May vs. Macron: Janan Ganesh provides the color commentary. Old Socialist observes the ‘contest’!

The Financial Times and its hirelings are politically smitten with Neo-Liberal Golden Boy Emmanuel Macron. In his essay of January 15, 2018, Mr. Ganesh reveals the central Macron conceit:

Before he became president of France, he identified a hole in his nation’s public life. “This absence is the figure of the king,” he said, “whom I don’t think fundamentally the French people wanted to kill.” The theory, not new in France, might explain the country’s periodic thrall to exceptional, almost monarchical leaders. François Mitterrand is the most recent in a gallery that includes Charles de Gaulle and Napoleon.


Call Macron M. 37% after the spoiled, and other uncountable ballots that ushered in the Jupertarian, read authoritarian, politics of Macron. Mr. Ganesh has more pressing business, in sum: ‘…Britain succumbs to relative drift.’ Mr. Ganesh can’t resist the ‘temptation’ of engaging in a public shaming of Mrs. May. Now this couldn’t be rooted in misogyny as Ganesh worships at the Thatcher shrine?

But the regular reader of his essays knows that he would prefer Tory bully-boy and political master-mind Cameron, or the rapacious opportunist Blair.

Yet Mr. Ganesh engages in dishonesty when he describes Macron’s politics as: Mr Macron has started to liberalise France’s labour regulations and reduce the state’s holdings in major companies. Substitute the actuality of neo-liberalise for the notion of liberalise! In the ‘West’ corporations have enjoyed state subsidies and regulation since the post 29 Crash, this did not end with the rise of Thatcher/Reagan. But this fact is superfluous to the Ganesh attack on May, who ‘ showed a stern face to international business.’

Macon’s position as presented by Ganesh: More than this, he plainly hates the idea of France as the passive subject of continental events. Or more likely tired of being just one more cheerleader for NATO, as check on ‘Russian Revanchism’?  the American Hegemon?

Not to forget, ‘The old liberal-left awe of France as a place that “just does things better”…’   At At The Financial Times, Left hysterics are never out of place!

In conclusion Mr. Ganesh presents France in its potentiality under Macron and Britain as confused under the ‘leadership’ of May:

At times, it has been no country for young men (or women). But then that is why it took a chance on the president who is bringing his regal certainties to Britain, which appears much less sure where to go and who is to lead it there


Here is a link to a New York Times report on Macron’s recent speech in Calais on the refugee crisis.

This crisis made by America’s continuing, never ending ‘War on Terror’ and its ever expanding theaters. Macron’s Jupertarian Politics with its highfalutin rhetoric, mounting broken promises, and unapologetic authoritarianism, will collapse in the disgust of the French electorate. And this obvious fraudulence, and it root in Macron’s hubris.


Old Socialist


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On the intellectual dishonesty of David Brooks. Almost Marx comments

Just the first paragraph of Mr. Brooks January 11, 2018 essay exemplifies his methodology:

Everybody agrees society is in a bad way, but what exactly is the main cause of the badness? Some people emphasize economic issues: The simultaneous concentration of wealth at the top and the stagnation in the middle has delegitimized the system. People like me emphasize cultural issues. If you have 60 years of radical individualism and ruthless meritocracy, you’re going to end up with a society that is atomized, distrustful and divided.

Everybody agrees society is in a bad way,… Who and where is the ‘everybody’ he speaks of? That ‘everybody’  is Mr. Brooks’ self-projection.

Then he searches for the main cause of this ‘bad way‘. ‘Some people emphasize economic issues:’ . Mr. Brooks was a enthusiastic advocate/apologist for the Neo-Liberal dispensation, who lacks the honesty to admit the catastrophic consequences of his long held position.

He provides something resembling the historically verifiable facts: ‘The simultaneous concentration of wealth at the top and the stagnation in the middle has delegitimized the system.’ Brooks repeats the winning  Occupy Wall Street description of our dismal political/economic present: The 1% vs 99%.

People like me emphasize cultural issues. In the face of the collapse of the Neo-Liberal Mirage and its successor Austerity , Mr. Brooks experiences a ‘turn’- the imperative here is to construct a credible self-apologetic- in sum, he re-creates himself as a Political Moralist. As a form of denial of responsibility for the 2008 Depression that produced our dismal present.

