What’s Wrong With Democrats?

Among liberals, progressives, most self-proclaimed ‘leftists’ (there is no other kind in the U.S.), there still seems to be a widespread assumption that politics is, or, more insidiously, should be, a battle of ideas. This may sound odd given a liberal punditocracy at least co-dominated by Markos “it’s all about winning” Moulitsas, but pragmatism, in both politics and philosophy, is just what happens when the ideas fail to convince their advocates. Most have not yet given up the faith. The most common position for the individual progressive is that she or he has solid ideas, but they are just ‘too much’ for the establishment and/or the unenlightened masses to handle. They find that the more they leave these volatile ideas out of their practical politics, out of their speech, and even out of their own heads, the more their power of action increases. Hence the survival of the Democratic Party.

When those further left attack “libs” for ideological bankruptcy, they are only correct about the professional insiders, the obvious sellouts. Going through the roster of liberal blogs, including DailyKos, one can find a full range of views presented and fought over, which usually tend more to the left than the mainstream media would lead one to expect. And lest we forget, Obama watches The Wire, a show that documents the demolition of any last remnants of the American Dream from a different angle every episode. It starts to seem like there is very little ideological consistency among those whose practical politics coincide with the Democrats, and that there must be some reason other than privacy for their many dissenting views to be so inconsequential.

But ideology isn’t simply a philosophy or a set of beliefs. If it doesn’t include behaviors beyond the communication of ideas on safe, open forums, the concept reduces to psychological speculation. And given that now we’ve reached a moment where dissatisfaction with the current economic system (or certain dominant aspects of it, at least) is widespread even among those most privileged by it, the importance of translating discontent and knowledge into something practical can hardly be said to exist only for a tiny elite of those who know, nor can the claim be made that mass ignorance justifies that elite’s privileged detachment.

So it isn’t Obama, or a set of irrational beliefs about him — that he is the messiah, that he will restore democracy, save the planet, etc. — that prevents progressives, liberals, and leftists from forming a viable alternative politics. The usual defense of supporting Obama from people who don’t feel comfortable siding with the future commander-in-chief of an imperial power, is that they don’t ‘really believe’ he’s the messiah, or that he’ll do more than clean up some of the Bush mess while signifying stability and, perhaps, providing an opening for organized movements to achieve something. Despite Zinn and Chomsky’s recent measured endorsements, I find this hope to signal at best (perhaps necessary) wishful thinking and at worst the future co-optation of radical enthusiasm by establishment liberalism. But the idea that the more practical of these concerns, held by the majority of Americans, are inherently ‘counter-revolutionary’ is just so much theoretical purism. Like some others recently, I think the economistic idea that the ‘collapse of the system’ will bring about revolution (and so should be endorsed by bloggers) is pretty much worthless. For many reasons, the biggest of which is that despite all gains and all talk there is no international revolutionary organization to consolidate power once ‘the system’ ‘falls away,’ nor is one likely to magically spring into existence.

I don’t think it’s the case that these Obama myths, as ‘idea-objects’ or ‘real fictions’ (what forces everyone who talks about Obama, including Obama himself, to acknowledge the messiah meme), prevent the discussion of alternatives simply through repetition by the media, regardless of subjective belief. But this take is the closest one to being right, and for that reason the most insidious. It grants a kind of supernatural agency to a symptom. It doesn’t understand why people find fantasy so attractive even when they know it’s fantasy, even when they seem to have nothing to gain by accepting it. Instead it brackets the question, and assists the media machine in the transformation of slogans, images, and anecdotes (i.e. Joe the Plumber) into mysterious fetishes. Acceptance of the mandarin strictures of corporate media-speak can only ground analysis if we assume that most of the people who consume it as spectacle are only capable of submission. Without this assumption there is no fetish, just an infantile public imposed on the masses, of a kind with the fictional structures of credit and debt in which we are enmeshed, or the branded products smothering our means of existence in glittering denials of materiality, all part of a total organization of life we are forced to find ways of contending with.

So there is no reason to take media babble seriously, ‘on its own terms.’ The task instead is to construct and propagate popular slogans, against mass slogans. Popular language, against mass language. Mass language speaks to the gut. It attempts to bind itself to emotional and physiological responses with as little intellectual surplus as possible. When seen through, as these days it usually is, its alibi is that ‘other people’ believe it, a strange, sweaty race only capable of understanding the world through bodily functions and supernatural terror. Popular language speaks to those it knows, while inviting everyone; it is for that reason multiple, the language of people everywhere learning and fighting to work together. Intellectuals are not the only ones forced by experience into a complicated relationship with their ideas and beliefs, it’s just their job to publicize the confusions of their class. The practical question is also theoretical and aesthetic, while being universal — the ideological question is still only talk.


38 Responses to “What’s Wrong With Democrats?”

  1. nice analysis

    “despite all gains and all talk there is no international revolutionary organization to consolidate power once ‘the system’ ‘falls away,’ nor is one likely to magically spring into existence.”

    what you mean by ‘the system’?

  2. That’s great…

    about Achcar – his objection is as determinist, just he’s assigning a different economic determinant (boom prosperity), but it’s as mechanical, and as obviously and disconcertingly ignoring that what happens always depends on what people do. The bursting of bubbles is a situation; there are some downsides for the ruling class agenda it causes inevitably – one major feature of consent and complicity maintenance is the ability to reward a swathe of clerk level courtiers (including mercenary soldiers), reward them so highly that they become very convinced and attached to the interests of those in power. Of course this widespread complicity cannot be left to “conspiracies” – the helpers ofpower are rewarded by the bubbles that are a lot like dropping money out of helicopters but only over certain people, the upper middle class.

