Blindspots and Fear of the Working Class

I think a lot of the discussion about Freddie DeBoer’s “the blindspot” (with Steve Hynd as one exception) focuses too closely on the personalities–on whether Jane is mean in print or whether Ezra is too conciliatory–and not on whether our political dialogue is dangerously ignoring the plight of workers. For the purposes of this post, I’d like you to first ask yourself why, during the Depression, we started building a safety net for working people, whereas during this current crisis in capitalism, many developed nations are using the crisis as an opportunity to dismantle the safety net.

Then read this part of what DeBoer had to say:

That the blogosphere is a flagrantly anti-leftist space should be clear to anyone who has paid a remote amount of attention. Who, exactly, represents the left extreme in the establishment blogosphere? You’d likely hear names like Jane Hamsher or Glenn Greenwald. But these examples are instructive. Is Hamsher a socialist? A revolutionary anti-capitalist? In any historical or international context– in the context of a country that once had a robust socialist left, and in a world where there are straightforwardly socialist parties in almost every other democracy– is Hamsher particularly left-wing? Not at all. It’s only because her rhetoric is rather inflamed that she is seen as particularly far to the left. This is what makes this whole discourse/extremism conversation such a failure; there is a meticulous sorting of far right-wing rhetoric from far right-wing politics, but no similar sorting on the left. Hamsher says bad words and is mean in print, so she is a far leftist. That her politics are largely mainstream American liberalism that would have been considered moderate for much of the 20th century is immaterial.

[snip]

I look out onto an America that seems to me to desperately require a left-wing. American workers have taken it on the chin for thirty years. They have been faced for years with stagnant wages, rising costs, and the hollowing out of the middle class. They are now confronted with that and a cratered job market, where desperate people compete to show how hard they will work in bad conditions for less compensation. Meanwhile, the neoliberal policy apparatus that brought us here refuses even to consider the possibility that it is culpable, so certain of its inherent righteousness and its place in the inevitable march of progress. And the blogosphere protects and parrots that certainty, weeding out left-wing detractors with ruthless efficiency, while around it orbits the gradual extinction of the American dream.

What seems most important, to me, is that a blind faith in capitalism led to catastrophe. And at a time when we should be reining in the capitalism that failed so badly, we are instead capitulating to it, using the event of the failure of our corporate masters to give them even more. How is that even happening? And to what degree does the blogosphere deserve some of the blame?

Now, aside from the fact that the blogosphere came of age at a time (after Bush v. Gore v. Nader) and with a politician (Dean) when the left reinvested in the two party system, I’m not sure how much of this is distinctly a problem with the blogosphere. Rather, it’s a problem with US discourse generally, and the taxonomy that DeBoer maps out largely comes from compromises many in the blogosphere made to be able to take part in that discourse. (Oh. Btw. Blowjob.) The blogosphere has been certified and thereby neutralized by our political elite, but only certain parts of that blogosphere.

And voila: that means not enough of the leading voices of the blogosphere speak for workers (or the unemployed or the elderly poor or immigrant workers)–or even speak out against our failed capitalist masters. More importantly (and this is why I think DeBoer’s point about socialism is important), while some–many of us here at FDL, for example–do offer critiques of our capitalist masters and support for labor such as it exists, almost no one is offering an affirmative ideological alternative to the neoliberalism of the Village.

The absence of a viable threat from the working class makes it easy for DC to use this failure of capitalism to double down on it, to further disenfranchise the poor. Shock Doctrine, baby.

Mobilization Threats

Just as a way of thinking about this, consider last year’s three big political rallies in DC. Obviously, rallies are not the only way for real people to inspire fear among the elite, it is a way such threats get narrativized.

Consider, first of all, the rally that probably got the most attention: Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally in August, which brought out tens of thousands of TeaPartiers. Now, I think the elite does fear the Tea Partiers. The left (and some Republicans) have reason to fear TeaPartiers physically; the right has to fear them ideologically.

But the rally was notable not for the way it expressed populist anger. Rather, Beck shifted his focus from central TeaParty anti-government issues to instead focus on religion. This was a message about putting your faith in God, not your boots into mobilization. Moreover, the rally would never have been as big as it was without a bunch of Koch-funded buses to ship people to DC. So rather than an expression of class anger, the Beck rally was more an expression of the cooptation of it by big capitalism (the Kochs) and the neutralization of it with religious themes.

Then there was the other big rally celebrated by the press: the Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear in October. What does it say that one of the biggest popular mobilizations last year, in a year that should have featured pitchforks, instead starred comedians? Sure, the rally got younger people excited about politics, it may have increased electoral turnout among independents. But it was a politics that explicitly espoused the same kind of narrow–and more importantly, polite–discourse that DeBoer is calling out.

And then, finally, there was the forgotten rally, the one which may well have been the biggest in terms of participants: the immigration rally in March, with probably more than 200,000 in attendance. It was a more traditional populist rally, supported by the SEIU and UFCW as well as the immigration groups that sponsored it. And unlike the other two, it called for policies that would benefit working people in America. This was real populist mobilization.

What’s truly remarkable about the immigration rally is what didn’t happen. First of all, there was little reporting on the rally, effectively disappearing them in the same way the big anti-Iraq war rallies were disappeared. (Note: I’m at fault for this as much as anyone else; I didn’t cover it.)

But it’s telling, too, how not just the rally but the overall mobilization got neutralized. In spite of the fact that Latino voters are more of an electoral threat than TeaPartiers, in spite of the fact that Latinos were instrumental in Harry Reid’s miracle victory last November, we still didn’t even pass the DREAM Act, much less comprehensive immigration reform.

Underlying the way popular mobilization worked out last year is racism exacerbated by globalization. Our press doesn’t cover important events that happen at least partially in Spanish, and even politicians who once favored CIR flip-flopped when faced with (or given the excuse of) the economic crisis. Which is important, I think, because one of the reasons for the ideological narrowness of our discourse is the way ideological battles have worked out under globalization.

Governance versus Ideology

A corollary to the question, “after such a catastrophic failure in 2008, why aren’t we reining in capitalism and expanding the safety net?” is “why isn’t anyone declaring victory over capitalism in the same way capitalism once declared victory over communism?”

But who would declare victory? (Some humor: “Hu would declare victory.”)

There are several reasons no one is declaring victory. As I suggested, the most obvious country to declare victory would be the Chinese. And the Chinese–being as circumspect as they are–would not declare victory so boisterously as America once did. Moreover, how would a country that regained world standing by playing globalization better than the capitalists declare victory over capitalism? Plus, in this country, there’s a willful misunderstanding (at least in the popular press) of how the Chinese have succeeded as they have, with the claim that China beat us with free trade rather than mercantilism. While the US was busy trying to dominate the world through the spread of something it called free trade, China was better at using trade to serve its nation.

So one of the reasons no one is acknowledging that capitalism lost, at least here in the States, is that doing so would amount to a recognition that the US may well lose its hegemonic position. I think in some crowds there’s a prohibition on talking about capitalism’s failure because doing so would concede the logic behind US hegemony on the world stage.

Incidentally, I think that’s part of what NeoFeudalism is about: an effort on the part of the elite that was always behind the ideology called “capitalism”–which includes the banksters and the contractors of the US, but also includes people like the Saudi royal family–to retain hegemonic control of the world by dramatically changing the social structure of it. There are a lot of people–including a number of “lefty” bloggers–who are committed to US hegemony first, and to the ideology called “capitalism” second, who are happily going to be suckered into supporting policies that will lead to NeoFeudalism.

But back to the Chinese. The other reason the Chinese haven’t declared victory, yet, is that it’s not entirely clear we haven’t brought them down with us. China has its own bubbles right now, food inflation will affect its masses a lot more quickly than it’ll affect ours, and there are a whole slew of reasons the country could get shaky pretty quickly. The still unfolding failure of capitalism that started in 2008 hasn’t finished unfolding yet, and it’s not entirely clear that it won’t hurt China almost as much as it will us.

And even if it doesn’t, how is a country of 1.3 billion going to do what we have done? This is not to say I begrudge the Chinese the same luxuries I have enjoyed. But one issue that underlies any further contest over ideology is the stark reality that the globe cannot sustain even half the world’s population at the living standards produced by consumer capitalism currently enjoyed in the developed world, at least not using fossil fuels to drive it. If China were to weather this crisis successfully, after all, it would need to encourage a significant portion of its population to become American-style consumers. Back when I was in China, the auto companies aspired to sell cars to China’s middle class–300 million people–so basically another America again full of cars. A lot would need to change to make that possible, and I think few people trying to turn the Chinese into consumers as the next stage of the advance of capitalism have thought through the implications of that.

So there seems to be a finite limit to the degree to which China can use capitalism to beat the capitalists.

But I also think something else is going on with ideology as it existed during the Cold War. With the failure of both communism and (thus far, in more limited fashion) capitalism, it becomes increasingly clear that ideology doesn’t make for successful countries, governance does. Whether or not capitalism will experience a resurgence, our country has become corrupt and ineffective enough that it’s not clear we’d go with it. Moreover, the bogeyman that has replaced the Evil Empire–terrorism–is as much about an increasingly viable challenge to the nation-state, at a time when a rising number of failed states offer a geographic beachhead for such challenges. One of the most important ways to combat “terrorism” is to prevent militarization and climate issues to create more failed states. And that means there will be less emphasis on ideology as it worked in the Cold War and a greater premium on governance.

