicopters, artillery to shell homes, schools, hospitals, for month,s killing hundreds of civilians.

And all this is ignored, or justified because "erm, um, Putin".

This is insane. And we've seen this all over the world before. A government overthrown, radicals imposed, and then continues to bomb and shell the population that goes against US and client state leadership.

American Eurasianist said...

Admiration for Putin among conservatives and right wingers isn't bizarre at all. Putin is a bold, smart, powerful European man, Christian, heterosexual, masculine, not in favor of overthrowing millennia of tradition in favor of the latest rainbow-feminist multicultural fads, popular with his people for proudly asserting their values, and not a lackey of transnational financial oligarchs or Progressive agitators -- i.e. he is the anti-Obama, and everything the American neoliberal empire is out to destroy.

Since we have so few men like Putin in the West today, and are bombarded by a non-stop torrent of cultural programming to the effect that our new heroes should be the polar opposite of him, it's hardly surprising that this is happening. What's surprising, and disturbing, is that the Progressives' cultural dominance of our society has reached a point that we have to find someone outside our civilization to say things we'd like our elites to say, and be the leader we'd like our elites to be.

Putin is popular because there is a sense among conservative people that our elites no longer represent us, and we long for our own Putin, instead of the endless parade of degenerates, shills and fools who pass for our leaders.

Hank Roberts said...

> David Brin said...
> HankR: I go to Freedom
> Fest with trepidation.

Thank you.

Try some Tom Paine on them? I posted an excerpt here a while back:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-looming-gilded-age-capital-affluence.html?showComment=1400338316189#c1265548398225915291

He gets no respect in DC:
http://www.thomas-paine-friends.org/robyn-richard_erasure-of-public-memory-the-strange-case-of-tom-paine-2012.html

LarryHart said...

American Eurasianist:

What's surprising, and disturbing, is that the Progressives' cultural dominance of our society has reached a point that we have to find someone outside our civilization to say things we'd like our elites to say, and be the leader we'd like our elites to be.


Although I find your politics disturbing, I have to admit that's probably a cogent summing up of the conservative view on the subject.

I would suggest that of your two stated antagonists, Progressives and transnational financial oligarchs, you reconsider which one dominates our society.


Putin is popular because there is a sense among conservative people that our elites no longer represent us...


Now, that's kind of funny in an ironic way.

Tony Fisk said...

Putin is popular because there is a sense among conservative people that our elites no longer represent us...

While I don't think they're looking to Putin, Australian conservatives were having the same problem with Tony Abbott, even before the recent tumbrel-rumbling budget.

Like the well-ripped Russian, Abbott was initially styled as the rugged outdoors type (triathlete in all his 'budgie smuggling' glory) but this risked setting him up to be a bit of a poser in Australian eyes.

This came out at the end of last year; ironically when he was battling extreme bushfires in the Blue Mountains as a long-standing volunteer firefighter.

No question that he was performing a hazardous job with commendable gameness and, had he kept it to that, it would have been a clear publicity win.

Unfortunately, he then felt the need to dismiss climate change as a cause for this disaster. So, he had to open his mouth and claim these increasingly common extreme events were just a normal part of the Australian bush; a stance that put him at odds with many full-time firefighters ("You do not find many climate change sceptics at the end of fire hoses any more.")

locumranch said...

There was a time in our political bestiary when 'liberal' and 'libertarian' meant the same thing, an emphasis on personal freedom (following your bliss) with the simultaneous acceptance of divergent change, but no longer. With its eternal self-betterment & 'continuous quality improvement' mantra, the 'progressive movement' (the bastard offspring of Christian Transcendentalism & Freudian analysis, really) has perverted all things social, turning the possibility of a pleasant existence into an unceasing frenzy of self-analysis, competitive self-betterment & turd polishing.

