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The Question

Stirling Newberry's picture

[I'm stickying this post, if a bit late, since it seems to tie together a lot of what we've been talking about since the lame duck session. --lambert]

The question is not whether one party is better than another, it is whether either is equal to the times. The accomplishment is not on the weight of the bills passed, but the force of the ideas. It is not enough to oppose a movement of empty minds, with a party of empty gestures. The party of the banks, will not, in the end, defeat a party of the people, even if those people have become an armed mob seeking emoluments undeserved and unearned.

Obama, an odious and small man, of small mind and narrow energies, was defeated by a party even more odious and smaller minded, but of devoted energies. They could feel and see where the money would come from to pay themselves. Last night, the old half of the poor, voted to kill the younger half of the poor. The next targets on the list, are the public service unions, social security for younger people, and jobs. It is tempting to focus on the personalities: nazi re-enactors, avowed racists, and a collection of pols who seemed to think that once they had backed into power, there was no way to back out. It is tempting to focus on the naked racism of the far right, or the soft racism of the center left, which even this morning continues to try and spin this as a rejection of a move to the left.

But these ignore the deeper truths, and it is those deeper truths, and not the slogans or shallow attachments of partisan pandering, which will drive the future.

The first is inner contradiction. That inner contradiction can be phrases simply: there is no way to continue the red queen's race of the wealthy of the developed world against the wealthy of the developing and resource world, and still have a long term electable coalition. Too much must be cut from too many people. The second inner contradiction is that the era of monetary neo-liberal policy has reached a contradiction. In a free market, to be efficient, there must be one price for everything. It's required mathematically. However, in the neo-liberal era, monetary policy replaces fiscal policy as the preferred way of slowing down a hot economy, or speeding up a slow one. What happens when the interest required to keep both government and corporate world's solvent, let alone producing enough growth and employment, is below that which is required to be attractive to savers to bring parked money into circulation? What happens when the banks are leaking money so fast, that no sane person will put money into them?

Why then, there must be two prices for money. Which means that the global economy will be inefficient by definition, and since those two prices diverge by a great deal, almost all economic activity will, in the end, be about finding a way to arbitrage those two prices, at whatever bandwidth is available. The neo-liberal paradox is not new, it was reached in the mid 1980's, in the late 1990's, and in the 2000's. What happens is a Minskian collapse: everyone rushes into the arbitrage channel. Since it is logically impossible for everyone to buy the free dollars, and sell the expensive dollars, eventually the government must by the waste, and close down the old hole, only to open a new one.

The neo-liberal game is to give banks a free price for money, and then have them charge more than this to others. However, once America could no longer exploit other countries, and had to start packaging its own income and selling it, the game was over: there was no way to keep ahead, because Americans were borrowing against, not their ability to manage others growth, but their own.

What this means is that the fundamental policy assumptions: that the mandate of government is to create paper wealth that developing countries buy, faster than we leak deficit to them for resources and manufactured goods, and that the government's monetary role is to maintain the two tier price for money, are broken. There is no way, long term, to fix even the paper assumptions. This leaves aside the physical problems we face: the twin towers of global warming and oil depletion.

The present has two parties who act in a representative plutocracy: they take money from entrenched interests, and sell the policies of those entrenched interests, in return they make the value proposition of purchasing the loyalties of enough of the poor. This is why politics has become more divided: because each party represents ins and outs. It is also why there is perpetual minmaxing of benefits: each party wants as small and inexpensive an entourage to pay for as possible. The Democratic value proposition to donors, is that it is better and cheaper to buy urban voters, and the young, and the Republican value proposition is that it is cheaper to buy exurban resource extractors, and those with a white identity. But the benefits offered are completely marginal, compared to the implied promise of continuing the red queen's race upwards of money.

Note the important tension: the more benefits offered, the more imports, the more imports, the more important it is to move money upwards to match the money from imports. The Republican Party's contradiction is that its economy is completely unproductive, the Democratic Party's contradiction, is that its economy is not productive enough to make up for the increased demand it creates. The Republican Party dominates, because an unproductive poor economy, is easier to keep afloat, than a not very productive richer economy.

