Thursday, November 10, 2016

"While Clinton won 53% of votes for those earning less than $30k compared to 41% for Trump, that was still a 16-point swing to the Republican party. This wasn’t a ‘working class revolt’ – in the main poorer voters went Democrat – but it was a significant shift, and one that unfolded alongside higher-income earners going Democrat (a 9-point swing for those earning $100-199k, although a slight minority favoured Trump at 48% to 47%).

"The shift to Trump among lower-income voters may have been even higher among the rust-belt states that ultimately decided this – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin."

"Whichever way you look at it, Clinton lost this election more than Trump won it. The former secretary of state lost ground among vital parts of the 2012 vote – minorities, the young and low-income earners – while failing to perform among women as expected, particularly college graduates.

"Did Trump make this weather? It doesn’t feel that way; rather he was well-placed to take advantage of a race that was always going to favour an insurgent with an anti-establishment message. Clinton was never going to be that candidate. Bernie Sanders or Liz Warren could have been. As commentator Richard Seymour wrote on Facebook: 'Republican vote more or less static in this election. Democratic vote went down by SEVEN MILLION from 2012. Far from generating a record turnout, the likelihood is that Clinton did precisely demoralise a huge chunk of the Democratic base.' The Democratic party went backwards." - Aaron Bastani, "Trump Didn't Win, Clinton Lost"

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"Clinton won only 65 percent of Latino voters, compared to Obama’s 71 percent four years ago. She performed this poorly against a candidate who ran on a program of building a wall along America’s southern border, a candidate who kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists.

"Clinton won 34 percent of white women without college degrees. And she won just 54 percent of women overall, compared to Obama’s 55 percent in 2012. Clinton, of course, was running against a candidate who has gloated on film about grabbing women 'by the pussy.'

"This was Clinton’s election to lose. And she lost. A lot of the blame will fall on Clinton the candidate, but she only embodied the consensus of this generation of Democratic Party leaders. Under President Obama, Democrats have lost almost a thousand state-legislature seats, a dozen gubernatorial races, sixty-nine House seats and thirteen in the Senate. Last night didn’t come out of nowhere.

"The problem with Clinton wasn’t her peculiarity but her typicality. It was characteristic of this Democratic Party that the power players in Washington decided on the nominee — with overwhelming endorsements — many months before a single ballot was cast.

"They made a fateful choice for all of us by stacking the deck, decisively, against the kind of politics that could win: a working-class politics.

"Seventy-two percent of Americans who voted last night believed that 'the economy is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful.' Sixty-eight percent agreed that 'traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.'

"Almost alone among Democratic politicians, Bernie Sanders spoke to this simmering sense of alienation and class anger. Sanders had a basic message for the American people: you deserve more and you are right to believe you do. Health care, college education, a living wage. It’s a message that has made him by far the most popular politician in the country.

"Hillary Clinton’s formal platform approached some of Sanders’s concrete ideas, but repudiated its core message. For those in charge of the Democratic Party, it made no sense to rail against America. For them, America never stopped being great. And things have only been getting better.

"Party leaders asked voters to hand politics over to them. They thought they had it under control. They were wrong. Now we all have to deal with the consequences. And we will.

"This is a new era that requires a new type of politics — one that speaks to people’s pressing needs and hopes, rather than to their fears. Elite liberalism, it turns out, cannot defeat right-wing populism. We can’t move to Canada or hide under the bed. This is a moment to embrace democratic politics, not repudiate them." - "Politics Is the Solution"

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"Remember Lenin, who (be it said for all Popperian lovers of ‘falsification’) alloted to error a privileged role in the process of the rectification of knowledge, to the point where he conferred on it, with respect to scientific experiment and political practice, a kind of heuristic primacy over ‘truth’: how many times did he repeat that it is worse to blind yourself and keep silent about a defeat than to suffer it, that it is worse to close your eyes to an error than to commit it" - Louis Althusser, "Unfinished History"

Monday, October 31, 2016

"Being fit now indexes class, saturating both fitness and food culture. As calories have become cheaper, obesity has changed from being a sign of wealth to a sign of moral failure. Today, being unhealthy functions as a hallmark of the poor’s cupidity the same way working-class sexual mores were viewed in the nineteenth century.

"Both lines of thinking assert that the lower classes cannot control themselves, so they deserve exactly what they have and nothing more. No need, then, for higher wages or subsidized health care. After all, the poor will just waste it on cigarettes and cheeseburgers."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"The best way to organise a state is easily discovered by considering the purpose of civil order, which is nothing other than peace and security of life. Therefore the best state is one where men live together in harmony and where the laws are preserved unbroken. For it is certain that rebellions, wars, and contempt for or violation of the laws are to be attributed not so much to the wickedness of subjects as to the faulty organisation of the state. Men are not born to be citizens, but are made so. Furthermore, men's natural passions are everywhere the same; so if wickedness is more prevalent and wrongdoing more frequent in one commonwealth than in another, one can be sure that this is because the former has not done enough to promote harmony and has not framed its laws with sufficient forethought, and thus it has not attained the full right of a commonwealth. For a civil order that has not removed the causes of rebellion and where the threat of war is never absent and the laws are frequently broken is little different from a state of Nature, where every man lives as he pleases with his life at risk." - Baruch Spinoza, Political Treatise

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hipster Black Metal

"Commitment to art can suggest effeminacy as well as obedience to the values of the social system (e.g. succeeding in the higher reaches of education by doing what one is told to do in order to be held to have understood the history of the art tradition). To show, then, as part of one's commitment to art, a commitment to jazz music as it appears within what is the deep base of the whole social, jazz experience is to offset the slur of effeminate conformism. To be interested in 'hot jazz' is to be interested in what goes beyond the threshold of excess as comprehended by the most dashing, philistine trendies of the period. Larkin testifies to the fact that he, as an academically successful young man, was drawn to jazz music because of its 'bad reputation'." - Roger L. Taylor, Art an Enemy of the People

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Trump made another dumb joke and now we all have to read about it. The self-appointed referees of American politics have flooded the media with declarations that the Donald’s little hint that one of his supporters should shoot Hillary Clinton CROSSES THE LINE.

