February 12, 2012

It Follows from the Premise

Filed under: Reformism Can't Work, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , — Russ @ 3:24 am


A typical example of the “campaign finance is hard to figure out” genre:

The outcome of the Citizens United ruling is to make each dollar equal in the political process. Those who have most dollars can determine who runs and on what platform. In extreme cases one person could bankroll a candidate, as seems to have happened with Newt Gingrich.

Anyone who cares about democracy should see why this is undesirable. But what is more undesirable is the difficulty a candidate would find in receiving funding if his or her platform does not cosset those rich corporations. Getting the money from thousands and thousands of twenty dollar contributions takes time and effort and can only be done by one or few candidates at a time.

Well, yeah. If you’re going to support capitalism, concentrated wealth, and “representative” government, then the campaign finance issue becomes difficult to solve indeed.
I’d go so far as to say it’s impossible to solve given these premises, and that I don’t understand why liberals keep whining about Citizens United. It’s in the mainstream of their logic, and follows logically from everything they support.



  1. Hi Russ,
    I hope you’re having a good winter. I’m glad to see you’re writing.

    I think Liberals keep whining about Citizens United because it exposes one of their biggest hypocrisies: they too have also sold out to corporate interests. They require a vast corporatized fundraising operation and deference to corporate interests to maintain their hollow Democratic party machine, which left them for Corporate Money two decades ago.

    “How will we fight the Baddies if we can’t compete on the same unlevel playing field?”

    On the extreme right and left there is a massive ideological blind spot for Corporatism. It is worse on the right, but equally destructive on the left.

    Comment by Ross — February 12, 2012 @ 8:29 am

    • Thanks Ross, and same to you. How’s that farm project going?

      I don’t think “left” and “right” are useful concepts any longer (if they ever were), but you’re right that liberals are just as corporatist as conservatives.

      Like you said, it’s in part a partisan tribalism which fears that the more overtly elections are bought, the more this gives the Reps an advantage over the Dems. I think it’s also the characteristic ideological incoherency of “progressives”. They want concentrated wealth to exist, but don’t want it to act like concentrated wealth. They want the commodification of everything but elections.

      An exception for elections? Why is the buying and selling of elections by gangsters any worse than anything else? Personally, I say let them further commodify their bogus “elections”. I’m more concerned with the commodification of food, water, and land.

      Comment by Russ — February 12, 2012 @ 9:36 am

      • Winter is winter. The only farming I’m doing is inside. I prototyped a cheap (>$100) aeroponics kit for growing greens and herbs indoors. We also bought a mushroom kit from the indoor farmers market and harvested our first Cremini this morning.

        I agree re: Right/Left but I think it’s still useful for delineating the groups that remain ideologically invested in our faux-democratic paradigm.

        Comment by Ross — February 12, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

      • I don’t agree about the utility of “left-right”. By any objective or historical standard the reference is wrong (our “leftmost” elites are right-of-center at best), and all it does is to help keep people mired in a mindset of internecine squabbling, when we should all recognize corporatism and elitism as such as the enemy of all of humanity.

        Therefore I prefer formulations like:

        Democracy vs. elitism (economic and political hierarchy).

        Citizen vs. elitist (or authoritarian).

        And so on. Such dichotomies are descriptive and convey all useful information, and are much harder to pollute with extraneous, inflammatory content which can be used for misdirection purposes.

        That’s great about the indoor farming. I’ll be starting seeds within a month.

        Comment by Russ — February 13, 2012 @ 1:41 am

  2. Easy money trumps principles.

    I wonder if the original author was being intentionally ironic . . .

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — February 12, 2012 @ 10:21 am

    • I doubt it. I don’t read that blog much, but everything I’ve seen there says earnest liberal all the way.

      I liked the way you described how Yves Smith depicts the state of a deal with gangsters (who ought and need to be simply obliterated) as THE measure of justice, hope, posterity, etc. etc. Talk about strictly delimiting the “sphere of controversy” and which proposals are acceptable to even be discussed.

