Hillary Clinton begins America’s Brezhnev era

BerniBirdieGoodbyeWoot. Once, Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee would have made me very happy. Now, she’s just another Clinton who bent the rules for herself, got caught, lied about it for a year, and now expects the rest of us to back up his (OOPS SORRY her) arrogant stupidity, for which she will never be punished, unlike the rest of us, who’d be rotting in prison today our lives destroyed.

Loyalty is such a one way street with the Clinton machine. Trust me.

Worse, at least when all us Democrats lied for Bill in the name of “unity” 18 years ago, it was just a blow job we defended. This time, Hillary’s term as Secretary of State was a 4 year long COME ON IN to hackers, who no doubt spread like termites from Chappaqua, even into the DNC. Edward Snowden was small potatoes compared to Hillary. Now that it’s all comin’ back to haunt her, whole lotta schadenfreude in that karma.

That’s before you get to ideology. Hillary began America’s Brezhnev Era this week in Philadelphia, complete with corpulent rigged apparatchiks gloating at their victims on live national television while being fellated by a pliant media drooling to sweeten their beats. All in between Cialis ads, veterans begging ads, Pete Peterson’s debt con job ads, and as always the finely spun tapestry of ads for oil, oil, oil. I’m an Energy Voter! America’s beggar prostration before the market dwarfs Brezhnev’s soviet propaganda, because we all buy it hook, line, sinker. (See Gramsci.)

Or at least we all used to.

The idea keeping the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact afloat hadn’t yet begun to die when Lenoid Brezhnev became leader of the USSR in 1964. By Brezhnev’s death in 1982, the Soviet idea was dead, too. Call it what you will; communism, pure or otherwise, or some nationalistic bootstrapping thereof, the idea keeping the Soviet bloc alive was rotting from within as Brezhnev aged. The peoples over which Soviet dictatorship ruled had long begun ridiculing their lot in life, resigned to a futureless grinding descent into total poverty. Once Gorbachev began admitting the idea’s death with perestroika and glasnost in 1986, the clock began to tick on collapse.

Brezhnev’s USSR is where America is today ideologically, as Hillary Clinton claims her nomination to be president, which, thanks to Hillary’s aforementioned stupidity, is now documented as rigged from the very start. Capital rigging politics is the intended end result of neoliberalism, birthed in a 1930’s right wing corporate funded rejection of FDR’s New Deal. Neoliberalism as an idea was so absurd at the time it was ridiculed (Steadman Jones, p. 136), spending decades nursing on global capital until the Thatcher Reagan moment raised the idea to a commanding transatlantic height not even Friedrich Hayek, neoliberalism’s 1930’s originator could imagine. Democrats surrendered by 1992, Bill Clinton embedding neoliberalism into the Democratic Party so thoroughly, not only is the Democratic party itself enslaved to capital, the state Hillary Clinton seeks to lead is now shackled by capital. Scholars call it “fiscal straight jacket”, a state incapable of governing at all, let alone the market. Neoliberalism’s 21st century victory has unleashed capital beyond Hayek’s wildest dreams.

Now that a massive movement led by 1900 Bernie Sanders delegates this week in Philadelphia has proven the idea of neoliberalism a failure, how long will it take to die?  Depends. Powerful, but failed ideas die slowly, leaving behind deep, widespread, generational wreckage. The pigs who feed at its trough become desperate, and cling on quite tightly, lest they slip into their own idea’s gaping black hole and never get out; like their serfs did. Like the rest of us did.

I’ll probably not even vote this year, the first time in my entire life. Whether the next president is another Clinton or Donald Trump frankly doesn’t matter to me. The idea that gave rise to both hideous caricatures has begun its slow, certain, death throes. Maybe another Berdie will give us hope to get up, torpedoes be damned, and try to finish this thing off. Maybe I’ll just wait it out.

No Comments

Capital gives us Tim Kaine, recycles Bernie Bro slur in British Labour

Since I used to do this for a living, I can’t stop finding similarities in the concurrent dramas of the US presidential campaign and the British Labour Party’s now year long fight to the death with neoliberalism.  With Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s VP we see the Democratic Party take another lurch toward capital. Kaine himself seems nice, which reminds me to scratch my Gandhi itch.