Which is important because failing capitalism is having real repercussions on things like food supply. Which, as we saw in Tunisia and may well see across the globe, cuts through any debate about ideology quickly. When it comes to the point where governments can’t feed their people, then they begin to fear the popular classes again, even if they’ve managed to insulate themselves from that for deacades.

Which brings us full circle, I think. DeBoer suggests we need greater ideological diversity in the blogosphere, and he’s right. But what we need just as badly is some way to articulate and mobilize the needs of the working class before our failure to govern (which the narrowness of our discourse fosters) ends up in food riots.

With the end of the Cold War, the US has had the luxury, for now, of completely ignoring the ideological left because the threats to the country–as the governing class sees them–have everything to do with the market and nothing to do with workers. But ultimately, the combination of failed governance and the market will lead right back to the workers.

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  1. susiemadrak says:

    As you might have guessed, you’ll get no argument here. There are simply no more pathways into the elite power structures of media and policy from the working class, and as a result, all policies are heavily weighted in the direction of ubercapitalism.

    • emptywheel says:

      I was actually curious that he didn’t mention you. You’re sort of the exception that proves the rule. Then again, you’ve been known to offend more powerful people–or at least one of them–with your frank language than I have.

  2. allan says:

    Right on. But,

    But what we need just as badly is some way to articulate and mobilize the needs of the working class

    Will the powers that be allow this? We already saw, with the FBI’s big-footing in Tucson, that the
    focus was shifted from talk radio and cable to the big, bad toobz.
    One can imagine the day when saying mean things about Blanky will be a crime.

    • emptywheel says:

      Ultimately, it needs to be about more than discourse, it needs to be about mobilization. But we need an ideology that will be global (otherwise you’re going to see what happened with the immigration rally) and that would provide solutions to some of the big problems–climate change–the big countries don’t want to tackle.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A conversation long overdue. This site sits on the traditional center, a fifty yard-line that Ike would find familiar before it was moved by the right wing without much protest to where it now sits, which is about the twenty yard-line. It is “leftist” in the same way Barack Obama is “socialist”, both perversions of meaning owing to the likes of Karl Rove, Beck and Limbaugh and a host of corporate and think tank supporters.

    America has no “left”. It has little that is legitimately radical and pro-working class in the sense it exists elsewhere. In Europe, no thanks in part to generations of clandestine work against them, socialists and communists sit in parliaments and town halls. We make more strenuous efforts to support African and Caribbean dictators than movements even left of center, let alone truly leftist.

    A generation after it has been obvious to a blind man that sanctions against Cuba achieve nothing but added hardship, we cheer ourselves for lifting a few of those most recently imposed on it (while Beltway denizens continue to enjoy hand-rolled cigars that have mysteriously lost their identifying bands).

    Mr. Bush disdained any course correction. Mr. Obama is slightly less rigid; he disdains course corrections to port. Without them, we will continue to move in rightward circles that for the middle class, will end in a deepening vortex of gloom and hardship.

    • emptywheel says:

      One of the things I was thinking of when I wrote it was how the CIA funded leftist organizations during the cold war both to keep track of them and also to ensure there was an alternative “godless Communism.”

      Of course, now that we “beat”Communism, there’s no need for that. And for a variety of reasons, traditional labor is embracing things like UAW’s 2-tier program. But the whole model of labor can’t work when so many people are temping or working in right to work states–there needs to be mobilization for working people, not just labor.

      Anyway, some day about 10 years from now the successor to Wikileaks will leak evidence that this was all planned, particularly the urge to “austerity” against all better judgment.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        “Keeping track of them” means not letting them get too far off the reservation. It’s OK for them to oppose or be a counterpoint to those farther left, to talk and chat and smoke and open tinned meats and fish in garrets and side hallways in legislatures, but letting them get their policies on American corporate conduct, that means calling out the cavalry.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The “urge to austerity”, rationalized by that famous parental saying from the 1950’s before administering a spanking, something Ozzie and Harriet only ever did off camera, “This will hurt me more than it hurts you, dear, but it will teach you a lesson.”

        As Peterr noted in a different context, John McCutcheon’s song about Christmas in the trenches in 1914 has it right: those who concoct the most destructive governmental policies will never suffer from them. Those on nominally opposing sides, mid-level manager and union laborer, blogger and Tea Partier, have more economic interests in common than they do with the likes of Mr. Blanfein or Schumer.

      • sona says:

        One of the things I was thinking of when I wrote it was how the CIA funded leftist organizations during the cold war both to keep track of them and also to ensure there was an alternative “godless Communism.”

        that explains pakistan’s isi, cia’s covert offspring, cultivating the taliban – they learned well, including not thinking through the consequences

        Anyway, some day about 10 years from now the successor to Wikileaks will leak evidence that this was all planned, particularly the urge to “austerity” against all better judgment.

        that judgement will be apparent long before a decade – by 2012

        can one commit treason against the common wealth, as adam smith and the US founders conceived the coommon wealth/weal to be? or is treason only committed against perceived threats to ‘national security’?

        if there is a genuine labour movement with pitchforks to storm the bastille, would that threaten ‘national security’ of the elite?

  4. klynn says:

    Anyway, some day about 10 years from now the successor to Wikileaks will leak evidence that this was all planned, particularly the urge to “austerity” against all better judgment.

    Yep. My thought too.

  5. Gitcheegumee says:

    And the US Chamber of Commerce has been the government’s most effective tool to dismantle the American workforce since Elaine Chao.

    • prostratedragon says:

      CofC was where the (Lewis) Powell memorandum began circulating in 1971. Note that Powell was not yet on the Supreme Court. The difficulty of identifying this or that event aside, it should not even be controversial that there is a long-running campaign within which some proportion of the destructive results were exactly what was intended.

      Yes, destroying at every turn the possibility and relevance of discourse, encounter, or bargaining between the classes of society, especially as concentrated in the labor movement, was their fundamental tactic, and so restoring the efficacy of social bargaining through some kind of reconfiguration and revival of a labor movement in this country is about all that has a chance of working short of breakdown.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        I simply cannot thank you enough for this link to the Powell info.

        I had NO idea.

        And, FWIW, I would heartily recommend that all here read each and every word of that Wiki entry.

        Truly fascinating. Thanks again!

  6. wavpeac says:

    We need to replace the inductive and deductive structure with a dialectical synthesis. This “structure” of discussion would allow for the truth that exists in each polar argument. It would desensitize the rigidity that allows one end of the polar to argument to “succeed” and would serve as an alert whenever one end of the polar is approached with rigid approval over another. The structure of the way we argue must change in order for change to occur. The more wounded the working class becomes, the more traumatized, it follows then, they the “working class” as a whole becomes easier to manipulate through emotional argument and rigid polar thinking. The brain actually changes through trauma, war and neglect. In a sense paranoia is not the “destroyer”. It is the natural result of trauma and in a social context has it’s advantages. We in the working class, quite simply have not become paranoid “enough” to mobilize.

    But it’s coming….

  7. darms says:

    With the end of the Cold War, the US has had the luxury, for now, of completely ignoring the ideological left because the threats to the country–as the governing class sees them–have everything to do with the market and nothing to do with workers. But ultimately, the combination of failed governance and the market will lead right back to the workers.

    Hence DHS, militarization of the police, Gitmo, “normalization” of torture & indefinite detention, disappearance of certain civil liberties, etc., etc. Also note the utter isolation of the true elites from the world around them. Have any of you ever met a billionaire? They have their own gated, secured worlds linked by private jets & armoured limos – I don’t think the governing class sees any reason to fear the working class or food riots, not while they can simply lock the gates and ignore us. A key difference now compared to 1930 is that in 1930 the elites were dependent on a viable manufacturing base in the US to sustain their fortunes and way of life while nowadays that manufacturing base is destroyed and the elite’s fortunes are based on financial instruments that are traded overseas among the elites of other countries.

    Yes I’m paranoid but my paranoia has been largely proven to be correct the last few decades…

    • emptywheel says:

      Right, NeoFeudalism.

      As I said, I think the real drivers of NeoFeudalism are those who’ve been in charge for the last half century, and they intend to remain in charge even if it means eliminating capitalism to do it (heck, but how much real capitalism did we even have).

      I think there are a lot of people in DC who just parrot the DC line, so advocate for things like austerity that pretty clearly will hurt the country and lead us closer to NeoFeudalism. But they don’t have the independent thinking to see where it all ends up.

      And then there are people who really believe it more important to cling to “US” hegemony than to serve the citizens of the United States.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As EW has said and as I suggested in my examples @13, this cannot constructively be a discussion limited to labor v. owners. That’s as defunct a demarcation as the one between Democrat and Republican, both of which, a few politicians aside, are now better characterized as insider-corporatist than left or right. It is not just “labor” that is on the wrong side of government policies, but most Americans outside the top 2-5% of income earners.

    Most Americans – political and religious convictions aside – have more economic interests in common with each other than they do with those who employ or govern them. Employers might claim that only profit can legitimately direct their practices, practices that government policies continue to free from the social impact and costs of those practices. Government, however, has broader responsibilities. It is now shirking them in an effort to focus almost exclusively (except at election time) on its patrons in what Ike called the military-industrial complex. Judicial wrongs such as Citizens United legitimize that focus.