      Comment by Russ — February 12, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

      • Thanks. I have grown tired of outrage management, the creation and funneling of anger in a predictable, partisan way, and I use “partisan” very loosely to identify every basis for having a false certainty of superiority. For so-called progressives, FCS always boils down to their belief that they are the smartest people on the planet, which makes them particularly easy to dupe, as shown by Yves.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — February 12, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  3. Hi Russ,

    Don’t know whether you keep up with Wm K Black’s stuff, but thought you could appreciate this off-topic reference:

    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2012

    A Dimon Repeatedly in the Rough who Demands Winter Rules (aka Preferred Lies)
    By William K. Black
    (Cross-posted from Benzinga.com)

    “Consider the chutzpah of JPMorganChase claiming “a strong record of compliance with securities laws” after SEC staff investigations found six violations in 13 years. But that kind of arrogance and indifference to complying with the law is inevitable under an SEC regime that allows the SDIs to play by Winter Rules. “Improved lies” captures perfectly the perverse incentives that the SEC has created.

    The CEOs of SDIs who know that they can commit fraud with effective impunity (the SEC fines are typically chump change from the SDIs’ standpoint) develop a belief in their divine right to transcend the law and conventional morality. Jamie Dimon captures the mindset that Nietzche celebrated for the Superman. Dimon extends the logic of transcendence to its ultimate, absurd, extreme. He is enraged that the CEOs running the SDIs have been criticized. It turns out that the SDIs’ CEOs are sensitive types. Nobody exemplifies this Rich White Whine motif better than Dimon.

    “I’ve disagreed right from the beginning of this blanket blame of all banks,” Dimon said in an interview with Charlie Gasparino of the Fox Business Network Tuesday. “I don’t like that. I think that’s just a form of discrimination that should be stopped.”


    Comment by wilwon3 — February 12, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

    • Black’s in the same category as Yves Smith – he’s a good reporter, and provides useful information for real democratic activists. But meanwhile his prescription remains reformist and therefore actually pro-bank. He plays the role of the “regulator with real integrity”, and tries to mire people in the mindset that the answer is to find Better Regulators, more Bill Blacks.

      But the banks, like all other corporate rackets, cannot be regulated. Even during the heyday of the mass middle class, regulation was an endless war of attrition at best. Now that this middle class is being liquidated and we’re entering the stage of corporate totalitarianism and re-feudalism, it’s a complete delusion to think there can ever be regulation of this corporate fascism. Those who still call for it are at best objective collaborators with it.

      Like all fascism, corporatism can only be eradicated completely. It’s corporatism or humanity, all or nothing. That’s the stark choice totalitarians force upon us.

      (I see that he’s also an ignoramus about Nietzsche. Short answer, no, Dimon and the banksters have nothing in common with N’s Ubermensch.

      Longer answer here:

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/the-nietzschean-ascent-to-democracy-2-of-2/ )

      Sorry if I sound irascible, William, but the time for patience with these “reformer” types (who wouldn’t be reformers if they didn’t basically support the 1%) is long since past. I can no longer tolerate them.

      Comment by Russ — February 13, 2012 @ 2:26 am

  4. Off topic, but of interest re smallholding:

    I haven’t seen the animal welfare argument made like this before, where dairy cows in factory farms “rate” higher than animals kept outdoors by SPCA criteria (goes back to credentialism). This is pretty pernicious.

    Comment by paper mac — February 12, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

    • That would be amazing in a rational, human society. Under corporate tyranny, it’s typical.

      This pattern is familiar from the Orwellian “food safety” regime. This short quote has it all:

      OSPCA spokesperson Allison Cross differed somewhat on what criteria are applied.

      Cross said the OSPCA has specific standards for each individual animal, while noting the regulations are passed down by the provincial government.

      Further, she said each standard of treatment is “science based” with input by various stakeholders, including veterinarians and farmers.

      We have the myopic do-gooder outfit acting as a de facto (or intentional) corporate front group, and regulations that aren’t based on any rational, common sense, scientific or empirical criteria, but simply “passed down”, Humpty Dumpty fashion, from corporatist politicians. (For a parallel “food safety” example, see the FDA’s definition of “milk” which includes pasteurization, with the result that unpasteurized milk is technically “misbranded” and “adulterated” if you call it “milk” at all. Thus real milk becomes unmilk, while pasteurized post-milk material is declared by bureaucratic fiat to be “milk”.)

      Then we also have the good old Orwellian fiat declaration that a complete disregard for science = “science based”.

      (I think that kind of “black is white, up is down” brazenness is more clever than the old attempts to smear what they don’t like as “junk science”.)

      Comment by Russ — February 13, 2012 @ 2:13 am

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