Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Some Reading on What went Wrong with the Modern Left

Here is a brief reading list, which provides food for thought:
Schlesinger, Arthur M. 1998. The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (rev. edn.). W.W. Norton, New York.

Buchanan, Patrick J. 1998. The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice are Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy. Little, Brown, Boston and London.

Bawer, Bruce. 2012. The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind. Broadside Books, New York.

Liddle, Rod. 2015. Selfish Whining Monkeys: How We ended up Greedy, Narcissistic and Unhappy. Fourth Estate, London.
Note carefully: the ideological outlook of these authors is different: Arthur Schlesinger was an American Old Liberal. Pat Buchanan is an American Paleoconservative.

Rod Liddle is a British ex-Labour party supporter who now appears to be a conservative who identifies with the working class. Bruce Bawer seems to be an old-fashioned American liberal, but progressive on many issues.

Yet all of them, broadly speaking, seem to be able to identify serious problems with the development of the modern left, cultural leftism and identity politics.

Of all these books, Rod Liddle’s is the least serious.

Arthur Schlesinger rightly warned of the dangers of Postmodernist multiculturalism, which he correctly saw as very different to the old-fashioned, melting-pot liberal nationalism of America. In his own way, Buchanan warned of the same problem, but with additional emphasis on the destructive aspects of free trade.

Bruce Bawer’s The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind (2012) is an excellent work examining the rise of Postmodernism in the academy and its development into the Social Justice Warrior (or SJW) catastrophe we see today, developments which can be traced to French Poststructuralism and Postmodernism, and their devastating ruination of left-wing intellectual life.

The Illusionist suggests another book:
Lasch, Christopher. 1995. Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. Norton, New York and London.
Christopher Lasch was a neo-Marxist but turned culturally conservative with a quasi-Marxist economic critique of capitalism, but combined with some unfortunate Freudian psychoanalytic charlatanry and Frankfurt School Marxist nonsense to boot.

Admittedly, I have not read Christopher Lasch’s book in full, but summaries and critical reviews of it (e.g., Rankin 1996), and Lasch’s 1994 article here from Harper’s, suggest that it, too, to a great extent puts its finger on what went wrong with the left.

As Lasch points out:
“In our time … the chief threat seems to come not from the masses but from those at the top of the social hierarchy, the elites who control the international flow of money and information, preside over philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production, and thus set the terms of public debate. Members of the elite have lost faith in the values, or what remains of them, of the West. For many people, the very term ‘Western civilization’ now calls to mind an organized system of domination designed to enforce conformity to bourgeois values and to keep the victims of patriarchal oppression—women, children, homosexuals, people of color—in a permanent state of subjection. ….

The industrial working class, once the mainstay of the socialist movement, has become a pitiful remnant of itself. The hope that ‘new social movements’ would take its place in the struggle against capitalism, which briefly sustained the left in the late Seventies and early Eighties, has come to nothing. Not only do the new social movements—feminism, gay rights, welfare rights, agitation against racial discrimination—have nothing in common; their only coherent demand aims at inclusion in the dominant structures rather than at a revolutionary transformation of social relations. ….

The upper middle class, the heart of the new professional and managerial elites, is defined, apart from its rapidly rising income, not so much by its ideology as by a way of life that distinguishes it, more and more unmistakably, from the rest of the population. This way of life is glamorous, gaudy, sometimes indecently lavish. ….

To an alarming extent, the privileged classes—by an expansive definition, the top 20 percent—have made themselves independent not only of crumbling industrial cities but of public services in general. They send their children to private schools, insure themselves against medical emergencies by enrolling in company-supported plans, and hire private security guards to protect themselves against the mounting violence. It is not just that they see no point in paying for public services they no longer use; many of them have ceased to think of themselves as Americans in any important sense, implicated in America's destiny for better or worse. Their ties to an international culture of work and leisure—of business, entertainment, information, and ‘information retrieval’—make many members of the elite deeply indifferent to the prospect of national decline.

The market in which the new elites operate is now international in scope. Their fortunes are tied to enterprises that operate across national boundaries. They are more concerned with the smooth functioning of the system as a whole than with any of its parts. Their loyalties—if the term is not itself anachronistic in this context—are international rather than regional, national, or local. They have more in common with their counterparts in Brussels or Hong Kong than with the masses of Americans not yet plugged in to the network of global communications. ....

The changing class structure of the United States mirrors changes that are taking place all over the industrial world. In Europe, referenda on unification have revealed a deep and widening gap between the political classes and the more humble members of society, who fear that the European Economic Community will be dominated by bureaucrats and technicians devoid of any feelings of national identity or allegiance.”

For something written in 1994, this is quite prescient.

We can add to this the generation of Millennials, indoctrinated in cultural leftist nonsense and various SJW cults, who are pathetically and dangerously ignorant of Old Left economic and cultural thought, and whose agenda is – paradoxically – aiding and abetting the catastrophic effects of transnational and globalised neoliberal capitalism.

