Macri’s Austerity and Macron Neo-Liberalism with a Human Face: a comment by Old Socialist

I haven’t read anything in the American Press about the political unrest in Argentina. America’s  political narcissism is primary, and the outliers in South America hold no purchase on the crisis ridden Age of Trump.

Yet Macri’s exhumation of  Neo-Liberalism and his bribing of Vulture Capitalist Paul Singer, as entree back into the World Economic family, seems to be in actual political trouble. The best the Financial Times can do, in the realm of an Argentine political ‘experts’, are Fernando Iglesias and Maria Victoria Murillo, an Argentine political scientist at Columbia University. Neither one a Peronist! And the perfect choices to give credence to the Financial Times’ Anti-Populist Party Line. The question arises what was the actual legacy of the 12 years of Kirchner government, provided here by teleSUR :

‘For Argentines, just as the 1980s are referred to as the “lost decade,” the 12 years of Kirchner government (four by the late Nestor Kirchner and eight by Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner) is now often called the “won decade.”

The Kirchner governments found success in systematically improving the everyday lives of Argentines. Social policies, such as subsidies, pension raises and unemployment benefits, went hand in hand with the improved economy, as well as the necessary and popular overhaul of Argentina’s judicial system after the murky history of human rights abuses committed with impunity.

Nestor Kirchner was also a key figure in the regional integration of Latin America. He was the leader who managed to restructure 93 percent of the country’s massive debt, Fernandez took the baton and heroically battled the remaining 7 percent demanding repayment, known as the vulture funds.’—Landmarks-of-Kirchnerismo-20151022-0027.html

Fernando Iglesias extemporizes on the theme of Peronist rabble rousing, indeed on the tradition of ‘coup-mongering’ in Argentina:

Even so, Fernando Iglesias, a writer and former congressman who supports the government, argues that this is Mr Macri’s “most difficult moment” so far.

“People still don’t have money in their pockets, and of course the Peronist opposition is taking advantage of this with strikes, demonstrations and roadblocks . . . There is a long history of coup-mongering in Argentina,” warns Mr Iglesias, pointing to the failure of all non-Peronist governments to complete their electoral mandates since the return of democracy in 1983.

“The Peronists know that if the country recovers they will never return to power. The stakes couldn’t be higher, so they are going all in,” adds Mr Iglesias. Indeed, many senior figures from the previous government face corruption charges, including Ms Fernández herself, who is due to stand trial soon for the first of various cases against her.’

What the reader gets near the end of this extended apologetic on behalf of the Neo-Liberalism  of Macri, is this collection of data, that should have mollified even the most ardent Populist? This notion is in the realm of the chatter of the technocrat.

‘Officials complain that the timing of the general strike makes no sense. Despite a 2.3 per cent decline in gross domestic product overall in 2016, in the third and fourth quarters the economy grew by 0.1 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively compared to the previous quarters. Since October, around 25,000 jobs are being created each month, say officials.’

What is more than compelling in terms of argument is Maria Victoria Murillo’s comment that at first attempts to trivialize the strikes as:

‘…argues that the general strike is “not a big deal” and is “nothing new.” She explains that the leaders of Argentina’s fragmented trade unions need to flex their muscles from time to time to maintain support among the grass roots.’

And then she asserts that:

“It may have an impact on the margins, but ultimately the election will be decided by the economy,” says Ms Murillo. “Unless they can solve that, they are toast — the rest is decoration.”

Mr. Macri’s success is dependent on an electorate that is, to say the least, unhappy with his expression of Austerity, that is one of the central tenets of the Neo-Liberal Dispensation, dubbed ‘Reform’ by its acolytes.  It would have been the wiser course, to have offered to Argentina what Macron is offering to the French electorate: Neo-Liberalism with a Human Face, e.g.:

‘The candidate’s recently announced programme is thus a careful balancing act between progressive ideals of social solidarity and conservative aspirations to entrepreneurship and order: it includes a raft of liberal economic proposals, such as cutting public expenditure, reducing the number of civil servants, unifying the pension system, and introducing greater flexibility in the labour market. But it also contains socially progressive measures, such as increasing the number of teachers, offering additional resources to schools in disadvantaged areas, promoting greater equality between the sexes, protecting those on short-term employment contracts, abolishing the residence tax for 80 per cent of the population, and offering a “Culture Pass” of €500 to all eighteen-year-olds – a concrete affirmation of Macron’s republican belief that education and learning are “the apprenticeship of freedom”.

