April 26, 2020

"So we have created a scenario which has mercifully slowed the virus’s spread, but, as we are now discovering, at the cost..."

"... of a potentially greater depression than in the 1930s, with no assurance of any progress yet visible. If we keep this up for six months, we could well keep the deaths relatively low and stable, but the economy would all but disintegrate. Just because Trump has argued that the cure could be worse than the disease doesn’t mean it isn’t potentially true. The previously unimaginable levels of unemployment and the massive debt-fueled outlays to lessen the blow simply cannot continue indefinitely. We have already, in just two months, wiped out all the job gains since the Great Recession. In six months? The wreckage boggles the mind. All of this is why, [on] some days, I can barely get out of bed. It is why protests against our total shutdown, while puny now, will doubtless grow. The psychological damage — not counting the physical toll — caused by this deeply unnatural way of life is going to intensify.... Damon Linker put it beautifully this week: 'A life without forward momentum is to a considerable extent a life without purpose — or at least the kind of purpose that lifts our spirits and enlivens our steps as we traverse time. Without the momentum and purpose, we flounder. A present without a future is a life that feels less worth living, because it’s a life haunted by a shadow of futility.'... We keep postponing herd immunity, if such a thing is even possible with this virus. A massive testing, tracing, and quarantining regime seems beyond the capacity of our federal government in the foreseeable future... [S]ometimes the only way past something is through it."

Writes Andrew Sullivan in "We Can’t Go on Like This Much Longer" (New York Magazine).

ADDED: Damon Linker may "put it beautifully," but to write  "Without the momentum and purpose, we flounder" is to be on the wrong side of the flounder/founder distinction.

"Flounder" is a fish, and the verb means to struggle, and that takes some "momentum and purpose." To "founder" is to collapse, to fall helplessly to the ground... without momentum.

Swimming in asphalt

429 comments:

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narayanan said...

As I have stated before - I view everything USA through the prism of what I learned from Ayn Rand (was almost statist in my ignorance)

The Fountainhead for lack of a better word "social dynamics" of media communication etc.
The Atlas Shrugged for how an industrial economy can be stopped if you know accurately what the choke point is.

My Q : in Atlas shrugged there is The State Science Institute and Robert Stadler preaching against Rearden Metal etc.

At present time I believe we are seeing :State Medicine Institute: and :would be :Stadlers: preaching against a rational approach to dealing with this contagion?

is that fair summation? Outcome resting on American Sense of Life - is enough of it still left in this country?

Sebastian said...

Anne: "And I will note, contra what has been contended here by some, that I was accused of indifference to the death of millions when I objected to the panic over this virus. It was more than accusation--it was a malicious, mud-slinging, pathological attack; including a commenter who called me a fraud. That these same people want to airbrush that out of history is repulsive."

True on all counts.

Of course, commenters on a blog, even one as distinguished as Althouse, don't leave much of a mark on the historical record, but readers here will remember not just the alarmist panic, not just the insanity of the "solutions" peddled, but the revealing malice toward the sane skeptics. The "madness of crowds" in miniature.

Original Mike said...

Blogger Ken B said..."Big drop in daily deaths yesterday. Excellent news."

Damn. [Insert Ken's-ghoul-of-the-day] will be so disappointed.

J. Farmer said...

@Birkel:For example: The costs of raising children has been raised so that many people eschew having kids despite the fact it is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. The costs have been raised such that people stopped doing a thing that is good for themselves and society more broadly. Feel free to argue against the point I made instead of debating terms that make you uncomfortable.

I don't deny this at all. Quite the opposite, I think one of the most important things a society can do is provide the opportunity for people to get married and raise a family in a stable and secure home.

Also, feel free to deny that the Long March happened. Prove the stated goals of those advocating that position did not in fact start or complete that task.

No, it didn't happen. The "long march" wasn't anything Gramsci ever even really said. He wrote on a large number of topics and has had influence on a variety of forms, but the notion that there were followers of his in the US who initiated a plan to infiltrate and subvert institutions is nonsense. Even though Gramsci had some influence in critical theory, so did a number of other people whose views do not even align well with Gramsci. What is the evidence that this is a planned, coordinated effort? Infiltrating the the English and humanities departments of a relatively small number of universities does not seem like a very effective way to bring down a powerful system, especially considering that relatively few people were ever seriously exposed to Gramsci's works in any significant way. Plus, there is no sign that the various "identity politics" movements were inspired by or relied on this. The civil rights and women's lib movements have origins that long predate Gramsci, and the counterculture movement that started challenging social norms show pretty much zero evidence of having been influenced by some kind of "long march." Much cleared antecedents can be observed, such as the Beat movement, the advent of rock, involvement in the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam protest movement.

