Volatility

September 24, 2010

2010 and the Future of Democracy (Chomsky and the 1994/2010 Elections)

 

I found this Chomsky piece on the 1994 election. Very interesting, in light of the upcoming election. It exposes every hack lie about the Democrats, what happened in ’94, what the Democrats “need” to do, what the people want, how this is allegedly a “center-right” country, the cult of “voting” in itself, blaming the victim. Most of all it’s clear on the irremediable tyranny of the “two”-party system, how this is not “representation” and how representation cannot work under these circumstances. The majority knows this and wants, as Chomsky discusses here, to “disband both parties”. I think 2010 will be the beginning of the end for the Democrats. It’s long been true that the electorate doesn’t affirmatively choose either party, but only rejects the one currently in power. (The people would choose Democrats’ proclaimed values over Republican values, but Obama has laid bare once and for all how the Democrats are nothing but liars where it comes to those values.)
 
So for these changeovers to keep recurring requires that the party in power be willing to relinquish it. But in my next prediction, I say that the Republicans will never again willingly relinquish power. I think the moment they get the Congress back they’ll end the filibuster and revamp the rules to guarantee that permanent majority, no matter how much they have to trample the Constitution. They’ll flout any court decision against them. (Whether or not there’ll even be such adverse decisions is questionable.)
 
And once they retake the presidency they won’t give it up again. They’ll brazenly rig any subsequent election, and if even that doesn’t work, they’ll simply refuse to recognize the results. But once they’re back in the White House they won’t leave short of being physically blasted out. Everything I see in the Republican Party tells me that. And everything I see in the Democrats tells me they’ll submit. The Democrats would certainly rather meekly cling to whatever permanent minority status the Republicans condescended to allow them rather than lead any sort of revolt against the disposition of power. After all, a surface “political” revolt could easily metastasize into a true structural upheaval against the neoliberal disorder itself. Any good Democrat soldier would rather be a slave within this disorder than run any risk of upsetting it.
 
Which leads to a final observation. If we think in terms of future constitutional crises, we must consider how even those who would be willing to fight are likely to fall into the picayune mindset of the proper changing of the guard, how the constitutional “process” must be observed and so on, without seizing the opportunity to turn the crisis into an existential criticism and rebellion. They’re not likely to proclaim, for example, that such a crisis was proof of the fundamental corruption of the existing system, and demand that the fight must be for a complete change from the proven failure of pseudo-democracy to true positive democracy; that the “Federalists” of 1787-88 have been proven wrong and the original “Anti-“Federalists have been proven right (and that these names should by rights have been reversed).
 
So new citizen activists will have to do it. We’ll have to lead the charge for a new Convention whose proclaimed goal, publicized and affirmed going in, is to truly federalize (decentralize) all economic and political power, including smashing anti-constitutional corporate power, and restore America to the path of its original Revolution, the path the people truly and always fought for, no matter how much our prior “elites” have always sought to traduce, subvert, hijack, and destroy that Revolution.
 
The redeemed Constitution must disempower these elites, proven liars and robbers all, and affirmatively empower the people, once and for all. We must finally embark upon the path of democracy.
 
Here’s Chomsky:

Democracy and Markets in the New World Order
A good place to start is in Washington, right now. The standard picture is that a “historic political realignment” took place in the congressional elections of 1994 that swept Newt Gingrich and his army into power in a landslide victory, a “triumph of conservatism” that reflects the continuing “drift to the right.” With their “overwhelming popular mandate,” the Gingrich army will fulfil the promises of the Contract with America. They will “get government off our backs” so that we can return to the happy days when the free market reigned and restore “family values,” ridding us of “the excesses of the welfare state” and the other residues of the failed “big government” policies of New Deal liberalism and the “Great Society.” By dismantling the “nanny state,” they will be able to “create jobs for Americans” and win security and freedom for the “middle class.” And they will take over and successfully lead the crusade to establish the American Dream of free market democracy, worldwide.

That’s the basic story. It has a familiar ring.

