The Dictator observations thread.

Politics and other such topical creams.
Dr. Medulla
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by Dr. Medulla » 14 Aug 2017, 3:14pm

JennyB wrote:
14 Aug 2017, 3:11pm
Dr. Medulla wrote:
14 Aug 2017, 3:06pm
Kory wrote:
14 Aug 2017, 1:35pm
As far as not embracing the Nazi label, I often muse on this being the result of how propaganda works. Americans don't hate the Nazis because of anything they did, they hate Nazis simply because they were the enemy in WWII. They can share ideals with the Nazis because they're on home soil and can convince themselves that it's separate and distinct, but don't associate them with the enemy.
That's another thing that my mind wanders to whenever I watch a movie set in WWII. Do white nationalists feel conflicted when they watch those films? The kind of mental gymnastics required would seem greater for such limited intelligence, and yet it does happen, I guess.
Many of them would have gladly joined a Bundist group had they lived back then.
Polite company considers them isolationists with a belief that America should have a modest place in the world. :shifty:
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by JennyB » 14 Aug 2017, 3:15pm

Dr. Medulla wrote:
14 Aug 2017, 3:14pm
JennyB wrote:
14 Aug 2017, 3:11pm
Dr. Medulla wrote:
14 Aug 2017, 3:06pm
Kory wrote:
14 Aug 2017, 1:35pm
As far as not embracing the Nazi label, I often muse on this being the result of how propaganda works. Americans don't hate the Nazis because of anything they did, they hate Nazis simply because they were the enemy in WWII. They can share ideals with the Nazis because they're on home soil and can convince themselves that it's separate and distinct, but don't associate them with the enemy.
That's another thing that my mind wanders to whenever I watch a movie set in WWII. Do white nationalists feel conflicted when they watch those films? The kind of mental gymnastics required would seem greater for such limited intelligence, and yet it does happen, I guess.
Many of them would have gladly joined a Bundist group had they lived back then.
Polite company considers them isolationists with a belief that America should have a modest place in the world. :shifty:
:lol:
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by Inder » 14 Aug 2017, 10:04pm



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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by BostonBeaneater » 15 Aug 2017, 12:30am

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Dr. Medulla
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by Dr. Medulla » 15 Aug 2017, 6:24am

That is awesome. Every time a Confederate statue falls, a white nationalist gets mongrelized.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by Wolter » 15 Aug 2017, 8:53am

It feels so good to see these fuckers go down.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by JennyB » 15 Aug 2017, 9:39am

A-freakin-men.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by eumaas » 15 Aug 2017, 5:15pm

For a while now, hardcore centrist liberal ideologues have been putting out the narrative that people to the left of them (anybody from social-democrat to anarchist) are part of the "alt left," and are people (this is usually stated without much evidence) who seek to abandon anti-racism, feminism, and queer rights in favor of "class-only" politics. The alt left, they claim, shared much in common with the alt right under the horseshoe theory. They have also highlighted the Antifa as violent and rejected many of the protest methods adopted by people who have been out there trying to oppose Trump and neo-Nazis. It looks like Trump has been listening, and decided to adopt this term.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/us/p ... ville.html
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by eumaas » 15 Aug 2017, 5:17pm

I say ideologues above because it's worth distinguishing between average Democratic voters, who are pretty positive on a lot of proposed left-wing policies, and the people involved in the punditry/think tank/consultancy circuit.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by Dr. Medulla » 15 Aug 2017, 5:36pm

It seems symptomatic of the degradation of journalism and political discourse in the past couple decades, where there must be two sides to each story, each with an equal claim to truth. So if there's an alt right, well, there must be an alt left, right? Overall, it's a way of invalidating criticism of the the dominant ideology (i.e., neoliberalism) by treating criticism as mere opinion, each position with equal status and so none more persuasive. So the norm is left unharmed. So I'm not sure we need to consider some kind of deliberate strategy to make the left seem as the mirror of fascists; the poverty of critical skill within modern liberalism creates the conditions where they can't conceive of challengers as anything but all alike.