Gone are the simple days of traditionalism (conservativism) and live & let live liberalism, along with simple self-satisfactions attendant thereon. Progressivism, with its relentless insistence on 'earning' happiness by 'being the best we can be' (perfectionism) has ruined us all, leaving us culturally psychotic, displeased with the inferior nature of human ability, intellect & physique, so much so that we now live only for the apocalyptic vanity of either ‘transhumanism’ and/or The ‘Better Angels of our nature (if you are inclined to the scientific) or 'the Prophet's Paradise to Come’ (if you are more traditionally religious).

Our pursuit of freakish perfection has driven us insane (34% and rising), forcing us to labour on despite diminishing returns (at the gym, school, church or office), trying to become more moral in every way (whatever that means), only to retreat to our respective hovels (self-isolation), overwhelmed by our perceived deficiencies and gorge ourselves on shame and sweets (the obesity epidemic), the only sane response being to either pray for death or burn the whole efffing abomination down.

In this sense, Putin has become a powerful 'Symbol' of what most of us desire (escape) -- much along the lines of the 18th Century 'Noble Savage', the 17th Century Pastoral Ideal or W. Shatner's Captain Kirk-- arrogating the self-centered rights of the free man, masculine in the sense of being flawed AND proud, bold by virtue of being unapologetic, made potent in the sense of being unrepentant.


Best

matthew said...

As a long-time practitioner of the dark arts of "continuous improvement" I did, indeed, laugh out loud at locumaranch's little screed about it. Dude, it ain't no crime against humanity to make things run more efficiently. It is conservative, in the original context of the word. Less work, more result, less waste. Thanks for the belly laugh. One thing I really am interested in locum - what do you believe in? What ideological system do you think works for people? I've seen you put down liberalism, progress-ism, conservatism, and libertarian-ism. Where on David's 3D axis do you think we all should fall? Too much? OK, just tell us one thing that works well. One thing.

I say welcome to our Putin-loving friends. How is the weather where ever you are? I'll be very interested to hear what you have to say about criminal oligarchy. About capture of state-owned resources. I'm sure that there are some interesting things you could tell us.

Pension ownership of industries? Oh, the horror. Good thing Saint Ronald Reagan came along to save the good ol' USA from that fate.

David Brin said...

You guys are being very interesting...

Hank Roberts said...

Another item for the bestiary, perhaps:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/06/06/one-more-example-of-conservative-antivaccinationism/
and earlier
which ends by pointing out that
extreme libertarianism and antivaccinationism go together like rats and bubonic plague.

mk045 said...

Oh, but science evolves. Don't blame the poor rats.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/17/black-death-rats-off-hook

You could just say libertarianism and antivaccinationism go together like lack of measles vaccination and massive measles outbreaks.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

As a libertarian for more than half a century, I take serious exception to the assertion that there is any linkage at all between libertarianism and antivacinnationism.

One of the links above seems to imply that Reason is not a libertarian magazine (as it generally has been for 45 years), but the more recent crazies are the true libertarians.

It is correct that some people calling themselves "libertarian" believe that it is OK to expose other people to dangerous diseases through one's own irresponsible actions.

It is also correct that some people calling themselves "libertarian" believe that it is OK to dispose of your trash on other people's property as long as the trash is invisible to the naked eye.

It is also correct that people giving themselves all sorts of labels are not what they claim to be. This is especially true of a great many so-called "libertarians."

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Our pursuit of freakish perfection has driven us insane (34% and rising), forcing us to labour on despite diminishing returns (at the gym, school, church or office), trying to become more moral in every way (whatever that means), only to retreat to our respective hovels (self-isolation), overwhelmed by our perceived deficiencies and gorge ourselves on shame and sweets (the obesity epidemic), the only sane response being to either pray for death or burn the whole efffing abomination down.


Who is this "we" of which you speak? Just because celebrities and politicians push a certain meme doesn't constrain you to follow along. I'm not claiming to love my job, but when I come home, I've got a pretty good life, all things considered. Not because I achieve all those things you just mentioned above, but because it doesn't bother me when I don't.


