Posts Tagged ‘Democratic Socialism’

Days Of Irony: Gaslighting For Beginners

April 5, 2020

Analysis shows irony instrumental in gaining insight into the totality of a nation being consumed by Covid 19. The dictionary’s primary definition is “the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite” but the supplement speaks more to the times we live in: “a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.” After all, we all are consumed by the news we consume which is essentially a literary technique; Dear Leader’s daily propaganda conferences come to mind. Which brings up the local leadership of not only Newark’s Mayor Jeff Hall, as well as the Licking County Commissioners – all MIA. But when they do surface (Local governments brace for possible recession as coronavirus pandemic continues, 4-4-20, The Advocate) their primary concern is the projected loss of revenue. As long as the dollars show up, what difference does it make whether there is a healthy hand or sick one holding it? The last time we heard from the Licking County Health Department was its refusal to allow for a needle exchange. Be safe Newark! Staying with the politics of it all, what if they gave an election and no one showed up? The slightest proposed gun regulation legislation always provokes swift and vociferous protest while Ohio’s primary being shifted to a “mail in” election, slated less than a month after legislation, is received with not even a whimper. The irony is that the alternate date of April 28 (and mail in format) was lobbied for by none other than David Pepper and the Ohio Democratic Party. Ostensible reason was for the expediency of vetting delegates for the July convention. Ironically, the anointed candidate for said convention changed the date of that convention to August (or even September). The irony grows when one considers that nasty old Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders mucking up party unity with all his agitated speech about income inequality, direct universal healthcare, free higher education and childcare. Too radical for the American people to embrace! They’d prefer Biden’s more moderate ACA HMO approach that determines ahead of time, for the doctors, who deserves care and who doesn’t qualify. Or Dear Leader’s “be nice to me” approach of dispensing patronage health care benevolence. NOT. Ironically (which is the theme of this posting), Covid 19 has shown otherwise. The current time sees an active preference for universal direct health care, forgiveness of student debt and child care urgency. There are smaller ironies, like abortion clinics “needing” to be closed while churches (and gun stores) “need” to be left open. Some rights are essential rights while others are non essential. But the largest, most blatant irony of them all is that, in just over 10 years, “free market” capitalism has required a total bail out of enormous proportions, again! This is no small individual bank collapse or savings and loan scandal. We’re talking maintaining and subsidizing an entire system to make sure it doesn’t become something else, entirely or partially (think hybrid cars). Both the incumbent candidate, Dear Leader, as well as his presumed opponent, Joe Biden, advocate bailing out the entire “free market” system in order to maintain and preserve it. Free market capitalism has abdicated responsibility for any of it through promotion of entrepreneurial agency (subjectivity), personal choice (and responsibility for) individual health care, retirement, employment, etc. The ultimate irony lies in the solution to the collapse of these entrepreneurial enterprise, self employed subjects with the current crisis. Stay at home or go to work? The token response is a one time cash hand out “dole” that is way short of even smelling like Mr. Sanders’ capitalist socialist state (with the added welfare insinuation that a “dole” implies and all); all done to ensure the health, safety and exclusivity of “free market” capitalism in these days of Covid 19.

Reaching For The Impossible

March 17, 2020

The NY Times headlined “Bernie Sanders Wants to Fight On. He Has His Reasons.” (Sydney Ember, 3-16-20). Politico headlined “‘Who is going to advise him to drop out?’: Bernie may not be ready for quick exit” (Holly Otterbein and David Siders, 3-17-20). Both articles investigated and speculated as to what could be the reasoning resisting a quick exit. Through interviews with campaign staffers, political operatives and analysts the articles arrived at the tried and true conclusion that it must have something to do with leverage – the ability to get certain concessions within the Democratic platform and policies based on the strength of committed delegates. It was pointed out that already Joe Biden has made some concessions to Sanders originated proposals (free college education, health care). But the answer to why the man tilts at windmills was left untouched. In an essay entitled “Teaching the History of American Radicalism in the Age of Obama” (1-2-17) Eric Foner offers a studied insight. The writing is from a book entitled “Battles For Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History” which is composed of his essays spanning 40 years published in The Nation. Mr. Foner is a historian (professor) at Columbia University. The History of Radicalism essay describes the final class of this name which Foner regularly taught at Columbia. First, a contextual review of difference, the Bernie Sanders difference in lived aspirational outlook: “A revealing moment came at a press conference at the end of November 2008, when he [Barack Obama] was asked how he reconciled his campaign slogan, “Change We Can Believe In,” with the appointment of an economic team largely composed of the same neoliberal ideologues who had helped bring about the financial crisis. “The vision for change,” Obama replied, “comes…first and foremost…from me.” As I mentioned to my class, one can compare Obama’s top-down remark to a comment attributed to the early twentieth-century socialist Eugene Debs: “I would not lead you to the promised land if I could, because if I could lead you in, someone else could lead you out.” Debs understood that movements, not just political leaders, make social change possible. Obama has never really learned that lesson. To be sure, he sought to cultivate an identification with history by embracing the civil rights movement, though this is hardly a controversial stance at a time when Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is a national holiday and even Glenn Beck claims his legacy. But even then, Obama embraced a sanitized version in which the movement represents a fulfillment of basic American ideals, not the unfulfilled “revolution of values” that King hoped to see. Obama doesn’t invoke the radical King who spoke of “democratic socialism,” launched the Poor People’s Campaign, and supported the antiwar movement.” It is undeniably clear, from such a context, where Sanders is found. However, it is the last paragraph of Foner’s essay that illuminates as to why a quick exit is incompatible with Bernie Sanders: “On the first page of the course syllabus, I always include the words of Max Weber, a rebuke to those who believe that critics of society should set their sights only on “practical” measures: “What is possible would never have been achieved if, in this world, people had not repeatedly reached for the impossible.””