Ten years before, Ronald Reagan was re-elected in the second “conservative landslide” in four years. In the first, in 1980, Reagan won a bare majority of the popular vote and 28 percent of the electorate. Exit polls showed that the vote was not “for Reagan” but “against Carter” — who had in fact initiated the policies that the Reaganites took up and implemented, with the general support of congressional Democrats: accelerated military spending (the state sector of the economy) and cutbacks in programs that serve the vast majority. Polls in 1980 revealed that 11 percent of Reagan voters chose him because “he’s a real conservative” — whatever that term is supposed to mean.

In 1984, there were great efforts to get out the vote, and they worked: it increased by 1 percent. The number of voters who supported Reagan as a “real conservative” dropped to 4 percent. A considerable majority of those who voted hoped that Reaganite legislative programs would not be enacted. Public opinion studies showed a continuation of the steady drift towards a kind of New Deal-style welfare state liberalism.

Why the votes? The concerns and desires of the public are not articulated in the political system — one reason why voting is so sharply skewed towards privileged sectors.

When the interests of the privileged and powerful are the guiding commitment of both political factions, people who do not share these interests tend to stay home. William Dean Burnham, a leading specialist on electoral politics, pointed out that the class pattern of abstention “seems inseparably linked to another crucial comparative peculiarity of the American political system: the total absence of a socialist or laborite party as an organized competitor in the electoral market.” That was fifteen years ago, and it has only become more pronounced as civil society has been even more effectively dismantled: unions, political organizations, and so on.

In the United States, “the interests of the bottom three-fifths of society” are not represented in the political system, political commentator Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post pointed out a decade ago, referring to the Reagan elections. There are many consequences apart from the highly skewed voting pattern. One is that half the population thinks that both parties should be disbanded. Over 80 percent regard the economic system as “inherently unfair” and the government “run for the benefit of the few and the special interests, not the people” (up from a steady 50 percent for a similarly worded question in the pre-Reagan years) — though what people might mean by “special interests” is another question. The same proportion think that workers have too little influence — though only 20 percent feel that way about unions and 40 percent consider them too influential, another sign of the effects of the propaganda system in inducing confusion, if not in changing attitudes.

That brings us to 1994, the next in the series of “conservative landslides.” Of the 38 percent of the electorate who took part, a bare majority voted Republican. “Republicans claimed about 52 percent of all votes cast for candidates in contested House seats, slightly better than a two-point improvement from 1992,” when the Democrats won, the polling director of the Washington Post reported. One out of six voters described the outcome as “an affirmation of the Republican agenda.” A “more conservative Congress” was considered an issue by a rousing 12 percent of the voters. An overwhelming majority had never heard of Gingrich’s Contract with America, which articulated the Republican agenda and has since been relentlessly implemented, with much fanfare about the popular will, and less said about the fact that it is the first contract in history with only one party signing, and the other scarcely knowing of its existence.

When asked about the central components of the Contract, large majorities opposed almost all, notably the central one: large cuts in social spending. Over 60 percent of the population wanted to see such spending increased at the time of the elections. Gingrich himself was highly unpopular, even more than Clinton, whose ratings are very low; and that distaste has only persisted as the program has been implemented.

There was plenty of opposition to Democrats; the election was a “vote against.” But it was nuanced. Clinton-style “New Democrats” — in effect, moderate Republicans — lost heavily, but not those who kept to the traditional liberal agenda and tried to activate the old Democratic coalition: the majority of the population who see themselves, correctly, as effectively disenfranchised.

Voting was even more heavily skewed toward the wealthy and privileged than before. Democrats were heavily preferred by those who earn less than $30,000 a year (about the median) and ran even with Republicans in the $30,000-$50,000 range. The opinion profiles of non-voters were similar on major issues to those who voted the Democratic ticket. Voters who sensed a decline in their standard of living chose Republican — or more accurately, opposed incumbent Democrats close to two to one. Most are white males with very uncertain economic futures, just the people who would have been part of a left-populist coalition committed to equitable economic growth and political democracy, were such an option to intrude into the business-run political arena. In its absence, many are turning to religious fanaticism, cults of every imaginable kind, paramilitary organizations (“militias”), and other forms of irrationality, an ominous development, with precedents that we remember, and that now concern even the corporate executives who applaud the actions of the Gingrich army in its dedicated service to the most rich and privileged.

