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The Alternative to Fervent Nationalism Isn't Corporate Liberalism—It's Social Democracy


#1

The Alternative to Fervent Nationalism Isn't Corporate Liberalism—It's Social Democracy

Jake Johnson

In his 1946 essay reviewing former Trotskyist-turned-reactionary James Burnham's book The Managerial Revolution, George Orwell made several observations that resonate just as powerfully today as they did when they were first published.

"The real question," he wrote, "is not whether the people who wipe their boots on us during the next fifty years are to be called managers, bureaucrats, or politicians: the question is whether capitalism, now obviously doomed, is to give way to oligarchy or to true democracy."


#3

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior was killed not because of raising the awareness of black versus white, but rather poor versus rich.

And let's remember that he espoused peaceful solutions, not the historical narrative of the above illustration.


#4

Brilliant analysis, Mr. Johnson!

I am re-posting this last paragraph since a great many think that all of the world's problems begin and end with American voters (whom they term "sheeple"). This shows how the problem of global corporate capitalism has rendered to citizens of other lands, the same 2nd class status felt by so many inside the U.S.A:

"It's not about the EU," notes Mark Blyth in an assessment of the European economy that applies just as well to the United States. "It's about the elites. It's about the 1%. It's about the fact that your parties that were meant to serve your interests have sold you down the river."

ATTENTION: C.D. Editors: There are at least 15 instances where words that require a space between them are fused together and that does the writer a disservice.


#5

That's a very limited view of WHY Dr. King was assassinated.

Unlike most "single issue" leaders, Dr. King was brave and brilliant enough to connect the dots between poverty at home and war abroad. He began to speak out against Vietnam and THAT was a no-no since in a land under virtual Military Occupation (Mars Rules), the military cannot BE questioned.

THAT is what got him killed... although the boiling cauldron of racism across the South certainly fueled the dark passions of his assassin.


#7

Never Hillary. Never Trump. The recent executions of blacks and police officers has brought our "Uncle Tom" back from Poland without a word from our corporate propaganda media connecting the dots. The only word is that Russia is the aggressor and nothing about how U.S. Imperialism for the corporate thieves or robber barons relates to the aggression and unrest here at home. I am sickened about what Obama and either of these two undesirable candidates and their parties will bring us:

Sociopaths, all of them!

Neoliberalism has "infected" the Scandinavian countries, the "Social Democracies," for quite a while. There was also this, which surprised me, and has not been confirmed by media as far as I know, "Sweden Joins NATO’s Emerging War Against Russia":

http://www.countercurrents.org/zuesse300516B.htm

I can only hope for this right now, even though it may get a lot worse before it gets better:


#8

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#10

I agree and have been saying for some time that all the progressive groups should come together under one umbrella. We are stronger when that occurs and could be a large and powerful voting bloc. The Green party could be helpful but what ever it's called it should kick in soon.


#12

This author just keeps hitting home runs. We need more homers.


#14

Excellent comment and links. Thanks...


#18

Representative government in America is a failure. Developed countries where direct democracy overrules their representative governments have proven to be best.


#19

Well no one is stopping you from forming a social democratic party.

With respect, the trouble with articles like this is that it defers responsibility for progressive change on to others and then you wonder why nothing changes.


#20

I post this to argue against the false dichotomy between populism and corporate liberalism that is currently being perpetrated by social liberals in europeanised countries (inc the us) at the moment.

Post Brexit, I've been thinking along the lines of values and rightly or wrongly have come to the conclusion that Brexit values align with a more communitarian outlook whereas Bremain values align with a more liberal outlook. This points to the dynamic between communitarianism and liberalism with the former evoking a need for community continuity and stability underlied by democracy and resilience and the latter evoking a need for community change and growth underlied by technocracy and wealth.

