Here's another chapter of my book, in which I which futilely offered 100+ original or plausible tactics that might have helped win this phase of Civil War. (Last time we had Chapter 2: "Underlying beliefs that most of us share" - And why that may help... even during a 'civil war.')
Now we'll get more confrontational, eviscerating "MAGA" with pure historical and present day facts. Naturally, I could add a lot more ammo to these paragraphs, like in the section answering charges of "socialism!" But I am starting to get the hint. None of our Union generals is at all interested in agility or becoming a Grant or Sherman. We coulda blitzed this, instead of a slog.
Let's pray they at least win.
POLEMICAL JUDO by David Brin A Brazen Guide for Sane Americans To Bypass Trench WarfareAnd Win Our Life or Death Struggle for Civilization
The most frustrating recent example of “blue polemical stupidity” is failure to answer MAGA… or the slogan “Make America Great Again.”
A few have tried, using sumo-style opposition, like: “America’s already great!” Oh, that’s a fine counter-slogan, helping our side grunt and shove back at those who demean the nation. But it achieves nothing to undermine MAGA’s power with red masses. It does no judo.
MAGA implies a clear notion of some much better time in the past. So ask a judo question: 'When do you envision that America had its “great” golden age?'
about the 1950s. It sure seems that MAGA folks are referring generally to the era of the Greatest Generation (GG) – the boomers’ parents – who overcame the Depression and crushed Hitler, contained Stalinism, built a booming market economy and middle class, got us into space, built vast infrastructure and systems for education and health, while too-gradually-but-deliberately, taking on many longstanding prejudices and injustices they inherited from their parents and a thousand other generations.
So let Republicans proclaim the 50s! Draw them onto that limb. Get them to charge ahead with oversimplified/romantic notions of a bucolic, better era. This is what judo is for.
Yes, the GGs had greatness. Oh, but there’s a funny thing about those folks in the World War II generation. They voted high taxes on the rich, and the rich patriotically paid. They admired labor unions. They respected teachers and other professionals. They built spectacular universities and infrastructure. Above all, that clade of Americans had one favorite living human, a man venerated by his people, by his fellow citizens. Ask your MAGA cousin who that most-adored 20th Century American was.
The New Lords have spent millions and decades portraying Franklin Delano Roosevelt as satanic. While invoking nostalgia for the “great” American era of the 1940s and 1950s, their propaganda sweeps aside one fact – that every notable aspect of that period was Rooseveltian. A time when - I reiterate - unions thrived, the rich paid taxes, science was admired, and moving forward was in our blood.
Oh, you sour boomers, don’t you dare invoke the Greatest Generation! They were union men, Democrats mostly, held no truck with foppish billionaires, preferred facts over assertions, built giant projects, crafted strong alliances to give the world its first general peace and… oh, yes, can I say it again? Their favorite living human was FDR.
And do you know who followed Roosevelt in that slot? Who was the most-admired American during the 1950s, even more popular than the moderate, FDR-like Dwight Eisenhower? It was a fellow named Dr. Jonas Salk, whose team effort used science and immunization (yes, vaccines) to end a terror that haunted every parent in America. Look it up. The most admired American, in an era that did possess a kind of greatness, at least in potential.
IF NOT THAT GENERATION, WHEN?
Oh, they were far from perfect, my parents and their friends. Their faults were monumental! In fact they were “great” – above all – by overcoming some (not all) of countless ways the fifties etc. sucked! Above all, they emulated the American Founders, and soldiers of a righteous, abolitionist blue Union and others who pushed our fine Experiment forward by not wallowing in nostalgia. Moreover, they raised us to launch from their shoulders, mightily amplifying their accomplishments with creativity, science and rising compassion, while overcoming many of their mistakes and blindnesses. Becoming… greater. And later generations – millennials, Xers etc. – are better still, generally wiser, nicer, calmer, smarter – the best thing we boomers ever did.
No, fanatics, you don’t get the Greatest Generation, who would be appalled by your vague shrill MAGA wails. You must flee from their Rooseveltian era, in search of your earlier “great” time!