The metaphor is revealing, for at the heart of Macron’s vision lies the promise of an “enterprising and ambitious France”. His conception of the good life is that of an optimistic, cosmopolitan and socially conscious modernizer: committed to the transformation of the French economy, and releasing business from the burdens of high taxation and over-regulation, but also aware (not least as a child of the provinces) that the market alone cannot produce equal opportunities for all citizens, and that state intervention is often indispensable.’

Old Socialist




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On the question: Is Janan Ganesh Our Cicero or Our Catiline? Classical Historian comments

Is he Our Cicero or more likely Our Catiline that addresses the vexing question of the Left and its tribalism, in his usual eloquent, coruscating polemic? The Left, as Our Catiline views it, is ‘tribalist’ because it is by definition backward looking, as opposed to an Enlightened Neo-Liberal view, that The Market is the only viable form of ‘knowledge’ and a measure of all things that matter? This being is a sycophant to the faltering Pax Americana of NATO, and the EU as Neo-Liberalism avant la lettre, as it crumbles before our fixed gaze.

Our Catiline has a penchant for invective that serves him well, yet for the reader who looks for something more, like some telling insights to the various quandaries of the political present, like Populism and its American issue Trump, or the rise of Jeremy Corbyn the reader is shortchanged. On Corbyn the curious reader can consult the March 17, 2017 issue of the TLS in a review of three books on the Labour leader by Robert Potts, who offers some insight Our Catiline is incapable of imagining, much less formulating:

Does anyone know now what the Labour Party is for? Corbyn’s clarity on this in the leadership contests shone through, which is why he won. (He opposes inequality, which has risen in the UK since 1979 under both the Conservatives and New Labour, and seems to be the topic that, for whatever reason, Corbyn’s detractors will do anything not to talk about.) His opponents’ position is less clear; triangulation by platitude. There is strong recent evidence that people will not be fooled by that stance forever. If there is now any ideological difference between the Labour Right and the Liberal Democrats, it is far from obvious; talk of needing a new party between Corbyn and the Conservatives overlooks the fact we already have one.

Perhaps the only positive for the Left is that their arguments can now be made at all. A large number of voters, clearly committed and passionate, are hungry for a change. They cannot be simply taken for granted (as they were before Corbyn’s nomination – “where else do they have to go?” was the response from Andy Burnham’s camp), nor written off as a handful of naives and Trotskyites. They are unlikely to go away. James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party were merely the punchline to a joke in 1997, when they stood in every seat and lost every deposit; but only twenty years later, they have achieved their objective despite not even existing anymore. Given recent history, no one can confidently predict what Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy might eventually be.

Would that Our Catiline could offer up something comparable!

Classical Historian

Added Tuesday March 28,2017 2:12 PDT. I taking the liberty to add a long quotation from an earlier part of Mr. Robert Potts’ essay, that seems absolutely essential in coming to an understanding of the Labour Party and Corbyn’s place in it. And the myth of the primacy of Tony Blair in the Party’s history:

The story of how such an other-worldly figure became leader of the party simply by being himself is an oddly electrifying one, nicely told by Prince and better still by Nunns, and worth attending to if only to see how some widespread narratives suppress certain truths. The Blairite faction in the Parliamentary Party was never as large as people thought. Nonetheless, its members had disproportionate influence with the media, and it is largely their lines that are taken as gospel. So the decline of Labour’s fortunes is seen as a result of the departure of Tony Blair; had he not won three elections? And the 2015 general election result was because Ed Miliband was too left-wing. And the election of Jeremy Corbyn was because Miliband had introduced a new way of electing the leader. Following this narrative, all that is required for Labour to win again is the rectification of this error, by hook or by crook, and the subsequent leadership of a Blairite.

