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Belated explanation for winter silence

Not an apology, really, and thanks so much to people who kept posting in my absence; that's heartening. When Baltimore blew up, I figured I had better hop back in, because there aren't many bloggers [lambert blushes modestly] who have the background that I do in live-blogging complicated and fast-moving events of resistance, non-violent or not. For good or ill, Baltimore de-escalated, and so I didn't keep on with it (here). But then, I had also said I'd start blogging about my garden when there was a garden to blog about, and now there is.

Now, it is true that I've been blogging, basically 24/7, for -- let me see, 2015 - 2003 = 12 years; that's a long time. And if I were the repellent Andrew Sullivan, I'd hang up my blogging shoes and declare blogging dead because I'd decided not to do it any more. It is true that in 2003, blogs encompassed everything from long-form analysis to reporting to the kind of short-form and ephemeral writing we now do on Twitter and Facebook; when corporate forces ripped that away, they removed a real community-building force from the blogosphere. Nevertheless, it's still possible to do that work in 2015. And for ephemeral political blogging, I created a short-form platform over at Naked Capitalism, "Water Cooler," because I felt that 24/7 was too much energy dedicated to short-form, Eschaton-style work -- for those who came in late, Atrios gave me and others our start in blogging -- when I had longer-form work I wanted to do, work that I felt would be more serious and have a bigger impact. Work that I list below, even though I have not been able to do it.

Besides needing a break, I ran out of gas. In fact, I ended up with a case of writer's block, and I'm not sure I'm unblocked. Basically, I have three projects stacked up, waiting for me to finish them. All are in essence book-length, and all bear on current events and politics. The difficulty is getting started on one, and then finishing it, while using blogging as the medium. ("Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." Or an empty box with a submit button, as the case may be.)

These are the three projects:

(1) The Market State. Here's the post; I can't believe this has been fermenting since 2012. That's very bad; it's still a state-of-the-art concept, and needs to be written and incorporated into polemic. Underneath the machinery, the basic idea is this: Suppose you define the purpose of the state as to support the market, like good neo-liberals do, but then you put the state itself into the market (which has to happen, since neo-liberals have no principled way to explain what should be in the market and what should not). The upshot is that the state itself is put on the market -- this is a lot like the Soros notion of reflexivity -- and the result is a dysfunctional state and massive corruption, exactly as we have today (and surprising nobody except the neoliberals). This is an important, even a critical topic under the rubric of "Know Your Enemies." (It's also an implicit refutation, or subsuming, of Peter Dale Scott's notion of the "Deep State.")

(2) Identity Politics, a Critique. Starts here, and continues here, here, and here. If the previous project is "Know Your Enemy," this piece is "Know Your Friends." Take it as axiomatic that it takes 80% of the population for a change in the Constitutional order from the bottom up, as in Egypt. Can identity politics as practiced by Democrats get to that point? Clearly not; in fact, one might argue that it cannot, by design, which is what keeps the two parties oscillating in the narrow range of the Overton Window. If not, how can we formulate an approach to identity that will get to the 80% baseline? And in what sense does a person of my identity -- whether of class, race, gender, or age -- have what may as well be called "standing" to participate in the discussion? (I titled the most recent posts "Noodling" for a reason.) This project started in 2014, and I let it drop in 2015, frankly, because I got sour and tired of coming into my workplace and getting needled for being a white dude, given that I'm also the white dude doing the work and paying the price[1] to keep the space alive. So obviously, I'm hesitant to move on with this project, but equally obviously, it's a very important one, because capital thrives on inducing the identity differences, through mechanisms I'm not clear on.)

