Curtailing Inequality and Saving Democracy
January 22, 2019 8:54 PM   Subscribe

The Young Left's Anti-Capitalist Manifesto - "Its goal is to remake our economic system — and the Democratic Party."

The Rise of the American Left - "The 2016 breakthrough of Bernie Sanders – and the more recent success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – has put the American left in its strongest position for decades. Join a panel of American socialists to discuss the potential of this growing movement, what demands it should be making, and the obstacles it faces in making socialism mainstream in America."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Takes the Democrats Back to the Future: An Interview with the Historian Rick Perlstein - "Perlstein, an expert on the postwar rise of the American right, talks about the House's leftist freshmen and the Democratic Party coming to terms with its power."

'Extremists' like Warren and Ocasio-Cortez are actually closer to what most Americans want - "Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are actually closer to the mainstream of what Americans want from their government."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Tax Hike Idea Is Not About Soaking the Rich - "From the 1930s to the 1980s, the United States came as close as any democratic country ever did to imposing a legal maximum income. The inequality of pretax income shrunk dramatically."

The Lesson of Wealthy Americans' Rich History of Dodging Super High Income Tax Rates - "The main lesson is not that confiscatory tax rates are a doomed idea guaranteed to produce little but accounting contortions (and, in fact, the very, very rich did pay substantially more of their income to the IRS than they do now). Rather, it's that in order to make high taxes work, the government needs to plug loopholes that let high earners worm their way around them."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal demands the courage of the Roosevelt era - "To transform the economy, Democrats must first confront how money works." (previously)
Put simply, taxpayers are the collateral that guarantee the safety and value of government bonds... Central bankers only exercise the power to generate new credit because of the public collateral – citizens’ tax revenues – that back the central bank and the currency they create. This collateral is not a fixed, physical asset. It is made up of citizens’ regular tax revenues. The strength of a nation’s currency and its central bank is dependent on the number of citizens paying into its tax-collection system. In turn, this conditions the strength of a nation’s currency. The stronger the nation’s currency, the more valuable its bonds as collateral, and the more power central bankers possess to create new credit.
By Popular Demand: What Is "Modern Monetary Theory"? - "In most ways, Modern Monetary Theory—Functional Finance—is just macroeconomic common sense:"[1,2]
  • We do not like high unemployment.
  • We do not like excessive inflation.
  • Thus the government should make it its first priority to use its tools of economic management so that we do not experience either.
  • And maybe the government needs to be a little bit clever in how it uses fiscal and when and how it uses monetary policy to keep the task of financing the national debt from becoming an undue or even an unsustainable burden.
Debt? What debt? At $22 trillion, here's the argument the national debt doesn't matter - "Stephanie Kelton, Sanders' economist in 2016, a professor at Stony Brook University, and a proselytizer for this view toward currencies and national economies, argues that the government essentially prints money each time it authorizes new unpaid for programs and that it hasn't hurt the economy by causing runaway inflation."[3,4]

America has never worried about financing its priorities - "Modern monetary theory is neither Marxist*, nor bullshit... *Modern monetary theory has the least Marxist origin story of any concept in the history of human thought. According to Warren Mosler, credited with inventing it, the idea came 'after spending an hour in the steam room with Don Rumsfeld at the Racquet Club in Chicago.' "[5]

Steven Pearlstein's 'Can American Capitalism Survive?' - "His first point is that markets don't always produce optimal outcomes... His second point is that wages don't always equal productivity... His third point is that we don't have the kind of equal opportunity enshrined in our founding documents and in our continuing belief in meritocracy... His final point is that fear of modest redistribution, on the grounds that it will undermine economic growth, is misplaced."[6,7]

Central Planning As Overfitting - "In social affairs, it is often optimal to privilege simplicity over optimality. But that's not always simple to do."[8,9]

The New Challenges of the 21st Century - "Yuval Noah Harari discusses the three biggest historic achievements of humanity and the three biggest challenges facing us in the 21st century."[10,11,12,13]

Reasons For Optimism - "What gives people reasons for optimism?"[14]

The Material Power of Ideas and Knowledge - "We're living in a good intellectual moment for the left, despite, and perhaps in part because of, the shitty material conditions."
More specifically: the new American left is specifically associated with ideas such as Abolish ICE, the Green New Deal, and a 70% tax for the super rich. But what is notable about these ideas is not that they are wonkish and programmatic. They aren’t intended to provide policy makers with a detailed list of all the things that need to be done to accomplish a specific set of generally desirable objectives. Instead, they have been crafted (I suspect pretty deliberately, though as always with these things, not as part of a grand master plan but as strategies that might or might not work) to build coalitions.
Green New Deal - "I'm going to put up my own version, without claiming that it is the One True GND... the most important demand should be a reduction in working hours, with no offsetting change in wages. That amounts to taking the benefits of increased productivity, and progressive redistribution, in the form of increased leisure rather than increased consumption. It goes along with research findings suggesting that experiences, rather than material goods, are a better source of lasting happiness. To make the argument work completely, we need the further proviso that experiences arising from participation in family and community activities are more genuine than those offered by commercial providers such as tourism operators."

Socialist utopia 2050 - "From four-day weeks to unconditional basic income to free education, it's possible to imagine a future where society's focus has moved from consumption to quality of life... What I haven't seen, interestingly, is any suggestion that continuing expansion of financialised capitalism (aka neoliberalism) would produce a better outcome."
posted by kliuless (93 comments total) 127 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Young." a fascinating choice of descriptor; but appropriate, I suppose--politics is a numbers game. Capitalism's total failure in 2008 has been festering for more than ten years, around the time that a large portion of USians began to vote. Here's hoping they can see past their age--I think they can, and are, but I hate that the issue is frought with ageism everywhere.

[Krugman] continued, name checking his fellow Nobel laureate, “If you’re having meetings in which Joe Stiglitz and I are the farthest left voices, that’s a limiting spectrum and it would be helpful if there were people beyond.”

Draft Robert Hahnel? It's like he's not even there...
posted by eustatic at 10:02 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


“I want the left to really think seriously about the fact that the core of our strategy right now is if we endorse the right person, they will owe us,” McElwee told me. The left, he said, should take a page out of big businesses’ book and not care what candidate is ultimately chosen. “Knowing what the fuck you’re talking about, having the right contacts with the right staffers who you need to call to make sure the right amendment is passed at the right time —
posted by eustatic at 10:10 PM on January 22 [16 favorites]


This is the post I wanted forever. Thank you.
posted by saysthis at 10:24 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Yes yes yes yes yes. Actual hope. AOC's generation is going to eat this system alive, and it can't come soon enough.
posted by odinsdream at 10:26 PM on January 22 [26 favorites]


I wish the circumstances were less dire, obviously, but I feel a hell a lot better about the near future of the left in America today than I did last time around, that's for sure, when it seemed like most of the Democratic party was stuck in the late 1980's.

I mean, it's just one office, yes, but there are already eight candidates announced for President in 2020, with probably a dozen more to come, and while I already have favorites, I'm also just fine with about half of them. And the next generation (AOC et al) looks even stronger.

With the single exception of that one senator from Illinois... and that was just one guy... I don't remember ever feeling that the party's up-and-comers were this strong before.
posted by rokusan at 10:33 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


it can't come soon enough

Brexit and Trump-onomics (whatever the fuck that is, it's damaging) and other things are going to crash everyone's lives long before this upcoming generation can do anything, and no matter what the final rebuilt outcome is, the interim is going to TOTALLY FUCKING SUCK.