Mr. Brooks, then,  provides a ‘Conservative’ diagnosis of the problem we face:  If you have 60 years of radical individualism and ruthless meritocracy, you’re going to end up with a society that is atomized, distrustful and divided. The frame for Mr. Brooks’ essay expands to include ‘ 60 years of radical individualism’ : where does the old American catch phrase ‘rugged individualism‘ stand in relation to ‘radical individualism’ ?  So enters the rootless nihilist ‘Left’ into the argument, as part of the phantom that again metastasizes to embrace the ‘ruthless meritocracy’. Please note that Mr. Brooks became the protege of Wm. F. Buckley Jr.! What more proof does the reader need, to come to the realization,  that our writer was a beneficiary of that very system?  Perhaps he is wagering that some of his readers are unaware of his personal history?

Mr. Brooks then dons the garb of the ‘Committed Sociologists’ : ‘…  you’re going to end up with a society that is atomized, distrustful and divided.’ Living in an economy that has yet to experience one of the central tenets of the Neo-Liberal Mythology, the ‘revelation’ of The Self-correcting Market, a political class composed of  a Republican Party dominated by a pervasive Plantation Mentality, by New Democrats, who have abandoned The New Deal Legacy, for the advocacy/defense of a rabid Corporatism. And both Parties in the thrall of the imperatives of the National Security State and its War on Terror. And a domestic scene dominated by Police murders left unpunished i.e. that War on Terror has its  domestic corollary.

Mr. Brooks takes the title of his essay from Jean Francoise Revel’s Cold War potboiler of the same name. Published in America in 1983. Read Fritz Stern’s 1985 capsule review at Foreign Affairs:

A bitter indictment of Western democracies, especially Europe’s, for failing to understand and to counter Soviet expansionism. Revel, a well-known journalist and analyst of the totalitarian temptation, believes that both systems, Soviet communism and Western democracy, are probably doomed: “but [the Soviet] corpse . . . can drag us with it into the grave.” According to Revel, the Soviets have the will to dominate the world, will use every instrument at their command and, in addition, can count on Western complicity or acquiescence. He doubts that democracy can defend itself-a pernicious sentiment, proven neither by the historical record nor by close analysis. There is much to ponder in this book about the Soviets and our difficulties in countering them, but apodictic statements about the self-destroying passions of the West seem overdone. In the Reagan-Thatcher-Kohl era it seems odd to conclude: “Unlike the Western leadership, which is tormented by remorse and a sense of guilt, Soviet leaders’ consciences are perfectly clear, which allows them to use brute force with utter serenity both to preserve their power at home and to extend it abroad.”

For so pessimistic a theme, the book is remarkably sprightly, a premature, sardonic obituary. Facile, alarming, probably symptomatic, the book should provoke readers to look for other works that help to clarify what Revel rightly diagnoses as the central problem of the next decades: Will Western democracies survive, will they escape war and servitude?

Or this part of a review of Mr. Revel’s Democracy Against Itself The Future of the Democratic Impulse by Michiko Kakutani from 1993:

In his last book, “How Democracies Perish” (1984), the French political analyst Jean-Francois Revel wrote, “Democracy may, after all, turn out to have been a historical accident, a brief parenthesis that is closing before our eyes.” Of Communism and the Soviet empire, he wrote: “None of the classic concepts that make the past intelligible explains Communist imperialism. It does not follow the bell-shaped expansionist curve of previous empires. Yet the democracies persist in believing it will decline of itself and inevitably grow more moderate. The longer Soviet Communism lasts, the more expansionist it becomes and the more difficult it is to control.”

Since that book appeared, of course, the Soviet Union has dissolved, the Berlin wall has fallen and the cold war seems to have come to a screeching halt. What does Mr. Revel make of these developments? In his new book, “Democracy Against Itself,” he does an about-face and asserts: “Democracy is not only conceivable, it is inevitable. It has been indispensable, but until now it was not inevitable.”

