The Economist on the Basic Income: Nyet! A comment by Almost Marx

The victories of Syriza in Greece,of SNP in Scotland and Podemos in Spain has,perhaps, led the Oxbridgers at the Economist to do some preemptive thinking or just call it propagandizing, as the in order too of checkmating the ‘Left': that amorphous self-created creature, that haunts the thoughts and economic schemes of The Neo-Liberal Thought Collective, or just call them the Neo-Hayekians for short! I will admit to ignorance of the British political context that could have given rise to this essay. But the muted political hysteria of the Economist’s writers, as advocates and apologists for the utterly failed Neo-Liberal Project, can’t ever be underestimated!

The walk-ons are of interest: Thomas Payne in the guise of his pamphlet Agrarian Justice gets what might be called a dismissive hearing. Then James Meade takes the stage for more of the same, except that his argument about the decline of employment in the computer age rings more than true: economic reality entered by the back door of that posh London office?

Then Free Market Demi-God Milton Friedman, as nod to the dubious thinking on the Right, enters stage right. Succeeded by an interlude of cold hard facts and figures: Economic Science forgets it’s origins, as the companion volume to The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and it’s beginnings as Political Economy. Perhaps discarded as a sign that science trumps morality/ethics?   After all this, and more, the conclusion is that The Basic Income is unworkable. Don’t call it Economic Strum und Drang, although it shares something like the Romantic sensibility’s faith in it’s intuitions, the Economist writers just gussied it up as Science.

Almost Marx   

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Christopher Clark diagnosis Russian paranoia, a comment by Political Observer

The New Cold War is in full swing, so the academically qualified apologists for this re-engineered recrudescence  will come forward, as members in good standing of the National Security States of the E.U. to quietly supply ‘reasons’. And to effect a bit of Russia bashing, in the process of fueling The New Cold War, as a perfectly legitimate response to Russia’s self-serving historical blindness and recalcitrance.  Ignoring this from IISS on Obama’s discarding of the Bush missile shield from 2009:–Global-Politics-and-Strategy-December-2009-January-2010/51-6-02-Fitzpatrick/51-6-02-Fitzpatrick.pdf
Or this excerpt from Wikipedia:
‘EIS was cancelled in 2009 and subsequently replaced with a phased plan—the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which will include SM-3 Block IIA interceptors to be positioned in Poland from 2018.’
Or this from the BBC:

Titled: Q&A on Missile Defence
All of this is very confusing , yet we can discern a pattern of a more technically sophisticated strategy of encirclement or at the least something that functions in it’s stead.
But we do as readers have the Ukrainian Coup as incontrovertible evidence of American/EU/NATO political provocation/meddling although there are stronger words for this subversion!
And then this:
With the title:
‘Pro-Russian Hackers Expose U.S. Military Contractor Activity in Ukraine
The hactivist group ‘CyberBerkut’ has been relentlessly leaking and stealing documents from the Ukranian government and military allies’
Or this revelatory essay at The New Republic:
‘ The new laws in Ukraine go further. Their aim is to impose a sharp break between present-day Ukraine and its entire Soviet past, now deemed criminal. As they foreground a questionable story of ethnic Ukrainians who throughout their history fought Russian domination, these initiatives also whitewash dark areas of the country’s past.’
Mr. Clark does a workman like job supplying ‘reasons’, yet one can fully understand the Russian position as a rational, reasonable response to US/EU/NATO aggression on the installment plan! Even with the evocative historical garnish Mr. Clark’s essays qualifies as propaganda!

Political Observer

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Jochen Hellbeck on Poroshenko, Law and Historical Memory

What is needed here is an exercise in honesty! Is or was Mr. Hellbeck a supporter of the Coup Government like BHL, Timothy Snyder and the his propaganda in the New York Review of Books, Anne Applebaum, Black Widow Victoria Nuland and her confederate Amb. Pyatt? Or R2P zealot Samantha Power? The list of rationalizers/apologists for the Coup, who fostered the notion of Freedom Fighters rather than Nazis, has eventuated in Poroshenko, as successor to ‘Yats’, and this law  governing ‘historical memory’ ! The keening and breast beating has begun with Mr. Hellbeck! The Coup another example of American/EU/NATO murderous political adventurism, that has a denouement in this ‘law’ that exposes the actuality of what President Obama, and his collection of Neo-Con/R2P harpies have wrought in the name of ‘Freedom’!

