?Do What We Say or the Women Will Die?That may sound like some kind of villainous threat in a Wild West melodrama, but it is exactly what the Rick Perry administration in Texas is saying today.[...]
Read The Full Article:
In the last chapter of his book Anti-Dühring, Engels treats of the state, family,education and sex by critiquing the views of the German "socialist" and professor Eugen Dühring's on these subjects. Dühring had created, on paper, a complete system of socialist governing thru means of collectives which, Engels has pointed out in his analysis in earlier parts of this book, is completely unworkable and perpetuates the capitalist relations of production and distribution which socialism is supposed to abolish.
Having set up his system Dühring undertakes to discuss the nature of the "state of the future." His ideas are, Engels maintains, watered down simplifications of notions he has gleaned from Rousseau and Hegel. In his own words, Dühring bases his state on the "sovereignty of the people." He explains what he means in the following passage of essentially meaningless mumbo jumbo: "If one presupposes agreements between each individual and every other individual in all directions, and if the object of these agreements is mutual aid against unjust offenses-- the the power required for the maintenance of right is only strengthened, and right is not deduced from the more superior strength of the many against the individual or of the majority against the minority."
Don't worry if that passage doesn't make any sense, as Dühring adds the following to explicate it. He says, "THE SLIGHTEST ERROR in the conception of the role of the collective will would DESTROY the sovereignty of the individual, and this sovereignty is the only thing conducive to the deduction of real rights." Engels thinks this pretty "thick" even by the standards of Dühring's so called "philosophy of reality."
This is especially so since the "sovereignty of the individual" consists in the fact that he or she is, Dühring says, "SUBJECT TO ABSOLUTE COMPULSION by the state." This is because the state "serves natural justice" and that is the best guarantee of individual sovereignty. There will be a police force for internal security and an army as well-- to enforce the will of the state-- which is the same as that of the community of sovereign individuals and to ensure people don't use their sovereignty in an incorrect and unsovereign manner. And just in case the state makes an error, well, the citizens will still be better off than they would have been if left in the state of nature! Anyway, they will get free lawyers too boot.
Since Dühring says his new state is based on "sober and critical thought", he announces that religion will be banished from the commune."In the free society," he says, "there can be no religious worship; FOR every member of it has got beyond the primitive childish superstition that there are beings, behind nature or above it, who can be influenced by sacrifices or prayers. [A] socialitarian system, rightly conceived, HAS therefore ? TO ABOLISH all the paraphernalia of religious magic, and therewith all the essential elements of religious worship."
It is important to note, since in the real history of socialism in the twentieth century some socialist and communist states tried to eliminate religion and religious practices by forceable means, that this idea ["the state HAS to?"] comes from Dühring, an enemy of the Marxist outlook, and not from anything Marx or Engels had to say. Engels explicitly criticizes this view.
This is not to say Marx and Engels were in anyway "soft" on religion ["opium of the masses" and all that] but they respected "individual sovereignty" enough not to dream of using the "state' [which they wanted to abolish in any case] to trample on people's rights of conscience in religious affairs.
At this point Engels adds a succinct account of the Marxist view of the origin, social function, and future of religion. It is more or less as follows. Religion is just a reflection in the brains of people of the forces in the external world that are out of their control which affect their lives and that they imagine as supernatural beings which they need to fear and placate. Originally these were the powers of nature that took on the guise of gods and goddess, but as human society progressed and evolved social forces also came to assume these roles. Over time, in the West at least) the many gods and goddess representing these alien powers were distilled down to one god [monotheism e.g., Jews and Moslems, or three gods posing as one as in the Jewish-pagan synthesis called Christianity- tr] and in this form religion will have a lease on life as long as humans are dominated by natural and social powers they neither understand nor control.
In contemporary capitalist society people are dominated and controlled by an economic system that they have themselves made yet rules over them as if it were an independently existing power beyond their control. The Market-- made by humans, rules humans. This is essentially the same reification as is found in religion and it reinforces religious attitudes and beliefs already historically present in modern society. Engels thinks of this development as the First Act of human development. It is now time for the Second Act.
In the Second Act humans will take control of the means of production and distribution which they have created over the long ages [thereby hangs a tale] and by means of scientific understanding and advance be able to control them rather than being controlled by them. Science will also explain the origins of life, the workings of nature, and the role of humans, leading to advances in medicine, agriculture, education, etc., so that humans will seek to understand the world instead of bowing down before it in stupefaction.
