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Tag Archives: George W. Bush

STATE POWER AND DEMOCRACY: BEFORE AND DURING THE PRESIDENCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH

A new book by Andrew Kolin

Palgrave Macmillan

January 4th 2011

$85 Hardcover

ISBN 978-0-230-10935-3

Contact: Alaina Kunin, Publicist: T 646-307-5659, E alaina.kunin@palgrave-usa.com

Torture. Secret Prisons, Wiretaps on Americans. Even with a new president in the White House, daily headlines contain disturbing revelations about how theUnited Statesconducts itself in the “war on terror”. While other books have analyzed specific, shocking issues about the war on terror, there is a surprising disconnect in them: they don’t connect the actions with the George W. Bush administration to those of previous administrations. This book is the first to do that. It shows that the bush police state didn’t commence when Bush was inaugurated. It proves, instead, that the seeds of an American police state can be traced all the way back to the founding of the republic.

Praise for State Power and Democracy:

“Since the tragic events of 9/11, the United Sates has gutted its democratic ideals in the name of security while increasing its authoritarian tendencies as part of the war on terror. This book not only rigorously takes note of how the Bush administration (and increasingly the Obama government) undermined any promise of a democracy in the United Statesbut also vividly illustrates the long trajectory of authoritarian practices and punishing policies that have been deeply ingrained in American history. Andrew Kolin provides both a powerful warning and a wake-up call about the death of democratic ideals in the United States.” — Henry Giroux, Chair, English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University and author of Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror

“Andrew Kolin exposes the persistent efforts of autocrats to suppress popular democracy. His treatment is wide-ranging, historically informed, and most relevant to the police-state transgressions occurring in today’s America.” — Michael Parenti, author of God and his Demons and Contrary Notions

“This compelling book traces the assault on democracy and the rise of a police state that reached its zenith in the George W. Bush administration. From the war on communism to the war on terror, our government has used surveillance, preventive detention, torture, and a climate of fear to consolidate its power and neutralize dissent. Under the guise of nurturing democracy at home and abroad, the U.S.government has actually undermined it. Required reading for all who seek to recapture our democracy.” — Marjorie Cohn, Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Defied the Law

Growth of State Power and the Assault on Democracy * Eroding Democracy in a Time of Crisis * Accelerating the Assault on Democracy * Absolute Power at the Expense of Democracy * A Police State * Actions Taken Against Enemies of the State * Exporting An American Police State * The Future?

Andrew Kolin is a Professor of Political Science at Hilbert College. He is author of The Ethical Foundations of Hume’s Theory of Politics (1990); One Family: Before and During the Holocaust (2000); and State Structure and Genocide (2008).

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Judith Butler

FRAMES OF WAR – JUDITH BUTLER

NEW IN PAPERBACK

FRAMES OF WAR: WHEN IS LIFE GRIEVABLE?  

By JUDITH BUTLER

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“Judith Butler is the most creative and courageous social theorist writing today. FRAMES OF WAR is an intellectual masterpiece.” – Cornel West

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Judith Butler will be giving a lecture entitled ‘The Right to Appear: Towards an Arendtian Politics of the Street’ at the University of Westminster on 4th February 2011.

For more information visit http://instituteformodern.co.uk/2011/4th-february-judith-butler-at-university-of-westminster-london

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The most celebrated feminist in the world and founder of the Queer Theory movement returns with this powerful analysis of the role of the media in the ‘War on Terror’.

In this urgent response to violence, racism and increasingly aggressive methods of coercion, Judith Butler explores the media’s portrayal of armed conflicts, a process integral to how the West wages war. In doing so, she calls for a reconceptualization of the Left, one united in opposition and resistance to the illegitimate and arbitrary effects of interventionist military action.

