MoveOn's intellectual incoherence and moral vapidity
Let me sharpen something that Stoller wrote:
I did read this piece on Moveon member priorities.
What they chose: universal health care*; economic recovery and job creation; building a green economy; stopping climate change; and end the war in Iraq.
What they didn't: holding the Bush administration accountable; fighting for gay rights and LGBT equality; and reforming campaigns and elections.
This is a very interesting problem.
Apparently, MoveOn has yet to join the ranks of the reality-based community. Because they can't achieve their high priorities without taking their low priorities into account! Let's talk about "economic recovery" (high priority) and "holding the Bush administration accountable"(low priority) from the standpoint of intellectual coherence:
Most people believe that holding criminals accountable for their actions through the justice system is necessary for a functioning society (unless a Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes is your view of what a functioning society should be). And if we don't hold all criminals accountable -- including those who hold high office -- then where is the rule of law? Nowhere, that's where. And if you don't have the rule of law, you don't have a functioning market. As London Banker wrote at Nouriel Roubini's place:
The Unitary Federal Reserve - Crisis Choreography
Just as we here in the rest of the world hoped we might breathe easy with the end of the Bush administration in sight, and several creditable candidates for president coming forward, the lawless unitary executive has expanded to embrace the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, debasing and contaminating the financial markets globally with its spread to our own central banks and market authorities and destabilizing our banks and investment markets. Once again in the name of crisis and expediency the laws are ignored, decisions are taken in secret, extra-judicial reapportionment of property and contract is mandated by executive fiat, and legislative review and judicial intervention are impossible. Over the past year every financial crisis has been met with lawless and Enron-esque innovation by the Federal Reserve and Treasury, and this week was arguably more extreme.
After this week's secret and unaccountable and extra-legal moves by the US financial authorities, I will not be holding any assets in the United States. I do not understand the rules. I doubt any rules will be applied fairly to all the players. I cannot be sure who the umpire works for, or what principles the umpire thinks they should uphold. I will not play the game....
People may be fleeing to Treasuries now, but over the long haul, if our markets become perceived as being as lawful as those of your typical Banana Republic -- no knock on actual banana-producing countries -- than capital is going to be very hard to raise through them. Why would people risk their money in rigged game with no rules? **
So, how can you have economic recovery if you don't have the rule of law? Answer: You can't. You may get a flush of health on the cheeks of a dying patient through Keynesian stimulus, but you don't have recovery.
Now let's talk about holding the Bush administration accountable from the standpoint of morality. What MoveOn is recommending is what the Village wants: A "Get Out of Jail Free" card for the lawbreakers who normalized torture and warrantless surveillance of all Americans. It's like, after we won World War II, we let the Nazis continue to run the government -- since, after all, they acted with the highest of motives, for the greater good of Germany. Imagine what Obama's "big table" would look like under those circumstances: You and Joseph Goebbels could go on the teebee together, talking about media concentration; or you could participate with Heinrich Himmler in a seminar at AEI on torture. Or, alternatively Goebbels, Himmler, and the Todt organization could have seen which way the wind is blowing, and started a green business -- for which they would now like a few billions in taxpayer money. Or, alternatively, they went into the medical records business together; after all, they were all experts in record keeping, from the Wansee conference onward.
So, how can any "progressive" make progress in conditions like this, where there is literally no difference between right and wrong, and good and evil?*** Answer: They can't.
MoveOn, it seems, has become a giant megaphone for the Village, which hates accountability above all else. That doesn't bode well for the coming year, at least if consensus, civility, and tranquillity are your main objectives.
NOTE * When push comes to shove, will they support single payer? My answer is "yes" if they are shoved hard enough.
NOTE ** Does anyone know whether financial engineering produced a net profit for the economy as a whole? Or, including the bust as well as the bubble, did it simply reallocate wealth?
NOTE *** I don't want to seem dogmatic. But just because there are so many shades of grey does not mean that black and white do not exist. In reality. Torture really is evil. And the program of warrantless surveillance really did break the law. No shades of grey there. No society can tolerate, let alone normalize, such behavior by elites for long without risking disintegration. MoveOn, being intellectually incoherent and morally vapid, does not understand this.