These tensions produce a poisoned politics. Both parties must simultaneously pander to, and push down, their own populist wings. The Republicans accepted some loss of net seats because of their populists, but over all, that number is probably only 2: Nevada and Delaware. In return, they get a much more energized base, and that gained them many more House seats. The Democrats who are wringing their hands over the costs of the Tea Party, are really already getting ahead of the game of kicking their own populists. The Democratic Party needed Obama himself to come out and kick his own base, repeatedly. That base, once kicked, stayed down. With the results seen in the election. The old voted, and largely as they have voted for the last 10 years: in favor of gray fascism. The young did not vote. In only two years, Obama had lost them

But this is mirrored across the developed world: in the UK, the budget will be balanced on the backs of the young, including in University fees. In France, retirement age increases were pushed through by a government with less than 30% approval. In Germany a right wing coalition imposes austerity on all of Europe, to keep the currency reigned in. The global old, are in firm control of the future, and since they do not have much future, they are voting to strip it bare.

The conversation within the narrow range of what is possible in rearranging an inefficient market to a least loss configuration has an answer: if there is a zero sum resource game, then the market will best allocate the resources. However, the market cannot define the game, nor does it expand the size of resources. A politics of scarcity now, and scarcity forever, is a conservative politics, a politics of plenty, even in the future, is a liberal politics. The present has no desire to move beyond the petroleum economy, nor beyond the land casino, in America, or the benefit society, in Europe.

But these are paper claims, and they are enforced by paper tigers, leading down a paper trail.

What is important to realize is that there is no paper solution. No grand reform bill, or compromise. Instead there is only the relentless focus on the real: shifting effort from where it is useless, and directed only at gaining paper profits, to where it useful. If in 1933, the only thing we had to fear, was fear itself, in 2011, the only thing we need, is need itself.

From this we have learned, that it is not from the ballot box, which is, after all, a thing of paper, that change will come. It must come from a social consensus, as the devotion to corporations became a consensus in the late 1970's, and has manifested itself no matter which party was in power, nor which President was in the office. Since our problems are real, they must come from real actions, and from firmly rooted beliefs. It's theory is that the public is not a cost to be managed, but the only source of energy from which all activity flows.

The theory of the present Democratic Party is that if stupid people are managed better by smart people, then there is an excess that can be applied to social projects. It is the theory of middle managers. The theory of the Republican Party is that stupid managers prevent smart engineers from doing smart things. This is a religion, its gospel is written by Rand and Heinlein, and it is no more true than the idea that the world is filled with little wastes. In truth, engineers are no more efficient than any other group of knowledge workers, and less efficient than many: witness the lack of productivity gains from a generation of computers.

These theories are not the theory of the progressive movement, which instead asserts, that it is the weight of rents, and claims made in ignorance, and adjudicated by corruption, that weigh down the energy of the world. It asserts that there are two, and only two, futures. One is to engage in continued dumping of pollution forward, until it boils over, the other is to change the shape of the societies of humankind, until they do not reward as profit in the present, pollution to be paid for for all posterity.

It is a simple choice: destruction, or creation. Last night, Americans did not have that choice, and so they chose an appetite for destruction, which matched their hunger for change. Expect less than nothing from this Congress, and this President, their vision is still firmly planted backwards, across conflicts that are long over, and upon slogans that are shards that rip the body politic. Expect nothing from discourse of the moment, since it is woven by people who protect their petty positions, and are merely searching for absolution from their last failure, to find failure again.

Because of this, do not accept the false choice between bad and worse, between wrong and wrongheaded. Simply because two sides are arguing, does not mean either of them are right. Simply because someone is anointed a leader, does not mean he can lead.

Instead with a clarity that history now affords, the there is a simple ruler against which every party can be measured: do nothing for those, who do not promise to do enough. If you vote out of fear, then you will live in fear. A coward not only dies a thousand deaths, he loses a thousand elections. The future will have great contempt for this age, whatever future that may be, and which ever language it is written in. But we are not inhabitants of some distant future, fury and contempt are luxuries we do not have, because they are bought with the currency of distance, which we do not have.