    I am reminded again of that notorious Spivak intervention in the politics of interpretation conference:

    An interesting essay could be written on what concepts did duty, in American social theory, for the absent concept of ‘ideology’: for example the notion of norms in structural functionalism, and of ‘values’ and the ‘central value system’ in [Talcott]Parsons.” I would add to this list a concept of the “unconscious” as a continuous and homogeneous part of the mind that is simply “not conscious.”

    That all purpose “unconscious”, existing in an individual but also just existing abroad, roaming, out there…(dominic fox referred to it at Leninino’s, giving it the term “the political unconscious” but not meaning what jameson means)…it’s this phlogistic element, the begged question. The mass media cements an identity between this purported “unconscious” to which “theory” using psychoanalytic jargons refers as if it needs no explanation, and the conscious consciousnesses of this spectral spectatorial horde of vicious selfish ignorant imbeciles. In that same thread at LT, padraig advaned as evidence of the content of this “political unconscious” that is simply “not conscious” – not critical intellectual product – an msm article with a “man on the street” interview, a man on the street (protesting in the city of London), consciously answering a question, consciously remarking on the parasitic nature of financial industry professionals. That conscious answer, that man’s conscious thoughts, is placed by the “theory” and the mass media, these tango partners which allow to themselves alone the possession of real consciousness or ‘thought’ (to themselves, and to one another), in an “unconscious” of some undefined totality, an “unconscious” that is simply “not conscious”…the conscious thought of the majority is simply labelled “unconscious” or “not conscious”. The whole thing operates with insinuations, assumptions never interrogated, oblique suggestions, and without ever being explicit, both mass media and the professional critique that is an accessory to it for a niche market establish this hierarchy; humanity’s consciousness is not conscious, unconscious, with all the connotations of primitive drives and irrationality, while professional discourse monopolises consciousness, with its qualities of rationality, science, morality, critical capability etc.

  3. Really good, I agree with the always-adorable Arpege on this one point. Beyond this, Arpege, dear, you are the only person who has yet turned me into Sarah Palin, because I have to remind you that I have much ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ to say your over-complicated machineeries of endless attempts to become the means of production.

    Good on Obama, trexus, except isn’t the ‘messiah’ stuff being retired as quickly as it can be. The only reason he seems like a messiah is that he’s such an intelligent man about almost everything. Plus, he’s very much like Hillary in terms of ruthless politics, really doing many of the same things but not only more smoothly but more deeply.

    “I find this hope to signal at best (perhaps necessary) wishful thinking and at worst the future co-optation of radical enthusiasm by establishment liberalism.”

    YOu hardly need worry, monsieur. I think our companion in the immediate vicinity, having proved vodka’s ‘denial of materiality’ with comrade-nerds who thnk Doris and Rock were 1968-worthy, when they needed to be focussing on the impingements of Charles Manson if they think there’s a 1968 ABSOLUT to wax nostalgic about. Asshole is still in jail, so is that girl Sadie, who in 60s flower-child style said ‘I killed her because I loved her…” No sad soaps in the crafts group for lifers… I have, serously though, noticed that all this co-optation of leftism by ‘establishmnent liberalism’ has been talked about for at least 3 decades, and amounts to co-opting what it gets around to, as yet quite unable to ascertain how to gobble up all the rest of it. Our friend herself is living proof that the Village Voice of the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 00s LIVETH just as doth a Redeemer! The Voice doesn’t even carry such lovely rhapsodies anymore (as well, they don’t even have the apartment business–I mean NADA, everybody uses craigslist), so that they’ve been reduced to the annual ‘The Queer Issue’ and letting Nat Hentoff keep writing some more (I guess he’s still alive.)

    I thought Chomsky terrific on that YouTube interview, never liked him better. He’s very balanced and understanding more what the major emphases have to be in terms of short run right now. ‘Just cleaning up some of the Bush messes’ alone ought to be enough to suit many people. Of ocurse, the most infuriating thing is Paulson’s claim this week of ‘illegality’ in the case of Lehman Brothers, whose being allowed to default is totally inexcusable. They can’t use the excuses that ‘it would have been another bank’, because it already WAS other banks, and everybody thought the worst had been passed when Bear Stearns was bailed out. This is simply appalling, and all the economists and financiers the world over, not to mention everybody else, knows that the credit freeze was immediately the result of not bailing out Lehman. They can still fix most of this, but that was not conspiracy, it was incompetence, or they wouldn’t have done the rest of it, which is having the occasional result. But there are all sorts of individual panics, and I’ve experienced some myself. Some of it is ignorance about some of the things, other times it’s getting irrational from the sense of frozenness that has begun to pervade things.

  4. traxus4420 Says:

    chabert, of all the examples i can think of, i don’t know if you saw this but probably the most ‘shocking’ (in quotes because it forecloses all such reactions by addressing an a priori passive recipient, reminding the spectator that any objection must be made according to their role as passive recipient in order to be understood, that is, not made at all) were the little line graphs measuring the responses of ‘democrats,’ ‘republicans,’ and ‘undecideds’ to obama and mccain’s talking points during the debates in real time — random viewers somewhere were i guess given little dials to turn indicating their pleasure or displeasure with what was being said, the visual display resembling an EKG.

    there’s these fig leaves to populism everywhere — the assimilation of this ‘unconscious’ you bring up into official discourse as its ‘participation,’ either translated or forced to translate itself into some ludicrous binary choice — a vote, reflected back on ‘it’ as ‘its’ definition. yay/nay, good/evil, pinko/redneck, etc. that ferryboat thought experiment from dark knight another fine example.

    an allegorizing process of sorts, very complex to describe analytically but very naturally implemented with images and imaged words.

