Tag Archives: War

George Eliason – Untying PropOrNot: Who They Are

Link to an article by George Eliason:

“Untying PropOrNot: Who They Are … and a Look at 2017’s Biggest Fake News Story”

 

This article is rather poorly written, full of self-congratulatory statements, gossipy digressions, and poor organization.  It also succumbs to the philosophically naive belief that “objective” journalism free from ideology is possible — as Rex Butler put it, “it is not simply a matter of seeing which account of reality best matches the ‘facts’, with the one that is closest being the least biased and therefore the best. As soon as the facts are determined, we have already — whether we know it or not — made our choice; we are already within one ideological system or another. The real dispute has already taken place over what is to count as the facts, which facts are relevant, and so on.”  But in spite of all that, the article does point to useful information about the likely source of this neo-McCarthyist campaign within the Clinton political camp.

Bonus links: “Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites” and “Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies” and “New York Times Cashes in on Facebook’s News Censorship” and “From Facebook to Policebook” and “The New Blacklist”

Arundhati Roy – The NGO-ization of Resistance

Link to an excerpt from the book The End of Imagination (2016) by Arundhati Roy:

“The NGO-ization of Resistance”

 

Bonus links:  “Social Service or Social Change?” and “How Corporate Power Converted Wealth Into Philanthropy for Social Control” and “The Joy of Inequality: The Libidinal Economy of Compassionate Consumerism” and “Preferring Zizek’s Bartleby Politics”

Virginia Eubanks – The High-Tech Poorhouse

Link to an interview with Virginia Eubanks, author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (2018), conducted by Sam Adler-Bell:

“The High-Tech Poorhouse”

 

Bonus links: “The Left Hand and the Right Hand of the State” and I, Daniel Blake and Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare and The State and Revolution and “Welcome to the Black Box” and “Algorithmic Accountability”

Randy Mandell – Modern Money Green Economics for a New Era

Link to a video of a lecture by Randy Mandell:

“Modern Money Green Economics for a New Era”

 

A wonderfully simple and easy-to-follow explanation of MMT.  This is essential stuff to understand taxes and sovereign government spending.

Bonus links: “Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending, and Modern Monetary Theory” and The State and Revolution

Bill Henderson – The Decline of the PeopleLaw Sector (037)

Link to an article by Bill Henderson:

“The Decline of the PeopleLaw Sector (037)”

 

This article conveys some useful factual information, but the commentary is troublingly limited.  The article states, “Our legal system as it pertains to ordinary people is unraveling.  *** No amount of tinkering at the edges is going to fix or reverse these trends. Instead, we need a series of fundamental redesigns.”  It then proceeds to suggest…tinkering at the edges.  The fundamental problem with the article is that it depoliticizes a fundamentally political issue, and then proceeds to suggest at most technocratic fixes at the edges that don’t touch the underlying political question.  That question?  Well, anti-labor, pro-business and pro-finance policies are at the heart of the so-called neo-liberal political project, inaugurated by things like the Trilateral Commission’s report warning about an “excess of democracy” or the infamous Powell Memo.  The decline of what Henderson calls the “PeopleLaw Sector” is just a small corollary to the intended political policies of neo-liberalism, which tends to be just a financialized version of the exclusionary logic of liberalism — which has always promoted economic polarization.  Anyway, the root problem is the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of corporations and a small plutocratic elite.  Lawyers (like so many others!) generally follow the money, and also seek prestige, and most lawyers won’t be swayed by exhortations and moral chiding to forego money and prestige.  And frankly, the economic base for them to do so is shaky and limited without changes to the economy that are only possible in the realm of politics.  Henderson links to an article by Deborah Merritt, which further emphasizes minor technocratic fixes, mostly surrounding law school education.  Neither article addresses the problem of decreasing public funding for higher education, including law schools, which has the (intended) effect of pushing lawyers to accept corporate jobs to pay off the staggering tuition costs (increasingly pushed away from the state and onto students). Pierre Bourdieu usefully developed the metaphor of the left hand and the right hand of the state to make a similar point.

Henderson is correct, to a point, that “we are either going to redesign our legal institutions or they will fail.”  (Assuming he means they fail for most people; the current institutions are quite effective for the so-called “1%” [or really the “0.001%”] at present).  But redesigns to legal institutions without large redesigns of political institutions that shape the overall economy will produce no long-term changes.  But of course, Henderson doesn’t seem to want that.  He writes about finding “creative ways to restore the balance.”  What historical balance, precisely, is he referring to?  Is this yet another (implied) invocation of the “Keynesian” (or “Bretton Woods”) post-WWII “golden years” of prosperity and growth, which depended on things like the destruction of industrial capacity in much of the world, racial discrimination, sexism/patriarchy, financial imperialism, wanton environmental destruction, etc.?  I don’t think there was a time in the past that we can say had anything close to a reasonable “balance” in the American legal system.  Reference to “balance” (in a purely domestic sense) is just coded language in a way parallel to the slogan “Make America great again.”

I guess, in short, my major concern is that Henderson seems to suggest narrowly framing symptoms of class warfare in the legal sector as root problems that permit sufficient technocratic fixes solely within the legal sector, bracketing out the larger society-wide political dimension of class warfare (and avoiding a class-based materialist analysis in general) that better explains the origins of the (very real) downstream symptoms he chronicles in the legal sector.  For the kind of analysis I would like to see Henderson engage in, see Jeffrey Reiman’s …And the Poor Get Prison (which deals just with criminal justice).