Sooner or later I guess we all turn into shameless self-promoters — it’s the Murrican Way™, after all. So anyway, here’s my stab at it. I mentioned in a comment a while back that I was doing a local AM radio show. This is it, or rather the Web site for it. (And don’t you dare tell anyone you know in AZ that one of the co-hosts is really a commie. I’m trying to keep my Merge Left identity a secret from my neighbors. Children, furry animals and mainstream Democrats all tend to be fragile creatures, you know.)
I know nothing. NOTHING!
Brad DeLong can’t seem to resist flinging a handful of All-American poo at Karl Marx from time to time. Today he calls the old guy a disgruntled German Jew, intellectual opportunist, political naïf, and, via Paul Samuelson, a third-rate post-Ricardian technical economist.
Mmm…this from a technocrat whose political apotheosis was a gig in the Clinton Treasury Department? Working for Larry — &@$%$%# — Summers?
Well, okay, he’s a smart guy and all, and a decent one, for a soi-disant neoliberal economist. Still, I wonder how he’s missed sharing the realization dawning on people almost everywhere else in the world that neoliberalism, and its sisters-of-charity janitorial service, social democracy, are in as much conceptual and real peril today as the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was at the end of the Nineteenth Century.
So…. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward…Ben Bernanke? Say it ain’t so, Brad. Say it ain’t so.
This essay by the incomparable Lewis Lapham of Lapham’s Quarterly, via TomDispatch.com, says just about everything that needs to be said about why Marx and Veblen got it, and so many servants of today’s established order do not get it at all.
Here’s just a taste:
Not being an economist and never having been at ease in the company of flow charts, I don’t question the expert testimony, but I notice that it doesn’t have much to do with human beings, much less with the understanding of a man’s work as the meaning of his life or the freedom of his mind. Purse-lipped and solemn, the commentators for the Financial Times and MSNBC mention the harm done to the country’s credit rating, deplore the trade and budget deficits, discuss the cutting back of pensions and public services. From the tone of the conversation, I can imagine myself at a lawn party somewhere in Fairfield County, Connecticut, listening to the lady in the flowered hat talk about the difficulty of finding decent help.
Do go and read all of it. It may make you feel a lot worse, but believe me, you’ll be the better for it.
Honest people, making honest arguments, can sometimes be greater cause for dismay than the most cynical propaganda. Reading what Glenn and Juan had to say to each other about LIbya was, for me, one of those times. I wondered if Juan had seen Noam Chomsky’s lecture on the social responsibility of the intellectual. I suspect that it would have made little difference if he had.
Which is a pity. Toward the end of the Q&A, Chomsky addresses Libya directly. He was speaking after Tahrir Square, but before Gaddafi unleashed his tanks on Misrata and Ras Lanuf. What he had to say was not only prescient, it went far deeper than I suspect Juan Cole has ever gone in his reasoning. When the Dogs of War are let slip, the servant holding the leash becomes in fact the irrelevance that he’s always been in theory. That Juan Cole, of all people, can’t see whose livery he’s put on today both amazes and saddens me.
Today Juan Cole has written An Open Letter to the Left on Libya. In it, he urges …the Left to learn to chew gum and walk at the same time, meaning that it should support the UN Security Council/NATO/US bombing enterprise in Libya. (Among all these august agencies, it’s hard to know which is wearing the fig leaf here — and which isn’t — but I suppose that rounding up all the usual suspects stands a decent chance of including the real actors in this latest morality play put on for us by the rulers of Oceania.)
Since my views make me more or less part of the Left, albeit not what you’d call a very prominent part, I feel duty-bound to respond:
When I read of the The Responsibility to Protect, I’m reminded of the motto of the old Strategic Air Command: Peace Is Our Profession. There’s a sense in which that motto was perfectly true, and another sense in which it represented a ghastly moral inversion—Thanatos dressed up as Eros, complete with rouged cheeks and false eyelashes.
I remember too that the Pentagon found Dr. Strangelove insulting. Perhaps it was, but it was also a cry of desperation, which, now I come to think of it, had less to do with H-bombs per se than it did with the men who built and deployed them with such perfectly clear consciences.
I first wrote that elsewhere, for another audience, but it will do very nicely for Juan Cole today, or, for that matter, for anyone overcome by such well-meaning delusions of grandeur tomorrow.
Cross-posted from Canecittà
It looks as though the pro-business faction in the Republican Party is finally starting to see a downside in the anti-immigrant lunacy of the party’s right wing. These latest votes in the Arizona State Senate took even the most hopeful of us by surprise:
What exactly has happened, or what will happen now, is still unclear, but maybe the wind has shifted at least a little.
There’s been lots of bad news lately, and my state, Arizona, hasn’t been shy about adding to it. Now this. If anything could prompt me to start reading Revelations, this just might be it. Is it true? Who knows, but God’s sense of humor being what it is, it does sound plausible.