We must remember that our fight is with capital, not the people who make themselves its tool. Capital will find a way to rig the state in its favor very like water finding its way to the ocean. Perpetually. It will not stop, it has to be stopped. That is what the New Deal was designed to do, specifically on Wall Street, but the New Deal barriers also directed the flow of capital, rather than always upward toward oligarchs as now, in directions that helped us all – the alphabet soup of federal government programs that built the white picket fenced unprecedented American post-war boom we now view through our 21st century nostalgic gaze backward.

As an invented sharp end of capital, Blairite neoliberalism in the British Labour Party was never going to just go away; too many pimps and whores suckle from the foul teat of the oligarchy they themselves created. Thus, this summer there’s a second Labour leadership election in a year, forced upon the party by Blairite neoliberalism; forced upon Labour by capital.

Didn’t we just do this, you ask? Why yes! You’ll recall after Labour lost the 2015 general election spectacularly, Labour members elected the stereotypically bearded grey haired super lefty Jeremy Corbyn leader last September with 60% of the vote, his nearest Blairite challengers (plural) invisible in the distance. A year later, Blairites have manufactured a coup, first justified with the lie that Corbyn hadn’t done enough to defeat Brexit, which soon gave way to the absurdity of last year’s beatdown, and which now features a cut and paste, spun from whole cloth Bernie Bro lie narrative about “abuse” toward various and sundry. I suspect that came from David Axelrod himself, who consults for Blairites as I once did.

Capital will lose in Labour again this summer. Corbyn will crush the Blairites when ballot papers go out August 22, there is little doubt. The most recent poll showed Corbyn doubling up the weirdly conjured challenger, Owen Smith, a creature oozed out the corpulent back side of neoliberalism’s media spin, big pharma, Westminster petri dish. Owen Smith is quite like Tim Kaine in this regard; just another empty vessel through which capital flows upward.

 

No Comments

Cleveland RNC post mortem, a Cavs gift that keeps on giving

Why CLE was peaceful this week.

Why CLE was peaceful this week.

First things first. Applause to the Cleveland Police Department for their work this week. As I write this, on the final day of the RNC, the most high profile arrests and incidents surprise no one in town; the usual suspects up to their usual stupidity got their star turn, the police obliged peacefully (mostly) by arresting them. I could do without the Mad Max Thunderdome uniforms, the heavy handed fencing, but beyond that unnecessary show of force, the REAL show of force was not the counterproductive gratuitous militarism of humvees, but massive numbers designed to deter the lone wolves, and it worked. Spectacularly. Some of my comrades reasonably object to the “police state” overwhelmingness, but taken as a whole, can’t believe I’m writing this; bravo to the blue line. Well done. Thank you.

Which means the main thing a lot of cops from all over the country take from CLE is an ear full of what folks think of them, to their faces. If that’s the only interaction between police and protestors that lives on, good. Cops need to know the way they policed CLE this week is the way we expect cops to police ALL OF US, all the time. Peacefully, professionally, with utmost preparedness, kindness, politeness, and NO ONE GETTING SHOT, K?. Why is this so hard for police to understand? Why do so many police so often lose composure and shoot unarmed black people? Or routinely beat the living crap out of unarmed anybody on such a regular basis, black OR white? Come on guys, you know how to do this job, ya’ll just proved it, so do it right, every time, not just at high profile events you have 2 solid years to plan for.

Which brings me to the overhyped paranoia, which has been palpable in CLE since the day we were awarded this RNC bigot parade shit show. Big fat zero. Donald Trump tonite could certainly set off something that boils over into the streets, but folks, y’all been inexplicably missing the biggest thing in CLE history in my lifetime – we just won a ring. This town is in a great mood, and unless someone takes a shot at Lebron James, or starts making fun of shirtless J.R. Smith, we just ain’t havin’ it. Not this summer. If the Cavs had lost, that’s another matter. But we won, historically, with flair, in an all-time comeback, and to my mind, that’s the single most important factor keeping a lid on things at this RNC.