All three books, with different degrees of zest, show this narrative to be a fantasy. Blair (and Gordon Brown) managed to lose 5 million votes between 1997 and 2010, many of them from their working-class base; Scotland was lost because the Scottish chose a left-wing party over a Labour Party that had taken them for granted; and the electoral system that in March 2014 handed power to the party’s members, rather than a block vote by MPs, was hailed at the time by Tony Blair himself (“a long overdue reform . . . that [I] should have done myself”) and nearly all of his supporters – Nunns cheekily offers a standalone page of quotations to make that point. (It might be added that whenever Blair or his close ally Peter Mandelson pop up to offer helpful advice these days, the general public ungratefully ignore them. According to a recent YouGov poll, Blair is currently more unpopular across all demographics than Corbyn, which is quite an achievement.)

@BetaByNature @StephenKMackSD

(Note: I was only able to post the link to the ten point Crobyn program. March 28, 2017 6:55 AM PDT)

Thank you for your comment. ‘Hard Left’ is the Party Line of the Neo-Liberals/Thatcherites of the present, in their many iterations. The fact is that Corbyn is a Left wing Social Democrat: he only appears to be ‘Hard Left’ because he inhabits a political culture dominated by the ‘The Road to Serfdom’ political pathology,  and its political enactor Mrs. Thatcher, not to speak of her myriad epigones.

Here is Mr. Corbyn’s ten point program offered in 2016, where were you?

Corbyn’s 10 pledges

  1. Full employment and an economy that works for all: based around a £500bn public investment via the planned national investment bank.
  2. A secure homes guarantee: building 1m new homes in five years, at least half of them council homes. Also rent controls and secure tenancies.
  3. Security at work: includes stronger employment rights, an end to zero hours contracts and mandatory collective bargaining for companies with 250 or more employees.
  4. Secure our NHS and social care: end health service privatisation and bring services into a “secure, publicly-provided NHS”.
  5. A national education service: includes universal public childcare, the “progressive restoration” of free education, and quality apprenticeships.
  6. Action to secure our environment: includes keeping to Paris climate agreement, and moving to a “low-carbon economy” and green industries, in part via national investment bank.
  7. Put the public back into our economy and services: includes renationalising railways and bringing private bus, leisure and sports facilities back into local government control.
  8. Cut income and wealth inequality: make a progressive tax system so highest earners are “fairly taxed”, shrink the gap between the highest and lowest paid.
  9. Action to secure an equal society: includes action to combat violence against women, as well as discrimination based on race, sexuality or disability, and defend the Human Rights Act.
  10. Peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy: aims to put conflict resolution and human rights “at the heart of foreign policy”.

It took me all of a minute to find this on the internet! Should I take your comment as the chatter of a Neo-Liberal ideologue, or would that be considered a redundancy?



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At The Financial Times Episode MDXXXI: Valeria Gontareva saves the Ukrainian banking system. Old Socialist comments

Its very interesting that the ‘reformers’ that are, or have been, featured in The Financial Times,  Gontareva and Argentine President Mauricio Macri were what? Clients of  Mossack Fonseca? Gontareva’s name ‘pops up’ in the Panama Papers, yet the link the Financial Times provides is of the general reporting done by the Financial Times. Where is the information regarding Gontareva?  In one of the many news items provided?  The purest kind of journalistic obfuscation, and or apologetics for the Coup government’s  Neo-Liberalization  of the Ukrainian economy, even though the IMF has lost its faith in that Neo-Liberalism?

The starring role in this little political melodrama of Poroshenko crony Gontareva, defeating the ‘Oligarchs’, not to speak of her, by her own admission, “absolutely incredible, draconian, administrative measures”, like cutting the pensions of retirees in half?  Or does that not fit under the rubric of ‘draconian administrative measures’? The celebrated ‘Strong Medicine’ revised for another context?