    It seems timely to revert to the phrase that the departing Eisenhower’s speech originally warned against – the military-industrial-congressional complex – in an effort to redirect our own and our government’s energies to serving all of America’s citizens, not just the legal fictions created solely to make money.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      So glad you made the reference to the original title of Eisenhower’s speech-which included Congressional in the title,also.

      I was just reving up to post about it myself-but you did it more eloquently than I could have.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          Earl I don’ t really have much more to amplify on ,except to say that it was Eisenhower’s personal call to delete the word Congressional from the MIC speech.

          However, I did find this interesting as a bit of arcana:

          The United States Department of Commerce is the Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with promoting economic growth. It was originally created as the United States Department of Commerce and Labor on February 14, 1903. It was subsequently renamed to the Department of Commerce on March 4, 1913, and its bureaus and agencies specializing in labor were transferred to the new Department of Labor.

          The organization’s mission
          The mission of the department is to “promote job creation and improved living standards for all Americans by creating an infrastructure that promotes economic growth, technological competitiveness, and sustainable development.” Among its tasks are gathering economic and demographic data for business and government decision-making, issuing patents and trademarks, and helping to set industrial standards—-Wiki

          NOTE: Another Mission(NOT)Accomplished

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I believe that was in response, among other things, to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which was recently the subject of other posts here.

            The Labor Dept was originally meant to be a counterweight to corporate America’s official governmental advocate, the Commerce Department. It was established shortly after federal anti-trust advocates broke up of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil – already a monster, as were each of its separated parts, and that was before automobiles and petroleum-fueled warfare became all the rage.

            Corporate America felt it was under siege from an interfering government that was too responsive to private citizens. Commerce and its private sector shadow, the Chamber of Commerce, have been fighting the Labor Dept’s legitimacy ever since, including efforts to keep its focus as narrow as possible so that it would be easier to defeat its advocacy for labor.

            • Gitcheegumee says:

              That history,so beautifully delineated by you,Earl, is why I thought it significant to post the date of the partition of those department

              It is also instructive to view the Wiki on Lowell,mentioned upthread, in the subsequent warp and woof of capital vs. labor, in later
              years.Most particularly of interest to me is that Lowell had been an attorney for big tobacco and also railways* before his appointment to SCOTUS.

              Plus ca change,eh?

              *Think the seminal case used in the corporate personhood ruling.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                I think you mean Justice Powell, and yes, his advocacy for railroads and big tobacco seem consistent with his support for Nixon.

                In keeping with the theme of this post, I would re-emphasize your and my point that role of the Labor Dept, as an advocate for labor inside government, has been hobbled since its inception, much as has been the left generally in this country. (The Commerce Dept, the Chamber and private corporations would disagree, of course.)

                Perhaps because the first and second world wars and generations-long feuds between France and Germany were actually fought in and destroyed much of the fabric of European countries, the left, if not less hated by monarchists and private capital, has had more legitimacy in Europe than here. (And post-Second World War, the US intelligence community went to great lengths to undermine it, on the assumption that its only role was slavishly to follow the Soviets.)

                • Gitcheegumee says:

                  Yes, thanks Earl, I did mean Powell,not Lowell

                  And on the subject of Big Tobacco, I just got a book about the downfall of Dickie Scruggs…Trent Lott’s fellow Mississippian and brother -in -law , the BIG tobacco settlement lawyer who wound up in disgrace (and in the pen)over Katrina insurance claims.

            • Bluetoe2 says:

              Another reason for having “Labor Day” was to separate it from the international celebration of May Day. Can’t have Merican workers demonstrating solidarity with the working class around the world. Another ruling class trick to de-legitimatize a Marxist critique of capitalism.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Golly gee-whiz-and right on the heels of Jeff Immelt’s fawning over China,yesterday.

      Coincidence much?

      BTW,Immelt was agin ’em, before he was fer ’em(China, that is).

  9. jerryy says:

    I understand and agree with most of what you are saying here EW, except for your use of the word ‘capitalism’.

    Capitalism as practiced by today’s small business operator, i.e. the mechanic, farmer, plumber, shopkeeper, etc. is not the same thing as what is practiced by the large corporation, but it is called the same. The corporate welfare practice (which goes under the pseudonym ‘capitalism’ and that alias causes confusion) was institutionalized by President Reagan and has been actively promoted by every administration since Reagan’s, including the current President Obama’s administration.

    Observers often complain that the only real difference between the administrations is which minor corporations get to go along for the ride. But practice capitalism? Not really. Capitalism requires a hands on, knowledgeable approach; interaction between consumer, producer and government. Under capitalism, the government’s role is to ensure fairness amongst the participants and to provide for the public good — yes, capitalism requires that governments do things like build safe roads and bridges, etc.* Under corporate welfare, government’s role is to make sure that corporations’ existences are not threatened.**

    I understand that you are putting quotes around your use of the word, but we need some other word than to keep calling it capitalism.

    * If you want to see this directly, The Gutenberg Project has Adam Smith’s work available for free, download it to your eReader or read it on or off line:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3300

    It is in the later chapters.

    ** Take for example the recent bank bailouts, started by President Bush and continued by President Obama. These would not have taken place under capitalism, not because ‘Too Big To Fail’ is an axiom of capitalim — (it certainly is not, TBTF is an axiom of corporate welfare) — but because the principles laid down by Adam Smith would have had the bank regulators forcing the banks to keep the capital (money) flowing, i.e. the wealth should going out from the banks to other companies that then hire people, i.e. jobs create wealth. The banks would not have been able to get that big in that way to begin with.

  10. rosalind says:

    ot: a short clip from a new documentary titled “Page One” where the film crew followed the NY Times media desk for 14 months. The clip is the day after Wikileaks gave them the video of the helicopter attack on civilians in Iraq. Julian Assange is heard on speaker phone as the two reporters Brian Stelter and Bruce Headlam prep the story.

  11. dugsdale says:

    There is such a huge volume of what I’m tempted to call “stockholm syndrome” among working people in this country that it’s hard to see what’s going to shift this country back to the center (never mind further left). No one in power in Washington gives a damn for working people, period, and without some organized movement banging on the gates it’s hard to see why they should. Working people have been trained not to give a damn about themselves, but rather to side with corporate forces in their own decimation (as Wavpeac points out). I know everyone knows this, but what I don’t see is anything on the left other than talk about it.

    I don’t quite understand EH’s comment: “this cannot constructively be a discussion limited to labor v. owners”, unless you mean in some sense I’m too dim to grasp. Labor unions have the tools, a sense of the issues, and a long history of doing outreach among working people (they call it “organizing”) and I don’t see any such capability, or even interest, on the left blogosphere at present.

    I guess I’m thinking of unions as natural allies in some sort of lefty-union-worker “confederation” that might coalesce into a big enough force to have some pull in Washington. Union organizers, too, spend a lot of time educating their membership and prospective membership about the hard facts of the workplace, about the kind of worklife a worker could and should have, and I’m assuming any “movement” like what I’m thinking of is going to require educating outward among the disorganized and under-informed, rather than just nailing some elegantly written, exhaustively worked-out demands on the church door.

    Labor unions are tapped out too, of course; their resources are thin and getting thinner as membership drops, and as the owner classes draw inspiration and a sense of invincibility from a Labor Department and president that do not care about regular people, period. But unions still have a lot more outreach/education tools, not to mention demonstrated commitment to same, than anyone I see when I look around the lefty blogosphere.

    That’s unfair, in that blogs were never intended to be movements, or do any outreach outside of their own devotees. FDL and Kos both have some record mobilizing, of course, and I suppose I’m just longing for some sort of magic movement that could counter the headlong rush toward vast riches for some, declining health, safety, and hope for everyone else, as promoted by politicians I used to think of as “on OUR side.”

    The demonstrations in Tunisia won’t happen here, no matter how bad things get, if we’re only talking to ourselves, although I agree that’s important. I just have been surfing lefty blogs for years, and no one seems to have the faintest idea what to DO, other than discuss, and I think I would draw a lot more hope from the possibility of action.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I meant that it would inadequate to frame the discussion that way, since so many of traditional labor’s complaints vis a vis company and mine owners now apply across the board to the shrinking middle class’s relationship with its employers and with what it used to feel, with qualifications, was a government that worked for it, too.

      As the corporate-rightist (not “centrist”) Mr. Obama’s behavior makes clear, American government and its two principal parties are more in thrall to corporate interests than at any time since John D. shared plush private rail cars with Poppy Bush’s ancestor, which means that government is responding less and less to those who vote for and pay for it.

  12. 4jkb4ia says:

    This is the spot where I can apologize for saying that EW’s DADT post was in a bubble. The fact was that I was in a bubble where I put myself, which I realized about two hours after writing the first post. For DADT the bubble was confined to Greg Sargent. I was very eager to go there and find out what had happened each day. But Greg Sargent does not write about activism. It is not his job.

    Description of bubble:
    After the great Balloon Juice/FDL flame war I decided to quit memeorandum because I was not using it for anything useful and if it had not been for memeorandum I would not have known about said flame war. Every day Political Wire, SSP, and 538 were the only sites I would be sure to go to because these sites had given up on Obots/firebaggers and populists/wonks and I was simply tired of getting upset over it. I also appreciate Greg Sargent because, as judged by how he distributes links, he doesn’t seem to have a side either.
    (I hope I do not have to say very much about Balloon Juice and start the whole thing again.)

