Sunday, January 6, 2008


--When Better Automobiles Are Built, Buick Will Build Them.

Image from Plan 59, visit and enjoy!

The idea that Hillary represents the Status Quo has taken hold in the Democratic Primary Shuffle, and I find it silly and somewhat offensive on its face. I don't know whether Democratic voters in New Hampshire are responding to it, but I hope not.

Hillary cannot be the Status Quo Candidate no matter how hard she tries to position herself as the Wingnut Dem for President. In case nobody noticed, she's a Dame, and right off the bat there's your all important Change. She's not a representative of the Status Quo at all; instead, she's offering a pretty straightforward Restoration.

And how realistic is that?

Can we go back to the Good Times of the Clinton Era? Not very likely. Were the Bourbons able to re-establish the French Monarchy after the Napoleonic Era? They tried, got overthrown. And much of the Change imposed by the Revolution and Napoleon remained after Louis XVIII was enthroned, and it's still coursing through the French body politic.

I've written about this before: the Busheviks are the Revolutionaries, the Radicals, the Agents of Change in our country and the world, not the Dems. The point of their Revolution is to establish, once and for all, the Universal Primacy of Corporate Power, to assert that Power domestically and throughout the world, and to accumulate whatever wealth, 
real estate, goods, and chattel they can seize
. They have been massively successful.

Not much of that Bushevik success is going to be undone by any Democratic candidate, win or lose. The changes brought about by the Revolutionaries are mostly permanent. But all the Dem candidates, Obama included, want to Restore a pre-Bushevik America, one that harkens back to another -- supposedly Better -- day. 

Hillary's Restoration would of course harken to the Clinton Era
Barack and Edwards seem to want to go further back, Edwards harkening to the LBJ War on Poverty period, Obama going back to the Kennedy Era of high flown rhetoric and passionate patriotic dedication.

Realistically, we can't go back, whatever else happens. We can only go forward. For reasons that only they know, the leading Democratic candidates all see "going forward" as a means to restart the clock at 2001, a do-over as it were, to "get right" what the Busheviks have so badly fucked up.

Of course events have a way of intervening. We are apparently on the cusp of a historic economic disaster which none of the candiates of either party are addressing in any way. They know it's looming, but they choose to do nothing at this time, preferring to wait for events to unfold before they even suggest that action can occur.

We could be about to learn that our entire economy has been "Enronized" during the Bushevik years, and there is nothing we can do about it. Much as Californians learned there was nothing they could do about the looting of their state's economy by the Enron Boys and their fellow travellers when time was. Democrats have been eager enablers throughout.

Hillary is not a Status Quo candidate, she's a Restoration candidate, as are all the Democrats running except Kucinich -- but he's a Hobbit, and that as they say is that. No Presidency for him!

What would happen, I wonder, if the Democratic candidates were advocates of Real Change?


  1. Realistically, we can't go back, whatever else happens. We can only go forward.

    That is a keen observation, Ché. And, what it suggests to me is, that no matter what platform the candidates run on, and are chosen because of, what spools out will likely be very different than what the voters imagine.

    I am hopeful that the economy becomes 'only' as bad as the stagflation endured during the OPEC crisis. Most will survive that. Some ground will be lost individually, and nationally, but it wasn't a disaster. If it more closely resembles the 30s, that will be disastrous. And, that kind of economic collapse sets the stage for a political climate which will either re-make us (a la FDR), or break us (a la Hitler).

  2. I realize that the "Bush-Cheney-gang-as-revolutionaries" meme is rather popular among semi-left circles of the blogosphere, but I think it can't be emphasized enough how wrong and dangerous this idea is. They are not revolutionary, they are counter-revolutionary; they seek to undo everything the lower classes have gained in roughly the past century-and-a-half of struggle. Although the forms that this struggle takes are new, the essence of it is not. What is relatively novel about this epoch is that the corporate elite have now almost completely taken over from the old monied families as the leaders of the struggle, i.e. the instutionalization of wealth has reached its highest degree in history. But that this is a war of the haute bourgeoisie (those representing the greatest concentrations of capital) against the rest of society is not new at all. The Bush-Cheney gang represent the same constituency as Reagan and Nixon, who in turn are the successors to Hoover, Coolidge, and the "lassiez-faire" establishment of the inter- and pre-War era. They were, in turn, the servants and the successors of the robber barons of the period following the Civil War.

