Category Archives: Media

A rose by any other name

The left doesn’t need a revolution and, deep down, doesn’t really want one. So why do they spend so much time telling you how awful everything is?

Partly, it’s what gets them paid. I’m not saying they’re money grubbers. Most of them could make more money on Wall Street, in medicine, in the private sector somewhere, or some such. Of course, then they wouldn’t own and operate their own businesses, and it’s nicer to work for yourself than to work for someone else.

But when you run a business, you need money. You need customers. And you don’t get customers by telling people things they don’t want to hear. If you want to make money, you have to tell people what they want to hear. People like hearing how bad everything is, because there’s no personal challenge in that.

Everybody agrees the world sucks. If you try to propose solutions, everything will just devolve into big fights because no one can agree on anything. It’s more lucrative to just say over and over that global warming is killing the planet, that corporations screw people, that the United States is a purveyor of death — whatever.

But the people who own and run the left, and the people whom the left attracts, are in agreement about what kind of world they would most like to live in, if they had the power to bring it about: They want to overthrow the capitalists.

The number one priority of everyone on the left is the preservation and enhancement of their class privileges. This is true of the right as well, but the difference is that the right is honest about it. I don’t mean the left is lying to you. I mean the right is honest with themselves about what they want and what they’re trying to accomplish.

But the left tells you how much they love the working class, and deep down they really believe it. They’re not lying to you: They really do think they love the working class. If God himself were to administer a lie-detector test to everyone on the left and ask them if they really cared about ordinary working slobs, they would pass easily because in their heart of hearts they really do love the people who take out their trash.

But that love stops as soon as it causes the slightest inconvenience to their persons. They might “love” the working class, but as soon as there’s the barest suggestion that everyone should pitch in and do their fair share of grunt work, the “worker-loving” left bares its teeth.

The left has no interest whatsoever in any kind of world where it might have to get its hands dirty. The left has no interest in a world where everyone does their fair share of picking the cotton. And if you press the left on this, they will destroy you.

The left doesn’t want a revolution because what it really wants, deep down, is a Soviet-style economy where workplaces are owned by the state (that is, where the capitalists are gone as a class) and where it (the left) runs the society. However, the left knows it wouldn’t do to say this out loud, because this would be deeply unpopular with the working people the left keeps trying unsuccessfully to organize.

The left will fight to the death to resist any revolution where it cannot control the terms of the debate. Since this is an impossibility, the left instead refuses to discuss or consider revolution at all.

Basically, whenever you encounter a lefty, just ask them if they’re willing to do their fair share of shit work. Ask them: If cotton must be picked, shouldn’t we all do our fair share of picking it?

The left is not trying to liberate the field slaves, nor does it have any interest in doing so. The left wants to liberate itself, but it is incapable of being honest with itself about this fundamental fact about itself. That’s what separates it from the right: The right embraces its classism, racism, and sexism; the left pretends (and in fact really believes) it has transcended all these things.

It’s not that the function of a left isn’t needed. It’s that the left as it presently exists (and has always existed) will never accomplish any of the things that it suggests to people it’s trying to accomplish. The left will never stop global warming, win Medicare for all, eliminate sexism and racism, or whatever. The left will never do any of these things because it’s priority isn’t any of these things.

The left’s only priority is itself, no matter how much it tries to pretend otherwise.

The left is the overseers.

If capitalism is the virus, “solidarity” can’t be the cure. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Capitalism is way of organizing economic activity. Every society has an economy. An economy is producers making stuff, consumers using that stuff — and an allocation mechanism that mediates the transfer of stuff from producers to consumers.

Solidarity is not a way of organizing economic activity. It’s a value that says that I should care about you and you should care about me. It’s an admirable value, and any good economy should propel it rather than squash it. But it’s not an economic system.

You get no argument from me when you say capitalism is the virus. But if you’re going to be anti-capitalist — which I certainly am — then you have to get serious thinking about what you’re going to replace it with.

In particular, you have to think about allocation. Everyone on the left wants to overthrow capitalism. There’s no shortage of people on the left who will tell you how bad it is. For its replacement, they will talk in vague generalities about “socialism” or some variation on this theme.

But the question of allocation has to be confronted. Capitalism uses market allocation. Socialism uses either markets or central planning. In markets, prices are set competitively and solidarity is systematically destroyed. In central planning, the entire society becomes inexorably authoritarian; that is the logic of central planning.

Suppose I give you a magic wand, and you can create any kind of world you want with it. What kind of economy do you create? In your vision of how an anti-capitalist economy should function, how are resources allocated? That is, how does stuff made find its way from producers to consumers? You can’t be anti-capitalist without grappling with this question.