    Well, politics has to be about something, which is where EW’s post started out. Using Progressive-with-a-P language, at the very least politics has to be about keeping the possibility of a public interest and public realm open. That’s not taken for granted when attempts to serve the public interest are looked at by people who have the grass/turfroots energy now in terms of regulatory capture and being unconstitutional. The New Deal arose out of a massive scale of human need where the people had seen too much of doing nothing. In 2011 you can pretend that the human need is confined to the very long, long-term unemployed and areas where too many houses were built and the people seem to have seen too much of doing something.

  13. jo6pac says:

    almost no one is offering an affirmative ideological alternative to the neoliberalism of the Village

    This is true but fred doesn’t get it and most at this site do. There’s is nothing short of a nation wide strike that will start to change the course of this country. The strike has to continue on and off to get back the idea the it’s govt of the people not of corp. This won’t be easy any one joining in will have there SS taken away and if you receive govt. help it’s gone also. Then just think about the scary bad people they have been warning us about all these years. All of a sudden they will pop up. This what MLK was set on doing and what we need to do but we are to divided at this time to do anything but has to start some were and soon.

  14. Rayne says:

    One of the challenges which underpins the labor v. owner dichotomy is that the concept of production and ownership have fundamentally changed for a substantive part of the global economy.

    In a knowledge economy, the means of production are portable, often nebulous, and cannot be owned save through contracts and intellectual property laws. The instruments and the subjects of production are embedded in the fungibles themselves.

    The neofeudal/neoliberal factions have managed to keep the knowledge economy separate from the industrial economy, preventing them from organizing together, through physical separation (offshoring of the components of the industrial economy) and through propaganda (using information generated by the knowledge economy against it through media consolidation, and against the industrial economy by minimization and denigration).

    Until there is an understanding that the knowledge workers and industrial workers are both threatened and until they are mutually organized against their common threats, the schism continues.

    During the Great Depression, the agrarian economy was much closer to the industrial economy; they suffered alike and both relied heavily on each other and on their tangible products. But in this Great Recession, the knowledge economy has not suffered the way the industrial economy has suffered, and what is left of the agrarian economy is so concentrated in so few humans, having become so mechanistic, that it cannot provide adequate weight in terms of critical mass for organizing. That said, the agrarian economy has become a pinch point — note how food became a locus in the Tunisian revolt.

    The Chinese will not declare victory; it’s not their nature to do so, tending to take the long view, as this anecdote may helpfully show:

    Legend has it that, while preparing Richard Nixon for his historic visit to China in 1972, Henry Kissinger mentioned that Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai was an avid student of French history. During his trip, Nixon met with Chou En-Lai in the walled garden of the Forbidden City. As they walked slowly around the lily ponds, Nixon remembered Kissinger’s comment. To break the ice, he asked Chou what he thought had been the impact of the French revolution on western civilization. Chou En-Lai considered the question for a few moments. Finally, he turned to Nixon and replied, “The impact of the French revolution on western civilization — too early to tell.”

    They are still dealing with decades of pent-up demand for expansion and growth, are still quite fragile when it comes to adequate food supplies and energy. They surely understand that with such exposures and the fact that a knowledge market cannot truly be cornered, there is no winning in sight, only a better place from which to view the field. And they may also understand that they are dealing with all three economies at the same time, a challenge the west did not have to navigate. We will need to watch closely how they juggle and balance these economies as they mature in tandem.

    As much as I hate to say it, it may be worth visiting Francis Fukuyama’s The Great Disruption for clues about the pendulum swing of our society, in order to shape the direction of this next swing as the knowledge economy matures, in order to encourage its cooperative and collaborative organization with its predecessors.

  15. Bluetoe2 says:

    Food riots may well serve as a catalyst for articulating that illusive mobilization which espouses the needs of the working class.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How timely:

    Goldman defies public fury with another £10bn bonus payout

    Goldman Sachs, the mightiest of the world’s investment banks, will reveal a new round of bumper bonus payouts this morning that is expected to average at around $450,000 (£280,000) per person, demonstrating that another year of public fury at bankers’ pay has failed to change behaviour on Wall Street and in the City of London.

    • Rayne says:

      This is how they keep some of the knowledge workers in line — by throwing them money — which has the added fillip of keeping them very separate in terms of economic strata from industrial workers.

      They are drugged deeply with money. At some point this fails to work; what is that point? When the industrial workers have enough of this inequity? when the system collapses and all the money in the world can’t save knowledge workers from the grim reality of want?

  17. jo6pac says:

    Thanks, I think that most here should visit sites that have $$$ on their mind. Ives link to you and maybe it should be the other way around so more people understand the large picture of the $$$$ world. Yes China is fighting more than one battle but in the end I think they can over come were others have failed. Then as it was pointed to tricky dick it will be awhile before we know the out come. This is for Ranye and Chou En-Lai was the mind

  18. NorskeFlamethrower says:

    AND THE KILLIN’ GOEZ ON AND ON AND…

    Citizen emptywheel and the FDL walkin wounded:

    I respect the sophisticated analysis of you senior blog-wizards but to me the problem you describe in the left blogosphere is simply a mirror of what has happened to the popular political infrastructure since the terror of the Reagan election swept through the Democratic Party like an Exlax highball at a formal dinner party. That is, the corporatist election professionals, consultants and deal-makers were able to eliminate what was left of the “progressive” old left and the anti-war boomers and experienced organizers were sealed out of what remained of the party infrastructure. Capitalism, the need to build a market or attract “buyers” effected every element of our political communication structures and so it has been with the blogosphere.

    This has left us with an opportunity though, and that is that all of the party structures at the local level have been hollowed out and only put into service by the election professionals at election time. This means that it is possible for a few organized progressives, veterans and out of work folks to take over the city and county party operations quickly and easily and coalesce movin’ into the state party conventions in 2012. This is the kind of operation that is made for on-line organizers and national networks. I been workin this angle out here on the tundra for the last couple a months and I think it could really work. I remember 1972 and if we had the internet back then we woulda had a comintern cell in every precinct.

    So I welcome the analysis and self-critical dialogues goin’ on at your level but if ya wanna get a movement goin’ that represents workers and workers’ needs,why not ORGANIZE the reserve army of unemployed, many of whom have old dogeared union cards and lots of grassroots experience and put ’em in charge of local Democratic Party groups. Why not call out the existin’ “neo-liberal” blog professionals to stop gnashin their teeth and tuggin on their forlocks and put ’em ta work for the workers?

    KEEP THE FAITH AND PASS THE AMMUNITION, IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T HEARD THERE IS A WAR GOIN’ ON!!

    • Peterr says:

      . . . like an Exlax highball at a formal dinner party.

      Norske, you have a definite way with words. Nothing like a vivid image to drive a point home.

      • NorskeFlamethrower says:

        Citizen Peterr:

        Thanx Brother Peterr, but words are easy…it’s the connectin’ the words to action that I find to be real work and, frankly, it’s gotta start with words but the words hafta come from workers and their own damned experience. That’s why all this socratic circle jerkin’ about how ta put together a political movement that reflects working class folks is so damned frustratin to me…there are millions of workers out here and they have voices and muscle but the “professionals” need ta come on down and meet a few.

        • Peterr says:

          Sometimes it takes a vivid image to get folks off their butts.

          When someone comes up to me at the door on Sunday and says that they liked my sermon, I say “thanks.” It’s a polite give and take.

          When someone comes up to me on Thursday and says they liked my sermon, I’ll say “thanks” and ask what in particular it was they liked about it. I’ve had some interesting conversations after asking that question, and often learn a great deal not just about my preaching but about my parishioners as well.

          But when someone comes up to me and says that they liked a sermon I preached last year, I don’t have to ask anything because they always come out and tell me why. It’s usually because of a story or vivid image that has been haunting them or inspiring them ever since.

          If the image or story isn’t there, all you get is “nice sermon, pastor” at the door. Whether you’re a preacher or a community organizer (or both), that’s not acceptable.

          • NorskeFlamethrower says:

            Citizen Peterr:

            I bet yer sermons have a few “memory zingers” in ’em too but what I think I’m tryin to say about the blogosphere is that the professional citizens and “progressive” bloggers who really want to make a working class movement hafta make room for workers and their own words.

            • emptywheel says:

              I think that’s one of the implicit points here, maybe not admitted as clearly as need be.

              The first exchange in this thread was Susie Madrak saying:

              There are simply no more pathways into the elite power structures of media and policy from the working class, and as a result, all policies are heavily weighted in the direction of ubercapitalism.

              There’s no reason bloggers should be speaking FOR working people. The whole point about a horizontal medium is to make sure working people speak for themselves. That said, Susie’s one of the few top bloggers who gets that.

              • Rayne says:

                There’s no reason bloggers should be speaking FOR working people. The whole point about a horizontal medium is to make sure working people speak for themselves. That said, Susie’s one of the few top bloggers who gets that.

                But we do have stratification when it comes to utilization of this horizontal medium. See danah boyd’s work on class divisions between social media outlets; it’s not perfect, but it does point to the segregation which exists organically between groups, and which may continue between other groups like blue collar/industrial workers and white collar/knowledge workers. The divisions are even national in nature, and again, being organic, are hard to overcome because they are reinforced by the subculture which selects its medium of publication.

                It was easier to organize and coalesce around a single medium when print and then broadcast were all there really were. But now the diversity of social mediums for self-publication, combined with the excessively focused amplification of consolidated broadcast media, have minimized the likelihood the public will hear from blue collar/industrial workers.