Nevertheless, despite the propaganda onslaught of the last half century, the general population has somehow maintained social democratic attitudes. Substantial majorities believe the government should assist people in need, and favor spending for health, education, help for the poor, and protection of the environment. As I’ve already mentioned, they also approve of foreign aid for the needy and peacekeeping operations. But policy follows a radically different course.

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32 Comments

  1. I have to respectfully disagree with this analysis that the Republicans are going to permanently take power. You are making two fundamental errors and are missing the whole point of the dependant fear factor the two political parties use to maintain internal cohesion. The first error is to mistake the puppets for the puppet masters. Politicians in America don’t hold real power; a wealthy financial elite behind them does. The politicians are paid entertainers; they are there to distract the people from the sources of real power. Saying that one political party will take over is like listening to the rhetoric of a professional wrestler and then saying that he is going to take power away from the promoters and owners of the WWF. And most importantly, the two parties serve the critical service of channelling potentially turbulent political currents of dissension into the safe political channels of the two-party system. Look at MoveOn, Howard Dean, and the whole NetRoots scam on the Left while the Right was in power. Now with Obama front and center on the national stage, it’s suddenly all quiet on the “left-ern” front while the Right are using the tried and true MoveOn formula (rebranded as the Tea Party) to keep their potential rebels on the wealthy elite’s plantation.

    The second mistake you are making is implicitly saying that it matters which party is in power. Sure I know full well that you are well aware the Democrats are worthless corporate scum. But still I can tell that you can’t help but hold out hope for these conjurers and instead of seeing the cold hard reality you are falling for their chimera of somehow being better than the Republicans. This is implicit in the idea that Republicans will take over because the question would be: what would motivate such a move? If you could just let go of this thought that one party is (even a tiny bit) better than the other and accept that just as it is silly to say one professional wrestler is better than the other (“oh I just love the white hat and I can’t understand how anyone could cheer for that despicable black hat”) it is equally silly to somehow say one of the current political parties is somehow better than the other. They are both tools of the rich, the only difference is that each tool is sized and calibrated to work on different segments of the population.

    But saying one party will take over (and I have heard this same thing two years ago from people on the Right and I responded the exact same way) shows a misunderstanding of how politics actually works in America. The wealthy elite profit from, and will do everything in their power to at least maintain (if not increase) the distraction caused by the current state of tension between the two parties. This is what gives the system value; fear of the “evil” other. Democrats stroll meekly back to the herd through fear of bible-huffing Republicans taking over. And obviously for Republicans it works exactly the same way only the villian is a femi-nazi mongrel imposing communist rule on America. If Republicans were to totally take over, this dynamic tension would be broken. The destruction of the Democratic Party would mean the repulsive power created by the fear of the other would suddenly disappear and after a year or two Americans would be united and all anger would be unambiguously directly towards the Republicans. This would mean the wealthy elite would have switched from a very inexpensive system of control based mainly on voluntary consent and submission to a much more difficult and expensive system of mostly coercion. In such a system the conflict would quickly devolve into the few against the many and this is exactly the conflict the wealthy elite do not wish to have.

    Short of popular movements outside the two parties that turn the tide (and I remain hopeful but highly sceptical), most likely in 2026 a much poorer and desperate America will still be discussing the latest power shift between the Democrats and Republicans. The only potential power struggle I could see stopping this would be an open conflict between big finance and the military industrial complex. In the shrinking pie that is America, at some point the financial sector is going to start competing with the military for the same resources.

    Either that or the Chinese take over.