Neil Buckley and Roman Olearchyk do a workman like job of producing Ukrainian Coup propaganda, with the slavering Oligarchs taking the role usually played by Putin.

Old Socialist


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Publius asks: Who is Jon Ossoff?

Who is Jon Ossoff? This might just provide part of an answer:

‘Ossoff attended Georgetown University from 2005 to 2009, earning a bachelor’s degree in the School of Foreign Service. He studied under former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.[9][10]’

Mr. Ossoff is a well credential New Democrat, the latest offer from the very corrupt New Democratic organization, whose group think is that Trump is the problem, rather than a Party dominated by Corporatist Clinton hacks! Not to speak of the notorious Zionist neo-revanchist Oren and the ghoulish Albright!

The New Democrats and its surrogate ‘Left Action’ tout Ossoff as the answer, rather than  as the desperation of Clinton and her minions: Brazil, Podesta, Wasserman Schultz.The Democratic Party needs to reclaim its New Deal traditions, and roots, or become politically irrelevant: change of die!


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More Gorsuch Melodrama, a comment by Political Cynic

Where has Courtney Weaver been? As reported in Time Magazine of March 22,2017: Judge Gorsuch’s decision in Thompson  R2-J School District v. Luke P. has been overturned unanimously by the Supreme Court! Even his fellow reactionaries on the Court rebuked him! Gorsuch’s reported response: That’s fine.

This ‘Confirmation Hearing’ is  awash in political kitsch and cynical posturing by a Neo-Confederate/Originalist candidate, who has simply evaded any substantive answers to questions by the Democrats: whose momentary re-discovery of their own backbones has been, or will be short lived. If Garland had reached the hearing stage, it would  have been the Democrats fawning over the ‘questioning’ of another unimpressive judicial careerist.

On the Committee Chairs: Grassley looks like what he is, a hick reading speeches written by one of his more politically sophisticated hirelings. Feinstein looks like what she has always been, a political opportunist, who entertains the notion that she has somehow broken that Senate glass-ceiling. Her own highfalutin self-conception is demonstrated by her careful,even punctilious, observance of the institutionalized courtesies of the Senate Gentleman’s Club.

On the  Nuclear Option: with the Ryan Plan badly faltering, and the Gorsuch nomination in trouble, will the Republicans, under the banner of Trump political nihilism, make that fateful move, freighted with so much melodrama, so  fraught with danger?

Political Cynic

@Truth and Honour @StephenKMackSD

Thank you for your comment. One is struck by the fact of precedent, and the part it plays in American Law. Yet in the case of Brown v. Board, the reader is confronted with the declaration, by Earl Warren, that the psychic/psychological well being of black children had a primary importance for the American polity! The question that needs to be asked : did Brown follow any known precedent ?

Admittedly this is a very rough sketch, of another kind of court, in another time and historical place but is illustrative of what a judge might do, or how a judge might act creatively, to take ‘the redress of grievances’ as legitimate.function of the court. Judge Gorsuch’s record is very clear! He is a reactionary ideologue, he is Robert Bork with a cosmetic make over, so he doesn’t look like a character out of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’! He and his Federalist Society allies will  return us this halcyon world of a re-imagined 1859.

This Brown opinion was dubbed ‘Sociology’ by the nascent legal branch of American jurisprudential philosophy called ‘Originalism’, or simply helped an already existing reactionary strain of American Political Romanticism, gain a foothold into respectable legal circles. Rehnquist‘s whole career was built on the foundation of his challenging black voters in Arizona. See the The Partisan: The Life of William Rehnquist’ by John A.Jenkins for the dismal particulars of his life and career. Gorsuch is his natural heir. 

What does this have to do with the question of de minimis in the case of Luke P.?Played out as proof of the Gorsuch judicial virtue, in the exchange you quote, in which Gorsuch adopts the role of victim of Durbin’s bulling. This whole process of Confirmation is awash in cheap melodrama and political kitsch, the perfect arena for ‘The Martyrdom of Gorsuch’!