And I haven't even gotten into global warming and its effects yet.

#NotAnOptimist
posted by hippybear at 10:34 PM on January 22 [26 favorites]


I say this, will all the egoism and gloating it implies - I missed the bar night described in the first article cause I was at an organizational meeting for a unionization effort. I didn’t imagine spending my 30s reliving the 1930s but here we are, and we’re gonna win.
posted by The Whelk at 10:43 PM on January 22 [32 favorites]


Clare Malone is 538’s secret weapon.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:49 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


the interim is going to TOTALLY FUCKING SUCK.
Yes, but there's that old cliche that it's gotta get bad before it gets better, and Trump's ultimate service to this country may be tearing so much down that we can rebuild better - stronger (maybe that intro to 6MillionDollarMan is stuck in my brain too much), and will win over more people to the Economic Left and weaken their opposition to the Equality/Humanity Left.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:38 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Some good comrades cleaning up roads in suburban Philadelphia!

Use all the fingers on your hand, all the instruments in your orchestra.
posted by The Whelk at 11:43 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


#NotAnOptimist

What’s your point? All our problems are insurmountable, so give up?

I’ve had it with predictions of doom. If you don’t want to help, fine, but don’t shit on the people who are putting in their time and energy to improve things. Nobody is expecting a miracle, but it says nothing to just respond to every positive thing with “yeah well it’s not going to help.”
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:22 AM on January 23 [53 favorites]


Like noone is saying it’s not bad or it’ll be easy It’s like really very bad and getting worse , but all we have is each other. No one else is coming to save us. We must be there for each other and build solidarity and the socialist project for we are all in this together. Community and the cooperative commonwealth, no war but class war, that a new world is possible.

Otherwise it’d hard to get out of bed in the morning.
posted by The Whelk at 12:35 AM on January 23 [20 favorites]


Actual hope. AOC's generation is going to eat this system alive, and it can't come soon enough.

I'm pretty sure that's been said of every generation.
posted by killdevil at 12:45 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


AOC's ideas have reached "Davos man"
posted by infini at 1:10 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]






I'm pretty sure that's been said of every generation.

I mean they’re usually called whiny entitled disaffected slackers who refuse to shape up but it may be different when you’re staring down a civilizational deadline.
posted by The Whelk at 1:27 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


One of the most refreshing and hopeful common themes throughout these people and projects and organizations (I haven't read everything, of course), is that they are done with lying in all of its forms.

Corporations, politicians, churches, everything, is going to be evaluated in real time, instantly, for how honest they are, because every person in the US who is younger than 35 has seen nothing but lies from those organizations/institutions. And they've become incredibly good at calling out lies. Watch AOC gleefully call out bullshit, for example, every time she's attacked. She knows what they're up to.

Zero tolerance on anything that's not truth, that's a core value in the New Left. "Spin," "PR," and "optics" are automatically suspect by a cohort of people who are just not going to put up with it, at all.

Bullshit is an abusive tool of oppression. Kill it.
posted by yesster at 1:48 AM on January 23 [63 favorites]


Anyway, left out sometimes is the BSA, Black Socialists of America (thier amazing resource guide) and thier talks on reform Vs refevolution Community land trusts , In Jackson we fight for dual power . Noam Chompsky endorsement
posted by The Whelk at 1:49 AM on January 23 [15 favorites]


UFrom the 538 article:
Much of the Democratic Party’s present identity crisis has its roots in the worldwide crash of financial markets late in George W. Bush’s presidency and at the beginning of Barack Obama’s term of office. Complicated financial products crumpled the U.S. housing market, and widespread unemployment, foreclosures and homelessness followed. While banks and investment firms failed, none of their heads were jailed for wrongdoing.
I think about this a lot. I know a lot of people in banking, several who worked for Lehman Brothers and lost significant savings. Whether you believe in capitalism or not, letting those who took stupid risks with people’s homes and money off the hook completely, and letting them continue to profit while others lost their homes, lost jobs, and lost retirement funds, is wrong. There was a serious injustice to the bailouts, and that has not been rectified. It’s hard to say the system is working at this point.

Yesterday there was a headline everywhere about how AOC said it was immoral to be a billionaire. I think it was supposed to be this crazy radical statement - given that Fox News covered it extensively - but I think a lot of people agree. How does anyone believe Jeff Bezos “earned” that amount of money? It’s nice that Buffet and Gates are philanthropists, but how do they deserve to decide how billions of dollars are spent when children in this country are hungry? Change is overdue.
posted by rainydayfilms at 3:19 AM on January 23 [58 favorites]


Yesterday there was a headline everywhere about how AOC said it was immoral to be a billionaire. I think it was supposed to be this crazy radical statement - given that Fox News covered it extensively - but I think a lot of people agree.

I heard about this a couple of years ago, and honestly the arguments for it are pretty convincing. There's an upper limit to how much something can cost before it's just pointless - think about those "world's most expensive burgers" that cross the news occasionally where most of the expense is in gold foil and other things to run up the price. So how much can that be when you cross the line from 'well-deserved fruits of your labour' and into 'pointless extravagance to blow your money'? It's really somewhere in the low millions - 10 million is definitely enough to have all of your needs met without compromise or fear, I'd argue probably a little less.

So what are the people getting paid more than that getting paid for? Are they getting paid for the work they do? It seems unlikely. Take someone working at minimum wage, which in the US is $7.25. I've worked at minimum wage, and let's be honest, there's often a lot of standing around not really doing anything, so let's say someone really putting their back into it and working hard all hour is doing three times the effort of the least effective person on minimum wage. Actually let's double that, just to be unrealistically generous, and say these CEOs are working six times as hard as their minimum wage employees. But I'm an IT professional, and I have skills that most people don't have, so my time is more valuable because it's rarer to find people with my skillset. Same with a CEO. Let's put a ballpark figure on that kind of expertise and say that, hour per hour, a CEO's time is ten times more valuable than someone untrained, which is what people in IT have observed can be the difference between a mediocre employee and a top-flight one. Let's double that figure too. So a CEO's time, if they work super hard and they're super capable, would be worth 120 times as much as someone on minimum wage, which is $7.25 * 120 * 2087 hours per year = a salary of $1,815,690 per year, before tax.

Anyone paid more than that is, very clearly, not being paid for the work they do. (You might well say that this figure should be a lot lower! I did inflate our multipliers, after all.) Anyone getting paid more than that, therefore, is getting money they don't deserve, that should have gone to something - and therefore, someone - else. And that's exactly what we see, with Jeff Bezos ripping off his workers, Walmart ripping off the government, and Facebook ripping off its users.
posted by Merus at 3:51 AM on January 23 [22 favorites]


Yes, that's the angle: it's the contrast between conditions at the top and bottom of the wealth distribution that's the problem, not the existence of a distribution itself.

The narrative around wealth has been distorted, and this is most evident in stories in which a "self-made man" is supposed to be a serious, real sort of creature. These fictions gain plausibility only by ignoring the contribution to individual wealth from public goods: the consumer and financial markets, the physical infrastructure of transportation, the knowledge and skills of workers, and the legal and financial systems without which things like "wealth" and "money" have no value whatsoever. All individual wealth is dependent upon the accumulated store of human knowledge and achievement. Redistribution of that wealth is, in a most fundamental sense, a re-centering of the idea that wealth itself is first and foremost a public good.

