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July 12, 2010 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Kabuki Democracy: Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, for Now. And what we should do about it. (one-page link)
posted by mek (96 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Liberal Democrats?
posted by parmanparman at 11:01 PM on July 12, 2010


What does the word "Progressive" even mean at this point? Hillary Clinton called herself one during the primary, despite being about the most conservative, war supporting, DC Centric major candidate. it's a somewhat meaningless term that gets thrown around quite a bit.
posted by delmoi at 11:12 PM on July 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


I became an anarchist in the Bush years, but if I hadn't, I definitely would have in the Obama years. :\
posted by cthuljew at 11:13 PM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Finally, an in-depth post about Japanese po... oh, it's just another "eleven-dimensional chess" thing about Obama.
posted by shii at 11:43 PM on July 12, 2010


All true, but there's one noticably absent name in this article: Dennis Kuchinich. He actually does appear, unless he's playing an even longer con than Barack Obama did, to actually want to save the USA from its monstrous affliction by Republicans and Republicanism.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:44 PM on July 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


it's just another "eleven-dimensional chess" thing about Obama.

I'd just ask you to RTFA, as this is as non-partisan and critical an analysis of the Obama administration's style I have yet read. It is definitely not 11-dimensional-chess cheerleading - it actually rejects that explicitly by paragraph 4.
posted by mek at 11:56 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, with the utter fucking lunatics that will shortly be running your country you realize your're going to be looking back on now as some kind of golden age in a few years, right?
posted by Artw at 12:07 AM on July 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Sorry to make such a broad generalization, but I'm not interested in the legislative side. I just want to know why Obama prosecuted the whistleblowers rather than the torturers and wiretappers. That kind of lesson in "political reality", whatever that is, would interest me.
posted by shii at 12:09 AM on July 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


I became an anarchist in the Bush years

Mmmm... anarchy. No protections, no regulations, fully free market, fear among the masses and absolute power within the hands of those already entrenched in economically powerful positions.

Yeah, that sounds about right for the goal of the Bush years.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:09 AM on July 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


He actually does appear, unless he's playing an even longer con than Barack Obama did, to actually want to save the USA from its monstrous affliction by Republicans and Republicanism.
Which is exactly why no one in either party establishment or the media take him seriously. Kucinich's message is outside the spectrum of thinkable thought in the current U.S. political system. Sometimes I'm amazed the Democrats still let him in the clubhouse, though sometimes they do demand their pound of flesh.
posted by anarch at 12:12 AM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lots of good points here, but I notice the word "reconciliation" doesn't even appear in the article. If you can't come to terms with the fact that Obama and Reid repeatedly and unnecessarily choose filibuster-vulnerable legislative strategies that require the good will of Republicans for success, you'll never understand why progressive legislation always fails.
posted by gerryblog at 12:37 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you can't come to terms with the fact that Obama and Reid repeatedly and unnecessarily choose filibuster-vulnerable legislative strategies that require the good will of Republicans for success, you'll never understand why progressive legislation always fails.

"The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, “extended-debate-related problems” — threatened or actual filibusters — affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent."
posted by IvoShandor at 1:14 AM on July 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


Right, that's precisely why the lack of the word "reconciliation" is so shocking. Not all legislation is subject to the filibuster; many times Obama and Reid are opening themselves up to that risk by choice.
posted by gerryblog at 1:36 AM on July 13, 2010


many times Obama and Reid are opening themselves up to that risk by choice.

Um. How so? By taking the public option off the table from the beginning? Or towing to the right on many varieties of legislation from financial regulation to cap and trade. Your assertion seems invalid on it's face and without any evidence I am inclined to chalk it up to more partisan rhetoric. How do you suggest the administration and Dems in Congress "reconcile" with the party of "NO", or hell no, as Palin liked to say. For cripes sake, the health care reform bill looks like it was written by Richard Nixon.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:42 AM on July 13, 2010


gerryblog, as I understand it, reconciliation is not so much as a last resort as a strict rule-bound track through which only very narrowly defined legislation can be moved. It's limited to provisions with a direct impact on the federal budget and it MUST reduce the deficit. End of story.
posted by peacay at 2:00 AM on July 13, 2010


Reconciliation is a legislative process of the United States Senate intended to allow consideration of a contentious budget bill with debate limited to twenty hours under Senate Rules.

Certain types of bills can be passed without being subject to the filibuster using a process called "reconciliation." I'm not saying give into the right, I'm saying cut them out of the equation altogether.
posted by gerryblog at 2:00 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


peacay, yes, so find a way to pass progressive legislation under those constraints. A strongly progressive health care bill would have qualified as having a direct impact on the federal budget and reducing the deficit. So, potentially, could a carbon tax.
posted by gerryblog at 2:02 AM on July 13, 2010


gerryblog, as I understand it, reconciliation is not so much as a last resort as a strict rule-bound track through which only very narrowly defined legislation can be moved. It's limited to provisions with a direct impact on the federal budget and it MUST reduce the deficit. End of story.

And this is where I was confused. Wasn't sure if gerryblog was referring to actual "reconciling" in the civilian sense, or the Congressional process, which you are correct on as far as I know. It can only be used in cases where legislation has an impact on the federal budget. And it seems to be subject to vitriolic attacks from the right as "tyranny" and "fascism" and whatever else the hell the mouth-breathing right calls it. Thus, probably not the most politically pragmatic of choices, which is probably why it is seldom used by Reid/Pelosi. In a year where Democrats are hanging by the skin of their teeth, it's not surprising at all. Not too mention the fact that the Dems did have a filibuster proof majority for part of Obama's term. I've always liked the idea of making the filibustering party stand up for what they believe in, let the voters decide whether they're right or not on the merits of the stance. Of course, that might not matter much, as facts don't seem to matter anymore anyway. Sorry if the misunderstanding led to a confusing retort earlier.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:05 AM on July 13, 2010


I think we're grossly overestimating the flexibility of reconciliation here - Obama did in fact pull that card for parts of the health bill, but where else could it apply? It's totally inapplicable to the bills du jour, finreg and immigration, as neither affect the budget directly. It could make a second appearance to resurrect the now-zombie energy bill, where it could be quite effective in implementing a low-pork cap-and-trade which reduces the deficit. (Reconciliation does not have to reduce the deficit, but measures which do not reduce the deficit, eg. Bush tax cuts, sunset in 10 years.) All reconciliation bills are subject to line-by-line approval by the Senate parliamentarian, which is a pretty arcane and inscrutable practice, hence why it is generally a last resort.

