How Neoliberals Should Respond To Progressives

A 1795 view of political debates that could pass for today!
Wikimedia Commons / Issac Cruikshank (1756-1811)

This essay  is a cri de coeur from yours truly about what I see as progressives’ unyielding idiocy about the nature of the world. I do appreciate that progressives would generally respond in similar fashion to people of my ilk, and that since the election of Donald Trump they have been giving ever greater vent to their own frustrations. Indeed, those of us who are neoliberals have been dumbfounded with amazement by progressives’ evident loss of sanity resulting from Trump’s election. Continue Reading…

The Rot Goes Deep in the Democratic Party

Democratic Party workers watching the presidential election returns in shock on the night of November 8, 2016.

Democratic Party workers watching the presidential election returns in shock on the night of November 8, 2016.
Photo Credit: AP / Matt Rourke

One might expect such a lurid title  for a post from a neoliberal such as myself (also erroneously known as a “conservative”) . However, the reason why American progressives should take this judgement so very, very seriously is that it comes not just from from a neoliberal, but also from a progressive American journalist, an academic who is currently an adjunct faculty member of the Columbia University School of Journalism. Thomas B. Edsall comes to this same conclusion in a June 8 op-ed in the New York Times entitled The Democratic Party Is in Worse Shape Than You Thought.

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How Can So Many See Such Different Realities?

Different pieces of the puzzle!

Everyone holds different pieces of the puzzle!
© CanStock Photo

I am endlessly fascinated  by how we all ostensibly live in the same universe, yet we all see such different realities. On the one hand, this social condition allows little room for boredom. On the other, it causes many human beings to hate, despise, and even to attempt to kill each other.

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The French Elite Is Snubbed

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, winners of the April 23, 2017 first round of the French presidential election

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, winners of the April 23, 2017 first round of the French presidential election, will face off in the second round on May 7, 2017.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons / Ecole polytechnique Université Paris for Emmanuel Macron on the Left, Wikimedia Commons / Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle for Marine Le Pen on the Right.

The French people unmistakably delivered a repudiation of the French political establishment yesterday when they chose Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to advance to the second round of the presidential elections.

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Does the Revolt of the West Against Its Elites Continue?

The major French presidential candidates for 2017.

The major French presidential candidates for 2017. From Left to Right:
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Communist (Wikimedia Commons / MathieuMD),
Emmanuel Macron, Center-Left En Marche! movement (Wikimedia Commons / Ecole polytechnique Université Paris),
François Fillon, Center-Right Les Républicains  (Wikimedia Commons / Marie-Lan Nguyen).
Marine Le Pen, Far right National Front (Wikimedia Commons / Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle)

This Sunday, the 23d of April, 2017, will see the first round of  the French presidential election. The burning question it poses is: Will the many revolts of Western civilization against its leftist, dirigiste elite be continued with the French election?

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More Historical Lessons From Europe

GDP per capita in Europe in 2014

GDP per capita in Europe in 2014. According to the World Bank, the U.S. GDP per capita in the same year was $54,540.
Wikimedia Commons

In this post, I will continue my look at what history can tell us about economics and politics. In my last essay, I briefly examined what lessons the major leftist revolutions — the French Revolution and the communist revolutions of Russia and China — could give us. In this post I will investigate how the economic and political history of post-French Revolution Europe might cast a light on the current American progressive-neoliberal conversation.

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Obama’s Seizure of Legislative Power

President Obama negotiating with congressional leaders in November 2012 during the fiscal cliff debate

President Obama negotiating with congressional leaders in November 2012 during the fiscal cliff debate
Wikimedia Commons / Voice of America

This is a story about how the Democratic Party became a lot less democratic. Once the Democratic Party lost control of the legislative branch of government with the loss of the House of Representatives to the Republicans in 2010, President Obama increasingly gave up on cooperating with Congress to obtain consensual government. Instead, Obama decided to seize some legislative power in an effort to become an American El Jefe.

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Can Americans See Only the Yin and Not the Yang?

The Yin and Yang of our ideological realities
(c) Can Stock Photo / arkela

Light and Dark. Good and Evil. What you are For and What you are Against. Yang and Yin.  Today I read a very disturbing essay on the American Interest website that strongly suggests most of today’s Americans know far better what they are against than what they are for. Entitled The Stages of Negative Self-Definition by David Green, the essay begins with a quote from a 1949 Atlantic Monthly article by Archibald MacLeish.