edit: If you've never read it, Arthur Schlesinger Jr's The Vital Center, despite being around 70 years old, is still a valuable document for understanding liberalism and how it regards other ideologies. And even there he makes no real distinction between communists and fascists—each are made of weak-willed people who are terrified of the freedom and challenges of modern life, so they hide in the convenience of a mass movement. Valorizing the centre requires dismissing radical challengers and earnestly seeking the commonalities. One thing Cold War liberals embraced was the notion that only liberalism was authenticate, all else foreign and debased.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by JennyB » 16 Aug 2017, 9:47am

eumaas wrote:
15 Aug 2017, 5:15pm
For a while now, hardcore centrist liberal ideologues have been putting out the narrative that people to the left of them (anybody from social-democrat to anarchist) are part of the "alt left," and are people (this is usually stated without much evidence) who seek to abandon anti-racism, feminism, and queer rights in favor of "class-only" politics. The alt left, they claim, shared much in common with the alt right under the horseshoe theory. They have also highlighted the Antifa as violent and rejected many of the protest methods adopted by people who have been out there trying to oppose Trump and neo-Nazis. It looks like Trump has been listening, and decided to adopt this term.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/us/p ... ville.html
It's absolutely mind boggling.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by eumaas » 16 Aug 2017, 12:10pm

There's an article out now on the subject:
https://newrepublic.com/article/144361/ ... n-alt-left
Dr. Medulla wrote:
15 Aug 2017, 5:36pm
It seems symptomatic of the degradation of journalism and political discourse in the past couple decades, where there must be two sides to each story, each with an equal claim to truth. So if there's an alt right, well, there must be an alt left, right? Overall, it's a way of invalidating criticism of the the dominant ideology (i.e., neoliberalism) by treating criticism as mere opinion, each position with equal status and so none more persuasive. So the norm is left unharmed. So I'm not sure we need to consider some kind of deliberate strategy to make the left seem as the mirror of fascists; the poverty of critical skill within modern liberalism creates the conditions where they can't conceive of challengers as anything but all alike.
I agree with you about what underpins it or conditions its use, but I do think there is some deliberate effort involved. I don't think all those centrist "influencers" coalescing around this term is an accident. I mean, the Clinton and DNC leaks showed a deliberate use of the "Bernie Bro" label to discredit Sanders support. There's a factional struggle going on.

I think that factional struggle in large part depends upon the process you describe, though, since it has been heavily inculcated in the masses for the past few decades. This is the sort of thing Greenwald and Scahill have harped on about the way mainstream reporting is done--it tends to resemble the collation of press releases rather than weighing in on the truth of the matter.

Part of the sharpness of the struggle is not so much the new left abandoning identity politics (as it gets accused of), but rather articulating identity politics in concert with class struggle as a politics of solidarity rather than atomized identity. I agree with you and Mark Fisher that the atomized, individualist identity politics are a bourgeois dead-end more or less, but true intersectionalism that manages to speak to oppression in toto has a lot of power, I think. But many of the centrist liberal ideologues have a vested interest in protecting capital and disassociating identity-based oppressions from what they dismiss as "economic issues." They even go so far as to say that any economic focus is privileging cishet white male issues, which seems pretty wrong given women, people of color, and queer people are disproportionately affected by class oppression.

Incidentally I cannot believe so much of this has to do with Bernie fucking Sanders of all people. I think that legitimizes the Marxist view that the individual figurehead isn't exactly the most important part of a movement. He's not who I would've picked.
edit: If you've never read it, Arthur Schlesinger Jr's The Vital Center, despite being around 70 years old, is still a valuable document for understanding liberalism and how it regards other ideologies. And even there he makes no real distinction between communists and fascists—each are made of weak-willed people who are terrified of the freedom and challenges of modern life, so they hide in the convenience of a mass movement. Valorizing the centre requires dismissing radical challengers and earnestly seeking the commonalities. One thing Cold War liberals embraced was the notion that only liberalism was authenticate, all else foreign and debased.
That dismissal of the mass movement makes sense given the way contemporary liberal ideologues talk about social change. I have noticed that proponents of incrementalism tend to emphasize the role of established power in social/political progress while neglecting the role that the masses have played in pressing for change. Which to me always seemed ahistorical--shouldn't politicians receive their information on what to do from the masses? But competing with that is the meritocratic or technocratic notion that credentials and qualifications are what count when thinking about policy. There's a definite preference for wonkish over universal solutions--means-testing and the like. This plays into "privilege laundering," where the scions of the ruling class acquire credentials in order to justify their right to rule, a practice common to liberal and conservative elites alike. If a solution isn't complicated, it's not serious.