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Tony Wikrent's picture
Submitted by Tony Wikrent on

Stirling writes:

From this we have learned, that it is not from the ballot box, which is, after all, a thing of paper, that change will come. It must come from a social consensus . . . Since our problems are real, they must come from real actions, and from firmly rooted beliefs. It's theory is that the public is not a cost to be managed, but the only source of energy from which all activity flows.

James Galbraith says:

Veblen was a forerunner of what I hope will be the development of economic thought; the understanding that principles that underlie biological systems are the same principles that underlie all living systems. The concepts of hierarchies and controlled and uncontrolled predatory conduct are universal.

I love that Galbraith points to Veblen, because Veblen's central thesis is that the ruling "leisure class" is inherently unable to understand that "the public is . . . the only source of energy from which all activity flows."

A week or two ago, ChicagoDyke posted a lamentation about how we must find a truly progressive political leader. I was so angry at the time, I choose not to respond, but instead try to think through why my reaction.

My conclusions? There is no true progressive leader to be found, and even if there were, he or she would not be able to do much to save this society. WE are the ones who will save this society, and the way we do that is by creating the new social consensus Stirling points to. We must revive the ideas of the common good and the general welfare, and destroy the idea of what Galbraith identifies as "the unfettered freedom of the market and the ruthless starvation of the state." We must devote ourselves and our lives to becoming what marxists would call the revolutionary vanguard. We must learn and master the long, hard history of how the institution of the sovereign nation state has developed as an expression of the popular will of a people. We must learn and master the shadowy, hidden history of how cabals, faction, conspiracies - call them what you will - have used methods of intelligence and espionage to usurp, misdirect, and derail that institution of the sovereign nation state as an instrument of a people's will. We must learn and master these things, that we may teach them to others. Because no one else is going to do it. Only us. It is our historical destiny. Let us seize it with solemn forboding of the pains and tribulations such a task demands, but also with the joy of knowing that ours will be some of the most important lives ever to have been given mortal breath to walk this planet.

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on serve as a revolutionary vanguard. Feelings are running very deep that this is not the America we want or ever expected to see during "our" lifetimes.

But from where does the center of that revolution spring forth? Where do those of us willing to listen and learn and then use our individual talents to help others learn go to get started? How shall we combine energies and our anger to help shape a new social consensus that may someday - maybe not even during some of our lifetimes - actually take root and grow?

I want to help.

I don't know what to do.

I don't know where to turn.

How do we get started in a meaningful way?

I've never fought a revolution before.

Tony Wikrent's picture
Submitted by Tony Wikrent on

I believe that the best course of action at this time is to undertake an extensive program of reading and writing. Reading leads to understanding current events in their proper context of the flow of human history, and that understanding is crucial to being able to identify “the moment” when it comes, and what to do when it does.

Perhaps because Galbraith mentioned it, I suggest you begin with Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class is widely available as a book, including a cheap Dover paperback at less than $5.00 new. It is also available entirely online for free.
and at a few other sites.

Reading Veblen will pose a tough mental and intellectual challenge. He is not light reading; he is “thought-dense.” If you can read and understand Veblen, you will be able to read and understand almost anything. You are preparing your mind to be a sharp instrument of statecraft, intrigue, and even war, because it might come to that. Develop yourself as Plato’s philosopher king.

Veblen’s powerful combination of economics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology provides an understanding of the politico-economic relationships and conditions which today are preventing our society from solving the problems we face.

And, Veblen’s devastating critique of “pecuniary culture” will give you a much more critical approach to issues of culture: what role does art, architecture, fashion, entertainment, and sports play in holding back or advancing the human condition? Such a critical view is essential to any person who aspires to the statesman’s role of shoving a society in a different direction.

Do not shy away from writing your thoughts that are prompted by this reading. Sharing is essential to the building of a new social consensus.

