“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mockingbird politics

A. and I went camping this weekend, and I had an (admittedly drunken) talk with one of my bros., who is getting more conservative as he grows older. Sadly, he was the one who was most enthusiastic about Obama when he came in – and he is exactly the type Obama lost with his ‘compromises’ and inability to recognize the cratering of middle class American lifestyles we’ve been witnessing. He’s looking for that fabled beast, the reasonable republican.

Anyway, to my insistence on the fact that political talk shouldn’t be hemmed in by the “we can’t afford it” mantra when in fact the ‘we’ is the bottom 80 percent who owns 25 percent of the wealth, while the “we’ in the top 20 percent, who owns 75 percent of the wealth, is rich as fuck and can definitely afford it, he made a very wise and so far unbeatable reply: “I’ve heard this over and over, but the cost for the social programs don’t come out of the rich. The rich always win. So in the end, they come out of me.”

This is true. And I think it explains much of the vile politics of the Bush-Obama era. You cannot run a New Deal social insurance system while at the same time encouraging a pre-New Deal division of wealth. It just doesn’t work. The reason the mantra of the rich against tax increases works is because, in reality, everybody out there knows that the tax increase, while it might hit the wage class, will spare the wealthy. Meanwhile, the government does all it can to ‘de-regulate” and “privatize”, adding further costs to the wage class and causing streams of money to rise like manna towards the bloodsuckers. Obama’s disastrous administration is simply the logical result of a welfare state that has evolved into a welfare for the rich state. It is getting worse in this “crisis”, not better. It is the first economic crisis, perhaps, since 1848 in which there is no “left” flank – not a single powerful organization or party. Just right flanks, socialist parties adopting Austrian economics, and the like.

According to the polls, the group that Obama has pissed off the least, in the last year, is liberal Democrats. Which does make me wonder why these people consider themselves liberal. I imagine that tattered word now covers a sort of fan base – it isn’t really a political viewpoint at all, but more of a warm feeling towards certain celebrity figures.

At least for people like me, with no stake in the system and no hope for change, this is the moronic inferno of our mockingbird dreams. We mock, because we can’t act.

1 comment:

Hermes said...

"This is true. And I think it explains much of the vile politics of the Bush-Obama era. You cannot run a New Deal social insurance system while at the same time encouraging a pre-New Deal division of wealth."

This, to me, seems the crux of the argument between the "left neoliberals" and the Crooked Timber crowd (and those to the left of them). Bloggers like M. Yglesias have a technocratic vision of the economy (the understanding of which has been achieved by neoclassical economics) based on a general consensus among elites about policy. The difference between the "right" and "left" neoliberals is about the redistributive aspects of the state. But, as Chris Bertram and others at CT, point to: where is the politics that can achieve this redistribution? If labor is weak in the field of production, how can it act as a countervailing power in the political realm?

Even after the weeks of debate, I still don't feel that Yglesias, et al. have adequately answered this question.

(It suddenly occurs to me that perhaps Yglesias is essentially a Habermasian in that he believes in the autonomous system of money and the economy with a "superstructure" of democratic deliberation on top.)