In another chapter, Mr. Revel praises Francis Fukuyama, the author of “The End of History and the Last Man,” writing that “the whole world is aware by now of the superiority of liberal democracy as a political and social system,” an observation that must surely come as a surprise, say, to the rulers of Cuba or Iraq.

The commonalities between Revel and Brooks are perhaps not fully established , but the reader is confronted with a strong ideological resonance! The ‘review’ that Mr. Brooks offers of Mr. Daneen’s book is both a vulgarization and trivialization of the practice.  In sum it is a provocation, that expresses a carefully laundered  form of Neo-Conservative Declinism, its penultimate thought, expressed as kitsch, masquerading as telling insight:

Right now, there are community healers in towns and cities concretely living out the liberal democratic vision of the good life — deeply embedded in their communities, surrendered to their ideals, reaching out to other communities, growing in their freedom.


Almost Marx

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Our Man from Opus Dei considers the vexing question of ‘Life After Liberalism’: Old Socialist ponders!

Mr. Douthat like David Brooks seem infatuated, for the political moment, by Patrick Deneen’s ‘Why Liberalism Failed‘. But Douthat introduces his latest essay with Steve Bannon, who manages to cultivate the look of a man just off a week long bender. Mr. Bannon’s politics are just as slovenly and as misbegotten as his appearance would indicate.

Mr. Daneen’s book offers Douthat the opportunity to write another column, that resembles something like intellectual engagement, when in fact he shares the provincialism and ideological myopia of his fellow ‘Conservative’ David Brooks. How so? The fact that in both America and Britain what has replaced ‘Liberalism’ is Neo-Liberalism. The New Democrats and New Labour capitulated to the Mt. Pelerin poison of ‘Free Markets’ that was a betrayal of the Republican Tradition, that produced the ‘Liberalism’ whose death Daneen’s book pronounces. And that Douthat makes the center of an essay that will soon be ‘yesterday’s news’.

An extended excerpt from the Douthat ‘dissent’ on Daneen’s autopsy report:

But Deneen comes as a Jeremiah to announce that Tocqueville’s fear that liberalism would eventually dissolve all these inheritances, leaving only a selfish individualism and soft bureaucratic despotism locked in a strange embrace, may now fully be upon us. Where it once delivered equality, liberalism now offers plutocracy; instead of liberty, appetitiveness regulated by a surveillance state; instead of true intellectual and religious freedom, growing conformity and mediocrity. It has reduced rich cultures to consumer products, smashed social and familial relations, and left us all the isolated and mutually suspicious inhabitants of an “anticulture” from which many genuine human goods have fled.

Deneen’s portrait is sometimes a caricature, but like any good one it captures important things about our situation. Still, one obvious response was offered last week by my colleague David Brooks, who argued that liberalism does not have an inevitable arc: It also has the capacity to regenerate itself, to support the goods Deneen cherishes and solve the problems he identifies.

But my own response to “Why Liberalism Failed” was disappointment that its author did not go further. At the end, having delivered his indictment, Deneen declines to envision any alternate political order; instead, he rejects ideology and urges a rededication to localism and community, from which some alternative political and economic order might gradually develop.

Yet if the liberal order is increasingly oppressive and destined to get worse, why would one expect such communities and experiments to flourish, rather than simply being plowed under by the same forces he decries? Surely if there is political life after liberalism, someone will need to step forward and do what the liberal philosophers did several centuries ago — invent the new order, describe the new ideals, urge the specific transformations that future leaders might achieve.

Alexis de Tocqueville is mentioned twice in the Douthat essay, and the portrait by Théodore Chassériau adds what is missing from the essay: the portrait of an actual thinker and writer, whose works have had what Douthat’s and Daneen’s will not have, withstanding the tests of time!

The ‘alternative order’ that Mr. Douthat scolds Mr. Daneen for not providing, might just be a return to the Republican Tradition, that was discarded in response to the rise of both Reagan and Thatcher. And the dead end of The Free Market Mythology, the Depression of 2008, its successor Austerity and the ‘as yet’ of The Self-Correcting Market?

Mr. Douthat essay ends with the return of the specter of Mr. Bannon:

…— well, then maybe the crisis of liberalism isn’t real, maybe people are just play-acting, as Steve Bannon turned out to be play-acting the 1930s, within a system too settled to really be moved except by inches.