In short, reconciliation is a weak and situational defense against the real issue: total abuse of the filibuster by the Republicans (as IvoShandor noted). If the Democrats retain enough control in 2012, they damn well better go nuclear if they want to pass anything at all.
posted by mek at 2:12 AM on July 13, 2010


Well, I'll just note that this is far beyond my knowledge pay-grade and my understanding has mostly come about from reading Ezra Klein (because this is a very wonkish subject), but what you see as simple and logical isn't and won't be. There are hundreds of needed elements of legislation that are attached to progressive health or carbon tax bills: these are not budgetary matters and the senate parliamentarian will not let them in. Reconciliation is intended, as its name suggests, for tweaks and not for full legislative agendas.
posted by peacay at 2:14 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


In short, reconciliation is a weak and situational defense against the real issue: total abuse of the filibuster by the Republicans (as IvoShandor noted). If the Democrats retain enough control in 2012, they damn well better go nuclear if they want to pass anything at all.

I agree with this. I hope they do, but I suspect they won't -- and if they don't I hope progressives remember they chose not to.
posted by gerryblog at 2:21 AM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, per the Krugman column above, if 70% of legislation has been subject to attempts at filibuster since '06 there is just no way that even the large majority of that legislation would qualify for the use of reconciliation. I agree with what mek and peacay said about reconciliation here. It just doesn't work for entire legislative agendas.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:21 AM on July 13, 2010


I said "repeatedly and unnecessarily," I didn't say it was a cure-all for the entire legislative agenda. A better health care bill -- the public option and/or Medicare for all, for instance -- and a carbon tax both could have been passed that way. So could have a better stimulus package.

The mere threat might have been enough to break the Republican filibuster during the health care debate, but it was taken off the table.
posted by gerryblog at 2:26 AM on July 13, 2010


The mere threat might have been enough to break the Republican filibuster during the health care debate, but it was taken off the table.

And a bit more on topic toward the FPP, I think the article goes a long way as to explaining why. I found this piece informative and well-researched, if a bit long. While the conclusions and data in the article are not surprising they are utterly obscene to this Evil Progressive.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:29 AM on July 13, 2010


Why is everybody so surprised the Obama presidency is turning out this way? Granted he inherited a shit sandwich but I mean did anyone really think he wasn't beholden to the same people G-Dub was? The fact that the American people think they can affect change by casting a vote is laughable. Change only occurs when the citizens take matters into their own hands. The constitution was gutted during the Bush years and Obama has done fuck all to repair the damage. The sad thing is there was never any chance that he would. The reason for this is that power structures that appropriate power rarely let go of said powers. Once appropriated they cling on to them until such time as the citizens pry them out of the aforementionedpower structure's cold dead hands. Kinda like Charlton Heston and his guns.


"What does the word "Progressive" even mean at this point?"

This is a good point, Delmoi. Like most political terms it is vague and can mean any number of things depending on who you are using it around. The powers that be are globalists and they are implementing globalist policies. Anything else is just rhetoric designed at placating the masses. I don't understand why Mr. Alterman is so confused about all this.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:03 AM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Call me stubborn, but I'm not inclined to read an article that relies on the kabuki cliche in the bloody title.
posted by armage at 4:24 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Utopian idealists' unreasonable expectations unmet. Whining apathy ensues. Right wing takes over again.

Film at 11.

Sigh. The left never grows up.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:57 AM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


So basically... it's all Bush's fault?

Doesn't anyone get tired of this lame excuse for an argument? The unitary executive bit aside--which is probably the one thing Obama could change if he had the mind to--almost everything in that article lays at the feet of Bush 43 has been going on for almost half a century. This, it seems, is what happens when you have journalists rather than history professors writing about political history.

I mean, yeah, I wasn't a huge fan of Bush either, but seriously, if it isn't fair to lay the blame for crumbling infrastructure at Obama's feet, it isn't really fair to lay them at Bush's either. Clinton had a full eight years to do something about these issues and did... well, interns, mostly.

But it isn't even totally his fault either. No American president has seriously dealt with health care, infrastructure, or education in the last, what, fifty years? Sixty? The interstates went up with Eisenhower. What have we done since then? LBJ gave us Medicare and Medicaid--which are now a sucking chest wound in the federal budget, so thanks for that. Carter's Department of Education has always been little more than a cipher except for NCLB, the results of which are equivocal if we're going to be really generous. Hell, Nixon took a stab at health care reform only to get shot down by a recalcitrant Democratic Congress.

In short, we've had half a dozen presidents dating back to the 1970s who have done precious little about any of America's mounting social, political, or infrastructural problems and what few attempts there have been were shot down by a Congress which, with the exception of 1995-2005, has been in Democratic hands for fifty-five years. But the real villain is obviously George W. Bush.

Please. It's all well and good to be a leftist, but can we try not to be so obviously Pavlovian about it?

The real problem? We're talking about major institutional and political problems which no one on either side of the aisle has the stomach for because the American people want to have their benefits without having to pay for them. No electoral platform can survive such an irrational demand, and so the only people who can get elected for more than a term are those who maintain the status quo.

It took the largest war in human history to shake us out of our last funk, and the 1930s are starting to look pretty tame in comparison to the intractable problems facing us today.
posted by valkyryn at 4:59 AM on July 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


Is it just me who misread the first couple of words as Katamari Damacy? Ah, I see. I'll find my own way out, thanks.
posted by prufrock at 5:09 AM on July 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Did anyone actually read the whole thing... I couldn't. Oh, ok, I'll just skip to the end:
What's more, one hypothesis—one I'm tempted to share—for the Obama administration's willingness to compromise so extensively on the promises that candidate Obama made during the 2008 campaign would be that as president, he is playing for time. Obama is taking the best deal on the table today, but hopes and expects that once he is re-elected in 2012—a pretty strong bet, I'd say—he will build on the foundations laid during his first term to bring on the fundamental "change" that is not possible in today's environment.

Come on Eric, tell us what how really feel...
Indeed, with regard to almost every single one of our problems, we need better, smarter organizing at every level and a willingness on the part of liberals and leftists to work with what remains of the center to begin the process of reforms that are a beginning, rather than an endpoint in the process of societal transformation.

Uh.... Ok. Nice chatting with you Eric, let's discuss your transformational ideas at the next Nation cruise.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:17 AM on July 13, 2010


Man, with the utter fucking lunatics that will shortly be running your country you realize your're going to be looking back on now as some kind of golden age in a few years, right?

Yes. This is why I get annoyed with people complaining about Obama, because despite all his faults, he's the best that America will see for a while.
posted by new brand day at 5:20 AM on July 13, 2010


Don't call it Kabuki
posted by empath at 6:04 AM on July 13, 2010


--So basically... it's all Bush's fault?--

valkyryn, the unfair characterising of America's political problems you impute to the article equally applies to your own misreading/misunderstanding of the litany of circumstances boxing in movement of a progressive agenda. The summarising quip you offer sounds like the fox-republican mantra in response to the administration's inability turn a turd sandwich into a 3-course meal in double-quick time. Did you read the whole article?
posted by peacay at 6:12 AM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes. This is why I get annoyed with people complaining about Obama, because despite all his faults, he's the best that America will see for a while.