(3) The 12 Points. If the previous two are "Know Your Enemies," and "Know Your Friends," this one is "Know What You Want." I wish I already had the book this topic deserves written, so I could print it out, take the train to New York, and throw it in Deblasio's face (more about him later this evening, I hope). This project has been going on forever. But it really will take a book's worth of effort to write it, and the 12 Points project seems to depend on the previous two projects: A clear understanding of the market state is needed to assault and reconfigure it for our purposes; and it's necessary to supersede or transcend identity politics to have a hope of winning the assault, via support from "the 80%." (My concept of fitting current events into the 12-Points frame just didn't seem to work for me; I'm not sure why. But perhaps it worked for you, readers?) I plucked this paragraph out from a longer piece on Greece:

I believe that big changes in history, big ruptures, don’t happen in the name of the long term goal, of the big ideas. They happen when seemingly modest demands, but corresponding to absolutely vital needs of society at that particular moment, cannot be satisfied without changing the whole social structure.

Any one of the 12 Points (or 12 Reforms) could be such a "modest demand," so let's get them ready, say I.

Finally, for each project, it's not clear to me how to begin. Starting with that blank sheet of paper and writing is very different from reacting in near real time, which so much of blogging is about.

My thought -- if I can figure out how to get started -- is to do the work in (1), (2), (3) order above. For the market state, the research is done, and it's very easy to fit contemporary events into the market state frame. For identity politics, the failure of Democratic politics based on that "theory" is so evident, and we might as well get the whole issue out of the way before the real madness of 2016 begins. And for the 12 points, accumulate material as I go; I can always be reactive, and compare other platforms, like Deblasio's, to it as I go along.


NOTE [1] There was no fundraiser at Corrente this Spring because I felt I hadn't delivered enough.

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nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on


I was at a meeting this afternoon where identity politics was threshed out with a fairly diverse group of people and the leadership of the county Democratic Party. The upshot was that the Party loves it and everyone else is pretty much over the concept. That well has been poisoned...for those present, anyway.

At this point most of us would vote for a plant that we could trust. It was all about trust.

Submitted by lambert on

Why was "everyone else" over the concept?

And what was their method for determining trust? (Mine is policy; not personality, biography, that stuff. I mean, Bill Clinton had a very appealing biography; I remember the movie when he was nominated for the first time. Made me happy because I felt for the first time there was someone speaking to me, and for me. But as events transpired...)

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

You vote for someone who promises accountability and then end up with Jamie Dimon wearing his Presidential cufflinks. If we had wanted to vote for Jamie Dimon.......You know the drill. There quite simply is not an issue that this group has not managed to spoil.

Speaking of which, I was called out on the statement that Wasserman-Schultz and Israel's DNC threw the mid-terms. I held my own pretty well with the two Republicans she covered for in Florida, but then blanked on the liberals that she defunded in favor of blue dogs and trending districts that were not funded at all. I cannot find anything definitive that covers the topic to e-mail them, any suggestions?

gizzardboy's picture
Submitted by gizzardboy on

I'm glad to see you writing again. It has been a long run of blogging for you. Maybe you have been expecting just too much of yourself. Bloggers we both read, The Archdruid Report, Club Orlov and Clusterfuck Nation do a once a week post. The Anti-Empire Report doesn't even stick to a once a month schedule, but they are all worth reading. Maybe you should be satisfied without expecting so much of yourself. Your work at whatever level is appreciated.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks... I would have made some sort of announcement.

I dunno. A once a week schedule seems pretty light. And I don't know how I'd finish those projects, just on a sheer production basis. And they all seem worth completing, to me. Perhaps I need to reconceptualize them.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

lambert, may you keep on keeping on with your noble work ... I would say tireless ... but we are all human and things are so formidable and we do get tired and ... it changes us in some ways and it makes us fight not to change core-wise and conscience-wise in others.

I have appreciated having correntewire as a mother ship. Thank you for sustaining it so generously and seemingly tirelessly!

I probably assume wrongly that my perspective is endorsed more often than it is by you or your readers, but corrente is an oasis in the desert of mainstream media brainwashing in this cyberworld.

I've lost a large forum on open salon recently in which I felt I was messengering to the choir AND non-choir a perspective that sometimes incited pushback and annoyance and disbelief but at least rippled out reality and a plea to question authority and role modeled the questioning of authority. More the quest as a fellow blogger there said of my opening minds rather than changing them. Frustrating at times, inspiring at others. There was a small tribe of us on the same page most of the time that gave some valuable cheerleading to that exercise. When we ourselves found each other on other pages, it was hard and jolting but healthy one would hope.

