Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Is Class War as Inevitable as the Return of Karl Marx?

I've long written how we should envision America as a continuing revolution against the failed feudal model that crushed human hope in 99% of human societies, across 6000 years. Indeed, our major issues today have little to do with the hoary, lobotomizing “left-right axis.” Not when Enterprise, markets, entrepreneurship and national defense all do vastly better across Democratic administrations, and the state gathers more power into its hands, across Republican ones. 

As shown repeatedly by varied thinkers and economists at the Evonomics site, if he were alive today, Adam Smith would be a vigorous Democrat. (Liberals who reflexively denounce Smith are fools.)

And yet, the “left-right” metaphor, reclaims some meaning, if you go back to its roots

Way back in 1789, a bankrupted Louis XVI summoned the French Estates General. When, to his shock, nobles and clerics joined elected commoners in common assembly, the nobles and churchmen sat on the right and the levelers on the left. That is the source of the metaphor.

Then (as now) most (not all) of the nobles insisted on retaining their gross taxation privileges and spectacular disparities in wealth – their inherent right to cheat and not compete fairly. Short-sighted to the last, they would pay a high price for insatiability. (See my earlier posting: Class War and the Lessons of History.)

Fast forward to 2017. We’ve been warned for years that rising disparities in both wealth and power would warp the five flat-open-competitive arenas that made our civilization the wonder of all ages. Democracy, markets, science, courts, and sports – all fail when distorted by cheating.

As Will and Ariel Durant said in Lessons of History: 

"…the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation,
which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth
or by revolution distributing poverty.” 

Karl Marx and his followers were stunned that Americans kept choosing the former over the latter! The Marxists’ jaundiced view of humanity saw our species as reflexive pawns of class imperatives, not sapient beings, able to recognize the edge of a cliff and steer away from it. 

Dogmatists of both the right and the left ignore how the American Founders, in the 1780s, seized up to a third of the land in the former colonies from lordly owners and redistributed it to a favored middle class. A "leveling" far greater than anything done by FDR. That class re-set was accomplished peacefully over here… but with much blood in 1790s France.

Each generation faces trends in human nature that try to re-assert feudalism. Hence, one more anti-feudal re-set was performed by the Jacksonians. Another came after bloody Civil War. Later the Progressives, led foremost by Theodore Roosevelt, gave us a neutral Civil Service and laws against market-warping monopolies. (Both reforms under attack, today.)

Then again, when plutocracy threatened to drive average Americans into radicalism, another Roosevelt led our parents in the Greatest Generation to perform the most successful re-set of all, both reducing disparities to their lowest levels in history and fostering the greatest burgeon of enterprise and wealth of all time. Moreover, the smartest of the rich – those capable of reading Marx and seeing the alternative – supported FDR! The Gates-Buffetts of their day, they figured it was better to be merely very rich, in a happy, middle-class society, than to lose it all in revolution.

== Enemies of Marx keep him alive! ==

Indeed, the terrific Evonomics site (one of the best online) repeatedly shows that our moderate-reformist ancestors had the right idea. This article “The Science Is In: Greater Equality Makes Societies Healthier” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (authors of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger) agrees with one catechism of the right: that the Greatest Generation of the 40s and 50s were smart and wise! 

Everyone benefited from that era – which the Trump-lumpens dimly nostalgize as the very time when “America was Great.” Forgetting that their parents adored FDR above all other living humans. The creative tsunami that happened then -- under high Rooseveltean tax rates and with strong unions -- made us wealthy enough to take on many challenges, like racial and gender justice and discovering planetary care. 

But the lesson of history is clear: all class re-set solutions tend to get undermined, over time. Cheaters find ways to cheat ... and hence...

...those pesky Marxists never really went away. 

Naturally, they hold that every successful re-set only saves capitalism for another generation. Their dismal assumption – clutched tenaciously - is that human nature is fixed!  (No wonder Marxists hate science fiction, despite old Karl being one of the greatest sci fi writers of all time.)

Moreover, they forecast that a wave of plutocrats will come that is too stupid and self-obsessed to realize how much better off they are, to be merely-way-rich in a confident, middle class society.

Seeking, by dullard reflex, to restore feudal lordship, they will perch above a festering maelstrom of resentment. Only this time and the folks they oppress will have technologies that make WMDs seem tame. 

Oh, how very smart you Murdochs and Kochs are. Driving all the scientists and techies and tech-savvy military men and women to the left. Real smart.

== The crisis of capitalism ==

Some are less foolish. Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum (WEF), might seem a central figure of the whole Davos-Bildeburger cabal of giga-aristocrats that some see behind every world conspiracy. But – as I depict happening in Existence – some of the top elites on this planet are trying desperately to figure out how they can make a soft landing… to stay rich and privileged in a world that’s healthy and prosperous and (above all) not stewing with revolution.

“As well as getting growth higher (and dealing with wealth disparity) , the WEF identified four areas that need to be addressed urgently: the need for long-term thinking in capitalism; a recognition of the importance of identity and inclusiveness in political communities; mitigating the risks and exploiting the opportunities of new technologies such as driverless cars; and strengthening global cooperation.”

Oh, but the Marxists do have a point about human nature. Those born and raised in wealth tend to, like the French nobles and like Donald Trump, envision themselves the way flatterers describe them, as geniuses. The Saudi Royal House, for example, whose relentless efforts to plant the seeds of caliphate have borne bitter fruit. Or Rupert Murdoch, who worked so hard to train the populist-confederate beast, only to see it seized by a new rider, an impudent Svengali.

Donald Trump frightened the Lords of the Right for a bit. Throughout the presidential primaries and the general election, the Koch brothers were steadfast in their refusal to support Trump, consistently critical of his candidacy. Charles Koch even once described choosing between Trump and Clinton as picking “cancer or a heart attack.”

Only now those masters think they have the Trump Problem sussed. Knowing how dangerous the brothers are, DT has surrendered to them control over much of his cabinet! 

See this chart to grasp just how many fingers the Kochs now have, pulling strings over our heads.  No wonder enemy #1 is a free press.

== Our special radicalism ==

No, we need to step back and take in the bigger picture.  6000 years of failed feudalism. 250 years of ever rising and improving revolution against that horrid attractor state -- a revolution centered on calm and progressive-scientific-rational and fact-based reform.

 A century - since 1917 - when a different, simplistic, socialist cult seemed to offer an alluring alternative answer to feudalism... only to fade away...

...for a while. Only it's simmering and returning. And "radical Islam" ain't nothing but a place-holder for what's about to come roaring back, risen from the grave.

Now we see the pieces on the table. There is a rising confederacy, puppeted by an oligarchy who think they can restore a newer, smarter feudalism, thinking that they have neutralized the American revolution.

But if they have succeeded at that, then the world's oppressed will run to a different cult. Old Karl has been waiting for this, confident that the American answer... moderate, grownup reasonableness... would fail, sooner or later, allowing the final confrontation.

I say - a plague on both their radical, simplistic, stupid and hellish houses!

I am a child of Ben Franklin. Of Smith, Washington, Lincoln, Anthony, Roosevelt, Marshall and King. And Star Trek. 

You don't get me, I'm the revolution.





155 comments:

Greg Hullender said...

A puzzle, though, is why is Europe having its own populist revolution right now? They've consistently had higher taxes and greater redistribution, and yet it doesn't seem to have done them any good.

Zepp Jamieson said...

It may be just a fin de cycle thing. There's a least one "70 year cycle" of history (not the silly sunspot one) that forecast a rise of fascism/authoritarianism in the west for the 2010s--back in the 1990s. Obviously, and Asimov notwithstanding, recurring social dynamics are not rigorous science, but they can be strong indicators.

dsmccoy said...

Globalization, while doing much good growing the middle class in much of the third world, created a lot of international loopholes for the klepto-plutocrats, leading to downward pressure on the middle class of the developed world which was not amenable to solution by individual states.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Greg
Europe HAS been effected by the neoliberal supply side nonsense

The USA is the "leader of the free world" - and in this has led us into a swamp

The USA is deepest in the swamp - followed by the UK, NZ and the other anglophone nations but even the Scandinavians are up past their knees in the mire

They are only up to their knees but they can look ahead and see where their leaders are taking them - deeper!

The ones that want to reverse course (like Corbyn in the UK) are being drowned out by the media which always supports it's owners

Neoliberalism is NOT the engine that has driven Dr Brin's great uplifting of humanity
Neoliberalism - or Thatcher/Reagan - ism is the breaking of the unions and the 1% trousering all of the improvements that the 99% worked to produce
and the resultant massive rise in inequality

The effect has been to slow down Dr Brin's engine of uplift to the very poor

David Brin said...

Greg H, Despite many socialist imperatives, in Europe your likelihood of inheriting the same social caste as your parents is far, far higher. I never said high rich taxes and unions were THE only reasons for our 1950s burst and flat society. But they refute the noxious "opposite" of supply side.

As it happens, I think a major factor has been the US 4 year bachelor's degree.

dsmcoy that is why I believe one thing will save humanity... a WORLD Law that you don't own something if you don't say "I own that" openly and aloud. Trillions would be abandoned and the state debts rubbed out. Taxes could go DOWN. And kleptocrats and criminals would be ruined.

Anonymous said...

Yet more simplistic binaries! Feudalism... or not. French nobles... or not. Marx... or not. Jackson... or not. And more! These simplicities may be swiftly rebutted; Feudalism: what historians support your 6,000 years of feudalism model? Some citations would be a welcome change from your endless repetition of that same old line. French nobles: Edmund Burke was somewhat critical of the whole revolution thing, and any non-trivial reading of history would point to matters being rather more complicated than scooby-do class French nobles being bady bad bad--if not for you meddling Plutocrats, we'd already be shooting off to the stars! Heh. Marx utterly ignored political questions while worrying the class struggle horse, so it's not surprising he runs blind to history. (Does this blindness remind you of anyone?) Jackson? "progress requires moving forward" so why not steal that land from those savages? It's inevitable, as anyone can plainly see.

locumranch said...



David & Marx appear to believe that Wealth Inequality & Social Upheaval are causatively correlated despite evidence that Feudalism, a 2-tiered system with extreme wealth inequality, is much more stable then the western democratic ideal. Also, they both seem to overlook the fact that extreme oligarchy is the non-exclusive endpoint of both the left & the right. There is, however, an alternative explanation for our interesting times:

Generational Cyclic History Theory.

Popularised most recently in 'The Fourth Turning' (1997), Strauss & Howe define this stepwise process as either turnings (High, Awakening, Unraveling & Crisis) or prophets (Prophet, Nomad, Hero, Artist), a process which (IMO) can be more easily conceptualised in this manner:

(1) Hard times make hard people,
(2) Hard people make soft times,
(3) Soft times make soft people,
(4) Soft people make hard times.

Many believe this Our Cycle started 'hard' with the Great Depression & WW2, leading to our hardest & most pragmatic Greatest Generation, who created 'soft times' of unequally wealth & prosperity enjoyed by the Baby Boomers, giving rise to a most entitled soft & flaccid 'Me Me Me' generation obsessed with self-actualisation who have squandered their children's future & spent the proceeds on themselves to the point of social (plus environmental) collapse, validating the platitude that any successful society runs the risk of becoming a victim of its own success.

Of course, this cyclic history theory predates Strauss & Howe by thousands of years, Gibbon's 'Decline & Fall' (1789, non-fiction) and R A Lafferty's 'Fourth Mansions' (1969, science fiction) being some of my faves in this genre. We also see this principles echoed in any number of parenting manuals:

If you want successful children, then you raise them as if they're poor, teaching them the Ethics of Scarcity. If you raise them as special, rich, entitled princes & princesses, then they will become narcissists, layabouts, failures & parasites.

And, if you want to make America Great Again, then you cause hardship, crisis, death & dreck.


Best

TCB said...

In Florence, Italy, the wealthy families are the same one who were wealthy 600 years ago.

"Guglielmo Barone and Sauro Mocetti of the Bank of Italy — compared data on Florentine taxpayers in 1427 against tax data in 2011. Because Italian surnames are highly regional and distinctive, they could compare the income of families with a certain surname today, to those with the same surname in 1427. They found that the occupations, income and wealth of those distant ancestors with the same surname can help predict the occupation, income and wealth of their descendants today."

"As they wrote for the economics commentary website VoxEU, “The top earners among the current taxpayers were found to have already been at the top of the socioeconomic ladder six centuries ago.”

So, at least in Italy, there hasn't been enough of that socialism stuff to change the ground facts of class stratification... since 1427... Joan of Arc was still alive then, for heaven's sake.

Tom Crowl said...

@locumranch...

RE: "Feudalism, a 2-tiered system with extreme wealth inequality, is much more stable then the western democratic ideal."

Your statement is true only with limited technologies of communication and organization... which was the case for most of human history... and still is for parts of the world but that's rapidly changing.

However the forces that drive wealth concentration have not been reduced with those same improvements in communication and organization... at least not yet.

SO.. we have a drive towards feudalism but there is NO successful feudalism at the end of that road. Not sure what will be at the end of that road... or how to get there...