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Praise for JUDITH BUTLER:

“Judith Butler is quite simply one of the most probing, challenging, and influential thinkers of our time.” J.M. Bernstein

Praise for FRAMES OF WAR:

“To propose that Judith Butler is one of the world’s leading thinkers, a feminist philosopher whose writing has impacted on a wide domain of disciplinary fields inside the academy, as well as on political culture in the outside world, is hardly contentious. We are, many of us, deeply indebted to this body of work which has illuminated issues that are at the very core of life, death, sexuality and existence.” Angela McRobbie, Times Higher Education Book of the Week http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=407098

“An impressive and challenging book from one of the leading intellectuals of our time” – DIVA

“Frames of War [is] an important contribution to what will no doubt be an ongoing philosophical and political discussion about the rights and wrongs of war.” Nina Power, THE PHILOSOPHERS’ MAGAZINE

http://www.philosophypress.co.uk/?p=714

“Judith Butler’s focus in this collection of five essays written and revised between 2004 and 2008 is the USA under George W. Bush, with Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay looming in the background. The questions she addresses… have a clear bearing on the cultural politics of grief beyond the USA.” Mark Fisher, FRIEZE

http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/frames_of_war_when_is_life_grievable

“A trenchant and brilliant book.” – UTNE READER

http://www.utne.com/Politics/Utne-Reader-Visionaries-Judith-Butler-Abu-Ghraib-Torture.aspx    

Praise for PRECARIOUS LIFE:

“It’s clear that its author is still interested in stirring up trouble—academic, political and otherwise.” – BOOKFORUM

“Hers is a unique voice of courage and conceptual ambition that addresses public life from the perspective of psychic reality, encouraging us to acknowledge the solidarity and the suffering through which we emerge as subjects of freedom.” Homi K. Bhabha

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JUDITH BUTLER is Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of many highly influential books, including GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF ONESELF, PRECARIOUS LIFE and GENDER TROUBLE.

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ISBN 978-1-84467-626-2 / $16.95 / £9.99 / $21.00 / Paperback / 224 pages

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For more information or to buy the book visit: http://www.versobooks.com/books/460-460-frames-of-war

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Academics based outside North America may request an inspection copy – please contact: tamar@verso.co.uk

Academics based within North America may request an examination copy – please contact clara@versobooks.com  

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Encircled

Encircled

THE ROUGE FORUM – UPDATE 28th AUGUST 2009

 

 

A message from Rich Gibson

 

Dear Friends

This will be the last update until after Labor Day. This one should hold up for readers until then.

Action Oriented Links:

Please note and try to attend the Freedom in Education Meeting in Fresno this weekend:
http://www.susanohanian.org/show_nclb_stories.html?id=399

Call for Papers, the Rouge Forum News Number 15: http://therougeforum.blogspot.com/

The Rouge Forum Immortalized at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouge_Forum

Deadline For Nominations to the Rouge Forum Steering Committee is September 1.

We recognize with sadness: the doors at Room 101, an incisive radio program on KZUM hosted by Michael Baker, are closed. Mr Baker’s long run on the radio included interviews with key radical and progressive voices in education from Noam Chomsky to Wayne Ross and liberals as well. Congratulations to Michael Baker on a great run. Two, three, many Room 101s!

There are, at the beginning of the school year, 4,516 on our email list. Wish it was more? Send it along. Invite a friend.

Endless War:

Obamagogue Spins War News With the Best of Them: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=64348

Holy Cow! The Afghans are Not Helping: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/world/asia/23marines.html?_r=1&hp

Double Holy Cow! The CIA Threatens and Beats People! http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/25/us/politics/25detain.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

“General Pickett, send more men.” “But, General Lee, I have no more men.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/world/asia/24military.html?hp

Warlord Dostum Joins Karzai: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/73809.html?storylink=omni_popular

Council on Foreign Relations: Afghanistan is NOT a War of Necessity: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/opinion/21haass.html?_r=1

and Oh Yes it Is, It’s The Pipelines, Stupid: http://prorev.com/2009/08/why-is-afghanistan-so-important.html

William Calley: Sorry About That: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/08/21/us/AP-US-My-Lai-Massacre.html?scp=1&sq=calley&st=cse

Mercs Outnumber US Troops in Afghanistan: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/08/22-0

Aghanistan’s Rigged Election: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE57E0D620090823

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?