Each of us borrows from that public good continuously, over the course of a lifetime. Progressive taxation is not confiscatory, nor punitive. It is a repayment of that debt.
posted by yesster at 4:02 AM on January 23 [14 favorites]


(Before anyone says anything about how hard minimum wage workers actually work, I know. It's a bit of a rhetorical flourish - if we admitted how hard people on minimum wage actually work, that maximum wage would be even further away from the disgusting amounts some people pull in.)
posted by Merus at 4:04 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


"Actual hope. AOC's generation is going to eat this system alive, and it can't come soon enough.

I'm pretty sure that's been said of every generation."


At this point it's a cliche to say this, but I'm pretty confident no one thought this of Gen-X (and we certainly didn't anoint ourselves "saviors").
posted by oddman at 4:19 AM on January 23 [25 favorites]


White Gen-X was raised by White Boomers in the land of milk and honey created by the New Deal. We were the ones who had it better than everyone else before (or since), and from our POV there was nothing really wrong until the mortgage crash. Even then, lulled by a continuing false sense of security by Boomer politicians that everything would be alright, there, there, we forgot to seize the means of production, instead just continuing to explore all the fascinating diversions of capitalism, like building 4000sf McMansions because they were better than the 1200sf bungalows we grew up in. Kind of embarrassing, really.

If you were a PoC Gen-Xer, I expect you knew shit was sliding sideways a lot earlier.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:48 AM on January 23 [16 favorites]


At this point it's a cliche to say this, but I'm pretty confident no one thought this of Gen-X (and we certainly didn't anoint ourselves "saviors").

This is what I think of when I think of people saying that some block of people are the saviours who are going to finally fix the world: a song, that I'm pretty sure was earnest, from thirty years ago with the same rhetoric. They thought they were saving the world, back in the 80s.
posted by Merus at 4:52 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Actual hope. AOC's generation is going to eat this system alive, and it can't come soon enough

Unfortunately there's two generations in the way, and they both came to power fighting for the Clintonian pro capital agenda.
posted by dis_integration at 4:57 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


White Gen-X was raised by White Boomers in the land of milk and honey created by the New Deal. We were the ones who had it better than everyone else before (or since),

You, sir, have had a very different life experience than I have had as a GenXer. I suppose for the more affluent (noting that "white" does not equal "affluent"), swings of the economy are never as noticeable; I am distinctly worse off than my Boomer parents and have been, comparing age-for-age stability and finances since then, since we graduated into a recession. So I'm a white GenXer, but not an affluent one, and the only people in my family to this day who have ever owned homes owe that to the GI Bill. No one in my generation does.

At this point it's a cliche to say this, but I'm pretty confident no one thought this of Gen-X (and we certainly didn't anoint ourselves "saviors").

We're no good at our own PR (we don't believe in it). My professional and activist experience has demonstrated to me that GenXers are disproportionately the most competent, wisest and most judicious leaders, able to move projects forward with pragmatism, inclusion and reconciliation of perspectives: the "middle child" way. Our main issue is, and always has been, that our numbers are inconsequential. Our generation is 10-20 million people smaller than Boomers, Milennials or Z - we're trapped between bloated, enormous groups who, between capitalism, marketing, and media, command the attention. There's no airtime for us, and as a result we become political and cultural roadkill.

Still, I'm happy to note that a lot of the politicians being held up as "young" are actually Gen X. Even Kamala Harris is a year older than what's normally defined within the X boundaries.
posted by Miko at 5:03 AM on January 23 [52 favorites]


Even from the article: Ayanna Pressley, GenX (1974); Rashida Taib, GenX (1976)
posted by Miko at 5:10 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


100% agree that being a billionaire is immoral -- and more to the point, it's anti-social. I think that to protect society there should be a 100% tax rate once you go over earnings/gains of X amount ($1M/yr? Less?) in order to disincentivize people from trying to earn/gain ever larger amounts.

There are greedy schmucks who will then try to funnel everything into/through businesses in order to keep accumulating, which is why we need to get serious about anti-trust and corporate taxation, too.

Damn, now that's got me thinking about the new tax law again. I actually happened to be taking a corporate taxation class right when the bill went through, so we had to do a lot of compare/contrast. Shocking, absolutely shocking.
posted by rue72 at 5:20 AM on January 23 [11 favorites]


my professional and activist experience has demonstrated to me that GenXers are disproportionately the most competent, wisest and most judicious leaders, able to move projects forward with pragmatism, inclusion and reconciliation of perspectives:

bro you're getting high off the boomers supply; two of the most prominent us gen-x politicians are paul ryan and sarah palin

as you noted, gen-x will always be largely irrelevant because we are sandwiched between two larger generations. the best thing we can do is to side with the kids pry liver-spotted hands off the levers of power and feed "third way" politics into the woodchipper out back
posted by entropicamericana at 5:45 AM on January 23 [15 favorites]


Ayanna Pressley, GenX (1974); Rashida Taib, GenX (1976)

John Leavitt (1984) , smiling politely.
posted by The Whelk at 5:48 AM on January 23 [11 favorites]


Yesterday there was a headline everywhere about how AOC said it was immoral to be a billionaire. I think it was supposed to be this crazy radical statement - given that Fox News covered it extensively - but I think a lot of people agree.


Christ, what an asshole, had some opinions on this as well but modern American christians are strangely not so originalist with their texts when it comes to wealth.
posted by srboisvert at 5:56 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


the only question that matters is: how much is enough?

ask it in good faith and insist on an honest answer 👍
posted by MeatLightning at 5:59 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Oh hey I just looked it up snd the first guy I ever did art for officially as a DSAer , khalid kamau, worn big in his race for city coincuik
posted by The Whelk at 6:01 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Although my circle of Gen-X friends and family are all varying degrees of privileged and/or wealthy, I don't know if *anyone* is doing better, financially, than their parents did, and there was a chapter or section in Generation X named "Our Parents Had More," which (my feelings about the book aside - I *hated* it when I read it in 1992) in my experience accurately summed up our collective financial expectations. There are a lot of Boomers retiring where I work, and almost without fail they're talking about their plans to sell their houses, buy cottages and/or a retirement house, travel the world, etc.. I want to make it clear that I'm getting by just fine - better than most, probably - but I am certainly not expecting to be able to retire into this sort of opulent lifestyle, and on bad days I strongly doubt that our society will still exist in anything akin to its current form when I'm scheduled to retire in 20 years.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:35 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


Also, I just looked it up and Douglas Coupland is a (young) Boomer himself, huh? I did not expect that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:37 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


There was a serious injustice to the bailouts, and that has not been rectified.

The Bailouts for the Rich Are Why America Is So Screwed Right Now - "Did they prevent a full-scale collapse? Yes. Was it necessary to do it the way we did? Not at all."