And that's what all the arguments are about.

LarryHart said...

I'm not clear what the "-->" is at the end of the main post, and it seemed to end abruptly. Was there supposed to be more?

LarryHart said...

...or maybe that was just my browser. There seems to be more now, after a refresh.

Carry on.

David Brin said...

The sub-text of anon’s incoherent railings (and I tried parsing the sentences; why are alt-right ninnies so bad at grammar?) The sub text is actually rather honest. It boils down to “I can’t and won’t justify it but nobles = gooood!

Yep, the confederate cant. Hey dixie, show us a large span in the past when the system was not (general) feudalism in the sense of hierarchies of inherited caste and privilege and ownership, mediated and justified by a coercive church?

Yes, it is another “name one counter-example” thrust into the belly of this noxious beast. Times after time, they cannot name a single counter example, yet hysterically they deny that means anything.

“These simplicities may be swiftly rebutted;” Go on man; we await.

“is much more stable then the western democratic ideal.”

Poor locum-lamebrain… that is EXACTLY what I have been saying for years! It is a darwinianly supported attractor state that sucked in almost every society that had metals and agriculture, everywhere! And limited human progress harshly, punitively, cruelly. This makes a hypocrite of every libertarian who denounces the great exception — our America-led revolutionary alternative.

This is a matter of galactic importance. I deem the feudal attractor likely to apply to other races out there, since it is reinforced by the repro success of cheating males. We are all descended from the harems of such guys… which is why weak-wrist fellows are the first - today - to howl “I’d be a KING but for your damned enlightenment rules against cheating! I’d be a top dog!”

Sorry, Kibble.

David Brin said...

Oy! He is back with the right’s (tytler) Cyclical History idiocy! Utterly disproved by nearly ALL professional historians and utterly wrong in every conceivable way. Utter drooling nonsense. Read here how this stunning malarkey is utterly disproved by nearly ALL professional historians and utterly wrong in every conceivable way.

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-tytler-insult-is-democracy-hopeless.html

It is clutched by silly persons who need a pattern and desperately see one that is not there, even remotely, even superficially. Think about why you desperately need it to be so, fellah. Look up Oswald Spengler, whose followers fervidly believed in the Decline of the West, just before the West’s most spectacular rise.

This is why I encourage locum guys. He shows you the sullen obduracy that will not respond to logic, reason or facts, nor to challenges of evidence or proof. We are an amazing species.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

(1) Hard times make hard people,
(2) Hard people make soft times,
(3) Soft times make soft people,
(4) Soft people make hard times


That's actually not bad. A good description of why people are never satisfied.

But I'm not sure how you can then conclude that one piece of the cycle is the "good" one, and that our goal should be to stay in that piece of the cycle. I mean, I'd pick a different piece than you to get stuck in and argue over that, but isn't your whole thesis that we can't stay in one piece?

That's also why we have boom/bust cycles in economics, but FDR showed that there are ways to tame the cycle so that the busts aren't so painful. So the operative question is how to do the same with the social cycle.


If you want successful children, then you raise them as if they're poor, teaching them the Ethics of Scarcity. If you raise them as special, rich, entitled princes & princesses, then they will become narcissists, layabouts, failures & parasites.

And, if you want to make America Great Again, then you cause hardship, crisis, death & dreck.


That's mere sophistry, the same as "prevent future benefit cuts to Social Security by cutting benefits now."

Ok, you do have a point, but you take it too far. Wealthy parents often make their offspring earn their own place in the world rather than just handing them rivers of cash for the very reason you describe. But they don't tend to make the kids grow up homeless on skid row. There's a world of leeway between the two extremes, just as there is a world of leeway between "Let your people grow fat and lazy playing video games" and "Make life miserable for them so they'll be vicious enough to insist on improving life."

One could argue that Louis XVI made France great again by making the people hard. Is that what you have in mind?

2) Hard people make soft times--only when you've got an egalitarian society. Otherwise, one has to ask "Soft times for whom?" Totalitarian societies make "soft times" for the top of the pyramid, but not for everybody else.

Still, that was an unusually sane analysis without straw men. Did it feel good?



LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I deem the feudal attractor likely to apply to other races out there, since it is reinforced by the repro success of cheating males. We are all descended from the harems of such guys… which is why weak-wrist fellows are the first - today - to howl “I’d be a KING but for your damned enlightenment rules against cheating! I’d be a top dog!”


It's the same fallacy which drove people to think they could get rich day-trading in the 1990s. They think they can win by cheating, as if they'd be the only one doing the cheating.

In fact, there are other cheaters who are more professional at cheating. And they're going to kick your ass.

LarryHart said...

concerning "fresh-water" and "salt-water" economics from the last post...

I gather those terms are pretty well used by economists. Certainly, Paul Krugman refers to them in his columns.

But the main point was that when Zepp said neoliberalism was disproved, he was talking about Supply Side, not the Marshall Plan. I'm not exactly clear why the term "neoliberal" includes the word "liberal" in it, but, as Asimov once put it, "We've known for 400 years that 'oxygen' is a misnomer, but what are you gonna do?"

I actually take issue with Zepp from the opposite side. We thought Supply Side had been discredited by 2006, but there it was again in 2010, and it won three elections since then (all but 2012).

A.F. Rey said...

...why are alt-right ninnies so bad at grammar?

Bill Wheeler said it. "Good writing is clear thinking made visible."

Or as David McCullough said: "Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard."

Of course, this also explains why my writing is so bad. :(

David Brin said...

The same idiocy proclaims "you cannot have empathy if you never suffered." Howl! The people who sob the most over pain seen continents away are american kids who never suffered. Empathy is a human talent that can be amplified through training (in our case by Hollywood.)

This whole construct is insipid nonsense. A man who inherits can be an asshole... we see them in the news... or a Gates-Buffet, depending on whether they were raised by decent people, then exposed to empathy in school and in collaboration with all the skilled engineers who made Gates far richer. Ye, rich kids TEND toward being brats and Yay the Inheritance Tax! A billionaire's sons should be mere deca millionaires and earn their way back up.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart said: We thought Supply Side had been discredited by 2006, but there it was again in 2010, and it won three elections since then (all but 2012).

It's discredited amongst nearly all economists, and even in the business community. Voters who base their retirement plans on lottery tickets are a different matter.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Strip away the moral silliness locum and High Chancellor Bannon ascribe to it, and you definitely can see a regular 80-year cycle in American affairs. The evidence that this cycle exists elsewhere in history is rather weak.

Furthermore, history is not deterministic! Boom and bust cycles including bank failures were once considered a natural order of things. Then we invented the Fed and the FDIC, and Glass-Steagal and protections. Recessions continued to exist, but the bank failures magically disappeared!

...until we stripped away the 'unneeded' protections and they started again. Sigh.

Furthermore, clearly some people have not read their Asimov lately. Psychohistory fails as soon as its predictions are made public. Bannon subscribes to Fourth Turning theory and is clearly trying to force the cycle, setting up the chaos and wars and calamities so that the Millennials will supposedly band together under the Trump-Bannon flag of exclusionary Judeo-Christian nationalism.

And he actually sets himself up with the public persona of a villain, so confident that he has such powers that there will be no repercussions.

The cycle may or may not continue, because there are no guarantees. But acting like a villain is rather a good way to get people to unite.... against you and everything you stand for.

TCB said...

By the way, locum has done a wonderful job of becoming a consistent center of the conversation here. It's the troll version of winning the lottery.

Juuuuust sayin'.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

A man who inherits can be an asshole... we see them in the news... or a Gates-Buffet, depending on whether they were raised by decent people, then exposed to empathy in school and in collaboration with all the skilled engineers who made Gates far richer.


It depends whether they were raised by responsible parents in Smallville or if their parents died bleeding on the streets of Gotham City.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

The cycle may or may not continue, because there are no guarantees. But acting like a villain is rather a good way to get people to unite.... against you and everything you stand for.


In my summer fantasy, right-wing white supremacists become treated the way Holnists were in the society of "The Postman". Mortal enemies would nonetheless band together at the mention that one was nearby.

LarryHart said...

oh, that was Catfish with the "villain" comment above, not our host.

Eyes not working good today.

LarryHart said...

Ok, I have no idea if this was intentional or not, but my last "reCAPTHA" challenge showed two intersecting street signs, one being "America St." and the other "Second Ave." So the signs together seemed to be "America Second!"

Coincidence, or enemy action?

LarryHart said...

TCB:

By the way, locum has done a wonderful job of becoming a consistent center of the conversation here. It's the troll version of winning the lottery.


And I keep buying so many tickets!

Alfred Differ said...

Paul451,

Can you explain how any mundane transaction isn't considered "double taxation" by your standard?

My definition isn't bullet-proof, but it goes something like this...

When I receive money as income it gets taxed.
When I use that money to buy something from someone else, it gets taxed.
This is NOT double taxation.

When my company receives money as income, it gets taxed.
When I pull that money out of my company, it gets taxed.
This IS double taxation.

For anyone who likes the idea that corporations are people, this distinction I'm making fails. I'm not a fan of corporate person-hood, though. Never have been. At best, we should treat them as juridical persons where ownership of the 'slave' has to be transparent all the way back to a natural person. If anyone is going to be taxed, I'd rather it be natural persons since they are the only moral agents with skin in the game.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: You should really listen to Alfred. Your best counter to Trump Nation is indulgence, cooperation & obedience.

Nah. You are not in a position to see my cool, but very real anger. I just don't see tax strikes as the way to go. There is a much better way to reduce taxes that I would prefer.

Obedience is a terrible idea. Pointing out to Trump who he now serves is far better.

David Brin said...


“Bannon subscribes to Fourth Turning theory and is clearly trying to force the cycle, setting up the chaos and wars and calamities so that the Millennials will supposedly band together under the Trump-Bannon flag of exclusionary Judeo-Christian nationalism.”

Ironies abound!
Bannon extols the “Greatest Generation” which would have pounded his pasty face with their union-joining, Roosevelt-loving, millionaire-taxing, fascist-hating fists.

He despises as “self-centered, irrational, easily fooled and impulsive” his own Boomer generation. The exact generation that marched to the Fox tune and put him into power.

Bannon expresses confident “fourth turning” faith in the coming “Hero Generation” of Millennials and Gen-Y who will rescue America and civilization from a boomer-made mess… the selfsame young adults who are tepid on religion, who utterly despise him and his entire movement, voting against the sick right and Donald Trump and who never watch Fox.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Dune and the sequels did a lot to shape how I see things. I read each one written my Frank Herbert very carefully, but I've largely ignored the movies and other books. The Bene Gesserit were the most interesting group due to the transformation they experienced as a group, but I thought about the other groups too and learned to dislike them all in some way or another.

Studying one's conceptual opposition is important, hmm?
I have a pile of such books (non-fiction nowadays) on my desk and enjoy the effort of learning. 8)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Studying one's conceptual opposition is important, hmm?


When I went away from the big city to college, I met my first small-towners for whom I was their "first Jew". One was my girlfriend's roommate, who just couldn't understand how someone who didn't believe in the divinity of Jesus could like "Jesus Christ, Superstar!" I don't think she appreciated that I said I enjoyed it the same way I enjoyed "Star Wars", but I didn't believe that Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader were real.

Alfred Differ said...

raito;

Isn't that what the communist revolutions also decree?

Heh. Yah. So?

The Enlightenment is a long running revolution. Older than the communists.


Along with counter-revolutionaries being criminals?

Like the communists? Yah. So?

Seriously, though, I'd be careful labeling counter-revolutionaries as criminals. Moral opposition maybe. To define who is and isn't a criminal, we really should have a social consensus on what is just behavior first. Labeling them as the opposition is enough for me.


How long does it take until the revolution is the establishment?

When it displaces it's opponent. In this case, the Enlightenment must displace Feudalism for the revolution to be complete. Until that day, we have a compromise or truce or something of that nature.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

You don't get me, I'm the revolution.


There are plenty of great inspirational stanzas in "Hamilton" for that. Here's one:


Corruption’s such an old song that we can sing along in harmony
And nowhere is it stronger than in Albany.
This colony’s economy’s increasingly stalling and,
Honestly, that’s why public service
Seems to be calling me.

I practiced the law, I practically perfected it.
I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it.
Now for a strong central democracy.
If not, then I’ll be Socrates
Throwing verbal rocks at these mediocrities!

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Being 'the example' is a good role to learn and deliver with style. 8)

Speaking of musicals, I finally got a chance to listen to Hamilton all the way through. I should be able to follow your references now. While I was watching the news cover the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, I couldn't help but think that immigrants get the job done. 8)

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ,

I've heard that that line about immigrants gets big rounds of applause at live performances since the November election.

When my daughter wanted to get me as hooked on "Hamilton" as she was, she was smart enough to start me off with "Guns and Ships" and the next few songs which go through the victory at Battle of Yorktown. I was a convert right then.

