Friday, March 07, 2008


[The following is a discussion on liberalism that took place at UFOB in August 2006.]

The video I put up is the product of years of frustration over progressive claims to
support a kind of liberalism that itself has been mythologized. There has never been
a golden age. There have been sporadic successes of democratic social movements,
which were all bitterly opposed until the party structure saw no alternative but to
make some concessions. The cries of "take back the party" or "take back the country"
are the fatuous bleatings of angry consumers, who nevertheless show up at the "point
of sale" and hand over everything they've got without doing a thing to ensure
reciprocity. Even the degenerate barter method of social contracts demands better
than that.

The alpha consumers -- Daily Kos, Firedoglake, Stirling Newberry, Steve Gilliard
. . inter alia -- buy into the trickle down theory of political power. They want to
elect Democrats who will then supposedly enact the reforms they claim to support.
This is the exact reverse of the way things work. The social movement comes first.
The politician is granted a conditional opportunity to put things into law. The
trickle down activism of alpha consumers ensures an endless parade of careerist
triangulators, whose accommodation to "reality" is to put the success of their
campaigns first, by any means that won't get them sent to prison.

I use the terminology of a cynical, rigged marketplace because that is the most
accurate for what they have built. When the product they receive is a lemon, they get
irate at the very people who yelled at them for walking into a shuck. I could be
nicer about my characterizations, and I have been. In response, I've gotten large
doses of condescending hogwash and the petulant trolling of people who handle buyer's
remorse with temper tantrums. Frustrated ridicule is all I have left! When
progressives are ready to get back to this little planet the rest of us call earth,
and knock off the brand management triangulation, we might be able to have a

posted by J Alva Scruggs on 08/27/2006

You might be interested in the liberal apologist series written by Orcinus' guest
blogger Sara Robinson--classic neo-liberal arguments for surrendering our republic to
fascism. If you can stomach it, it's actually instructive to read the comments by
these delusional people to understand their fantasies about democracy.

Posted by Spartacus

I did get through two of them. I really couldn't bear it. It reminded me of talks
with a friend, very bright fellow, far more erudite than me, who had found peace of
mind through becoming a devotee of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The structure he built for
looking at the world was seamless and impenetrable. The neoliberals come very close
to that.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

So true. The regular crowd at Orcinus is almost like a cult. I wouldn't bother,
except my colleague Dave Neiwert is a renowned blogger, and I suspect we might reach
some lurkers and thus inoculate them against these toxic ideas. I've also met
potential recruits there.

Posted by Spartacus

I neglected to mention that in her latest installment she marginalizes the Far Left
(those who risked their lives in the Civil Rights Movement) and extolls those who
worship racist warmongerers like Richard Nixon, Billy Graham, and Teddy Roosevelt.
Needless to say, I am not inclined toward mercy when she claims to be a scholar of

Posted by Spartacus

I read the comments on the last post over there. You attracted the attention of a
neoliberal wingnut, who marginalized you without apparently reading more than a few
words of what you wrote. He also seems to be under the impression that the liberals
he listed drive policy. The odds are high he voted for people who did their best to
undermine and negate the influence of Conyers, Kucinich, Waters et al.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

I used to think that liberalism was essentially contractual and therefore adult, a
system in which one made rational alliances with people for ratiaonal ends, despite
feelings about their hair or lifestyle or vibration. The last few years have revealed
it to be an infantilized, Oedipal dreamstate in which the goal is to reconcile with
Mummy and Daddy and brother and sister, who are fascist wingers but who always have a
heart of gold. It's like that with the nation, too: we're a national family, and
everybody has a role. No matter how ugly they talk, Mummy and Daddy will always melt
if we are firm and loving with them. And we know how to handle the punked-out
"radical" brother or sister, whose moral rigidity is always just an irritating
adolescent phase of preening "purity" that should met with cold, disapproving
shunning; after being ostracized for a decade, they'll grow up, or they'll be the
black sheep. These are simple, timeless roles, as in vaudeville, and we always
comfortably know just where we are.

The fact that this discourse flows so thickly and irremediably at the site of a guy
who looked into the abyss a few years ago and didn't hesitate to call what he saw
'fascism' pretty much underscores just how culturally fucked we really are.

Posted by T. V.

I was going to make a post of this, but it serves better as a follow up to your

A Brief Guide

Liberals think the state can and should have a positive role to play in the lives of
the people who live in it. Dennis Kucinich is a liberal.

Corporate liberals think the state, and state supported private enterprise, can and
should have a positive role to play in the lives of the people who live in it. Russ
Feingold is a corporate liberal.

Neoliberals are corporate liberals who have come to believe that the state and state
supported private enterprise will somehow bring about a free market which will have a
positive, governing role to play in people's lives, wherever they live. Some of them
believe state supported religion should be included in governance too. It can all be
well managed, provided people are incentivized properly to cooperate. Hillary Clinton
is a neoliberal.

Fascists believe people can and should have a positive role to play in the lives of
the state, state supported private enterprise and state supported religion, which
they will run. George Allen is a fascist.

Liberals and, to a lesser extent, corporate liberals think some strong checks are
necessary on any concentration of power, and that these checks can be made functional
within the state. Neoliberals believe the checks will come into being, through better
management and passive coercion. Fascists believe the strongest possible checks are
needed on the people, to ensure they play positive roles in the state.

Liberals are a tiny, tiny minority of the population and some of them are Democrats.
That doesn't make Democrats liberals. The majority of Democrats are neoliberals, with
a few fossil corporate liberals trying to puzzle things out. That debased form of
liberalism is how they plan to govern. Democratic apologetics based on neoliberalism
being "less evil" overlook something important. Fascism doesn't come into being
without active assistance.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

Appreciate your eloquent clarity on this J. Alva. In an earlier recommendation at the
referenced liberal weblog, I observed that bedrock indigenous nations and peoples
have a useful perspective that has been all but ignored, and even offered an audio
interview link to introduce this audience to a different point of view.

Sadly, they ignored my suggestion, and went on to belabor how ignorant everyone is
compared to themselves, noting that with greater focus on the use of deceptive
devices, we'll eventually all be fooled into supporting the neoliberal agenda.

Posted by Spartacus

Thanks, Spartacus.

It may sound cranky and conservative, but I think neoliberals have an aversion to
work, with an affinity for busyness. I've been following the trade squabble news. The
negotiators produced a great deal of bad faith posturing, especially those from the
wealthier nations, and went to extreme lengths to ensure their proposals were wholly
unacceptable, even to people anxious to sell out the people of their countries. It
became apparent to even the most gullible jouranlists that the US negotiator wanted a
failure, to protect the staus quo. It reminded me a great deal of the way Democrats
treat their constituents.

Squaring that abuse with a vision of managerial competence leaves no room for
learning about perspectives that have more relevance to their situation. They're all
wrapped up in that inane, machiavel-lite branding effort.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

I suspect there is something about the faith in human progress through such human
inventions as science that allows people who call themselves progressives to actually
believe their understanding of reality is superior to that of intact indigenous

How else could they make remarks like "there is no place in public policy for beliefs
about spiritual relationships between species."

Posted by Spartacus

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