In the meantime, I will try to develop a recommended reading list, hopefully with the collaboration of others.

RockyRococo's picture
Submitted by RockyRococo on

The American "left" must now become a Left. The argument for playing footsie with the center has always been that of pragmatism, that it would be a quick road to political success, if a bit watered down to reach that success. The success of our alliance with the center, our submersion in the center more truly, now stands revealed. Are we pragmatic enough to abandon that course which has failed? Are we courageous enough to stand on our own two feet? Are we resilient enough to take the poundings that going our own way will entail? I don't know the answers to those questions, what I do know is that it is time to find out.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Here's Chris Floyd on the dynamic of the last 20-30 years:

History gives this proof: in almost every national election for the past two decades, we have seen a change in control of either one or both houses of Congress or the White House. This has happened in 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, and now again in 2010. The pattern is very clear. And it is not because Americans “prefer divided government,” as the dim chewers of Beltway cud like to tell us; it’s because they can’t get anyone in the system to address their concerns.

Yet with every turnover in factional control, we see a rush of earnest, serious analysis telling us how the results represent a vast sea change in America’s politics, culture, society, soul, etc. But somehow, two years later, these momentously meaningful tidal waves ripple into nothing on the empty shore. And again, that’s because they don’t actually signify anything beyond the by-now perennial unease and dissatisfaction.

Submitted by lambert on

... would have a beneficial intergenerational effect.

Not only reading, but sharing.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Three different takes on basically the same historic theme (the link to Parry's). Basically what they all address is the fact that what our political class has offered up over the last decades has not worked. It hasn't worked in reality, and it hasn't worked for voters. This includes what the far left (electoraly) has done, but also the far right (policy-wise) and the "centrists" (both? Neither?). In short: FAIL.*

Which leaves only what hasn't been tried, at least policy-wise, in other words, the liberal/progressive approach. Within the two major parties at least, that hasn't been tried either electorally or in policy terms. Could that possibly be why even the "low information" American voters (links provided upon request) consistently throw out one set of bums after another? All we have heard for decades now is "the American people have categorically shown they want to change course". Well, the vessel may have changed, but it's pretty obvious that the course hasn't. Or if it has, the compass rose includes lots of directions they haven't been going.

*These folks show how you can criticize Democratic (and Republican) leadership without making it all about the Clinton. CDSers please note.

Andre's picture
Submitted by Andre on

but until you can develop a 'megaphone' to deliver your message to the electorate, all else is whistling in the wind. All the great ideas, the great policy solutions, the great talking points are for nothing until Liberals either have a means of delivering the message, or else convince the present bearers of news (MSM) to convey the message. It's just so obvious! The vast majority of those who elect, that is vote, get their info from the MSM which has deemed the Liberal persuasion trivial (we all know the reasons why).

zot23's picture
Submitted by zot23 on

After all, if you don't know what your message is you could have the biggest megaphone in the world and it would do you no good. We start ironing out the message and dream up ways to get the word out there (public protests are a good start.) Once you get it going, if it is convincing it cycles up almost by itself. Both the message and delivery can be refined and expanded as it happens.

Stirling thought this up tonight and posted it (not really, but what the hell.) Now maybe 100 people have read it, will post links to it, maybe it hits 10,000 eyes by week end. So in a way, the megaphone is here it's just underpowered.

This is a good post, good place to start. I'll need to digest this and come back later to refresh. Thanks Stirling.

Submitted by lambert on

1. AA. No megaphone. Small central office for distributing literature. Rhizomic growth. Could AA work as a model for rents (addiction) as for alchohol (addiction)? Maybe.

2. 2008 primaries. Hillary was written off by all megaphone holders in February 2008. And a majority of D voters ignored that completely.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

that much of their success is people who recognize their addiction and its physical source and seek out help. Also, people often don't go to AA until the effects of their addiction materially damages their lives or relationships. Rents are so much more abstract (and the one addicted to them are ones that benefit from them, rather than those damaged by them, not the people who we really want to reach). The reason they are so effective (for the rent collectors) and pernicious is that many, perhaps most, of them are hidden, or are accumulated through the nickel-and-diming effect.

