On the death of Charles Manson, used as political cudgel! Old Socialist comments

The vulgar popular press, of today and yesterday, have/had the power to direct and control the way we see the world! Look at this headline from November 20, 2017 from the Financial Times:


Then look at the cover of the once very powerful Henry Luce publication ‘Time Magazine’ of July 7, 1967:

TimeJuly071967HippiesNovember 20 2017

The cover of Time marked the official recognition of the ‘Hippie‘ and ‘The Summer of Love’. The ‘Hippie’ was the newest American cultural actor, as the expression of disillusion with the Post War world of the Organization Man: a best seller published in 1956, that gave empirical weight and shape, to the melodrama captured in the 1955 best selling novel The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson. Were the Beats of Howl, published in 1956,  and On the Road, published in 1957, simply the precursors to the ‘Hippie’?

My friends and I grew our hair long, and took the bus to Hollywood Blvd. from our backwater of Lynwood, California: to buy our bell bottomed jeans. We bought the L. A. Free Press, and visited, later on, Art Kunkin’s bookstore. Not to speak of flashing the Peace Sign to people on the street, as we walked to go shopping, or pay the gas and light bills, on the offices located on Long Beach Blvd.

One very real expression of the influence of the ‘Hippie Ethos‘ , in popular music and culture, was the Beatles 1967 release of  ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The Beatles made that ethos mainstream for so many people young and old, to the consternation of the respectable bourgeoisie.

The popularity of books like the Organization Man and The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit were indicative of the discontent with this world, that was alive, active in moral imaginations of the children of the Depression. Who were caught in a world, where economic striving replaced any semblance of mutual care, that was the ruling ethos of the Depression.  At least, as presented in the movies of the period: the American Good Guy as presented in ‘My Man Godfrey’ of 1936, or the collection of movies by Frank Capra, dubbed Capra-corn by some.

In American popular entertainment ‘Mad Men’ , and its ant-ihero Don Draper, expressed a kind of perverse nostalgia for the world of white male heterosexual dominance, and the ethos of success defined as capital accumulation, in its obsession with the collection of the  trophies of that success. This world view rules, is the very sine qua non, of the editors Financial Times. The death of Charles Manson, offers an opportunity for these editors to publicly shame those deviationists from the cult of capital accumulation, called ‘Hippies’: as sharing in the actions of a deranged leader of a cult which committed mass murder, that had noting in common with that ‘Hippie Ethos’, except that they shared contiguous historical space.    

Old Socialist 








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Macron’s Jupertarian Politics are, in sum, dictatorial! Old Socialist comments

Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.

Perry Anderson



Headline: Castaner confirmed as director of Macron’s party

Sub-headline: Unopposed appointment of government spokesman sparks resignations

Have the Jupertarian Politics of Macron reached another denouement in the French Neo-Liberal Melodrama? Is Macron’s insufferable arrogance, or should it be called dictatorial politics, a predictor of the future of La République en Marche? That old political saw of keeping your enemies closer, has transmogrified into alienating your own party members?

About 100 members of the fledgling centrist party have quit the movement in protest at Mr Castaner’s appointment.

Where will these 100 members find a new political home? Another tantalizing  question occurs, will they be the last?

Its been some time since the Financial Times  reported on their Neo-Liberal Champion, or have I missed something? Both Macri and Macron- are they the last gasp of the collapsed Neo-Liberal Project? Even @BretStephensNYT ,  one of the New York Times’ coven of Neo-Conservatives, celebrated the death of French Socialism, as one of the  pivotal moments in the history of the Free Market Swindle, when Macron was elected. Was Mr. Stephens expressing a premature triumphalism?

In the political world occupied by the Financial Times and its ‘reporters’ the spoiled ballots, abstentions etc., from the preliminary vote to final election, not to speak of the subsequent street demonstrations,  irrelevant to the praise it heaps on their Golden Boy? Who will deliver the French Nation into the Neo-Liberal fold! Not quite the ‘Speed and Shock’ of Thatcherite François Fillon?