    Comment by Kevin de Bruxelles — September 24, 2010 @ 6:33 am

    • The second mistake you are making is implicitly saying that it matters which party is in power. Sure I know full well that you are well aware the Democrats are worthless corporate scum. But still I can tell that you can’t help but hold out hope for these conjurers and instead of seeing the cold hard reality you are falling for their chimera of somehow being better than the Republicans.

      Wow, you misunderstand me completely. I guess that’s a major failure of communication on my part.

      I thought I said that when the Reps attempt their coup, any “conventional” attempts to resist that will have the goal of restoring the status quo ante, and that I want real citizen activists to use the opportunity to demand a complete transformation.

      If there’s anyone else who thinks I communicated so poorly (I am of course assuming I can build on everything else I’ve written), I’ll modify the post. Although reading it over again I confess I can’t imagine where I’m supposed to have said a Rep coup would be much worse from our point of view than the Rep/Dem alternation we have. I thought I said “let’s not return to that”.

      To reiterate what I thought was the takeaway:

      Which leads to a final observation. If we think in terms of future constitutional crises, we must consider how even those who would be willing to fight are likely to fall into the picayune mindset of the proper changing of the guard, how the constitutional “process” must be observed and so on, without seizing the opportunity to turn the crisis into an existential criticism and rebellion. They’re not likely to proclaim, for example, that such a crisis was proof of the fundamental corruption of the existing system, and demand that the fight must be for a complete change from the proven failure of pseudo-democracy to true positive democracy; that the “Federalists” of 1787-88 have been proven wrong and the original “Anti-”Federalists have been proven right (and that these names should by rights have been reversed).

      So new citizen activists will have to do it. We’ll have to lead the charge for a new Convention whose proclaimed goal, publicized and affirmed going in, is to truly federalize (decentralize) all economic and political power, including smashing anti-constitutional corporate power, and restore America to the path of its original Revolution, the path the people truly and always fought for, no matter how much our prior “elites” have always sought to traduce, subvert, hijack, and destroy that Revolution.

      The redeemed Constitution must disempower these elites, proven liars and robbers all, and affirmatively empower the people, once and for all. We must finally embark upon the path of democracy.

      I confess I don’t see the part where it says “but maybe we should give the Democrats another chance”.

      Comment by Russ — September 24, 2010 @ 9:37 am

      • No, it’s not you; I think it’s me who’s not being clear. And as I reread your post I see perhaps I am projecting too much here and I read too fast. My point is that to me it is implied in the idea that the Republicans would attempt a coup that someone in power (the backers of this coup) take the differences between the parties seriously. In other words that these differences are real and the powers that be want to kill off this supposed threat once and for all. I was trying to say is that this is false and that they know exactly what the role of the parties is. In fact as you say, and I totally agree, it would be huge opportunity if in fact this Republican coup were to happen. But that is exactly why it never will.

        But I know your ideas well enough to be certain that you would never want to give the Dems another chance at anything!

        Comment by Kevin de Bruxelles — September 24, 2010 @ 10:14 am

      • OK, I get it. You think e.g. Wall Street sees no difference and therefore wouldn’t want such a coup.

        I agree that unless a real anti-corporate movement exists, the nabobs prefer neoliberal pseudo-democracy. (In most cases fascism rose in almost direct proportion to the perceived threat of communism in a given country.)

        So on that score I think that they prefer the two-party system and especially a corporatist Democrat as president.

        But I think part of the reason for that is precisely that there is one difference between the two parties, which doesn’t much matter from our point of view but does from the corporate point of view.

        Although most hired goons are content to remain goons, there’s always a few who aspire to become the boss-man themselves. As Machiavelli said, although gold usually rules iron, if it’s daring then iron can rule gold.

        I think that although such gangster aspirants who want to become the senior partner are rare in both parties, there’s probably far more among the Reps than among the Dems.

        That’s why I think on the whole the corporatists prefer the more pliable Dems, and why the Reps are likely attempt a coup if they consider it necessary to hold onto power. I know if I were a Rep the notion of ever letting the Dems get power again would be too odious to me by now.