Many refer to Ocasio-Cortez simply as “AOC,” putting the 29-year-old freshman congresswoman alongside LBJ and FDR in the ranks of the politically monogrammed.

and another perhaps, looking back on prior generations to the future :P MLK was a fan of Henry George!
The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available. In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote, in Progress and Poverty:

"The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature, and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves, driven to their task by the lash of a master or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who perform it for their own sake, and not that they may get more to eat or drink, or wear, or display. In a state of society where want is abolished, work of this sort could be enormously increased." [from Book IX: Effects of the Remedy; Chapter 4: Of the changes that would be wrought in social organization and social life]
posted by kliuless at 6:42 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


It's likely the case be that the first half of Gen-X had/has it better than the second half. As a '66 baby whose parents were poor but cusp Boomers who followed the "rules" and did fairly well, I certainly got the messaging (from every quarter) that my path forward was one of even more financial success and security than my parents.

Kids born in the 70s would have been coming of age during the S&L crisis. My first house in the late 80s had a double-digit interest rate ARM. I believe was the first real sign that the systemic strip-mining of the middle classes had begun in earnest.

Nevertheless, the messaging was pretty consistent: if you play your cards right, kid, you'll do better than us. I don't think I ever told that lie to my kids, though. I mostly just wanted them to be happy, fuck how much money they made.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:47 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


What a great collection of links! Thank you for putting this together; looking forward to reading these.
posted by aka burlap at 6:47 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


oh my good christ can we try to step back from the "who had it better, who is secretly at fault, here is some anecdata" generational stuff

It always, *always* leads to the same pointless circuitous back and forth

i mean, i realize that the fpp starts with the phrase "the young left" but i wish it didn't because generational divides are meaningless tripe. people are just people, no cohort is special or anointed, and a billionaire doesn't give a shit how old you are as long as your labor can be leeched out of you
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 7:08 AM on January 23 [43 favorites]


No matter our age/generation, we can all agree that it's time to eat the rich.

(but I suspect you're going to need lots of dipping sauces because they are tough and gamey).

Seriously, though, it's unfair to expect Kids Today to rescue all the rest of us, so I'm assuming my job as Auntie Gen X is to support them, encourage them, translate between them and sympathetic Boomers when needed, and and otherwise (wo)man the barricades along with them.
posted by emjaybee at 7:19 AM on January 23 [24 favorites]


With emphasis, emjaybee. We may not be the poster children of the revolution, but we will print, distribute, staple them up and check for razorblades under the nazi propoganda, etc.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:41 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


White Gen-X was raised by White Boomers in the land of milk and honey created by the New Deal. We were the ones who had it better than everyone else before (or since), and from our POV there was nothing really wrong until the mortgage crash.

This is the kind of overstatement we can't be making because it gives an inaccurate view of history between WWII and 2008. It is very true that the economy was better when white GenXers were young, but I knew many, many peers who were temping, in and out of homelessness, trying to access the welfare benefits that de facto stopped existing in 1996, had no insurance, had no savings, were financially shattered by the cost of a car repair or a doctor's bill, etc. I know peers who grew up on welfare. If you look back at fanzines, activist materials and other small press stuff from the period, you can see those lives documented.

I've been very fortunate - I have a college degree and a pink collar union job and a mortgage on a cheap house in bad condition in a poor neighborhood. I have no car and no children, so my hard-core expenses are low. I am the richest of my friends. I am the one everyone asks for loans or time in the spare room. Believe me, I knew something was wrong long, long before 2008.

It's important to understand how white privilege meant that white people who were struggling were struggling less and drowning less than BIPOC, but it's a mistake to assume that there was no struggling white working class before the mortgage crisis.

At that time, just like now, there were far, far more struggling working class people than middle class people. The differences are that life is harder for everyone and that college degrees and a middle class background are no longer a ticket out. The white middle class is far larger than the BIPOC middle class, and the middle class sets the cultural agenda in this country because we have few strong working class organizations. We live in an intensely class stratified society, white middle class people rarely see material created by anyone who is not white and middle class and for these reasons it is easy for white middle class people to assume that class stratification maps neatly onto race.
posted by Frowner at 7:44 AM on January 23 [20 favorites]


"“You don’t win over these people, you crush them,” McElwee told me of Republicans the first time we met. “I don’t make friends with Republican operatives. I don’t try to reach across the aisle. I think they’re bad people and I don’t want to be associated with them and you’ll never find a picture of me shaking hands with David Frum or something,” he said, referring to George W. Bush’s former speechwriter who is now a staff writer at The Atlantic."

Fuck yes, this has me fired up. Reaching out to republicans is asking for them to grab you by the wrist and yank you so far over to the red side you start to look Russian.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:46 AM on January 23 [50 favorites]


Man, Valentine's day has come early for me, and I've got a crush on all of you! Well except for the "NNNOOOO! It can't be done!" crowd, who, seriously, been listening to the Smiths again?
I posted this one earlier on facebump and I think it can go here too.
posted by evilDoug at 7:46 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


On MMT, as the linked article explains, "Modern Monetary Theory says ... that fiscal policy should play the principal role in this balancing process." That is, instead of the Federal Reserve adjusting the money supply to adjust aggregate demand, Congress and the President will do so through carefully calibrated adjustments to tax and spending law. (That would be the Congress and President that currently cannot agree on a way to keep the government running.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:49 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


The other thing that's interesting is that most of the high profile people in this "new left" are not left-left - they're not politically or economically radical, you'd never say "these people would be at home in, eg, Italy in the seventies".