I'm not being very clear here, I'm afraid, but I think AA may have too many differences to serve as a good model. I'm trying to think of a better one, but right now all I can think of is the Tea Party because of the last few days. And the Tea Party seems to operate on a rage-release model (perhaps a rage-focus model?) that doesn't seem to be very desirable for us.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

was supposed to be for. Now it's been co-opted by the powerful, and beyond that, too many people who vote still don't access it.

That's why I've been trying to press ahead with the idea of a newsletter. We have to take the message beyond the web- assuming we can agree on what the message will be.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

petty is the perfect word for this leadership and its profound lack of moral imagination on both sides of the aisle, gamesmanship never statesmanship

moot issue but I wonder if Obama is an unconscious or conscious Manchurian candidate and president

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

This is a terrific piece. I've tweeted it. And Tony Wikrent, your reply was extraordinary too. Thanks for the discussion.

Submitted by gmanedit on

Can you post some links or titles? (I like Quigley and Tarpley, myself.) (And how do we tell the true conspiracies from the disinfo conspiracies and overactive imaginations? Federal Reserve/Jekyll Island, yes; Illuminati?; surely lizard people is going too far?; 9/11: MIH or LIH?; what about the birth certificate and school records?)

Tony Wikrent's picture
Submitted by Tony Wikrent on

is the fight to create the United States. It succeeded; it was a major advance in the development of self-government; its history is easily accessible (except for the covert response by England and other European powers); and it is rich with anecdotes and materials that serve to inspire our fellow Americans.

The key point that most scholars and readers miss is that there is the same group of conspirators that organized and fought the Revolution, also organized and created the Constitution a decade later.

Benjamin Franklin is particularly important. Little appreciated is the role he played in Europe during the war. From the CIA website: A Look Back ... Benjamin Franklin: Founding Father of Covert Action

Also, The Founding Fathers of American Intelligence.

There is one MAJOR shortcoming with almost all books and other material dealing with the creation of the U.S.: most historians and writers are basically ignorant of political-economy, and rarely include any consideration of the Founders' economic thinking and intents. Indeed, there is little in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers dealing with economics. But it is there. So an absolutely indispensable book to read is The Great Challenge: The Myth of Laissez-Faire in the Early Republic, by Frank Bourgin
1989, George Braziller Inc., New York, NY; 1990, Harper & Row, New York, NY. It's worth reading the reviews posted on Amazon at the link.

General Washington's picture
Submitted by General Washington on

Dependent, of course, on where you want to go...

My bias is towards community activism*, which comes from an early stint in microfinance work (the Freedom from Hunger Foundation, good org, not going to spam link it here though) before I had me a real job years later, and was seriously in contention to be my occupation of choice again.

This is somewhat similar to other suggestions made in the comments here, just more... fleshed out perhaps.

Starting small, of course, perhaps neighborhood groups to address neighborhood concerns. One or two dedicated persons taking the reins in hand and starting to communicate actions a small group of people can take to resolve some problem.

For instance, in my long-term off time I worked towards getting a sign placed in a prominent place to remind people that there are children in this neighborhood, so doing 90,000 MPH down our road isn't such a good idea.

Building from there, moving to be inclusive of several neighborhoods. Again staying small at first, perhaps no more than 50 or 70 households.

Rampant foreclosures across several neighborhoods and dealing with the banksters who are pursuing them would be a good issue to expend effort on in middle-class and lower-income areas. Money issues are second only to family in lighting a fire under people.

Building on that exact issue should be easy, encompassing a small city in a reasonable matter of time. Other concerns will have different qualities of effectiveness on different time scales.

Note: In my case, we're a very integrated neighborhood - ages, races, income groups, families/individuals. If yours is not, I might recommend against this, as it could have undesirable consequences.

On the practical side, using these connections, take a handful of people aside at a time and begin educating them, allowing for some natural communication flow amongst others to spread the information required to realise how full of shit the process has become further.