                See also Clay Shirky’s work on Power Laws and the Long Tail as his theory may explain why Freddie DeBoer can whip off the names of a select handful of voices with ready access to/within traditional media outlets versus other voices on the left end of the political spectrum, while suggesting some key reasons why the public doesn’t hear from blue collar/industrial workers.

                • codeine says:

                  The power law explains why there is simply no movement in the left.

                  The rich will not be rich long if they don’t keep working their tails off for their power- otherwise they’ll be left behind, as they well know.

                  The rich are desperate and motivated. The poor, the left, etc., have nothing to coalesce around, and until things become truly dire, there will be no coalescence- we are actually seeing an “anti-coalescence” (the political equivalent of dark matter)that the rich are building for their own benefit. They have everything to lose, and they know it.

  19. mgloraine says:

    The moneyed class in America does not yet fear the peasants. They can’t conceive of circumstances which would cause them to lose their wealth and political power. We need to change that.

    • Larue says:

      With or without us, this will change.

      The sitch as is is simply unsustainable . . .

      Too much concentrated wealth and too many locked out of the means to shelter, cloth and feed themselves and their family.

      The barbarians at the gates this time are not hordes of Mongols . . .

      They are simply those without . . . and their ranks are growing.

      Empires fail . . . always. So far, our species history proves this. I doubt The US Empire will be any different from any others.

  20. nonpartisanliberal says:

    Where do you get the idea that capitalism failed? We don’t have capitalism. We have corporatism, crony capitalism and a casino economy.

    Adam Smith is the 18th century father of modern economics and capitalist philosophy. He argued that the banking industry needed to be tightly regulated. (Google it.) John Maynard Keynes was very much a capitalist. He also warned that without tight regulation, the financial sector would turn into a casino.

    The LIBERAL argument against big government is that it redistributes wealth from the many to the politically connected few. Have you ever examined the military-industrial complex? Or the privatization of government services to cronies on a cost-plus basis that increases government spending?

    In exchange for military bases in Japan, our government allowed our manufacturing base to be hollowed out by the Japanese who protected their markets while dumping on ours to steal market share. Their centrally directed economy was predicated on exporting to us rather than serving their own people. Thus, our steel and electronics industries vanished. Later the Koreans got in on the act. Now the protectionist Chinese are taking advantage of our corporatist globalization policies to take what remains of our manufacturing sector so that international corporations can get fat off cheap labor.

    Neither Republican or Democratic political elites are capitalists. They are textbook fascists. (Not Nazis. Nazis were a specific and very racist fascist party.)

    • NorskeFlamethrower says:

      Citizen nonpartisanliberal:

      “Neither Democratic or Republican political elites are capitalists. They are textbook fascists.”

      Indeed and that’s what we need ta call ’em in everyday conversation. In addition, I think it was a guy named Schumpeter who defined all the “isms” of our day and “fascism” definately has a racist gene, either latent or active, that makes the fascist predispossed to use rascism because racism is the manifestation of the elevation of individualism over individual rights. That’s the definaition of right-wing libertarians.

    • emptywheel says:

      I first made the point about what bad Adam Smith capitalists our current crop of globalized companies were, to folks working on this internationally, over a decade ago.

      I used “capitalist” to short hand the ideological struggle, as self-described, during the Cold War.

      That said, as I noted, the ideological failures of “capitalist” and “communist” both show that governance has a place.

      • nonpartisanliberal says:

        Indeed there is a role for government. The failure is with the people who have let that get away from them and let it be captured by a cabal of special interests and megalomaniacs.

    • wilvick says:

      Interesting points.

      The LIBERAL argument against big government is that it redistributes wealth from the many to the politically connected few.

      This stands out for me and reminds me of the first time I heard from a conservative that the reason they didn’t like George Bush was because he was “a socialist.” I almost laughed in the guy’s face at the time, but the more I thought about it the more I saw that maybe the “socialism” he was referring to was Medicare part D, “No Child Left Behind” and other such corporate welfare boondoggles. I hated those things too but it would have never occured to me to call them even liberal let alone socialist. Most people nowadays don’t get the difference between an effective government program like Social Security and a corporate boondoggle like Obamacare.

      The sad fact is that “big government” could fix our main problems fairly easily if the politicians and the majority of the populace could get a grip on what government actually could and should be doing.

      I won’t take issue with your assertion of fascism at this time but I really think that a big part of the problem is that we have simply lost the vocabulary to even discuss the proper role of government. If you were to argue that that situation was deliberately engineered as well I probably wouldn’t disagree much.

      • nonpartisanliberal says:

        In a true democracy (a government of, by and for the people) the role of government is to serve the common good. When you think of it in those terms, you realize that the most important functions of government are performed locally: building roads and other infrastructure (though interstate highways are an exception), public schools, sewerage systems and trash collection, etc.

        Where liberals and libertarians deviate, it seems to me, is on practical grounds. Libertarians dogmatically adhere to a simplistic philosophy that any role for the central government beyond defense, the regulation of interstate commerce and a federal judiciary must be bad. As a liberal, I have no problems with programs that actually help people, such as social security or a national health care program. My only concerns are that they are run efficiently and fairly.

        FDL featured a poll this week that showed 36% of Americans have a favorable view of socialism. I wonder how many have a clear idea of what that is. By calling every program that serves the common good (rather than special interests) “socialist,” I believe Republicans are convincing many Americans that whatever socialism is, it must be a good thing.

      • nonpartisanliberal says:

        One other point that I like to make when I can: The Republican rhetoric against “Big Government” is empty. The politicians know that will resonate with a certain type of voter, but the GOP is actually more pro-Big Government than the Democrats because there is so much money to be made from it.

        Think about the history of the last 30 years. Their hypocrisy is pretty clear.

    • sona says:

      couldn’t agree more

      adam smith has been ‘captured’ (?) by the neo liberals who quote him selectively but ignore his lamentations on the imperfections of markets as they move beyond localised environments and his prioritisation of the “common weal” wrt the ordinary people

      keynes did not want to see the anarchy that ensues a revolutionary upheavel with demagoguery (sp?), no doubt influenced by european history and he could see that europe, including the uk, was not in any mood to let the elites have their sway at the expense of the common people who gave so much

      i entirely agree that we have a corporatist oligarchy today that has bought out politics and that this is fascism but not necessarily nazism that utilised incipient racism to buttress its populist appeal to destroy the weimar republic

      ew referred to beck exhorting his following on grounds of god and faith, ie, credence in non reason but he is simply a populist frontman as is palin that murdoch approves of and that koch brothers find convenient but they are overstepping their mark, at least outside the USA

      i like to hope they are digging their own graves

      it won’t be the red queen who’d be off with their heads but their incoherent disregard of consequences

  21. seabos84 says:

    since… after / during the 60’s ??? the Democratic party has had as its “backbone” a professional managerial cla$$ which typically comes from the leafy neighborhoods, and is definitely now of the leafy neighborhoods.

    they’ve been at the right schools and the right graduate programs and wrote the right essays and shook the right hands and punched the right tickets and got the right SAT LSAT GRE … scores – and they don’t know shit about fighting.

    they know how to get along to go along and how to go along to get along.

    and about this marxist dialectic of uber unter capitalistic corporatistic yadda socialist critique of che – trotsky yadda – who gives a fuck?

    PIGS on top are trying to rig the rules to stay on top, and they’re doing great at rigging the rules and staying on top. the more the peee-ons are ground into the dirt, the easier it is for the PIGS to stay on top. that is EVERY political system in every country – we’re reverting to the mean.

    The leafy neighborhood weenies are reading Brown Vs. Board of Education & getting weepy on MLK day listening to 1 of the greatest speeches ever

    AND pissing their diapers and wagging their fingers sternly cuz mean meanies are mean, cuz lying fascist scum are kicking our asses, cuz lying scum who exist to steal from everyone so they gotta lie are stealing and lying …

    and I need me another graduate degree, instead of rereading Julius Ceasar, Richard III, Titus, MacBeth, The Prince, 1984 … cuz if I read all that negative stuff I’ll NOT be invited over to the super bowl parties in the leafy neighborhoods – I’ll NOT be told of the rubber chicken luncheon with Senator Dishrag who’ll regale us with tales of how duplicitous scum are …

    oh … the vapors … lying thieves.

    The Democratic “backbone” has been able to afford the last 30 years of betrayals.

    WHY is that a drooling lying fuck like raygun, or an evil fuck like cheney, can get tens of millions to work against their own self interest, BUT, hundreds of 6 figure a year Dems can’t hire the communications, media, messaging, press … people to figure out how to put the liars in their place?

    Well, it they sold out like steny or holy joe, they’re incompetent – and why are they so incompetent? cuz they ain’t broke, and cuz they ain’t gotta fight for the scraps they’ll ONLY get by fighting.

    robert murphy
    seattle.

  22. marcos says:

    Power systems maintain themselves by first, cooption and that failing, repression.

    They are in cooption mode. Once we see repression, we’ll know that we’re making progress.

    I’m not sure that a “left” or “socialism” is a valid approach for the post cold war era.

    Critique of capitalism is critical, knowledge of what the left has tried before is beneficial, but we need to avoid the blind alleys taken by the left, to learn from their errors.

    My read is that the problem is not so much who controls the access to resources and industrial means of production, rather what an industrial society has done to our species, and what our species is doing to the biosphere to get at the natural resource with our industrial society and its exhausts.