Engels says "only then will the last alien force which is still reflected in religion vanish: and with it will also vanish the religious reflection itself, for the simple reason that then there will be nothing left to reflect." Dühring can't wait and wants to administratively abolish religion before humanity has reached the intellectual and social level where it will of its own accord fade away. This will only inflame resistance, antagonize the masses, and strengthen the hold of superstition over the brains of people by giving it "a prolonged lease of life." I might add, if some of the socialists and communists of the past century, let alone this one, would have taken Engels to heart many mistakes and tragedies could have been avoided.
After Herr Dühring has disposed of religion he tells us that "man, made to rely solely on himself and nature and matured in the knowledge of his collective powers, can intrepidly enter on all the roads which the course of events and his own being open to him." Fine. Let us see how "man" travels down these roads. First he is born. Then he, or she as the case may be, is under the control of his mother the "natural tutor of children" until puberty (about 14 years) when the role of the father kicks in, as long as "real and uncontested paternity" can be demonstrated. If not a guardian is appointed. Ancient Roman law serves Dühring as a model for these ideas.
This shows, Engels says, that Dühring has no sense of history. The family, for him, is immutable, basically the same in Ancient Rome as in modern capitalism with no allowance for the changes in economic conditions and social relations between the ancient world and contemporary world. Engels then quotes the following passage from volume one of Das Kapital to show the superiority of Marx's outlook to Dühring's. Marx wrote that "modern industry, by assigning as it does an important part in the process of production, outside the domestic sphere, to women, to young persons, and to children of both sexes [due to the rise of the working class movement capitalism's urge to exploit children in the productive process has been somewhat curtailed-- tr] creates a new economic foundation for a higher form of the family and the relations between the sexes."
This new form is still in the process of creation, but there is no going back to the Ancient Roman family, nor even, as our Republican politicians are learning to their chagrin, to the patriarchal family of the Christian Middle Ages-- so beloved by the reactionary classes in our country.
Dühring next informs us that "Every dreamer of social reforms naturally has ready a pedagogy corresponding to his new social life." He may think he is putting others down and himself coming up with a truly scientific plan for the educational needs of society, for the "foreseeable future", but he is actually a worse dreamer than those he opposes, according to Engels.
In the schools of Dühring's future cooperative society the children will, Dühring writes, learn "everything which by itself and in principle can have any attraction for man" and so will include "the foundations and main conclusions of all sciences touching on the understanding of the world and of life." Dühring also tells us he sees in outline all the textbooks of the future but he is personally unable to actually see their contents and just what the children will be learning as that "can only really be expected from the free and enhanced forces of the new social order." But they will concentrate on physics, math, astronomy and mechanics while biology, botany, and zoology and such will be "topics for light conversation" [!]. He completely forgets to say anything about chemistry. Engels says his knowledge of the sciences seems to be confined to "Natural History for Children"-- a popular book of the 18th Century by Georg Christian Raff (1748-1788).
When it comes to the humanities, Dühring sounds like a second rate Plato. He wants to ban, for example, the great artistic creations of the past because too many of them have religious themes. As Plato banned Homer for portraying the Gods with human flaws, so Goethe is banned by Dühring for "poetic mysticism" and others for any religious content at all-- since religion is banned completely in the future state.
American monoglot educators will appreciate Herr Dühring's attitude to foreign languages. Latin and Greek will be junked entirely, who needs dead languages. Living foreign languages "will remain of secondary importance" and the students will really concentrate on their own native tongue. Engels thinks this a way to perpetuate the dulling national narrow mindedness of people who are basically ignorant of the world and of the Other. Latin and Greek actually open up people's minds to a broader perspective of the world and history, at least if they have a classical education, and learning foreign modern languages also allows peoples to have greater understanding of others and their cultures. Dühring's views are those of the narrow minded Prussian Philistine and similar to the "English only" bigotry found on the right in this country.
Engels gives Dühring credit for at least being aware of the fact there will be a difference between educational policies under socialism and those currently employed in bourgeois society, but since he keeps capitalist relations of production in place in his future communal society he can't quite figure out what those policies will be. Thus he is reduced to coming up with such ideas as "young and old will work in the serious sense of the word" which, along with other empty phrases, Engels calls "spineless and meaningless ranting."