I don't want to vote for Obama. I don't like him, he doesn't represent my political views even a little bit, and I consider him a failure, but after reading this article, and the article from the other day about how conservatives largely will not listen to true, factual information, I'm scared not to vote for Obama this coming 2012.

That's the wrong reason to vote for anyone.

I became an anarchist in the Bush years, but if I hadn't, I definitely would have in the Obama years. :\

Welcome to the club! I'm upset about the state of Obama's administration but I've even more wildly angry at modern American anarchism. "Yeah, let's go insinuate ourselves into a bad situation and get arrested because we view cops to be inferior on our ontological hierarchy and then let's have a loud, benefit party that disrupts our minority neighbor's lives ("whut? I haven't talked to the neighbors, whatever, they work a job, supporting the capitalist blah blah blah") and maybe we'll get arrested again so we can have another benifit, my noise band is playing! I'm going to tell everyone how they should live their lives! Wah, I'm a big baby!" Imagine a rail-thin, white, continental philosophy grad student saying that.

American anarchism is sadly, currently based on collegiate non-praxis philosophizing and macho posturing. What should be happening is we should be building sustainable independent, non-hierarchical social programs to meet people's needs to supplant government and capitalist schemes. Sadly, that is too much work and effort for the drop-outs failures that make up American anarchism.
posted by fuq at 6:13 AM on July 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Forget the White House. The thing that first needs to be prised out of the grip of conservatives is the media.
posted by DU at 6:17 AM on July 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


For cripes sake, the health care reform bill looks like it was written by Richard Nixon.

Actually, Nixon's healthcare bill was significantly broader than anything considered by congress this year.

Combined with the fact that he was the last president to take meaningful action on environmental issues, ended the war and the draft, significantly increased welfare payments, founded OSHA, and reformed Social Security, Nixon would make one hell of a great Democrat today. He'd also be able to use the excuse that he forgot his keys to the Watergate...
posted by schmod at 6:35 AM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Did you read the whole article?

About half of it. Then I remembered that Eric Alterman isn't someone whose opinions matter to me all that much, and after wading that far in without any serious consideration of history, I didn't think the rest of it worth my time.

And where did I attack Obama's performance? If anything, I'm agreeing with the conclusion of the article--that Obama's hands are largely tied--even if I reject the reasoning as facile. I never expected Obama to be able to turn things around and am just as annoyed as you are that certain elements are attacking him because of that. Granted, he does seem to have set himself up for some of this--anytime you use rhetoric like Obama's and don't deliver in spades you're setting yourself up for a fall--but if Obama believed his own message he's more the fool for it.

I say again: no American president has seriously tried to deal with America's problems in more than a cosmetic way since LBJ. In fact, LBJ may in fact be the reason why presidents have been so skittish about trying, because the largest parts of the Great Society which haven't proven to be downright toxic continue to be massive drains on the federal budget which also happen to be massively popular. So again, thanks for that.

But Alterman elides this history entirely. The Great Society gets two cursory mentions, neither of which discuss its impact or legacy. Indeed, it's arguable that Reagan was elected significantly because people didn't like it. No discussion there. Nor of the fact that one of Clinton's major legislative victories was welfare reform, which significantly scaled back a Great Society program which was recognized to have had an incredibly damaging impact upon the poor. No, Alterman would rather talk about FoxNews and Bush. Which is his prerogative, but it doesn't mean I have to take him seriously.
posted by valkyryn at 6:43 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Indeed, it's arguable that Reagan was elected significantly because people didn't like it.

No, Reagan was elected because of over a year of "Iranian Hostage Crisis" coverage.

Believe it or not, no one, except for fringe conservatives, were complaining about The Great Society, well maybe racists were too.
posted by Max Power at 7:05 AM on July 13, 2010


Believe it or not, no one, except for fringe conservatives, were complaining about The Great Society, well maybe racists were too.

Now we're talking about a difference of opinion in the historical record. Sources will, of course, be required, and I haven't the time, so I'm going to leave this one here.
posted by valkyryn at 7:09 AM on July 13, 2010


But Alterman elides this history entirely. The Great Society gets two cursory mentions, neither of which discuss its impact or legacy. Indeed, it's arguable that Reagan was elected significantly because people didn't like it. No discussion there. Nor of the fact that one of Clinton's major legislative victories was welfare reform, which significantly scaled back a Great Society program which was recognized to have had an incredibly damaging impact upon the poor.

Somehow you forgot to mention that other thing that LBJ did which people didn't like which Richard Nixon turned into a strategy to split the union vote, back when unions counted for anything.

There is no one out there except Libertarians and their plutocrat puppetmasters who think that people don't like getting free money from the government. What people don't like is having the government give money to those other people with darker skin, weird religions, weird drug habits, etc.

Reagan didn't get elected because people didn't like the "Great Society," he got elected because the political and economic elite of this country freaked the fuck out in the 1970's and invited a charlatan and his criminal friends to run the show... twice.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:13 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Max Power and ennui.bz, look, if we're going to debate the merits of the historical record, that's one thing. But Alterman doesn't do that, he completely ignores it. And the fact that a number of the biggest components of the Great Society--welfare and the Mediplans--have proven to be hugely problematic. Clinton significantly changed welfare, to the delight of most observers since, HUD's urban housing projects have been entirely repudiated as unmitigated disasters, and no one has a solution for the Mediplans,* which together constitute a large and growing chunk of the federal budget with no end in sight.

So no, it's no wonder that Obama isn't able to get much of anywhere. These problems go back far longer than his presidency, and it's not fair to blame him for them. But they also go back a lot farther than Bush's, so blaming him for everything--which is what Alterman substantially does--isn't fair either. The real culprit is the American electorate which, like democratic societies everywhere, wants to have its cake and eat it too.

*Expanding them is not actually a solution, just for the record.
posted by valkyryn at 7:27 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always thought we lived in a Bukakke Republic where it all trickles down.
posted by Tavern at 7:30 AM on July 13, 2010


Clinton significantly changed welfare, to the delight of most observers...

Who? I mean, who that is directly involved in the poverty fight?
posted by The Straightener at 8:04 AM on July 13, 2010


"Or as one of Obama's early Chicago mentors, Denny Jacobs, explained to his biographer David Remnick, Obama is a pol who learned early that 'sometimes you can't get the whole hog, so you take the ham shit sandwich.'"

FTFJacobs.
posted by rusty at 8:15 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who? I mean, who that is directly involved in the poverty fight?

I think basically everybody. Certainly every single discussion of social safety nets of which I was a part in law school from 2006-09 viewed it as the signature achievement of Clinton's presidency.
posted by valkyryn at 8:15 AM on July 13, 2010


> Don't call it Kabuki

Why not?
posted by languagehat at 8:18 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is one very simple step that would allow for more progressive legislation to pass Congress: abolish the filibuster in all forms. Remove the ability of the minority to completely prevent passage of a bill in the Senate, and you will get more liberal bills coming out of a Democratic Congress. The amount of compromise you have to do to get that 59th and 60th vote is so much larger than what was done to get over 50 votes. (Of course, it goes both ways - imagine no filibuster during 2002-2006. Trust me, it could have been worse.)