Unemployment Uber Alles: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aNaqecavD9ek
html?_r=1&hp

California Unemployment Hits Post WW2 High: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-caljobs22-2009aug22,0,6343107.story

Detroit Unemployment at 28.9% http://www.freep.com/article/20090827/NEWS01/90827037/1320/Detroit-jobless-rate-a-record-28.9

Nope, But if You Are A Banker, Here is $12.9 Trillion, No Strings, No Kidding. It is Yours. Woo hoo.

Video–Where is that Tarp? What Tarp? What Me Worry? “I have to tell you honestly, I am shocked to find out that nobody at the Federal Reserve, including the Inspector General, is keeping track of [the unaccounted for trillions].”
http://www.examiner.com/x-6495-US-Intelligence-Examiner~y2009m5d22-Federal-Reserve-Inspector-General-hedges-on-trillions-missing-in-Congressional-hearing

The Stim is Definitely Working? Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/25/christina-romer-stimulus-consumption-peter-rupert-opinions-columnists-thomas-f-cooley.html?feed=rss_opinions

The Education Agenda is a War Agenda:

Ohanian on Duncan’s Merit Pay Schemes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-ravitch/obamas-awful-education-pl_b_266412.html

The Education Stimulus is a Merity Pay Stimulus:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/education/17educ.

Ravitch on Obama’s Awful Education Plan:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-ravitch/obamas-awful-education-pl_b_266412.html

The State As an Executive Committee and Armed Weapon of the (Corrupt) Rich:

Holy Double Dog Cow: Hillbillary’s and Obamagogues Pals are Crooks: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/nyregion/26fraud.html?hp

Notorious Friends of Hillbillary: http://prorev.com/hillaryfriends.htm

John Pilger on Brand Obama: http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=56998&s2=16