Engels counterpoises a brief comment on socialist education from volume one of Das Kapital where Marx says that "from the Factory system budded, as Robert Owen has shown in detail, the germ of the education of the future, an education that will, in the case of every child over a given age, combine productive labour with instruction and gymnastics, not only as one of the methods of adding to the efficiency of production, but as the only method of producing fully developed human beings." Our own educational system, which produces drop outs and graduates functional illiterates, is American capitalism's answer to what education will be in the future.
Finally, after we find out how children will be educated in Dühring's future society, we find out how they are to come into the world. Dühring, no doubt inspired by Plato's Republic, tells us that future humans must be "sought in sexual union and selection, and furthermore in the care taken for or against the ensuring of certain results." We are here on the road to Dühringean eugenics. The most important thing to keep in mind about the future births is not the number but "whether nature or human circumspection succeeded or failed in regard to their quality." This leads Dühring to conclude that "It is obviously an advantage to prevent the birth of a human being who would only be a defective creature."
Modern scientific sentiment would not reject this conclusion out of hand, regardless of the feelings of those blinded by religious prejudices or logically challenged. It all depends on the kinds of defects that are presented. Dühring is thinking, however, along lines made popular by Nietzsche, of some sort of super human race compared to the run of the mill humans that unaided Nature tends to produce.
Dühring believes in a human right which may be important, but is not generally appealed to these days, for the purposes of eugenics, i.e., "the right of the unborn world to the best possible composition" [biologically-- tr]. "Conception," he says, "and, if need be, also birth [infanticide- tr] offer the opportunity , or in exceptional cases selective, care in this connection." Dühring is not just talking about medical defects-- but also "aesthetic" defects.
He thinks. in fact, that people should be bred to look like the ancient Greeks! "Grecian art -- the idealization of man in marble [not "European" man but "man"]-- will not be able to retain its historical importance when the less artistic, and therefore from the standpoint of the fate of the millions, far more important task of perfecting the human form in flesh and blood is taken in hand." OK, so we won't all look like Antinous or the Venus de Milo but that goal will be a work in progress for the future Dühringean society.
How does Dühring bring about the this perfection of the human [ancient Greeks-- Dühring had no use for modern Greeks] form? Well, he says force would be harmful but it will come about as a natural result of the mating of beautiful people-- sort of by an "invisible hand" (but in this case a different anatomical feature will be at work). Here is Dühring's quote: [From the] "higher, genuinely human motives of wholesome sexual unions ? the humanly ennobled form of sexual excitement , which in its intense manifestations is PASSIONATE LOVE, when reciprocated is the best guarantee of a union which will be acceptable also in its result?. It is only an effect of the second order that from a relation which in itself is harmonious a symphoniously composed product should result."
Engels thinks Dühring's views on sex are "twaddle." This is because force would have to be used to make sure all unions were "wholesome" by Dühring's standards. In the real world it is not just the beautiful people who fall in love and have children (symphoniously composed products) but all kinds of people so "the second order" effects of love making would be the same in the future communal state of Herr Dühring as they are now. [He could however try for a rigged lottery a la Plato's Republic to match up the "best" people and only allow those with baby licenses to reproduce. This would lead to more problems than the Chinese have had with the one child policy-- which was successful in limiting population numbers but a failure from the point of view of creating balanced population growth.]
Engels also critiques Dühring's "noble ideas about the female sex in general"[prostitution is a normal activity due to the constraints of bourgeois marriage]-- but both Dühring's ideas and Engel's response are too shaped by nineteenth century conditions to be applicable to twenty-first century advanced industrial societies so I will pass this topic by and come to the conclusion of Anti-Dühring.
After having gone over all the major views that Dühring had presented in a series of writings over the years, and refuting them by giving a proper Marxist response to his mixed up theoretical constructions, Engels sums up Dühring's oeuvre as being the product of MENTAL INCOMPETENCE DUE TO MEGALOMANIA.