    What happened following World War II was a historical aberration, made necessary by the threat of Communism. In order to divert the restlessness of the masses into less dangerous channels, it was necessary to buy them off, to reduce their anger and dissatisfaction with the status quo by changing it. When the Soviet Union, as the standard-bearer of international communism, started to fall apart in the '70s and '80s, it was decided that the support of the masses was no longer appropriate, let alone necessary, and so the political economy of the United States began to drift back toward "free market" ideas, in which the richest were said to deserve to be richer and the poorest were said to deserve to be poorer. If you didn't already have it, you didn't deserve and so wouldn't get it.

    Bush and Cheney are but the latest expression of this trend. Their desire to restore a past that never existed is typical of counter-revolutionaries. Conservatism (true "classical" conservatism, i.e., the reaction against the French Revolution) started off this way. That many people think it's fashionable to talk about "classical conservatism" as if it had any principles other than "might makes right" and "who has the gold, makes the rules" is because it became fashionable to talk about it that way and therefore people were taught about it that way. I see the "revolutionary" label being applied to the Neocons as a parallel situation. It doesn't reflect the actuality of the history and makes it possible to continue to understand the past incorrectly, which will allow the counter-revolutionaries to come back in a different guise once the moment of crisis has passed.

  3. ingsoc:

    Good points.

    In the current state of things, the counter-revolution is the revolutionary action.

    There is no revolution, not even a revolt any more, from the Left. Not in this country, for sure, and with a handful of sclerotic exceptions, you'd have a hard time finding it anywhere.

    I argue the rightist grab for power is quite as powerful a global revolutionary movement -- if not more so -- than the International Communist Conspiracy ever was.

    Yes, of course, the Busheviks are the heirs to Reagan and his revival of pre-1930's American capitalist excess. And there are no heirs to Marx and Lenin.

    But I do not accept the idea that only a Marxist Revolution of the Masses is possible, or that it is misunderstanding history to ascribe revolutionary intent to Neocons. After all, isn't their ideological foundation (warped though it may be) in Trotskyism?

    The Clintonites are literally the Restorationists; but the theme of Restoration has coursed through Democratic politics for years.

    The Neoconmen are by no means conservative, nor are they proposing and implementing conservative solutions; they are extreme radicals, proposing and implementing radical -- indeed, revolutionary -- upheavals. These people are literally the "subversives" we were being warned about during various waves of anti-communist hysteria.

    They are authoritarians, advocating and to the extent they can implementing an Autocracy. Even George III wasn't an Autocrat; our American Revolution wasn't against Autocracy, no matter some of the rhetoric at the time. Our Democracy has long since become so decrepit, however, that Autocracy is now the revolutionary's response to it.

    It just so happens the Busheviks have chosen a Rightist, crypto-fascist revolution. They could just as easily have worked their problem from the Left. And 50 years ago they might have done it.

    I have argued the "counter-revolutionary" point about the Busheviks from time to time, but it doesn't really work. They aren't trying to restore anything. Certainly not American democracy. They are trying their damnedest to move off the mark into uncharted realms of rightist dictatorship -- which has nothing whatever to do with American political history, nor even the political situation our own Revolution was waged against. They aren't going back to what used to be, they're going forward to somewhere we've never been.

    They've accomplished most of what they set out to do.

    Maybe you can help me understand how defining that success as "counter-revolutionary" helps build an effective opposition.

  4. Part of it is stylistic; I think "revolutionary" is a positive appellation, and applying it to these people would lead people to think of left-wing revolutionary movements in a similarly negative manner. Thus, I think revolutionary should be reserved for people we approve of, at least in non-academic writing. Academic discussions are another matter, and require the precision and objectivity that the sort of tactical re-definition I'm advocating make difficult.

    But even beyond this, there has always been an element within the American elite that has wished to restrict the bourgeois republic's responsiveness to the lower classes. My point in discussing a "past that did not exist" is part of the mythology of conservatism. See the first post on my blog for a discussion of why I maintain that they are, in fact, "conservative;" in a nutshell, conservatism is a defense of entrenched privilege and power. The Bushistas are nothing if not entrenched privilege and power.