Will probably have more thoughts later. Also worth considering why so many of us on the left were surprised at the birth of a new left mass movement.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by Dr. Medulla » 16 Aug 2017, 12:55pm

eumaas wrote:
16 Aug 2017, 12:10pm
I agree with you about what underpins it or conditions its use, but I do think there is some deliberate effort involved. I don't think all those centrist "influencers" coalescing around this term is an accident. I mean, the Clinton and DNC leaks showed a deliberate use of the "Bernie Bro" label to discredit Sanders support. There's a factional struggle going on.
Right. My point was more along the lines that those liberals using the alt-left slur aren't necessarily being cynical or insincere. The concept does make a perverse kind of sense in the liberal mind.
Part of the sharpness of the struggle is not so much the new left abandoning identity politics (as it gets accused of), but rather articulating identity politics in concert with class struggle as a politics of solidarity rather than atomized identity. I agree with you and Mark Fisher that the atomized, individualist identity politics are a bourgeois dead-end more or less, but true intersectionalism that manages to speak to oppression in toto has a lot of power, I think. But many of the centrist liberal ideologues have a vested interest in protecting capital and disassociating identity-based oppressions from what they dismiss as "economic issues." They even go so far as to say that any economic focus is privileging cishet white male issues, which seems pretty wrong given women, people of color, and queer people are disproportionately affected by class oppression.
The challenge if it all is somehow making the politics of personal liberation somehow augment mass politics. The former rejects sacrifice and is suspicious of the mass—the group is seen as predatory—while the latter validates what we have in common and requires sacrifice of personal ambitions for what the group needs. It's a fundamental question that anyone, but especially on the left, has to ask themselves: how do you feel about the mass? Does it squash your needs or does it elevate them? The dominant view since the end of World War II has been to be wary if not contemptuous of the mass. That's a problem for those who want to bring about radical change. If I sound hostile to the politics of personal liberation or identity politics, it's because I see its many virtues and accomplishments as nevertheless more beneficial to a regressive economic status quo. (Or, as Rorty argued, identity politics privileges Freud—improving people's sense of well-being—over Marx—improving people's material conditions.)

Incidentally I cannot believe so much of this has to do with Bernie fucking Sanders of all people. I think that legitimizes the Marxist view that the individual figurehead isn't exactly the most important part of a movement. He's not who I would've picked.
That dismissal of the mass movement makes sense given the way contemporary liberal ideologues talk about social change. I have noticed that proponents of incrementalism tend to emphasize the role of established power in social/political progress while neglecting the role that the masses have played in pressing for change. Which to me always seemed ahistorical--shouldn't politicians receive their information on what to do from the masses? But competing with that is the meritocratic or technocratic notion that credentials and qualifications are what count when thinking about policy. There's a definite preference for wonkish over universal solutions--means-testing and the like. This plays into "privilege laundering," where the scions of the ruling class acquire credentials in order to justify their right to rule, a practice common to liberal and conservative elites alike. If a solution isn't complicated, it's not serious.
Tho I'm reluctant to recommend my own work, my chapter on mass culture critics deals with the historical context that informs such thinking. It's both self-flattery—we are so important amidst such complexity and danger—and a sincere (I believe) suspicion that the masses, insufficiently educated and overly empowered politically and economically, need to be managed lest they fall under the sway of a demagogue from the left or right, as happened, intellectuals argued, in Russia, Italy, and Germany. During my defence, my questioners were skeptical about my larger argument that we're still swimming in the wake of these intellectual anxieties, but the events since haven't dissuaded me.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by BostonBeaneater » 17 Aug 2017, 2:35am

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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

Post by Dr. Medulla » 17 Aug 2017, 7:08am

Don't worry, says Australia, we can still pull our weight producing awful politicians: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... ng-for-ban
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