You should have seen us watching the debates, expecting Hillary to win, and just throwing out appropriate "Hamilton" references for whatever was happening on tv. I would have plotzed if Hillary had just had the nerve to start rapping:

I know that [Donald Trump] is here, and he would rather not have this debate.
I’ll remind you that he [was] not Secretary of State.
He knows nothing of loyalty.
Smells like new money, dresses like fake royalty,
Desperate to rise above his station.
Everything he does betrays the ideals of our nation.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: Feudalism, a 2-tiered system with extreme wealth inequality, is much more stable then the western democratic ideal.

Sure. Stable in the sense that a flat soda is. All the fizz is gone, so it doesn't do anything except acidically eat through the container it is in.


The only cycle theory I've seen that struck a chord with me was one that suggested we tend to forget social pains after a couple of generations, thus enabling grandchildren to make/repeat some of the mistakes of their grandparents. The evidence is weak, though. Some social institutions have very good memories for pain. One book I read suggested that cycle length for the Roman Catholic Church is about 500 years for certain errors. If institutional memory can alter the period, then the underlying notion might be correct and still be of no predictive value.


And, if you want to make America Great Again, then you cause hardship, crisis, death & dreck.

...and as for this, rather than make America Great Again, I suspect it will just result in certain people watering the Tree of Liberty. We are already great and becoming greater.

Tom Crowl said...

Dr. Brin,

RE: "I deem the feudal attractor likely to apply to other races out there..."

I agree... though I'd suggest that its not only due to males and harems...

I wrote about this a few years ago...

The Problem in Scaling Altruism: Where's the Intelligent Life?
http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2010/04/problem-in-scaling-altruism-wheres.html

My argument centers on these points:

Tool using intelligence will NOT arise in an asocial species... let alone space exploration. It will require a social animal.

That social animal will have cognitive limits related to the number of its social attachments (i.e. some form of Dunbar's Number is universal)

I argue that the altruism dilemma will also be found to be universal (refers to an unavoidable 'gap' between biological altruism and some degree of intellectual altruism which may or may not be universal but whether existing or not cannot eliminate the gap completely).

To go a step further I'll add that some type of a technology of money is also universal... and has problems in its operation which are related to these issues above.

It could be that there's an inability to resolve or manage this problem... that oligarchy is "natural" but pathological... and leads to social division that make impossible the comity required to maintain a complex civilization.

Obviously I'm trying to universalize or very local experience on one planet... but its worth consideration.

Alfred Differ said...

@Greg: My suspicion is that the entire 'West' is passing through a similar experience, thus the timing of our responses is correlated. The experience is all about what the internet is doing to us.

It's not just the West, though. We've seen globalization before as empires rose and markets melted together. This is something different even though we call it globalization as if the earlier sweeps weren't. This time we are altering the affairs of the common man.

This isn't about populism. That's just a reaction to the turmoil.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Okay, I am going to have to think a little like Bannon to mke this work.

From the Fourth Turning website:

"This is an era in which America’s institutional life is torn down and rebuilt from the ground up—always in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s very survival. Civic authority revives, cultural expression finds a community purpose, and people begin to locate themselves as members of a larger group."

Now, what is being perceived as a threat to the survival of our nation?
* Islamists? Nah. For all the unending efforts to forment panic, no one really thinks the fools would succeed. They're far too outnumbered.
* Immigrants? A slightly more serious problem, and an actual challenge. But most people, even most Trumpeters, still believe in the power of the melting pot (even if they think it's running over and assimilation needs to be strengthened).
* No, the real threat perceived most strongly and universally.... is our political divide. THAT is the real crisis. The other problems are merely grist for the partisan mill.

"cultural expression finds a community purpose" -- and almost universally our culture creators are binding memes for the resistance! Who out there is really creating new works that extol the wonders of Bannonism? All I have seen are empty pageantries of patriotism, recycling old images and ideas -- often crudely. (Now evangelical Christian Dominionism, that I have indeed seen a small creative group for; they are the ones Heinlein warned us about.)

"people begin to locate themselves as members of a larger group" -- just as the Tea Party was crystallized by Obama, the Resistance is now starting to put aside fractiousness in the face of challenge. Only there are many, many more on the side of the Union. Trained to disregard protests, I don't think even most thoughtful Republicans really considered the implications of one of the top ten largest mass demonstration in the history of the Republic being organized and executed within two months. Moreover, the Tea Party blazed the trail on how to execute the plan.... what happens when huge numbers of newly motivated people do it?

Ah, but Bannon thinks he has an answer to that.

Alfred Differ said...

This is an era in which America’s institutional life is torn down and rebuilt from the ground up—always in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s very survival.

Always in response? Hmm...
The mathematician within is challenged.

Can institutional life be torn down for some other reason? No doubt AFTER the destruction starts, those who defend the institution will perceive a threat, but might they have missed the actual cause?

Cheap printing arrived in Europe with Gutenberg, but the threat to the Roman Church was delayed for decades. Was that threat really about all the free thinking going on? Sure, but that would never have happened without a dramatic reduction in the cost of distributing what people thought.

so... I suspect 'always in response' is simplistic. Causes could be purely economic events that change the costs experienced by social forces.

If so, we are in the midst of changing a number of costs associated with sharing ideas, accessing just about anything that can be digitized, and turning owned goods into subscribed services. We are doing this in a big way. That should 'cause' all sorts of upheaval around the world.


Also, I think Tom Crowl is closer to the mark as to the nature of the limit than David is. I suspect it is about the broader problem of coordinating with possible liars, thus altruism is just a part of it.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - the problems that the western world are having

There is something in the idea that memories of bad times "expire"

But IMHO there is much more on this being a reaction to the 0.1% stealing all of the wealth that the 99% created

The propaganda about the 0.1% being the "wealth creators" is still strong but it's wearing thin

Yes Alfred we ARE better off - "we have never had it so good" - but we can see that if the old "Marshal Plan" economic structure had not been raped by the Thatcher/Reagan - and most other countries had their equivalents - then we would have been so much better off

The parents - who are not too badly off - are looking at their children and despairing that they will be as well off
The kids are looking back at then and thinking the same

Then we have the Blairites/Clintons/remainers - saying keep going on this path!!

No wonder the people who have lost hope for themselves and their children are voting Brexit/Trump

At least they are saying that the present path is wrong - even if their suggested path is insane

Anonymous said...

TCB is steve bannon in disguise

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

No wonder the people who have lost hope for themselves and their children are voting Brexit/Trump


And no wonder they grasp at the lying strongman, even when they know he is lying. By showing allegiance, they have a sliver of a hope that he will reciprocate loyalty and do something to improve their lives. What's the point of being on the side of Reality? Reality, they feel, has not done them any good.


At least they are saying that the present path is wrong - even if their suggested path is insane


I've wondered a lot whether this country needs something like the "vote of no confidence." We need to be able to vote against staying the course without having to simultaneously choose a single (sometimes worse) alternative.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

...and as for this, rather than make America Great Again, I suspect it will just result in certain people watering the Tree of Liberty.


I agree with the sentiment.

As to the Jefferson quote, I acknowledge that its modern value as an allusion is as you present it: "watering with blood" the way it occurred in the French Revolution. But I've been wondering if that's what Jefferson was really saying.

Doesn't Jefferson refer to watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots? Watering the tree is not an act of uprising, as in "If you come for my guns, I'll water the tree of liberty with your blood!" The "patriot" in that scenario is the one doing the uprising against tyranny. I gather Jefferson to be saying that liberty requires defense, even though you, the defender, might get shot down in the process. The tree of liberty might require your blood to stay alive. He's warning not to be afraid to make that sacrifice when necessary.

TCB said...

HEhehe I don't look like Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon looks like...

Russell Osterlund said...

I've been wondering if "locumranch" is a plant, whose purpose is only to spice up the discussion here. As a "lurker" on this blog, I enjoy the entertainment in the back and forth resulting from his posts.

(he said observing from a safe-enough distance away from the main action)

TCB said...

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Thomas Jefferson

So, not JUST patriots, but yes, Jefferson said that.

LarryHart said:

"I've wondered a lot whether this country needs something like the "vote of no confidence." We need to be able to vote against staying the course without having to simultaneously choose a single (sometimes worse) alternative."

I've lately realized that some US institutions are TOO sturdy. It might be better if they were more easily 'broken' when necessary. Two in particular:

The office of the President, as we all know, is not like that of (say) the British Prime Minister, and maybe it should be. In a parliamentary system, there are no divided governments: the PM is the leader of the party that wins the most seats. That's all. He or she can be removed by a vote of no confidence. None of this waiting for four goddam years for another election, none of this "Oh woe, if only we had the votes to impeach!" We could be rid of Trump before St. Paddy's day...

And the same goes for US political parties. Since we only have two major viable parties, they act (as I have recently read) as if they were coalitions in the parliament.

But parliamentary coalitions, if they ignore and trod upon their most loyal base, may lose support and crumble in weeks or months. US political parties crumble and lose support far too slowly. They can crap on their base for years - decades!- before their leaders are forced to face reality. Both the Dems and Republicans have mistreated their base, with increasingly cynical neoliberal policies and bait-and-switch campaigns, since the 1980's or longer, and only now has the butcher's bill truly come due. The Dem party is on the ropes and the GOP is a fascist Frankenstein's monster: will the body reject the head, or will the creature go on a killing rampage?

In both cases (the Presidency and the main parties), I'd say the problem is too much power in one place, power that can't be taken away without a national crisis. It ought to have been easier to take that power away if it is misused. In the Democratic party, that may finally be happening with Berniecrats (who are, for most practical purposes, simply old-fashioned New Dealers in waiting to Make The Democratic Party And Then America Actually Great Again).

With Trump and the GOP, the crisis that finally loses them power may be one that leaves their successors only ruins to govern.

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

David, Frederick Pohl was a member of the YCL and said his sci-fi novel The Space Merchants was influenced in a positive way by his membership. He never lost his leftist thinking he personally told me. You also show a picture of Richard Wolff's book and it is unclear whether you endorse it. I think you are yet He would say Marx is in the pantheon of economic thinkers and a successor to Smith so that both are considered and both are harmonized to a significant extent. I so agree with you regarding Smith and also his radical critique against feudalism. I just do not get the straw man attacks on Marx. I often say we cannot improve our society until we 're normalize Marx--not to now to him but see him merely as part of the Western philosophical tradition where we take what we agree with and critique what we do not. We do not limit ourselves to a pamphlet written in the middle of a failed revolution in Europe.

TCB said...

Here's one of those things that you don't realize are class war until you actually think about it: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-asset-forfeiture_us_589a16bce4b0c1284f28be3c?b9p9nzxoft21emi&>Civl asset forfiture.</a>

If you're poor or middle class, the cops can straight-up steal your money, your car, your house, whatever you have. Legally. The new President is all for it! YAY! That'll show those drug dealers~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who do you never hear having their assets stripped?

Banksters. War profiteers. Polluters. Crooks who run hotel chains. The 1% of the 1%.

Civil asset forfeiture is a law that only applies to the little guy.

TCB said...

Try that link again: Trump Gives Thumbs-Up To Cops Taking More Stuff Away From People

LarryHart said...

Why has asset-forfeiture (without a conviction, no less) not been successfully challenged on Constitutional grounds? It seems to me to be a no-brainer. It also seems like something the libertarian wing of conservatives would be wary of.

Jumper said...

So who twisted your arm and made you form a corporation, Alfred? Is the right to have an imaginary entity which can die broke while owing others granted by God? Limited liability makes Trumps and Romneys. You assume a lot with your theory.

Deuxglass said...


Dr. Brin,

You asked me what my take is of the Macron phenomenon. This what I think.

He is a young guy, only about 39, who was Holland’s Minister of the Economy for two years then left over policy disagreements. His background is classic. Bourgeois family, schooling at Sciences Po then the all-important École nationale d'administration, a stint as a civil servant, then worked at Rothschild’s at last coming into politics as Holland’s minister. This is the totally normal career path for an ambitious young man planning to go into politics in a big way. Normally he would have then be elected to office somewhere and start climbing the latter rung by rung. But he didn’t. He started his own party or movement as he calls it. This is very unusual because he has never been elected to office and had no power base to start from yet he set up an organization and started renting halls to give speeches as so forth. All this costs money and he found it somewhere, or what is more probable is that it was offered to him and he took it.

He is amply bankrolled and well advised. Those behind him have resources to keep his momentum up. I am not saying that he is the puppet of evil rent-seekers. I think it is more that his backers are scared to death of Le Pen in this election and have decided act. The Socialist Party is in tatters. The shear incompetence and amateurism of Holland’s government is enough to make a grown man cry. There is no talent left there so concerned powers had to find an alternative center-left solution and they found in Macron the perfect candidate. If would say that he was vetted to make sure that he was clean and not tied to any potential scandals. I say that because I noticed as soon as he decided to run, he put up for all to see the one thing that could possibly be construed as not very kosher and that was his private life. He is married to woman 24 years older than him whom he had met in high school because she was his teacher. It is a strange situation to me but this is France and people looked at it, shrugged their shoulders and said so what. That showed to me that he has good political instincts and that he has good advisors as well. He got rid of a potential problem right away instead of letting it fester. Macron speaks well but he doesn’t have that much charisma but enough to do the job. He is smart and appeals to those in the center-left and probably would pick up some from the center-right because Fillon’s program is really too right-wing for many. Macron is only 38 years old and to someone my age that is a handicap but to the young his age is an advantage. I have noticed that in his rallies are dominated by the under 40 crowd.