We now await the economic measure of this RNC, which no doubt will have been just as oversold as the paranoia. Will the city and county be in debt after this RNC? Will anyone be surprised if our oligarchic overlords demand some sort of tax increase on the poorest people in the county to pay for their glorious soiree? Will the omnipresent Potemkin Village of E. 4th St., not just the most seen image of CLE this week, but the most heavily publicly subsidized 500 feet in the Midwest, become a bad joke? Is the pope Catholic?

That’s for another day. For now, Cleveland should be very proud. Did I mention we’re champions?

No Comments

Blairites stick a middle finger in Labour memberships’ eye on the way down the bin

CorbynHipHopThe post-Brexit Labour Party’s internal Blairite coup against new leader Jeremy Corbyn has descended into total farce. (Relatedly, why is Brexit even a Labour problem? It’s a Tory problem, full stop.)  Blairites didn’t merely bungle every step of their incomptent post-Brexit coup over last summer’s leadership election, which Jeremy Corbyn won in an emphatic 60% landslide less than a year ago. Blairite intransigence now features the party’s Blairite-packed governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), whistfully imposing rules willy nilly designed to suppress Corbyn’s vote, and keep new members out, as if no one is watching.

Not only has the NEC imposed clearly discriminatory arbitrary membership cut-off dates for voting eligibility, the NEC has even raised the fee for voting membership from £3 to an absurd £25 (isn’t Labour a party for, you know, workers?), and even if you pay that, you still might not be allowed to vote for leader, depending on your speed to the post box. One wonders how creative the NEC will get all summer attempting to plug the cracks in their collapsing neoliberal dyke. Will new members using pencil instead of ink on their ballot be denied a vote for leader? Must the ballot paper be folded a certain way? It really is that ridiculous at this point.

Call me crazy, but new members are the entire ball game in politics. Any politics. Anywhere. Anytime.

First, I very much doubt such stupidity from the NEC survives a legal challenge (perhaps the European Court of Justice? Blairites do love the EU!), as these machinations are transparently discriminatory and might even rise to breach of contract. Second, even if a court never takes a look at this nonsense, it’s a near certainty Corbyn will still win any membership vote, with coup plotters unable even to decide on a single candidate to challenge Corbyn.

Third, even if despite all this, the coup somehow, someway, results in the Blairite fever dream of a leader other than Jeremy Corbyn at conference this September, that “result” will be universally seen as illegitimate, corrupt, and deeply oligarchic. Labour will have told the vast majority of its current membership and any future members it does not matter what, or who, you vote for in the Labour Party, the rules will be changed afterward against you. What remains of a post-Brexit-coup Labour won’t really be a socialist party, will it, but instead an empty vessel for the safe movement of capital.

One of the reasons the British Labour Party liked having us Yanks around back in the neoliberal glory days of the late 1990’s was an uncanny Clintonista ability to deal with political reality. It’s largely a function of the European style British parliamentary electoral system, in which all the marbles ride on relatively rare general elections. America’s system of constant elections at every level from local council to the presidential primaries features high stakes at every level, all the time. Labour thus tends to be a pretty navel-gazing bunch, internally focused to a fault, while American political strategy is more head on a swivel, always looking around the next corner, then the next one, sort of a political radar turned GPS.

In this way we see Hillary Clinton, a neoliberal to her core, making all the right moves in victory before her convention in Philadelphia, while Labour’s Blairites make all the wrong moves in their precipitous decline into the bin of history. Hillary is adjusting to the political reality before her. She did not need to allow the DNC to adopt more than 80% of the Bernie Sanders platform at the convention in Philadelphia. Running against the trainwreck that is Donald Trump, an argument can be made Hillary does not even need the Bernie or Busters’ votes at all. Yet, the Clinton machine is doing the opposite of the Blairite rump – Hillary is changing the Democratic Party to meet the political winds all around her.

