Clinton Corporate Conservatism: more KKK than CCC?

Some of us are old enough to remember Goldwater’s 1964 Nomination acceptance speech, but whether you were were alive and kicking, or first heard it on the innertubz, few would fail to recognize the speech as the dawning of the post-modern era of extremism. And the line from Goldwater, through Newt Gingrich and to Paul Ryan pegs Goldwater as a godfather of TeaBagger extremism.

Goldwater conservatism, therefore, is not old news, especially in as much as the First Lady of the United States in 1996, who was a Goldwater Girl in 1964, expressed her continuing admiration for Goldwater:

I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with. I don’t recognize this new brand of Republicanism that is afoot now, which I consider to be very reactionary, not conservative in many respects. I am very proud that I was a Goldwater girl.

Now, I can forgive the indiscretions of a young college kid (heavens, I deal with many today who are attracted to the Goldwater analogs of today, but most eventually grow up, mellow out, and appreciate that extremism is unacceptable) though I am certainly put off by it, but the fact that she didn’t laugh at her foolishness 25 years later when she was the First Lady of a country wrestling with the Contract with America (Newt’s plan, and perhaps the first GOP effort to shut down the US Government) is something that should make you sit up and take note too.

But is the title of this essay over the top, a SPLC version of Godwin’s Law (aside from the double entendre on “conserve”, which you have to love, I don’t care who you are)? The John Lewis fiasco made it very clear that Establishment Blacks (what a curious way to refer to those who led the protests in the ’60s) are happy to whitewash (OK, maybe that wasn’t all that funny) Hillary’s lack of civil rights credibility, while others are more than happy to air the Clinton dirty racial laundry. Even Black intellectuals are criticizing Clinton, from Brother Cornell (who most recently called Clinton “the Milli Vanilli of politics” to Michelle Alexander (and the less than impressive Coates). At the same time we have Trump’s apparent acceptance of Duke’s endorsement, and certainly his racially charged rhetoric.  These are the times in which we live.

If one proposes to support Hillary, the question on everyone’s lips today appears to be, “which Hillary” The only folk for which this does not create a pause, frankly, are the likes of Katha Pollitt and other women who will support HRC in the primaries only because she has a vagina. Now, I understand why they would do this, though I find such sexism unfortunate; what I can’t understand is why so many try (unlike Katha, who just up and cops to it) to gussy up their identity politics with arguments that HRC is the true progressive.

Consider Hillary’s history in the broader historical perspective. The 64 election was a watershed for American politics; it is the foundation upon which the most important legislation passed by the US Congress in the past 50 years was passed, from the Voting Rights Act to the first appropriations for the lunar landing program, not to mention the roll-out of enforcement of the 1964 civil rights act (the rage over which fueled Goldwater’s campaign). Goldwater was waging war against “The Great Society”  and everyone clearly understood that (even Hillary, and do listen to Johnson’s speech). For HRC to suggest that she was proud of supporting Goldwater in 1964 is tantamount to her rejecting everything Democrats have to be proud of since Roosevelt left office.

While I am truly horrified by Johnson’s handling of ‘Nam, I am just as stunned by his commitment to redressing the domestic failures so evident but so ignored. For anyone to suggest that they are honoring Johnson’s commitment to social and economic justice in the United States by supporting for the highest office in this country a person who actually campaigned to sabotage the very accomplishments for which we honor Johnson and who 32 years later as First Lady, doubled down on her commitment to the leader of that band of extremists intent on dismantling Johnson’s legislative program, simply boggles my mind. I don’t often resort to emotive language, and I fear I have gotten a bit maudlin here (mea maxima culpa) but I truly can’t imagine how anyone could miss the fact that HRC is probably a bit to the right of Ike…

And, to be clear, Goldwater was adamant that the government had no business banning Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 4.04.50 PMdiscrimination in public accommodation – he had a very Lincolnesque approach – A shonda, ober es iz nit dayn gesheftits (it’s a shame, but its none of our business…) The “right” in the US today is an unholy alliance of those who want to “take government back”, (that is to say they want government to do things, just not the things it has been doing) and those who want to nullify government (that is, they want the right to ignore anything that the government decides to do that they don’t personally agree with.) Unfortunately, the ability of most of those dancing on that side of the hall to discuss anything rationally is severely impaired (not to say that the people on the other side of the hall are all rocket scientists either). But they all agree, no matter their IQ or dogma, that government has no business helping the tired, the hungry or the poor.