Yes, We Told Them So: The Demoagogue

It is probably not all that helpful to announce that we told you so, but….Yup, we told many people so.
        The core issue of our time is the rapid rise of color-coded inequality and the emergence of world war met by the potential of a mass, class-conscious resistance.
        These are not “public” schools we see. They are capitalist schools in a society where capitalism trumped whatever vestiges of democracy existed a decade ago. They are segregated schools. That’s not merely the result of bad people doing bad things, exploiting others (though they surely are bad people) but also the consequence of a social system dependant on exploitation—meaning inequality.
        The education agenda is a war agenda. It is a capitalism in crisis agenda, a Regimented National Curriculum agenda, mostly to promote nationalism.
        Such a curriculum necessarily sets up anti-working class and racist high-stakes tests. Both teacher unions, the NEA and AFT, helped design both the national curriculum and the high-takes exams. They are in no position to stop the next step. The professional organization, from NCTE to AHA to NCSS and all in between, proved more than impotent, they too collaborated.
        Those tests necessarily and logically lead to merit pay which already exists in the deep divide in, say, Detroit and suburb pay and benefits.
         Militarization of schooling is part of the war agenda.
        To some degree, privatization and charters are part of the war agenda. Privatization serves some sectors of elites, and others not. Why fully abandon a huge, tax supported, funnel for war, ignorance, and inequality; missions for capitalism and their unwitting, ever so nice, missionaries.
        Restoring hope is part of the agenda, but it is false hope. The future is war, inequality, unemployment, horrible options for youth and it will not change without a mass social movement for equality.
        All of these interconnected attacks on life and reason have already happened, all over the western world.
        Merely opposing any one of these factors, like merit pay, but not the rest just reinforces the entire project. As we see, NEA now dishonestly speaks out about merit pay, but NEA backed the regimented curricula and high stakes exams, sharply attacked people like Susan Ohanian who spoke against them, and dumped the students who suffered most from them.
        Too late for NEA which is merely trying to keep the rubes sending dues money, but there is now nothing much NEA can do. Only direct action strikes, boycotts, etc., can halt the drive to the factors described above.
        NEA has done nothing at all to prepare for that, and is not likely to do so. The union leaders are completely corrupt and their structures don’t unite people. They divide people: city from suburb, students from teachers, teachers from other public workers and private employees—as easily seen in the California Teachers Association’s effort to pass off a tax on poor and working people just months ago, a project that cost dues-payers millions of dollars and failed miserably, convincing the public, again, that educators want to pick their pockets.
        What would be helpful is to wonder about the analytical and critical mistake that led to all that support for Obama, a demagogue.
Several things led to that.
        1. A misunderstanding of capitalist democracy which is now sheer capitalism and little democracy. There was no significant difference between the Bush/Obama/McCain or even Clinton policies. Obama has betrayed, if we take his consistency as a betrayal, nearly all of his liberal supporters who, for what have to be psychological reasons, still support his personification of the reign of capital which has, among other things, failed in every important arena of human life.
        2. A misunderstanding of the gravity of the current situation vis a vis the war of empires. The US is in rapid decline in relationship to Russia China and even Europe and Japan—economically and militarily, and the US has lost any ability to promote itself as a moral nation, internally and externally. This puts extraordinary pressure on elites who need soldiers, Boeing workers, prison guards, and teachers too.
        3. A misreading of the real internal crisis inside the US; the rapid rise of segregation and inequality–which has not, yet, led to civil rebellions. But everything is in place to lay the ground for those uprisings, except a left which can make sense of why things are as they are, and what to do. Lost wars. Collapsed economies. Immoral leaders caught with dozens of hands in a thousand cookie jars, war without reason pulling 1.5 million people into direct action—and the wreckage of their lives. All that should, and more, should mean massive resistance. But that has not happened? Why not? No draft. No left. Spectacles. Divide and Rule. Carrot and stick. The education system.  The same ways tyrants always ruled.
        4. The continuing appeal of racism and nationalism.
        5. Acceptance of the division of labor inside academia which means, for example, historians talk to historians and write books while literacy people talk to literacy people and write books, and few academics seriously organize anything at all, as the state of the campuses (and open willingness of the overwhelming majority of faculty to abandon their academic freedom in favor of standards) now. This also means historians, as in AHA, don’t pay much attention to teaching while too many education personnel don’t know much history.
        6. A general public so mindless about history and social processes that it can rightly be called hysterical, potentially dangerous. Steeped in spectacles and consumerism for more than a decade, so vacant about their location in the world that Chalmers Johnson says they cannot connect cause and effect (as with the endless wars, but in regard to schooling as well). Fickle to the core, they howled for Bush, abandoned him when things went wrong, then another bunch howled for Obama, and now we see a new crowd howling about health care–all leaping for thousands of forms of selfishness that keeps the the war of all on all that is the system of capital alive and well.
        Not recognizing the historical moment, rejecting the real whole of the situation, capitalism in decay everywhere, shatters analytical and strategic capability, meaning many people cannot tell left from right, muddle along looking for someone else to save us when no one but the collective Us is going to save us.
        This, written months before the election and originally published in Workplace, online, is now floating around the net.
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2009/08/229885.php Those who are not angry and screeding a bit these days may not be witnessing the ravages of war, hunger, unemployment, and unreason itself.
        Yup. We told them so. Big deal. Those who have not made a big mistake in life can be absolved. We are all lambs among wolves. But we do not have to be lambs among wolves if we recognize, and act on, the role of class consciousness.

Good luck to us, every one.

