Archive for January 20, 2010

The clueless left…

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Les Leopold, on AlterNet, seems a tad bewildered, but the fog is beginning to lift:

It pains me to say this but progressives are about as far away from mobilizing a genuine movement of Main Street against Wall Street as Ms. Coakley is to understanding that Curt Shilling is not a Yankee.

Progressives are at a crossroads. We can either fight for the interests of Main Street against the billionaire bailout society, or we spend our dwindling energies on defending Obama and the Democrats against the populist revolt.

The Tea Party, however muddled and contradictory its proposals, have proved that Americans want to take on the billionaire bailout society. And it has showed us how quickly a new party formation can emerge. Unfortunately, the crisis also is revealing how tied progressive are to the Democratic establishment, and how meek our protests seem, just when our nation most needs our loudest voices and most spirited reforms.

Conservative Senate Win Is Another Victory for the Billionaire Bailout Society, and a Failure for Progressives

The victory of Scott Brown…

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Somebody is going to get the blame for what’s happening right now to the American public. They’re incredibly angry and incredibly frustrated. And somebody’s going to get credit for trying to turn it around. And right now, we’re getting the blame and we’re not getting the credit and that formula has to change.”

–Coakley Pollster Celinda Lake

This is the typical schematic of the ideological spectrum as accepted by most politically astute people:

As you can see, in this simple schematic, political ideologies – radical, liberal, moderate, conservative, reactionary – are arranged along a horizontal axis that implicitly defines their relationship to a centrist (moderate) ideological position.

In the schematic below, this arbitrary positioning is expanded and defined with greater granularity:

At the poles are the so-called totalitarian ideologies. Closer to the middle, we find variants of socialism (on the left) and libertarianism (on the right). Still closer to the moderate center are the standard American party identifications: liberal and conservative. Liberalism is, therefore, a pale, limited expression of the totalitarian of communism, while conservatives are simply moderate fascists.

The Wiki has this to say about this schematic:

The terms Left and Right have been used to refer to political affiliation since the early part of the French Revolutionary era. They originally referred to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France, specifically in the French Legislative Assembly of 1791, when the king was still the formal head of state, and the moderate royalist Feuillants sat on the right side of the chamber, while the radical Montagnards sat on the left.[8] This traditional seating arrangement continues to be observed by the Senate and National Assembly of the French Fifth Republic.

Originally, the defining point on the ideological spectrum were the attitudes towards the ancien régime (“old order”). “The Right” thus implied support for aristocratic, royal and clerical interests, while “The Left” implied support for republicanism, secularism and civil liberties.[1] At that time, support for socialism and liberalism were regarded as being on the left. The earlier “left-wing” politicians were advocates of laissez faire capitalism[citation needed] and the “right-wing” politicians opposed it, until the early nineteenth century when anti-capitalism gained favour among the leftists due to the rise of socialism.

We have a problem with the Wiki on this issue and with those creators of the above schematics. It is a problem, which, we think, completely rearranges the schematics we showed you previously.

First, notice in the above schematics, how the spectrum is based on the alleged location of each ideology from some imagined moderate or centrist ideology – the left emerges from this moderate center as liberalism, and gradually becomes increasingly communistic. The right emerges from the moderate center as conservatism, and becomes increasingly fascistic.

The moderate center, it seems, is some sort of lightly applied communifascism, or, perhaps, fascimunism – Mao ZeDong and Mussolini meet in the middle and agree to play nice, we suppose.

Anyway, you get the idea: The original spectrum of political thought was subtly redefined and disconnected from its historical precedent in the practice of the French Legislature dating back to 18th Century. We don’t know when this happened – probably after World War II – and we don’t know who redefined it, but it has since gained general acceptance.

It is wrong.

Return now to the Wiki definition:

Originally, the defining point on the ideological spectrum were the attitudes towards the ancien régime (“old order”).

According to the Wiki, then, the spectrum was one of support or opposition to the Monarchy, which emerged while this form of government was still in place. The question then becomes, why wasn’t the Monarchy placed in the center, as is our own variant of this spectrum?

The answer is simple: The Monarchy was as far right as you could go – it was the existing order of things. It had not yet become the old order. It was the political expression of the state of society as it then existed. As the political expression of the state of society, the question on the agenda at the time was: “Where do you stand in relation to the present government?”

Those who were in favor of the status quo stood on the right with the King, and those who opposed the status quo to varying degrees, arranged themselves to its left – the distance from the right indicating their opposition to the existing order of things – their opposition to the government.

Today, the existing order of things is the Washington-Wall Street Axis, and each political viewpoint should be judged by how far it is willing to distance itself from that axis.

Washington doesn’t want you to think in these terms, which is why its defenders introduced the new and improved political spectrum – a spectrum that set the Washington-Wall Street axis in the middle, and divided its opposition into an incoherent chaos arranged along the spectrum on either side.

Today, that opposition is just a little less incoherent. It has repudiated the Obama election, and the existing order in Washington. As such, it clearly must be located on the left of the classical political spectrum.

Scott Brown’s victory is big – not Brown himself, perhaps, but his victory certainly.