That, or just abolish the Senate.
posted by thewittyname at 8:18 AM on July 13, 2010


Basically everybody I work with think the Clinton reforms were arbitrary and punitive and have done little but to assure corporations an unorganized and disempowered labor base that can be paid substandard wages and no medical benefits. Maybe they didn't get to that part in your law school class, but they did in my social work school class. But since "basically everybody" agrees per your one article with no author information, we'll just agree to disagree.
posted by The Straightener at 8:22 AM on July 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Mmmm... anarchy. No protections, no regulations, fully free market, fear among the masses and absolute power within the hands of those already entrenched in economically powerful positions.

He said "anarchist," not "Republican."
posted by twirlip at 8:27 AM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mek, that was very worthwhile reading and I never would've found it otherwise. Thank you for sharing!

valkyryn, for real, the article does not blame Bush for everything. At most it highlights some things that happened while he was in office - and connects some dots between them. Mostly it's talking about the state US politics is in right now. Bush matters a lot in that equation, but he isn't being presented as "the one to blame". The article isn't about blame at all, in my view - it's about partisanship in an era where the media has all but eschewed its responsibility to the average citizen and corporations have the right to free speech, and the ways in which an outdated constitution and various moneyed forces (not individuals) are making proper reform practically impossible. That said, if you've only read the first 2-3 pages, I can see how you might think that it's about What Bush Did.

fuq, this is the reality of the two-party system and an election riding on money: you choose the lesser of two evils. Fear is built right into that choice - not just the regular fear of an indirect democracy but one that is so crudely dialectic, ideologically divided and unfathomably powerful. The fear comes from this current crisis, too; and that crisis is real. What I'm trying to say is that you have reason to be afraid. Voting is one way (albeit not the only one) to exercise control over that fear... you could choose to not vote, of course - but that's not going to make you less afraid, I'd think.

I'm idly curious if you voted for Obama in 08, and if so, whether it's his actions in office that have put you off his politics or whether you voted only out of fear then too. Also - everything you said after the phrase "what should be happening" is pretty much what the article is saying - unless you're talking about flouting your country's laws in the process. Compared to anarchy (or primitivism, which also was being discussed a little here a couple of days ago), progressivism is really milquetoasty, but then so much of the article is about how hard it is for the Democrats to even get on the same page with each other, there doesn't seem much room to get radical. Not at the moment, any way.

And while I'm not arguing that anarchy is inherently violent, I do think that it's pretty much impossible to foster it significantly in the present context without some huge and bloody upheaval. Or am I wrong?

And I've always wondered, what does it mean to be an anarchist in a modern nation state? You haven't given up your citizenship, I'm assuming, and I don't know where you can go where government doesn't exist, so how is it different from other forms of radicalism?

Asking not to snark but because I've always had trouble understanding what someone means when they say "I'm an anarchist". Does it mean that you believe in the ideology, or is it more than that?

*
Also, for people who haven't read the article, I'll paste the bit that was most interesting to me - I'm not American and the hard numbers came as quite a shock (emphasis is mine):
America's system of political representation, now more than two centuries old, has grown ever more anachronistic. For instance, when the United States Senate was created, the most populous state had just twelve times more people than the one with the smallest population. Now it's seventy times; giving those in small and underpopulated states a massive political advantage over the rest of us. And it just so happens that the best-represented areas of America are also the most conservative. It is therefore no coincidence that the forty Republican senators with the ability to bottle up almost anything in the Senate represent barely a third of the US population.

This is just the beginning of the problems Americans face in terms of disproportionate representation. The average age of a US senator is 69, while the median age of Americans, according to the most recent census figures, is just over 35. Women are a majority of the US population but only 17 percent of the Senate. Only four senators are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, while these minorities represent a third of the population. Most senators are also millionaires; most Americans, needless to say, are not. Elderly white male millionaires therefore come to do quite well when it comes to legislation. Underrepresented groups, not so much…
Seems clear to me from reading the article that the "it just so happens" bit doesn't seem like coincidence to the author - and I think he makes a strong case for why he feels that way.

In any case... god damn.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:30 AM on July 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Altogether, the results of the Clinton welfare reform venture are calamitous, endangering some 60 years of painfully won poverty reforms.

I'll see your TNR and raise you an American Prospect. Sorry, but please don't give me this bullshit about "basically everybody" thinking the Clinton welfare reforms were a massive success. And, btw, Frances Fox Piven has spent her entire career studying the welfare state. She and her husband Richard Cloward (my welfare professor at Columbia) literally wrote the book on it. Sorry you didn't get to it in law school.
posted by The Straightener at 8:37 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clinton had a full eight years to do something about these issues and did... well, interns, mostly.

Oh, please. I assure you, your characterization is more the product of an obsessive fixation with 42's penis than with any accurate assessment of the historical truth. Clinton, whatever his flaws--and God knows he had plenty--left the country marginally better (or no worse, at the very least) than he found it. You seem to fancy yourself an intelligent man, valkyryn. I say "seem" because apparently you aren't intelligent enough to resist the conservative equivalent of "BUSHITLER! BUSHITLER."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:39 AM on July 13, 2010


Excellent article. Thank you.
posted by Go Banana at 8:45 AM on July 13, 2010


Paralyzing Obama’s agenda is definitely second-best to having defeated him. The Right’s sense of its own Manifest Destiny has been shaken. Once the people see that a tyrant can be beaten, or even just lipped off (see Ceaucescu), it’s the beginning of the end.
posted by No Robots at 8:48 AM on July 13, 2010


Sorry, that American Prospect article is a little old, here's something a little more recent:

Barbara Ehrenreich -- Why welfare reform has failed.

Should I keep going?
posted by The Straightener at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2010


Paralyzing Obama’s agenda is definitely second-best to having defeated him.

That is totally not how this is playing out thus far. Bush is not the tyrant in this picture; neither is the Republican party alone. It's the Republican ideology - toothless government, unregulated capitalism - and it is thriving. Consider health care, environmental reform, immigrant reform, financial reform... And then consider Fox News and talk radio.

The Right has not been defeated; it's been emboldened, because now they don't even have the responsibility of governing... all they need to do is obfuscate and obstruct. They're kicking ass at that.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2010


Bush is not the tyrant in this picture; neither is the Republican party alone. It's the Republican ideology

Yup, that's what I was talking about.

they don't even have the responsibility of governing

Oh, indeed. They're still very dangerous. All the more so, though, for having been wounded.
posted by No Robots at 9:04 AM on July 13, 2010


I've always had trouble understanding what someone means when they say "I'm an anarchist". Does it mean that you believe in the ideology, or is it more than that?