Since losing that vast wide-ranging political AND non-political forum of sensibilities that offered me a soap-box among many other soap boxes I am astonished to see how rare and precious that particular forum was.

My steady "radicalization" -- from trying to stay abreast with alternate media and ongoing disgust with mainstream propaganda and the continuing bloodbaths abroad and domestic corporate fraud of the US establishment -- and discovery of how polarized the "real to me" left is from the faux-Obama left and with more fracturing due from the oncoming Hillary election machinations.

The lemming cliff-fall of "lesser evilism". Since the horror days of the public option, and the so-called pragmatic progressives turning on the liberal idealists there seems a tragic rift in a citizenry I once considered capable of conscience, the majority of it. Bush getting his second term was psychologically traumatic but I at least thought there was a mass horror among us non-Republicans with us more or less on the same moral and intellectual page.

The apologizing for Obama and his regime is Pavlovian among so many. It is tragic. And after more than one and a half terms of Obama the denial is entrenched and the intolerance on some websites is zero of people trying to reality-monger.

After Bush I remember listening to various people on Air America and having the "oh ohs". What is happening? The authoritarian following Dems and the we have learned our lesson not to be authoritarian following ones who were more and more voted off the island of political and media establishments.

Fahrenheit 451 was such a powerful book and movie. The hope offered by the book people who went off to join together in the wilderness to stay enlightened and prepare eventually to save society. At least I hoped that would be the sequel.

80% you say? That is the critical mass? Do they need the illusion of being on the same side as we all thought in those horrific Bush days. Or really be on the same side which seems such an impossibility fighting the surreal "truthiness" of the Obama and Hillary and MSNBC devotees?

My thoughts and feelings and frustration.

Submitted by lambert on

See this quote and check out the piece it comes from:

I believe that big changes in history, big ruptures, don’t happen in the name of the long term goal, of the big ideas. They happen when seemingly modest demands, but corresponding to absolutely vital needs of society at that particular moment, cannot be satisfied without changing the whole social structure.

It's very difficult (obviously) to get people to take a holistic perspective, as you know. But if there is a "modest demand" the system cannot meet (for example, in 1789, taxing the First and Second estates) then a "rupture" is possible. That's why demands in terms of concrete material benefits are so important. In retrospect, that's what the 12 Points platform is good for, framing such "modest demands."

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Appreciate the further explanation and God bless the pragmatic thinkers among the book people.

It has to hurt personally to make people get it. And hurt enough. Simultaneously being understood, the real cause of the hurt, I am thinking. When the hurt is mis-explained, then you have passionate people fighting a non-enemy and aiding and abetting the real one.

From my take, I see a culture in which three sensibilities, empathy, honesty and loyalty are out of balance. Loyalty seems to trump all. Cronyism blinds all.

My take.

Submitted by lambert on

... that are not really suitable for NC. (Water Cooler is basically my Eschatonian side, but I used to be a pretty fair analyst back in the day.) But that's a lot of work and in some ways I'm looking for guidance from readers on whether it's possible/useful/interesting, and if so, how to make the assault on the mountain (three mountains, actually).

blues's picture
Submitted by blues on

Um... NO! No "longer think pieces" please. I thought the poison ivy rash was something far more nasty, and was about to beg you to get a second opinion. Then you just disappeared for a month. Leaving me with all this horrible guilt! Damn you!

Stop this stupid "thinking" crap. Just cultivate your garden and leave the thinking to those of us who give a shit.

Oh well, my existence has been an even bigger disaster. Let's not even go there.

Submitted by lambert on

I would have though that was clear.

That said -- and others can join in here, with their own posts -- I'll try to come up with a "Common Household Remedies Request." Since the heating season is over and the growing season has not yet begun, that's not quite as easy as it may seem!