Just a reminder:

Ukraine: Thinking together

Kyiv, 15-19 May 2014

‘ Under the heading “Ukraine: Thinking together” an international group of intellectuals will gather in Kyiv to demonstrate solidarity, meet their Ukrainian counterparts, and carry out a broad public discussion about the meaning of Ukrainian pluralism for the future of Europe, Russia, and the world. The discussions, taking place from 15 to 19 May, will feature some of Europe’s, America’s, Russia’s and Ukraine’s most interesting opinion makers and intellectuals, including Bernard-Henri Lévy, Slavenka Drakulic, Timothy Snyder, Mustafa Nayem, Serhii Leshchenko, Agnieszka Holland, Adam Michnik, Serhii Zhadan, Ivan Krastev, Wolf Biermann, Karl Schlögel and Bernard Kouchner.’


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Philip Stephens of The Financial Times on the politics that will seal the fate of Greece, a comment by Almost Marx

Mr. Stephens in his essay at The Financial Times titled ‘How politics will seal the fate of Greece’ seeks to explore the ‘political’ dimension of the Greek conundrum. The question might be posed as to how successful Mr. Stephens is  in his examination of that political dimension? First one might just observe that at The Economist of May 9,2015 , the FT’s sister publication, an essay was published by the title of ‘The sorry saga of Syriza’ with a sub-headline that tells the whole of Economist’s story: ‘In its first hundred days Greece’s government has dismally failed. A crunch looms’. Now in this essay there is some necessary scene setting at the Philhellenism exhibition at the B. & M. Theocharakis Foundation in Athens, with an all important mournful quote from Dimitra Varkarakis about the sad  state of Greek/German relations that has implications for the whole of Europe. Those Oxbridgers are nothing if not steeped in the  classics as re-imagined by generations of British Dons. The anonymous author takes the name of Charlemagne , the blog’s title. In the essay Charlemagne charges that Syriza’s  leadership are Coffee House Marxists who are incompetent governors and are wearing ideological blinkers . The concluding paragraph , awash in political melodrama, is worth quoting in full:

In almost every way, Syriza has brought the opposite of what it promised. It vowed an end to depression in Greece. Instead, growth has slumped. It pledged to end austerity politics in Europe, but has done more to embolden its advocates than any German could have hoped. It promised to jettison the bad habits of old parties, and seems instead to have acquired them. Back at the Athens museum, perusing a catalogue of his Philhellenic collection, Mr Varkarakis is downbeat. “Two hundred years ago, everyone loved Greece,” he says. “Now…” His voice trails off.

What then Of Mr. Stephens politics ‘that will seal the fate of Greece’? The sub-headline answers that question, cannily embedded in New Cold War rhetoric: ‘Can Europe really allow Athens to fall into the arms of Moscow?’ Mr. Stephens contribution to the Greek Conundrum is to call Syriza leadership ‘ bungling amateurs’, ‘ preening’, ‘pirouetting’,  ‘undergraduate Marxists’, and even hints at narcissism. Yet Mr. Stephens reserves his withering contempt for the ‘real hardliners’ in Madrid, Lisbon and Dublin, forgetting the triumph of SNP in the British elections.  SNP surely qualifies as ‘hardliners’ and ‘populist’,  and just as subversive of the E.U. and by implication the IMF and it’s prescription of Austerity.  The Neo-Liberalism that has ruled the politics of the West since the rise of  Thatcher and Reagan is now under serious threat, from the ‘hardliners’ and ‘populists’, not to speak of social democratic intellectuals like Piketty, Stiglitz and Krugman or the power of Occupy Wall Street that utterly changed the economic conversation.

Almost Marx

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The Economist on ‘America’s Division on Foreign Trade’ and other fictions: a comment by Political Observer

A ‘Trade Deal’ that is a complete secret, it is a classified document and the only things we know about it are from leaks. But we do know that it’s known provisions surrender our ability to call ourselves a democracy,a nation of laws, that we make to govern ourselves. That we should sacrifice our sovereignty for an unknown, that is supposed to give us some trade advantage, in theory, is too much. If the president is interested in a true debate then let him publish the agreement, so we as citizens may review all of it’s provisions and have a debate about the consequences of a yes or a no vote. It’s really very simple, does the president have a demonstrable faith in our democracy or not?
The Economist gives the game away with the headline ‘Toying with a poorer world’ and it’s sub headline, ‘A Democratic revolt exposes a party deeply divided by foreign trade’, not speak of the opening paragraph:

A SEEMINGLY arcane dispute about how to strengthen America’s hand in foreign trade talks—which for 24 hours this week saw Senate Democrats block debate on a negotiating tool sought by Barack Obama—has exposed just how deeply the Democratic Party is divided by global commerce, and whether it is a threat or an opportunity for American workers.