    That is why I am a Green, because we criticize capitalism and move neither left nor right but forward!

    -marc

  23. mgloraine says:

    I’m ready. It would need to include numerous demonstrations in economic centers – like Wall Street – with lots of angry, dangerous-looking (but unarmed) workers calling for the nationalization of Goldman Sachs, or the seizing of CEOs’ mansions and bank accounts. The fat-cats need to feel real fear. Stewart and Colbert should stay home, because there’s nothing funny about this.

  24. parsnip says:

    Damon Vrabel has quit blogging because:

    Change is not possible through journalism, the media, or online debates. Plus, as Chris Hedges says in Empire of Illusion, at this point it is impossible to bridge the divide between “a literate, marginalized minority and those who have been consumed by an illiterate mass culture.”

    [But you can still read and watch his videos here”.]

    As far as I’m concerned: left, schmeft. It’s class warfare.

    Try Volatility for the best framing of where we are now in history, and for voicing what what we can do for ourselves, together, in re-localized community.

  25. Dakinikat says:

    I think the big difference is that back during the Great Depression, most of the powers that were, were truly afraid of a revolution like the Russian Revolution. The current group has no fear of that now because they’ve spent years connecting fascism and nazism and red baiting and all the things mixed up together that they’ve smeared with liberalism and ‘lefties’. Even liberals won’t call themselves liberals any more. They’ve adopted that bs term ‘progressive’.

    The worker’s movement in the 1920s including folks like the wobblies that were full of anarchists and socialists. Honest to goodness barn burning revolutionaries. Most elected officials thought it was better to throw folks a safety net than have protests possibly turn into a worker’s revolt. We now have the populists of the left and the populists of the right so confused by their own individual spokesmodels of the plutocracy that I don’t think the powers of be foresee any chance of any group getting together and throwing them out let alone doing so in any kind of violent means. Heck, we can’t even VOTE them out now days. With the exception of social issues, they’re interchangeable parts.

    Just a historical perspective.

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks. That’s precisely the way I’d answer my own question, why a safety net then but a rolling back of the safety net now. Though more concise.

  26. parsnip says:

    Elephant in the room:

    Peak oil……and capitalism as we know it, are inextricably linked. The MOTUs are preparing for neo-feudalism because capitalism must die when the oil is gone. They plan on winding up with total control of the planet’s resources, and that means land. Hence the bolloxed land registry system and displaced, atomized families.

    None of the mainstream bloggers deals with real issues.

  27. sfmikey says:

    That the blogosphere now encompasses WikiLeaks and the like is good. The MSM certainly isn’t uncovering criminality and other depravities of our secretive governing masters. Tech is an unexpected ally. On the other hand, the USA has devolved into a corporatist police state, with pop culture and pornographic sideshows, and freedom of speech (until it matters), and it’s only slowly, slowly dawning on people…but too slowly to make a meaningful difference, I’m afraid.

    • emptywheel says:

      Plus, w/ the focus on wikileaks there’s a natural international perspective. i find myself reading in French and Spanish and Portuguese and even some slavic languages I don’t speak, for the first time in a long time.

  28. marcos says:

    Fortunately for us, the bulk of economic activity in the US takes place concentrated in the urban blue coastal areas.

    That economic activity has been hijacked by the Senate system such that coastal producers subsidize the flyover welfare states.

    The Democrats will always distract us from substantive pursuits, trying to run us ashore on issues like gun control and ending the Senate filibuster to make it easier for the red states in the flyover to suck down coastal production and wealth.

    We need to leverage our numbers in the coastal blue cities and the concentration of economically significant sites so that we cut off the flow of profits until we end the Senate system and get democracy.

    Then, we’ll see the system switch from cooptation mode to repression mode and we’ll know that we’re getting somewhere.

    -marc

    • emptywheel says:

      W/all due respect, I think your criticism of filibuster reform is important–it’s the quickest way to rolling back choice and opening up ANWR. But a good number of democratic states are not only flyover states, but are net donors to the federal govt. Even MI, which is still the second biggest clusterfuck economically and which is a purple-blue state, is a net donor to the federal govt.

      • marcos says:

        Marcy, point taken, maybe I should call it the ideological flyover to limit how I cast the net, but the dynamic is sinister.

  29. sfmikey says:

    emptywheel,

    Indeed. I am shocked that this Administration is attacking Julian Assange and bringing all possible legal action against him for whistle-blowing. But is this worse than the people responsible for things like torture and murder (and destruction of ‘evidence’)? Where is the will to follow up in such cases?

    Our leaders have taken an oath to uphold the law, haven’t they? Well, if they will not uphold the law, where does that leave our democracy?

  30. tanbark says:

    “…because her rhetoric is rather inflamed…”

    How about that? Progressives grease the skids for Barack Obama’s historic opportunity in 2008.

    We give him our money, our hearts, and our hopes…we bust our asses for him, to avoid the horrors of electing a George Bush clone, and he turns around and uses us for paving material to get to the political “center” of the road… which is actually, the “moderate” right.

    And then he uses us for stand-up comic routines to fatcat democrats and republicans, alike.

    And when we won’t clap louder, and when we insist on speaking the truth about what he’s doing, not just to progressives, but to the entire democratic party (SEE! The 2010 mid-terms!) we’re guilt of “rather inflamed rhetoric”.

    Here’s a little heads-up for you, Freddie: you don’t know what inflamed rehtoric is. But, over the next 18-24 months, you and Barack Obama, and the “centrist” democrats with him, are going to get a much clearer idea of it.

    Have a good one. See you at the primaries?

  31. RFShunt says:

    Lurker gradually de-lurking here. At last, a topic I feel I can contribute to.

    It’s a shame we must, by necessity, use labels like liberal or leftist to talk about these issues (more on that in a second) but EW hits the nail on the head here. No question there’s a big gap in what you might call liberalism and what you might call labor. That gap used to be smaller but was seized on by the powers that be and used as a wedge to divide their natural opposition.

    I’m preaching to the choir here when I say that the real conflict isn’t democrat vs republican or even conservative vs liberal, but rather global corporate interests vs everybody else. In that scenario, what labor really means is everyone who doesn’t have a numbered Swiss bank account. It’s telling that even EW (@ 7) says something like: “there needs to be mobilization for working people, not just labor.” I know what EW means, but it’s still telling.

    But you smart people know this – that’s one reason I love reading FDL. What I want to say is this. It’s fine (and needed) to think about what defines the “left” – but only internally. The powers that be used very smart spin-meisters and all the media that money can buy to redefine the left. It’s annoying as hell, but I say it’s a suckers game to get involved in that discussion. Anytime you’re explaining yourself, you’ve already lost the argument. (Notice how the really smart players on the right lost no time in turning down the rhetoric after Tucson – I’m thinking of Roger Ailes. Only dim-bulbs like Palin are out there explaining and justifying themselves)

    My feeling is that the better approach is issue by issue. When people are polled on specific issues (healthcare, unemployment, the banks), their opinions are always what could be described as “leftist”. When people are polled on where they sit in the political spectrum, they call themselves moderates or centrists or independents. I don’t think you can mobilize people over ideology, in fact I think it’s counter-productive. People don’t want to be called socialists. I think you *can* mobilize them over defending social security or extending unemployment.

    In fact, I think within this is the means to win back some ideological ground. When you’re called a “socialist” for advocating this that or the other, you can counter by saying “If you want to waste time talking about labels, that’s your choice – I’m trying to solve real problems here”. That forces *them* to explain themselves – and lose the argument.

    My 2 cents.

    • mzchief says:

      Concur and here’s my 2 centavos why … Seems to me that if you ask if they want to be a “socialist,” they freak out and communication breaks down. Ask them if they’d like 6 weeks paid annual vacation, paid maternity and paternity leave, paid day care, home health visits and they say “Why YES!” Later you can say “isn’t socialism great?” and they’ll understand what you mean and say “Why YES!.” (my functional requirements approach to this level of the issue)

      Communications break down at Jack in the Box (time point 1:28)

      *horchata: “A refreshing cold drink made of rice, almonds, cinnamon (canella), lime zest and sugar. This drink is rumored to be a cure for a hangover and is frequently served at breakfast time. Even though the drink has a milky appearance it is completely dairy-free.”

  32. bluedot12 says:

    To me the three demonstrations represent the nutty religious crowd still living in a magical dream world no more than 6000 years old, some soft “lefties” just “tryin to get along”, and some people who are fucked up. Notably the people who are fucked up were ignored. The other two though have their apologists and, my, are they good at it.Seems no one has the time,though, to think about the real problems that face us. Dugsdale back there @32 and our Norske friend seems to have some ideas I like.

    Good thread. enjoyed it.

  33. Watson says:

    “China is defending its subsidies for wind and solar power against a U.S. complaint to the World Trade Organization that such support is unfair”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101223/ap_on_bi_ge/as_china_us_trade (12/28/10)

    Under the international trade rules imposed by the neo-cons and neo-liberals, government support for renewable energy constitutes unfair competition against for-profit actors.

    Do we need any more evidence that our privatization mania is disastrously dysfunctional, an ideological dead end that threatens the planet?