Postscript: Eugen Dühring survived Engel's critique and wrote more books and articles. In the 1880's he began turning out anti-Semitic writings some of which led Theodor Hertzel to conclude that the Jews needed their own state. Frederick Nietzsche's rantings against socialism were the result of his having read Dühring's works not those of Marx and Engels (although I doubt it would have made any difference). Of his many books only one has been translated into English-- his anti-Semitic tract on the Jewish question was published in 1997 as "Eugen Dühring on the Jews" by 1984 Press. Dühring died in 1921 thus being deprived of seeing the fruits of his anti-Semitic labors. These and other interesting facts about Dühring are to be found in the Wikipedia article "Eugen Dühring." These articles on Engels' book Anti-Dühring have been published serially over the past two years in Political Affairs (and some have also appeared in Counter Currents, Dissident Voice, NYC indymedia and other internet venues) and the complete set can be found published together on my blog (Thomas Riggins Blog) as well as at the blog Philosophy and Marxism Today as "Engels' Anti-Dühring: A Twenty-First Century Commentary."
Read The Full Article:
Arends said his goal is to take “what’s percieved to be [Obama's] greatest strength” — the successful raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistani compound — and make it “his greatest weekend.” The effort started this week with a web video attacking Obama for taking too much credit.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Arends refused to discuss any information regarding how the group was financed or its leadership. Arends also declined to provide legal forms he claims to have filed with the IRS. A representative from the IRS told ThinkProgress that the agency does not have any forms from Arends’ group on file.
Here’s what we do know about Arends and Veterans For A Strong America:
1. In four days, the first ad by Veterans For A Strong America garnered almost 1 million view on Youtube. It has also been played frequently on TV News. [YouTube, 5/1/12]
2. Veterans For A Strong America is seeking to recruit Navy SEALS to attack Obama. “In the wake of a warm conservative reception for a web video trashing the president for ‘spiking the football’ on the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden?s death, the conservative group Veterans for a Strong America plans to gather Navy SEALs and Special Forces operators to criticize the White House during the 2012 campaign.” [BuzzFeed, 5/3/12]
3. Arends also tried to Swift Boat Obama in 2008. Arends, under the auspices of a similar group called “Vets for Freedom,” ran an ad accusing Obama of refusing to meet with wounded soldiers from Illinois. [NPR, 7/5/08]
4. Arends worked as a consultant for the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Properity. “Though he doesn’t list it on his public resume, around 2006 Arends went to work for Craig Dewey, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy outfit that’s Astroturfed everything from the tea party and the Wisconsin union fight to public-school segregation.” The Koch Brothers and their allies have pledged to spend $100 million to defeat Obama. [Mother Jones, 5/4/12; HuffingtonPost, 2/3/12]
5. In 2008, Arends — posing as a “journalist” — organized and participated in a taxpayer subsidized propaganda trip to Iraq. “American taxpayers are paying for politically slanted, pro-McCain, anti-Obama ‘reporters’ embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq. Vets for Freedom – a pro-war organization that buys attack ads against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama – assembled a team of eight military veterans with dubious journalistic credentials to report ‘objectively’ on what is occurring in Iraq…Joel Arends, another “reporter,” is VFF’s executive director and was on McCain’s campaign payroll between March 2007 and February 2008.” [Charleston Gazette, 8/28/08]
6. Arends is coordinating with key Islamophobic figures on the far-right. He regularly appears at events with anti-Islam conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, who has been condemned by mainstream conservatives for his intolerant views. He is also alligned with William ?Jerry? Boykin, who was found to have violated Pentagon rules by expressing his anti-Muslim views in an official capacity. [ThinkProgress, 2/12/12; For The Common Defense; New York Times, 3/4/05]
7. Arends helped promote a documentary advocating war with Iran. Arends appeared on a panel in South Dakoa promoting the documentary Iranium, which strongly suggests beginning a war with Iran, in March 2011. [Flier; ThinkProgress, 11/3/11]
8. Veterans for A Strong American is fully endorsed by Karl Rove. The man known as “Bush’s Brain” tweeted his support of their first web ad. [Twitter, 5/3/12]
Veterans For A Strong America is already succeeding in influencing the political discussion. It’s web ad was aired nationally, for free, on ABC’s This Week. Many members of the political round-table then echoed Arends talking points on Obama and Bin Laden.
Campaigning in New Hampshire earlier this week, Mitt Romney took yet another stab at the evils of regulation ? this time with a focus on fisheries.
Speaking with New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte in the seacoast city of Portsmouth, the two railed against regulations that “burden [companies] with red tape and put them out of business.”