How about farther back? Here’s a candidate period – admired by the alt-right and Fox – that’s lauded in a song you might recall:
“Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again!
Didn’t need no Welfare State.
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days!”
Is it 1929 then, that folks at Trump rallies yearn for? Surely oligarchs financing the movement would love to crank-back before FDR. And yet, forget 1929. We all know that’s not it.
It’s 1861, only this time a confederacy that’s victorious. Plantation lords and their fervid vassals and foreign backers finally overcoming the blue forces of science, facts, equality, industry, accountability, abolition and progress. And let’s admit that during this round of civil war (see Chapter 14), with help from a Russian rising czar, the Confederacy took Washington.
Alas, amid dullard ignorance of real history, they ignore the only place where oligarchy’s victory can take us all. To Paris, 1789.
THE ANSWER TO “SOCIALISM!”
Time and again, Blue Leaders have acquiesced to a re-framing of terminology on the political landscape. Fleeing “liberal” into “progressive” for example, then seeing that term equated with “communist.” Of course it’s all ironic, in an era when GOP leaders are in bed with avowed communist dictators and Lenin-raised “ex”-KGB agents who openly mourn the USSR.
A huge and recurring liberal mistake is getting lured into expressing hostility to the markets, enterprises and small businesses and startups that generate the wealth we then use to make things better for all children. Where do the taxes come from that pay for their favorite programs? We’ll get to that apparent contradiction in the next section, and later in Chapter 11.
First, of course the Republican Party plans to use “socialism” against democrats.
A few nationally prominent Democrats, e.g. rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have edged toward powerfully invoking the Greatest Generation (GG) with the “Green New Deal.” Later I’ll list 31 reforms that Democrats and decent independents all want, belying press-incited calumnies about ‘bitter division’ between progressives and 'DNC corporatist types' (Chapter 12.) In fact, most items on that list would be covered by saying:
“Let’s bring back much of the social contract that served the white working class so well, in the 40s and 50s! High wages, a rising middle, strong union protections, low wealth disparity, much less cheating-influence by aristocrats, cheap college tuition… infrastructure!... investment in science and so on. Only we’ll update all that to include all races and genders! And yes, while mobilizing against the most deadly enemy threatening our world – looming environmental disaster. And expand the greatest generation’s signature program – Medicare – to at least cover all children till age twenty-five.
“You’d seriously oppose that? The Greatest Generation is spinning in their graves. You aren’t worthy to mention them!”
Oh and let’s be clear – someone please say it aloud – that Dwight Eisenhower made AOC's ‘socialism’ seem tame.
WHO IS BEST FOR ‘FREE ENTERPRISE’?
Now let’s swing from socialism to its purported opposite – enterprise capitalism.
Today’s Blue-Left keeps getting suckered into ceding territory to the Right, allowing them to style themselves as the best friends of creative market economics, the generator of most of the wealth they hope to tax. Among the 2020 candidates, only Elizabeth Warren seemed to grasp what the word “liberal” generally meant, for the last 250 years. She laces her calls for social reforms with this will actually help a competitive market economy to thrive!
In fact, across more than 5000 years of recorded history, far more open-flat-fair-competitive-creative enterprise systems were wrecked by oligarchy – by cheater kings and owner-lords and monopolists – than were ever harmed by moderate, democratic socialism (e.g. Canada or Sweden) or even by murderous Stalinists. Uber-rich cheaters must be denounced as the enemy of enterprise. Which is exactly what Adam Smith said.
Adam Smith? The fellow whose Wealth of Nations (1776) is routinely misquoted by the social darwinist right? Yes, the same sage whose The Theory of Moral Sentimentsdemanded that society’s duty lay in uplifting the poor and enhancing opportunities for talent to thrive. In fact, as I’ll expand in Chapter 11, Democrats should reclaim Adam Smith as one of their own, the core founder of liberalism. (If you actually read him, you’ll understand.) See the point made by Evonomics publisher Steve Roth. We’ll return to Smith several times.
