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Memes

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.23.16

I don't think I identify with fictional characters very often.


 

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Hey Gang

Posted by Ogged
on 09.23.16

I suppose "colorful" is an inapposite way to describe this article about rap and Chicago gangs, but it's a vivid cast of characters in an uncanny young people doing young people stuff, but all disputes are settled with shooting story. Not that long; worth a read.


 

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#FreeInstapundit

Posted by Ogged
on 09.22.16

Heh.

On Twitter more generally, that great sage Martin Shkreli had it right.


 

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Terence Crutcher

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.21.16

Probably time to have another police brutality thread. Pretty sickening!


 

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Numbers

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.20.16

When I was in college (and I had a rather mainstream experience, not particularly lefty), I remember the question of "how many people have you slept with?" having supremely outsized importance. Between friends, the answer didn't matter, but the implication was that male sex partners would care a lot, and so it was worth analyzing to death. (My memory is that some guys did care a lot.) To the extent that I swore I would tell my daughters to say, "My mother told me never to answer that question," so that they would have an out that didn't implicate them one way or another.

I hope that's not a thing anymore that kids care about, but I think I still might tell my kids to have a don't ask/don't tell policy (unless it feels friendly and safe).


 

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The Racist Turds You Will Always Have With You

Posted by Ogged
on 09.20.16

Imagine it's revealed that Trump paid Rahami to create a little chaos: Trump winds up acknowledging it, and says, hey, some people need a nudge to vote the right way, and this election is so important. Where does his level of support end up? The crazification 27%? Lower? Higher?


 

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The Remarkable Incompetence Of Mr. Rahmani

Posted by Ogged
on 09.19.16

Think about how easy it would be for you to kill someone, especially if you have access to a car. This jamoke planned for months, and didn't manage to kill anyone. Also, I hate to be politically incorrect, but doesn't it seem like the really incompetent terrorists, your underwear/shoe bomber types, are always non-Arabs? Let's leave things to the experts, guys.


 

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Just Linking To Kevin Drum Here

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.19.16

Making a case for why progressives should be actively pleased by the prospect of a Clinton presidency. The list is long, and kind of inflated in parts (yes, she did literally nothing wrong related to Whitewater. I could say the same about myself, and that's not a reason to vote for me for anything) but there's stuff to look at.

And everyone is doing as much in terms of GOTV as they can stand, right? It's important for Congress, even you think the presidency is in the bag, and I am starting to worry that the presidency is not in the bag.


 

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Deluge: Conclusion

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.19.16

Mossy Character writes:

This one is actually pretty short, so I'll make this more a general closure-type thread. In spirit of which, here are the links for all the summaries:

Planning thread

Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2

3 and 4

5 and 6

7 and 8

9 and 10

11 and 12

13 and 14

15 and 16

17 and 18

19 and 20

21

22

23 and 24

25 and 26
I think we should also have a general discussion about running reading groups, seeing how this one kind of derailed toward the end. That said:

Conclusion: It gets worse

The democratic coalition that won WWI pooled the military, financial, and economic power of the Allies; this alliance gradually unraveled after the war, letting the monsters out in the 1930s. The first of these was the Soviet Union, with its failed attack on Poland in 1920, and backing of the Koumintang's Northern Expedition in 1927, the success of which marked the end of liberal internationalist efforts to dominate China, by both the West and Japan. [Interestingly, Tooze here puts the Republic of China among the 'insurgent' powers, which casts new light on its alliances with both the Soviets and the Germans, not to mention the distinctly fascist aesthetic of General Chiang.]

The Soviets were also the first to begin the mobilization of the Second World War period, reflecting the fear they felt toward the democratic powers; the Soviets must advance or 'go under', in Stalin's words. The defeat of Germany, the leading light of central planners everywhere, [Germany also crops up in this light in Scott's Seeing Like a State, which I've just started] indicated that success against the West would require even more radical mobilization. The insurgent powers would do just this in the 1930s, as would some post-colonial countries after the war [this fits Mao's policies perfectly: the Korean War, Great Leap Forward, nuke program, everything, were preparation for an anticipated third world war].

The intensity of mobilization starting in the 1930s was entirely unprecedented, far exceeding that during and before WWI. By 1938 all powers were spending, as a proportion of GNP, roughly five times more on defense than they had been in 1913, and in absolute terms more still; the insurgents were spending almost 20% of GNP, twice as much as the democracies. The insurgents also took a shine to new technologies like aircraft in hopes of leveling the field; this strategy proved far better suited to the US, and has remained so down to the present.

Ideologically, the war and its aftermath also showed that democracy was more resilient than authoritarianism, that nationalism made outright conquests nearly impossible, and that electorates inhibited expansionism in favor of domestic spending. Nationalist self-assertion therefore was precluded by democracy at the domestic level; at the international level, dependence on American capital imposed conformity to the gold standard and debt service, and thus to austerity budgets, precluding heavy military spending. The answer to this was political totalitarianism and economic autarky, again marking a discontinuity with anything before.

At the center of all this was the small-mindedness of American policy. The US had undermined the democratic alliance from the outset: never fully co-operating during the war, opposing any substantive collective security system, and sabotaging financial co-operation in favor of relentless demands for debt service. This was deliberate policy, from Wilson through to Hoover. Without collective settlements Europe would remain divided, indebted to US creditors, and dependent on US aid; and so America would gain an effective veto over the policies of all other powers. [Tooze doesn't say it here, but Japan fits into this too, because it was severely dependent on US credit, despite lacking war debts.]

American progressives were dedicated to containing change rather than advancing it; their ideal was the Gilded Age, the new normalcy following the Civil War and Reconstruction. The US vision for its world order was accordingly conservative, limited to free trade and disarmament. [Tooze lays this out earlier in the book, not here, but the logic was coherent: free trade was tied to the gold standard, which imposed deflation and austerity. These suppressed the left through immiseration and social spending cuts, and the (imperialist) right by cutting military budgets; and along both those lines inhibited the development of modern states. Not coincidentally, the Gilded Age was also a period of deflation, the period of the first gold standard, and the period of the first Great Depression, 1873-96.]

So, on its own terms, the American policy did actually work: there was no effective League, no debt cancellation, extensive disarmament, and massive deflation and retrenchment. Until, with the second Great Depression, it came apart. America lost its 'privileged detachment' as the worldwide deflation and debt service it imposed blew back on its own economy. Japan defected from the gold standard, and immediately thereafter turned to autarky, rearmament, and expansion. America itself turned to true isolationism. Hoover suspended the debt peonage policy at the depth of the crisis; FDR went on to abandon gold entirely, and to refound the US as a (more) modern state, capable of fighting WWII and sustaining a more positive postwar order; and in the process produced exactly the revolutionary changes Wilson and company had fought to stop.

--------------------

Back in the planning thread we converged on Deluge because it promised greater contemporary relevance, so I'm taking that as license to speculate wildly.

All the insurgent parties in the 1930s knew they were overmatched internationally, and knew also that they were outnumbered domestically. They were all unable to win elections: the Bolsheviks peaked around 25%, the Italian Fascists 19%, the Nazis 33%. The Japanese militarists were the actual armed forces, not a party at all, but there was broad popular and cross-party support for heavy cuts to military spending during the 1920s retrenchments. The insurgents knew they couldn't win, and that drove their violence, inward and outward.

Why this strikes me particularly is that today's Republicans in general, and Tea Partiers in particular, are similar. From a piece Ogged linked recently: "And, as older white Christians, they were acutely aware of their demographic decline." The other thing, and I think my biggest takeaway this time round, is that those minority insurgents could only win because of the Great Depression; the Depression happened only because all the centrist and progressive parties conformed to a dysfunctional economic orthodoxy enforced by the global capitalist order.

If they weren't banned, the analogies for today would be inexact, but still significant. The euro doesn't have a gold standard, but its austerity policies are having the same effect economically; and politically they are steadily destroying the political parties of the periphery countries, with right-wingers swarming in the gaps. The US and Britain are different, but are also having major crises in their party systems. I think that the common driver is the sacrifice of majority interests on the altar of economic orthodoxy, in this case free trade and deregulation (neoliberalism!), rather than austerity (though Britain does both). For the US some of the lines are quite straight there: Clinton passes NAFTA and welfare reform; the (white) people who got shafted are voting Trump.

Worst, of course, American insanity. There's a real chance you're about to elect a president as utterly incompetent as Wilson, and you did in fact elect such a man 16 years ago (I will count 2000, because the theft wasn't aberrant, it was down to a shoddy constitution and shoddier management). Trump could destroy the American alliance system by sheer ignorance; since I currently live in the most vulnerable of those allies, I take this a bit personally. (And the Rocs are good people! They deserve to be protected! Write your Congesscritter!). Anyway, time to wrap it up. For that, I can't do better than the man himself:

It is a drama all the more moving for the fact that it remains an open, unfinished history, no less a challenge for us today.


 

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Campus antisemitism

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.18.16

I really don't know the state of antisemitism in the US right now, since my experience (to paraphrase Delegar's kid) is more or less "Aren't Jews mythical, like leprechauns?" I do know other Jewish people here, and there's a bit of "hey, I know you!" to it, but nobody is religious enough for ordinary Texans to notice.

Anyway, so it's hard for me to put antisemitism on college campuses into context and understand what's going on. My guess is that the problem is that students have very uneven senses of context. For one kid, he's heard a lot about how crimes against Palestinians are underreported, but not much about typical white supremacist dog-whistles against Jews. For another kid, it's the opposite.

So anyway, my question is: is this actually different in some way than the past few decades?



 

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