The focus on regulation is no surprise. Even though only 0.3% of reported layoffs across the U.S. economy in 2010 were due to regulation, Republicans are applying anti-regulatory rhetoric to every subject they can think of. Stretching the argument as far as he could take it, Romney tied Obama’s health insurance plan to the woes of the east coast fishing industry:
?It?s a tough time to be in the fishing business in America,? Romney told a crowd of about 200 on the Portsmouth Commercial Fishing Pier. ?Not just in that industry, but in many industries. Small business has really felt like it?s been under attack over the last several years.?
?One, of course, is the discussion to put in place Obamacare,? Romney said. ?The last thing these businesses want to hear is that they?ve got a new expense they?ve got to pay.?
?Then regulation,? he added. ?We heard today about fishing regulations. I?ll continue to learn more about those regulations as they affect this industry. But across America, regulators [are] just multiplying like proverbial rabbits and making it harder for enterprises to grow and to understand what their future might be.?
The ironic part of this connection is that Romney’s policies as Massachusetts’ governor laid the foundation for both Obama’s health care plan and National Ocean Policy ? both of which Romney now claims are examples of government over-reach.
Romney’s push for mandatory health care as governor has been well documented. But most people don’t realize that Romney also helped create an Ocean Management Initiative to help pro-actively manage commercial, recreational and ecological needs along the Massachusetts coast. The “smart growth” plan resulted in a comprehensive policy for sustainably managing the economic and ecological interests of the ocean.
The current plan supported by the White House uses many of the same concepts developed in Massachusetts under the Romney administration.
The plan, which would develop a comprehensive, science-based strategy to align the economic and environmental priorities for our oceans, is supported by the Pew Oceans Commission (chaired by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta) and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (appointed by former President George W. Bush).
Congressional Republicans have aggressively attacked this plan, repeating their “job-killing” mantra in an attempt to defund the program supporting the plan.
The really frustrating part of this rhetorical exercise is that regulations are being blamed for problems smart, pro-active regulations could have prevented in the first place. For example, in his New Hampshire speech, Romney was referring to catch limits that have reduced the number of fisherman in the state.
But the reason the New England fishing industry has faced financial hardship in recent years has little to do with regulation. Regardless of what regulatory structure fishermen operate under, the New England groundfishery ? which once seemed limitless ? is struggling to recover from decades of overfishing. We cannot legislate or regulate fish into existence so fishermen can catch them. We can either put in place an efficient regulatory structure to pro-actively address the problem, or we can react to the problem afterward with more stringent rules.
In this case, new rules had to be put in place due to an overfishing crisis in New England. (For an overview of how and why these rules were put into place, check read the latest Center for American Progress report on the issue: The Future of America’s First Groundfishery.)
Since a new catch management system took effect in 2010, the Obama administration has supported the industry with more than $50 million in funding for monitoring, business assistance, and scientific assessments designed to minimize the economic impact of a biological reality ? there simply aren’t enough fish.
Appropriate, science-based regulation is a proven way of restoring fisheries in this region. As recently as the 1990s, the scallop fishery was a disaster. The resource was drastically over-harvested, and fishing businesses were racing one other to catch the last scallop in a desperate attempt to remain solvent. Regulators developed a management scheme that put the fishery on a path to sustainability. Today the sea scallop fishery is one of the most valuable fisheries in the U.S. and has made New Bedford, Massachusetts the fishing port with the highest value of fish landings.
Mindlessly claiming that regulations “kill jobs” does little to address the actual problem: Without a solid regulatory plan in place for an industry like fishing, there may be very few jobs left to defend.
Michael Conathan, Director of Oceans Policy at the Center for American Progress, contributed to this story.
Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation this morning Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), now a Romney surrogate, did her best to argue that the presumed GOP nominee will reverse current trends and win among women voters in November. But as with many of her best attempts, the argument relied on fabricated information:
BACHMANN: Actually, if you look at the 2010 elections, women went Republican. They didn’t go Democrat, and they will this time as well, because women are more concerned about the economy and jobs for themselves, for their husbands, for their children, and that’s not happened because obama’s broken his promises. [...]
And it was women who overwhelmingly went Republican and threw up on the a woman speaker [Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)]. I think this time again what women want, Bob, is they want competence, and, unfortunately, with all due respect to the president, he’s not competent to deal with the economy. Mitt Romney is competent in spades. That’s what women are going to be looking for.