Congratulations to Sharon, Amber and the gang at a wonderful new school. Thanks to Adam, Wayne, Gina, (Good health to Bob), Donna, Erin, Taylor, Jody, That Great Family, Irene and Tom, Della, Emily W, Sherry, Marc, Mary and Paul, Joe L, The Susans (always), Lucita, Marisol, Vincente, Arturo, Allen, Greg, Carrie, Harv, Norm, Frank, Teeyah, Glenn R, Dave (happy wedding), and Candace.

RICH GIBSON

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Rethinking Democracy Promotion in the Post-Bush Era

 

Symposium

‘Rethinking Democracy Promotion in the Post-Bush Era: Lessons from Political Theory’

International Politics Department, Aberystwyth University

21st May, 2009

9am-4pm

 

An event organised by ‘Political Economies of Democratisation’ – a project funded by the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme, 2007-2013

 

By framing and justifying many contentious policies during ‘the War on Terror’ in reference to the defence and extension of democracy, the actions of the Bush administration had negative consequences for the larger democracy promotion agenda. The concerted effort by President Obama to break with the policies of his predecessor now opens up space for a rethinking of democracy promotion practices. In considering and responding to recent problems, it is necessary to go beyond policy calibration, however, and address more fundamental issues. Specifically, there is a pressing need to reconsider the concept of ‘democracy’ in democracy promotion. Yet, it is curious that while debate continues to rage in political theory over what democracy does, can and should mean, such questions are largely ignored when it comes to democracy promotion.

 

This symposium will bring together a number of leading thinkers in international relations and political science to discuss how political theory and thought on radically different models or visions of democracy can be integrated into the consideration and practice of democracy promotion. The symposium seeks to reconsider the role of the currently dominant liberal-democratic tradition of thought in democracy promotion, as well as explore other possible democratic models and alternatives in relation to the idea of democracy promotion. The distinguished speakers at the event include: Prof. John Keane, Prof. Magnus Ryner, Dr. Beate Jahn, Prof. Heikki Patomaki, Prof. Robin Hahnel (in absentia), Prof. Michael Foley and Prof. Howard Williams.

 

Attendance is free but attendees are asked to email Milja Kurki (mlk@aber.ac.uk) to inform the organisers of intent to attend. Please note that all views expressed by the contributors and participants at the event are those of the individuals who express them and may not correspond to the views of the European Community.

 

Preliminary programme:

 

9.00-9.15 Introductory comments – Milja Kurki

 

9.15-10.45 Session 1. Liberal democracy and liberal democracy promotion (re)considered – Dr. Beate Jahn, Prof. Howard Williams, Christopher Hobson

 

11.00-12.30 Session 2. Lessons from alternative traditions of democratic thought – Prof. Magnus Ryner, Prof. Heikki Patomaki, Prof. Robin Hahnel

 

13.30-15.00 Session 3. Transformations of democracy since 1945 and the future of democracy – Prof. John Keane, Prof. Michael Foley

 

15.10-4.00pm Concluding session. Democratic theory and democracy promotion today – reflections on future directions

 

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Why Third Way Politics Refuses To Die

 

 

 

 

Why Third Way Politics Refuses To Die


By Louis Proyect

 


COME ON, GOOD PEOPLE, COME ON! We know, this is the time of the year when you receive letters galore from the ACLU, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and countless other organizations and charities that want to reach into your wallet. They do have a big marketing budget, don’t they? — and they all tell you they want to change the world, or at least alleviate its suffering. We have no marketing budget and we are not promising to change the world — not that we aren’t trying…but one has to be realistic. What we bring you is different voices, some darn serious, others quite humorous or poetic. We bring you book reviews. We bring you analysis. We bring you an extraordinarily diverse pool of authors from many countries. We bring you famous and not so famous authors. We bring you alternatives. We bring you originality and quality twice a month, rain or shine. Again, where else can you find what we bring, and all commercial free? So open your checkbook and write that darn check. It won’t save the auto industry but it will save Swans, and it will make a huge difference both emotionally and practically for our work ahead. Thank you and our very best wishes for the coming year.
Donate Now!