Instead of putting a finger in the breeze to see which way the wind is so obviously blowing, Blairites stick a finger in the eye of their own members, future supporters, and the British electorate as a whole. Neoliberalism, the chief governing theory of capitalism, is precisely this blind, as it only sees capital as power, not people. Fortunately for Britain, and for Labour, this worm long ago turned. Blairites are blindly putting themselves into traffic to get run over by the amply documented worldwide tectonic shift in our politics against neoliberal world order. No matter how clever they think they are, this will not end well for Blairites.

 

No Comments

Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton & movement politics

PD photo, 2001, when I still bought the con

PD photo, 2001, when I still bought the con

It’s over. So many Bernie people are completely new to politics, so I want to address them first.

The newbies may not realize it, but us tired, scarred old veterans needed your energy. We gave up on America, too. For me personally, until ya’ll showed up Feelin’ The Bern, American politics had become just as repulsive as post-soviet politics has been for 25 years to my old friends in Armenia. A sick joke, whose inner workings I knew so well, the joke got sicker every hour, year, decade. So first – even though we all got a few more scars outta this, thank you for getting me to engage and believe (if only just a bit) again.

Now, my grizzled veteran speech. Politics ain’t beanbag, the saying goes. There are winners, and losers. Sometimes it’s better to be the loser, and in the case of the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary, the Bernie Sanders’ “loss” and today’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton strikes me as one of those cases.

We all know this rickety system of exploitation is the governing bargain broken to pieces. Whether you call it end stage capitalism, or Washington Consensus neoliberalism, capital’s capture of the state is bound to collapse at some point, likely within Hillary Clinton’s presidency. If she cannot prevent this collapse, it will be Hillary’s responsibility to fix the coming trainwreck, establish the American economy on a New Deal foundation again, to remake the compromise between the state and capital which FDR got right. That’s a big job. It’s coming. Pretty sure Hillary Clinton herself knows it, too.

1996 Clinton Gore Campaign

1996 Clinton Gore Campaign

Our job now, as a movement, is to hound Hillary every step of the way, from within her own party, to hold her to the promises her party makes in the 2016 platform, and then some. The platform is a good start, and we owe a great debt of gratitude to the delegates who fought to change the Democratic Party from the inside out. True, they are just words on a page, and none of us think a President Clinton will just deliver these promises without a fight.

But we are a movement, so we know how to fight. I’ve written many times how the Bernie Sanders campaign for president is relatively new to the worldwide movement against neoliberalism. This movement began in the Tea Party reaction to the 2008 bailouts, exploded into the Arab Spring in late 2010, crystalized in the Western world on the streets with Occupy Wall Street in 2011, and is now at the ramparts of the establishment, with the Jeremy Corbyn takeover of the British Labour Party in 2015, and Bernie Sanders’ ideas now sitting firmly within the Democratic Party in 2016. Nineteen hundred elected delegates in Philadelphia in two weeks will march our movement directly into the halls of American power, representing millions of people.  Today, we make up close to half, if not more, of the oldest political party on earth.

Bernie Sanders is correct – this political revolution marches on. Only now, the stakes are much, much higher. With power comes responsibility. We used our power to transform the Democratic Party platform, and now we must keep that power fresh, deployed, at the ready, to enforce those ideas on President Hillary Clinton. In this endeavor, we have the advantage, because this movement has a long history largely outside of electoral politics, pushing political actors, not succumbing to them.

Bernie's Lakewood Office opening, Jan. 2016

Bernie’s Lakewood Office opening, Jan. 2016

And make no mistake, the interests of capital are like a cockroach. Fights there most certainly will be. In the UK, even though Jeremy Corbyn defeated Blairite neoliberalism utterly last summer, the zombie undead Blairites still mount an absurd post-Brexit coup from the shadows. Donald Trump, the hideous metastacized progeny of neoliberalim’s worst ugliness, stands in front of us. After Trump is vanquished, Hillary will be surrounded by the same neoliberal oligarchs who surround Trump.