I'm an anarchist. I believe that, broadly speaking, the anarchist analysis of society is correct. I believe that the state and capitalism are ultimately oppressive institutions, and that it's both possible and desirable for us to organize ourselves in anarchist ways instead. I agree with and support anarchist principles like direct action and mutual aid. I have all kinds of ideological disagreements with other people who call themselves anarchists, but "anarchism" is a reasonable label for my ethics and my worldview. Does that help at all?
posted by twirlip at 9:19 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


valkryn

Max Power and ennui.bz, look, if we're going to debate the merits of the historical record, that's one thing. But Alterman doesn't do that, he completely ignores it...

So no, it's no wonder that Obama isn't able to get much of anywhere. These problems go back far longer than his presidency, and it's not fair to blame him for them. But they also go back a lot farther than Bush's...


The thing is I basically agree with you, outside of your counterfactuals about the "New Deal" social safety net (the Great Society was LBJ's attempt to restart/complete the New Deal.) It's just that it's only people, like you, on the Christian Right, that take a structural view of the problems the US faces. Which is scary.

Most anarchists I've met have been completely absorbed with analyzing the past, and in particular what amount to the historical failures of anarchism as a social/political movement. Which is funny for a movement that is nominally about the future. I find them to be almost completely disengaged from the actual politics of this country.

But the strange thing is, Alterman is even more completely disengaged. His view is essential grounded in the idea that if we are just smart and patient then we can use the power of the government to solve problems. But he has no idea where the power of the federal government comes from. He seems to think that power comes from elections, which is entirely backwards. Elections merely certify and make public (to an extent) the powerful groups and people in our society.

The Christian right is a case in point about how you don't need to rejigger the constitution in order have influence (Although honestly they haven't been very successful yet in implementing an agenda) and that influence isn't just confined to red states. The whining about the constitution just proves the point that the "left" is either a: disengaged from actually organizing poeple or b: think that government can implement widespread social change simply based on state authority, without wondering just where that authority comes from. If the US government can bail out Wall Street, but can't fix our decaying sewers and water systems, that says a lot about the limits and nature of state power in the US.

Anyway, it's possible that Obama is a hack and a corporate shill and that he couldn't do better even if he cared to... given the long standing political and economic problems the US faces.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:20 AM on July 13, 2010


And it just so happens that the best-represented areas of America are also the most conservative.

This just isn't true.

There *is* a Republican bias in how the Senate works out, but it turns out to be quite mild.

The Senate under-represents states like NY and CA. But at the same time, it just as badly under-represents heavily Republican Texas and whatever incoherent, crazy-electing mush Florida is.

Likewise, the best-represented areas of America do for sure include Wyoming. But they also include Vermont.

This isn't hard to guesstimate. Take each state and multiply its House representation by the fraction of its Senate slate who are Democratic. Right now the Senate has (counting Byrd's ghost) 59 Democrats. If the Senate were apportioned just like the House, the Democratic majority would increase to... 64. Not nothing, but not anything remotely approaching a sea change in politics.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:23 AM on July 13, 2010


Just one last one, because it's really good stuff:

Employment of never-married mothers shot up, although that did not necessarily mean they escaped from poverty. (Today they make an average of just under $8 an hour working about 35 hours a week, which would add up to around $14,000 annually.) The earned-income tax credit helped a lot, adding about $4,000 to the income of a minimum-wage worker with two children. But averages are deceiving. If your job was, for example, a 20-hour position as a school crossing guard for $107 a week, or if you kept cycling in and out of jobs, you and your children were still threatened with homelessness and hunger. The main lesson of the 1996 law is that having a job and earning a livable income are two different things.

The True Purpose of Welfare Reform

This is what I have seen working with families receiving welfare as overhauled by the Clinton administration.

Btw, that article is by the same author who co-authored the Ehrenreich article, Peter Edelman, Georgetown Law professor who resigned from the Clinton administration in protest of the welfare reforms.
posted by The Straightener at 9:34 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


American anarchism is sadly, currently based on collegiate non-praxis philosophizing and macho posturing. What should be happening is we should be building sustainable independent, non-hierarchical social programs to meet people's needs to supplant government and capitalist schemes. Sadly, that is too much work and effort for the drop-outs failures that make up American anarchism.
posted by fuq at 6:13 AM on July 13


Being focused on creating an independent just and perfect society leaves you totally disengaged from the one you live in. Supplanting government and capitalist schemes starts with making enough friends in your community and wearing a suit long enough for you and your friends to get elected to the school board: the Christian right knows this.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2010


His view is essential grounded in the idea that if we are just smart and patient then we can use the power of the government to solve problems.

I don't think this is his view. The only thing he does seem to be assuming is that there are people who actually do want to act according to their ideology and not just for profit. So Obama got elected and it had something to do with people believing in what he was promising, even if Obama didn't (we don't know if he did; he certainly has not delivered). And he isn't talking about using the power of government; he's pointing out how it's undemocratic and making a very strong case for reforming the very constitution of it. And because that doesn't seem realistic - which he acknowledges - and because it seems that the Democratic party is ideologically weaker than the opposition, has much more to prove (because it actually promises something), is undisciplined, afraid of losing and primarily concerned with staying in power (which also he also argues), it is we who need to be organizing ourselves in order to get heard. He's kinda making the same points you are, so I don't see where you're exactly disagreeing. Can you quote?

But he has no idea where the power of the federal government comes from. He seems to think that power comes from elections, which is entirely backwards. Elections merely certify and make public (to an extent) the powerful groups and people in our society.

So you're saying power can't be shaken at all? Would the elections still merely certify the powerful groups if they were publicly financed? If the market was better regulated, the media was less commercial and corporations hadn't been awarded legal personhood?

The Christian right is a case in point about how you don't need to rejigger the constitution in order have influence (Although honestly they haven't been very successful yet in implementing an agenda)
The author seems to be arguing that there isn't really any Christian agenda to be implemented - while Democrats are "in power", those that actually wield power (corporations and industries) can use the Christian base and exploit its well-known prejudices to spread misinformation and hysteria.
posted by mondaygreens at 9:44 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This isn't hard to guesstimate. Take each state and multiply its House representation by the fraction of its Senate slate who are Democratic. Right now the Senate has (counting Byrd's ghost) 59 Democrats. If the Senate were apportioned just like the House, the Democratic majority would increase to... 64. Not nothing, but not anything remotely approaching a sea change in politics.

Two things: 1) the Senate's other crazy rules make 60 a magic number. If we had 64 the party could spare four of its permanent traitors and still pass any legislation it wanted. (2) Simply going by numbers doesn't hack it, because if the Senate were apportioned like the House liberal enclaves like CA and NY would have 12 and 7 sentators a piece. Lieberman, representing a state with .58% of the nation's population, would have half a vote; Ben Nelson would have a quarter. According to the calculation I did during the health care debate, under a properly apportioned Senate the Democrats could have lose all the problem Senators -- Lieberman, Nelson, Landrieu, and Lincoln -- and STILL beat *a filibuster* set at 60. Get rid of the filibuster, too, and you've really moved things to the Left.