  5. traxus4420 Says:

    you’re right about the status of ‘messiah,’ jonquille, i’m a bit behind the curve on the jargon. it is still true that no one can successfully make fun of him, which is not any lack of humorous qualities, just that, as you say, he’s incredibly slick and everyone has sensed that his election is a safe bet to plug into emotionally. (this is probably the closest thing i’ve found to a good obama parody, though unintentional)

    though on the bailout, come on — triggering these catastrophes and running them into the ground is how the bush admin works, you know that. the incompetence vs. conspiracy debate contrasts fecklessness with scientific management, leaving no room for MAVERICK.

    “I have, serously though, noticed that all this co-optation of leftism by ‘establishmnent liberalism’ has been talked about for at least 3 decades, and amounts to co-opting what it gets around to, as yet quite unable to ascertain how to gobble up all the rest of it.”

    it is important to keep perspective. the democrats & co. haven’t really needed to “gobble up all the rest of it” though, have they? not really needed to, not been able to, who can tell…it is important i think that the obama campaign’s victory involves all these references and organizational strategies from left social movements, the “si se puede” thing the most famous.

    but that could go any which way — what i’m really worried about is the world’s capitalist governments becoming environmentalists.

  6. traxus4420 Says:

    i can verify that nat hentoff is still alive. he just stays the hell away from the new office.

  7. traxus4420 Says:

    jesse – ‘the system’ is just, you know, ‘the establishment,’ maaann.

    basically i just meant to put scare quotes around the idea that capitalism is this discrete thing that can simply be overthrown, or collapse of its own accord, and that afterward everything will improve on the spot. directed at those who read lenin and assume the state = the capitalist social relations.

  8. traxus4420 Says:

    “obviously and disconcertingly ignoring that what happens always depends on what people do.”

    right, that’s just me being a lazy linker, connecting more with the sentiment than the featured theorist with whom i am unfamiliar. k-punk and shaviro got into a whole back and forth over it already, i see.

  9. triggering these catastrophes and running them into the ground is how the bush admin works, you know that. the incompetence vs. conspiracy debate contrasts fecklessness with scientific management, leaving no room for MAVERICK.

    That’s delicious, but I don’t know whether it holds as true at the end of their tenure as it did previously, unless just out of habit–I’d agree that they would have a hard time turning a new leaf, as it were, even if it were to their own benefit and profit. But the new scrutiny of the banks being bailed refusing to lend, as well as the lucky failure of the original bailout before the Senate worked in some disclaimers (also as it were…) itself proves that their management, while not exactly feckless, is far from scientiifc, Gawd knows. They had to cooperate, and are even having to issue statements ordering the banks getting the money to start lending, and hearings will surely be called in a week or two by Dodd and others. I can see why you’d say that the combination that stupidlly excludes these wonderful MAVERICKS (since those MAVERICKS are poised to do everything the Bush administration wants to keep doing if Bush didn’t seem like he was having enough trouble just running a sewing circle or book club, but I’m sure he’s got plenty of assistants until he decides to do Josef K in a Spielberg remake of The Trial) is meant to trigger these things and run them into the ground–they hadn’t bargained on doing something that would also run them into the ground. So that, if they’d played their cards right, they definitely wouldn’t have let Lehman fail, because there could have been a slow slide into the recession that everyone knew was coming; the refusal to bail out Lehman did immediately cause the panic itself, and this they cannot have wanted, because the panic is much more intense than just a recession of which there have been numerous ones–but there has not been such fear before any of the economic slowdowns as there is this time. In other words, the panic, more than the inevitable recession with or without that huge panic that lay in the balance when the G7 had to allow the British plan to begin to prevail–it was interesting that Germany and Italy balked as long as they could just like the U.S.–is what has most likely lost to them the invaluable assistants that these MAVERICKS would have been happy to lie themselves into. So the Lehman failure is directly tied to Obama’s huge surge after the Trailer Trash accepted her Rhinestone Tiara and now, hilariously, has gone ‘rogue’ and is doing a ‘breakoff republic’ from the McCain campaign. Those of us who are not economists would not necessarily know why, if they were bailing out everybody else, including Scottish partridge hunts for AIG, just not bailing out Lehman should matter so much, and it doesn’t matter if we don’t. We just know that it mattered, and the explosiveness would not have happened otherwise, it would have been slower. As it was, the teetering on the 26th of Sep. weekend when the G7 met (I’m pretty sure that was the date) was pretty terrifying, and even though the process has moved too slowly, there’s been some unfreezing of credit and now there’s even constant scrutiny. There’d have to be if yesterday the White House would demand that the banks lend. I don’t know if they were doing it for the MAVERICKS or what, but they have to anyway. That’s a good synopsis of all these years of fights between me and the 9/11 truthalisms, though–the vast poles between ‘fecklesnness’ and ‘scientific management’. (I wonder if John Malone played shuffleboard with Rupert Murdoch at any of the Billionaire’s Club meetings, which are always hush-hush and strictly on the q.t…..)