To sum it up Le Pen will certainly be still standing after the first round. She will probably get at least 30% of the votes and maybe more. Macron will probably be there too. In the runoff election Macron would win because enough will vote for him just to keep Le Pen out as happened before but I must say that she has been gaining more and more strength. She may not win this time but she will be there again in 5 years. What is very worrisome is that a couple friends that I have known for over twenty years and who had always voted for the Left before have now decided to go with Le Pen. I think the immigration crisis was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In Europe, we are headed for rocky times.

LarryHart said...

Heh. I went to Twitter to see what's new under the #LetLizSpeak hashtag. As soon as I typed "L", that entire phrase came up as first choice.

While in there, I also looked at tweets about the Super Bowl. I was happy to see that so many people saw the parallel between the presidential election and the game, with hashtags like #RussiaHackedTheSuperBowl and #TheFalconsWonThePopularVote . I did catch a noticeable difference between liberals and right-wingers in the tone of such posts. Liberals seemed to be making light-hearted fun of their own selves, noting the similarity between the two events while fully aware that the anger directed toward the election is out of place with respect to the Super Bowl except as self-parody. The righties, on the other hand, tweeted mean-spirited things like "Now liberals will protest and riot in the streets," and then further post about liberals as if those things really had occurred.


TCB said...

Unrelated but cool: anyone remember reading Stardance by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson?

Yeah, well... people can pretty much do that now.

Anonymous said...


DB is only confusing himself. Dear Dave, try to imagine a world without oil. I wonder if you can....


Google: Rioting & Looting in Mexico as Gas Prices go up by more than 20%

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwU5TfAmMlQ&t=27s

----

Google: Oil Apocalypse: What If the Oil Runs Out?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYb73iiTBEA&t=66s

Darrell E said...

TCB,

That is very cool, thanks for sharing.

LarryHart said...

Concerning #LetLizSpeak, I understand there is a rule against speaking ill of another Senator on the Senate floor. I'll put aside the fact that I dislike Sessions and would like to have Warren's baby. Even put aside the fact that other Senators have been allowed to sidestep this rule. Let's just go with the merits of the rule itself.

Does this really mean that when the person being considered for Senate confirmation happens to also be a sitting Senator himself, then any arguments against confirmation are, by definition, violations of Senate decorum? Something is not right here.

raito said...

Re: Transparency
Cue Rockwell:
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2017/02/what-vizio-was-doing-behind-tv-screen

Sure, they were fined, but if they made more than they were fined, they still 'got away' with it.

Dr. Brin,

I'm not certain it's the 4 year BS per se, but I'm certainly of the opinion that it has to do, in part, with the attitudes taught in many US public schools. Among them is the idea (that has appeared here before), that one's economic state is a circumstance, rather than an identity. Here, it's been called 'middle-class values'.

I do run into people for whom 'being poor' is part of their identity. And they get very confused at my life story. Sure, I had my share of good fortune, but also at least my share of hard work. Impossible to do if poorness is part of your identity.

As far as cyclical history goes...

One of the media reviewers I read recently did a review of Star Trek's Patterns of Force episode (the Nazi one). Part of his review is relevant here. John Gill calls the Nazi state 'the most efficient'. Yet history shows us that the facts are otherwise.

Catfish N. Cod,

Diversity seems more popular than the melting pot. And they're somewhat at opposites in my mind. Personally, I'm very much a melting pot guy.

Alfred Differ,

Interesting idea, that the Western revolution has been around longer than the communist ones. But you do understand that my reference to counter-revolutionaries as criminals is taken from the latter's views, right?

But it does bring up an intriguing idea. If the US has been in a continual revolution, who are the counter-revolutionaries?

LarryHart,

I'm of the opposite opinion regarding the Super Bowl. New England was expected to win. The twist was Atlanta (the underdog) getting so far out in front at all. So it's nearly the opposite of the presidential election. For them to have been close to the same, Trump would have had to have gotten far ahead prior to the general election, then lost to the predicted winner.

As for asset forfeiture, that it's around at all shows how precarious out justice system is, if money can unbalance it (or give the semblance of unbalance). Kind of like the current trend in school choice says that the public schools are failing. Whether either are true has nothing to do with it, it's all about appearances. It says that if you can afford high-priced lawyers, you'll go free. If they want to keep it around, all they need to do is show that high-priced lawyers just cost everyone money, and that justice is equally served by anyone who can pass the bar. And absolutely, if there's no conviction, the assets need to get returned. Otherwise, it really is a constitutional problem, isn't it? Don't mistake any of this for what I think ought to be the law in this case. It's always harder to be the good guy.

A.F. Rey said...

Dear Dave, try to imagine a world without oil. I wonder if you can....

I know, Anon. It's like trying to imagine a world without whale oil! ;)

LarryHart said...

raito:

One of the media reviewers I read recently did a review of Star Trek's Patterns of Force episode (the Nazi one). Part of his review is relevant here. John Gill calls the Nazi state 'the most efficient'. Yet history shows us that the facts are otherwise.


I think that was "accepted wisdom" back in the 60s, that the Nazis made the mistake of breaking decorum in ways that turned the civilized world against them, but otherwise, they were to be envied as models of efficiency.

Separately, I haven't seen any Star Trek TOS for many years, but if memory serves, John Gill bore a visual resemblance to Mike Pence. In fact, I think that's why Pence "looked familiar" to me when he was first getting national prominence.

LarryHart said...

raito:

I'm of the opposite opinion regarding the Super Bowl. New England was expected to win. The twist was Atlanta (the underdog) getting so far out in front at all. So it's nearly the opposite of the presidential election. For them to have been close to the same, Trump would have had to have gotten far ahead prior to the general election, then lost to the predicted winner.


I didn't have a dog in the fight when the game started. I was all set to turn it off for the news during the 4th quarter, but then the Patriots' rebound actually made it into exciting football. So yeah, maybe from a longer-term perspective, the Patriots would have to have been the Hillary analogues, but if you start at the 2nd quarter or so, the roles are reversed, and the shock and awe at watching the seemingly-impossible and certainly-unprecedented happen felt very much like Election night. Even though, in the case of the game, I didn't really care who won.

What gets me now is how much Tom Brady and company seem to have become identified as Trump surrogates. Brady apparently supported Trump, so of course Trump is all over how wonderful it is that the Patriots won, as if that's some kind of political victory for him. It seems to me that what they have in common is that they're both known for winning underhandedly.

Jonathan Sills said...

"Doesn't Jefferson refer to watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots? Watering the tree is not an act of uprising, as in "If you come for my guns, I'll water the tree of liberty with your blood!" The "patriot" in that scenario is the one doing the uprising against tyranny. I gather Jefferson to be saying that liberty requires defense, even though you, the defender, might get shot down in the process. The tree of liberty might require your blood to stay alive. He's warning not to be afraid to make that sacrifice when necessary."

Yes, this is in fact exactly what Jefferson was saying. I always thought it was pretty clear; when Donnie started trying to disparage the authority of both the Legislative and Judicial branches, asserting that the Executive can wield power without review, my response was to sigh to my wife, "Looks like the Tree of Liberty needs watered again. Welp, I've had a good run..."

(She then informed me in no uncertain terms that if it came to that, she wasn't letting me anywhere near the front lines - not at my age, and with my back in the shape it's in. She'd take my place instead. We kind of take our patriotism seriously around here.)

David S said...

"Diversity seems more popular than the melting pot."

The best melting pot is a chunky stew where you can identify the individual components.
I don't like it if you put it into a blender and turn it into a consistent brown sludge.

Zepp Jamieson said...

David S wrote:"The best melting pot is a chunky stew where you can identify the individual components.I don't like it if you put it into a blender and turn it into a consistent brown sludge."

Excellent analogy, and I agree. But modern societies tend toward homogeneity, As an example, Britain had thousand of regional accents, often to the point of incomprehension. Then the BBC came along, and standard BBC English has infiltrated all areas. Some people grew alarmed at this because madness is a hobby in the UK, and the BBC deliberately set out to get people with strong regional accents in order to stop this slide into general comprehension, but it has availed them naught.
Racially diverse regions have intermixing, no matter how proscribed. I doubt there's a third generation southern "white" who can lay any honest claim to "racial purity."
Culture in America is largely determined by perhaps a dozen major corporations.
Relative isolation used to be the agar for cultural and ethnic diversity. Now it may depend on the artificial divisions of war, politics, religion and economics.

LarryHart said...

A question for those in a parliamentary system. When you vote for your member of parliament, do you already know who will be Prime Minister if that person's party is in the majority? Or does that get worked out after the parliament itself is seated?

What I'm getting at is: If a bunch of people vote as a joke for the Silly Party, enough so that the Silly Party actually becomes the majority, are you then stuck with Farquin Tim Wim Bim Lim Bim Bus Stop F'Tang F'Tang Ole Biscuit Barrel as your Prime Minister, or is there an opportunity to name a better candidate for the job?

And because I had to look up the name, here is a link to one of the funniest Monty Python routines ever:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVI5ZOT5QEM

Brother Doug said...

Dr Brin you should just delete locumranch's posts he is just here to troll everyone. Let him rant on his own blog. It's one reason I stopped commenting and reading the comments. Some people are not interested and/or capable of changing their mind.

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

Impeachment might not be as forthcoming as you expect. Just sayin'

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/08/us/politics/mitch-mcconnell-donald-trump-republicans.html


...
Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and the majority leader, says he and his Senate Republican colleagues are quite satisfied with the Trump team so far. In fact, he said, they are reassured by signs that President Trump is going to hew to a conservative agenda after early fears that the president — a relatively unknown quantity to most elected Republicans — might not really be one of them.

“The country doesn’t need saving,” Mr. McConnell said when asked during an interview in his Capitol office if there was any cause for a senior-level congressional intervention given early chaos in the evolving West Wing.

“I think there is a high level of satisfaction with the new administration,” he said, dismissing concerns about dissonant eruptions from the new president and some of his top staff members. “Our members are not obsessed with the daily tweets, but are looking at the results.”

He added: “No matter what sort of theatrics that go on around the administration, if you look at the decisions that are being made, they are solid — from our perspective — right-of-center things that we would have hoped a new Republican president would have done.”

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - The Nazi efficiency

There is a kernel of truth in that

One of the reasons that Hitler came to power was that all of the existing parties were preaching and practicing "Austerity"
Which was absolutely the WRONG thing to do at that time!
(and almost all of the time)
When they took power they did as they had said they would and poured money into the economy which responded rapidly

That single good decision made a LOT of difference

After that - not so good - below average even -

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry

In a parliamentarian system you usually have an idea who will be PM when you vote
But it is not certain and can change

The UK had Cameron - who bailed after Brexit and now has May - no elections involved

NZ had Teflon John - but he retired two months ago now we have Bill English

If the Loonie party gets in - then the Loonies can easily change their leader and Prime Minister - but the voters don't get a say in that process

Carl M. said...

The evil Koch Brothers are trying to thwart Trump's populist agenda.

http://time.com/4657648/charles-koch-donald-trump/?xid=homepage&pcd=hp-magmod

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

The evil Koch Brothers are trying to thwart Trump's populist agenda.


I don't know who to root for.

Really.

Zepp Jamieson said...

a Larry Hart: Almost always, the party leader is known long before the election. I don't know of any instances otherwise. The party leader (usually already PM or Leader of the Opposition) is an essential part of party branding.

LarryHart said...

I wish Elizabeth Warren were coming to Chicago to make a public speech. I'd be there to give her the Mockingjay salute.

Tom Crowl said...

On Bannon, Trump and "The Fourth Turning"

This truly insane and we're in real trouble that this guy has any power at all... let alone sitting at the center of power.

Steve Bannon Believes The Apocalypse Is Coming And War Is Inevitable
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-apocalypse_us_5898f02ee4b040613138a951?

“This is the fourth great crisis in American history,” Bannon told an audience at the Liberty Restoration Foundation, a conservative nonprofit, in 2011. “We had the Revolution. We had the Civil War. We had the Great Depression and World War II. This is the great Fourth Turning in American history, and we’re going to be one thing on the other side.”

Strauss and Howe postulate that during this Fourth Turning crisis, an unexpected leader will emerge from an older generation to lead the nation, and what they call the “Hero” generation (in this case, millennials), to a new order. This person is known as the Grey Champion. An election or another event — perhaps a war — will bring this person to power, and their regime will rule throughout the crisis.

“The winners will now have the power to pursue the more potent, less incrementalist agenda about which they had long dreamed and against which their adversaries had darkly warned,” Strauss and Howe wrote in The Fourth Turning. “This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention.”

P.S. If Bannon thinks that millenials are going to jump on his bandwagon he's clearly not looking at data... they must use "alternative facts".