Now, on the one hand that leads to various twitters dunking on DSA, etc, but on the other it means that these people have a farther left as a backstop. That's what is so exciting to me and makes it seem like things really are moving in this country - if the DSA becomes your center-left, politically realistic option with a widespread backing and a party apparatus instead of being your wild-eyed fringe, it's actually going to be possible to win some real gains. And if they're capable of being pushed from the left, it will be much harder for them to be absorbed into the mess that is mainstream politics. (Which happens, it's not anyone's fault.)

~~~
I am basically a Smiths-ite, "climate change is coming all bets are off" person, and what I've found helpful to keep in mind is that there's going to be human society as climate change progresses. If we're headed for a hardscrabble, crowded climate-change future, I want that future to be shared equally - I don't want Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel to live on slave labor and young people's blood in some pleasure dome somewhere while the rest of us slowly die of dehydration. Whatever's coming, we're all going to be better off in an equal, democratic society.
posted by Frowner at 8:02 AM on January 23 [33 favorites]


[Couple of comments deleted. Totally understandable that people feel desperation or despair etc but I'm gonna ask that people keep a lid on the graphic depictions of those, since in the aggregate that stuff can make it really hard for others to engage here; better to take that stuff over to the fucking fuck venting thread where people are there for it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:18 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


oh my good christ can we try to step back from the "who had it better, who is secretly at fault, here is some anecdata" generational stuff

It always, *always* leads to the same pointless circuitous back and forth


Repeated for emphasis and agreement.

The generational anecdata is especially fraught because sometimes folks are just (apparently) working through their own issues with the most authoritative and intimate representatives of the previous generation most of them know: namely, their own parents. And then things get messy and focused on individual agency instead of focusing on systemic causes of inequality, etc.

It’s tiring and I second the call to let it go (in here).
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:18 AM on January 23 [13 favorites]


One point I get stuck on with the wealth re-distribution idea is that almost all of the B's wealth is unrealized, that is it only exists because of a shared delusion. It's not like that wealth is still around to be redistributed if we successfully disabuse them of their shared delusion. But maybe popping the bubble is just as valuable as a goal.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:31 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


What strikes me about MMT/Modern Monetary Theory is that it treats money as a tool rather than an end in itself - money is only as good/useful/virtuous as the society it's in, rather than "society has to be moved around to make things easier for money and the people who have it because money has intrinsic qualities that make it foundational".

In a way it's like Peter Graeber's Debt - and I know that Graeber isn't metafilter's favorite anarchist, but Debt is pretty decent on the difference between "debt is an epiphenomenon of human interaction" and "debt is foundational to all human societies and if you mess with debt everything will fall apart", and on the misleading telling of history which is used to support the second.
posted by Frowner at 8:32 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Bullshit is an abusive tool of oppression. Kill it.

I'm annoyed I only have one favorite to give you.

(I think this will leave us open to manipulation in different ways, but that's a few years in the future, and we deal with it then.)

And this?
“You don’t win over these people, you crush them,” McElwee told me of Republicans the first time we met. “I don’t make friends with Republican operatives. I don’t try to reach across the aisle. I think they’re bad people and I don’t want to be associated with them and you’ll never find a picture of me shaking hands with David Frum or something,” he said, referring to George W. Bush’s former speechwriter who is now a staff writer at The Atlantic.
SUBSCRIBE.

I honestly think this is just what it looks like when you have more people who have been personally targeted or harmed by Republicans in the political class. It's just not that complicated. I will never, ever, ever forgive Republicans for the things they have done to me and my family, personally. They do not get a pass because it's all "fair play" in some sort of abstracted game. No. It's our lives.

And a lot of us are really, really angry.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:57 AM on January 23 [34 favorites]


it treats money as a tool rather than an end in itself

Is there any theorist who treats money as an end? From the craziest libertarian to the wackiest communist to the most awful fascist, I'd think that "money is a tool" is one of the few things that everyone can agree on. (I understand that in practice, especially among the hedge-fund and venture capitalist types, people use money as a way of keeping score. They don't want that extra billion to buy a fancier yacht but because it means their scorecard is higher.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:01 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Is there any theorist who treats money as an end?

Professor McDuck?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:19 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Is there any theorist who treats money as an end? From the craziest libertarian to the wackiest communist to the most awful fascist, I'd think that "money is a tool" is one of the few things that everyone can agree on. (I understand that in practice, especially among the hedge-fund and venture capitalist types, people use money as a way of keeping score. They don't want that extra billion to buy a fancier yacht but because it means their scorecard is higher.)

I think what I was trying to get at is something like how people think of inflation: When you have a lot of wealthy people holding a lot of poor households' debt, inflation will always be bad, because inflation (leaving aside its other pros and cons) will inflate away the debt, making the wealthy less wealthy. Inflation might actually be the best social fix (or it might not, but for other reasons) but society doesn't matter - the pre-existing wealth in the hands of the wealthy is what matters. Inflationary policy is in the service of wealth, rather than being in the service of the general well-being. So the sense of "money being an end in itself" is really "the preservation of large fortunes being an end in itself, and all monetary policy to be directed toward that end".

In the sense of "literal cash is an end in itself", no, that's not the same thing.
posted by Frowner at 9:23 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


What shadenfrau said. I really don't think the generations before us truly understand the level of anger at work here. Republicans are an evil fucking bunch and we are truly livid at the havoc they've been able to cause in part because of "bipartisanship" bullshit. We see it for the lie it is. We are immediately and directly impacted. We've lost friends and family to hate-driven violence, hate-driven policy (guns, healthcare, so much else) and we're A: really fucking mad about that, obvs. but more importantly B: old enough now to run for office and win. So we're doing that.

Prior to 2018 I've never even really seriously considered running for office because I'm "too lefty angry" and have been so too vocally. Now I realize there's nothing to lose. We're all going to die in climate-driven catastrophe if we don't radically remake this world very, very quickly. That requires grabbing the levers of power by any means necessary, and absolutely crushing the opposition so that it can never, ever rise again.
posted by odinsdream at 9:26 AM on January 23 [20 favorites]


Like, there's no back bench of centrists and republicans, y'all. It's AOCs from now forward as far as the eye can see.
posted by odinsdream at 9:28 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


I mean, also this scares me. Because even if the entire Democratic base becomes hard, flame-throwing left, 40% of the country are authoritarian white male supremacists with whom we have zero interest in “building bridges.”

There’s only one way a situation like that ends.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:15 AM on January 23 [11 favorites]


Generational antipathy is fun (Boomers suck!) but it's just as misdirected as Trump voters getting angry at migrants for "stealing their jobs".

Our parents aren't the problem. Immigrants aren't the problem. The problem is a small group of political extremists, funded by a few very wealthy people, who've made a concerted effort to shift the political culture and debate in this country in a way that is incongruous with our country's values and out of alignment with the majority of our fellow Americans.

Let's keep our eye on the ball.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:40 AM on January 23 [17 favorites]


it's actually going to be possible to win some real gains. And if they're capable of being pushed from the left, it will be much harder for them to be absorbed into the mess that is mainstream politics.

Yep, all for all the “our medium term positions are moderate in comparison/social democrat but they’re there to secure rights and gains for the working class so they can demand and organize more.” to get to the necessary for humanity to survive goal to restructuring society into something more democratic, more equitable, and less exploitative.

For human rights and human gains and all that.
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


This is definitely different. AOC is significantly to the left of Wellstone (RIP), who was generally considered the most left leaning congressperson in the mid 90s.

The cause is the internet age - everyone can find their niche and find the information they want, for better or worse. I'm glad that the leftists are finally showing up at the federal level, because the right wing had a good 15 year head start. I think everyone on the left is looking on in fear because with a narrow view in time it looks like the internet age is only benefiting right wing extremists, but remember Occupy Wall Street was only 5 years back and is absolutely not something that could have happened in the two or three decades prior to the modern internet.