The reason the left refuses to grapple with this question is because it’s a deeply-classist, coordinator-class left. The left is not a working-class left. That’s why, 30 years after the introduction of the formal mathematical model of participatory economics, the left still ignores it.

In the same way, say, the New York Times acts like Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model of the media doesn’t exist, so too does the left act like parecon doesn’t exist. The left will acknowledge the existence of participatory economics at the same time the media acknowledges Manufacturing Consent: never.

The only revolution the left is interested in is one in which it, the coordinator class, is in charge. The left wants to overthrow the capitalists, and install themselves as the new ruling class. I’m not saying they’re doing this consciously. They essentially never are. That it, they’re not self-aware or in control of their actions.

But the people on the left are the children of the coordinator class. They grew up at the ends of cul-de-sacs. They world view is inherently managerial. They’re not duplicitous curs who are cynically trying to manipulate the working class in order to get their way. They’re generally good people at heart.

But they think like coordinators, because they are coordinators. So their reflexive world view is one in which they have freed themselves from the yoke of capitalist-class rule. They are the overseers who know perfectly well how to run the plantation on their own, but still must answer to the plantation owner. Their ideal world is one in which the plantation owner is gone and they can manage the operation on their own, without having to answer to the big man in the big house. But they have absolutely no intention whatsoever of ever getting out into the fields under the hot sun and doing their fair share of picking the cotton.

Picking the cotton is working-class work. Smart, educated coordinators have a reflexive revulsion to the idea that this work should be shared equally. Again, this isn’t because they’re bad people — it’s because they grew up on cul-de-sacs, and it’s just how they see the world.

The left is a coordinator-class left. It’s not going to help the workers pick the cotton, ever. That’s why it won’t and can’t even acknowledge the existence of parecon. And that’s why it’s reduced to saying stupid bullshit like “capitalism is the virus, solidarity is the cure.”

“Always with you what cannot be done.”

Dear Trotskyists, what did Katie Halper ever do to you?

The Times and the Post failed to report Reade’s allegations for weeks after the story was broken by Sanders supporter Katie Halper on her podcast in March.

Why describe Halper as a “Sanders supporter?” How is that even remotely relevant to her interview of Tara Reade?

The Trotskyists have already felt their identities threatened by Sanders — which is odd, because Sanders is (to quote Jimmy Dore) a cartoon. The only time Sanders ever exhibits any spine is when he throws supports like Tulsi Gabbard, Zephyr Teachout, and Matt Orfalea under the bus. He’s sort of like Obama in that regard — feckless against the right, but a complete stud when crushing people on his left.

But the World Socialist Web Site can’t let it go. I don’t mind them hating Bernie — that’s easy. Think of all the people who are poor who contributed a few dollars here or there to Sanders in 2016 and 2020. They were hoping for Medicare for all, and instead got emails exhorting them to donate to the DNC and support Joe Biden.

Taking money from poor people and then screwing them with it is what TV preachers do. It’s unforgivable.

But their constant need to shoehorn anti-Bernie sentiment into seemingly every fifth sentence on their otherwise generally good website is just incredibly weak tea. Trotskyists: Bernie’s no threat to you. Stop acting like he is.

What it indicates is that they have no self-awareness, and no plan to actually win anything. They’re afraid someone like Bernie might come along and actually win something, and then where would the Trotskyists be? Who would care about their socialism then? If a self-described “democratic socialist” were to win something without following the officially-approved Marxist dogma, the Trotskyists are afraid they’d be out of work.

In fairness to the World Socialist Web Site — which really is a good site — no self-awareness and no plan describes the entire left, not just them. With the possible exception of Jimmy Dore, everyone anywhere in the vicinity of the left just engages in constant nonstop whining about how powerless they are.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The left is in complete control of its destiny. The only thing preventing the left from winning is the left. If the left ever actually gets sick of losing and decides it’s ready for a change, no power in the world can stop it from winning.

First, though, it has to acknowledge the existence of participatory economics. Until that happens, the left is going to lose forever.

David Dayen and Barack Obama: Separated at birth?

David Dayen is not who people think he is. I remember him when he wrote for Jane Hamsher’s now-defunct FireDogLake website.

Dayen would write articles about the bad job Obama appointees were doing, but he would never criticize Obama, who literally had the power to fire them whenever he wanted. If the appointees were doing a bad job, that was on Obama.

I used to point this out to Dayen regularly in the comments sections to his articles. Finally, one day he snapped and said something back to me. I don’t remember what, and it really doesn’t matter.

Dayen will never ever criticize powerful Democrats. But he’s such a talented writer that he’s been very successful at convincing people he’s some sort of oppositional force. He’s kind of like the Obama of journalists.