Yet again their is further evidence in the case of Alphonse Maddin that Gorsuch was what? The particulars here:

Should we look to Robert Fetter,attorney for Mr. Maddin, as to how Gorsuch behaved toward him in the courtroom setting?

ROBERT FETTER: Well, in January of 2016, I traveled from Detroit to Denver to oral—to oral argument before the 10th Circuit. When you appear, you appear all at one time with several cases, and you all get called when your turn comes up. We happened to be the last one of that morning session. And I was watching the judges, because it’s all the same three-judge panel, as to what their demeanor was. And I looked with particular interest with Judge Gorsuch, because I knew he was a very conservative judge. And I watched in most of these cases, which were uncontroversial, and he was seemingly either disinterested or pleasant to the attorneys. But it seemed like that was a stark change when our case was called. Judge Gorsuch was incredibly hostile. As attorneys on appellate panels, you have some judges that are hostile. And I’ve litigated many cases in appellate courts. And he—that stood out, because he may have been the most hostile judge I’ve ever appeared before. In fact, it came back to me, interestingly, when I watched Senator Franken’s questioning of Judge Gorsuch, which some described as hostile. But that’s a similar type of tone that Judge Gorsuch took with me when I was arguing Mr. Maddin’s case.

What about Sen Al Franken’s questioning of Gorsuch on this Maddin case:

SEN. AL FRANKEN: But the plain meaning rule has an exception. When using the plain meaning rule would create an absurd result, courts should depart from the plain meaning. It is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire him because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle. That’s absurd. Now, I had a career in identifying absurdity, and I know it when I see it. And it makes me—you know, it makes me question your judgment.


@Truth and Honour @Paul A. Myers

‘Talk about unsubstantiated and inflammatory.’ 

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse seems to take quite seriously Gorsuch’s financial backer Mr. Anschutz! The senator took this as significant, because it is significant! Your attack on the integrity, not to speak of Mr. Myer’s veracity, is unsurprising given your other posts. Mr. Myers signs his name to his posts, one of the measures of his intellectual integrity! Will you follow his example! Probably not!   

‘AMY GOODMAN: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is back on Capitol Hill for a second day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gorsuch tapped by President Trump to fill the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death over a year ago. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Scalia at nearly a year ago, but Republicans refused to even hold hearings, fearing Garland would tip the ideological balance. During Tuesday’s hearing, Neil Gorsuch faced questions about his views on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and the $10 million dark money campaign that is supporting his nomination. This is Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: How would you describe any differences that you may have in judicial philosophy with Chief Judge Garland?

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: I would leave that for others to characterize. I don’t like it when people characterize me, and I would not prefer to characterize him. He can characterize himself.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: What’s interesting is that this group sees a huge difference between you that I don’t understand. The dark money group that is spending money on your elections spent at least $7 million against him getting a hearing and a confirmation here, and indeed produced that result by spending that money. And then, now, we have $10 million going the other way. That’s a $17 million delta. And for the life of me, I’m trying to figure out what they see in you that makes that $17 million delta worth their spending. Do you have any answer to that?

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: You’d have to ask them.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I can’t, because I don’t know who they are. It’s just a front group.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse went on to ask about billionaire Philip Anschutz, who has close ties to Judge Gorsuch.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: If a question were to come up regarding recusal on the court, how would we know that the partiality question in a recusal matter had been adequately addressed if we did not know who was spending all of this money to get you confirmed? Hypothetically, it could be one individual. Hypothetically, it could be your friend, Mr. Anschutz. We don’t know, because it’s dark money. Is it any cause of concern to you that your nomination is the focus of a $10 million political spending effort and we don’t know who’s behind it?

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: Senator, there’s a lot about the confirmation process today that I regret.’