[video to come]
2010 was a banner year for the GOP and every voting block went more Republican it had in the previous election, but she’s still wrong. In fact, exit polls shows that Democrats and Republicans tied among women in the midterm election that year, each capturing 49 percent of the vote. It was a major improvement for Republicans among women, who lost that demographic by 13 points in the 2008 presidential race, and their best performance among women since 1982 — but hardly an “overwhelming” win.
Romney, meanwhile, has faced a yawning and consistent gender gap. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed President Obama up 12 points over the Republican, 53 to 41 percent. Romney himself has acknowledged the difficulty of closing the gender gap, and his surrogate and key adviser Kerry Healey, who served as lieutenant governor under Romney, told Newsmax, “there?s always going to be a gender gap between Republicans and Democrats.”
It's the strangest thing, to listen to two intelligent progressives talk about the economy without using talking points or jargon, isn't it?
Since Krugman has a new book ("End This Depression Now!"), he's out making the rounds on all the talk shows and it's so refreshing to hear him speak at length. It appears that His Shrillness is finally making some inroads with the Very Serious People, despite the austerians who still insist the obvious path to fiscal health is to cut harder! Faster! Longer!
This Bloomberg piece points out his position and that of other economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Larry Summers are beginning to filter into the European power centers:
Europe?s shifting emphasis from enforcing austerity to seeking economic growth marks a hollow victory for Nobel laureate Paul Krugman.
?I wish I?d been wrong for the sake of the world,? Krugman said in an interview with Bloomberg Television?s Carol Massar. ?You can see that there has been a definite shift in opinion.?
The euro area?s push to revive confidence in its economy and financial markets by attacking budget deficits will be challenged at the ballot boxes of France and Greece on May 6 as the region?s economy skids toward its second recession in three years and unemployment nears 11 percent.
Leading demands for a revised strategy, French Socialist Francois Hollande, a reader of Krugman, tops President Nicolas Sarkozy in the polls with the warning that putting debt-cutting over expansion is ?bringing desperation to people.? Elsewhere, Greeks are turning to anti-austerity parties, recession-wracked Spain and Italy are relaxing deficit targets, the Dutch government is splintering and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is calling for a ?growth compact.?
The U.K., which the International Monetary Fund reckons accounts for a third of the budget cuts in the 10 largest European Union countries, is already back in recession.
?You can?t do deficit reduction without the people? understanding and endorsing it, said Paul Martin, who as Canada?s finance minister through most of the 1990s turned a C$36 billion ($36 billion) shortfall into a surplus in three years. ?Deficit reduction has to be balanced with growth and it?s pretty clear Europe (BEBANKS) has lost that balance.?
The debate has split policy makers, investors and academics alike as Europe pursued a cocktail of tax increases and spending cuts to beat a sovereign debt crisis that raged from Greece through Ireland and Portugal to the very heart of the single currency bloc.
[...] ?Francois Hollande has read Krugman,? Michel Sapin, one of Hollande?s economic advisers, said in an interview. ?His writings show that Hollande?s proposals are not a whim and that this idea that growth is key is spreading.?
To Krugman, advocates of fiscal retrenchment such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel are ideological ?austerians? who by misunderstanding the ills they?re trying to cure risk ?Europe?s economic suicide.? He calculates that paring government spending by one euro ($1.32) generates only about 40 cents in reduced debt in the short-run and 1.25 euros in lost production.
?Aggressive fiscal austerity is self-defeating if you can?t grow,? said Andrew Balls, the London-based head of European portfolio management at Pacific Investment Management Co. (PTTRX), which oversees the world?s largest bond fund. ?Krugman is a highly respected economist with a prominent platform who provides a very clear explanation of that view.?
Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas. (Above–A WPA poster for an event in Texas back in New Deal days. From the American Memory project of the Library of Congress. Texans where happy to [...]
Read The Full Article:
The "official video" of Save the Rich parodies such iconic music videos as We Are the World.[...]
Read The Full Article:
"I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012." - Justice Ruth Bader GinsbergPart 1 of 2.
One of the running themes of the conference was an attempt at understanding where exactly we are in terms of the Constitution. Is the Roberts Court in the process of (or at least a threat to) a constitutional counterrevolution, reversing the constitutional understanding established by the New Deal? Or as President Obama phrased it, is the Roberts Court intent on returning us to the Lochner Era?