Do we have to vote for Hillary Clinton because Bernie endorsed her? No, we don’t. She must come to us, not the other way around, if she wants our vote. She has work to do. But so do we.

Congratulations Berners – we continue to change our world. Thank you for helping me give it another try.

 

No Comments

Lebron turns NBA hot stove up to 11 – Carlos Boozer edition

My Carlos Boozer Moment

My Carlos Boozer Moment

It is the delicious news of Rajon Rondo signing with the trainwreck Chicago Bulls which turns my attention to the year long victory lap Lebron James will march across the face of the NBA. The Bulls now spin like roadkill in Lebron’s rear view mirror, just as the Detroit Pistons have since 2007, when Lebron James himself singlehandedly blew them to smithereens.

Since Lebron entered the league in 2003, there have been many, many villians in the Shakespearean tale of CLE & LBJ, including as the Bard would insist, himself. They all, except Lebron (redeemed!), now scurry to come up with some Big Three or Dream Teem of their own, aping Lebron James at his well known worst, as if in prayer they can somehow win a ring while Lebron is still playing. These Cavs aren’t that good yet, but the 2016 NBA Finals comeback is proof they’re about to be. That sound you hear from the NBA hot stove is sheer panic.

All of which brings to mind the first such pretender to this throne Carlos Boozer, whose treachery may be the biggest reason why Lebron doesn’t already have 11 rings in a row. I vividly remember hearing the news on the radio, as I drove off the Shoreway and onto the access road to Whiskey Island for some beach volleyball on a glorious summer night in 2004. The Cavs failed to pick up Carlos Boozer’s extension, trusting Boozer would sign a longer new contract.

The haze began. I remember making the turn from the off ramp to Whiskey Island Drive in silence, turning the volume up on the radio. Nothing. The pause in the newscaster’s voice was so audible, I could hear my own mind race through the litany of Cleveland sports woe in a nanosecond and conclude, before I even got past the marina, Boozer would be gone the next day, which he was. That is how important Carlos Boozer thought he was, how much better he could do without Lebron James.

At the time, the search was for the ever elusive shooting guard, and the 2004 off season was supposed to be when the Cavs took “the next step”. James and Boozer together, as now with James and Kevin Love, were the first signs the Cavs might become a dynasty. Alas, Shakespeare had already cast Carlos Boozer as a mere bit player added onto the pile of Believeland documentary film fodder. Boozer is now out of the NBA, laughably floating a comeback last week, after precisely the mediocre career everyone knew he would have without Lebron James.

It is in this spirit I greeted the Atlanta Hawks signing Dwight Howard, the Knicks signing BOTH Derrick Rose AND Joakim Noah (be still my heart), and whatever Dwayne Wade “sweepstakes” are afoot this off season. Cleveland’s got the NBA hot stove boiling over in what will prove futility.

No Comments

Brexit does nothing to The City of London, let alone its finance “jobs”

The Sun Never Sets Here

The Sun Never Sets Here

Does every media editor on earth have an offshore tax haven account they’d rather not talk about in Geurnsey? Isle of Man? Grand Cayman? Or are they terrified of looking like one of those Bildeberg Illuminati conspiracy nuts if they say “boo”? That’s really the only explanation I can conceive for the total silence on the gaping black hole in the middle of Brexit, and the entire world economy, the Corporation of the City of London.

Average folks think of Swiss bank accounts as the big culprit of tax haven globalization. Ha. If you want to know where the lion’s share of the middle class’s money went for the past 40-75 years, every ill gotten penny, every fraudulent scheme sucking the wealth of nations into a collapsing star, it’s Death Star is the offshore accounts all over the world whose legal jurisdiction rests in the Corporation of the City of London. The last remaining spider web of the British Empire’s global sovereignty, the City (pointedly, not the British Parliament), through the Empire’s historical vastness, presides over tens of trillions of untaxed dollars, perhaps equalling the size of the entire world economy. The Panama Papers, voluminous as they may be, are barely a pin prick into the labyrinth. Brexit does nothing to that jurisdiction, or those trillions, left safely frolicking in the City-based offshore like ticking time bombs of global financial risk.