Old Socialist



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My reply to @FromaHarrop

In this case the ‘truth’ of the question is about partisan loyalty, refracted through the historical lens of the Weinstein scandal- our Present illuminates the Past? And Joe has always been a political conformist : I was a reader of his since he wrote for the New York Observer, and called Ralph Nader a ‘spoiler’ in the 2000 election.
And if Joe isn’t a Clinton partisan, he is, at the least, a Clinton ‘fellow traveler’! How did Joe convince the Clintons that he offered them something that other ‘reporters’ couldn’t ? At the least Joe isn’t a doormat, but probably can be counted on to follow The Clinton Party Line. Voila! Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton.
Andy Divine’s various political incarnations are a fact, and so is his opportunism: his role is now that of Political Moralist, he competes with David Brooks in the arena of the ersatz. Ms. Goldberg’s essay offers Andy an opportunity to gesticulate, chatter and roll his eyes, rhetorically speaking!


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Andy Divine on ‘We are all but sinners Christian Party Line’. Queer Atheist comments

Andy Divine’s latest moralizing intervention starts off with the Roy Moore scandal and ends with Bill Clinton. It is, as always, a convoluted political/religious imaginative variation on the themes he hold most dear: the Christian Revelation, and its sine qua non of the inherent ‘wickedness’ , indeed ‘evil’ of the human person. One need only look to the architects of Christianity, Paul, Augustine and Jerome, to witness the self-hatred of these three monstre sacrés as its source. Their  self-hatred was institutionalized as primary dogmas of the Church! As cudgel for Christian Moralists to condemn  human self-seeking, self-justification in the name of saving souls for Christ! this is illustrative of the theme of his latest essay (Italics are mine):

I have to say I was deeply moved by the New York Times op-ed yesterday by an evangelical law professor from Alabama. The piece, by the wonderfully named William S. Brewbaker III, moved me because it was the first genuinely Christian thing I’ve heard an evangelical say about the Roy Moore scandal. It did more than renounce the tribalism that has led so many alleged Christians to back Moore; it presented Christianity, properly understood, as the core alternative to tribalism, as one way out of tribalism’s dead end. Brewbaker’s critical and deeply evangelical point:  

This is not just an evangelical truth. It is deeply embedded in all of Christianity. No party, no cause, no struggle, however worthy, is ever free from evil. No earthly cause is entirely good. And to believe with absolute certainty that you are on “the right side of history,” or on the right side of a battle between “good and evil,” is a dangerous and seductive form of idolatry. It flatters yourself. And it will lead you inevitably to lose your moral bearings because soon, you will find yourself doing and justifying things that are evil solely because they advance the cause of the “good.” These compromises can start as minor and forgivable trade-offs; but they compound over time. In the Catholic church, the conviction that the institution could do no wrong, that its reputation must endure because it represented the right side in the struggle against evil … led to the mass rape of children and teens.

The Abrahamic Tradition is defined by ‘tribalism’ of Judaism, Islam and the ‘tribalism’ of the Saved of Christianity. The last paragraph, of this part of his weekly column, demonstrates his obsession with the falleness of the human person, as codified in Christian Dogma.

There is a moment here. No party is immune from evil; no tribe has a monopoly of good. If these bipartisan sex-abuse revelations can begin to undermine the tribalism that so poisons our public life, to reveal that beneath the tribes, we are all flawed and human, they may not only be a long-overdue turning point for women. They may be a watershed for all of us.

Can the reader even imagine the total absence of cognitive dissonance, in the moral/political evaluations of a Christian,  whose unslakable war mongering, whose allegiance to the ethical/political/economic vacuity of the collapsed Neo-Liberal Dogmas, to the perpetual demonizing of the Left, and a moral/intellectual fealty to that monument to Conservative Sociology of the notorious ‘Bell Curve’?

Queer Atheist


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On the Midwives of Trump, episode DCCLVII: @BretStephensNYT on ‘beware every form of illiberalism’ . Committed Observer comments

Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.