If there is anyone in national politics today who wears the mantle MLK JR, seeking social and economic justice for all,  it is certainly not the Goldwater Girl who believes its her turn. Hillary is still very much the fiscal conservative and military hawk she has always been, and it is high time that the United States turned that page over.

Socializing Return, Privatizing Risk, and Gambling with Truth

A friend recently commented on Curtis Wright’s claim

At heart, I’m a Nietzschean. The world either does contribute to our capacity for being strong, healthy, self-creative human animals, or it doesn’t. Mostly it doesn’t. Mostly we live under one thumb or another, almost always multiple thumbs. Nietzsche’s attitude toward the thumb was honesty. My attitude toward capitalism is, Perhaps it is the best possible economic system, as you say Mr. Capitalist, but can we please stop being dishonest about it? Can we please stop telling all of the anxious lies we tell about how it is the apex of freedom? Can we please at least tell the truth about its human effects and its effects on nature?

As for hope, the philosopher Santayana talked about “animal faith.” Beyond religion, we have the faith of animals who enjoy the incredible privilege of being alive and conscious of the fact. I know that faith, and I try to be loyal to it. So working toward a condition where people know that this Nietzschean joy is their true “vocation” is important. As Fichte put it, You are free, so act like it. Hope is all in the act.

Truth is the bastion of the neo-Platonists, and I think does not serve Wright well here. The focus should not be on a some Golden Form, but on the Aristotelian formulation for happiness; the problem with the system that Wright decries is that it eschews the concept of ‘more for most and none for none’ that is in essence Aristotle’s starting point for his Ethics. Wright’s Capitalism is simply unconcerned about most, save through the Zombie Economics of supply-side macro theory (which views most of as a mice lucky to have the crumbs from the table.)

We are engaged in a “naming” battle; a linguistic version of counting coup which has gotten terribly out of hand. The concept of being able to buy and sell in market was with us long before anyone bandied about the term “capitalism”. What the rational find problematic, and the delusional worship, is the abstraction of the concept of markets until it becomes little more than an unregulated virtual gambling hall. Yes, there are those who argue that all commerce is at it’s core, a gamble, but in modern societies it is against the law to insure someone’s life and then murder them. Yet in the financial world we are not only engaged in just that, we have a significant portion of the population ignorantly celebrating that engagement.

Our laws, as Mr. Grieder and others suggested years ago, work to socialize risks and privatize returns, doubling down on the two inescapable pillars of what I call abstract capitalism: it is entirely unstable, and produces horribly inequitable results. The “libertarians” claim kinship of classical liberalism, but their positions are such a corruption of that philosophy that even neo-liberalism does the like of Locke a disservice (and can be confused with the virtually identical approach from the faux center, the Democratic Leadership Caucus extremism of Hillary et al). Better I think to call them Lotto Liberals, as they endorse little more than gaming.

There are as many societal mechanisms for addressing economic instability as their are societies, from the potlatch of the Tlingit to the financial regulations of the modern state;  some Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.15.01 AMof these mechanisms are more effective than others at the redistribution necessary to maintain a cohesive social network.  Unfortunately, Lotto Liberalism flatly rejects redistribution and puts its faith in the egoistic fallacy that  that one is wholly responsible for one’s own success, which like  a Bizarro counterfeit of Athena leaps from the forehead of its sire, Hubris.


Alright, maybe a pedantic rant equating Zeus with Saint Hubert is a stretch, but so are the myths that seem woven into the fabric of American “exceptionalism”.  We don’t need to surrender hope, but keeping hope alive does not we should wrap ourselves in the Emperor’s clothes. What we need to do is lend a hand, rediscover what E. J. Dionne calls the communitarian spirit, because as that aged sage Red Green puts it, “we are all in this together…”

Under My Skin

AchillesTruth is, there is something about the “activist” that I find revolting.  Yes, yes, yes, groan all you want, but if you are over 30 and have an analytical bent, you are feeling the same way, so stuff it. Brash, self-involved, myopic, inexperienced, narrow-minded little tweaks are purportedly the saviors of our planet. Well, maybe they will be when they grow up, but for now they are too loud, too fast, and too clever by half.

My goodness, when did I become a cranky old shit? Is it me? Pedant, troll, troublemaker — am I really so clueless that I should just quickly drown myself in my dyspeptic fears of mindless violence and have done with it? Sorry to disappoint, but not this week.

No, the truth, such as might be, is that the young are immortal today.  The downside of that is tomorrow the sun rises early.