    As to their ideological roots being in Trotskyism, I think this point is overstated. First, it depends largely upon what one defines as "neoconservatism;" there's no coherent ideological basis to it. Second, only a few of the so-called "neoconservatives" were actually Trots, and of those, few if any of them were really dedicated Trots; it was mostly a "what-can-I-get-out-of-this" or "the-cool-kids-are-doing-it-so-I-should-too" deal. A few of them were true believers, but they're in the minority. It's very easy to misunderstand and misuse any Marxist philosopher, especially one like Trotsky. The honest truth is that Lenin and the gang were rather sectarian and authoritarian, and people who idolize people like that are prone to "flip" when their life's work is crushed. I can't pretend to understand the mechanics behind many of these ex-Trots migrating into these circles, but I do know that many of them thought that anti-Communism could be used to their advantage, so perhaps they began drinking their own Kool-Aid. A book on this subject is begging to be published.

    Returning the main point, however: Yes, the solutions seem radical, but they're only radical by degree, not by kind. As I mentioned in my previous comment, the period following the Cold War an aberration in many ways. I realize that this point was somewhat overstated, since a lot of what the Bushistas are trying to undo goes back to before the Cold War, but I think I was also right in a way that I did not really understand when I wrote that. To a large extent, the Cold War was a continuation of the previous half-century-plus of class struggle between the industrial working class and the robber barons; many of the reforms that were implemented by such figures as TR were done to take the wind out of the sails of the working-class movement as well as to ensure future profitability (corporate execs are often stupid-greedy, and threaten the long-term viability of the corporation by maximizing short-term profits; who'd'a thunk it?); to give the appearance of accountability to the public, while avoiding the kind of accountability that would make sure nothing like that ever happened again. Remember NAFTA, The Urguay Round of GATT (i.e., the WTO), the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Bank Deregulation, "Welfare Reform," and host of other things that happened under Clinton? These hardly contrast with Reaganomics; Chomsky gave a talk back in the '90s called "Old Wine, New Bottles" that talked about how Clinton was basically just a repackaged Republican.

    I'm starting to lose my train of thought, here, and I need to give up the computer soon, so I'll stop and try to gather my thoughts and elaborate more later. I hope this helps.

  5. Some further thoughts on the matter; Chomsky somewhere talks about how there are two different kinds of democracy, the one which you and I speak of in which the people are sovereign and actually make decisions, and the one that the elites prefer in which the people essentially just pick the leaders the elites choose for them. There's a clip of this on YouTube somewhere; I'm trying to find it, but my bandwidth is severely limited (I'm on dialup, and not very good dialup at that). This is the kind of democracy we've had in the US for a long time (arguably since the beginning). So the Bushistas' disdain for popular accountability is only new in its intensity, and the degree of its application to domestic policy (foreign policy has been driven by the national security elite for a long, long time, and has essentially been their special province).

    Essentially, the Bushistas look upon the Gilded Age, before the Progressive reforms and the New Deal, as the Golden Age of American society. Corporations could do whatever they wanted to whomever they wanted wherever and whenever they wanted, constrained only by what their money could buy them. This is inherently counter-revolutionary.

    Unless "revolution" and "revolutionary" are to take on negative meanings, to apply the term "revolutionary" to a movement with as narrow a vision as Neoconservatism is to deprive the term of meaning. Revolutionary has historically had a positive connotation, meaning someone or something changing for the better and moving forward; a quantum leap advancement, rather than merely incremental progress. The Bushistas represent anything but progress for the masses, and in fact, in the long term, they represent no progress at all. The ultimate outcome of their agenda is regression if they succeed, and ruin if they fail.

    At this point, I think they've fallen back on a defensive stance. They've realized that the masses won't go along with the program, and so they are attempting to stave off defeat. They figure that by so badly ruining everything they touch, they can deny their opposition any pleasure in their victory. This, too, is a counter-revolutionary act.

    I've found a clip in which Chomsky discusses the workings of American democracy, and although it's not the one I'm looking for, it touches on the topic:

  6. Found the clip I was looking for:

    Hope to have something new on my blog soon. I'm working on a post about Ron Paul, and I discovered something that should prompt another post about him. I think the problems with the other Republican candidates are well-known, but I'm trying to talk about why Paul's "libertarianism" has serious problems. Race is one of the big ones.

  7. insoc:

    Thanks for your detailed responses here. Sorry it's taken me a while to pick up this thread again. It's been an interesting few days for me, to say the least.

    Be that as it may, you have some trenchant insights into the nature of Revolution and how we as Americans might -- or might not -- want to approach it, again.