Perry Anderson


In reading Mr. Bret Stephens latest polemic titled ‘Steve Bannon Is Bad for the Jews’ – the reader has to marvel at Stephens’ basic intellectual/moral dishonesty! Mr. Stephens parents are secular Jews, he is a Neo-Conservative and former editor for the Jerusalem Post, one of the propaganda arms of the government of Israel.
The ‘as if’ of  his latest column on The Zionist Organization of America inviting and listening to Steve Bannon. That Mr. Stephens as thinker/writer/propagandist, is somehow an ‘objective observer’ of the political present, and the exercise of a reprehensible political conformism of a group of Zionists toward an identifiable enemy of respectable bourgeois politics: this exercise in public shaming of what Mr. Stephens considers an ally, in defense of the Zionist Project is about maintaining both political and ideological conformity.
A rapprochement between Zionists, Bannon and his Aryan fellow traveler Milo Yiannopoulos or even Richard Spencer is not simply a mistake but potentially catastrophic, yet Stephens misses the very central notion of politics making strange bedfellows. What Stephens calls for is a political pragmatism: the care and maintenance of ‘mainstream political support’ for Israel.
If Israel is going to retain mainstream political support, it cannot allow itself to become the pet cause of right-wing bigots and conspiracy theorists. That requires putting serious distance between Bannon and every pro-Israel organization, to say nothing of the Israeli government itself, by refusing to provide a platform for him and his ilk. Personal and national reputations alike always depend on the company one keeps. Not every would-be supporter deserves consideration as a friend.
The rise of Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett of The Jewish Home,  Avigdor Lieberman of  Yisrael Beiteinu. For more information on Mr. Lieberman and his evolution/shifting political positions,or call it by its name political opportunism, see this Wikipedia entry:
These politicians, and the violent, indeed murderous Settler Movement, prove rather conclusively, that Israel and its politicians are destroying that ‘mainstream political support’ without any help from The Zionist Organization of America !
Mr. Stephens then lapses into a paragraph long admonition about both Anti-Semitism and the clear and present danger of  ‘every form of illiberalism’ ! The reader has to pause for a moment, and consider that Neo-Conservatism, from its philosophical foundations  in Leo Strauss’ mendacious re-reading of the Western Philosophical Tradition. To the narcissistic ravings of Allan Bloom, in his The Closing of the American Mind, to Samuel P. Huntington’s ‘The Clash of Civilizations’ that brought the paranoia of ‘The Other’ to the status of an American political revelation. The Project for a New American Century found its realization in Bush The Younger’s  ‘War on Terror’ that is our 30 Years War. The vaunted ‘repair of the world’ is the maladroit cover for the utterly nihilistic fraud of Neo-Conservatism.  Mr. Stephens styles himself as the elusive ‘voice of reason’  if not the  modern day prophet of a five thousand year old tradition, that politicized itself into Zionism. Political Judaism and Political Islam have one of many commonalities, the use of violence to achieve its ends, the very definition of  illiberalism!
Anti-Semitism is both the socialism of fools and the conservatism of creeps. If the past century holds a lesson for Jews, it’s to beware every form of illiberalism, including the illiberalism of those who purport to be on our side. Repair of the world may not be the central teaching of Judaism. But it’s always wise to stay far from those who wish to tear it asunder.
Committed Observer
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The Midwives of Trump episode DCCLVI: @BretStephensNYT grim diagnoses of America’s political present. Publius comments

Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.




The reader of Mr. Stephen’s latest essay is framed by a grim diagnosis of America’s political present.  Its rhetorical centerpiece is the use of the royal ‘we’.

We are also living through another era of democratic self-doubt. Low growth became the new normal for the better part of a decade. We fight wars we don’t know how to win and rue the consequences of action (Iraq) and inaction (Syria) alike. We inhabit a culture we despise and see no way of improving. Congress is paralyzed. The parties are broken. The president is a dolt.

Are ‘we’ living through an era of ‘democratic self-doubt’? or rather through an age of the complete corruption, of the two political parties that control that democratic process and its practice? The Republicans and New Democrats are defined by political opportunism, not to speak of kowtowing to the imperatives of the National Security State as sacrosanct!

Is the ‘low growth’ just the consequence of the codified, but utterly collapsed Neo-Liberal dogmas, that have dominated the politics/economics of the ‘West’ since the age of Thatcher/Reagan?

We fight wars we don’t know how to win and rue the consequences of action (Iraq) and inaction (Syria) alike. Should the reader look to the Neo-Conservative cabal, Mr. Stephens being one of its most vocal bellicose partisans , for the root cause of the wars we don’t know how to win? ‘The Clash of Civilizations’ of Samuel P. Huntington is the Neo-Conservative’s touchstone , that transmogrified itself into the ‘War on Terror‘ of Bush the Younger.