In sum, radical nostalgia, political pessimism, cultural despair, its end point nihilism!

Old Socialist


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Edwin Heathcote: Pseudo-Hipster on Johnson’s AT&T building remodel. American Writer comments

Mr. Edwin Heathcote’s essay on the remodel of Johnson’s AT&T building opens with a  paragraph awash in popular cultural references: to some of the ‘Billboard Top 100’: The Bee Gees about to be de-throned by Chic’s “Le Freak”of 1979, and to Tom Wolf’s debut as a ‘novelist‘  Bonfire of the Vanities makes this reader nostalgic for the voice of Ada Louise Huxtable! Having read her The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered and Goodbye History, Hello Hamburger: An Anthology of Architectural Delights and Disasters ,as exemplary, indeed standard setting for architectural criticism: Mr. Heathcote’s penchant for expressions like ‘tricksy’, ‘PoMo‘ ‘aesthetic sin-bin‘- who was was he addressing, the regular reader of Rolling Stone of 1979? Who would have absolutely no interest in Johnson’s Post Modern Folly!

After all this pseudo-hipster chatter, he actually demonstrates that he is capable of providing some interesting even engaging reporting! The imperative for the reader: cultivate patience!

For a history of the Postmodernity, in its varied expressions, read Perry Anderson’s ‘The Origins of Postmodernity’:

American Writer



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The latest 3 Act Political Melodrama from Andy Divine: Old Socialist comments


I checked earlier on Friday morning to see if Andy Divine had yet posted his regular column at New York Magazine, it was 7 AM PST , which meant that it was 11 AM EST. Andy must be a late riser, and from the evidence of his  writing he does it last minute.

I thought of that 1944 movie ‘Laura’ ‘The screenplay by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein and Betty Reinhardt,  based on the 1943 novel Laura by Vera Caspary.’* Produced and Directed by Otto Preminger: he made one good movie! In one rather bizarre scene Dana Andrews, playing detective Mark McPherson,  interviews  Clifton Webb, playing the part of a Hollywood Queer Stereotype Waldo Lydecker, while he is propped up in a bathtub typing his latest column, surrounded by what can only be described as Roman bath-house kitsch. So much for my little reverie about Andy’s morning ritual

Andy opens his usual Three Act Melodrama :

Act One: It’s Time to Resist the Excesses of #MeToo.

Now the fact that Andy is afflicted with a perpetual case of misogyny, allied to a penchant for publicly shaming those who don’t meet his exacting standards of civic comportment, is realized in verbose and jejune detail.

After the avalanche of words festooned by insider, and not so insider chatter, about the excesses of #MeToo , in its many iterations: the reader reaches the political mainspring of the Andy Divine screeching.

This strikes me as a new development for the social-justice left: They now believe in suppressing free speech — even before they know its content!

Not deterred by anything like the practice of brevity, or that he has just tipped his hand of  low numbered cards, Andy continues to chatter. McCarthyism even gets a mention. Andy Divine, like J. Edgar Hoover, finds ‘The Reds’ are everywhere and in plain sight!  This act ends in this lush effusion of self -congratulation:

In this nihilist moment when Bannonites and left-feminists want simply to burn it all down, it’s especially vital to keep a fire brigade in good order.

Act Two: The Trump Boom

In this act Andy Divine demonstrates that he is still a Neo-Liberal Dunce.

This 2015 report by CBS News’ MoneyWatch can’t be that out of date, even in the face of the Walmart ‘pay raise’.

Headline: How low-wage employers cost taxpayers $153B a year

Last Updated Apr 13, 2015 6:20 PM EDT

Here’s a stark number for understanding how low-wage employers are relying on the kindness of taxpayers: $153 billion.That’s the annual bill that state and federal governments are footing for working families making poverty-level wages at big corporations such as Walmart (WMT) and McDonald’s (MCD), according to a new study from the University of California Berkeley Labor Center. Because these workers are paid so little, they are increasingly turning to government aid programs such as food stamps to keep them from dire poverty, the study found.

While McDonald’s has vowed to raise wages and Walmart is just this month boosting pay for many workers, that’s come after intense political pressure from advocacy groups such as the Fight for $15, which is urging legislation and private-sector change to push the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. While the cost of living has continued to rise, the baseline hourly rate has remained at $7.25 since 2009. At the same time, the post-recession years have created more low-wage jobs than higher-paid ones, adding 1.85 million more Americans to the ranks of poorly paid workers.

“When companies pay too little for workers to provide for their families, workers rely on public assistance programs to meet their basic needs,” Ken Jacobs, chair of the labor center and co-author of the new report, said in a statement. “This creates significant cost to the states.”

This New Republic essay of January 9, 2018 seems to contradict Andy’s economic optimism, or more aptly call it a carefully cultivated self-serving  ignorance :

Headline: Amazon Is Thriving Thanks to Taxpayer Dollars

Sub-headline: The tech giant has received more than $1 billion in tax breaks. The government is also funding food stamps for many of its workers.

As Amazon builds up its distribution network, it’s hit on a trick long practiced by the likes of Walmart: using the federal government to help pay its workers. A new study by Policy Matters Ohio found that more than 700 Amazon employees receive food stamps, or more than 10 percent of the tech giant’s 6,000-strong workforce in the state. Some of those recipients may be part-time help, but the fact that they need federal aid to survive suggests that they would be happy to work more. “Why is this giant, successful company offering such limited pay and hours of work that many of its workers need help buying food?” asked Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters.

Amazon ranks nineteenth among Ohio businesses in number of employees on food stamps, behind Walmart, McDonald’s, and Kroger. But Amazon is only the fifty-third-largest employer in Ohio, suggesting a higher rate of employees on food stamps than its counterparts. More important, Amazon has obtained at least $123 million in state tax incentives to place warehouse and data center locations in Ohio. This reflects a perverse form of double-dipping: Amazon gets a bounty to create jobs in Ohio, and then a good chunk of the jobs are so low-paying that workers have to seek federal assistance, providing a second subsidy for the e-commerce giant.

Cities and states are offering Amazon eye-popping tax subsidies to win its second headquarters. But smaller, existing tax incentives have already made Amazon the leading recipient of so-called “economic development” subsidies in the country. According to Good Jobs First, a non-profit that tracks state tax breaks, since 2000 Amazon has received $1.115 billion in 129 communities in the U.S., rocketing past the previous leader in this category: Walmart.

Walmart and Amazon have the same Business Model: worker exploitation while taking government subsidies, in the form of state aid for workers, and tax breaks for locating their companies in their states and cities.

Act 3 : Israel’s Troubling Trajectory

The ‘Liberal Zionist’ is dead! And Andy’s hand-wringing  last act of his melodrama is, in sum, an inexcusable trivialization. The sordid, murderous history of European Colonialism, and its documents of Sykes-Picot that created the ‘Middle East’. And the Balfour Declaration, allied to the European/American guilt over the Holocaust has created a problem that cannot be solved. The Fascist State of Israel is a fact: it is the mirror of the Third Reich and its racial/ethnic/autochthonous obsessions, with its own Warsaw Ghetto, in the open air concentration camp of Gaza!

Headline : Arendt: Born in conflict, Israel will degenerate into Sparta, and American Jews will need to back away

Under such circumstances… the Palestinian Jews would degenerate into one of those small warrior tribes about whose possibilities and importance history has amply informed us since the days of Sparta. Their relations with world Jewry would become problematical, since their defense interests might clash at any moment with those of other countries where large number of Jews lived. Palestine Jewry would eventually separate itself from the larger body of world Jewry and in its isolation develop into an entirely new people. Thus it becomes plain that at this moment and under present circumstances a Jewish state can only be erected at the price of the Jewish homeland…

And on the question of festering racism in Israel, if Andy wasn’t so blind that someone on the dreaded ‘Left’ Max Bloomenthal has been covering this question since 2013:


Headline: Israel Cranks Up the PR Machine

Sub-headline: It’s deploying all its resources to fight the growing world movement against the occupation.

Given this information is it a surprise that Netanyahu will deport these ‘racial infiltrators’ ?