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl quotes Steve Bannon:

"This is the fourth great crisis in American history,” Bannon told an audience at the Liberty Restoration Foundation, a conservative nonprofit, in 2011. “We had the Revolution. We had the Civil War. We had the Great Depression and World War II. This is the great Fourth Turning in American history, ..."


Sounds like it would be the Fifth Turning to me.



LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:

"Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. ”


He can try.

P.S. If Bannon thinks that millenials are going to jump on his bandwagon he's clearly not looking at data... they must use "alternative facts".


Hey, I'm a boomer, a white male midwesterner at that, and he can kiss my ass.

David Brin said...

TCB the scariest “Steve Bannon looks like” is his role model, Martin Bormann. I was going to post about that. Had a blog prepared. But in fact, I figured that crossed a line to enraging a powerful and vengeful person.

Deuxglass, thanks for that about Macron. One can hope he is genuine and can sap the energy from France’s version of populist frenzy while governing well.

Hey Anon fool! I have defied the left in my support of carefully supervised fracking etc, which has led to our ability to say fuck you to coal barons and middle easter petro sheiks… you know, the owners of Fox News. Domestic Natural Gas is our bridge, while solar and other sustainables + storage gets us off of carbon. No sir, YOU are the utter drooling imbecile. Hey, just sayin’ man ;-)

Brother Doug, I see no point in banishing Locumranch. He reminds us that we are not an echo chamber here. That the 90%+ agreement on the Big General Things is because of our intelligence, not because we built ideological walls.

Besides, I find locumranch fascinating! He is blatantly possessed of some brains… yet there are very basic concepts that he cannot even begin to grasp, like positive sum games, or proof-by-failure-of-counter-example. To be clear, it is in my answers to him that I developed some of my most devastating challenges, that (I hope) some of you are using out there. (Those “Name one exception” challenges of mine.)

LH& CarlM: “The evil Koch Brothers are trying to thwart Trump's populist agenda.” “I don't know who to root for.”

See F Paul Wilson’s novel THE KEEP. Vampires vs Nazis. Dune is exactly the same.

David Brin said...

Mitchell Freedman: I respect Marx, as would anyone who understood his contributions to economic and historical analysis. But like Freud, he drifted away from the scientific practice of subjecting his ideas to criticism and refutation, over to being a guru, making grand declarations. Declarations that have proved diametrically opposite to how the world works.

examples:
1- The labor theory of value. A complete fantasy. Yes, a kindly socialist society might institute an ARTIFICIAL LTV, but in “wild’ human societies, scarcity rules value.

Many of KM’s subsequent points about capitalists stealing value from workers in order to transfer wealth into capital formation are, of course, brilliantly on target. But you can only acknowledge these points if you also accept where he was crazy-wrong.

2- He predicted the most educated and advanced proletariates would rebel and the dimmest “lumpens” would not. Lenin was shocked to succeed in Russia while British and German laborers flocked into the armies of the ruling class. In fact, it was ALWAYS the least developed proletariates that went communist. A TOTAL failure of prediction.

3- Capital formation. KM believed that once all the roads and factories were built, there’d be no need any longer for Capitalists, whose historic role will be over. In fact, the more advanced we get, the MORE often factories obsolesce and capital must be skillfully replaced. His contribution of the terminology here, was important. His prophecies were doggie doodoo.

4- There are so many others. Like his complete misunderstanding of Darwinian evolution. And his conflation that competition is somehow an unpleasantly necessary primitive stage of human life, instead of that wondrously vital and core aspect to our natures, that leads to almost all advancement… but only when tightly regulated to prevent something that is even more inherently human — cheating.

5- Above all, he contemptuously dismissed any chance that the bourgeoisie would look at what he wrote! And decide to prevent his program by voluntarily inviting the working class inside the palace into a vividly free Middle Class. Yes, that deal has to be refreshed each generation, and idiot-oligarchs are trying to end it. As Marx was sure would happen. But that’s up to us.

I could go on. But in fact, almost no one alive knows squat about Marx, anymore. He will be resurrected by folks who know none of this. And I find that very scary. Among the greatest crimes of the oligarch cult is that they are creating conditions for the return of this terribly flawed religion.

Pappenheimer said...

I haven't read the full thread but I need to take issue with the idea of feudalism being stable. Peasant rebellions were extremely common in nearly all feudal societies; note that a only a tiny subset of feudal monarchs earned the sobriquet "the Good," for not taxing the lower orders into near or actual starvation to pay for wars, which were almost as common. Feudalism isn't actually a system, and it had no method of limiting the depredations of the elite beyond the occasional tut-tutting of a landowning church.

Pappenheimer said...

Marx described the transition from feudal to industrial society pretty well. Description isn't prediction, though. The huge growth in the power of states (directly linked to the need to form, equip and regularly pay for national gunpowder-based armies, with the 30 Years War as the prime example of why this was necessary) pretty much doomed revolution in all but poor, hugely unequal societies with discredited elites and a literally starving proletariat (or, in the case of China, peasantry,) where the elites had destroyed or lost the loyalty of their own military in foreign and/or civil war.

Marino said...

I concur chapter and verse with mr. Mitchell J. Freedman

Dear dr. Brin, in Italy they would tell you "where did you learn about Marx, reading a Bignami?" (Bignami being something like Cliff Notes, but even sketchier, the stuff bad students memorize by rote, to be blunt). Consider it friendly CITOKATE.

The labor theory of value was the standard analytical tool of all economists at date, including Smith and Ricardo. Marx wrote a full history of economic theories (published as such here) in the Grundrisse, so he knew it. In fact, theory was left aside after Marx (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformation_problem)

Surplus could be supported even outside labor value theory, see Sraffa: Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. Prelude to a critique to economic theory

And on this post you wrote something utterly wrong:

"Their dismal assumption – clutched tenaciously - is that human nature is fixed! "
In fact, Marxists have always been on the nurture side of the perennial "nature-nurture" debate and believe in human nature being somewhat malleable and susceptible of historical evolution.

and:
No wonder Marxists hate science fiction, despite old Karl being one of the greatest sci fi writers of all time.

really? here there are a lot of sci-fi positive marxists:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alessandro_Portelli

this guy was an acquaintance of mine at the university, and he was the first scholar in Italy to make sci-fi an academic subject. Not to mention stuff like the far leftist newspaper Il Manifesto devoting a whole page to Gibson and Sterling's The Difference Engine...

your friendly pesky Marxist Marino from Italy










Marino said...

for Larry Hart about parliamentary systems (continental Europe with civil law and written constitution)

In theory the PM is chosen by the head of state and sent to parliament to get a confidence vote, so you may not know who s/he 'll be . But usually the leader of the winning party is appionted.
There are subtle differences among countries:
Italy before the '90s: the PM was chosen within the ruling party (the Christian Democrats). Sometimes you wouldn't even know wether the Christian Democrats, after an election, would make a coalition with the conservative Liberal (!) party or with the Socialists, and politicians were somewhat rotated in PM's office to appease the various currents and factions of the party. Now, the leader of the winning party is the candidate PM, and our Democratic party uses open primaries to choose him/her

In Spain the king has a constitutional duty to be advised by the parliamentary leaders (the British "whips") of the various parties to which candidate would be better suited to get a confidence vote, while in Italy it's customary but not estabilished by law.

In Germany there is a subtle but very important difference: the president appoints a "candidate Chancellor" to be "elected" by the Reichstag. Once s/he is elected, s/he could be removed only if the parliament proposes a new candidate to be elected, and it happened very few times, so the German Chancellor is known in advance (German law on politcal parties mandate that relevant party choices should be transparent, either by referendum among party members or by a duly elected board, so the nomination of the candidate Chancellors of the various parties is public) and stays in office for the whole mandate. Reason why Germany enacted long-term succesful policies and we didn't... :-)

Marino said...

" the scariest “Steve Bannon looks like” is his role model, Martin Bormann"

where can someone apply for being a test pilot for an FTL drive ship, just to get far from the third rock from the very, but very fast? :-)

LarryHart said...

Marino:

where can someone apply for being a test pilot for an FTL drive ship, just to get far from the third rock from the very, but very fast? :-)


That's not all that different from me hoping for the Rapture, or for it to all be a dream.

Berial said...

That's not all that different from me hoping for the Rapture, or for it to all be a dream.

You could try saying, "It was all a dream!", every time you wake up. Hasn't helped me yet. :/

Also to LarryHart about the Monty Python skit above. I remember watching that back in the day and reflecting that they were saying something seriously subversive about the fact that the 'slightly silly' candidate not only got less than the silly one, but actually got 'naught'.

LarryHart said...

@Berial,

In the cartoon "Phineas and Ferb" Christmas special, there's a scene where Phineas lifts his head from a pillow and shouts, "So, it was all a dream!" Then the "camera" backs up to show that he's in a store mattress display, and the other kids are standing around him. One of them says, "Phineas, no matter how many times you try that, it's not going to work."

It's deeply troubling that that cartoon is looking like a "how-to" manual to me now.

LarryHart said...

Berial:

Also to LarryHart about the Monty Python skit above. I remember watching that back in the day and reflecting that they were saying something seriously subversive about the fact that the 'slightly silly' candidate not only got less than the silly one, but actually got 'naught'.


I'm not sure that skit even counts as satire any more. It's not distinguishable from actual news coverage of an election. But back in the day, I thought lines like "That's pretty much as I predicted, except that the Silly Party won," were the height of wit.

Procustean Maid said...

So David,
What do you want me to do with all the left over bits of American history that didn't fit into the bed of endless civil war? There is a lot of it and it has created a big mess in the room.

And Dig it man, human history is never going to fit into that feudal bed, it is way to small and cramped. We don't have resources to get rid of that much of history's body.

You may find better luck at The Wig History Hotel down the road, they have no problem throwing out most of history's body and using only the parts they find useful.

Thanks for your stay at
The Procustean Inn

Jumper said...

On the matter of various trolls, I have been pondering lately how for so many years psychiatrists felt there was value in analysis to treat schizophrenia. Just slowly and patiently use reason, was the thinking, and the delusions will be chipped away.

Nowadays few believe this has much effect. It probably is worth considering when we automatically attempt to reason with the unreasonable.

David Brin said...


Procrustean: Bah, you accuse me of oversimplification? Hell man I use memes! The civil war meme describes pretty darned well how we’ve had - pretty much once per generation - eruptions of a darkside spirit in America that adores oligarchs and plantation lords (or, in 1778, the King).

A spirit that despises intellect. That despises objective reality in favor of incantations. That is utterly ruled by nostalgia and romanticism. That prefers the Strong Father over the Nurturing Parent (see George Lakoff.)

That is terrified of and hates the Other (races etc.) That maintains very near horizons of who to include in the tribe.
The opposite side of American nature… pragmatic, expansive, future-oriented, joyful toward changes and professionalism and competitive dioscovery, willing to expand horizons and not waste talent… this side has won all but two phases of our civil war… and hence the Great Experiment thrived. And when the Union wins, there’s “charity for all” and zero repression.

When the confederacy wins, death and oppression ensue.

Oh, BTW... your snarks are typical confed... long on sneering, short on anything remotely like detail or evidence.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Papenheimer I did not say any one feudal dynasty was stable.Very few remained virile and dynamic, like the 500 year Plantagenets. But the SYSTEM endured and was duplicated by the new conquerers, every time.

“gunpowder-based armies, with the 30 Years War as the prime example of why this was necessary) pretty much doomed revolution…”

Whaaaaaat? The musket is what tore battlefield dominance away from nobles on horseback and enabled revolution! America, France, Russia… eep!

Marino, sorry, I shrug off your Cliff Notes dismissal. You may know some folks who have read more Marx than I have, but they have mostly done it (I bet) worshipfully, studying catechism. Sure, others toyed with the labor theory of value. But it is utterly demolished by real life. And no, Marx’s understanding of evolution and underlying human nature was kindergarten level.

Yes, Marxists believed humans to be malleable and I should have explained that they believed that nature could only shift when economic and class conditions were ready. Hence it would be the most advanced prols who would bring the revolution. Hence Lenin’s NEP or New Economic Plan started out retaining capitalists!

But no, he assumed that human nature could NOT include a bourgeoisie that actually READ KARL MARX and then would innovate ways to prevent revolution by vesting the working class and enlarging the middle class. KM even saw early versions of this happening, in America! And he dismissed its pertinence.

KM was the greatest sci fi author because his fantasies seemed plausible to tens of millions who read them and imagined a different world.

Marino, I am glad you take my poking with good humor. Sorry, though. I deem KM to have made major contributions. But those stopped when he became (like Freud) a cult guru.

Procustean Maid said...

David you wrote:
"A spirit that despises intellect. That despises objective reality in favor of incantations."

That is exactly what I was calling you on. You are not interested in history as it actually happened, you want polemical club to beat our ideological opponents with.

I guess the motto of CITOKATE doesn't apply in the age of Trump.

But hey those evil confederates started it!
and the ends justify the means!
and I want a Star Trek future by any means necessary!

Catfish N. Cod said...

Marx could not have read Asimov and lived before most science fiction, so he did not appreciate the power of a self-defeating prophecy. That's all his "predictions" come to. It seems to me exactly as "inevitable" as the Eloi and Morlocks.