A people who have been real to themselves because they were for something cannot continue to be real to themselves when they find they are merely against something.

Green then goes on to note that a people who have reduced their political will to “the dry negation of the will of others” leave themselves

reactive and rudderless, with nothing positive to offer. Second, and even more dangerous, the point at which millions of people surrender to negative self-definition is the point at which politics, economics, indeed the entire substance of national life, becomes imbued with a profound sense of unreality. That is the point at which the national discourse becomes dominated by negative, fearful fantasies, and power falls into the hands of whoever is most skilled at manipulating those fantasies.

Green then claims that our just-concluded  presidential election demonstrates the American people have defined themselves negatively in this fashion. They know what they are against, but not what they would be willing to support.

Can this possibly be true?

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Dirigisme No Longer Works. What Replaces It?

Line of shoppers in front of a Polish shop in the 1980s. A common sight in Warsaw pact countries ruled by communism.

Line of shoppers in front of a Polish shop in the 1980s. A common sight in Warsaw pact countries ruled by communism.
Wikimedia Commons

Actually, dirigisme as a way of ruling a country has never really worked. Dirigisme, the philosophy that a country’s elites should rule a country though technocratic expertise, was just never applied with sufficient force to screw up the works. Not at least in Western countries until relatively recently. The Soviet Union was the first really huge example of how badly state control of the economy wrecked its functioning.

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Get Ready For the Real Revolution!

President-Elect Donald Trump conversing with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, November 10, 2016

President-Elect Donald Trump conversing with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, November 10, 2016
Wikimedia Commons / Pete Souza

The shell-shocked mass media  and progressive pundits still are having immense difficulty coming to terms with the insult to their all-knowing wisdom of Donald Trump’s election. That insult will become all the greater as policies launched by the Grand Old Party actually work and return Americans to prosperity.

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Obama Has Not Produced An Economic Recovery

Plot of U.S. GDP growth in percent averaged over ten year periods

Plot of annual Real U.S. GDP per capita growth in percent averaged over ten year periods
The Gallup Organization

Despite all the parroting by much of the media,  Obama has not created an economic recovery. Also, it must be admitted, he has not been the primary cause of all our economic troubles either, as the graph above makes clear. However, as the plot also shows, Obama has definitely added to the problems,

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European Dirigisme Continues to Unravel

Italy's Beppe Grillo, head of the Italian Five-Star Movement in 2012

Italy’s Beppe Grillo, head of the Italian Five-Star Movement in  2012
Wikimedia Commons / Niccolò Caranti

Last Sunday’s Italian constitutional referendum marks yet another step in the slow unraveling of the European Union and of European dirigisme. Following the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote to leave the EU last June 23, Italy’s vote against proposed legislative reforms is yet another popular protest against intrusive state management of society.

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Delusions of Progressives and Other Dirigistes

"For now we see as through a glass darkly"

“For now we see through a glass darkly . . .”, Holy Bible, King James Version, 1 Corinthians 13:12
Flickr.com / David Singleton

As history has shown us over and over again,  and as anyone halfway observant can see for themselves, humanity has an unparalleled skill to delude itself. This prowess undoubtedly originates from our capability to form patterns in our heads to correlate what we see around us in the world and in the universe. Since any number of such patterns can usually be generated to explain a single set of related phenomena, clearly they can not all be correct. How do we know when they are not? When they cause us to make incorrect  predictions is how.
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Turning of the Tide of Dirigisme?

Karl Marx (5 May 1818 - 14 March 1883)

Karl Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883): Is his time finally finished?
Wikimedia Commons John Jabez Edwin Mayall

The administration of President Barack Obama  may have marked the high-water mark of dirigisme in the United States. Brexit in Europe may have done the same for that continent. Hopefully, before the end of my life, I will be able to witness this milestone for humanity in Japan, Russia, and China as well. For Iran to achieve this may take somewhat longer, as that country has to deal with the dirigisme of a theocracy, and it is next to impossible to contradict the diktat of a god. Continue Reading…