@Truth and Honour

I deeply appreciate your thoughtful reply! If you are interested, see my comment here:

On Fukuyama’s ‘The Decay of American Political Institutions’ from November 2, 2016, in which I focus on Brown, and use the letters of Learned Hand to Felix Frankfurter:

‘Reason and Imagination: The Selected Correspondence of Learned Hand’ in the December 5, 2013 edition of The New Your Review of Books (Behind a pay wall):

In which Hand conducts a dialogue with Frankfurter on the vexed question of Brown and ‘legislative intent’ as having political/legal primacy.  I’m sorry but the ‘legislative intent’ argument is based in entrenched white privilege. The simple test might just be, had Hand ever experienced racism or seen it in action? Hand even called Earl Warren a dictator in one of his letters to Frankfurter. Lincoln Caplan, who wrote the review, argues that the reason Hand is so respected is that his position on Brown had ‘evolved’ into a negative opinion. And therefore was worthy of respect. Caplan even argues that Hand is revered for his’ judicial integrity’, that places ‘Legislative Intent’ in a primary legal/political position. I can’t agree with that!

Let me say that if Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP had waited for a change of mind and heart of America’s legislators, the demise of Jim Crow and its instrument of oppression the Segregated School, would have never happened. Yet the very history of Brown is the central animating reason for the birth of The Federalist Society. See John Dean’s ‘The Rehnquist Choice’ for the particulars on the Nixon appointment of Rehnquist to the Supreme Court.

Brown was chipped away by those Federalist, as the Neo-Confederate/Originalist appointed by a Republican Party, thoroughly infested by the Dixiecrat Migration from the Democratic to the Republican Party after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Right Acts of the Johnson Years.

Read ‘Minding The Law’ by Amsterdam and Bruner, published by Harvard University Press in 2000. This book critiques, as I recall, five Supreme Court decisions. It is the most important book published on Supreme Court decisions, and American Law in this young Century!

Best regards,


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Rich Lowry throws in the towel on Republican ‘Healthcare Reform’, a comment by Political Reporter

Even with the hollow hand-wringing of Rich Lowry, the Heritage Foundation Healthcare, in all its iterations of a ‘Free Market’ answer to Single Payer, i.e. Medicare for all, is destined for failure? Mr. Lowry leads with a whimper, which makes this reader long for the capacity of Wm. F. Buckley Jr., for the production of  stinging invective, at will, even in defeat. The hallowed remembrance of a Burkean Pretender?

The political answer to the Ryan Plan for Healthcare ‘reform’, that Lowry predicts will end in failure, is utterly predictable. Trump will place the blame on Ryan, and utter his infamous tag line: Your Fired! The manufactured cheap melodrama of the small screen is the Trump Way. Trump has one mode when it comes to failure!

Political Reporter

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From the Journalistic Shit-Hole of The Daily Beast: Episode MMXVII @michaeldweiss finds Putin guilty of the brutal murder of Sergei Magnitsky. A comment by Victor Serge


Mr. Weiss doesn’t so much as build an accusation of the guilt of Putin, based on empirical evidence, because he does not have access to such, but this is just another instance of Putin, and his gangster allies in Russian civic life. The ‘evidence’ Mr.Weiss presents  is circumstantial , even tangential, but never mind, the point of this obtuse Le Carrian infused chatter, is about  Neo-Conservative propaganda. The point of which is to foment a hatred of Russia, that can then be exploited as pretext for war with the Great Villain Putin, and bring Fukuyama’s  bastardization of Hegel’s ‘end of history’ to fruition!   The reader confronts the dismal record of unsolved murders of key witnesses to the predations of a  Russia state, in the thrall the  Gangster-In-Chief  Putin. Not to speak of his various underlings and even sub-groups who are the bad actors who are looking after their own interests, or are hired by others to do  the dirty work of that Gangster State!

Although noting quite matches this quote from Mr. Weiss acting as apologist and hypocrite for the disastrous Ukrainian Coup!

Curiously, first on the scene to report this as an accident involving a renovation gone wrong was LifeNews, a Russian outlet closely connected to the Russian security services and famous for inventing false news stories about the war in Ukraine and the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Victor Serge

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