However, the trouble with liberalism and its inherent need for change and growth is that it is ecologically and socially deconstructive which is a good thing if change and growth is required but also a bad thing since it is inherently unsustainable. Liberalism, whether social or economic, is fundamentally unsustainable because if all living things had the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness then we would all starve or else be immobilised by moral constraint. This belies the fact that the sustainability of life is underpinned by life/death relationships but if not properly managed, these life/death relationships will inherently lead to unmanaged competition even if under the liberal framework of individual rights-based entitlements. In effect then, liberalism facilitates accumulation with few restrictions other than be nice to one another. This is why economic liberalism inherently leads to the formation of monopolies of power and consumerism and why social liberalism hollows out communities and leads to atomisation, loneliness and identity politics.

In this respect liberalism as a social policy tool has been a good thing in terms of deconstructing traditional communities based on entrenched patterns of patriarchy, gender inequality and class inequality and has been a good thing in terms of improving standards of living but this creative destructio. now needs to be rolled back in order to allow communities to recoalesce around virtue-based value systems and in particular, ones I argue that are designed to create a sustainable future and so need to be built on a platform of community democracy and community resilience.

This I think is the true nature of the Brexit backlash against the eu and the globalised liberalism that it supports. Unmanaged liberalism is inherently unsustainable and destructive and whilst it is a useful ideology to deconstruct and reform communities as a social change tool, at some point it is necessary to withdraw the use of this tool in order to allow communities to reformulate around different principles. It is therefore with irony that with regards the eu debate, the communitarians (brexiters) were using liberalism (democracy and the right to self-determination including border controls) to support their communitarian arguments whilst liberals (bremainers) were using communitarianism (cooperation and eu safeguards) to support their liberal arguments.

This highlights that liberalism functions as dynamic with communitarianism with the former being used to evoke change and growth through competition wheras the latter is used to evoke continuity and stability through cooperation. As such, yes the competition of liberalism is as important as the cooperation of communitarianism but each needs to be recognised for the benefits and losses they bring in order to manage social change and social continuity. In this respect, progress for its own sake and the constant social change and growth that liberalism brings through self-interested competition is damaging and unsustainable if it is not democratically consented to by all segments of society. In effect, by trying to bring half of a society unwillingly into the liberal mold whether through eu membership or through centralised government imposition that in effect manages eu policy is not only undemocratic but also exclusive of others that might wish for continuity and stability in order to build up decentralised democracy and resilience.

Liberalism does not allow for this regrounding of community values because it relies upon competition or creative destruction in order to constantly change and grow society or in international order terms, liberalism does not allow community cohesion because it requires communities to cooperate in order to compete in order to evoke change and growth on a global level.

In conclusion, without recognising that liberalism (individual liberty) forms an antogonistic relationship with communitarianism (social cohesion) and that the two need to be mediated according to democratic consensus then we are not only damaging our ecological and social relations through imposed competition (which arises because liberalism is unable to reconcile the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when expanded to all living life-forms) but we are also damaging our relation with our self since when this competitive outlook is internalised,it begins to form a divided and antagonistic self which goes some way to explain the bigoted behaviour from both sides of the eu debate.

So whilst liberalism is an important socio-economic policy tool to evoke change and growth through the application of negative rights, the inherently competitive and unsustainable effects of liberalism need to be recognised as such and so in turn, it needs to be recognised that liberalism has as its complimentary opposite a communitarian perspective that evokes continuity and stability through the application of positive rights which allows diverse communities to cooperate on a platform of responsibility and resilience which is mediated by democracy in order that diverse communities can formulate their own identities and values. However, if over time this continuity and stability creates entrenched inequalities, then liberalism again becomes useful to creatively deconstruct these entrenched inequalities. As such liberalism and its inherently competitve outcomes and communitarianism with its inherently cooperative outcomes are social policy tools which can be applied to varying degrees to create a managed dynamic between change and continuity. So, if continuity (and sustainability) is required then communitarianism needs to come to the fore whereas if change (and unsustainability) is required then liberalism needs to come to the fore. At present I would argue that communitatrianism needs to come to the fore in order to ingrain communities with a sustainable development ethic based on stability which I argue would be best achieved by creating a global cooperative network of decentralised democratic communities which is underpinned by an ethos of decentralised community resilience.