Brexit doesn’t touch The City, because no international agreement has ever touched The City, whether you call it The Square Mile, or the British Wall Street, or more appropriately, the Corporation. A medieval jurisdiction whose unknown origin predates William the Conqueror, The City is “governed” by an impenetrable Escher drawing of Worshipful Whatnots whose titles date back centuries. New Labour’s drooling neoliberalism merely made The City more impenetrable, Tony Blair gifting the City ever more global corporate power and independence from the slightest touch of London local government.

The hand wringing commentary on the City post-Brexit about all the financial jobs supposedly leaving London in favor of mainland Europe is profoundly false, and blind to history. Before Britain even joined the EU, the City blatantly ignored the post-war Bretton Woods framework for international capital to create the eurodollar market in the mid 1950’s – non-US banks accepting deposits in dollars. In international scholarship, Eurodollars are the consensus big bang moment of the post-war City-based offshore. London property values post-Brexit will remain inflated due to the obscene amounts of London real estate registered in the City based offshore. In fact, thanks to the severing of the EU relationship, post-Brexit there is actually an incentive for Europeans to come to London, not the other way round. At a minimum, Brexit will likely lead to more offshore ownership in London, not less.

Brexit did nothing to address this decades long boiling global financial risk in the beating heart of London. To the City, the EU is very much a Johnny Come Lately to the neoliberal free market party, and Brexit leaves the swirling offshore toilet very much intact. British voters thought the EU was causing the giant sucking sound of their futures disappearing. Their media didn’t help, and still won’t.

No Comments

Labour vs. Neoliberalism Round Two

From the Red London Facebook Page

From the Red London Facebook Page

Having just written about the blindness of elites, the Labour Party surprised even me. Apparently, Jeremy Corbyn didn’t do enough campaigny things for Remain, and now must go, according to a no confidence vote of Labour MPs. It’s always about tactical nonsense, some elusive “competence”, a clever potion of political alchemy to which only Blairites have the secret recipe. Corbyn must go.

Corbyn has fought this all the way, and is ignoring the no confidence vote, daring any other candidates to gather the 51 MP nominations to begin a leadership election. Leaders must compromise, and it is clear Corbyn would rather not have campaigned for Remain, and perhaps instead lead the large chunk of Labour’s core working class electorate who voted Leave. So his campaigny feeties didn’t run so fast on the hamster wheel of campaigny thingies. So what? To measure a Labour leader, one year after a crushing victory put him there, on the tactical slide rule of a Tory catastrophe is beyond ridiculous.

Last summer, I began covering Corbyn from the perspective of a Bernie Sanders supporter. The Corbyn Movement is one reason why I became involved in the Sanders campaign here in Ohio. It proved to me that a movement of the FDR/Red Labour Left could gain power, no matter the stereotypical bearded (or not) lefty leading it. Last summer’s Labour leadership contest, which Jeremy Corbyn won in a landslide by the way, was about ideas, not a personality. One idea in particular very much lost.

Blairite neoliberalism is not only not socialism, it doesn’t even work, except to create oligarchy. In my experience, Labour members are the most studied political actors in the western world. Labour was born in the socialist intellectualism of the early 20th century, and every Labour member I’ve ever met had a colleciton of party manifestos. They know what socialism stands for, and what the goals of a socialist political party must be.

Alas, after a Tory faction extracted a Tory promise from a weak Tory leader to produce a Tory disaster, apparently Blairism smells blood in the water? No one is fooled anymore, thus, I suspect this rematch of ideas will produce not just the same result as last summer, but energize the movement behind it.

1 Comment

The Tory Row Goes Global

QueenBacksBrexitCan we dispense with the false assumption that Britain did not know what was on the ballot when they voted on Brexit?

One of the joys of working in British politics for this Clintonista Yank was the regularity and viciousness of the Tory Row, pronounced in the Queen’s English r-AHw, like in “rowdy”. The single greatest interview in the history of the BBC was about a Tory Row. A particulalry delicious Tory Row would explode into a classic British sex scandal, long knives out, envelopes filled with money, that sort of thing. During election season, they would erupt into the front pages like clockwork, like a sitcom.