Teach-ins and literature (among other things that I'm sure were mentioned as I hacked this out) can be used to further the process of education on many levels with such a fine grained method of involvement as well.

Being aware of how your communities wards or equivalent are arranged should guide as much as possible how and where the expansion of such person-to-person association occurs as well for maximum effectiveness on a political field.

Then again, that's my bias from my referential experiences, which doesn't take the American media landscape (and I don't merely mean news networks) into enough account. This is a significant problem, or to borrow the AA analogy, I've had people relapse on me more than once in less active settings.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

* Yes, I know. Our dumbass president was supposedly a CA as well. Don't let that sour you on pursuing this means of activism.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

Which makes me think they'll work all the more in this day and age, when there's so little real communication between people. I think it may be time to start revisiting all sorts of old ideas for communication and community-building. In the age when 'new' methods of communication are so easily co-opted, falling back on old practices could make our message more resilient.

Interestingly enough, when you combine literature and teach-ins, you might get something like the Chautauqua movement.

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on bring the small organizing groups together on a larger scale - kind of like support groups/a clearing house - mainly to get help and encouragement?

I set up a Civic Club in our community and have 50 people that I keep in regular contact with about local stuff (road closings, etc.) I am setting up a meeting with the County Assessor to explain to all of us how assessments are done the current state of assessments and there is a lot of interest. I have not foisted on these people any of my anti-legacy party feelings (although they all know I can't stand Obama), but I guess I could start reaching out to two or three who might feel the same.....

The Corrente Wire - could be more than newsletters....(with Lambert's permission), etc.

techno's picture
Submitted by techno on

but as we all know, and take it from someone who has been trying to get folks to read Veblen since the late 1970s, Veblen is hard and there aren't going to be many who follow the advice to read Veblen.

But here is the John 3:16 version of Veblen. Understand these three things and the other 10,000 incredible insights can learned as needed.

1) The most interesting thing about life on earth is that it evolves. And because life evolves, our understanding must evolve too. The idea that there is some philosophy that is correct for all time is usually wrong. The only idea that is forever correct is the need for our thinking to grow. (Followers of Veblen are often called Evolutionary Economists.)

2) The best way to study human behavior is to observe how folks behave when they are trying to accomplish something. Over the long run, bankers will act as bankers, teachers as teachers, farmers as farmers, etc. These shared value-organizations he called Institutions and he taught that a great deal about human behavior could be predicted from how institutions normally interact. He termed this thinking "Institutional Analysis" and demostrated its power by writing a book in 1915 called Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution that was so prescient it can be read today as a history of the 20th century. It's almost spooky.

3) The best way to understand how industrialized societies work is to understand that the most interesting social distinctions are between business and industry, between the Leisure Class and the producing classes, between engineering and accounting or advertising. Veblen got this so correct that over a century later, folks are still just blown away by the Theory of the Leisure Class. What I find so amazing is that he had these insights BEFORE television "industrialized" status emulation.

But more important that learning Veblen, folks simply MUST learn some history. If someone says, "the austerity ghouls are going to bring about a repeat of the Depression of 1936-37" do you have any idea what has just been said? Because if you do not, you need to know some more history. In Veblenian terms, you have stopped the possibility for evolving because you don't know how the world got to its present condition. Without a meaningful grasp of history, folks just keep having to re-invent the wheel--a process that slows down evolution a LOT!

I am convinced that today's political cluelessness and confusion is a direct result of historical illiteracy--what Gore Vidal calls the United States of Amnesia.

Submitted by lambert on

I saw it on Sitemeter, and said, WTF? Too many posts, can't remember 'em all!

Seems to me it's even more relevant after the lame duck session.

[D]o nothing for those, who do not promise to do enough.


beowulf's picture
Submitted by beowulf on

Jon Walker wrote a fascinating series of posts about the Anti-Saloon League.

Retribution: Lessons from the Anti-Saloon League, Part One

Power in politics comes from the ability to destroy. The ability to take out an incumbent or end politicians’ careers if they cross you is how a group gains the power to influence policy in America. The Anti-Saloon League understood this concept well and used it to become one of the most powerful pressure groups in American history.

