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Department of Analytical Tools

I'm done here.

My work is better seen elsewhere. This is nothing more than a glorified chat room. Read more about I'm done here.

Janine R. Wedel, Shadow Elite

Shadow Elite -- subtitle: "How the world's new power brokers undermine democracy, government, and the free market" -- comes highly recommended; you might summarize it as "The Theory of Bob Rubins"; who the Bob Rubins of this world are, how they get and keep their power, and what their social relationships are. (Wedel is a sociologist.) Wedel's two key concepts are "flex nets" and "flexians" (I like "flexian" because it sounds like a breed of alien reptiles that I, for one, welcome, except not). I think the strength of the book will come in the examples of actual flex nets, but since I'm not all the way through it, I'll just quote the introduction on the concepts. Page 15 and following.

Beyond old boys
Like interest groups and lobbies, flex nets serve a long-established function in the modern state--negotiating between official and private. But while flex nets incorporate aspects of these and other such groupings, they also differ from them in crucial ways--and those ways are precisely what make flex net less visible and more accountable.

Four key features define both flexians as individuals and those influencers who work together as a flex net. Flexians functioning on their own exhibit the modus operandi embodied in all four features discussed below, as does a flex net as a whole. Because members of a flex net benefit from the actions of the collective, pooling resources and dividing labor, not all members of the flex net must exhibit these features individually.

Before getting to the four features (below), a pause to note that Flex Nets/Flexians arguably subsume/supersede notions like corruption, "money in politics," "the revolving door," and so forth. (Nancy DiParle is, I think, the candidate for Flexianhood we might be most familiar with: Wellstone VP -> Baucus CoS -> White House -> Big Pharma, leaving a trail of ruin and destruction, if you're a citizen or a patient, that is. We'd need to know more about her network, though). Read more about Janine R. Wedel, Shadow Elite

Best analysis I've read of the Tea Party phenomenon

Tea Party radicalism is misunderstood: Meet the “Newest Right”:

The Newest Right is the simply the old Jeffersonian-Jacksonian right, adopting new strategies in response to changed circumstances. While it has followers nationwide, its territorial bases are the South and the West, particularly the South, whose population dwarfs that of the Mountain and Prairie West. According to one study by scholars at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas:

While less than one in five (19.4%) minority non-Southerners and about 36% of Anglo non-Southerners report supporting the movement, almost half of white Southerners (47.1%) express support….

In fact, the role that antigovernment sentiment in the South plays in Tea Party movement support is the strongest in our analysis.

The Tea Party right is not only disproportionately Southern but also disproportionately upscale. Its social base consists of what, in other countries, are called the “local notables”—provincial elites whose power and privileges are threatened from above by a stronger central government they do not control and from below by the local poor and the local working class. Read more about Best analysis I've read of the Tea Party phenomenon

Arthur Silber on Zimmerman

Arthur Silber is always worthwhile reading - he makes you think, if nothing else! I loved his piece on George Zimmerman because of this statement: Read more about Arthur Silber on Zimmerman

Permanent Crisis Blog

I stumbled across the Permanent Crisis blog via Continental Drift (which is written by a performance artist) and found it most interesting. It assumes a good bit of foundational knowledge of Marxism, so if you don't have that, you may not get as much out of reading the entries as you would if you did, but they are still worth reading. Two posts, in particular, are required reading, in my book. Read more about Permanent Crisis Blog

Obama's Weimar Republic

A provocative piece by William I. Robinson Read more about Obama's Weimar Republic

letsgetitdone's picture

Lavoie's Critical Look at Modern Money Theory: A Reply

In October 2011 Marc Lavoie, a post-keynesian economist, very friendly to Modern Money Theory (MMT) wrote a paper presenting a friendly critical look at MMT. In his conclusion, Lavoie states that “. . . the neo-chartalist analysis is essentially correct . . . “ affirming his substantial agreement with MMT's analysis of banking operations and fiscal realities in nations with non-convertible fiat currencies, with floating exchange rates and no debts in currencies they do not issue, as well as MMT's analysis of Eurozone viability. But he goes on to say (p. 25):

“There is nothing or very little to be gained in arguing that government can spend by simply crediting a bank account; That government expenditures must precede tax collection; that the creation of high powered money requires government deficits in the long run; that central bank advances can be assimilated to a government expenditure; or that taxes and issues of securities do not finance government expenditures.”

So, Lavoie questions the wisdom of MMT economists and writers making certain counter-intuitive statements he perceives as certainly questionable, perhaps untrue, and also confusing to people, economists and decision makers trying to understand MMT writings. He considers these statements an important barrier to understanding, and he wants this 'baggage' to be discarded because he thinks it hurts MMT and post-keynesian efforts to get important new approaches to economics accepted. Read more about Lavoie's Critical Look at Modern Money Theory: A Reply

Greenwald and the NSA

Everyone here must already know about Bluffdale, Utah, right? If not .... well, read up on it. Read more about Greenwald and the NSA

David DeGraw Essay

How many here received an e-mail from David Degraw today? I'd say it is a "must-read" piece. I haven't finished it yet, but he's asking for comments and suggestions before June 21. Here's the link: Read more about David DeGraw Essay

affinis's picture

Psychology of conspiracy theories

A pretty good blurb on the psychological roots of conspiracy theories. Read more about Psychology of conspiracy theories

affinis's picture

Correcting misinformation and cognitive bias

False beliefs are often very “sticky” and resistant to change. If you’ve ever argued with a climate change denialist, you know what I mean.

But there’s good empirical research that has shown some approaches to be more successful than others. For example, the oft-used “Myth versus Fact” format for pamphlets may not be particularly successful – inadvertently reinforcing the myths – after a few days, people end up misremembering the myths as facts. Read more about Correcting misinformation and cognitive bias

affinis's picture


I found the following article (linked yesterday at NC) a very worthwhile read: "There is no alternative. Governments now answer to business, not voters. Mainstream parties grow ever harder to distinguish. Is democracy dead?"
The article invokes the concept of "Post-Democracy" - referencing the work of academic Colin Crouch.

Here's a 2011 interview with Colin Crouch, discussing Post-Democracy. Read more about Post-Democracy

athena1's picture

Chris Hedges on "Hope"


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