  10. No, I believe the G7 meetings were in the 2nd weekend of October, and there was the highly volatile week on Wall Street beginning with the huge rally on the 13th and total loss of gains 2 days later.I went down there just in between, on the Tuesday, October 14th. Lots of police and tourists and NYSE totally blocked off just as had the WTC site been (although this is on a much smaller scale) after 9/11. Yes. These dates are so emblazoned on the brain most of the time, because a few days after Lehman failed on Sunday, Sep. 14, the whole city was extremely wild for awhile. It’s much clearer to me now how Wall Street’s volatility (or stability when that’s there) really affects the physical sensation here, which I wouldn’t have really known before (it might definitely have helped if I had). I had been interested to find that the trading floors seemed to have such a heat emanating from then whether in person or reading about them, because in the last few years they’ve definitely been physically reduced in terms of personnel and made more virtual–those runners from the old days are gone (I once saw the trading floor when they still had them, and it was very rodentish, I didn’t know how they kept standing through this. In any case, after 9/11, they stopped letting tourists see the floors.)

  11. traxus4420 Says:

    “So that, if they’d played their cards right, they definitely wouldn’t have let Lehman fail, because there could have been a slow slide into the recession that everyone knew was coming; the refusal to bail out Lehman did immediately cause the panic itself, and this they cannot have wanted, because the panic is much more intense than just a recession of which there have been numerous ones–but there has not been such fear before any of the economic slowdowns as there is this time.”

    i just can’t see how they would not have seen something like this coming, considering how many economists were predicting a massive run to follow lehman’s failure. if you say incompetence, then it would have to be in how they handled it afterward. and you would still have to answer what they were hoping to gain, and what they failed to gain.

    i think we have to assume they wanted a huge catastrophe, not just the inevitable downturn. apparently in order to force the paulson plan through. i don’t buy that it was for election reasons. anyway, how has anyone in the bush administration been burned at all by this?

  12. traxus4420 Says:

    i mean it drops a huge mess into obama’s hands, and one where the basic structure of the solution — accept the expertise of the geniuses in charge of the treasury and the fed — will carry through. obama in a position of continual cleanup and crisis management. what he’s good at, and what we need, but as the consequence of a consciously created situation.

  13. The big economists were by no means sure that the Lehman failure was going to cause such panic until a day or two later. Paulson et alia knew that it was a good possibility, but I think you underestimate their desire to stay as ‘free-market-appearing’ as possible. I mean, they do want to seem that, don’t they? Because even in Bush’s speeches in which he embraces Gordon Brown’s eventual determination of what the plan was going to have to include (and even if some of it hasn’t been enforced yet, it is apparently not too late for that to happen, since everybody is aware of the banks noarding cash and Nocera’s much-quoted piece of the last few days of the overheard Chase banker saying that they were just going to use the money for acquisitions and not do any lending to speak of–I’ll link this if you want, but I imagine you saw it, they’re all linking it, Krugman and TPM,etc.), he still gives lip service on top of the inevitable nationalization he’s had to accept to ‘we have to keep our free market system’, it’s so mealy-mouthed, even his bad English has a hard time getting it out.

    I think we’re basically in agreement, because when it was seemingly ‘fait accompli’ that the first Paulson plan would pass, it could conceivably be that the beginnings of the Lehman failures were thought to be enough for the original Paulson plan to get through, in which case they could have had total catastrophe. Therefore, possible that your idea that the ‘way it was handled after’ was incompetence in their self-serving terms, because they announced the bailout plan later that very week–the Wednesday after the Lehman failure. This was TOO SOON, I think, for the Lehman catastrophe to have fully been felt enough for people not to immediately set to work on working through the mess of the bailout plan, which even the best economists thought was better than nothing at first, because it could be fixed later. But it was able to begin to be fixed sooner (although it still needs much more enforcement in the U.S. along the British lines) because the original did not sell. Those who prevented its passing may not have prevented it for the right reasons, but it would have been the catastrophe the Republicans wanted (there was much talk of ‘why should we believe Bush now after WMD, etc,.?’) had it not failed, then contained the proviso that it could transform into nationalizing the banks in the Senate bill, then passed by the House. But this did nothing to unfreeze the credit tundra. Only after the G7 meeting a week after the bailout plan passed the House finally on Friday, Oct. 3, and finally getting Paulson to sign on to most of the British features, did the stock market first rally and then continue with vast losses the next few days and then continue on with volatility index very active. (will continue in a moment, emergency just came up.)

  14. and you would still have to answer what they were hoping to gain, and what they failed to gain.

    What they failed to gain was a bailout that would have benefited them the way the original Paulson plan wanted it to. Chabert can say that the original plan hadn’t enough features that the Republicans wanted in it, so were told by the Bushies to kill it (I believe she wrote that on Lenin’s Tomb before the Senate’s new bill came up the following Wed.), but subsequently they may have realized that were too much in full sight of everyone for even their brand of chicanery to prevail, i.e., the public is directly affected by the money problems and they had probably not counted on this much scrutiny this quick, because they had managed to pull off the Iraq Invasion with a much more leisurely schedule, and then much else.