Conservative legal scholar Michael Greve described the atmosphere in this fashion:
It is impossible to convey the constitutional establishment?s near-clinical obsession with, and hysteria over, the possible invalidation of the ACA?s individual mandate. It would, they say, amount to an unconscionable act of aggression on the democratic process. A reversal of the New Deal and a resurrection of the ancien régime of the Second Republic. A judicial coup d?état.Jack Balkin described it as "constitutional dread." Persons who have read me know that I am of that school. (See Justice Kennedy's revolution, When the court said Congress could regulate inactivity; They are who we thought they were: the extreme and radical Republican Party; and The contorted contours of Congressional power according to the radical Roberts Court.)
The Yale conference featured what I think of as the "sane" conservatives?the ones who no longer wield power in the Republican Party. Greve writes:
[Liberals cannot] seriously believe that, but for their extravagant positions, we would hand over the country to Opus Dei, bind our wives? and daughters? feet, allow George Soros or David Koch to buy their very own Congressmen, or for that matter toss ailing widows and orphans into the streets. The real fear is that the Constitution might pose some limit to progressivism?s anything-goes imagination.At the conference, Greve said "the culture wars are over. Liberals have won." I suggest Greve, who in my personal interactions I found to be supremely intelligent, erudite and just plain nice, is not paying attention to what is happening in our country. That said, Greve thinks of progressivism only in terms of social justice. What Occupy has demonstrated, at least to me, is that the progressive project goes well beyond that: It encompasses a demand for economic justice and fairness. Its central point is that our government is working for the 1 percent and marginalizing the 99 percent.
Similarly, former federal appellate judge and Stanford law professor Michael McConnell pooh-poohed the idea that the conservative Republican movement is not extreme. He said conservatives do not want to repeal the New Deal. With all due respect to Judge McConnell, somebody forgot to tell DC Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who recently opined:
First the Supreme Court allowed state and local jurisdictions to regulate property, pursuant to their police powers, in the public interest, and to ?adopt whatever economic policy may reasonably be deemed to promote public welfare.? Nebbia v. New York, 291 U.S. 502, 516 (1934). Then the Court relegated economic liberty to a lower echelon of constitutional protection than personal or political liberty, according restrictions on property rights only minimal review. United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144, 152?53 (1938). Finally, the Court abdicated its constitutional duty to protect economic rights completely, acknowledging that the only recourse for aggrieved property owners lies in the ?democratic process.? Vance v. Bradley, 440 U.S. 93, 97 (1979). ?The Constitution,? the Court said, ?presumes that, absent some reason to infer antipathy, even improvident decisions will eventually be rectified by the democratic process and that judicial intervention is generally unwarranted no matter how unwisely we may think a political branch has acted.? Id.I believe Judge Rogers Brown's views are closer to those of the Republican Party today than those of Judge McConnell. Thus, in my view, the case for "constitutional dread" is strong. And I think that the extreme and radical Constitutional agenda of the Republican Party is not only anathema to the goals of the Occupy movement, but if triumphant, it would block any real chance of achieving these goals.
As the dissent predicted in Nebbia, the judiciary?s refusal to consider the wisdom of legislative acts?at least to inquire whether its purpose and the means proposed are ?within legislative power??would lead to only one result: ?[R]ights guaranteed by the Constitution [would] exist only so long as supposed public interest does not require their extinction.? 291 U.S. at 523. In short order that baleful prophecy received the court?s imprimatur. In Carolene Products (yet another case involving protectionist legislation), the court ratified minimalist review of economic regulations, holding that a rational basis for economic legislation would be presumed and more searching inquiry would be reserved for intrusions on political rights. [...]
The practical effect of rational basis review of economic regulation is the absence of any check on the group interests that all too often control the democratic process. It allows the legislature free rein to subjugate the common good and individual liberty to the electoral calculus of politicians, the whim of majorities, or the self-interest of factions. See Randy E. Barnett, R estoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty 260 (2004)."
But the conference also provided approaches of "constitutional optimism." Professor Balkin himself sees in his Living Originalism approach as a real way to bring to fruition the goals of economic justice that undergird that Occupy idea for economic justice. University of Texas law professor Sandy Levinson has an audacious idea of constitutional optimism?a constitutional convention. Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman's theory of constitutional moments might also offer solutions to consider for the Occupy movement.
(Continue reading below the fold)