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