Category Archives: Politics

Undrainable

“But these organs, at whose head was the state power, had in the course of time, in pursuance of their own special interests, transformed themselves from the servants of society into the masters of society, as can be seen, for example, not only in the hereditary monarchy, but equally also in the democratic republic. Nowhere do “politicians” form a more separate, powerful section of the nation than in North America. There, each of the two great parties which alternately succeed each other in power is itself in turn controlled by people who make a business of politics, who speculate on seats in the legislative assemblies of the Union as well as of the separate states, or who make a living by carrying on agitation for their party and on its victory are rewarded with positions.

It is well known that the Americans have been striving for 30 years to shake off this yoke, which has become intolerable, and that in spite of all they can do they continue to sink ever deeper in this swamp of corruption. It is precisely in America that we see best how there takes place this process of the state power making itself independent in relation to society, whose mere instrument it was originally intended to be. Here there exists no dynasty, no nobility, no standing army, beyond the few men keeping watch on the Indians, no bureaucracy with permanent posts or the right to pensions. and nevertheless we find here two great gangs of political speculators, who alternately take possession of the state power and exploit it by the most corrupt means and for the most corrupt ends – and the nation is powerless against these two great cartels of politicians, who are ostensibly its servants, but in reality exploit and plunder it.”

Frederick Engels March 18, 1891  (20th Anniversary of the Paris Commune)

Some things never change….

The Masters Bait and the Press Bites

Insidious left-wing media? Sure there is some truth to it– much of the media still holds the mainstream, new deal, middle-class values that had been ascendant since the end of WWII. Values that had been established and fostered in order to fend off a reoccurrence of economic depression and the fascism that had torn the world apart. But the idea of a vast left-wing cabal conspiring against good old fashioned American values is of course laughable, a straw man. Then along comes this guy Trump, whom at first even the Republicans despised. But it didn’t take them long to realize the great service he could provide them. Now they are proving once again that tactically they are always at least one step ahead. So Trump throws a few strategically targeted pies at the biggest players in the media– NY Times, Wash Post, CNN, NBC etc..– knowing exactly how they would react: they would band together and retaliate in a petulant, often times petty, frenzy. Which of course they have. And Presto! yuuuge left-wing media conspiracy. Hook Line and Sinker. Now the myth has been normalized, and for those true believers who sop this stuff up, an empirically proven mortal wound. Good luck ever winning that argument at the bar again….checkmate.
“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.” – Machiavelli

Tony Judt – Past Imperfect, Present Impotent, Future ?

Tony Judt wrote this about the state of the Left in America in his book Ill Fares The Land …

“We no longer have political movement. While thousands of us may come together for a rally or march, we are bound together on such occasions by a single shared interest. Any effort to convert such interests into collective goals is usually undermined by the fragmented individualism of our concerns. Laudable goals – fighting climate change, opposing war, advocating public healthcare or penalizing bankers – are united by nothing more than the expression of emotion. In our political as in our economic lives, we have become consumers: choosing from a broad gamut of competing objectives, we find it hard to imagine ways or reasons to combine these into a coherent whole. We must do better than this.”

Taking the recent election as evidence Judt, who passed away in 2010, was right on target (no pun intended). Here are some valuable web resources for further investigation of this important thinker:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?189437-1/postwar-history-europe-since-1945

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2010/04/29/ill-fares-the-land/

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/tony-judt-interview

The Strange Death of Liberal America

Tony Judt’s Obituary in the Guardian

In today’s America, neoconservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide the ethical fig leaf. There really is no other difference between them.”
Tony Judt, Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century

Phil Ochs – A Buckeye Remembered

Here’s to the great Phil Ochs on what would have been his 76th birthday (December 19). One of the most influential singers of his time, during the Civil Rights and Free Speech Movements and the Vietnam war, he was also an Ohio State journalism student and worked for the school newspaper, the Lantern. At OSU he met his political mentor, Jim Glover, who introduced him to the music of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and the Weavers. Odd (sad) that the university remains ambivalent/silent about his legacy…

“A good song with a message can a bring a point more deeply than a thousand rallies” – Phil Ochs