Saturday, January 03, 2009

Responses to "Why I am a Socialist"

My posting of the essay from Chris Hedges drew a pair of responses; the first, from the always erudite Open Source Dem, follows:


Indeed, these are some of the challenges of our day, not least in Texas and Harris County. But for the life of me I do not see what any of the received doctrines of European socialism or even the Jacobin threads in our distinctively American traditions allow us to deal effectively with any of this; “confront” it, as political poseurs like to say.

Consider a different way of looking at these challenges:

“These corporations have no loyalty to America or the American worker. They are not tied to nation states.”

Actually it is our propertied and credentialed elites -- as a class -- who lack any notion of loyalty at all, even to their own class and phony-baloney corporations. Hell, look at Bernie Maddoff, squandering the savings of his fellow Wilhelmine Jews, while the idiot LaRouchites were obsessed with George Soros. What we have here are extremes of narcissism among the educated elites and simple plutocracy throughout the ruling elites.

Loyalty, by contrast, is cultivated by egalitarian civil and military institutions that have been replaced by a hierarchy of educational institutions starting with prisons at the bottom and ending with your Princetons at the top. The middle-class institutions in the middle are the most muddled and insecure of all. There are actually no common, patriotic institutions, nothing like the Swiss Barrackenschule -- although that is what the Second Amendment implied -- or the French Ecoles Superieres -- although that is what the Land Grant Colleges were supposed to be.

So, what about “a political shift in Europe toward an open confrontation with the corporate state.”

What can we learn here from this? Very little! Europe still has states, bureaucracies, patriotic institutions that can regulate corporations, private enterprises of any sort, even banks, and each other. The “EU” is newer and weaker than our federal union. But it has institutional legacies to build on whereas our federal union is rotting at the head and tail, vanishing before an Anglo-American overclass that recognizes no constitutional restraints on personal power, ambition, or their own entitlements at all.

So, are the “free market and globalization” a new problem, our problem?”

Actually the legacies of American and Russian economic autarky pose problems of corruptly regulated financial markets, obsolete import concessions, arms and drugs barter, perverse industrial policies, subverted professions, and financial bubbles such as predate both socialism and capitalism. Socialism and capitalism are both semi-reputable doctrines of political economy with, however, limited application to problems of recent history and even less to those of the immediate future.

That is the problem with “confronting” matters with either of these doctrines, reduced to mostly buzz-words now with no analysis, standards, or plans.

In other words, Chris Hedges is an ignorant fool.

“The corporate forces that are looting the Treasury and have plunged us into a depression.”

Actually, the 1964-1994 Neo-Confederate GOP was able to do that given a failure of the other, Republican and Democratic, parties to compete. The looting going on before our very eyes consists of panicked Congressional Democrats throwing money at financial institutions they failed to regulate for decades and mortgaged their own balls to: Jay Rockefeller, Chuck Schumer, Charlie Rangel ... who are we kidding with these? The depression was financially engineered by Clinton appointee Alan Greenspan. This is a failure of responsible, two-party government -- something we do not have today but could have relatively easily provided Democrats stop perpetuating their own, failed leaders.

The situation is so exasperating today that pleas for a magic formula will come from the left and right. But the answer may lay deeper in the middle, not further on either extreme. For instance, the European countries Chris cites still have “a draft”-- actually that is an Anglo-American term for the break-down of “all-volunteer” armed forces. They have universal suffrage and very low incarceration rates. They have very few lawyers and medical doctors do not make much more money than police officers. They have strong political parties. Moreover the left, right, and center largely agree on such institutions, whatever else they disagree on. In any case they do not confuse remnants of a titled nobility with merely wealthy mountebanks.

Recently in Belgium, the King joined with the firemen in a violent protest. They used their hoses to blow out the windows of the interior ministry and drench corrupt police and prosecutors who had been protecting a ring of informers, pimps, and gun-runners, who were also murderous pedophiles. The cowardly coalition government -- sort of like the Democrats and Republicans in city and county government here -- fell and was replaced. Contrast that with Bill White and Ed Emmett making excuses for each other, borrowing money hand over fist and levying regressive, indirect taxes to cover up their own improvidence and roll over a mountain of debt.

Where is the competition and accountability in our “system” of government? How does importing socialist jargon do anything but obscure elementary breakdown of our own traditions? Would it not be simpler if the Democratic Party simply competed, instead of collaborated, with the GOP today? We could use over 200 years of robust traditions that Euro-socialists and even Jacobins used to emulate and even now, fall back on in times of crisis!


And also this, in response to that, from my friend David Van Os:


One of the new realizations I obtained from reading The Predator State is that the CEO class, the oligarchy, the plutocrats, the super-rich, the elite, whatever one may choose to call them, actually starve the corporations they work for by diverting what should be the corporations' resources to their own personal accounts, using the money for new mansions and other personal luxuries instead of new factories.

Furthermore, I agree with you about the ways in which the Democratic Party needs to re-establish its mission and reorganize itself in order to cease being complicit in the predation.

However I am unconvinced that it has the capacity to do so, or to be more precise, that any possibility exists for any number of intelligent and committed inside activists to be able to force the reorganization. The structure of the party in Texas, to use the nearest example, results from a Jim Crow Election Code; the problem remains, as always, that lawmakers who were elected under the existing party structure are not motivated to legislate root-level change in a system that got them elected and keeps them elected.


How about a response from you in the comments, please.


ixboat said...

zAc petkanas is a pedophile

PDiddie said...

Zac Petkanas is a lot of things, but a pedophile he is not (unless you'd like to offer some evidence that supports your slanderous, anonymous accusation). Note for the record that I am no ZP fan.