        Comment by Russ — September 24, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  2. There is something else, Kevin, that you are leaving out with respect to how “the game” might truly, irrevocably, change, and that is that The Union itself, the size and composition of which still lends itself to the dynamic you so well describe, disintegrates.

    I used to rate a beak up of The Union occurring within the next generation or so as a very low odds event, but, given the profoundly precarious financial, position of the states in conjunction with The Fed’s prospectively being either unable or unwilling to be of any help, I rate the odds of the sort of disintegration I have in mind occurring (within a generation or two) higher than before.

    I hasten to add that The Gulf situation simply adds to what I imagine is an incipient, unbridgeable rift developing between The Federal Government and those it assumes authority over.

    The U.S. Government’s pivotal role in the cover up of what is clearly an unprecedented environmental catastrophe, will, in time, work its magic on weakening the old glue that has, heretofore, held together the lower forty eight into a consolidated entity.

    Comment by Edwardo — September 24, 2010 @ 8:01 am

    • I think any sort of fragmentation is possible, although it seems so unpredictable that I haven’t thought about it much.

      Some basics are that the American Southwest is both physically impossible and politically noxious, while the entire Great Lakes region (the US and Canada) comprises a far more logical entity than either the US or Canada do in their current forms.

      It seems to me that what the federal government has done in the Gulf is nothing less than set up a lawless corporate administration zone. It just isn’t readily noticeable yet because the actions have been localized, covered with propaganda whitewash, and there are so few paying attention anyway.

      Comment by Russ — September 24, 2010 @ 9:44 am

  3. Good point, Edwardo.
    Over 10 years ago I was writing letters for Amnesty International in which I questioned.. JUST WHAT WAS FEDERATING the “united” states at this time ?
    It is helpful to remember that the Roman empire maintained a semblance of “republican” institutions while empire was in full swing. For political stability in keeping up appearances. Important.
    Attempter, what I think you are adressing are STRUCTURAL problems that point to the… TIRING OUT of the republic as a political form.
    I tend to think that for IDEOLOGICAL purposes… what we refer to as “the left” should NEVER BE IN A POSITION in which it actually HOLDS political power. Because.. once “the left” holds political power, well then.. IT NATURALLY BECOMES CONSERVATIVE (of power, at least) doesn’t it ??
    All too logical, right ? In my book.
    That is what we have seen in Europe, my friend, and particularly in France where… each time “the left” gains political power, it no longer IS “the left”.
    Which, by the way contributes significantly to the political discredit of its positions and government.
    I agree with the Right at this time about the excesses of the welfare state.
    What started out as a starry attempt to redress inequalities has now become an all out effort to CONTROL the citizenry in EVERY DOMAIN of their existence, and I TOO am hostile to this particularly totalitarian imposition of the “public good” on me.
    Of course, the extended government control is ALWAYS for our good, and benefit, right ?
    Too much government control remains TOO MUCH government control.
    Ironically, over the past 20 years at least, in France we have seen successive governments, under the left, and the right, come and go, with little difference in their politics and programs.
    BUT.. that government control has never abaited. It CONTINUES TO GROW, regardless of which formation is at the head of government.

    Comment by Debra — September 24, 2010 @ 9:32 am

    • What you’re calling “the left” is just another gang of elitists.

      I don’t use the left-right spectrum much anymore. I use the spectrum:

      democrat (direct, participatory, positive) – elitist

      (That’s a small-“d”, just to be perfectly clear.)