    • papau says:

      GATT begat the WTO – and now the WTO must go. A system that refuses to accept Paul Samuleson’s 2004 paper’s conclusion that trade that does not protect ones “competitive advantage” will destroy your country, a system that refuses to accept that the rape of the planet in the name of “just using the common for industry and jobs” is a short road to water and food shortages, a system that does not accept that destruction of worker rights and a race to the bottom on wages can not develop a middle class to buy what is produced, is a system that must end. The US must withdraw from the WTO – or be like China and ignore the WTO.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The essence of corporate welfare, as it works here, and economic policy, which is what the rest of the world calls it, is to inject public tax revenues into private enterprises, to spur them on. But here’s the catch: the US model refuses to share the gains made with the public whose revenue brought about those gains. Private enterprises are allowed to do that directly, adding their own costs and sometimes huge profits to the public’s cost to buy their product or service. Health care reform, really only insurance reform, is a good example.

      It’s the public sharing part the American system finds so reprehensible, not the “socialist” methodology of seeding private enterprise public dollars. Instead of overt grants made through public agencies according to publicly proclaimed priorities, we do it through tax subsidies, legal immunities, and privatization.

      We also make radically different choices about what to support. We support the big players staying big and staying players. The financial bail-out illustrates that. Goldman Sachs and Citi illustrate the winners, the beneficiaries from the injection of over a trillion dollars into keeping a radical industry free of reforms, afloat, with fewer, surviving but much happier players. The kinds of innovation you see the Chinese and some Europeans investing in we fund at the margins. Even R&D tax benefits largely go to the already big and not often inventive companies.

  34. papau says:

    US media and the GOP are into fact free discussions – indeed your comment about “shock doctrine” reminds one (on purpose no doubt) of Harvard’s Jeffrey Sachs and his right wing “economic shock therapy” that left every country that tried it (Bolivia, Eastern Europe, Russia) worse off with greatly decreased inflation but at the cost of a rise in unemployment, a fall in industrial output, and a fall in per capita GDP (a 50% fall in Russia that they are just now coming back from).

    No tax increase, just end inflation by destroying the economy – yes that is a plan the rich and corporate can go for – just them a few days notice so they can move their money to a socialist country for safety until the shock doctrine brings down the price of everything and they can own an even larger percentage of the countries wealth. Meanwhile the shock doctrine will have given everyone “freedom and low inflation” – and who can object to that?

  35. Larue says:

    Just to close out by saying this is one of the great diaries I’ve read about a topic dear to my heart . . . so big kudo’s and nice to see Mz. Wheeler’s stellar work above, especially in the wake of Steve Hynd’s diary that Mz. WHeeler accords up above.

    Secondly to point, that’s a big ass boat load of great, insightful and intelligent comments up above, one and all . . . great great reading . . . recaps of history I’d forgotten, how things got the way they are . . . insights to things I never knew . . . love the Chou En Lai/Nixon recap! Had forgotten that long ago . . . .

    Just a splendid piece of work start to finish . . . bookmarked, for sure.

    Best to all, it’s not likely to get better for we the people any time soon . . . but as is suggested above, the pressure on we the people continues to escalate . . . and history proves that’s not a good thing . . .

  36. orionATL says:

    “capitalism” is no longer a useful descriptive term.

    it has a long and honorable philosophic, historical, and economic history.

    but “who owns the means of production – land, buildings, machinery, etc” vs “the workers” does not describe pur present-day reality.

    the reality we individuals (“workers”, all of us) is the reality of large organizations who fashion our society to meet their (or their leader’s) needs.

    these large organizations can be govt bureaucracies or “private” corporations, which does not matter.

    an individual can be mistreated, attacked, deceived by any of these organizations, and find themselves with little or no recourse except legal action – if they have the do-re-mie.

    the ruthlessness of the u. s. doj is similar in societal consequence to the ruthlessness of goldman-sachs.

    the indifference and self-serving of leaders at citicorp or jp morgan chase is similar in societal consrquences to the indifference of the federal reserve banks.

    the indifference and lack of moral courage of amazon, google, and paypal is similar to the indifference and lack of courage of the u.s. secutities and exchange comm, the fed trade comm, and the consumer protection safety board.

    individual american citizens face a constant battle for fair treatment due to impediments calculatedly set from these corporations and bureaus. private or public, all having enormous money resources at their disposal.

    only the wealthiest individuals can compete against these large organizations in court or in government.

    so,

    back to the beginning,

    “capitalism” no longer describes the political and economic social reality we face as individuals.

    that reality is described by a word that encompasses a society whose economic and legal levers are controlled by large organizations, govt or private, collaborating,

    and enforcing their will and their organization’s interests on individual citizens.

  37. captjjyossarian says:

    Seems to me that the blogosphere is the only accessible media form where the left does exist.

    The left is basically non-existant on TV. Some local radio does carry left oriented content but for much of the nation the choices are corporate talk radio and an increasingly corporate NPR.

  38. ProgThis says:

    Is Jane mean?

    No, is Jane (1) a neoliberal, and, at the end of the day, (2) will she urge us all to vote for the Dems?

    and (3) Why was Jane so gung-ho about the public option, which was nothing but a ruse/slick marketing campaign to change the subject away from single-payer/divide and conquer the HCR movement?

    • Rayne says:

      Define neoliberal.

      For that matter, define liberal.

      I’m not at all certain from your use of the term neoliberal that we’re all on the same page.

  39. ottogrendel says:

    Outstanding post, EW! Thanks.

    Part of the reason for no declaration of victory over Capitalism might be that contrary to when Communism in Europe failed and its leaders went down with it, in the US after Capitalism’s recent failure, its leaders got bonuses. From the perspective of those with power and money, there was no failure, especially if part of the overall strategy is the creation of Neo-Feudalism.

  40. kaganovich says:

    Thanks for the wonderful post emptywheel. I am finding that much of the discussion here is agreeable and I don’t have alot to add other than suggesting an old essay written by Cornelius Castoriadis titled ‘The Question of the History of the Worker’s Movement’ may be quite relevant to the themes being pondered here. Perhaps you have already read it?

  41. jimhicks3 says:


    QUESTION
    What seems most important, to me, is that a blind faith in capitalism led to catastrophe. And at a time when we should be reining in the capitalism that failed so badly, we are instead capitulating to it, using the event of the failure of our corporate masters to give them even more. How is that even happening? And to what degree does the blogosphere deserve some of the blame?

    ANSWER

    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2011/01/hbc-9000793

    JH

  42. revolutionary1 says:

    One aspect of “American exceptionalism” was always economic. US workers, so the story went, enjoyed a rising level of real wages that afforded their families a rising standard of living. Ever harder work paid off in rising consumption. The rich got richer faster than the middle and poor, but almost no one got poorer. Nearly all citizens felt “middle class”. A profitable US capitalism kept running ahead of labour supply. So, it kept raising wages to attract waves of immigration and to retain employees, across the 19th century until the 1970s.

    Then everything changed. Real wages stopped rising, as US capitalists redirected their investments to produce and employ abroad, while replacing millions of workers in the US with computers. The US women’s liberation moved millions of US adult women to seek paid employment. US capitalism no longer faced a shortage of labour.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/17/economics-globalrecession

    [edited for fair use]

  43. quidditas says:

    “one of the reasons for the ideological narrowness of our discourse is the way ideological battles have worked out under globalization.”

    Too true. On the one hand, not publicizing the Immigration/ labor rights rally helps the D-Party off the hook. On the other hand, if it had been publicized, the Tea Party types–and not just them– would have been positively apoplectic. So, the media actually resisted escalating right wing outrage.

    Of course, certain kinds of right wing populist outrage really do threaten corporate profits off labor. “Closing the borders”–were that an achievable goal– would do that. So would yanking work visas. So, that’s the likely explanation for the noble decision to not escalate.

    I think I’m a little skeptical about the positive political benefits of fusing labor rights and immigration, per se. It just seems like strategy that is destined to backfire. It might be different if there already WAS a strong labor rights movement afoot, but there isn’t. You have corporatist facilitators like Andy Stern.

    Eastern European radicals, many Jewish, didn’t organize a very successful–for the US–labor movement in the early part of the 20th century by emphasizing the waves of “alien” immigration that was feeding the movement, over the goals of the movement to strengthen American workers to make conditions better for all. “Native” labor can get down with that, rather than trying to go the route of nativist privilege.

    It just seems like a better political strategy to me, if you want to build a broad based movement.

    So, I have to wonder: are today’s populist immigration rights/labor rights rally organizers just politically inept or are they not actually interested in a broad labor rights movement that appeals to all?

    After all, it wouldn’t be at all shocking to discover that it’s really just more toothless liberal identity politics, now would it? The emphasis on which for the past 40 years, is a big part of the reason there is “no left.” When you can view your social/economic advancement as a woman, let’s say, as taking something from men, you don’t need “a left.” You just TAKE IT.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, it just has a natural limit.

    • quidditas says:

      The emphasis on identity politics for the past 40 years is, after all, a big part of the reason why there is “no left.” When you can view your social and economic advancement as a woman, let’s say, as taking something away from the male competition, there is no need for a “a left.” You just TAKE IT.

      There’s nothing wrong with that, it just has a natural limit.

  44. szielinski says:

    And even if it [the Great Recession] doesn’t [hurt China as much as it has hurt the United States], how is a country of 1.3 billion going to do what we have done? This is not to say I begrudge the Chinese the same luxuries I have enjoyed. But one issue that underlies any further contest over ideology is the stark reality that the globe cannot sustain even half the world’s population at the living standards produced by consumer capitalism currently enjoyed in the developed world, at least not using fossil fuels to drive it. If China were to weather this crisis successfully, after all, it would need to encourage a significant portion of its population to become American-style consumers. Back when I was in China, the auto companies aspired to sell cars to China’s middle class–300 million people–so basically another America again full of cars. A lot would need to change to make that possible, and I think few people trying to turn the Chinese into consumers as the next stage of the advance of capitalism have thought through the implications of that.