Generational arguments are one of the best forms of misdirection. We should work to avoid them.
posted by MillMan at 11:48 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


One point I get stuck on with the wealth re-distribution idea is that almost all of the B's wealth is unrealized, that is it only exists because of a shared delusion.

It's "unrealized" only in the way that any unspent/invested money is unrealized. Yes, he's invested to the hilt in Amazon, but he can borrow against it easily. There's no bank in the world that wouldn't trip over themselves to loan him $40M. He can sell a tiny portion of his share in Amazon if he wants some "walking around money."

Amazon itself is a real company; its stock value is not entirely unhinged from its potential or actual sales. Control of the company could be redistributed to the workers. Income could be paid as dividends to the shareholders (aka workers) rather than the company growing as an amoeboid behemoth.

I could get behind some paper millionaires' values largely being a fabrication because it's on the basis of a speculative evaluation by a third party company buying 5-10% at value X. But that's not Amazon. They have real, not speculative value.
posted by explosion at 12:01 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


I really don't think the generations before us truly understand the level of anger at work here.

I think this is true among most groups. I, and several people around me, certainly didn't realize how angry my white-male peers were before 2016; I know for a fact that a large portion of the older generation doesn't understand the chagrin felt by young people in the wake of their failed attempts to live the american dream that they were promised existed; large swaths of the conservative populace don't understand the depth of my cohorts disdain for capitalism, etc.


I mean, also this scares me. Because even if the entire Democratic base becomes hard, flame-throwing left, 40% of the country are authoritarian white male supremacists with whom we have zero interest in “building bridges.”

There’s only one way a situation like that ends.


I'm inclined to think so as well. I don't believe the US comes back from where we are without a cataclysmic paradigm-shifting event of some sort...it just depends on whether or not that event happens that saves us from the descent further into fascism/authoritarianism.

Not that I'm pessimistic, just cynical and looking at likely outcomes. What happens if (when?) Latin America faces social upheaval resulting from poor crop production due to a drought exacerbated/caused by climate change? Do we really expect the American public to respond adequately/appropriately if just 1% of the 650 million + people decide to migrate north? What if the famine resulting from this causes 5% of the population to leave, and more than 30 million people are trying to enter the country?

I'll do my part to work towards subverting the efforts of the authoritarians, but we simply aren't in a position to think that things are working out, or that AOC represents a fundamental shift in American politics, when 40% of the population is susceptible to demagogues like Trump.
posted by Gatyr at 12:08 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


There's no bank in the world that wouldn't trip over themselves to loan him $40M.

A lot more than that. He's supposedly funding Blue Origin to the tune of $1B a year.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 12:27 PM on January 23


White Gen-X was raised by White Boomers in the land of milk and honey created by the New Deal. We were the ones who had it better than everyone else before (or since),

Gen-Xers in general (and white middle classed ones in particular) have a foot in both worlds. Yes, we grew up thinking our trajectory could be more-or-less like our parents. A high school diploma could get you a decent job, and, with any college degree from any college, you could write your own ticket (I distinctly remembering my mom saying that).

Then, a few things happened:
  • The Internet/SmartPhone/computer revolution showed a lot of stuff--I mean a lot of stuff--didn't need a person. Remember secretaries? How about travel agents.
  • Offshoring--any work that didn't need hands touching stuff could be done anywhere. Y2K pushed that along.
  • The end of the Cold War eliminated a unifying threat, enabling the hyper-partisanship Gingrich brought in.
  • We were hit by the Great Recession at a point where we still had 20-30 years in the workforce, but old enough that competing against Millennials was difficult. Boomers could shrug and take early retirement.
Not going to say Gen-Xers had it harder than any other group, or didn't get a good head start. Just that we've had to play the same shitty hand the Boomers dealt us.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:29 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


There’s a fasincating talk on Current Affairs Radio with The Reactionary Mind author Corey Robin about how Donald Trump and the Republican Party is actually weak, what unifies the Right, And goes into what we should be doing with this resurgent power - mostly don’t take it for granted or any arc of history stuff, but realize the The Right, from the late 30s onward has been pushing for this exact situation and got everything they wanted now have nowhere to go and one of the ways they got here is by making it a 70+ year project to destroy the labor movement. Which I take to mean ....we gotta rebuild the labor movement. It’s a little over an half hour and I very much recommend it.

(There’s also some very good discussion of how the broader Right convinces of threats to private hierarchy in the factory, field and family.)
posted by The Whelk at 3:15 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


AOC's generation is going to eat this system alive, and it can't come soon enough.

Ahhh the 60s and 70s folks would like a word.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:46 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


I hope that word has to do with where they sign on.
posted by evilDoug at 5:26 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


The talk linked to above states one sign of the GOP’s weakness - Reagan’s close second largest voting block was 18-30, the golden era of the campus conservative. The GOP polls like -30 or something with 18-30 now.
posted by The Whelk at 5:38 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Bob Moser, this week’s Washington Post Sunday magazine cover: “Could Pete Buttigieg Become the First Millennial President?”
posted by Going To Maine at 10:04 PM on January 23


Finland's UBI experiment evidently just wrapped up, story at about 20:30 in this Radio Sweden Weekly broadcast (English); the initial government report on it is due in about a month.
posted by XMLicious at 11:29 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


So I remember the Bunker Hunt attempt to corner silver in 1980, and was working at the time of the crash of 87 and the tech wreck, and the GFC

and I still don't understand why, when Obama had businesses like the car-makers and the banks crawling over cut glass on their knees, he did not say, "Climate change - you f******************, FIX IT"

SO NOW - we realise that it needs to get better
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 11:39 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


40% of the country are authoritarian white male supremacists

29% of the country is registered Republican; 28% independent; 40% Democrat. (Presumably, those numbers are "of those registered to vote," which is not the same as "adults over 18" much less "all US citizens.") 32.5 million registered Republicans vs 44.2 million Democrats - R's are under 10% of the total population. (D's are under 15%; registered-to-vote is not a majority group in general. It excludes minors, the disenfranchised, and people who are eligible but haven't bothered.)

The non-Hispanic white male population is just over 30%, and a notable amount of them are not authoritarian fascists.

The current Republican crowd fights very, very hard to make us forget that they are a minority group, that they don't represent "all of America," that evangelical racists are not half the country (with the other half being deadbeat stoners, I think is their claim). They've done tons of gerrymandering tricks and media manipulation games to maintain the illusion that D-vs-R is a mostly-equal arrangement, that there are "two sides" to the political options, and not "what the majority wants, vs a factionalized set of minority agendas, one of which is the legacy holdouts to a former large party."

We need more pushing the media about "hey, what to independents think - they're just as large a group as Republicans." More mentions that Democrats are the party of the people, and Republicans are the minority special-interest group party. And we may need activists like AOC to get us there - to push for media messages of, "she's pretty radical compared to standard Democrats... who represent most of the voting public."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:43 PM on January 23 [30 favorites]


And just in case you need to be reminded how this shell game works

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v20/n15/colm-toibin/erasures

What is notable about this period is the virulence of the comments about Ireland and Irish people, both landlords and peasants, made by politicians and journalists in Britain, including figures like Engels, who wrote: ‘Filth and drunkenness, too, they have brought with them ... The Irishman loves his pig as the Arab loves his horse, with the difference that he sells it when it is fat enough to kill. Otherwise, he eats and sleeps with it, his children play with it, ride upon it, roll in the dirt with it.’

just do "global replace" - ctrl H - and welcome to the 21st century
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 12:02 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Per the latest data a half-meter at the least sea-level rise locked in for 2100; this generation may be different because we preceding generations literally lit a fire underneath them. Global famines with simultaneous inundation of coastal cities the world over may encourager les autres and bring around those Milennials who would have been the type to timidly reinforce plutocracy in earlier eras.