And every Tory Row at its beating heart was always about Europe. In, or out.

David Cameron is getting off the hook very lightly here. Every Tory prime minister since and including Margaret Thatcher herself fought this fight over Europe constantly, and each of Cameron’s predecessors had managed to keep a referendum promise out of the Tory manifesto. The only way Cameron even became leader was to have been so weak, that manifesto promise was extracted, Cameron won an election on that manifesto, and the clock started ticking.

To have missed Brexit coming is truly an act of willful blindness at best, total ignorance at worst. Alas, we know how Brexit “surprised” everyone. To be precise, Gramsci knew. A Marxist who Mussolini had thrown into jail, his prison writings gave rise to the theory of capitalist hegemony, that we ourselves enforce the laws of capital because we ourselves buy into it with such faith, it becomes a “taken for granted” set of norms and principles by which we all live. Impentrable as culture, or language. In this way, capitalism finds its lasting power over the nation state, making the state impotent to capital. Neoliberal Washington Consensus has reached this Gramscian level of hegemony in our elites, did so long ago.

That’s the polite explanation of how everyone forgot about every single glorious Pythonesque Tory Row, oh, since at least Thatcher was deposed, over Europe. Our elites were surprised because they have this ideological blindspot, so strong, it can withstand clear warning for decades and remain blind. It’s probably a defense mechanism of some sort, Gramsci might say.

The Tory Row thus goes global. And it was David Cameron who popped the cork on his classmate Boris Johnson’s champagne. It’s already a keeper.

2 Comments

Brexit, where Occupy and the Tea Party meet

Some of us have been saying for years that if the left didn’t grab it, the right would grab the message of the 1% and the 99%, and it would become messy. That is what happened with Brexit. The message of Occupy found common ground with the furthest far right, and had a big juicy target, the EU.

In my travels as a formerly proud foot soldier in the neoliberal Washington Consensus victory lap around soviet communism during the late 90’s , the EU was just another funder, an assumed perch over world affairs similar to the UN, or NATO, a pillar of neoliberal world order. For Britain to leave the EU was then, and still is, unthinkable to the very small group of direct beneficiaries of its largess.

Alas, many had thought it. Who, no less, the BBC refer to as “these people” in a conversation with a – can’t make it up – Lord.

On the morning after the vote, a BBC radio reporter welcomed politicians to his studio as old chums. “Well,” he said to “Lord” Peter Mandelson, the disgraced architect of Blairism, “why do these people want it so badly?” The “these people” are the majority of Britons.

Normally, when an ideology dies, there are no warnings. We are very lucky to have the British electorate warn us. My neoliberal victory lap went through Armenia, where the ruins of another ideology’s death were everywhere, and still are. When an ideology dies, it does so very slowly, leaving chaos and human debris over a wide expanse. Slowly, because those in power, who benefit from the dying idea, cling to it well past the breaking point.

This blindness of elites to what boils beneath them is now abundantly clear. Any fool would know that a referendum on the EU in any member state, let alone Britain where it has been the touchstone of rightist politics for decades, would fail, just as they have done over and over, let alone at this moment. But elites live not in this moment. They still live where I lived once, in another age, before the breakdown of the New Deal was complete, and average Americans could get paid handsomely to travel the globe and talk about how to be like Americans, and be welcomed. That age did exist, once.

Every scholar worth their tassles knows the international system is behaving very like the 1930’s, and Brexit very much confirms it. Nationalistic extremism is fueling the breakdown of nation states across the globe, fed by corrosive economic decline since at least 2008, certainly longer, while a tiny few quite literally lord over a sea of serfs, becoming ever more wealthy and powerful. Scholars recognize this as the governing bargain having been broken. We also now have a message from an electorate telling us who they think broke the deal.

The question now becomes, do the elites listen even now? They’ve certainly been duly warned.

No Comments