      Comment by Russ — September 24, 2010 @ 9:50 am

      • YOUR turn to be not reading me carefully. By “left” I’m not talking about the Democrats, or the Socialist Party in France, by the way, as they APPEAR RIGHT now, I am talking about the TRADITIONAL values of the left, which are social redistribution, and the reduction of inequality.
        Although MY thinking on these questions is advancing at lightyear speed right now.
        I am.. NO LONGER IN FAVOR of even the “traditional” leftist values. I am no longer in favor of.. the welfare state in any shape or form…
        I want.. NEW ELITES. With a NEW SENSE OF OBLIGATION TOWARDS THE POOR.
        Because… we are NEVER going to get rid of poverty on this earth, and because we are never going to get rid of poverty.. WE WILL NEVER GET RID OF THE RICH either.
        And.. WHAT WE COULD END UP DOING TRYING TO GET RID of the poverty problem (and the elite one…) COULD BE FAR FAR WORSE THAN POVERTY (or the elites…) in my book. (Remember… the French revolution. Remember.. Robespierre…)
        Look at the way things are playing out… DO YOU REALLY WANT A TOTALITARIAN.. state, be it… sponsored by “left” OR “right” ??
        Not me, thanks.
        Funnily enough.. I think now that.. ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME.
        Think about it…

        Comment by Debra — September 24, 2010 @ 10:56 am

      • I want.. NEW ELITES. With a NEW SENSE OF OBLIGATION TOWARDS THE POOR…..

        Same old trickle-down crap.

        DO YOU REALLY WANT A TOTALITARIAN.. state

        No. But clearly you do. I want the end of all elites and all states.

        It’s funny how much you can contradict yourself in a few sentences. You clamor for exactly what you claim to oppose. “I don’t want elites. But I want new elites! I don’t want the welfare state. But I do want the trickle-down state! I don’t want the totalitarian state. But I do!…”

        Comment by Russ — September 24, 2010 @ 11:11 am

      • Sigh…
        I’M WAITING FOR YOU TO SHOW ME WHERE I CONTRADICTED MYSELF IN THE ABOVE COMMENTS.
        Whenever we get on the subject of the elites… YOU STOP THINKING WITH YOUR HEAD AND START THINKING WITH ????
        Take a quick look at the French Revolution. Take an in depth look at the French Revolution.
        There’s a museum 20 miles from my home, where the whole thing started…
        The road to hell is ALWAYS paved with good intentions. Nothing new under the sun there.

        Comment by Debra — September 24, 2010 @ 11:43 am

      • You contradict yourself when you say you don’t want an oppressive state or a welfare state but you still want a state and elites.

        But history has proven that all elites are oppressive by definition, and all states are welfare states for the elites, because the elites extract production (usually vast amounts of it) they contributed nothing to producing.

        And since elitism means hierarchy, and hierarchy is automatically offensive to liberty, it’s oppressive in that way too.

        I really don’t know where you get off accusing me of some kind of extreme reaction to pro-elite attitudes. You know that’s a core principle here, yet you insist on coming here to rail against it. So yours is certainly the bizarre position here.

        They’re nothing but parasites who are entitled to literally ZERO of the wealth and power they arrogate. Not one measly crumb of food, not one iota of prerogative.

        This has always been evident, but if there was any doubt at all, the crash they intentionally caused and the Bailout they used the crash as the pretext to award themselves, history’s worst robbery, proves it beyond not just a reasonable doubt but beyond any shred of a doubt.

        We won’t recover our freedom, our prosperity, and our human dignity until we are completely rid of them, and from then we must be vigilant that we don’t allow any new oppressor to rise in their place.

        Comment by Russ — September 24, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

  4. “It seems to me that what the federal government has done in the Gulf is nothing less than set up a lawless corporate administration zone. It just isn’t readily noticeable yet because the actions have been localized, covered with propaganda whitewash, and there are so few paying attention anyway.”

    It isn’t noticed yet, in my view, for those reasons and because the worst effects of the catastrophe in The Gulf have yet to manifest fully. I imagine that when they do the local aspect will, if you’ll pardon the turn of phrase, spill out in a variety of spark igniting ways.

    Comment by Edwardo — September 24, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    • The eventual health aspects, for both the people of the region (and maybe way beyond the region) and the environment, are mind-boggling.

      Comment by Russ — September 24, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  5. There’s no doubt that the Democratic Party is dead, as is the Republican Party (neither party realizes it, though). The sooner regular people understand that the Democrat/Republican labels are meaningless, the sooner they’ll realize that the left-rigt frame is no longer operative (and has not been operative for some time).