posted by XMLicious at 12:09 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


It’s more accurate to say the majority of Americans able to vote are politically disengaged.
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Kind of an aside and probably an edge case, but what about wealthy people who produce things like music, movies, books, and art in general? How do we feel about a novelist who sells a million copies of their book and is suddenly very wealthy? How does that contrast against a CEO who maximizes a company's profits and gets paid buckets of money as well?

Income/wealth inequality is definitely a huge problem though and I think AOC's recent 70% marginal tax rate proposal is a good start. Real change will take time because the system in place now will react violently to every threat against it.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 8:48 AM on January 24


100% marginal tax rates for income above, say, 1 million a year is sufficient for both grifters and the handful of people who legitimately make that much money.
posted by odinsdream at 9:10 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I mean, also this scares me. Because even if the entire Democratic base becomes hard, flame-throwing left, 40% of the country are authoritarian white male supremacists with whom we have zero interest in “building bridges.”

I don't believe it's possible for the entire Democratic base to become part of the hard flame-throwing left. But one of the reasons the left in both Britain and America has been so anaemic is because they decided that the flamethrowers were the problem and drove them out of the party (Democratic in America, Labour in Britain) and this was possibly the biggest mistake the left has ever made. Just one high profile left wing politician with a flamethrower has single handedly moved the Overton Window far enough that people are talking about a 70% top rate of tax in America.

In short even if you consider yourself on the moderate left you should be cheering AOC on and looking for a dozen more like her in the House and another three in the Senate.
posted by Francis at 9:16 AM on January 24 [15 favorites]


Ahhh the 60s and 70s folks would like a word.

I’ve talked about the “failure of the hippies” with some Boomers who lived through it (and some who were hippies themselves, many temporarily), and one thing that is interesting is how many of them became exhausted with the infighting and power struggles that came with any burgeoning social movement and just bailed. For some, that meant that they cut their hair short again, put the pantyhose back on, went back home and got the normie jobs they always promised they would never do. For some others, they kept the ethos, but they kept it more personal than political— the music, the tie-dye, the VW bus, living in a liberal-ish area, but their organizing tended to be about local or regional efforts, not systemic political change. They had decided the system was corrupt, so they withdrew to live beautiful lives as best they could.

What is interesting about younger activists is that they view the corruption of the system as a reason to get involved in it, rather than as a reason to avoid it. You can’t leach out the poison by pretending it doesn’t exist. I wonder how much of it has to do with so many of them not having a comfortable middle class existence to use as a fallback.

A lot of Boomer hippies (and the ones who were alway all-in for the Establishment) decided “all you need is love” was bullshit, built conventional lives thanks to the safety net, and then gladly dismantled the safety net. They don’t understand that young people living in a world without one are fundamentally different from them, and have nothing in reserve just in case. The idea that these things (politics) might actually matter as a part of preserving human life instead of as a nonsense game played by people with a knack for duplicity seems to leave a lot of them bemused and put out.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:53 AM on January 24 [22 favorites]


Elizabeth Warren to propose new ‘wealth tax’ on very rich Americans, economist says

"Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two left-leaning economists at the University of California, Berkeley, have been advising Warren on a proposal to levy a 2 percent wealth tax on Americans with assets above $50 million, as well as a 3 percent wealth tax on those who have more than $1 billion, according to Saez.

The wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion over a ten-year period from about 75,000 families, or less than 0.1 percent of U.S. households, Saez said."

[checks brokerage statement; sees that it's still under $50 million]

OK, no objections here.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:02 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I assume the Warren wealth tax is marginal, i.e. on the excess wealth above the threshold, rather than the entirety? But no doubt we can gear up for another round of people who should know better pretending they don't understand how marginal rates work and suggesting that this incentivizes people to curtail their wealth to right below the threshold.

(I spent about 10 minutes diverting yesterday's math class from our discussion on piecewise functions to explain: yes, that's how marginal tax rates work; no, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's explanation of her plan would affect people wasn't wrong; yes, the talking-heads on TV providing ludicrously wrong understandings of these simple concepts for the umpteenth time were either very stupid or very disingenuous and think we're stupid; no, taxes in general never work that way unless you're a UK resident trying to transfer real estate before 2004.)
posted by jackbishop at 11:18 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Just one high profile left wing politician with a flamethrower has single handedly moved the Overton Window far enough that people are talking about a 70% top rate of tax in America.

AOC made the cover of businessweek :P
"No one shifts the Overton Window on any subject without strong communications skills, and Ocasio-Cortez is ninja-level in that department."

also btw...
Why Taxing the Bejesus Out of the Rich Might Be Useful, Even if It Doesn't Actually Raise Much Money

and re: warren's wealth tax
Gotta update my Warren policy story, but she supports:
-- Giving workers 40% control over their corporations
-- Enormous wealth tax on top 0.1%
-- M4A
-- Aggressive anti-trust
-- Ramp up prosecution of white-collar crime
-- End PR's debt
-- $15/hr
-- GND
What is interesting about younger activists is that they view the corruption of the system as a reason to get involved in it, rather than as a reason to avoid it.

Why these young tech workers spent their Friday night planning a rebellion against companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook - "A new class of politically mobilized tech employees are trying to save the industry from itself."
A Google employee who recently submitted her resignation from the company, Liz Fong-Jones, tells the crowd about organizing thousands of employees within the company’s rank and file. Along with Whittaker and others, she successfully helped wage a campaign to get Google to drop its contract with the Pentagon, which wanted to use the company’s AI technology for military drone strikes.

The success of these recent actions relied on a body of politically mobilized workers who leaked details of the plans to the press, signed petitions, and even resigned in protest rather than work on the project.

For many tech workers, the defining call to action was Trump winning the election. For others, it was the Google Walkout or Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal. And some have experienced years of growing frustration with what they find to be the tech industry’s pursuit of profit at all costs, including ignoring ethical standards...

After the 90-minute panel discussion, attendees stand together, fists raised, to take a photo in solidarity with the Los Angeles Unified School District teacher’s strike. Then the lights dim and people stick around to mingle and chat. It’s a regular Friday night again, and the mood shifts from eager and revolutionary to more laid back as people sip box wine from plastic cups and compare notes. Some flip through pages of Logic Magazine, which helped host the event.

A couple of earnest college students head to the front of the room to talk to the speakers who had just presented, asking them for advice on organizing. One of them, a computer science student at Columbia University, says he has ethical concerns about going into the industry and wanted to learn about how to mobilize.

“If I go into an industry where I’m building things that impact people,” he says, “I want to have a say in what I build.”
oh and...
Post-work: the radical idea of a world without jobs - "Work has ruled our lives for centuries, and it does so today more than ever. But a new generation of thinkers insists there is an alternative."
posted by kliuless at 6:39 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


I really don't think the generations before us truly understand the level of anger at work here...we are truly livid at the havoc they've been able to cause in part because of "bipartisanship" bullshit. We see it for the lie it is. We are immediately and directly impacted.

I am in this "us" and I sometimes wish I'd been born into one of the generations that just thought it invented sex, instead of one of the ones that thinks it invented getting angry and paying attention. it would have been so much less embarrassing.

I do, too, sometimes get the feeling I've been cheated, to use an old man's phrase. but a grasp of history, the understanding that everyone is born young and then grows old, and any imaginative empathy at all, are not among the things that people in their thirties have been robbed of by previous generations. nobody took that away from us except ourselves.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:17 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


CRS's review of Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams' Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work :P