@raito: have you been looking around? Ghetto lines are far less strict now than they were in the supposed Age of the Melting Pot, when lines separated pretty much every nationality down to street and apartment number.

@Larry, Dr. Brin: Bannon is making the capital error that just because he took control at an opportune moment, that his philosophy will control the next phase of American history.

Is not necessarily so. The Confederacy was doing really well in the first years of the (overt) Civil War Crisis, 1857-1861, even as the opposition organized and galvanized. And of course, of all the fascist regimes created in the 1930's, only Spain's survived even twenty years. Germany is the exact opposite today of what the Nazis envisioned. Bannon's self-characterization as a villain might well be what history remembers him as.

This is known as outsmarting yourself.

@Procrustean: Brin uses "feudalism" as shorthand for any sort of pyramid-shaped social structure -- the kind that was pretty much inevitable before the invention of movable type, as education was intrinsically expensive before that. Actual contracts of service-for-land are rather beside the point.

Jumper said...

I say David makes the same mistake Marx made: uncomprehending the effect of himself on the progress of ensuing history. Every time an idea of David's escapes this blog into the world, David seems clueless that it was his own efforts that made the meme survive.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Germany is the exact opposite today of what the Nazis envisioned. Bannon's self-characterization as a villain might well be what history remembers him as.


I used to smirk knowingly at comic book villain dialogue, like when the Red Skull would proclaim, "Wherever there was tyranny, injustice, ruthlessness, the Red Skull was there, preying on the weak and helpless!" Come on, I would think. Not even a Nazi megalomaniac would actually think of himself in those terms.

In recent years, I've had to walk that back. Both ISIS and Boku Haram (sp?) seem to revel in presenting themselves to the world as comic book supervillains. So does Steve Bannon, and really, so does Donald Trump. I'm not a fan of referring to him as "The Donald", but it does make a good comic book name.

Jumper said...

Kingpin comes to mind.

David Brin said...

Procrustean: “That is exactly what I was calling you on. “

Typical confederate cries “no I’m not, you are!” Your defense agains all the fact-using professions and folks is to DECLARE! Casting an assertion is as good as proving it!

Only… you and I are different fellah. Oh I know the fox tactic. When we trot forth a myriad facts you deflect them with irrelevant anecdotes and alt-right assertions. So I’ve got something better. Defying YOU fools to NAME AN EXCEPTION!

1-   Can you name for me one profession of high knowledge and skill that’s not under attack by Fox/Trump &cohorts?  Teachers, medical doctors, journalists, civil servants, law professionals, economists, skilled labor, professors… oh, yes and science. Thirty years ago, 40% of US scientists called themselves Republican, now it is 5% and plummeting. They are voting with their feet, the smartest, wisest, most logical and by far the most competitive humans our species ever produced. 
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-mistrust-of-science?linkId=25842187

2- NAME ONE major metric of US national health that did better across the spans of either Bush administration than across the spans of the Clinton and Obama admins.  You cannot. Nearly all such metrics declined - many plummeting - across Bush regimes. Nearly all rose, many of them by a lot, across both DP terms. The record of almost perfect mal-governance would make any sane or scientific-minded person flee the GOP screaming and never trust them again.

Clinton & Obama scored better in every category, including rate of change of deficits and military readiness and every sane CONSERVATIVE desires. Quibbling-wriggling-squirming will not change that.  And Clinton-Obama were sabotaged 3/4 of the time by the laziest and nastiest (GOP run) Congresses in US history.

3- Name one GOP leader between Reagan and Ryan who was even mentioned at the 2016 Republican Convention. Except for Newt, all were brushed under the rug, including both Bushes, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Dennis (friend to boys) Hastert, Tom (convicted felon) DeLay, Boehner. In fact, name a republican between EISENHOWER and Ryan who was even mentioned by the party at the RNC, other than Reagan and Newt! This shows how writhing ashamed Republicans are, of their record at governance. How desperate they are, to double down on the insanity with new heroes, shouting "squirrel!" and pointing offstage at ever-greater hallucinations, rather than face the fact that their side has gone insane.

4- Name one of the dark fantasies about Obama, from black UN helicopters and taking away all our guns, that happened or was even tepidly tried.

5- Name one time when Supply Side (Voodoo) "Economics" made a successful prediction? One? Ever? One time when slashing taxes on the rich led to reduced deficits and to vastly stimulated economic activity, or even much investment in "supply" capital? Once. One time when this cult religion actually delivered?

6- Name one other time in American — or human — history, when an administration spanning 8 years had zero scandals or indictments concerning malfeasance in the performance of official duties. It has happened twice in American — or human — history. The administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Name another!

You can’t. Hence you will squawl, shout squirrel!” and point offstage at some assertion or distraction, concocting scenarios and excuses to explain why you cannot answer any of these… or dozens of other… challenges. Watch how he does that, guys! Or slinks away.

And I am done with your confederate-lying ass.

Victoria Silverwolf said...

On the topic of self-identifying villains:

There was an interview on NPR with a group of self-identified "trolls" who were congratulating themselves on electing Donald Trump via the use of self-identified fake news. (Whether they did or not is not the point here; they certainly thought they did.)

Even when confronted with the horrible consequences of the insane pizza restaurant/pedophile hoax, the interviewee refused to say that publishing that particular bit of fake news was a bad thing; it promoted chaos. Once again, we seem to have folks who simply revel in chaos for its own sake.

LarryHart said...

Victoria Silverwolf:

Once again, we seem to have folks who simply revel in chaos for its own sake.


I think what we're seeing there are people who want to prove that the system doesn't work, and as evidence, they present how easily they themselves are able to wreck it.

Imagine you live in one of those old-fashioned communities where everyone feels safe and no one locks their doors. Now along comes the troll to prove how stupid that is by sneaking into people's houses and taking their stuff. So now, everyone has to lock their doors, and trust is a little more frayed. What exactly has been accomplished there? The troll could argue that he made everybody safer, because sooner or later someone else would have betrayed their trust, and now it will be harder for that to happen. But talk about your Pyrrhic victories. "I saved you from future disappointment by disappointing you today!"

donzelion said...

Coming back a bit late to this debate...and turning back to Dr. Brin's post:

"Naturally, [Marxists] hold that every successful re-set only saves capitalism for another generation. Their dismal assumption – clutched tenaciously - is that human nature is fixed!"

Surely, that is "Marx" rather than Marx. The theory underlying Marxism, radical in its day, was that human nature is NOT fixed, so much as continuously molded by experience (and the most important experience = how 'stuff' gets made - and who benefits).

Contextually, this is an intriguing line:

"The Saudi Royal House, for example, whose relentless efforts to plant the seeds of caliphate have borne bitter fruit."

The Saudi Royal Family tried hard to disrupt the 'seeds of caliphate.' When discussion of caliphates arises in the Middle East, it is most frequently in opposition to various regimes (esp. the Saudis, but every autocratic regime as well). Likening the Saudis to the opposition groups that have arisen is as accurate as likening the Pope to American dispensationalists: both do refer to "Kingdoms" in their literature, so one can find linguistic similarities - but their meanings are entirely distinct, as are the groups behind them. Linking them with the Murdoch clan makes sense - to a Marxist - who believes (based on 19th century Europe's example) that 'all feudal authorities are aligned against the proletariat.' But to a non-Marxist, or even a more modern Marxist, feudal authorities are NOT aligned - they're simply rich, and wish to stay that way (and a more accurate picture: they invested more in Apple/Google/Twitter than in News Corp.).

That said: "I say - a plague on both their radical, simplistic, stupid and hellish houses!"

As do I. May all the reactionaries fail.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Why has asset-forfeiture (without a conviction, no less) not been successfully challenged on Constitutional grounds? It seems to me to be a no-brainer."

It has been challenged on Constitutional grounds, by the usual players (last ACLU conference I attended had a special workshop on the subject - relatively poorly attended, except by victims of the practice). Not always successfully. Asset forfeiture has not been defined as a "taking" under a few centuries of jurisprudence: it's an administrative act (with a punitive element but not purpose): want to reverse it? Hire a lawyer and go through the process (acknowledging that it may cost you $50,000 to recover your lost $25,000...).

More importantly, it's a popular means for local jurisdictions to expand police (esp. their retirement funds) without allocating actual taxes to doing so. Yet even though it's allegedly 'revenue neutral' - throughout much of the country, local government and local law enforcement tend to favor it as a means of discretely 'taxing alleged lawbreakers' (unless state govt. reins it in). The problem gets even more bizarre and opaque when Feds step in (and expensive to recover civil assets).

TCB said...

Civil forfeiture has been on my radar for nearly twenty years, since I read Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State by Richard L. Miller. Though this book was written in the mid-1990's, no serious reform of the copious abuses it mentions has taken place (except in the area of marijuana legalization, and it suuuuure is funny how caucasian the new legal pot industry is after all those years of jailing disproportionately large numbers of black and brown people for drugs! Seems if they sent you to jail for it before, you're not considered 'responsible' enough to sell it now...)

Anyway, however, Richard L. Miller structured his book as an argument that the War on Some Drugs resembled the German legal destruction of the Jews in the 1930's and 1940's. Which seemed like maybe an exaggeration then... but doesn't, somehow, seem like such an extreme interpretation now.

From a review of the book:

"The chapters in Drug Warriors are named for the stages of "The Chain of Destruction" mentioned above, which, as Mr. Miller points out, derives from Raul Hilberg's monumental study of the destruction process as applied to the holocaust. From the very first page of chapter 1, "Identification," we see in vivid detail how the modern drug-user is fulfilling the same function as did the Jew during National Socialism. He is the perfect scapegoat, the perfect distraction, the ideal "other" and alien, the perfect tool "for maintaining the social turmoil needed by authoritarians" in their rise to power."

Needless to say, if the War on Some Drugs served to weaken the Bill of Rights and to inure a free people to obedience and submission to police control, the War on (Non-Christian) Terror has served that end even better.

donzelion said...

Marino: "The labor theory of value was the standard analytical tool of all economists at date..."

It was a major assumption, yes, tracing back to Ibn Khaldun/Thomas Aquinas (whom most of their contemporaries viewed as sort of 'revolutionary') - and generally contending with the physiocrats (who posited an opposed theory, that 'land' is the source of value, and labor can be assumed).

During Marx's time, the 'labor theory of value' was typically held in opposition to the physiocrat notion of 'land as the source of value' (a position generally favored by landed aristocrats). Smith and Ricardo focused on 'industry' or 'enterprise' - implicitly assuming that labor matters. Marx critiqued their views at length (esp. their assumption that 'industry' was monolithic, when in fact, capital may be a wholly separate beast from 'labor').

"Genealogically," Ricardo is a fully appropriate starting point, as he's the grandfather of most economics that acknowledges the propensity for exploitation even with a competitive 'invisible hand' (the subject that stymied Smith, who tried to figure out a 'grand theory' of law to restrain it, failed, and burned his manuscript). Marx offered one possible direction post-Ricardian analysis could take (exploitation is inevitable until the mode of production changes). Americans, esp. post-Roosevelt, went in a number of alternative directions (class struggle is neither inevitable nor all-encompassing).

Yet the physiocrats evolved as well. They never held a coherent analytical theory, but persisted largely because their underlying notions applied special value to a select elite holding certain assets - they were 'useful' to landed aristocrats...a position occupied today by supply siders (aka 'voodoo' economists).

As for Sci-Fi, 'Marxist' critique abounds in several classics IF one reads between the lines. Publishing houses in America produce works for consumption: as an industry, throughout much of its history, American publishers would be unlikely to touch on works offending 'capitalism' per se. I should think Marxists would be less impressed by 'romantic' individualist narratives, derivative bildungsroman/'save the universe' sagas - all designed to distract and sell (but then, so would most critics, which is why the field was dismissed as literature for so long). To them, most narratives about extraterrestrials would be merely a new form of opiate, as uninteresting as new church hymns to invisible heavenly friends. Yet within Mary Shelley, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula LeGuin, H.G. Wells, and many others - a critic would find much of worth (whether Marxist, or otherwise).

donzelion said...

TCB: "Civil forfeiture has been on my radar for nearly twenty years"

Far longer than it's been on mine. Have been exploring a few solo practitioner firms that claim to specialize in it, but it seems that most of the practitioners come to it from tax, rather than criminal practices. Of the legit groups, ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights are among the lead: I know of no others with comparable legal muscle. But they're urban centric: my sense is the bulk of the problem tends to be more 'rural' (e.g., Ferguson, rather than St. Louis).

"it suuuuure is funny how caucasian the new legal pot industry is after all those years of jailing disproportionately large numbers of black and brown people for drugs!"
I blame movies like 'New Jack City," and many others of the '80s/'90s showing black criminal gangs at work for the modern face of it - films and pop culture that made it 'appropriate' for Hillary Clinton to talk of super-predators in the '90s. Drug enforcement was always about targeting the enemies of Republican party, but once Italian mobsters became loyal Republicans, they shifted their focus to other drugs (hence, convictions for dealing 'crack' yielded sentences 20x greater than convictions for dealing 'cocaine' - and meth stayed low on the radar until recently).