 

(Swans – December 15, 2008): In 1997 Tony Blair became Prime Minister of Great Britain ending eighteen years of Tory rule. For left-leaning Britons, the 1979-1990 rule of Margaret Thatcher and her successor John Major easily rivaled George W. Bush’s as an odious symbol of class injustice. When she was not embarking on foreign imperial adventures in the Malvinas, Thatcher was attacking the working class at home. Her most notable victory was in defeating the coal miner’s strike of 1984, an achievement that was as effective as Reagan’s assault on the airline controllers in preparing the way for a neoliberal economic regime.

 

 


When Blair was elected, the sense of relief evoked this “Wizard of Oz” ditty sung by the Munchkins:

 


Ding Dong! The Witch is dead.
Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.

Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.
She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below – below – below.

Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know The Wicked Witch is dead!

 

However, British voters did not get exactly what they voted for.
As soon as the euphoria wore off, it became clear that Tony Blair was no friend of working people, as Thomas Friedman observed in an April 22, 2005, New York Times Op-Ed:

 


The other very real thing Mr. Blair has done is to get the Labor Party in Britain to firmly embrace the free market and globalization – sometimes kicking and screaming. He has reconfigured Labor politics around a set of policies designed to get the most out of globalization and privatization for British workers, while cushioning the harshest side effects, rather than trying to hold onto bankrupt Socialist ideas or wallowing in the knee-jerk antiglobalism of the reactionary left.

 


Blair demonstrated that he was no slouch when it came to sending British troops abroad, joining the U.S. in imperial aggressions against the Serbs and the Iraqis. Indeed, one would be hard put to really tell the difference between the Tories and New Labour other than the rhetoric.

 


Although the eight years of George W. Bush was a lot shorter in duration than Tory rule in Great Britain, it did manage to do as much violence to working people at home and abroad. Bush was notoriously lazy but he did have a kind of zeal for punishing those not fortunate enough to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

 

With the election of Barack Obama in November, the same pattern seems to be unfolding as it did with Tony Blair’s prime ministry. Both Blair and his American counterpart Bill Clinton sought to govern through the “Third Way,” a philosophy that permeates Obama’s “Audacity of Hope.” For those who have been surprised by Obama’s apparent determination to serve in the capacity of Bill Clinton’s third term, the evidence for such a proclivity was there all along for those with the patience to read through his gaseous prose. Obama wrote:

 

 

“In his platform — if not always in his day-to-day politics — Clinton’s Third Way went beyond splitting the difference. It tapped into the pragmatic, nonideological attitude of the majority of Americans.


“Just as Blair was determined to continue the free-market policies of Margaret Thatcher, so was Obama ready to apply the same kind of lash to the backs of American workers first applied by Ronald Reagan, her American counterpart that Reagan’s message “spoke to the failure of liberal government,” which had become “too cavalier about spending taxpayer money…” He added that, “A lot of liberal rhetoric did seem to value rights and entitlements over duties and responsibilities…. Reagan offered Americans a sense of common purpose that liberals seemed no longer able to muster.

 


Labour and liberal disappointment with Tony Blair and Barack Obama respectively tends to sidestep the all-important question of why these politicians try to mediate between their own party and the organized Right. In contrast, John McCain fought hard for Republican Party core beliefs. Triangulating between conservative and liberal positions originates on the left rather than the right apparently and when the conservatives keep shifting to the right, the end result of triangulation is a center further to the right than in the past.

 


Rather than seeing “Third Way” politics as a kind of conscious policy choice, I would suggest that it is better understood in structural terms as the defense mechanism of Empires in decline perhaps not even understood fully by the politicians who carry them out. In broad historical perspectives, the rise of centrism in two of the most powerful imperialist nations in history is stoked by their decline as economic powers.