But if you think taking the rhetorical tack of always putting the other person on the defensive is useful, keep doing that. And I will continue to call you Smug when you do. I owe you nothing. And I will reciprocate the level of respect you offer.

The defensive? It's dialogue, conversation. We're not having a battle. When you say something is "an outgrowth of Marxism," that's an incredibly ambiguous phrase. I said that I was aware of the claim but did not consider it very seriously and explained why.

Anne-I-Am said...

Sebastian,

Indeed. I was bemused by the idiocy of them, especially this Inga witch, but not really bothered. I have had too much shit in my life to be bothered by some withered old crone on the intertubz speculating that I am a liar. I do find it kind of fascinating, in a train wreck kind of way.

And even more interesting that now all of that is denied.

And you are absolutely right, if I understand you correctly, that this is a characteristic not just of cretins on this blog, but of the ideological left. Which makes it scary on a macro level. Because they wield power. The Inga of this little site becomes the totalitarian monsters of the Left out in reality.

J. Farmer said...

@Narr:

Well, Farmer, it's your list, and you lamented that "our nation" fails to exhibit these virtues. But I didn't say you were wrong, so there's that.

Ha. Fair enough. John Adams thought they were important, too. And more than half a century since Pétain. So there's that ;)

J. Farmer said...

@Birkel:

p.s. In your first comment, when you mentioned the "Long March," I misread you. I thought you were making a reference to the civil war in China, which probably explained why I was confused by your comment ;) It was only after your longer comment that I realized what you were referring to. In any event, that one was on me. Apologies. And thanks for the back and forth. I've enjoyed it.

Kirk Parker said...

-- Achilles said...
==== Birkel said...
==== Bay Area Guy,
==== I hope Trump immediately hires General Flynn.
--
-- And makes him the Director of the CIA.

With a charter to shut the thing down.

(Yes, I know, we need an intelligence agency. But we certainly don't need this particular one.)

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

I won’t wear a paper or cloth mask, but I would wear a clear plastic face shield, if I could find one that wasn’t made in China, and not sold by a Chinese company.

Achilles said...

Howard said...
Dr Katz on Bill Maher

Adult discussion of Pandemic



I have been saying exactly this for almost 2 months now. We know exactly who is susceptible to this disease.

In every other demographic the numbers just are not there and now the fascists are resorting to open fraud on death certificates.

But now this is adult because 2 libs start saying it?

No this is Maher doing CYA. He has been a piece of shit from the start of this just like the other fascists.



Achilles said...

Kirk Parker said...
-- Achilles said...
==== Birkel said...
==== Bay Area Guy,
==== I hope Trump immediately hires General Flynn.
--
-- And makes him the Director of the CIA.

With a charter to shut the thing down.

And throwing everyone above GS14 in jail and hanging Brennan and his entire staff.

narciso said...

Gramscis long march through the institutions duh.

buwaya said...

Gramsci's writings came out long after the "long march" was well on its way.
He wasn't broadly published till the late 60's-70's.
What he was doing was description, of a historical process. As it happens the description was apt.

This is one reason why he is useful, he created a frame in which to understand what has happened, or is happening.

He did not come up with the term "long march", that was one of his early fans (some German I think). What he was on about was the concept of hegemony, the ideological-cultural unity of elite institutions. In his view (of the 1920's-30's), this was the cause of the continuing domination of the haute-bourgeousie. Therefore this had to be subverted and the control of these institutions replaced before the revolution could succeed. Thats where the "long march" comes in.

The hegemony thing became SOP in later leftist thought. Ref a best seller of 20 years ago Hardt and Negri's "Empire".

The hegemony concept is much less popular these days given that it tends to be a criticism of current arrangements.

Birkel said...

You deny a thing by claiming it was only a few English and Humanities Department’s? Drivel.

Try nearly every single one of them from small directional schools to the major land grant institutions to the prestigious private colleges, including the Ivy League. And those same institutions create self-supporting networks in the law and in government. Frankly, you are naive.

It's not a conspiracy theory. It is observable fact. It penetrates PhD programs and publications. It is systematic.

Kirk Parker said...

320BusDriver,

Paul Romer's series certainly starts out well enough, but takes a turn for the insane pretty quickly.

Kirk Parker said...

Achilles,

Your way's not very sportsmanlike.

buwaya said...

Birkel is right.

This hegemony exists in all institutions, academic, government, civic, religious and commercial.

The mechanism of the long march was through higher education, as it was the filter in your cursus honorum. That infected the rest.

Birkel said...

Kirk Parker,
You're suggesting a running start and a bag limit?