    The way I see it, the Busheviks are Revolutionaries, Revolutionaries from the Right, much as the Fascisti and Phalangists and Nazis were Revolutionaries from the Right. And yet the neocons take much of their inspiration from the Soviet Revolution, indubitably from the Left. That's why I call them the "subversives we were always being warned about" during the Cold War. These are -- at least in some sense -- the very people we were being warned about. And look: they succeeded in taking over the country. Yikes.

    They are authoritarians without a doubt, they believe in Führerprinzip , yet -- at least so far -- they are not totalitarians, which leads me to believe that indeed you are absolutely correct that their ideology is completely incoherent. They dabble in power, but they don't know what they are doing, and they don't have a coherent vision or even a rational course for their Revolution to follow.

    I don't think they are trying to go back to the Glory Days of the Gilded Age. They seem to be trying to go forward into something else altogether, a kind of strange (and I think very dangerous) amalgam of religiosity, belief in the impossible, and baskets of money.

    Think Enron. That's the image they seem to have of everything. Bluster and high-flown rhetoric, massive theft and chicanery, and absolute belief in the Goodness and Beauty of what they do. A cult, in other words. They rob and kill us for our own good!

    So far, Progressives have been content with passively accepting the installation of these cultists throughout the government and hoping, also almost passively, that one day they can achieve a Progressive Restoration of the Way Things Used To Be.

    I'll tell you right now it ain't gonna happen. No way, no how.

    No, we're headed for something else again, I know not what. I don't see the neocons consolidating their power -- they are too arrogant, too ignorant, and too bumbling. But Bushevism looks to have a long, inglorious life.

    The Autocracy is nearly undoable at this point. For all intents and purposes the Republic and Democracy are over with.

    We can either start over (which may happen if the economic situation deteriorates enough), or we'll putter along uncomfortably saddled with a corrupt and religiously insane cult running things more or less badly until the final denoument, and Canada and Mexico have to intervene to rescue what's left of the American Dream.

  8. I'm not suggesting that they want to bring back the Gilded Age per se; the objective is to bring back the those things they think were favorable to capital accumulation during the Gilded Age, particularly in the area of government regulation and labor relations. I think you're focused too much on the fact that things are changing; they have to. Even counter-revolutionaries recognize this.

    I think you're correct in pointing out the parallels with Fascism and Nazism, but I feel compelled to point out that they were, in fact, counterrevolutionary. Their entire raison d'être was to prevent a successful socialist revolution. I realize that the Nazis themselves were to some degree revolutionary, but they discarded their truly revolutionary wing when Hitler decided that it was necessary to cement his hold on power. We need to distinguish, here, between what they think they want and what they're actually accomplishing. I've been guilty to some extent during this dialogue of not making this distinction, and I haven't made it clear where I have been.

    I think it's clear that they want to follow Führerprinzip, but this is not entirely new. The Sedition Act of Alien and Sedition Act fame was somewhat of this kind (as was the Sedition Act of 1918). The fact is that the Bushistas actually represent a coming-together of several different strains of anti-progressive political thought, some of which date back to the Founding. I keep stressing that they're counter-revolutionary because, above all else, they want to protect established interests such as the petrochemical industry and Wall Street. The ends always justify the means to these people.

    If they're doing something new and innovative, it's because they've decided that the old methods for protecting their power don't work. The Bourgeois Republic as a form of government is insufficiently closed to pressure from below and they must seek new forms of management in order to ensure their continued ascendancy. They represent, to turn the classic Marxist phrase on its head, the vanguard of the haute bourgeoisie; it's most advanced, reactionary elements, leading the counter-revolutionary charge for capital accumulation.

    The whole point of everything the Bushistas are doing is protecting capital accumulation. That's why they exist, that's why they get favorable coverage from the media, that's why the corporations continue to support them, and that's why Bush Lite is the best the big boys are willing to tolerate. Everyone else is too threatening to their voracious appetites.

    As to them being the subversives we were always warned about; of course they were! The Red Scare of the '20s onward was nothing but a ruse, a means of distracting attention from the fact that the real subversion of democracy was coming from the right. They've always been the real subversives.

    And to follow up about Trots and why they flipped, although I think Chomsky somehwat overstates his point, he talks about how easily many Leninists adapted themselves to working against the masses in the last clip I mentioned. He has a valid criticism of some Leninists (and by "Leninist" he primarily means "Stalinist," since this was the main species of "Leninist" thought that survived in the US; the Trots were too busy arguing among themselves to organize as effectively as the Stalinists, and so Trot formations were mostly sectlets).