History, not politics

Seriously… Yes there are political lessons for today in this, but I don’t wish to draw them out so much as to clarify the past. In part because of today’s political climate, people have forgotten what socialism is. In part because of forgetting what socialism is, people have forgotten what capitalism is. A clear-eyed look at the past might help undo some of that confusion, and let the political chips fall where they may.

A clear-eyed look at the past will tell you the difference between Adam Smith and Ayn Rand. It is that Adam Smith was sane.

19 comments to History, not politics

  • Every Tea Party I’ve been too in the Chicago area has included people from Eastern Europ or former Soviet Republics, and of course the ex-party guy me. We can tell you what Socialism was over the years, and what it’s become today. (Sanity an interesting topic as for the most part, we Marxists never had much use for Freud or Psychiatry). Everything was political and could be explained by dialectics, not medicine.

    So what exactly has History taught you Will?

  • So what exactly has History taught you Will?

    Is this from a movie or something? I googled the phrase, but got no results… The alternative is that you think I’m someone named Will… but I’m not. I’m smijer… and you have to check my facebook page to get more than that.

    Tea Parties are part of modern politics. As I’ve lamented before, politics makes people dumb… so I am trying to stay away from the subject.

  • Politics makes us civilized. Without Politics we’d be in a real jam. Totalitarians suppress politics in the name of higher ideals. But that’s false and ultimate People and their Politics prevail.

  • I think you are using the word a tad differently than I…. I think you are talking about some kind of democratic-republican utopia where the people have a reasoned discourse and consent to be governed according to the principles they mutually agree upon. I think that’s what the founders had in mind for America. Such a thing would be great.

    I’m talking about modern, real world politics, that we have in the United States today… where there the government is elected by an unsuspecting majority with a consumer mindset. Once elected, they govern according to no principles (especially not constitutional ones) but that they keep the cash coming in from their donors. Where election season is a matter of supplementing the buying power of the donors by leveraging the power of the lowest common denominator among the electorate in order to retain power. Sort of a race to the bottom, with the relay guy carrying a shovel. Sort of a farcical imitation of the politics you probably have in mind.

    My problem with it is that I have found that I (and many others it seems) start with the intention of having a voice in a democratic process and end by discovering that the real powers laugh up their sleeves at my naivete. And that in the process I have become stupider and stupider until I can barely think.

    That’s why I’m making an effort to avoid politics.

  • By politics I mean a struggle for power. No discourse but rough and tumble give and take over power. Politics institutionalizes the struggle in a civilized way.

    …elected by an unsuspecting majority with a consumer mindset.

    So, now what makes you so much more smarter and insightful than the average Jane and Joe voter?

  • Politics institutionalizes the struggle in a civilized way


    Ok.. it makes me feel much better that the people struggling for power over me are doing it all civilized. Seriously. I’m glad that there aren’t predator drones flying over my neighborhood.

    Of course, I would much rather a “politics” where the struggle was not for power but for the true consent from an informed public. But yes… better billions spent on TV ads and idiots on the radio than civil war.

    ‘Course it’s only a matter of time before somebody figures out that you can lock up or execute American citizens with impunity as long as you say that you suspect them of terrorism. When that happens, the “civilized” struggle for corporate dollars and naive voters can be dispensed with. But still, I can imagine it happening relatively bloodlessly.

    So, now what makes you so much more smarter and insightful than the average Jane and Joe voter?

    Nothing at all sir. I’ll probably be an average Joe voter in the next election. And nothing makes me smarter or more insightful than the average tea partier, either. I used to be just like them. I had a coffee cup on my desk that had Howard Dean’s photo on it, and I went to the Dean Meetups and thought I was going to make a difference. And I believed Barack Obama when he claimed he wanted to do things differently. If I have any advantage at all, it’s that I have *noticed* how stupid politics makes me, and am at least struggling to divorce myself from it.

    The kind of politics that is “civilized” can (and does) get by just fine without any of us average Janes & Joes. It can do without the tea-partiers and Deaniacs, too. That is except insofar as one faction of “civilized” strugglers can use us as leverage in their struggle.

  • Re: I’m glad that there aren’t predator drones flying over my neighborhood.

    Chicago Democrats John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford have called for the Illinois National Guard not so far from mine.

    So far this year, 113 people have been killed across Chicago, the same number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined in the same period, Fritchey said.

    “As we speak, National Guard members are working side-by-side with our troops to fight a war halfway around the world,” Fritchey said. “The unfortunate reality is that we have another war that is just as deadly taking place right in our backyard.”

    If the kids and young men learned politics to channel the very human desire for power and control, Chicago would be far better off. With our kind of corruption, we can’t afford to dismiss politics. It’s really our only hope.

  • there’s more than one war going on in our back yards, fortunately.

    I doubt that the young men fighting for power & control in your neighborhoods would be admitted to the ruling class… and I doubt that the kabuki politics that average Janes & Joes are permitted would satisfy them.

  • that should have read “unfortunately”

  • The gangs are the ruling class. They provide muscle for many Politicans. They and the Mob.

  • So, your wish for them has already come true?

  • Wish for you? Gangbangers? I fear for my life and work daily in the midst of them.

  • Well, that just unraveled.. I was asking, ironically, if your wish for the gangbangers – that they take to politics – had already come true, since you say they provide the muscle for it…

    But I sympathize. It’d be nice if they got into anything but gangs. I just don’t see a gang member who has a measure of real, if ill-begotten, power would trade that in for a Howard Dean coffee mug and a sign that says “keep government out of my medicare!” Or that they would ever be allowed to join the politico-industrial complex as full members.

  • No, our politics in Chicago is broken. We only have one party and Progressives long ago joined in with the Machine, Gang Bangers, and the Mob. Wait for the Blagojevich trial to start and hopefully many of the tapes will be played. You’ll here how things are done here, and understand the fellow from Chicago now in Washington. Download the Santiago Proffer for the trial and read the transcipts on how Blagojevich shook down Children’s Hospital for campaign donations (which the Guv intended to use for himself) and threatened to shut off Children’s Memorial Medicaid payments. This is what happens with one Party Politics and a Government with far too much power. It’s right out of the Soprano’s and that should be surprizing because many of these guys are hoodlums. Start reading John Kass in the Chicago Trib, a guy who had some friends of Mayor Daley stop by and tell him they know where his kids play…

  • Yes… one party rule is bad… Two party rule is not much better. I think George Washington had a thing or two to say about political parties… but that horse has done left the barn.

    There is an element of reform-minded individuals out there who think that the party system should be opened up to more parties… If two parties alleviates a small share of the tyranny of a single party, then maybe three, four, or five will make politics more than just a way to keep the powerful from competing with guns. Personally, I’m skeptical. I’m starting to believe that our only hope can be found in joining the ruling class or in hoping the ruling class runs a benevolent dictatorship. Who knows…

  • Third parties in Illinois really have the rules stacked against them.

    …but it’s nice to end this with agreement.

    Enjoy the balance of the day.

  • I’m starting to believe that our only hope can be found in joining the ruling class or in hoping the ruling class runs a benevolent dictatorship.

    Now you know why Winston Smith finally said, “I love Big Brother”

    As a Balloon-Juice commenter said not so long ago, “Life is so much simpler when you surrender”

    Politics makes us civilized.

    “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means”

  • Issues are so screwy, it may well only get better

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