Roughcoat said...

He did not come up with the term "long march", that was one of his early fans (some German I think).

It was Rudi Dutschke.

J. Farmer said...

@buwaya:

Gramsci's writings came out long after the "long march" was well on its way.
He wasn't broadly published till the late 60's-70's.
What he was doing was description, of a historical process. As it happens the description was apt.


The thing I deny is that there is a coherent idea of "cultural Marxism" that executed a premeditated strategy to target students through the academy and is responsible for the various "identity politics" movements that have been prevalent since the 1960s. It's a post hoc explanation that draws a very tenuous line from the Frankfurt School to Herbert Marcuse to the New Left and then on to the various protest movements that gained steam from the 70s onward.

Before the "cultural Marxism" explanation gained currency, a similar theory explanation was proffered in which French post-structuralism and figures like Lévi-Strauss, Derrida, and Foucault. When you look at identity politics movement, they all have antecedents that predate any kind of "long march through the institutions."

Having said all that, even if this cultural Marxism claim was true as an explanation, where does that get you? Simply claiming that an idea or an argument is a result of "cultural Marxism" doesn't refute it. Does it change any tactics in how you combat it?

buwaya said...

The beginning of understanding something is the creation of a language with which to describe it. In the case of cultural hegemony one must first understand who the players are, their symbols and allegiances, and how they stand with respect to you and your friends.

In short they are your bitter enemies, all of them, and they need to be destroyed. Including, probably, the institutions they control.

The more people understand that the greater your power wrt to the hegemony and the closer you are to victory.

J. Farmer said...

@buwaya:

The beginning of understanding something is the creation of a language with which to describe it. In the case of cultural hegemony one must first understand who the players are, their symbols and allegiances, and how they stand with respect to you and your friends.

I am not sure that describing such an opaque conspiracy gives us much in the way of "a language with which to describe it." If anything, it seems to muddle the issue by way of invoking obscure French and German intellectuals from the early 20th century. If anything, the phrase "cultural Marxism" was probably adopted as a slur, to associate people with Marx and thus the violence and horror of the Soviet and Chinese communists.

I have been around the white nationalist subculture a long time, and "cultural Marxism" was a recurrent theme, though it was often blamed on Jewish immigrants, who were supposedly trying to destroy white Christian civilization. There are a lot of cranks in that movement, and I think the obsession with "cultural Marxism" is a product of that. It's only been recently that the term started gaining wider currency among mainstream conservatives. I think it's a distraction and a waste of energy.

For one, I think obsessing over "cultural Marxism" reinforces Cold War anachronisms that are still too prevalent in the conservative movement. Neoliberalism has been a far more destructive force in the lives of working class Americans. While the US has enjoyed huge gains in productivity and economic growth over the past 40 years, very little has accrued to them. Instead, they've been forced to compete with mass low-skilled immigration and have had their jobs terminated and shipped overseas. That has been far more consequential than some cultural studies professor spouting postmodern absurdities.

buwaya said...

The postmodern absurdities were breathed in by your corporate and public sector leadership while they were in school, and also their wives. This has had no small effect on the climate in which they decide things.

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Lewis Wetzel said...

But, J. Farmer, "neoliberalism" is just as homeless a word as "cultural marxism."
It is a word used by a group of people to describe their ideological enemies. There is no "neoliberal" movement any more than there is a "cultural marxist" movement. No one says "yeah, I'm a pretty high-up with the neoliberals."
To people who say that they are against the establishment, both "neoliberalism" and "cultural marxism" is the guiding philosophy of the establishment.
To their credit, for thirty years the establishment has delivered a very long period of almost uninterrupted global economic expansion. Given human history, this is an incredible accomplishment.

Heartless Aztec said...

Sullivan is, as usual, overwrought.

Jersey Fled said...

This may be the first pandemic in history where doctors and other healthcare workers are being layed off due to lack of work.

I have a friend who is a mortician. Even his business is slow.

Kathy said...

Remember what provided the push for all the shutdowns? The wildly high models from Imperial College. Coincidentally, I'm sure, that institution receives large sums ($79 million) from the Gates Foundation. The same foundation that wants to create and market a vaccine, but only with immunity from liability.

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2020/03/OPP1210755

n.n said...

The beginning of understanding something is the creation of a language with which to describe it.

Yes. The first step is to stop playing their semantic games. The next step is to reject their faith (i.e. Twilight or conflation of logical domains). Then we need to lose their religion (or relativistic "ethics"): Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, politically congruent. Finally, stop paying penance and prostrating yourself before their mortal gods and goddesses. In Stork They Trust? #HateLovesAbortion

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