    So you didn’t, for example, hear until after the G7 meetings that Bernanke had always favoured nationalization from the beginning. And if they’d managed to pass the 1st horrible Paulson plan, and let the 2nd Paulson plan which was a great improvement but still not good and wouldn’t have begun to have real effects, then you could say that they had conspired with those plans. But there has been gradual thawing of the credit markets, but not nearly enough as noted, since the Brown-influenced plan was adopted. Isn’t this where they failed to gain? They did not calculate on such resistance from many quarters to the original bailout plan, but more and more were added so that surely that means they failed to gain much of what they wanted to gain when they originally tried to shove the bailout through on the 3-page text, saying something like ‘this needs to be quick and clean’. At that point it was on their terms, and it seems I recall they may have already had this ready before the Lehman failure, so it is possible they calculated the effect of the Lehman failure and thought the bailout would go immediately through and serve their interests. But even if it has to some degree (I cannot see that it would be more than just business as usual), it is far from what they were hoping for. But why a much huger series of bank failures would have benefitted tham and a much greater stock market decline than even they’ve had, I cannot see.

    ” i don’t buy that it was for election reasons. anyway, how has anyone in the bush administration been burned at all by this?”

    Well, not the literal personnel, but didn’t they stand to benefit by a lesser financial crisis and a much more likely McCain win than they will with an Obama win and an enlarged Democratic majority in both houses of Congress? Because McCain would have meant continued profits and every possible kind of benefit for these Bushies even once out of office. Do you think that they didn’t realize that the Financial Crisis would NOT be the tipping point against McCain? just as the calculation that Sarah Palin would continue as begun, which is a few weeks before the big General Panic, instead of fizzling out as it has. Otherwise, it seems that you are saying they precipitated the Financial Crisis at least not caring if Obama would win (I know you said they weren’t iinterested in the election, but how could they not be, isn’t McCain one of them, no matter what he says to win? He would have benefitted them in terms of appointments, Karl Rove and the rest, wouldn’t he?) and be stuck with cleaning it up. It was as well Bush’s idea that McCain and Obama go to this meeting which was a mess and the scene in which McCain was showing that he ‘wanted to solve the Financial Crisis by suspending his campaign’, but where he was thoroughly ineffectual and didn’t speak–as Bush’s idea (i’m pretty sure it was), both candidates stayed in the position of supporting the bailout and not getting involved in details, but it was supposed to showcase McCain.

    I hope you’ll answer back, because I think they were trying to fuck things up, but didn’t know that it would fuck things up for them as well? Once it became too obvious, and Lehman’s panic had spread far and wide, they really were not in a positiion to direct things anymore, and didn’t. They were forced to cooperate. The result has been that on the weekend of the G7 meeintgs, it seemed that they would defintiely choose something that would still FURTHER not work, but they finally capitulated in most ways. What has been left undone in terms of forcing the big banks to start freely lending has perhaps given them 1 % of what they wanted, but it has been a huge disappointment if they had conspired to make a huge ‘personal profit’ from it. This sounds like I am saying that only conspiracy was involved and only incompetence at carrying out the conspiracy was involved, but it’s unclear to me that it was not a combination of their own predatory business as usual combined with incompetence at getting their self-serving goals done as well–but if it had been as purely self-serving as you seem to be indicating (I doubt that it’s exactly comparable to a military campaign, in which their own interests alone could be executed), it looks as if though they’ve been gradually gotten under surprisingly strong control, and have to cooperate with people they’re not used to cooperating with.

  15. Finally, it just seems that their timing was off, or that there was not timing that could really work for them, because they really needed another week to let Lehman really show itself to the world and be publicized for it loudly before they announced the bailout. Saving AIG the same day as letting Lehman fail and Chase buying Merrill (after a week or two of saving Fannie and Freddie) was not enough to cover it up, although they may have discounted the fact that two out of three did have a psychological effect so that Lehman’s destructiveness was not so apparent. But it also begs the question why didn’t they allow Bear Stearns to fail earlier and get the same result? If they had a war plan, which I am not convinced they did, they discovered it along the way and probably after Lehman fell and they may have realized that this could promote a catastrophe, but I still don’t see how a total Wall Street catastrophe, which didn’t quite happen, would have benefitted them much–although it’s possible that kind of destructive action i s the only thing they know how to do, it having become a part of their ideology almost, a reflex. but if they were hoping for total Wall Street collapse, they did not succeed in getting Lehman to pave they way to it, because if this was the plan, it was resisted by many others in such a way that only a small part of it could go through. And it this part, even the Bush Administration does not seem to be able to hold forth on anything but further cooperation on making the Gordon Brown plans work.

  16. “the visual display resembling an EKG.”

    yeah it was incredible from what little i saw. I assume it was the live audience; same procedure as testing ads, films and tv shows.

    “k-punk and shaviro got into a whole back and forth over it already,”

    so many people want to place bets on the outcome of unconscious horde audience vs. economic depression, unconscious audience horde vs. stolen election, unconscious audience horde vs. Obama victory…

  17. traxus4420 Says:

    “But why a much huger series of bank failures would have benefitted tham and a much greater stock market decline than even they’ve had, I cannot see.”

    well, i think this is the risk they were willing to take. i’m in agreement with you that it didn’t turn out as well as they’d hoped, but that they must have been willing to accept financial consequences in the ballpark of what did happen, as there were several people predicting something like what we’re seeing now. roubini’s the only one i took the time to read thoroughly enough to remember his name, but he cites a number of academics and journalists who were reading the signs.

    whether or not mccain and others acted on their own ideology in opposing the bailout, i think the bushies ultimately wanted to drop this in the democrats’ lap, figuring that whoever became president, the dems would be blamed.

    as for why bear sterns and not lehman, the official story is that bear sterns was too big to fail, and lehman wasn’t, making its fallout theoretically more controllable — i haven’t been able to go beyond that account.

    i basically agree with this: “it looks as if though they’ve been gradually gotten under surprisingly strong control, and have to cooperate with people they’re not used to cooperating with.” it’s not that they didn’t see the crisis coming, they just wanted to stake any future stability on their own authority, and that part didn’t work, though it still might in the sense that the treasury and the fed do have greater powers. not monarchical, but still troubling, and the legitimacy of leaving a small cadre of experts in charge of the economy hasn’t lessened in washington even if it has for the rest of us. in that sense they’ve lead the shift to a new official ideology, post-neoliberalism, and determined the terms of debate — how do we do what these extremists failed to do. who obama appoints as treasury secretary will tell us a lot, i think.

  18. Your site won’t print the CNN link for this ‘nostalgic’ article from Sep. 10, but it should explain my fetishization of Lehman, so I’ve copied a failry long excerpt. I was fairly sure Lehman was the much bigger, having seen at least 2 other mentions in relation to Bear Stearns in the last few days. And it ends saying that ‘they would find a way’. Which of course they could have. Anyway, thanks for thoughtful response.

    “Unfortunately, it may have no choice.

    The Federal Reserve set a dangerous precedent in March when it helped engineer the takeover of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) by agreeing to guarantee $29 billion in potential losses.

    Since then, several Fed members, most notably chief Ben Bernanke, have gone out of their way to defend the action, arguing that Bear Stearns simply was too big to fail. The repercussions of allowing Bear to collapse could have been catastrophic.

    So if Bear was determined to be too big to fail, isn’t it likely the Fed would think Lehman is as well?

    Probably. That’s because Lehman, the fourth-largest investment bank, is bigger than Bear, which was the fifth-largest at the time it nearly imploded.

    What’s more, Lehman, a bond-trading powerhouse, is even a bigger player in the mortgage-backed securities market than Bear was. So the Fed could easily argue that letting Lehman go under could create even more chaos in the already volatile credit markets.

    Yes, Fuld wants to keep the bank independent by taking a piecemeal approach to breaking up the company. But the market may not let him do so.

    And until Lehman actually announces that it has, in fact, raised a substantial amount of capital, it’s likely that there will be continued pressure on the stock.

    If Lehman’s stock falls further, it’s reasonable to think that some financial institution would take a gamble on buying the company, especially if it could get Lehman through a “takeunder” just as JPMorgan did with Bear.

    Some analysts have tossed out investment manager BlackRock (BLK, Fortune 500), British bank HSBC (HBC) and private equity firm Blackstone (BX) as potential bidders.

    But why would any of them agree to take on all the risk without some assurance from the Fed? After all, that’s exactly what JPMorgan got in the Bear deal.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the notion of big Wall Street firms getting saved after making irresponsible, reckless decisions. In what’s supposed to be a free market, companies should be allowed to fail.

    But the Fed has already opened Pandora’s box. It’s too late now to say that Lehman should be left to wither away to nothing while Bear was allowed to escape that fate.

    To be sure, if one of the three aforementioned firms were to try and buy Lehman and wanted the Fed’s help, this would be more complicated than the JPMorgan takeover. BlackRock and Blackstone aren’t banks. And HSBC is not a U.S.-headquartered institution.

    Still, Bernanke and Fed vice chairman Tim Geithner have demonstrated a remarkable willingness to be flexible and creative in dealing with the credit crunch. So if they wanted to help someone buy Lehman, one would think they would find a way to get it done.

    Like it or not, the age of the bailout is in full swing.

    First Published: September 10, 2008: 10:48 AM EDT

  19. they had to let lehman fail to tip AIG over to shake the european banks who bought insurance from them to game their regulators. they didn’t actually “let” it fail, it was forced into failure by JP Morgan on purpose cutting off credit.


    if you had all the information it would not be difficult to figure out where to pull a thread to unravel these concerns in a certain order. the credit crunch was a situation – the freeze was manufactured. and they”ve been totally upfront about why – to consolidate the industry. this means smaller banks have to be brought to their knees so that favoured big banks can buy up their assets cheap and the taxpayers had to underwrite the deals to make it not only painless but risk free and immediately profitable for the shareholders of the big banks.

    they had a plan A that was too radical and had nothing to do with the toxic assets (and the treasury’s creditors said no to it); this is plan B, just massive consolidation for the benefit of the big banks. It’s a big expropriation by the biggest capitalists from the lesser (and from the US treasury), eliminating competition. there have obviously been some snags, for example the much hyped toxicity…it was expected to really harm regional banks, but they turned out to have been managed with more probity than expected, and greater pressures needed to be applied and are being applied.

    In fact not only Lehman but Bear, Merrill and WaMu in the end were all forced over the edge by drastic action of credit line cutoff.

    This is the massive privatisation of the treasury, of the state, part of an ongoing agenda of consolidation of power and capital. All these concerns will be “too big to fail” so the taxpayers will basically be forced to insure and underwrite the owners of capital. Risk will be entirely removed. It’s a significant transformation.