 


At a time when the British Empire was relatively powerful, the Labour Party pushed relatively hard for the class interests of the rank-and-file voter. It was no accident that socialized medicine arrived when British steel, shipbuilding, coal-mining, and auto manufacturing were vibrant, profit-generating industries.

 


When British industry lost its competitive edge, not coincidentally around the same time that its former colonial subjects were winning their freedom, the capitalists understood that the old rules did not apply. The worker’s slice of the pie shrank steadily, all in the name of “modernization” and “efficiency.

 


The same ineluctable processes that gave rise to the “Third Way” in Great Britain have matured in the United States, thus giving birth to the candidacies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama alike. In one of the greatest con jobs in history, Obama was elected because voters decided that “change” meant something different from both George W. Bush and the Clinton administration that preceded it.

 


The liberal pundits who helped to get Obama elected still hold out hope that he will push through a new New Deal and thus return the U.S. to some kind of golden era of prosperity. For many of them, the proof of Obama’s FDR type credentials is his announced intention to push through a 700 billion dollar public works project. Once again demonstrating the indifference to history that characterizes the world of Huffington Post, Nation Magazine, et al., there has been no attempt to analyze whether FDR’s public works program did much good in breaking the back of the Great Depression.

 


It turns out that it was World War Two that had such a salutary effect, according to a letter written by the late Harry Magdoff in reply to a Monthly Review contributor who betrayed Keynesian illusions in a submission.
Magdoff wrote:

 


[D]espite a promise of heavy government spending, and Keynes’s theoretical support, the New Dealers were stumped by the 1937-38 recession, which interrupted what looked like a strong recovery. There was then as there is now an underlying faith that capitalism is a self-generating mechanism. If it slowed down or got into trouble, all that was needed was a jolt to get back on track. In those days, when farm life supplied useful metaphors, the needed boost was referred to as priming the pump. The onset of a marked recession after years of pump-priming startled Washington. Questions began to be raised about the possibility of stagnation in a mature capitalism, the retarding effect of monopolistic corporations, and other possible drags on business. These concerns faded as war orders flowed in from Europe, and eventually they disappeared when the United States went to war. The notion of the “Keynesian Welfare State” has tended to disguise the fact that what really turned the tide was not social welfare, Keynesian or otherwise, but war. In that sense, the whole concept of Keynesianism can be mystification.

 


War, of course, is not a feasible option today for the U.S. or any other imperialist power given the likelihood of mutually assured destruction. That being the case, how likely is it that public works programs will accomplish today what it did not in the 1930s? The answer is not very likely at all. The irony of American politics today is that the weapons it created to help win the last world war serve to inhibit it from launching new wars against powerful rivals. Without resort to war — what Randolph Bourne called “the health of the state” — the U.S. is destined to lurch from one economic crisis to another with politicians on the right and the nominal left competing with each other to turn back the clock to a glorious past that never really existed.

 

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas is at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

‘THE GLOBALISATION LECTURES’

Organised by the Department of Development Studies

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

University of London

Convenor: Prof. Gilbert Achcar

2008-2009

LECTURE 1

 

 

THE IMPERIAL PARADOX:

IDEOLOGIES OF EMPIRE

FROM ALEXANDER THE GREAT TO GEORGE W. BUSH

 

 

PROFESSOR ELLEN MEIKSINS WOOD

Professor Emerita of Political Science at York University (Toronto, Canada)

 

Wednesday 29 October, 6:30pm

SOAS, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, London

 

 

Professor Ellen Meiksins Wood is the author of many major books on the history of political thought and the history of capitalism.

Her most recent works include:

Citizens to Lords: A Social History of Western Political Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages (2008)

Empire of Capital (2005)

The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View (2002)

— 
Gilbert Achcar
Professor of Development Studies & International Relations
University of London – School of Oriental and African Studies
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
Phone +44 (0)20 7898 4557
Fax     +44 (0)20 7898 4759

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas is at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk