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Just because Marx had an idea doesn't necessarily make that idea a Marxist idea. The observation that people will often hold onto their traditional folkways and culture and derive great support from them to a greater extent in times of economic stress than in times of plenty is one that other people had long before Marx came along, in one form or another, and one can come up with that observation without ever having read Marx. For example, Christian thinkers have long warned of the unique risks to one's faith that can be presented by wealth, as distinct from those that can be presented by poverty. I realize that example isn't exactly the same as the "Marxist" idea that is being discussed, but they have many of the same roots and presuppositions. Obama's comments were awkward and ham-handed, but they weren't evidence of a basically Marxist worldview, unless one is redefining "Marxist" in such a way as to make practically everything (and therefore nothing) Marxist.
The problem with Both Kaus' and Obama's perspective is that it assumes that everyone aspires to be a liberal, urban materialist. There really are people who don't turn to rifles and religion because their lives are empty and poor and in need of a government program, but because faith, freedom, and independence are cultural values which they treasure. "Getting ahead" doesn't have to mean driving a Volvo and shopping at Whole Foods. Mickey and Barack need to get out more.
What Micky Kaus left out is people who cling to guns and God would buy higher quality guns and give more to their churches if they were prosperous.
Liberal and Marxist are two separate designations with entirely different histories and outcomes. They are traditionally enemies of one another.They are increasingly lumped together as if they are the same thing.It's odd. Conservatives in this country are actually liberals. Progressives in this country are often Marxists.Liberals believe in freedom of speech.Marxists believe in political correctness.Liberals believe in free economies.Marxists believe in planned economies.Liberals want private properties.Marxists want to abolish private property.It's weird that this guy mixes the two together and can't seem to keep anything straight. He should read his Raymond Williams' book Keywords and try to tightenhis thinking cap.Otherwise his "thought" is just a mess.
Kirby: I agree whole heartedly as long as you use the adjective "classical" in front of liberal. Regretably, today's political spectrum labels arent particularly helpful until all definitional issues are agreed upon. EG: conservatism/libertarianism; liberal/progressive, and so forth.
mcg,And more of them. And then there's ammo--have you seen how much it's been going up? And I could use a much better spotting scope, and...
Kaus worries about the resemblance more than he needs to; the arguments aren't really the same. Obama would have us believe that guns and religion are a reaction to lack or worldly success, while to Kaus they're an impediment to prosperity-- and his argument immediately founders on the fact that, at least in the non-Amish part of Pennsylvania, they're not.
He may say it incredibly well, but he's flat-out wrong. "The Muslim world"? More money equals futherance of the global caliphate.
I can't take Mickey Kaus seriously when two paragraphs down he writes crap like this:That's another reason--an idiosyncratic one--why the UAW has been a disaster for the American auto industryThe UAW does not design the cars. They do not pick out the materials or finishes. They do not select the machines used on the assembly line. They did not design their jobs, nor did they allot how much time was needed to perform each operation. They do not select the parts and subassemblies. Management has been the disaster that hit the American auto industry; in forty years, their one bright decision was to market small trucks to American moms, to replace the family-sized cars that a whimsical Congress banned from the marketplace.
Liberals believe in free economies.My attitude towards a free economy is like my attitude towards Santa Claus and the Virgin Birth; I'll believe in one when I see it.
The thing that's bad about knowing more is knowing stuff that is wrong. Condescending is glorious extra then, making being in the opposition fun.
The UAW does not design the cars. They do not pick out the materials or finishes. They do not select the machines used on the assembly line.They just drive the price of everything they're involved in by magnitudes. They did not design their jobs, nor did they allot how much time was needed to perform each operation. They do not select the parts and subassemblies.Not true. The UAW does dictate where certain parts come from. They also dictate what jobs union members may do and HOW (to an insane degree) they may perform those jobs (The one that kills me the most are the damn Hollywood unions which, for example, require only a "greens keeper" to move plants on a set.)
I think Kirby just about nailed it. I'm more intrigued by Kaus' Noonan reference, where she suggests McCain should pledge himself to one-term.I enjoyed Noonan's speeches, I respect her intellectual Catholicism, but man, is that bad political advice.Back to the Vulgar Marxism theory. Some thoughts.It's not that Obama is Marxist, but those who are progressives in the modern day cannot help but to be influenced by Marxist thoughts on defining people.Marxist dialectial materialism places the onus on "truth", assigning it to science to prove.Science then tries to solve everything related to matter, positing once it has done so, it will solve all the mysteries of the universe (if I read my Marx/Engels right).In Obama's world, the material has nothing to do with atavistic quirks like self-defence/hunting, or religion. In an all-pervasive State, defense is not up to the individual, and religion is a backwards explanation for matter around you.The more I know Obama, the more scared I become.Senator Clinton is a political operative of the old kind -- dirty, but pragmatic. Not as big a thinker as she wants to be, or allows herself to be, until at least she reaches the highest office.But Senator Obama...his views cannot be hidden. They run really deep and moreover, he's unaware of how deep they are inside him.Cheers,Victoria
You may be right that progressives are often not Marxists, but I do see a lot of them having serious socialist leanings, and Marxism does provide some of the philosophical underpinnings of socialism. To some extent, it comes down to the difference between community rights and individual rights. How much of people's individual rights are you willing to sacrifice for the good of the community? (Of course, part of the counter argument is that individual rights lead to the community good). Also, there is in Marxism a sort of Utopian view of man, that he can be perfected, and that a perfect society can be developed, as long as man can be perfected. This is also seen in many, if not most, progressives. It is elitist, in that it assumes that if we just put smart enough people in charge of designing government programs, they can be made to work. I am obviously in the opposite camp, believing that any economic or political system based on the perfectibility of man or one group being so much smarter than the rest that they can design a government system that works despite the best attempts of the rest of us to the contrary, is/are doomed to failure.
The UAW does not design the cars. They do not pick out the materials or finishes. They do not select the machines used on the assembly line. They did not design their jobs, nor did they allot how much time was needed to perform each operation. They do not select the parts and subassemblies.Indirectly they do, because they raise labor and construction costs to substantially above where they would be in a free labor market. This means that Detroit can either (a) cut corners and use inferior materials, (b) lobby Congress to use tariffs to raise the cost of imports, or (c) go out of business.
They also dictate what jobs union members may do and HOW (to an insane degree) they may perform those jobs (The one that kills me the most are the damn Hollywood unions which, for example, require only a "greens keeper" to move plants on a set.)Somebody doesn't know the difference between the AFL and the CIO.
So FLS, if unions are such a great deal for businesses, why did the lefty organization ACORN try to stop its own employees from unionizing (ACORN is the organization that submitted fraudulent voter registrations in recent elections)?"On March 27, 2003 the Association ofCommunity Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) lost its final appeal of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling, which found that ACORN had violated the rights of its employees to unionize.From bringing suit against the state of California to exempt itself from the minimum wage, to using its national campaign for local wage mandates as a front to increase the membership of its union partners, ACORN consistently campaigns for laws that it refuses to follow in its own workplace.ACORN plays a prominent role in the American labor movement and local activism. In addition to its founder’s significant leadership roles in multiple national unions, ACORN helped to establish the United Labor Union (ULU), aiming to organize low-skill service employees who had not previouslybeen organized by established unions.Despite its ardent public support of higher wages and union membership for all workers, ACORN has made repeated attempts to block the unionization of its own workforce while paying below-minimumwage salaries to its employees.ACORN pays a wage of $5.67 per hour, less than half the level demanded by many proposed “living wage” ordinances that ACORN supports."I wonder why ACORN did that, since it is so good for businesses?
Everybody knows that the AFL was the cool football league with Joe Namath, Matt Snell, Lenny Dawson and Fred Biletnikoff and the CIO is the corporate weasel who issues the press releases where they lie about what just happened to the old dude on sixty minutes. Or am I in a time warp.
I thought the CIO was in charge of computers.Anyway, GM and Ford would like to fire every hourly worker and start over, as veteran workers cost them $78/hour in wages and benefits. It's hard to make cars with those costs. And yet somehow Honda and Toyota have figured out how to get Americans to make decent and affordable cars, so it appears there's plenty of blame for both management and labor.
I agree with Victoria and especially with Bruce.Utopian elitists who think they have it right are the scourge of the last century.Give me a meathead who knows that his shit stinks, and I'll vote for him every time over someone with pretty words and no understanding of the limits of human nature.
Mickey's dilemma is that he thinks the "economy trumps culture" standard (what he calls Vulgar Marxism) is fit only for the little people, but not for folks like himself. The little people are supposed to feed at the trough -- that's really all they are interested in or good at, according to the "economy trumps culture" standard -- and follow the lead of their betters who promise to keep the trough full. Of course, Mickey would not say that his own views and values are determined solely or even mainly by that "economy trumps culture" standard, or that his political preferences are determined by his personal financial interests or those of any particular segment of society. He's no simple trough-feeder; he's a sophisticated trough-filler. As such, he takes as his touchstone the Greater Good for All Mankind, rather than such relative trivia as his personal tax bracket, health insurance situation or employment prospects. Dems have been making that pitch for a long time.So, according to him, there is no escape from the fact that Dems holding that view are always in the unhappy position of condescending to the very voters they are trying to persuade -- we know what's good for you, and you would too if you could just use the standard that's fit for the trough-feeding simpletons of the world (but of course not quite right for us sophisticates). It's hardly surprising that the Dems find that to be a hard sell, and not just because people resent being condescended to. Most people just don't accept the equation that "economy trumps culture" and decline to make appeals to economics the end-all of political arguments. Oddly, the little people are rational beings capable of thoughts and feelings of their own. The economic impact of a candidate's proposals are plainly important, but they are no more the sole (or always the most important) determinant for the little people than they are for the Mickeys and Obamas of this world. It seems that there are some folks who haven't figured that out yet.
Mike Stivic: I hereby announce my candidacy for president of the United States....you better wait for a few minutes before you go in there, I just pinched off a loaf.(All in the Family, 1972)
"he's a sophisticated trough-filler"My God, if this were LGF, I'd suggest that as a revolving title.Awesome post, Richard.Kirby, I love your last paragraph. God spare me from the Woodrow Wilsons running for office.Cheers,Victoria
$78/hour in wages and benefitsInteresting. A friend of mine who works at a Toyota plant makes something very close to that--I mean, say, 75-80%, when you factor in bonuses and benefits. But it's hugely based on productivity. They can't fire people easily short of positive drug test, but they do reward the good producers heavily.
Kirby, I love your last paragraph. God spare me from the Woodrow Wilsons running for office.Yeah, and the George W. Bushes of the world, for that matter.
It's so puzzling to hear some of you say that Obama may not be Marxist hell-spawn, he just thinks like like one such. Reds under the bed! Reds under the bed! Aunt Ruby heard that one before she learned to bake her first pie. But it's that nice young Mr. Kaus who had it right. Apparently, it's OK to say that benighted types in the sandier places of the world will grow some sanity once they have money to buy more books, rent more movies, and generally get exposed (in a nice way) to all that the world has to offer. Make that same comment about people in my hometown, and we'll use you for hay-bales.
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