  20. No, it isn’t, Arpege lovely, but I enjoy your take on things, and would appreciate your copying the WSJ article here if traxus doesn’t mind, because WSJ is still managing to make access prohibitive. The fact is they didn’t have all the information, even forgetting momentarily Lehman and AIG, nor did any other concern fail in the same singular way. Even if you’re right that ‘if you had all the information’ you could this, that and the other, they didn’t have it, because it has not been possible to enact nearly everything they’ve wanted. Thank you.

  21. ‘in the same singular way as Lehman’, I should have said. That’s common knowledge, so obviously you know it’s different. I’m not talking about Marxist ideology right here, doll.

  22. J.P. Morgan as Hit Man. Well, they still have some individual names, even if WaMu has got JPM creeping into its website and you can even find Providian for the disoriented. So with even a few identities left and assets held by one of the characters against another, we cannot yet say WE ARE ALL ONE BANK, although we are clearly WE ARE ALL ONE PIPPLE…for example, yesterday my super threw a huge primal scream at me and in the process broke my toilet which was not the subject of his visit, but by today I had explained to him an abstruse Arts KolleKtivity to which I belong and am one of the two presiding chairs (one person is a psycho and has a Betty/Diane complex as in MD, you’ll be happy to hear; this caused her poetry/poetics to be used until she subsumed them to a deep attraction to alcoholism…other than that, most players are in place. Since our dreams are made by Miramax, our only real goal is…to make the stock market go up…kiss-kiss, have a Happy All Saints Day even though you’re heavy into atheism…I tell you, there is a lot to be said for polytheism, and I think its existence is inarguable…)

  23. traxus4420 Says:

    thanks chabert for the article, and analysis — can’t believe i let that one slip.

    how do you compare the possible long-term consequences of u.s. consolidation with that of the crisis response in britain and the eu?

  24. She is talking about the attempts to buy up the smaller banks, as overheard by Nocera from a JPMC banker. I already mentioned that. She has no analysis that is not well-known, and it’s only a matter of time–a couple of weeks–before hearings start. There was Plan A, then Plan B passed by the Senate and the House and now there’s Plan C, which has to be enforced as it is in Britain. She has explained nothing whatever about why J.P. Morgan would have been given the power to do this by an all-powerful elite composed of the White House and Treasury. This is no different from her belief in 9/11 truth and if you can’t make up your mind ablout that, traxus, then you should start studying the papers a lot more closely. It doesn’t matter that they tried to pull off a Plan A since they couldn’t. She also lumps in Lehman with all the others, when it is not the same. Since these are interconnected entities and banks, they are just that–interconnected but no identical. The argument is still just that there is an all-powerful group lof 500 or so billionaires who DO know exactly how to pull off this shit. And it’s incendiary talk. Anyone who believes 9/11 ‘inside job’ shit naturally is going to believe a certain kind of center in the governmnet can control everything and does. Do YOU believe that, or are you afraid to say what you believe? I’ve never thought you believed the 9/11 was an inside job, but it is also clear that you do not ever explicitly say what you believe. This has given you a unique position as a fence-sitter, so that you try to believe bank consolidation into one single bank has already occcurred long before it possibly could be. You say that you support Obama and his abilitites at crisis management, but it is not analysis she has presented here, and it’s absurd that you cannot see that it’s just wishful thinking. It was obviously Lehman Brothers and the newer article only adds really that JPMC would have powers on its own that could not be directed by the Treasury and Fed, since all the banks were made like BoA a few weeks ago when they all, including JPM and Goldman Sachs, started showing losses.

    It would well behoove you to make your stand clear instead of being this sounding board for different points of view, none of which you bring fully enough into areas where they actually prove themselves as results you can see. Will you do that? I distinctly doubt it. But you cannot continue to hide it behind endless wordy talk.

    If you think this is just more conspiracy, then say so. It means you think all the liberal economists like Paul Krugman are total frauds, that Obama is a fraud and totally corrupt, and that Lehman Brothers was made to fail so that there would be a credit crunch that has not nearly succeeded as much as expected, unless the lost 3 or 4 weeks has more than the expected losses in all economic area in reports of the 4th quarter by 2009.

    Her argument also neglects to point out that AIG was bailed out the very same day Lehman was not, and the Merrill, Bear, and WaMu were all ‘forced over the edge’ in no different a fashion from Lehman. They were not, but it does not add to the argument, which is not an argument anyway. They failed in different ways, much less drastic. There is no reason that all bankers and economists would agree off the record that Lehman’s failure immediately caused the credit crunch. That I don’t even believe it was made to fail for this purpose is beside the point. The Treasury is itself not privatized and centralized unless it ordered JPMorgan to let Lehman Brothers fail. If that is one of the their ‘favourite banks’ and they decided to tell them to do this action toward Lehman assets, then JPMorgan has already been expropriated as well.

    This is frankly ridiculous, and I don’t really know why I bothered. It is all about the same things that were being argued, that is to say ideology and identification with certain people and not others, well before the financial crisis. It has to follow a consistent course for the simple-minded to understand, meaning those people who know how several million people were bribed not to speak anything about how the explosives were slipped into the WTC the way Chabert and her physicist guests discovered they had been. There is NO DIFFERENCE whatever here. That you didn’t know that Lehman was much bigger than Bear Stearns is the problem here, not that that is anything against you, but you originally said ‘Bear was too big to fail, Lehman was not’. This meant you were accepting or at least quoting the official reason why they bothered to save Bear. Chabert does NOT know who ‘had all the keys to this and that it would be easy’, because she does not know that they did. There is no reason on earth why there could be some centralized group that was omniscient. If there IS, then they should make all the decisions, due to their quite obvious expertise on everything, because whoever and whatever is destroyed is worthless. If Lehman was too big to fail, it still wasn’t as big as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, who themselves were not able to continue as non-depositing concerns. They suffered losses, and one could say that ‘Paulson conspiired to show that he wasn’t too attached to Goldman Sachs so he’d allow Goldman to lose a few days..’ This is because Paulson, being God, knows how to pull every lever just like the rulers in ‘Metropolis’, and he obviously doesn’t.