The league started in 1893 and by 1920, had led the fight to accomplish the difficult task of passing the 18th Amendment, mandating the prohibition of alcohol’s manufacture and sale. ASL founder Howard Russell understood the importance of retribution. “The Anti-Saloon League,” Russell said, “is formed for the purpose of administering political retribution.”.

Reading Jon's ASL series made me think of a great line from "Dark Knight". In the trailer (0:26), we hear Michael Caine explain why any politician would loathe to doublecross The Joker :o):
Some men aren’t looking for anything logical. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Submitted by lambert on

... AA is still around and doing good. ASL brought us Prohibition.

Just because others want to watch something doesn't mean that I or we need to provide them with a spectacle, does it?

Still, that's an interesting history from Jon Walker.

Submitted by Sufferin Succotash on

That confrontation between Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman in The Runaway Jury when Hoffman tells Hackman what a ruthless SOB he is and Hackman's response is: "I just don't give a shit...I never have".

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

let's remember Michael Ovitz' negotiating philosophy: In any negotiation, he who is willing to become unreasonable first, wins.

I can see a lot of Versailles reality in that statement.

Submitted by Sufferin Succotash on

To understand the sort of society that acquiesces in the finance capitalist regime we now "enjoy", go back to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain. To understand the sort of momentary interests that have helped to marginalize the Left in the Western world over the past 40 years, read Terry Eagleton's The Illusions of Postmodernism.

Submitted by wlarip on

But what does Stirling mean by this:

witness the lack of productivity gains from a generation of computers.

I suppose it depends on how you define productivity. If it means lack of real wage growth and persistent unemployment, I have no doubt. But I think the highly touted business metric that is quoted every month about the same time that the unemployment statistics come out is this one:

Productivity is a measure of output from a production process, per unit of input. For example, labor productivity is typically measured as a ratio of output per labor-hour, an input. Productivity may be conceived of as a metric of the technical or engineering efficiency of production. ...

One reason that the PC revolution of the '80's took hold (businesswise) was so that fewer humans could do more of the same for declining(adjusted for inflation) money.

Automation has always been a sensitive issue to labor and rightly so. Increasing efficiency has to call into question increasing efficiency for what? If automation makes everyone's job easier; that is good. That assumes that post-automation, everyone still has a job.

It's a matter of values. Given varying degrees of individual ineptitude, big box retailers have some of the most efficient operations going. They have that in common with concentration camps.

Quality of life, fair wage for fair work, a belief that there is a place for everyone may cut into your profits. But it's a lot easier to live amongst happy campers than it is snarling animals. If you treat them with the disdain that some feel for animals, they will respond in kind.

One party actively discounts the value of labor;the other used to pay lip service to it at election(and dues) time. Both are irrelevant. It's time for something new.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

What does he mean by productivity? For all the computers we have, has there been stunning breakthroughs in anything? No cure for cancer. No new energy source. Nobody is on Mars. But we have Facebook. Hmmm?

Submitted by wlarip on

that computers can do(and have done) is not known. The 'fault lies not in our transistors' but in the willingness of humans to program them for money.

The love of $ really is the root of all evil despite whatever belief you may have in the 'God(s)(dess)(es) of Your Choice(s).

Ain't Lambert clever?

But they are tools. Facebook is powerful, not because it is that well-programmed, but because it capitalizes(:>} on our desire to be connected and to establish a digital identity in a world where our real identity matters less and less. That we are willing to give up our privacy is a measure of how desperate we are.

But because it is theirs doesn't mean it can't be ours.

Brian.Nelson's picture
Submitted by Brian.Nelson on

I don't think any party has the right stuff right now. I believe that both parties are so interested in politics that they continue to fall more and more out of touch with what is really important.

Pariez votre budget de jeu et faites-vous beaucoup d’argent de casino avec ce casino en ligne bonus, c’est pourquoi vous y reviendrez certainement pour plus d’activités de paris.