...they really want to change the world: the old twin goals[1] of increasing human power over the world, and eliminating human power of other humans, are very much still there, though they might not quite adopt that formula. To get there, their basic idea is to push for a "post-work world", one where people don't have to work to survive, because they're entitled to a more-than-subsistence basic income as a matter of right. They realize that making that work will require lots of politics and pushes for certain kinds of technological progress rather than others. This is the future they want --- to finally enter (in Marx's words) "the kingdom of freedom", where we will be able to get on with all the other problems, and possibilities, confronting us.

As for getting there: like a long, long line of leftist intellectuals from the 1960s onwards, Srnicek and Williams are very taken with the idea, going back to Gramsci, that the key to achieving socialism is to first achieve ideological "hegemony". To put it crudely, this means trying to make your idea such broadly-diffused, widely-accepted, scarcely-noticed common notions that when madmen in authority channel voices from the air, they channel you. (In passing: Occupy may have done nothing to reduce economic inequality, but Gramsci's success as a strategist may be measured by the fact that he wrote in a Fascist prison.) Part of this drive for hegemony is pushing for new ideas in economics --- desirable in itself, but they are sure in advance of what inquiry should find.* Beyond this, and saying that many tactics will need to be tried out by a whole "ecology" of organizations and groups, they're pretty vague. There's some wisdom here --- who could propound a detailed plan to get to post-work post-capitalism? --- but also more ambiguity than they acknowledge. Even if a drive for a generous basic income (and all that would go with it) succeeds, the end result might not be anything like the sort of post-capitalism Srniceck and Williams envisage, if only because what we learn and experience along the way might change what seems feasible and desirable. (This is a Popperian point against Utopian plans, but it can be put in other language quite easily.**) I think Srnicek and Williams might be OK with the idea that their desired future won't be realized, so long as some better future is, and that the important point is to get people on the left not to prefigure better worlds in occasional carnivals of defiance, but to try to make them happen. Saying that doing this will require organization, concrete demands, and leadership is pretty sensible, though they do disclaim trying to revive the idea of a vanguard party.

Large portions of the book are, unfortunately, given over to insinuating, without ever quite saying, that post-work is not just desirable and possible, but a historical necessity to which we are impelled by the inexorable development of capitalism, as foreseen by the Prophet.[2] (They also talk about how Marx's actual scenario for how capitalism would develop, and end, not only has not come to pass yet, but is pretty much certain to never come to pass.) Large portions of the book are given over to wide-ranging discussions of lots of important issues, all of which, apparently, they grasp through the medium of books and articles published by small, left-wing presses strongly influenced by post-structuralism --- as it were, the world viewed through the Verso Books catalog. (Perry Anderson had the important advantage, as a writer and thinker, of being formed outside the rather hermetic subculture/genre he helped create; these two are not so lucky.) Now, I recognize that good ideas usually emerge within a community that articulates its own distinctive tradition, so some insularity can be all to the good. In this case, I am not all that far from the authors' tradition, and sympathetic to it. But still, the effect of these two (overlapping) writerly defects is that once the book announced a topic, I often felt I could have written the subsequent passage myself; I was never surprised by what they had to say. Finishing this was a slog.

I came into the book a mere Left Popperian and market socialist, friendly to the idea of a basic income, and came out the same way. My mind was not blown, or even really changed, about anything. But it might encourage some leftist intellectuals to think constructively about the future, which would be good.

Shorter: Read Peter Frase's Four Futures instead.[3]

---
*: They are quite confident that modern computing lets us have an efficient planned economy, a conclusion they support not be any technical knowledge of the issue but by citations to essays in literary magazines and collections of humanistic scholarship. As I have said before, I wish that were the case, if only because it would be insanely helpful for my own work, but I think that's just wrong.[4] In any case, this is an important point for socialists, since it's very consequential for the kind of socialism we should pursue. It should be treated much more seriously, i.e., rigorously and knowledgeable, than they do. Fortunately, a basic income is entirely compatible with market socialism, as are other measures to ensure that people don't have to sell their labor power in order to live.

**: My own two-minute stab at making chapter 9 of The Open Society and Its Enemies sound suitable for New Left Review: "The aims of the progressive forces, always multifarious, develop dialectically in the course of the struggle to attain them. Those aims can never be limited by the horizon of any abstract, pre-conceived telos, even one designated 'socialism', but will always change and grow through praxis." (I admit "praxis" may be a bit behind the times.)
also btw!
-Andrew's Policies
-In Support of a Wealth Tax
-Why There's No Liberal Federalist Society
-Mitch McConnell Got Everything He Wanted. But at What Cost?
posted by kliuless at 11:42 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


I really don't think the generations before us truly understand the level of anger at work here. Republicans are an evil fucking bunch and we are truly livid at the havoc they've been able to cause in part because of "bipartisanship" bullshit.

Republicans elected Donald Trump. Even two years after his inauguration, I can barely express how much this disgusts me. Trump is nakedly bad by just about every metric you could think of to evaluate a president; he is corrupt, antidemocratic, impetuous, incurious, and cruel. There is no cover or pretense for his unsuitability for office. I do not respect anyone who supports him. I do not trust anyone who works with him. With hindsight, I'm feeling pretty heavy judgment against anyone who helped create a conservative movement that led to President Donald J Trump. (That said, it's a little funny that years of bribes from libertarian nutjobs ultimately resulted in a Republican president intent on dismantling free trade and Dems who are finally willing to run on taxing the superrich.)

I don't like the idea of an acrimonious political system, but here we are. You can't shame a rabid beast into civility. There's something reassuring about Democratic strategists admitting that we're not going to build the society we want by urging Republican politicians to "be reasonable" because they're secretly horrified or whatever. "Secretly horrified" isn't a vote for something better.
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:58 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


AOC interviewed by TNC on MLK day: "what frame that we've taken for granted for so long should we be dismantling?"

also btw... posted by kliuless at 6:28 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Who’s Afraid of Budget Deficits?, Larry Summers (!?) - "Policymakers will always know when the market is worried about the deficit. But no alarm bells ring when the government fails to rebuild decaying infrastructure, properly fund preschools, or provide access to health care. The results of that kind of neglect show up only later— but the human cost is often far larger. It’s time for Washington to put away its debt obsession and focus on bigger things."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:10 AM on January 31


To be honest, I think a "wealth" tax is a good idea with mediocre marketing. We've had decades of billionaire class entitlement and a perverse aversion to taxes, e.g. "death" taxes. We've had centuries of belief in the divine right of a lucky few to absolute power. The case needs to be made for empowerment, not building powerbases.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:43 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]




Vaclav Havel’s Guide To Politically-Dangerous Times
There is an important lesson here. Citizens and political leaders opposed to Donald Trump, for example, can’t win by articulating the most artful and sweeping condemnation of Trumpism. He is not an ideology or a political platform, but the expression of a system that seeks to degrade human beings, first by desecrating the truth, and then by degrading life itself. The opponents of Trump must “live within the truth,” and offer citizens a positive program that affirms the aims of life, which are hope, love, family, adventure, art, work, religion and everything else that is inexplicable and wondrous in the human experience.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:24 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


'There Is Going to Be a War Within the Party. We Are Going to Lean Into It.' - "'I came to realize Democrats are never going to learn', [Uygur] said, 'and that the only way to make a difference is to defeat the corrupt corporate Democrats. They get paid to lose. The corporate donor pays them to be weak, and pays Republicans to be strong.'"
Disappointed with Obama, Shahid got a job with the Working Families Party, which was all-in for Sanders, and after the election began trying to figure out how to make big systemic changes in politics, or “cultureshifts”—not just winning arguments, but changing the terms of the whole debate.

“The idea is that you bring moral questions to the public’s attention, and have the public rally around it,” he says. “Reframe the issue so that the choices are stark, and let the public decide rather than people in power.” He points to how the “99 percent” became a buzzword after Occupy Wall Street; how Obama and Hillary Clinton eventually came to oppose the Keystone Pipeline after supporting it; how “Abolish ICE” quickly went from a fringy Twitter slogan to one embraced by mainstream Democrats. Either you favor ripping kids from their homes, or you don’t. And if you don’t, suddenly the policy choices aren’t incremental: They’re rather stark.
posted by kliuless at 3:11 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


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