#22

The 57% represents the PROTECTION of STUFF - capital wealth. Corporations and their controlling shareholders pay reduced, little and OFTEN zero in income taxes. That means that the average working stiff paying income tax supports the PROTECTION of the oligarch's STUFF with 57 cents of every tax dollar paid. Not only that, but common folk pay with more than 90% of the dead 'warriors' doing the volunteer "protecting" of the plutocracy's STUFF. Meanwhile, their own offspring enjoy virtual freedom from the vicissitudes and horrors of the profitable wars conducted to implement EMPIRE and assert domination over the potential labor and resources of other nations.

An annual Defense Insurance Premium charged on world-wide capital wealth of individuals and entities associated with America would equitably accomplish numerous goals. Among those could be assigning "protection" a measurable value rather than a fictitious concept. Abolishing allowances, discounts, exemptions, and avoidances would even the playing field of contribution. Exempting the first $250,000 of each entities capital wealth would virtually exempt most of the middle class from any premium cost, .... OH! and the second year's premium of 10's of $Billions$ would likely redefine the necessity for the "profits" of war ... possibly bringing WORLD PEACE. Further, tax collections could address the present public policy issues of global warming, health, education, energy efficiency, infrastructure, national debt, etc, etc.


#23

Not either/or, but both/and.

Yes, King's Riverside speech April 4 1967, denouncing US militarism and the war in Vietnam and connecting them to racism and poverty at home.

But also yes, King's working to bring poor white and poor black together in the Poor People's March, not against segregation but against poverty, which he was in the process of organizing when he was killed.


#24

Provocative and food for thought, thanks.

You're aware, most people in the USA will be flummoxed by your understanding of the meanings of liberalism. People cling fiercely to their identity as "liberals," while ahistorically defining "liberal" effectively as "all things good." Hard to have a useful conversation in these threads about liberalism.


#25

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#26

Thanks. It is the same in the Uk. Anything not liberal is illiberal and so considered immoral albeit this viewpoint is illiberal in itself. Hence my thinking that liberalism ultimately leads to competitive relations and so in itself produces 'otherness'. Liberalism in theory seems a good thing but when 'available resources' is put into the mix then in practise it becomes just another means to ideologically define the deserving from the undeserving. Hence populism (undeserving uneducated white trash that need educating to liberalism) and liberalism (deserving sanctimonious moral postering). The truth is far more complex obviously and has more to do with how best to mix liberal and communitarian values and how best to achieve that mix.


#29

The way it was.

Whats on display here folks?


#31

And that does not include the black ops, mostly run on drug money and similar.


#32

Social democracy sounds great. I agree with Johnson here, in some sense. But that's not the direction any of this is headed in the US.

The population now has almost no hold on electoral politics. Electoral politics bears almost no relationship to the actions of government. The nation's most popular socialist has just endorsed the nation's most public corporatist killer, the favorite of Mitt Romney, the Koch brothers, et alia.

This does not mean that suddenly there is something about "From each according to his ability to each according to his needs" that does not work, unless it's the old-fashioned gender typing. It does mean that this will not happen here on a federal level before things have pretty thoroughly fallen apart.

So let's deal with how.

Let's vote Green to let the muckymucks on high know that we are unhappy, stage left and not Trump and Tea Party, stage right. Of course that's not enough, but voting does not mean that we have to stop there.

Let's work out ways to socialize food, medicine, education, water, communications, and so forth at a relatively local level rather than working with the Feds, rather than working with the states, rather than working with the counties, and possibly rather than working with the cities in some cases. It does not all have to be nominally governmental, though some of it will need to be, and we will need to come back to the feds before long. Pieces will only fit in a bit at a time, but Clinton's goons and their next associates will have less reach as the scale goes smaller. There will also be less conflict with the libertarian corner of political mysticism if this is not a push towards a federal program.

On the political side, all of this means an association of local organizations. But the old lesser of evils has just consolidated itself as the world's principal organ of neoconservative violence and neoliberal oppression. And unless Sanders' people can organize without Sanders, he has just blown his admirable campaign to four winds and seven oceans.

It is time for the next surprise.