Thanks for the review, and may add the book to my reading list. This is one among several areas of law I'm interested in, but don't practice professionally.

TCB said...

O crap! Dr. Brin did an AMA on Reddit about 6 hours ago. Missed it, I was working.

Dr. Brin opens with the assertion that nukes prevented a war in Europe (probably in the 1970's) that would have again killed tens of millions. I've heard this suggestion before, and I would have turned 18 just in time to get incinerated by Soviet artillery somewhere west of Fulda. That didn't happen, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

On the other hand, I like to tell people that we'd most of us be dead if Richard Nixon had won the 1960 Presidential election, because he'd have cheerfully ordered the bombing of the Soviet missiles in Cuba in October 1962 which would have led to a general nuke exchange.

At that time, though, I was a 4 year old boy in some of the more remote parts of Appalachia and it's possible we'd have muddled through, or at least not been directly hit.

So, maybe, maybe not, maybe we can't know counterfactuals. Heck, it's hard to know what actually happened half the time.

Robert said...

I said it would happen in the first 100 days.

Democrats are already walking into the trap that Republicans set to eliminate Donald Trump for them. Of COURSE Republicans are speaking nice right now. They are trying to get Trump to sign the legislation they want. And they're going to kill Obamacare after Trump insists "just repeal the damn thing we can replace it later!" (and he will say that eventually) and then blame Trump for it. They are going to kill as much as they can under Trump and then when bad things happen? Blame Trump and Obama.

Meanwhile they'll urge Trump supporters to back them because it was the Democrats that kicked Trump out of office. And Trump supporters are stupid enough to fall for the same trap the Democrats are falling for.

100 days. That said... it might be 200, if only because Republicans have been talking about the first 200 days to get stuff done. Yet why would they do that? Why not urge the first 100 days?

Trump won't last the year. We will be seeing Trump's connections to Russia come out big-time, and then Democrats will unite. Enough safe Republicans will unite as well with Democrats and just enough to get him Impeached and tried in the Senate.

Rob H.

procrustean maid said...

Ha Ha Dave you are just so silly.

Is it because i object to your abuse of history that you think that i am one of those monsters, a troglodyte, a traitor to all that is good?

Or is it because i don't take the idea of a star trek future seriously? (dig it fella, elves, unicorns and hobbits are far more realistic than warp drives, transporters and replicators.)

Is everyone who calls you on your crappy historical argument a confederate lying ass?

LarryHart said...

TCB:


Needless to say, if the War on Some Drugs served to weaken the Bill of Rights and to inure a free people to obedience and submission to police control, the War on (Non-Christian) Terror has served that end even better.


When Obama was president, I never was quite clear what the point was of the right hammering him on whether he would speak the words "Radical Islamic Terrorism (tm)", and why he refused to do so. I got that they wanted to be insulting to Muslims and even to assert that Muslims were "the enemy", but the point didn't seem important enough from either side for all of the effort spent to discuss it.

I see now, belatedly, that the point is to focus police attention specifically on Islamic terrorism, as opposed to White Christianist Terrorism.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

I blame movies like 'New Jack City," and many others of the '80s/'90s showing black criminal gangs at work for the modern face of it - films and pop culture that made it 'appropriate' for Hillary Clinton to talk of super-predators in the '90s.


I must be the only one who totally missed the dog-whistle nature of that term back then. When I heard people talking about "super-predators" and "wilding", the image in my mind was a gang of blond Hitler-youth frat boys running wild.

Ilithi Dragon said...

@procrustean:

NASA is working on a real-life warp drive:
http://www.davidreneke.com/nasa-research-to-create-a-warp-drive-bubble-in-lab/

Quantum teleportation, while still a long way from being able to teleport objects, let alone people, is a real thing that we are doing now:
https://futurism.com/a-quantum-teleportation-breakthrough-physicists-just-smashed-previous-records/

And 3D printers are a modern-day equivalent to replicators (which are just spiffy 3D printers that can print on the atomic or molecular level):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing


Where are my orcs, unicorns, and hobbits (and Dwarfism doesn't count)?

Jumper said...

The Helvetian War has started. My hypothesis is that the release of the Mossck Fonseca info made Putin very angry. Trump is his chess move in response. This includes the DNC hack and others.
The danger is the robber barons have money and lots of allies.

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

I'm reading that article you linked to differently from how you do. It sounds as if Maxine Waters is talking about Trump hanging himself, not about Democrats themselves bringing it about. And Pelosi is being even more cautious.

They both seem aware that Democrats are in no position to do anything on their own initiative. Waters herself says she's starting an investigation that will lead to even Republicans and non-deplorable Trump voters to sit up and take notice. I see nothing that indicates that congressional Democrats are champing at the bit to bring charges on their own.

Bold emphasis below is my own:


...
In a press conference, magazine interview and a social media post, the California Democrat brought up the specter of removing Trump from office—something that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has played down.

"I have not called for the impeachment yet, he's doing it himself," Waters said at a press conference Monday. "I think he is leading himself into that kind of position where people are beginning to ask, 'What are we going to do?'"

In an interview with Teen Vogue the same day, Waters outlined a longshot bill she has introduced in Congress calling for an investigation into the president's ties to Russia. She said that if connections between Trump's campaign and Russia were revealed, "he should be impeached."

And in a subsequent video posted to Twitter, Waters explained that she has been asked repeatedly how Democrats can truly combat the agenda of the Trump administration, given their status as the minority in Congress.

"When I've talked about leading him to impeachment what I'm really saying is he has done enough in a short period of time for questions to be raised about whether or not he's acting in the best interest of this country," Waters said.

Pelosi was more cautious when she responded to reporters' questions on Trump impeachment, according to the Hill. The leader said there were no grounds for such action, but there are "grounds for displeasure and unease" about the past two weeks of the Trump Administration.

“When and if he breaks the law, that is when something like that would come up. But that’s not the subject of today," Pelosi said.


LarryHart said...

Robert:

We will be seeing Trump's connections to Russia come out big-time, and then Democrats will unite. Enough safe Republicans will unite as well with Democrats and just enough to get him Impeached and tried in the Senate.


I'm still curious how you think this can be done without the appearance that Republicans are in on the fix. At least 18 Republican Senators and God-knows-how-many Republican House members would have to vote "aye", and the Speaker would have to allow the issue on the floor.

I understand that many Trump supporters are reality-challenged, but they're also not particularly enamored of the Republican Party in the first place, and they're paranoid of everyone being out to get them, not just Democrats. You think they won't notice Republican complicity in removing their Fuehrer?

David Brin said...

donzel you think the Saudis oppose caliphate? I will bet you my yard that their textbooks are filled with romantic yearnings for a return to caliphate! They just expected it would (naturally) fall upon their house.

Is procrustean serious? He believes that a little masturbatory shriek-cackling will work here? Here?

He was presented six challenges to name a single exception. If ONE of those challenges were to stand, it would be proof that his movement is an insane and incompetent cult. But he left ALL SIX standing! He does not even glance at the burden of proof to rescue his cult, by offering one counter-example.

A drooling microcephalic loony - bereft of even curiosity - I will answer him no more.

Jumper, it will take more leaks. Moreover it will take a brave, developing world president. I shudder to imagine it could be Duterte. Anyone got his number?


---

Oh, that list of name an exception challenges was clipped from a coming blog. You didn't think I typed all that for him, did you? ;-)

Robert said...

Larry, the barest minimum needed will vote against Trump. Ryan will likely sacrifice himself to become Vice President or get a Cabinet position under President Pence, thus allowing it to come to the Floor. If there's seven years of Pence/Ryan, then they figure voters will have forgotten Trump by that time. And they are likely right.

Also don't forget: Republicans seem to operate under the assumption their voters are morons. They get away with offense after offense and get reelected because Democrats Are Worse. Not that they are, but they have ingrained that belief into Republican voters and gerrymandered districts so they're safe.

And again, they will use Safe Republicans in the Senate. People who either are not going to run for office again, people who will be given positions in the Pence cabinet and replaced by Republicans in Republican-safe states, and those who were just elected and thus have nearly six years to go before worrying about Trump supporters who would have moved on by then.

Don't forget. Conservatives have an instinctive dislike for change. That goes for conservative voters as well. Why would a conservative Trump supporter go for the Democrat? After six years of Republican rule? Why bother? Especially if they DO have evidence of Trump working with the Russians, at which point Republicans will beat the war drums and call Russia an existential threat to the United States because Eastasia has always been their ally.

Rob H.

TCB said...

Re: Dr. Brin's second point:
"2- NAME ONE major metric of US national health that did better across the spans of either Bush administration than across the spans of the Clinton and Obama admins. You cannot. Nearly all such metrics declined - many plummeting - across Bush regimes. Nearly all rose, many of them by a lot, across both DP terms. The record of almost perfect mal-governance would make any sane or scientific-minded person flee the GOP screaming and never trust them again."


I can think of a few things (like atmospheric carbon levels, and strong labor unions, and the healthy free press) that were better under Bush the First... but that's only 'cause they hadn't yet screwed them up properly. It was like the early stages of a degenerative disease. Oh yeah, you're in a bad way now, but you felt okay then... you didn't even know you were ill... surely it'd pass... just a light touch of Reaganism...

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

I'm not saying that Republican voters would vote Democratic if the Republicans dump Trump. I'm saying the Trump supporters would be angry enough to desert the party if they felt betrayed. And I'm sorry, but "the minimum number of Republicans" isn't small enough to make it seem as if the majority party which controls both houses had nothing to do with it.

The Trump voter is the Republican base now. If they just stay home in 2018, or vote for a 3rd (Nazi) Party candidate, it could be 2006 all over again.

LarryHart said...

...and remember that around the time of "Mission: Accomplished", W had a 110% approval rating, and the Republicans thought that their reich would last 1000 years.

It was shellacked in three instead.

Slim Moldie said...

Dr. Brin re judo, a post or so back. I mentioned an "adopt an elephant" gambit as a top down strategy for elected officials (like rival street level drug dealers taking over opponent's corners :) Today saw some folks are realizing The Sister District Project...more of a grass roots approach.

Still think there's Judo to be used with the ethical lapses and conflicts of interest



David Brin said...

TCB I didn't these metrics WERE better, I say when do they DO better. That means do they improve (or degrade more slowly) across the SPAN of dem admins than under neighboring gopper admins? What are the trend lines?

TCB said...

Dr. Brin said:

"TCB I didn't these metrics WERE better, I say when do they DO better. That means do they improve (or degrade more slowly) across the SPAN of dem admins than under neighboring gopper admins? What are the trend lines?"

Oh yeah I do get that. It's just that I do sometimes see people confuse one type of situation for the other, for instance: "Things were so much better when Reagan was president, I had a great job back then, maybe we need Trump to fix things!" Most people don't necessarily follow the statistics for society as a whole (which would clearly show the trends you talk about) but they remember they used to own a sweet Camaro and gas was 75 cents a gallon.

Marino said...

donzelion:

" I should think Marxists would be less impressed by 'romantic' individualist narratives, derivative bildungsroman/'save the universe' sagas - all designed to distract and sell (but then, so would most critics, which is why the field was dismissed as literature for so long)."

For one, Gramsci was a keen scholar of popular literature, while in prison. He even wrote some notes on Wells and Verne. (Ah, give me a time machine and I'll get him a subscription to Amazing Stories...).
And sci-fi has acknowledged by itself those escapist/ideological traits, did you read Gibson's The Gernsback Continuum?

" To them, most narratives about extraterrestrials would be merely a new form of opiate"
LOL... Eleanor Arnason's A woman of the iron people begins with a quote of Marx's German Ideology...and what about Alexander Bogdanov, the "bolshevik Martian"?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Bogdanov#Fiction_3

as uninteresting as new church hymns to invisible heavenly friends. Yet within Mary Shelley, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula LeGuin, H.G. Wells, and many others - a critic would find much of worth (whether Marxist, or otherwise)."

You forgot the most Marxist sci-fi even written: Jack london, The iron heel.

Aktiepappa said...

Class war is not coming but digitalization is. And that is a far more terrifying scenario. The internet of things is the start of the "Skynet" which kan be truly terrifying.

LarryHart said...

Me personally, I don't see what the appeal is of everything being connected online. The inconveniences of what can go wrong seem much, MUCH more than the convenience of (say) not having to flip a wall switch to turn on a light, or to change a tv channel by hand.

Seriously, the fact that you can open your front door with a cell-phone doesn't suggest the possibility that anyone can open your front door with a cell-phone?

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Dr. Brin: The calls to destroy the Enlightenment itself and return to feudalism are getting shockingly blatant. Still under the radar for most, but still.

@Aktiepappa: I'm now wondering if the distributed intelligence will not be Skynet, but Ring -- from the Daniel Keys Moran series, "Tales of the Continuing Time". A DoD construct, Ring becomes the first replicant (worm-transmitted) AI, lurking in the Net long after a nationalist United States itself falls to a global hegemonic alliance (led by France!) built around the UN.