In this sense, Putin has become a powerful 'Symbol' of what most of us desire (escape) -- much along the lines of the 18th Century 'Noble Savage', the 17th Century Pastoral Ideal or W. Shatner's Captain Kirk-- arrogating the self-centered rights of the free man, masculine in the sense of being flawed AND proud, bold by virtue of being unapologetic, made potent in the sense of being unrepentant.


You correctly put quotes around "symbol", because Putin comes off more of an avatar of those things to those who want to believe, rather than as someone who actually embodies the qualities. Much as candiate-Obama was an avatar of whatever "hope and change" meant to you.

This is just me now, but I see the right-wing worshiping Putin as a stand in for Hitler.

Elentar said...

Actually, the opposite of Conservative is probably not leftist, but radical. Burke was both a conservative and a liberal; his main contention, in response to the French Revolution, was that before throwing something out, you should probably figure out what it was for. A lot of Marxist might fit this mold, but it predates Marxism, and more importantly, it means that the Tea Party, who are radicals themselves, are actually the opposite of conservative.

LarryHart said...

@Elentar,

The Nixon vs Humphrey election of 1968 was the first presidential election I actually remember. I was seven at the time. But in any case, that was when my dad first described the political adversaries "liberals" and "conservatives".

And what first occured to me was "Those don't sound like opposites."

TheMadLibrarian said...

Didn't Our Host suggest something like this a few months back?

Via BoingBoing -- the "Let the People Draw the Lines" Bill:
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2978/text

The comments also point out that places which are most likely to benefit are also the places where the entrenched politicians are most likely to fight tooth and nail.

TheMadLibrarian

Tom Elliot said...

Thought I'd mention that today the nation of Ukraine is referred to as "Ukraine" not "the Ukraine". Since you were so particular about the .01% vs. 1% differential in references to the very wealthy by liberal I'm sure you'll appreciate that it means a lot to Ukraine to be called by its proper name. It is no longer a subset of the USSR when it was "the" Ukraine.

Alfred Differ said...

The inclusion of the article 'the' is done by some of us who know how "Ukraine' translates. It's not meant as a slight.


Regarding Locumranch, I suspect he is an existentialist and not a USian. 8)


Finally, Putin isn't all that hard to explain or understand. He is the father-figure the Russian culture likes to have lead. Feudal cultures follow such leaders and are most comfortable doing so. It's no surprise many American Conservatives appreciate him and his success in this role as they can imagine themselves as part of that type of power structure.

Singedrac said...

I know you're not a big fan of the left-right axis paradigm, but here's a pretty cool information-heavy congressional polotics chart you may like by Randall Munroe of XKCD fame: http://xkcd.com/1127/large/

Poor Richard said...

The Economical Bestiary

Mythical Beasties of Economyland

The world of economics and economists is a world populated with many mythical and fantastic beasties. This Bestiary or Bestiarum vocabulum is a catalog of some of the most familiar as well as some of the most exotic and bizarre!

http://almanac2010.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/economic-bestiary/

Poor Richard said...

Useful non-left-right axes:

1. Authoritarian - egalitarian.

2. Religious - secular

3. Open - closed (which can apply to any number of matters such as information transparency, membership, employment, accountability, etc.)

4. Public - private. The “public interest”, whether expressed as general welfare, as life-liberty-happiness, as life-liberty-equality, or some other type of utility, is best served, in general, by the greatest possible consent of We the People. Consent is served by transparency and accountability. This is an oversimplification of utility, but the public-private axis should be redefined as a composite index of public-interest factors

http://almanac2010.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/consent/

Tacitus2 said...

ummm...you consider McManus to be an example of thought on the "right"?

As to general conservative thinking on Putin I would describe it as considering him a lawless thug who does whatever he damn well pleases. Not admirable in the least.