The Senate is a very big problem.
posted by gerryblog at 10:02 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you quote?

But the fact remains; the 2008 election was not a "game change" after all. For genuine change of the kind Obama promised and so many progressives imagined, we need to elect politicians willing to challenge the outdated rules of the Senate; willing to fight for publicly financed elections and, in the absence of that, against the Supreme Court's insistence on giving corporations the same free speech rights as individuals. We must work to transform our culture so that once again the idea of the public good becomes ennobled and the belief that it makes no difference which side you're on—that of citizens or that of corporate profits—concerns the people who craft legislation. We need smarter organizations that pressure politicians as well as pundits and reporters, not necessarily to see things our way, but to hold true to the ideals they profess to represent in the first place.


so, we should change the rules so that political minorities can't stall/block political majorities. make elections entirely government paid for, make a unversal culture with no opposing sides where everyone believes in working for the public good.... and then the smart people can figure out what needs to be done and do it.

I can't even begin to imagine what time in U.S. history where "the idea of the public good becomes ennobled and the belief that it makes no difference which side you're on" was an operating principle. I get the sense that Alterman has a hard-on for Kennedy but who knows...

So you're saying power can't be shaken at all? Would the elections still merely certify the powerful groups if they were publicly financed? If the market was better regulated, the media was less commercial and corporations hadn't been awarded legal personhood?

No, power is built by gutting what's left of the social safety net after 30 years of deindustrialization and looking at the social disintegration that followed then telling everyone that if women would just start wearing long dresses, get in the kitchen, and let their husband control their genitals then we could go back to a halcyon age when men had jobs, children were good, and the brown people lived somewhere else.

That is, it's about addressing a social problem: people living in despair because economically they have no purpose in our society and providing a solution.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Supplanting government and capitalist schemes starts with making enough friends in your community and wearing a suit long enough for you and your friends to get elected to the school board: the Christian right knows this.

If you are running for office, your goal is to replace someone else's government scheme with yours. This is not a reasonable strategy for those who want to abolish all government schemes.

Which elected office did Martin Luther King, Jr. hold?
posted by twirlip at 10:18 AM on July 13, 2010


(2) Simply going by numbers doesn't hack it, because if the Senate were apportioned like the House liberal enclaves like CA and NY would have 12 and 7 sentators a piece.

Huh? that's what I did. Assumed each state would have as many Senators as it has Representatives. Then assign all, or half, or none of the seats to Democrats, depending on their senate delegation.

It's pure happenstance that right now the mild over-representation of Republicans in the Senate happens to push the Senate over a cloture threshold. A fully apportioned Senate would just mean that while Nelson, Lincoln, Lieberman, and Landrieu became far less relevant, you'd be worrying about Pryor and Webb and Bayh and Baucus instead, who would be virtually certain to become much more demanding as they became more pivotal.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 AM on July 13, 2010


The funny thing for me, is that Clinton was really not all that different from Obama in one respect: thinking that you can buy off the rabid right by enacting some of their agenda hoping they'll do some kind of quid pro quo in return. It never, ever works. That's how we got Clinton's "welfare reform", the DOMA, DADT and so on. The Repubs just swallow it whole without even batting an eye and bey for more, more, more with no let up in the least. It buys you nothing - right-wing Clinton hatred anyone? What it does is two things - on the one hand it legitimizes the right wing agenda and also increases their appetite for further depredations, shifting the entire discourse and political parameters to the right, and on the other hand does real damage to Democratic constituents and agenda (welfare reform, DOMA, DADT etc.).

The Democrats need to understand that going to battle with only carrots, is a recipe for being sliced to death. You need to go into battle with sticks as well. You don't need to match the Republican tactics - the Repubs have the opposite problem - all they have are sticks. The unfortunate reality for the Democrats is that in a battle of only carrots against only sticks, the sticks will win every time. But the combo of both carrots and sticks will win against only sticks. The Demos already have the carrots, what they need now are sticks.

The Demos need to start beating up on Repubs, attacking them actively, not defensively when the Repubs advocate stupid or unpopular positions. The problem has been that the Demos rarely seem to call out the Republicans who are then free to fling out any old stuff with no fear of consequences or being called on it. That breeds irresponsibility on the part of the right, and cowardice on the part of the left. You must articulate an agenda, and attack and challenge the right. FDR didn't shrink from right-wing hatred, he welcomed it.

When the Democrats finally move left, no doubt initially they'll pay a political price for an election cycle or two. But that is a price worth paying to differentiate themselves from the Republicans lite, a price worth paying to move the political parameters to the left (or closer to the old center). Get up and be proud of what you stand for instead of hiding and hoping you'll smuggle your agenda as Republican lite. Nobody likes weakness, fear and uncertainty of conviction in a politician or a political party. The Republicans understand this. Time for the Democrats to get the memo.
posted by VikingSword at 10:33 AM on July 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Most anarchists I've met have been completely absorbed with analyzing the past, and in particular what amount to the historical failures of anarchism as a social/political movement. Which is funny for a movement that is nominally about the future. I find them to be almost completely disengaged from the actual politics of this country.
The English anarchist Colin Ward [PDF with some of his writing], who died earlier this year, was the antithesis of this - his work consisted of pointing out the extent to which much of the way we live is already based on mutualist free negotiation, a celebration of the bottom-up activity of the common people (the post-war squatter's movement, allotments, friendly societies and so on) and a constant focus on the practical in the here-and-now.
It's been interesting being an advocate for anarchism in social movements here in China where (oversimplifying vastly for brevity) despite everything you don't have a hard sell on the possibility and desirability of communism as you do in the West, the main stumbling block being instead a belief in the necessity of a strong authoritarian state to avoid chaos such as that seen in the warlord era.
posted by Abiezer at 11:10 AM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you are running for office, your goal is to replace someone else's government scheme with yours. This is not a reasonable strategy for those who want to abolish all government schemes.

twirlip, meet Grover Norquist. The 'unreasonable strategy' here is one that's been used, consciously, over the last quarter century or so by the US Right.
posted by jtron at 11:30 AM on July 13, 2010


Norquist and his ilk want to minimize government regulation of business; few of them (and very few folks on the US Right as a whole) want to abolish government altogether. There is a difference.
posted by twirlip at 12:04 PM on July 13, 2010


It's just that it's only people, like you, on the Christian Right, that take a structural view of the problems the US faces. Which is scary.

While I appreciate the rest of your post, ennui.bz, I'd object to your characterization of me as belonging to the "Christian Right."

I'm a Christian, it's true, but I want no truck with the Religious Right. They give me the screaming heebie-jeebies. As does the Religious Left, for that matter. Any group which believes that the instantiation of the Gospel requires political action of one sort or another is, in my book, almost certainly doing it wrong.

And The Straightener, I shall read your links with interest. Hadn't been aware of that perspective before. Again, I've been engaged in serious discussions of social policy in academic settings before, and the general consensus was generally that the Clinton reforms fixed real problems even if they didn't do anything to fix the problem of poverty.
posted by valkyryn at 12:45 PM on July 13, 2010


The Demos need to start beating up on Repubs, attacking them actively, not defensively when the Repubs advocate stupid or unpopular positions. The problem has been that the Demos rarely seem to call out the Republicans who are then free to fling out any old stuff with no fear of consequences or being called on it.

While this is true, I think it has something to do with the fact that there's more than just political ideology going on here. The Democrat's vision for what society ought to look like, at least the way it's popularly expressed and understood, is a highly-educated, urban, liberal one. Well, much of the country--and most of its land area--doesn't answer to any of those descriptors and their worldviews are fundamentally different as a result. While it's true that the left believes, in good faith, that its vision would be good for the proles, the proles don't want it. So attacking the Republicans because the Republicans are championing the values that most Americans identify with isn't going to work in the same way that the Republicans attacking the Democrats for being liberal is going to. No, the Democrats need a subtle, sophisticated argument for their position. Good luck with that.

I'm not saying that it's fair or a good thing, just pointing out that that seems to be the way it is.

FDR didn't shrink from right-wing hatred, he welcomed it.

The comparison is apt but not exactly on all fours. When FDR resisted the right wing he could summon up the specter of international fascism, which was actually a organized political party in America for a few minutes there. I mean, Mussolini regularly sounded off about the birth rate of African-Americans. Americans were concerned about both international fascism and international communism, but international fascism always had more play. So whereas the right wing in FDR's day caused, you know, World War II, contemporary Democrats have no such luxury.
posted by valkyryn at 12:58 PM on July 13, 2010


And The Straightener, I shall read your links with interest. Hadn't been aware of that perspective before. Again, I've been engaged in serious discussions of social policy in academic settings before...

No, apparently you weren't, because you're unfamiliar with all the major voices on one side of the discussion and haven't demonstrated any familiarity with the issue more broadly, at all.

Valkyryn, you have a bad habit of moderating certain threads you participate in, peppering them with posts that have an almost hostile authoratative tone that is often not supported by a nuanced understanding of the issues at hand. You should take a look at that, because it's aggravating, and in this case your bluster was entirely wrong, uninformed and almost went unchallenged.
posted by The Straightener at 1:12 PM on July 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Mmmm... anarchy. No protections, no regulations, fully free market, fear among the masses and absolute power within the hands of those already entrenched in economically powerful positions.

He said "anarchist," not "Republican."


What twirlip said. Way to confuse libertarian socialism with Libertarian capitalist "I want I want" 5-year-old stupidity. Free men make free markets, not the other way around.

American anarchism is sadly, currently based on collegiate non-praxis philosophizing and macho posturing. What should be happening is we should be building sustainable independent, non-hierarchical social programs to meet people's needs to supplant government and capitalist schemes. Sadly, that is too much work and effort for the drop-outs failures that make up American anarchism.

That is why the only bits of American anarchism I'm at all interested in are things like the IWW and Food Not Bombs and other initiatives that work to help people immediately, and why I'm always sad that I'm not the sort of pro-active, community-minded person who can just go out and help people myself, but rather AM that armchair-philosopher sort. But I don't go to protests and don't post screeds on websites fuming about how right I am, I just tend to mention it occasionally in the hopes that articulate people will get a chance to think about it at all (since, in my experience, it's basically never brought up in contexts of social justice or political philosophy). And also it helps to clear up the violently gross misconceptions about what most anarchists actually believe (as evidenced by my first quote).

Being focused on creating an independent just and perfect society leaves you totally disengaged from the one you live in. Supplanting government and capitalist schemes starts with making enough friends in your community and wearing a suit long enough for you and your friends to get elected to the school board: the Christian right knows this.

So... we should all be as morally scrupulous as the Christian right? Anarchism, at its very theoretical heart, is about non-coercion. It is about non-coercion more than it is about anti-capitalism, or anti-statism, or communism or syndicalism or anything else. Anarchism is about forming a non-coercive society where people can live with each other by common consent. Governments, by definition, cannot be non-coercive, and the kinds of markets that exist now cannot either, by virtue of the fact that they need a trapped population of workers who have almost no survival options save to work in that market. And being an "entrepreneur" and "your own boss" is the same as "running for office to destroy government". You can't stop the system when all of a sudden you depend entirely on its ideology for your survival.

As for being disengaged from "our society," I suspect that there is a very middle-class, very Anglo mentality behind that comment. Going into cities to help homeless people, going into ghettos to work with free clinics and women's shelters and food banks, going into suburbs to help drug addicts and poor single parents and the like; these are all things that individuals can do with a bit of organization and effort, and all of them engage with our society in ways that require no corporations or government agencies or 501(c)(3) statuseseses (well, except in so far as not getting arrested and harassed by the government goes; can't help the downtrodden if you're being trodden on yourself, from a purely practical standpoint). If "our society" you mean the people on the news, then you have a long, long way to go down the economic ladder before you hit the vast majority of US citizens.

Sorry for the kind of long-winded post I said I try not to make, but some of this stuff needed being said. (And notice that I didn't mention the past not even once.)
posted by cthuljew at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


fuq: and the article from the other day about how conservatives largely will not listen to true, factual information, I'm scared not to vote for Obama this coming 2012.

Assuming you're talking about this article (I don't know which article you're referring to otherwise), I find it pretty interesting that your takeaway from it was 'Conservatives will not listen to facts.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:21 PM on July 13, 2010


(2) Simply going by numbers doesn't hack it, because if the Senate were apportioned like the House liberal enclaves like CA and NY would have 12 and 7 sentators a piece.

Huh? that's what I did. Assumed each state would have as many Senators as it has Representatives. Then assign all, or half, or none of the seats to Democrats, depending on their senate delegation.


The conversation has moved past this, but just to clarify: not all Democrats are liberals. If the Senate had proportional representation there would be significantly more *liberals* in the body, as well as somewhat more Democrats.
posted by gerryblog at 2:21 PM on July 13, 2010


People still think there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans? Really? Ever heard of divide and conquer? No? I said it up thread but no one paid any attention. GLOBALISTS ARE RUNNING THE SHOW. DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS, LIBERALS, PROGRESSIVES, CONSERVATIVES, LIBERTARIANS, ECT. ARE ALL TERMS/IDENTITIES THAT ARE CREATED BY THE MEDIA/POWER STRUCTURE TO KEEP US AT EACH OTHERS THROATS WHILE THEY ROB US BLIND AND POLLUTE OUR LAND. OBAMA IS A GLOBALIST. G-DUB IS A GLOBALIST. BILL CLINTON IS A GLOBALIST. So in closing...WAKE THE FUCK UP PEOPLE!!!!!!!