Even worse, Millennials are so out of touch that many of them are obsessed by the cult of open borders, a policy which would be a wet dream for First World capitalists. Even the Marxists amongst the Millennials seem to be infected and infested with all the insanity of cultural leftism. E.g., your foolish Marxist Millennial who holds a sign with the words “Borders are Racist!” is essentially a tool of neoliberal capitalism.

This is why, if things are to be reversed, the nation-state will come back in a big way soon. National borders, regulated national capitalism, and cultural and civic nationalism – they will need to make a big comeback. To tame the destructive and harmful nature of transnational neoliberal capitalism, you need a powerful national government to make it work for the citizens of each nation. Both transnational corporations and the elites need, for want of a better word, to be made “patriotic” again.

I add an interesting video with Rod Liddle relevant to this post:

Lasch, Christopher. 1994. The Revolt of the Elites: Have they Canceled their Allegiance to America?,” Harper’s Magazine (November) 289.1734: 39–49.

Rankin, Aidan. 1996. “Christopher Lasch and the Moral Agony of the Left,” New Left Review 0.215 (January 1): 149–155.

I’m on Twitter:
Lord Keynes @Lord_Keynes2

Monday, August 22, 2016

Links for News Sites and Economic Blogs (Updated)

For keeping track of the news and analysis, whether on politics and economics, and now with more links to YouTube channels and blogs of interest too:
(1) General News
BBC News
Google News
Bloomberg News
American ABC
Vice News
Der Spiegel Online International
Le Monde diplomatique
The Economist
Times of Israel
Jerusalem Post
China Daily
Antiwar News Sources (a great, long list of news websites)

(2) British Newspapers and Journals
The Times
The Guardian
New Statesman
London Review of Books
The Telegraph
Sky News

(3) American Media
Neoconservative or Mainstream Conservative
Weekly Standard
National Review
Wall Street Journal
New Republic
American Spectator
New York Post
Washington Times
Frontpage Mag

(4) Paleoconservative
American Conservative
Patrick J. Buchanan – Official Website

(5) Liberal and Left-Wing
New York Times
New York Review of Books
The Nation
Huffington Post
American Prospect
Public Citizen
Mother Jones
Democracy Now (non-profit left-wing American news organization)
The Real News Network
Beat the Press. Dean Baker

(6) Libertarian
Mises Institute
Antiwar.com (a great source for news on foreign policy of the US and its wars, although its opinion pieces have a strong libertarian bias)
Free Advice (Robert Murphy)
Stefan Molyneux
The Alex Jones Channel (if you want a good laugh at conspiracy theories!)
Infowars.com (again, libertarian news with conspiracy theories)
Paul Joseph Watson
Rebel Media (Canadian)
TheRealNews YouTube Channel

(7) Financial and Economic News
The Economist
Financial Times
Wall Street Journal
Challenge: the Magazine of Economic Affairs
Dollars & Sense: Real World Economics
Left Business Observer

(8) Marxist or Socialist
International Socialist Review
Monthly Review
New Left Review
World Socialist Website

(9) Alternative Left
I’m skeptical of the Alt Left, but if you want to read their stuff:
Beyond Highbrow – Robert Lindsay
The Stark Truth with Robert Stark
Alternative Left

(10) Anti-SJW Old Liberals
Sargon of Akkad
Gad Saad
The Rubin Report
Kraut and Tea

(11) Foreign Policy and International Affairs
New Internationalist
Mondoweiss: The War of Ideas in the Middle East
Michael Scheuer’s Non-Intervention.com

(12) Declassified Documents
National Security Archive, The George Washington University (a great site that is independent and non-governmental and publishes declassified US government documents)

(13) Science and Technology News
Scientific American
New Scientist
MIT Technology Review

(14) Post Keynesian, MMT and Left Heterodox Blogs
Debt Deflation, Steve Keen
Post Keynesian Economics Study Group
Real-World Economics Review Blog
Naked Keynesianism
Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Philip Pilkington
Thoughts on Economics, Robert Vienneau
Unlearningeconomics Blog
Ramanan, The Case For Concerted Action
Thomas Palley
Debtonation: The Global Financial Crisis. Ann Pettifor
Billy Blog, Bill Mitchell
New Economic Perspectives
Mike Norman Economics Blog
Warren Mosler, The Center of the Universe
Michael Hudson
Econospeak Blog
Robert Skidelsky’s Official Website

(15) Libertarian and Austrian Blogs
And, of course, your day wouldn’t be complete without a good laugh:
Free Advice, Robert P. Murphy
Ludwig von Mises Institute
Mises Economic Blog
The Free Man Online
The Independent Institute
Free Association, Sheldon Richman
The Cobden Centre