The Congress is not divided about ‘global commerce’ but about secrecy, where transparency and plain speaking is demanded,nothing that could be called ‘seemingly arcane’, but can rightly be called un-reflective political conformity in the name of ‘Trade’! The rest of the essay is larded with the usual Economist ‘Left Wing’ obsession: Senator Warren is a New Deal Democrat! The opposition to this ‘trade deal’ crosses Party lines because Americans have a deep animus toward what looks like, what is, a complete surrender of our deeply held belief and practice of free and open debate to Presidential claims.
Political Observer

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The Economist on Syriza’s first hundred days, or the war on the Coffee House Marxists, a comment by Democratic Socialist

Peter Shrank’s cartoon sets the tone for the whole of this scalding polemical essay titled ‘The sorry saga of Syriza’ on the first hundred days of Syriza, by my almost favorite Oxbridgers. But,Tony Blair, Capitalist Dynamo, wins hands down! Mr. Shrank pictures prime minister Alexis Tsipras as Achilles awkwardly shooting himself in the foot with a bow and arrow: call it a tortured visual metaphor and a perfect partner to the essay that casts the current Greek government in the role of Coffee House Marxists i.e. naive, even incompetent political arrivistes. Yet doesn’t one hundred days in power seem like what it is, a premature occasion for a postmortem, or to engage in plain speaking, ideological warfare. As  Syriza is the Left Wing Devil of the moment, for The Economist and her sister publication The Financial Times. For confirmation of my statement, see this news story by Kerin Hope titled ‘Syriza rebels call for ‘rupture’ with Greece’s creditors’, this ‘news story’ resorts to a full blown hysteria mongering, unlike the more cautious, even the almost deliberative writers at The Economist.

Notice how this essay is framed by classical allusions, first the crude political cartoon of Mr. Schrank ,quoting from the Iliad, and then the mention of the “Philhellenism” exhibit at B. & M. Theocharakis Foundation in Athens. A mournful quotation from Dimitra Varkarakis, who with her husband owns the articles on exhibit, doesn’t raise any kind of doubt in the readers mind, as to Mrs. Varkarakis’ political sympathies? Syriza won a 36.6% share of the vote. One might just conjecture that the owners of an art collection weren’t voting for Syriza!

Democratic Socialist

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Edward Luce reviews two books on Foreign Policy, at the Financial Times, and evaluates President Obama’s ‘retrenchment overseas’ and ‘domestic renewal’

In his essay, titled The pivot to America,  in the form of a review of two books: The Obama Doctrine: America’s Grand Strategy Today by Colin Dueck and Super Power: Three Choices for  America’s Role in the World by Ian Bremmer, Mr. Luce departs from his usual procedure of using Republican rhetoric that he has moderated/reshaped for the respectable bourgeois readers of the F.T.  Dueck is an assistant professor at George Mason University and so his audience  is mostly academic, while Bremmer is a peddler of his expertise as president of the Eurasia Group a ‘global risk consultancy’. To take the measure of Mr. Bremmer’s book Luce offers these thumb-nailed choices: Independent America, Moneyball America and Indispensable American.This sort of commentary has it’s place on ESPN.Perhaps that is the audience Mr. Bremmer is courting? Good public relations is the key to sales success!

Luce posits that  a ‘retrenchment overseas’ has gone too far, as Obama has focused on ‘domestic renewal’. No empirical evidence for these two assertion is offered, as they are an even more subtle instance of Mr. Luce’s penchant for Republican/Neo-Conservative re-framing. As observers of the as yet to be congressionally approved war on ISIS , of the Drone Program and the political adventurism of the Ukrainian Coup and the the birth of The New Cold War, with Putin as the New Stalin, not to speak of the classified TPP treaty, this idea of ‘retrenchment overseas’ looks dubious. Perhaps Mr. Luce and his sub rosa allies, the Republicans, will not be satisfied until a war with Iran is a fact, rather than a devout wish!

Of ‘domestic renewal’ I see no evidence! President Obama has ruled as a moderate conservative: the exercise of a timid Neo-Liberalism, in answer to the more robust iterations as exercised by Clinton and Bush II ,and the watershed of that sixteen year reign of the Free Market, in the market collapse of 2008, and the faltering ‘recovery’ as a fact of the last eight years. What ever happened to that article of faith, the self-regulating Market?

What remains absent from the Luce essay is any mention of the president’s favorite ‘philosopher’ Reinhold Niebuhr and his Christian Realism, or the cautionary tale of Obama’s first term, Gordon M. Goldstein’s Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to the War in Vietnam. A ‘philosopher’ and a book are more meaningful that the two books under review, that may offer some insights into Obama. But the question remains what animates Obama in policy terms?  Mr. Luce, true to form, only offers Foreign Policy Chatter.

Political Observer



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