Ring is programmed to Protect America. Despite not being programmed well, it has a surprisingly good grasp of what America is, and it knows it is not the lost Government of the United States. That's not to say it's 100% aligned with human goals.... for it's not human.

Jumper said...

Thanks, Catfish. This suggests Bannon is a Thelemite of the Golden Dawn school. Crowley's branch of rites. "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will." Also ripped off by American poser Anton LaVey who stole it from Ayn Rand.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Robert, if the Republican base has an intense dislike of change, how in the world did they flip from 'business as usual' to voting for the Rage Mango? He ran on a platform of change! I submit they pretend to not want change, but will grasp at straws if they think they will get something they want.

David Brin said...

Catfish, thanks for that article you linked to. I urge you all to click and look. We are quite literally fighting for our lives.

That includes you Tacitus2. Please read it. We are no longer asking you to leave the Republican Party. It long ago left you. Now it is too blatant. Come out. Get fed up. You will feel cleaner.

LarryHart said...

Robert Harris finally came out with the third book in his Ancient Rome/Cicero trilogy, so I'm re-reading the first two books in advance of the third one. Because of the time frame, the novels depict the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the dictatorship which became the Roman Empire.

The parallels to today's headlines are stark, and yes, democracy does fall "to thunderous applause."

LarryHart said...

The Mad Librarian:

if the Republican base has an intense dislike of change, how in the world did they flip from 'business as usual' to voting for the Rage Mango?


They saw the parade and figured they'd better jump to the front of it.

I'm reminded of "Atlas Shrugged" after John Galt makes his 50-page radio address, when Mr Thompson tries to project the image that Galt is speaking for his leadership team. One of the others asks Mr Thompson "Do you want the people to think we agree with that?", to which Mr Thompson replies, somewhat shrewdly, "Do you want them to think we don't?"

Jonathan Sills said...

Michael Flynn has apparently been busted for both discussing the sanctions against Russia with Putin's people before the election, and lying about it afterward. He was caught because the Russian with whom he spoke was subject to surveillance from US counterintelligence, and the agents know exactly what was discussed at the meeting - which we know about because unnamed officials who read the transcripts of the calls took their concerns to reporters.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/us/flynn-is-said-to-have-talked-to-russians-about-sanctions-before-trump-took-office.html

Dr. Brin, would this be an example of successful sousveillance?

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "donzel you think the Saudis oppose caliphate?"

More of a loaded question than you may realize. But first, let's correct this inaccurate view:

"They just expected it would (naturally) fall upon their house."
That is completely wrong. They explicitly renounced any such claim, repeatedly, and at every stage of governance. When faced with a civil war on this precise subject, that renunciation was their quite effective tactic to prevail, and why (most) clergy backed them. The fact that the clergy backed them meant that they didn't need to pay most of their troops in the 1930s (unlike their rivals), making a much larger, cheaper army possible.

The King's first title is "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" - he is sworn to be the 'steward' until the 'true' caliph emerges, at which point, he will be demoted to a mere 'governor' within the caliphate (unless the 'true' caliph removes them...). So of course, the Saudi royals 'welcome' the caliphate......some (very distant) day.

That hesitation is a primary driver for AQ, Daesh (ISIS), and a number of Islamist militant groups, who accuse the Saudis of blocking the path toward a caliphate. That claim actually goes back decades (the civil war that resolved it resulted in, among other things, a victory through use of some Western guns - paid for with debts to Britain - which the nearly bankrupt Kingdom granted a certain oil concession to America to pay off...).

When you read nostalgic/romantic notions about the caliphate, you assume there's an underlying plot. You may be right, but if there is a plot, it was never to become the caliphs themselves, so much as to maintain the power they do have against various claimants from within the region by setting unrealistic requirements in place for a 'true' caliph.

donzelion said...

Marino: "You forgot the most Marxist sci-fi even written: Jack london, The iron heel."

That wasn't forgetting - it was not knowing. Thanks for the tip - I had no idea that this had served as a point of inspiration for Orwell's 1984 (though I haven't read London since junior high).

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan; You and others might be giving to much credit to Marshall plan. It was good, but western Europe did more to lift itself than we did. Helping hand when it was needed, but they did the hardest part.

(On mobile today. Recovering from a surgery. Doing well too.)

Alfred Differ said...

Jumper;

I took my corporate responsibility seriously. Only one ended in debt and that was to another partner who helped it end that way.

Limited liability should protect less involved investors. Those of us in the thick of it should get credit checks like the company does when borrowing.

Alfred Differ said...

@ratio; I got your reference and got a smile out of turning it around.

The US revolution can be linked to political upheaval in Britain and France by seeing it as an enlightenment revolution that had a hot phase all the way up to 1849 or so. Many opposed it and some supporters switched sides later. Socialist group would be cast as traitors in that view.

Alfred Differ said...

@ratio; I got your reference and got a smile out of turning it around.

The US revolution can be linked to political upheaval in Britain and France by seeing it as an enlightenment revolution that had a hot phase all the way up to 1849 or so. Many opposed it and some supporters switched sides later. Socialist group would be cast as traitors in that view.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

(On mobile today. Recovering from a surgery. Doing well too.)


Hope you weren't wounded in a duel. :)

Be well.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Hmm. Michael Flynn was a result of government spying upon government.
Might be more of a case of entre'veillance.

Tacitus2 said...

Regards Evola article.

Read it.

In good NYT fashion it quotes this Spencer fellow much more than Bannon himself. The discussion on the topic seems rather esoteric.

Bannon at least appears to be widely read.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

From the New York Times article:

In the days after the election, Mr. Spencer led a Washington alt-right conference in chants of “Hail Trump!” But he also invoked Evola’s idea of a prehistoric and pre-Christian spirituality — referring to the awakening of whites, whom he called the Children of the Sun.


It seems bizarre to me that evangelical Christians would be ok with this.

Daniel Duffy said...

This article makes a strong case that liberals screwed themselves over and have nobody to blame for Trump but themselves (and I speak as a liberal)

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/9/14543938/richard-rorty-liberalism-vietnam-donald-trump-obama

>Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers – themselves desperately afraid of being downsized – are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

>At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking for a strongman to vote for – someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots.

LarryHart said...

Reading a little further, it seems bizarre to me that Americans can be ok with this. If this is what they knowingly voted for, then I really didn't know my country, and I can honestly paraphrase Michelle Obama and say that I've never been less proud of my country:


It viewed humanism, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution all as historical disasters that took man further away from a transcendental perennial truth.

Changing the system, Evola argued, was “not a question of contesting and polemicizing, but of blowing everything up.”

Evola’s ideal order, Professor Drake wrote, was based on “hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual.”

That made a fan out of Benito Mussolini.
...
Evola eventually broke with Mussolini and the Italian Fascists because he considered them overly tame and corrupted by compromise. Instead he preferred the Nazi SS officers, seeing in them something closer to a mythic ideal. They also shared his anti-Semitism.

Daniel Duffy said...

Like many people, I have been trying to figure out what happened this election. Why did America elect someone like Trump as president? Then I came across this:

https://www.inverse.com/article/23750-cliodynamics-america-cycle-of-violence-donald-trump

So it turns out that there is a very simple explanation: America goes insane every 50 years or so. Each 50 year cycle culminates in a wave of insanity that includes several patterns that repeat themselves over and over again with progress followed by backlash:

Economically - Rural vs. Urban in a fight over economic growth and opportunity.
Demographically - Natives vs. Immigrants, with a backlash against intrusive foreigners.
Culturally - Traditionalists v. Progressives, with expanded rights pitted against eroded privileges.
Politically - Liberals v. Conservatives, with a liberal president followed by a reactionary or corrupt president.

Examining every 50 year cycle we see the following:

2010s and 20s - Our recent election.

Collapse of economic growth in rural heartland Red America compared to booming economies in urban bicoastal Blue America triggering a backlash against globalism.

Hispanic and Asian immigrants triggering a nativist response from rural Whites over jobs and cultural identity.

Marriage rights for Gays triggering a response form the Religious Right starting with Nan Davis in Kentucky 2 years ago.

Liberal Obama followed by racist/corrupt Trump.

1960s and 70s - The Groovy Sixties.

Cities from Watts to Detroit to Newark burning. Ford tells nearly bankrupt NYC to drop dead. But rural America is enjoying a "Mayberry" Golden Age.

Black "immigrants" moving into cities followed by White flight to the suburbs.

Sex, drugs and rock and roll (along with Civil Rights, Women's Lib, etc.) v. traditional family values.

Liberal Kennedy/Johnson followed by corrupt Nixon.

1910s to 20s - The Roaring Twenties.

Rural America faces economic hard time, effectively experiencing the depression a decade before the rest of the country.

Massive influx of Catholic and Jewish immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, and Black migration to northern cities triggers a rebirth of the KKK (which had all but disappeared in the late 19th century).

Flappers, jazz and bathtub gin v. prohibitionists.

Progressive Teddy Roosevelt followed by racist Woodrow Wilson and corrupt Warren Harding.

1860s to 70s - Civil War and Reconstruction.

Agrarian rural South fighting industrialized urban North.

Influx of Irish Catholics and emancipation leads to birth of KKK.

Reconstruction v. traditional Southern society.

Lincoln followed by corrupt Grant administration.

1820s to 30s - Young America.

Birth of industrialism begins to erode the dominance of slave/rural Southern states. Basic argument over what vision should guide America begins - Hamilton's industrial/powerful America vs. Jefferson's agricultural/virtuous America (the argument continues to this day).

Know Nothings oppose immigration especially Catholics.

Abolitionists v slave owners and Jacksonian populism v. aristocratic government.

The intellectual John Quincy Adams followed by Andrew Jackson (the Trump of early America).

In every case, economic, demographic, cultural, and political progress/change of the previous decades is partial undone by a backlash. It's a two steps forward and one step back rhythm, but with the net movement being forward. Judging from history Trump and delay or partially reverse social change.

But he can't stop it.

David Brin said...

Friday’s temperatures very near the North Pole are about 50 degrees warmer than normal, according to a temperature analysis by NOAA. Yes, that's FIFTY degrees. And denialist cultists are genuinely insane. I mean, isn't it a known trait of insane people that they deny it? So their denying they are crazy means squat. What matters is the testimony of fact and objective reality.

And by the testimony of objective and factual reality, you cultists are stark jibbering crazy. Which would be your privilege, if you weren't directly harming the planet our children need. And savaging our republic, the best hope of humankind.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/02/10/its-about-50-degrees-warmer-than-normal-near-the-north-pole/?utm_term=.306a11f3ebcb

Daniel Duffy said...

One other famous meta-historical cycle appears to be repeating. The end game described by Toynbee in his "Study of History". You can argue with the details of his meta-history (or the very concept of meta-history itself) but in broad strokes his rhythms of a civilizations birth, growth, decline and death make perfect sense.

This is especially true of his bifurcation of a decaying society into a dominant minority (more interested in power - today we call them the 1% - than the creative minority that led civilization through its growth period) and an alienated internal proletariat.

And who can deny that the internal proletariat isn't just alienated, they're pissed off - and their nationalistic populist parties decided Brexit and the Trump election. All that is left is the creation of an external proletariat preparing a volkwanderung across the borders of the more advanced civilization.

The last won't happen because our external proletariat has discovered birth control. So unlike the barbarians that flooded the late Roman Empire, the birth rates of our modern external proletariat are collapsing everywhere except Sub-Saharan Africa (for example, France has a higher birth rate than Iran or Algeria).

David Brin said...

Interesting point in today's LATimes. The secularization of young people has eroded religious attendance, but it would have been far worse without hispanic immigrants! Especially since, as in much of Latin America, they are switching from Catholicism to evangelicalism in droves. Irony!

donzel you are informative, but I don't buy it. It's easy enough to look around find a cousin -- say from the Wahhabb Clan -- who is plausibly not an ibn Saud prince, make him the guy and then marry in a daughter.

In any event, both Al Qaeda and Daesh members all were raised by Wahhabb madrassas.

Daniel Duffy said...

"And denialist cultists are genuinely insane."

Didn't Jared Diamond describe a similar situation that destroyed the civilization of Easter Island - a ruling clique blindly holding on to power at all costs even to the point of wrecking their own civilization.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr, are you familiar with Robert Scribbler's blog, https://robertscribbler.com/ ? He's actually a fairly well-known SF writer, but please don't hold that against him. His level of scientific accuracy is fairly high, even if his prose is a bit breathless. (Yup, definitely an SF writer...). I subscribe, and his posts (one or two a week) are nearly always worth reading.

Unfortunately, this winter has seen several times when temperatures ran 50F above normal. Today would be sadly unremarkable for this season unless you were talking 50C. On New Year's Day, still deep in Solstice darkness, the North Pole was above freezing, 35C above normal.

Presently, ice growth is sluggish, not in itself unusual as the region approaches its annual maximum extent, but it is at record lows for the date, just 14.9 million sq. km. The Antarctic, near its summer minimum extent, is also at a record low, with 60% of the Antarctic coastline currently ice-free.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

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