Now in theory I agree with the globalist program and believe that it is a necessary one if we are to evolve into a Type I civilization. Unfortunately the globalist program as it exists today is much to authoritarian for my tastes.

In closing, Eric Alterman is a fucking tool.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2010


WAKE THE FUCK UP PEOPLE!!!!!!! SHEEPLE!!!!!

FTFY?
posted by mek at 5:14 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


FTFY?

Thank you. You're the helpful one aren't you mek. :)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:20 PM on July 13, 2010


I think those moon globes are neat. Do they make 'em in glass?
posted by box at 5:54 PM on July 13, 2010


I think those moon globes are neat. Do they make 'em in glass?

I personally like the ones you can shake up and it looks like its snowing. You know like in Mary Poppins where that one dude shakes up the globe and they see that one homeless woman feeding the birds for tuppins and then they go to the bank and the same dude is playing the banker and he tries to take the tuppins and then the one kid takes his tuppins back and causes a run on the bank. Good times.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:35 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I forget who asked about what I mean when I say I'm am anarchist. There are many different forms of anarchism, and many ways to express some form of 'anarchism.' When I say "anarch*" I mean it to mean the absence of a ruler. I came into considering myself an anarchist from existentialist philosophy first but I've also got a visceral reaction to actions of most people who come into power.
Whoever is effected by a decision should be active in the decision-making; no one should be in charge of a group. I believe in, what one of my colleagues put in a more eloquent way "group-leadership, not a leader-centric group." This condition can be achieved in many different ways, with varying levels of success. I've been in some situations where it has worked well for a long period of time, I've also seen my ideas crash and burn in practice, and most of the other spots in between failure and success. Fortunately, my anarchism also extends to not accepting a final authority and continued questioning so I try to learn from things that have happened, and from science. Sometimes I think I am not a very good anarchist, but I do run a few programs that I think are highly effective.

I really like what cthuljew said. To analyse my anarchism in terms of Food Not Bombs, the program is at it's best when it is a social feeding for both the anarchists that cook it and also whosoever joins them, a FNBs that I disapprove of is one in which the cookers don't eat and a social hierarchy is reinforced when the cookers treat the program as a homeless-person-feeding-program which creates a hierarchy of needers/providers. In case you are wondering, I'm going to a school of social work in order to further my ideological goals. As an anarchist, I'm willing to work with anyone regardless of what they do or their social standing so long as they act in good faith toward common goals, so I will work within the American political establishment (that's what most people mean when they say "the system") when it functions in a way that is beneficial to people (like the NYC Park Department yay!) and oppose it when it is largely harmful (the War of Drugs).

In my opinion, the most important part of being an anarchist is cleaning up after oneself. People who make messes they won't or can't clean up is why we ended up with the police and exploitive labor! Don't be like that!

P.S. Wearing black is for the winter, this summer, let's spice things up with some light blues and reds! Is the spring camo-print craze over or will blue and pink urban camo-print bring about a perfect anarchist utopia?
posted by fuq at 7:49 PM on July 13, 2010


Utopian idealists' unreasonable expectations unmet. Whining apathy ensues. Right wing takes over again.

Film at 11.

Sigh. The left never grows up.
Yeah, because beliving that people shouldn't be held without trial or being charged with a crime, beliving that we should have universal healthcare, or be mandated to buy private insurance from for-profit companies, or preventing global warming, those things are utopian and we just need to "grow up" and agree with the center right on everything.
Yes. This is why I get annoyed with people complaining about Obama, because despite all his faults, he's the best that America will see for a while.
The democrats crushed it in the '06 and '08 congressional elections, and Obama came into power with extremely high positive ratings. Democrats controlled all three houses of government. Yeah, bush left a mess, but that doesn't mean that the democrats aren't responsible for cleaning it up. That's how government works. They've pretty much failed and if the country falls back into the hands of the republicans, a lot of that will have been their fault.

The democrats have hardly done anything, given the scale of the problems, to boost the economy, the Stimulus was way to small. And while HCR is great, it doesn't fully phase in until 2014, which means voters won't really be able to appreciate the benefits. Non-denial for pre-existing conditions doesn't start until September.

Basically, Obama and the democrats aren't actually fighting for anything, or at least not since HCR. They've given up, and they seem worn out and beat down. It's embarrassing.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never want to be told the way The Straightener done told it. But if it ever comes, I'll know I had it coming.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:46 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I said it up thread but no one paid any attention.

'Cause we mistook you for Robert Anton Wilson and we thought you were dead already.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:18 AM on July 14, 2010


"'Cause we mistook you for Robert Anton Wilson and we thought you were dead already."

I wasn't aware that globalism was a conspiracy theory. I was under the impression that it was one of the defining traits of our time. But what do I know.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:58 AM on July 14, 2010


But what do I know.

Dunno. What do you know?

I wasn't aware that globalism was a conspiracy theory.

Sort of depends on exactly what you mean by "globalism," doesn't it?
posted by octobersurprise at 10:50 AM on July 14, 2010


Sort of depends on exactly what you mean by "globalism," doesn't it?

Either you're trying to imply I'm a conspiracy theorist or you are really daft.

http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=2392
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:07 PM on July 14, 2010




Either you're trying to imply I'm a conspiracy theorist or you are really daft.

Well, the latter is certainly a possibility, I concede; as for the former, I don't know if you're a conspiracy theorist or not, but I can say you do a pretty good impression of one with the "WAKE THE FUCK UP, SHEEPLE PEOPLE!!" business.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:32 PM on July 14, 2010


At any rate, your rhetorical style could use a little work if you intend to communicate in a serious manner.
posted by mek at 2:50 PM on July 14, 2010


I just find the whole republican/democrat conservative/liberal padagrim very tiring and not really that helpful in the long run. I guess at this point in my life I kinda have to go with Carlin's take on the whole mess.

but I can say you do a pretty good impression of one...

WTC 7 WASN'T HIT BY AN AIRPLANE AND IT STILL COLLAPSED INTO ITS OWN FOOTPRINT!!!!!!!!!
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:00 PM on July 14, 2010


The article was a good, sober check on the unrealistic expectations and the real systeming problems that face good progressive policy. I'm glad it got posted.
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 PM on July 14, 2010


I just find the whole republican/democrat conservative/liberal padagrim very tiring and not really that helpful in the long run.

Is a "padagrim" a particularly pissy partisan padawan? Tiring indeed. Jedis are supposed to be above mere local politics.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:08 AM on July 15, 2010


[politicians] are not to be trusted. -General Obi Wan Kenobi

*par·a·digm oops :(
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:15 PM on July 16, 2010


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