If done right, this could overturn the “libertarian problem” dissected later in the book. But foremost the lesson is: don’t cede any territory to the noxious, undead mad-right.
Especially not the territory of healthy market enterprise, which actually does much better, as a matter of measurable outcomesacross the span of Democratic administrations.
In a reflex that’s encouraged by both left-wing academics and giggling rightist propagandists, young liberals today spurn "capitalism" as a whipping boy term that loses all meaning, though flat-fair-competitive-accountable market enterprise has been the cornucopia goose that's laid our golden eggs, including the confidence to go after ancient crimes like racism and sexism. Yes, there are problems with capitalism! Karl Marx described inherent contradictions that can – unless countered by enlightened rules and referees – lead to the collapse of flat-fair-creative competition.
This was the point when the American Founders seized and redistributed up to one third of the land from lordly grandees. Or take the Progressive Movement circa 1900 whose anti-trust laws shattered a then-looming Gilded Age oligarchy, restoring some competition to American markets. It had to be done again in the 1930s and 1940s, resulting in the flattest and most vibrantly entrepreneurial society and fastest-rising middle class the world ever saw (shocking Marxists!)
Those on the right who scream hate at the word "regulation" are as unwise is the left's reflex to despise "competition." What works is Regulated Competition. And we’ll get into that later.
HATING ON FDR… FROM THE LEFT?
Finally, I expect some of our allies on the far-left to rage at my extolling Franklin Roosevelt. As if even mentioning Adam Smith didn’t cause apoplexy! (That ain’t nothing. Just wait till we get to Chapter 12: “Unreliable Allies.”)
By today’s standards, FDR was bigoted and made some howling-awful decisions, amid a sea of good ones. The same is true of LBJ. And wouldn’t they have recanted mistakes, if informed by the moral advancements we’ve made since? Dig it. What is the best that any leader or citizen can hope for, from posterity?
To be judged as much better than their times. That he or she could see needles had to move, and strenuously helped move them. That they built platforms from which later heroes might climb further. It’s why we (largely) forgive the faults of Washington and Jefferson. It’s what Martin Luther King said of Johnson and Roosevelt… and it’s what we now say about King, knowing many of his then-hidden personal flaws.
Anyone condemning them, while ignoring the good, should read Frederick Douglass's eulogy of Abraham Lincoln. Especially this excerpt:
“I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict. His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen.
“Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless.[...]
“Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.”
May you be eulogized so fairly… but ultimately so well.
 “Was 1957 America Better Than Today?” I answer right wing adoration of the 1950s. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2011/10/was-1957-america-better-than-today.html
 Back in the 1970s I founded UCSD Liberals and Progressives, till frustrated by that campus’s Marcuse-left, who took joy from Nixon and sorrowed at the “system’s” success at nailing him for crimes.
 “Is Socialism Still An Effective Political Bogeyman?” https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/is-socialism-still-an-effective-political-bogeyman
 “When Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts introduced their Green New Deal proposal in February, they chose language loaded with nostalgia for one of the country’s most transformative historical moments, urging the country to undertake “a new national, social, industrial and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era.” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/opinion/climate-change-mobilization.html
 “Accusations of Socialism” http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2019-04-20T12:29:00-07:00&max-results=2
 “Liberals, you must reclaim Adam Smith.” http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/11/liberals-you-must-reclaim-adam-smith.html
 “It’s Simple! Concentrated Wealth and Inequality Crushes Economic Growth More billionaire dollars, slower growth. Full stop.” http://evonomics.com/its-simple-yes-concentrated-wealth-and-inequality-crushes-economic-growth/
 Comparing economic outcomes from Democratic vs. Republican administrations: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html
 I am of an ethnicity that suffered because FDR made moral and practical mistakes, and I grew up with Japanese-Americans whose parents endured Manzanar. Still, our parents all knew that every alternative to Roosevelt – across the face of the Earth in those days – would have been worse.