Do ‘we’ live in a culture we despise? Mr. Stephens,  like his brethren who share the notion that we live in a condition of perpetual decadence, of our politics and an utterly absent morality. Mr. Stephens attacks the Liberal Despisers of his fundamentalism, both pseudo-religious and political, that is Neo-Conservatism. Leo Strauss mendacious attempt to re-write the history of ‘Western Philosophy’ provided the template for the Neo-Conservatives to proclaim their political/ethical exceptionalism as transformative. They are the prophets without honor, in their own time, whose vision will be redeemed in the future. This is a pseudo-religious vision! 

Is Congress paralyzed?  If the reader looks at the historical record of Republican obstructionism, or better yet, call it by its real name nihilism, from Clinton vs. Gingrich to McConnell/Ryan vs. Obama, the political picture is very clear! The Republican Party went from being in the thrall of the Know-Nothings, the Tea Party, to Trump and Trumpism of the present, at lightening political speed. While the New Democrats repudiated the New Deal, and became Neo-Liberal with Bill Clinton, and have yet to see that the way forward is a New Deal re-imagined, re-written for the 21st Century!

Is the President a ‘dolt‘?  Mr. Stephens and his fellow travelers, across the political spectrum, must abase themselves by donning figurative sack cloth and ashes, as their penance for their political bankruptcy. As that will never happen, the reality of the continuous denial of responsibility for Trump and Trumpism is,  and will remain, the Party Line of Mr. Stephens and his coterie of opinion makers.

I have focused my attention on this paragraph of  Mr. Stephens latest essay, as it is foundational to the whole of his self-congratulatory exercise, in his role as  political prophet. The Age of the Strong Man  provides the backdrop for this episode of The Midwives of Trump: hysteria mongering is an American Tradition, dating from the Salem Witch Trials, and William Stoughton’s admittance of Spectral Evidence as proof of guilt!






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Andy Divine on the 2017 Virginia election: Myra Breckenridge comments

Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.

Perry Anderson



Andy Divine is America’s favorite ‘Drama Queen’ and nothing proves his status than his recent comments on the 2017 Virginia Election. I’ve selected just the opening paragraphs of his column of Friday November 10, 2017 from the pages of New York Magazine. Be prepared for Andy at his most hyperbolic, when it come to manufactured melodrama he can’t resist its temptations.

I was wrong! Thank God Almighty, I was wrong!

You probably felt the same thing I did last Tuesday night: a euphoric whiplash as deepening dread turned suddenly into a wave of intense relief in the off-year results from Virginia. I’m still riding it. I hope you are too. Almost every surprise since last November has been a soul-crushing one. I feared yet another one. But Tuesday night’s string of decisive victories by Democrats dispelled the gloom and was the first time since Trump’s election that hope appeared a little more realistic than despair. So let’s take a moment to soak it in.

But I do owe you an account of why and how I misjudged this one, and failed to see the glimmer of dawn on the horizon. I didn’t predict anything. But I feared Northam might fall short — and what that would portend. I’ll stick by much of my analysis. I don’t think anyone suddenly believes that Ralph Northam, now governor-elect of Virginia, ran a great campaign. He didn’t. Nor is anyone reevaluating him as a charismatic, inspirational figure. He is who he is — a regular, normal candidate, with a mushy message. The good news is that he won convincingly anyway.


There is so much more of Andy on this crucial election, a winning combination of self-criticism, about what he missed, and hosannas for the victory, while not being impressed by candidate Northam: ‘a regular, normal candidate, with a mushy message.’

Andy then comments on the Pope’s admonitions to the faithful on ‘cell phones’ ,  and his own comments on those who wished to capture sunsets on their phones. The human desire to capture important, indeed, beautiful moments in their lives escapes the attention of both the Pope and Andy: each moralizing scolds!

Not to forget Andy, making concrete in the minds of his readership, his status as a New Cold Warrior, commenting on: Professor Joseph Mifsud, the Kremlin-affiliated academic who met with Papadopoulos in London, cannot now be found.

Gore Vidal once opined that Time Magazine was the chronicler of the fictional lives of real people, in the age of Luce. Andy proves beyond doubt that he too specializes in this genre of ersatz journalism!

Myra Breckenridge



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