    So there seems to be a finite limit to the degree to which China can use capitalism to beat the capitalists.

    There is today no ideological contest between the USA and China. Both are mixed economies, one having less state intervention and coordination than the other. Nor is there an ideological contest between capitalism and a non-market socialism. The inability of the Command Economy model to intensively develop settled that conflict. If the United States and the People’s Republic of China are indeed at odds with each other, this conflict can be best identified as one pitting a declining imperial power against a rising imperial power.

    Also, while it’s now clear that the carrying capacity of the planet does not include providing Western style consumerism to every living person, that fact does not mean that, over the long-term, the distribution of wealth will remain static across national boundaries. In other words, Western style consumerism will become a feature of those owning capital and only some of those it hires. It is not unrealistic to expect a large number of Americans to find themselves living in slums such as those found in Mexico City, Calcutta, etc. Of course, nature may solve the unequal distribution of wealth problem for humanity by generating a global ecological system that takes out 75% of the world’s population. This, unfortunately, would be a new dark age in which some — much? — of the past that is worth retaining would be lost.

    Capitalism — the disease for which there is no cure and which may be terminal.

  45. quidditas says:

    “Moreover, how would a country that regained world standing by playing globalization better than the capitalists declare victory over capitalism?”

    The Chinese didn’t play globalization “better then the capitalists,” they played it WITH the capitalists AGAINST US (and European) labor.

    The capitalists WON. Labor lost. Now the game is to expand the capitalist VICTORY over public sector unions, all over the US and Europe, by using government deficits as the excuse, exactly as Simon Johnson predicted in his Atlantic article at the start of the criminally engineered financial crisis.

    Private and public sector labor is bleeding out of every pore. Financial sectors everywhere are subsidized by the government. Transnational corporations write domestic legislation. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, risk driven investment banks, became part of the Fed subsidized US domestic financial infrastructure.

    Capitalism triumphant (may start to look a little fascist).

    “So one of the reasons no one is acknowledging that capitalism lost, at least here in the States, is that doing so would amount to a recognition that the US may well lose its hegemonic position.”

    Capitalism won. The US/Europeans lost. Contrary to the muddled US right wing, the US and capitalism are not the same thing.

    As things stand, if the capitalists actually do manage to take down the State that’s both supporting them and actively ordering society to their liking, then they fail.

    But we’re not there yet. They are not only in the game but still very much running the board.

  46. quidditas says:

    “It is not unrealistic to expect a large number of Americans to find themselves living in slums such as those found in Mexico City, Calcutta, etc”

    BINGO. And, out in the US desert, they’re already hallucinating the future today.

    Which explains so much.

  47. Kassandra says:

    Interesting article I found on the whining of US corporations in China. Apparently they are being treated as royally as they would like and have come running home to “Daddy” to get the respect they “deserve”
    U.S. Firms Decry China’s Heavy Hand
    Alleged Bias by Regulators Is Likely to Be Contentious Issue Between Two Countries

    http://online.wsj.com/public/page/0_0_WP_3001.html?currentPlayingLocation=3&currentlyPlayingCollection=The%20News%20Hub&currentlyPlayingVideoId={0027B9BB-122B-45DF-ADC0-8C9EF37B97F6}

  48. quidditas says:

    “I think there are a lot of people in DC who just parrot the DC line, so advocate for things like austerity that pretty clearly will hurt the country and lead us closer to NeoFeudalism. But they don’t have the independent thinking to see where it all ends up.”

    No, they know where it ends up. But Matty and Ezra are not going to be in US Calcutta.

    End of story.

  49. 4jkb4ia says:

    Absolute relief that no one said, “I don’t accept your apology and you’re not welcome here anymore”.

    Rayne’s comment was outstanding as usual :)
    NorskeFlamethrower stole my followup. State and local politics are where austerity is going to work itself out and where the government is tending to everyday needs. A “You Fix the Budget” type exercise per state would concentrate activists on the needs of workers/people who are in the most need and the essential things that government does. Possibly Republicans were able to do so well in state legislatures because the progressive infrastructure to support candidates was concentrated on the national level. A state legislature candidate will never get the publicity that Christine O’Donnell or Sharron Angle got.
    The WTO case against China wasn’t simply that they were supporting renewable energy. They were giving export subsidies and requiring manufacturers to make a certain percentage of the renewable energy materials such as solar panels in China. If your whole economic policy for employment was “green jobs” to have even those stolen by China would be very disconcerting.

  50. joanneleon says:

    Outside of your research work, I think this is one of your best pieces.

    IMHO, not a lot of political wonks have a grasp of the big picture, or at least they can’t communicate it as well as you have.

    First, thanks for this:

    And voila: that means not enough of the leading voices of the blogosphere speak for workers (or the unemployed or the elderly poor or immigrant workers)–or even speak out against our failed capitalist masters. More importantly (and this is why I think DeBoer’s point about socialism is important), while some–many of us here at FDL, for example–do offer critiques of our capitalist masters and support for labor such as it exists, almost no one is offering an affirmative ideological alternative to the neoliberalism of the Village.

    As you know, I’m aghast at the relative silence and lack of organization right now. After fighting so hard for relevance, the progressive blogosphere is not using the power that it has for some of the most important issues of our lifetimes, namely, rallying their readers and followers. We’ve got an SOTU coming up where we’re pretty sure that the President we elected is going to propose cutting Social Security. He’ll likely do it with clever words, but nonetheless, that’s what’s on the table. Where is the push back? Where is the leverage of the many thousands of voices? It doesn’t matter much what I say. I’m one voice and not one of the leaders in this so called movement. But there are others who can do more, and they aren’t. I think it’s a game changer for me, though I don’t know yet how I’m going to change my game.

    Second, I haven’t seen anyone sum things up so well, the way that you did, the situation with the 2008 crash, capitalism, China, imperialism, and the left. And this part:

    Plus, in this country, there’s a willful misunderstanding (at least in the popular press) of how the Chinese have succeeded as they have, with the claim that China beat us with free trade rather than mercantilism. While the US was busy trying to dominate the world through the spread of something it called free trade, China was better at using trade to serve its nation.

    felt like a punch in the gut. Because we used to do a much better job of that, and I don’t quite understand how we allowed ourselves to be suckered into the situation we’re in right now. Protectionism is now a dirty word, and that means protecting the best interests of the people of this country is unacceptable in the conventional wisdom.

    As for the workers and rising up, I keep thinking we’re on the brink of it. I hope that we can stand up for ourselves successfully before there is a tremendous amount of suffering.

    One last thing, there was one more rally last year — the One Nation Working Together rally. That one got little attention too. But it was also about the workers, I think. I have to admit that I was confused about the overall goal of that rally from the start, and I think it was ineffective because of the unspoken divisions in our party, and the unwillingness of the veal pen to speak out against what the Democratic party has become. We’re not going to get anywhere until that changes.

    • Rayne says:

      As you know, I’m aghast at the relative silence and lack of organization right now. After fighting so hard for relevance, the progressive blogosphere is not using the power that it has for some of the most important issues of our lifetimes, namely, rallying their readers and followers.

      The lack of organization is in no small part due to two key factors:

      — the veal pen effect, wherein the activists of the left sit on their hands with their mouths shut, to avoid the appearance of criticizing what they thought was a left-leaning president, and out of expediency since they are baited with either federal monies through programs or donor funds managed by access through the White House (Jane H., of course, had this pegged fairly early in the health care reform debacle last year);

      — the co-option of the left’s energy through Organizing for America, first as Obama’s campaign and later as a hapless subset of the DNC. First-time activists who were not Democrats per se were cut adrift to flounder during the first 15 months of the administration, and have now fallen away through disappointment, disuse, and personal needs.

      • joanneleon says:

        Agree, Rayne. I think there are a number of other reasons that we could enumerate, but the common denominator is fear. Fear of losing access, fear of marginalization, fear of standing against otherwise allies, fear of ridicule by the administration, and fear that if we criticize too hard, Dems will lose power and at the moment we have no better option in the short term.

        I think it’s time to do what’s right and let the chips fall where they may.

  51. lakeeffectsnow says:

    But what we need just as badly is some way to articulate and mobilize the needs of the working class before our failure to govern (which the narrowness of our discourse fosters) ends up in food riots.

    you write this as if this is a bug, not a feature.

    we are waiting for exactly this to happen – this will give us the cover we need to carry out our actions of which you will see only the results – not us.

    in the immortal words of the greatest president in the history of the usa, “bring it on”.

  52. sona says:

    i should explain – i don’t decry either god or faith as such but as beck uses the terms to suspend reason and ethics

  53. dugsdale says:

    Well, this has been a tremendously invigorating thread to read, and I am grateful to EW and her string of commenters, who are unique in the blogosphere and never fail to educate and inspire me.

    I hope this post & thread (which I’ve bookmarked in a file called “political grist for the struggle ahead”) doesn’t go stone cold. There’s a missing element here that I still think needs to be addressed.

    WHAT DO WE *DO* about all this? I believe some people call it an “action step.”

    Is there an “action step” here?