Andy Divine ends his three act melodrama with a trivialization that ignores a history wrapped up in violence, guilt and  a ‘solution’  that cannot be found. And that eludes the Technocrats who brought us the War on Terror ,that didn’t check, but simply placed  Israel’s chief protagonist, Iran, in position of regional dominance.  On the question of who upset the ‘nuclear balance of power’ in the region: Israel has between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons, and the means to use them against a non-nuclear Iran. No matter Netanyahu’s hysterics and his European and American allies supporting that lie, that is the ineluctable reality.

Old Socialist


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment on the ‘dead end ‘ of Nationalization. Almost Marx examines the Wolf prognosis

Do any of Mr. Wolf’s arguments surprise? Saint Maggie makes the obligatory appearance! Or his carefully chosen sources as demonstrative of the success of the profit run concerns that serve the public? Or the examples of the Soviets and China, as an amuse-bouche of Old Cold War hysteria!  In the watershed of the collapse of Neo-Liberalism, its successor Austerity and the present economic doldrums : celebrate its ‘gig-economy’ and a poverty rate in Britain: the headline and a brief quote from this BBC news story adds ‘depth’ to Mr. Wolf’s Capitalist Apologetics  :

‘Third of UK population ‘fell below the poverty line’

Almost a third of the UK population fell below the official poverty line at some point between 2010 and 2013, figures show.

Around 19.3 million people – 33% – were in poverty at least once, compared with 25% of people across the EU, the Office for National Statistics found.

But only 7.8% were defined as being in “persistent income poverty” in 2013 – less than half the 15.9% EU average.

Pensioners and single parent families were found to struggle the most.

The ONS records someone as being in poverty if they live in a household with disposable income below 60% of the national average, before housing costs.

Persistent poverty is defined as being in poverty in the current year and at least two of the three preceding years.

But ignore the crisis at home, and celebrate the rise of  Macri in Argentina, and the Jupertarian Politics of Golden Boy Macron, M. 37%,  laying waste to the French Socialist State. While sermonizing on the mortal danger of Utilities run not for profit but in the Public Interest.
But never fear! Mr. Wolf ends his near hysterical shopworn diatribe with this collection of Free Market cliches , speaking of ‘dead ends’!
It is not hard to see the totemic significance of nationalisation to the left. But if its aim is to improve the prosperity of ordinary people, Labour should, instead, seek to reform the structure and purposes of regulation. It should also reform government policy: for example, replacing climate-related regulations with a carbon tax. Forget nationalisation: it is a dead end.
Almost Marx

 Just noticed this essay by Julian Glover from the January 5, 2018 Financial Times:
(perhaps the inspiration for Mr. Wolf’s essay, given Mr. Glover’s obvious enthusiasm?) The reader just needs to look to this, as part of the evolution of the predictable Financial Times Party Line on Nationalization:

Headline: Britain’s railways need careful expansion, not nationalisation

Sub-headline: The system is not perfect, but nor is it in the crisis some would have us believe

Britain’s transport system faces many challenges. Its railways are not one of them. A sensible discussion of how to move people and freight would start with our lack of road capacity, turn to finance and the environment and conclude with the radical possibilities of technology.
In this conversation, rail would be marginal. Most people never use trains. Those who do, making just one in 10 of all journeys, benefit from a system that is in a better condition than ever, as the stunning steel and brick palace which has opened in place of the cramped old London Bridge station suggests. In May, the network will get its biggest timetable shake-up in decades, thanks to new routes and electrification in places such as Manchester and Scotland. Train travel is mostly quick, safe and reliable, which is why traffic has increased by 135 per cent since privatisation and 83 per cent of passengers are satisfied with their journeys.
Added January 12, 2018 8:15 AM PST
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@BretStephensNYT & profanity!

Can you imagine any of the other bourgeois respectable columnists at the Paper of Record , The  New York Times, using the word ‘asshole’ in any context?

Charles M. Blow, David Brooks, Frank Bruni, Roger Cohen, Gail Collins, Ross Douthat, Maureen Dowd, Thomas L. Friedman, Michelle Goldberg, Nicholas Kristof, Paul Krugman, David Leonhardt, Andrew Rosenthal

@BretStephensNYT  is the trailblazer!



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