He, Putin that is, does show up our current Admin as clueless and inept. This infuriates my fellow Progressive citizens because with Secretary Clinton waiting in the wings our foreign policy must be seen as Smart and Effective.

Not, mind you, that Conservatives have a great set of options for what to do about Putin. There really are not any quick and forceful counter moves.

Obama is playing a weak hand of cards.

This happens sometimes. But he is playing them poorly.

Tacitus

Duncan Cairncross said...

Tacitus said
"Obama is playing a weak hand of cards.
This happens sometimes. But he is playing them poorly."

From my viewpoint he appears to be a master player
He seems to have achieved a lot with very little

Main strategy appears to be;

"When you opponent is digging a hole sell him a spade"

Libya, Syria, Ben Laden, Pirates, POW's

Closing down wars in Iraq, Afghanistan,

A lot less casualties at US embassies

Lot less (US) military dead

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

As to general conservative thinking on Putin I would describe it as considering him a lawless thug who does whatever he damn well pleases. Not admirable in the least.


That's the attitude I would hope to hear from American conservatives. And I acknowledge that it makes sense to expect to hear it.

But sometimes, the arguments circulating in particular circiles don't make sense. Remember when the right was claiming that candidate Obama must be a devotee of Reverend Jerimiah Wright because Obama had attended Wright's (Christian) church for 25 years at the same time they accused him of being a Muslim?

If you happened to catch the remarks by "American Eurasianist" above--that meme is out there. You (and your circle of friends) may disagree with it (as I do), but you can't pretend it's not there. You can claim that the ones making the pro-Putin argument are not "conservative", but then you're just arguing with them about who has a better claim on that word.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

"Obama is playing a weak hand of cards.
This happens sometimes. But he is playing them poorly."

From my viewpoint he appears to be a master player
He seems to have achieved a lot with very little


Agreed with Duncan. He's playing them pretty well in the real world.

He might be accused of playing his hand poorly in the political realm, as the right wing seems to control the messaging. But if judging by results (re-election and holding the Senate in 2012), even that might be a short-sighted view of things.

locumranch said...

First, the very statement that 'it ain't no crime against humanity to make things run more efficiently’ betrays a thorough ignorance of modern history, from Mustard Gas to the Nazi death camps, wherein the ‘efficiency’ excuse was used to justify any number of horrific crimes against humanity.

Second, term efficiency’ represents a functional non-sequitur when used as above, meaning very little when applied to our current topics. Efficiency is in no way applicable to the topics of personal freedom. If efficiency was applicable, then one could prove that slavery is superior to democracy by citing ‘efficiency’ (more result, less waste).

Third, the term 'efficiency’ represents a qualitative statement when used as above. Qualitative statements refer to the positive or negative character of a logical proposition, the presence or absence of a distinguishing characteristic, or simple personal preference. They represent subjective value judgments which are ‘moral’ in the sense that they are immune to either measurement or direct comparison.

Like CQI, qualitative terms mean very little. All ideals are crap for identical reason: They tend to moral argument; they are qualitative in nature; they are immune to either measurement or direct comparison; they are 'perfect' and therefore unreal; and they are imaginary in the sense that they exist only as concepts.

The liberal believes that the new transcends the old; the conservative believes that the old transcends the new; the libertarian believes that the individual transcends society; and the progressive believes that society transcends the individual: They are all fools because they argue about qualitative preference. And, like spoiled children, they try to imbue their personal, moral or bullshit desires with singular importance and/or divine significance.

Those children who always want to have their way in an honest, unapologetic or unrepentant fashion desire Putin-esque oligarchy, just as those who wish to remain children forever desire serfdom. Those who like to share (or are amenable to peer pressure) favor democracy; those who like change become liberals; those who dislike change become conservatives; and those who will not share or conform become libertarians.

I’ve already told you my opinion of progressives (the chosen), but it bears repeating. They are the most selfish of the lot because they always want to have their way but claim otherwise, leading 'only' because they know the best course of action for all of us, or so they claim.