    The question then becomes whether the people are prepared to embark on a true democracy. One potential problem arises from the tendency to reframe things in terms of the elites v. the masses. Where’s the dividing line?

    The fact is that there is something of a DMZ between the elites and the masses. How do you convince the folks in the DMZ that they aren’t being targeted as elites? This goes to your concept of “spectrum,” which is undermined by a frame of “the elite v. the people.”

    By the way, Chomsky is a favorite thinker of mine. I first discovered him twenty years ago when I was still an undergrad at MIT. I regret not tracking him down and introducing myself to him then.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — September 24, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

    • You identify a key problem. There’s lots of non-elite people who, either in general or on specific things, feel attacked when one attacks the system in certain ways. (Did you see the Naked Capitalism thread a few days ago where I managed to really offend one of the anti-elite regulars when I called for the debt jubilee? So you never know where you’re going to run into it.)

      There’s still time to track down Chomsky. Not like Chavez thought a few years back when in a speech he said he admired and wished he could have met “the late Noam Chomsky.”

      I sometimes wonder if guys like him read blogs like Naked Capitalism. That’s the best of the econoblogs, ain’t it? And the econoblogs are the best set I’m aware of, at least as far as day-to-day commentary.

      Comment by Russ — September 24, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

      • He rarely has time to look at blogs, he said, in an email dated 22Sep10. I didn’t expect to get an email reply from him, but he is very gracious that way. One of his friends, Norman G Finkelstein (“American Radical”) also replies to emails.

        Comment by RT — September 26, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

      • Thanks, RT.

        Comment by Russ — September 27, 2010 @ 6:33 am

      • Noam Chomsky is also one of my favorite thinkers. A friend of mine, introduced me to his book Hegemony or Survival seven years ago. Subsequently, I read some of his essays.

        Yes, you should write him an email, Russ. I am sure he would appreciate it when you ask him some questions.

        Comment by rene — September 27, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

      • Maybe I’ll do that. Not being familiar with his whole corpus, I wouldn’t be sure what to ask.

        Maybe what he thinks of the 19th century Populist movement and what a modern-day analogue of the Farmers’ Alliance Co-op could be.

        And who’s really the constituency for such a movement today. I speculated about stuff like that in this post.

        https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/marx-neo-feudalism-and-peak-oil/

        Maybe that question needs a post or two of its own when I reread Goodwyn’s book.

        Comment by Russ — September 27, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

      • Neither am I familiar with all of his work. He does know a lot about US politics. Why not ask him to read some of your work. I definitely recommend his book Hegemony or Survival.

        You mentioned and referred to organizations such as Slow Food USA and SteadyState (Casse). They seem excellent platforms for a modern day Farmer’s alliance to flourish.

        Comment by rene — September 27, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

      • It’ll have to be something like that.

        The two main lessons Lawrence Goodwyn derives from the Populist experience and asserts as basic rules are:

        1. You need to build a movement first, and then on that foundation build a political party.

        2. The movement has to be based on a real day-to-day action, in that case the Alliance Cooperatives.

        So while we don’t yet have the standards set, it seems to me that relocalization affords lots of possibilities for the action basis. The activity, and from there the political activism necessary to enhance and to defend it.

        Comment by Russ — September 28, 2010 @ 3:35 am

    • if you write him a letter he most likely will respond, or he did to me, a nobody.

      Comment by purple — September 26, 2010 @ 9:14 am

      • That’s hardly the democratic spirit! You’re Chomsky’s democratic equal, as I’m sure he’d agree.

        You’re right, though, about sending letters, trying to make contacts. I keep procrastinating with that.

        Comment by Russ — September 26, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  6. Regarding meeting Chomsky, he is a very old man now-coming up on 82- and as much as I think he once had a lot to say about the deficiencies of our socio-political system, and our government’s behavior within it, I don’t think that his “model” for lack of a better word, represents the way forward.