It’s galling to see another round of pearl clutching not about Trump’s delightful mix of racist authoritarianism and supply-side economics, which is basically standard Conservatism at this point, but rather at Trump’s carefully performed mannerisms and his supposed unfitness for office–as if the functioning of the various federal administrative bureaucracies depended on the continence and good will of the president. But if we grit our teeth and carefully examine the contents of these elite condemnations, we’ll see the profound self-deception and pathetic opportunism endemic to the leading personnel of the entrenched political class. 

Let’s take washed up ex-newsman Dan Rather, whose crie de couer against Trump has gone viral on Facebook and found its way into my eyes. He says Trump’s comments are “ “grave and unprecedented” andagainst the norms of American politics,” and he wants to make sure we know that they’re more than “just another outrageous moment in the campaign.”

But this is dumb. Joking about offing your opponents has a proud history in this country. Andrew Jackson famously said that his greatest regret about his presidency was that “I didn’t shoot Henry Clay and I didn’t hang John C. Calhoun.” Jackson isn’t as well regarded today as he was in the past, but he’s staying on the money and plenty of local Democratic parties still hold Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraisers. I guess we are all supposed to pretend that we never cracked the occasional assassination joke in the Bush administration?

Rather says that “a direct threat of violence against a political opponent” is unprecedented because we are a “a democratic republic governed by the rule of law.” That’s some real shit. American political order has always depended on a great deal of violence, including extra-legal violence, even compared to other capitalist societies. The American state is plenty violent against its internal enemies, but our benevolent overlords only seem to get worried about political violence when it threatens to touch a member of their club.

Euro-American civilization exists because colonial authorities depended on an armed population to defend and expand it. Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and their allies dispatched militias to rough up poor farmers protesting against the predatory debt collection and regressive taxation that centralized capital in the hands of major financiers at the country’s founding. Before the class compromises of World War II, employers used private militias to crush labor militancy. Woodrow Wilson rounded up and deported every red he could lay his hands on, and a few other people who looked like they might be reds. Do I really need to bring up COINTELPRO? You may also recall this country had a bit of a civil war.

Let’s talk about that civil war, actually. Dan Rather quotes Lincoln’s plea “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” Of course, Lincoln sort of changed his tune when he built the largest army ever seen on the continent, oversaw the invention of modern total war, vastly expanded the repressive power of the federal state to crack down on political opponents, ordered American cities burned to the ground, and executed one of the most massive expropriations of private property ever anywhere in history. And he is one of our national heroes for doing that, because sometimes we really are enemies. Four years after the speech Rather quotes, Lincoln was less convinced of the necessity of averting conflict:
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’
But Dan Rather does not regard the judgements of the Lord as true and righteous altogether, and he really gives away the game with a final bit of foolery: “It was the eve of the Civil War and sadly [Lincoln’s] call for sanity, cohesion and peace was met with horrific violence that almost left our precious Union asunder. We cannot let that happen again.”

Actually, the civil war was probably the best thing that ever happened to the USA. The southern slaveocracy was not going to submit peacefully to the dissolution of their social system. They refused any consideration of compensated emancipation, and besides no one was going to pay for it anyway. Half of the advocates of abolition wanted to expel black people from the country. But the war destroyed the material foundations of slavery, weakening local repressive powers and allowing American slaves to walk off the plantations in what W.E.B. DuBois called a successful general strike to smash slavery. The Union was forced to put guns in black hands on an unprecedented scale. Rather than gradual, compensated emancipation and deportation, the civil war brought about black citizenship in a social revolution that took a great deal of counterrevolutionary bloodshed to roll back.

If there’s something to regret about our civil war, it’s that the subsequent military occupation of the defeated Confederacy wasn’t longer and more repressive. But for the Dan Rathers of this world the emancipation of four million human beings from a life of being sold on an auction block, beaten, raped and worked to death was small consolation for the sundering of “our precious Union.” The stability of our political system is more important than human freedom, specifically the freedom of those other humans.

I never understand Trump’s appeal more than when I hear these decadent elite mediocrities lecturing us about him because hey, America is already great and we shouldn’t be so extreme. This finger waving from media flunkies who deserve to get punched in the face allows Trump, an asshole billionaire heir who steals from everyone he meets, to seem like a rebel who’s sticking it to the man. One gets the sense that what elites fear most about Trump then is that he’ll usher in an age of mass mobilization and upset the order of things.

It’s not a bad thing to hate your enemies, and anyone who claims that American politics are a genteel conversation is a craven bullshitter. Lincoln understood that history sometimes puts you in a situation where a fight is inevitable and you need to fight to win. We are not in an era where moderation and compromise are going to get much done and win popular support. Trump profits from the lack of viable alternatives to the rotating official elites who keep bumbling from crisis to crisis, although he wants to replace them with even more reactionary, incompetent goons.

But since the leading sections of the ruling class are obviously headed for crisis (economic, ecological, military, you name it) and the far right is on the march, maybe we need to worry less about preventing the next civil war and more about finishing the last one. - Ray Valentine, "Rather, Trump, Fail"