Best.

David Brin said...

" If efficiency was applicable, then one could prove that slavery is superior to democracy by citing ‘efficiency’ (more result, less waste)."

What an incredible strawman. In fact, economic studies have shown that markets vastly outperform command societies and the flatter the market the more efficiently it performs. Freedom is not good despite its inefficiencies. It is both good AND efficient.

Zero sum thinking is kinda sad.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

The liberal believes that the new transcends the old; the conservative believes that the old transcends the new; the libertarian believes that the individual transcends society; and the progressive believes that society transcends the individual: They are all fools because they argue about qualitative preference. And, like spoiled children, they try to imbue their personal, moral or bullshit desires with singular importance and/or divine significance.


So all possible valuations are false? As others have already asked you, what do you value? Beside the fact that anyone else's value are (self-evidently) wrong?


I’ve already told you my opinion of progressives (the chosen), but it bears repeating. They are the most selfish of the lot because they always want to have their way but claim otherwise, leading 'only' because they know the best course of action for all of us, or so they claim.


You have got to be freakin' kidding me!

You've heard Tacitus justify congressional obstructionism and William F Buckley justify voter suppression with the notion that their side must be allowed to prevail, democratically or otherwise, because they know what is best for all.

Progressives have our faults, sure, but at the very least (this is often called a fault by conservatives), we understand the other side and even give it its due when deserved.

Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table in 2009. When have Republicans ever done so?

For that matter, in what society do progressives "get their way" or "lead" at all? I'd love to move there.

Anonymous said...

Some pretty serious allegations:

http://www.voxday.blogspot.com/2014/06/another-science-fiction-fraud.html

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart
"Congressional obstructionism?" I don't recall commenting on the proper role of the legislative branch lately but it is certainly a question worthy of discussion.

And as to the "things that are out there", jeeze, the internet is full of things. Many are incoherent ramblings. Many are strawmen. A few are false flags. If you want a summation of what I have been able to glean on conservative opinion of Putin it is: "A brutal thug. An excellent example of why executives actually need checks on their Powers. worthy of no respect beyond the wary regard that we give any dangerous thing be it a tornado, a plague or as in this case, a Bear."

Tacitus

Mike Huben said...

"People seem to be faintly drawn to the idea that there might be more political dimensions than just "left" and "right". Bullshit. Being in favour of allowing other people to take drugs, shag each other or read what they want isn't a political position; it's what we call "manners", "civilisation" or "humanity", depending on the calibre of yokel you're trying to educate. The political question of interest splits fair and square down a Left/Right axis: either you think that it is more important to provide a decent life for everyone in the world, or you think it is more important to preserve the rights of people who own property. You can hum and haw as much as you like about whether the two are necessarily incompatible, or whether the one is instrumental to the other, or what constitutes a "decent life" anyway, but when you've finished humming and hawing, I'm still gonna be asking you the question, and your answer to it will determine whether or not we're gonna have an argument."
Daniel Davies, d-squareddigest, December 31, 2002

David Brin said...

There is a very wide range between far-lkeftists and "liberals" in so many ways that they are different species who have at times gone to war ( see http://www.davidbrin.com/1947.html )

They are allies now because the American right is monolithic and almost uniformly insane.

David Brin said...

onward!

AnOilMan said...

(Big fan of all your work David.)

I think more dimensions to the political spectrum would be useful, but alas, continuing an outdated notion.

I find much of this interesting, and yet confusing. I believe the real reason is that we seem to have a need to classify everyone's thinking. Its easier to put them in a box that way. Yet given the complexity of the world its no wonder that there is a lot of head butting over it.

I'm relatively conservative... I don't care much for what happens to others. I do like my Canadian Health care system. I'm tremendously concerned that we aren't addressing Climate Change even if it costs me my employment. So which political party do I choose? Why do I have to choose one? Is there a better way to vote and handle variation in views?

Just thinking out loud...

Ali Husen said...

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