    John Zerzan’s radical model, as it were, probably isn’t either, but I think he has some very valid criticisms of Noam Chomsky, among others that, despite Chomsky’s reputation and presentation, he is, essentially, a statist.

    On a somewhat different note, and this may seem like sniping, Chomsky, who I once met briefly at a lecture, seems to have no sense of humor.

    Comment by Edwardo — September 24, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

    • “The director admitted to not being a Chomsky fan at the time he started the film but was won over but Chomsky’s charm, intellect and sly sense of humor (some of which you can see in the film). I think he called Chomsky “the best read grandfather alive” and told us about Chomsky’s 18-hour days lecturing and doing interviews and would often lose his voice by dinner time, but would always try and have something left for talking with the people who follow him around wanting to ask him about some issue or another. ”

      Excerpt from:

      http://www.amazon.com/Noam-Chomsky-Rebel-Without-Pause/dp/B0007TKNO2

      Comment by Steve — September 24, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

    • I’m not an expert on Chomsky, and I don’t know if there’s any structural objections to any of his work. The stuff I’ve read (many essays, no books yet) all seemed to be solid anti-imperialism and pro-democracy.

      I’m aware of the objections to his partying with statists like Chavez in his old age. It looks like a contradiction of his career-long proclaimed anarchist ideals.

      Thanks for the link, Steve. It looks like we have conflicting testimony here about Chomsky’s sense of humor or lack thereof.

      Comment by Russ — September 25, 2010 @ 2:55 am

      • “Money has invaded and ‘Incorporated’ American Politics to the point where it has become less than a ‘rigged’ game show, a sad spectacle of ‘people’ pretending to be competitors spouting forth a constructed rhetoric within parameters delineated by spinmeister as a cruel illusion designed to perpetuate ‘hope’ for human decency – when the ‘actors’ are merely performing to a script in which they are playing the role of psychopaths, the ‘best’ those able to fake sincerity and conviction, and to come across in the illusion magnified by Corporate media hype as the ‘genuine article’. The script they read from is as a stab at the heart of Democracy, the money they serve in such ‘Incorporation’ a betrayal of Humanity, and in the consequences as self evident, there is a murderous mockery of the Constitution of the United States of America. Stateless Bastards who ‘play such games’, who ‘take the money and run’, are indeed testimony to the wit and wisdom of Gore Vidal extended from the Office of President throughout the whole spectrum of ‘Party Politics’?

        “The saddest of such psychopathological cases have lost the ability to discern truth from lie; they as have embraced the motto as of the Mossad concerning ‘By Way of Deception thou shalt do War’, to the point where in the ‘Incorporation’ they are capable of deceiving themselves, such their degeneracy as has corrupted their divine spark to the point as so dimmed, such the abrogation they have entered into as to become incapable of holding anything, let alone truth, as ‘self evident’- so possessed as they are become of illusion.”

        http://www.counterpunch.com/martin09242010.html

        Comment by tawal — September 25, 2010 @ 10:13 am

  7. Those of hollow suit, must be steamrolled.

    Comment by tawal — September 25, 2010 @ 10:18 am

    • Good link, tawal. True and nasty.

      Comment by Russ — September 25, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

  8. Have you seen this?

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/09/25/secrecy

    Comment by Edwardo — September 27, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

    • Yeah, that’s a heck of a Catch-22.

      We’ll put out a hit on you, we’ll try to barricade the courtroom doors against you, and even if you get in there we’ll demand that the court refuse to listen because it’s a “state secret”.

      Never mind that there are no state secrets, and the war on terror is a scam, the real “war” part against actual terrorists has long since been won, and even whatever threat they ever did represent was never worth what we’ve been made to pay for it in our wealth, freedom, and human dignity.

      The terrorists won, because their allies, the worst terrorists of all, have always been the traitors among the elites.

      The stateless anti-American elites.

      Sometimes I very much want to believe in a just god so I could know they’ll burn in hell forever, every last one of them.

      Comment by Russ — September 27, 2010 @ 3:46 pm


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