    We were discussing Tarantino last night. that is how you still often write, traxus, with layer upon layer of stuff that does not go to the essence of what you say you want to find out. You probably don’t want to find it out, and it is normal to want to have things both ways, protection by the middle-class that Obama will secure, or identification with radical politics that you do are not involved with in any way except as a game and hobby. Or so it seems. I expect silence from you on what I’ve just said, but there was no way that I have time to waste not demonstrating what risks you can be seen to take, and these are dangers from which you will not remain protected except in the false enclosure of a continued academic environment. in that way, you may find it expedient to do your version of what Jodi Dean does with Zizek.

    But Arpege has said nothing that is different from her general Alhezbolosevic number with warszawa. You say you are not able to be a Marxist. But then you seem to want to be. Do you know what you are and where you stand? the answer is surely ‘No, I don’t.’

  25. I should have said that there is absolutely no evidence no ‘no reason’ that there could be some ‘central committee’ of uber-capitalists perfecting all these plots and executing them flawlessly.

    And while I do expect silence from you on these matters, if you do that, it will expose your dishonesty and desire to talk only in riddles which extend discussions indefinitely. In the past, I tended to lose my temper about 9/11, being the only all these people who had direct experience of it; you exploited my being out of control for your purposes of directing a blog when you felt like it, then went on a smear campaign against me, saying I would ‘turn on everyone’ eventually as I had her, him, and her and him, etc. That doesn’t work anymore, because the truthies have been marginalized, even in the blogosphere courtesy of Lenin’s Tomb primarily, which is the opposite of what I mostly stand for, but itself is not capable of such abject stupidity. Just yesterday, the well-known troll deeply befriended by Chabert, attempted to reintroduce pro-terrorist talk and get back to talking about the ‘inside 7/7 job’. ‘lenin’ would not allow it and never does, and that I do give him total credit for. He doesn’t allow Chabert to do it either, and she always does try when it comes up. Do you really not realize that such idiotic talk is not just that, but insanity, or it just that you want to be in the position of some sort of chivalry all the time, with no purpose other than blog propagation, In that case, the ridicule you heaped on me in my discerning of blog existence proves that you are yourself a blog addict in the sense that you are gripped with terror at the loss of blog discussion that wouldn’t continue because the discussion was over. You will NOT answer the question ‘Are you a Marxist and/or do you believe 9/11 is an inside job? and you won’t do this because the truth of any of this is less important than you don’t have the spine to stand up to Arpege. And your record over the past year has proved that you do not. You got away with the ridicule of me and Dejan’s satires last year, by writing it in such a way that it could be taken either way. If that is clever, does that mean it is therefore valuable, and that you did anything but prove you like to be in the attitude of waiting on ladies? That is all right, but say so. Say it’s just a matter of good blog following and relations. You’re not a Marxist, and you know it, and you also don’t believe in the inside job 9/11 theory. But you won’t say this, because you haven’t the spine. It is completely ridiculous that I have not spelled it out in these terms before. That is because, in its way, your slyness was effective enough to prevail until now. Arpege is a kind of fence-sitter herself, and does not believe 9/11 was an inside job. She’s made this clear in veiled phrases a number of times. So it”s all a kind of Talk Game.

  26. In any case, no matter what Palin and McCain say, Obama is NOT a Marxist or Socialist. Apparently, even Ralph Nader is not. How can you vote for either of them? People have decided that Effete and Barren is It.

  27. traxus4420 Says:

    ugh. please accept that i don’t always have time to talk you through these burst bubbles you periodically have. here’s something about jp morgan, lehman, and fed involvement, to hold you over.


    and jp morgan’s role in the merrill buyout:


    “She has explained nothing whatever about why J.P. Morgan would have been given the power to do this by an all-powerful elite composed of the White House and Treasury.”

    the reason for this special relationship could just as well be because the treasury and the fed felt jp morgan was in the best position to do what they allowed it to do. i doubt it was entirely cronyism — the burst housing bubble really did make bear stearns and lehman unreliable entities — but certainly this didn’t hurt:

    “It should be noted at JP Morgans’ lobbying effort in 2007 totaled $5,440,000; however, the entire commercial banking sector only contributed $5,485,000. That speaks volumes.”

    at any rate, the result is vastly more concentrated power than what existed previously. the consolidation is superficially similar to a nationalization of banks but clearly the center of authority is radically different. this seems obvious to me, and whatever the reasons behind it we have a nefarious situation on our hands.

  28. traxus4420 Says:

    here’s an interesting conversation.

    Oh, and we’ll need $8 billion: Dimon says J.P. Morgan will raise $8 billion of capital, which is probably necessary to offset the effect of some of WaMu’s bad loans. “We
    are very confident we can get that done. It will probably be offered in the morning before the markets open, and that’s because we wanted to maintain the same strong balance sheet and capital ratios going forward as we have in the past,” he says. Later, he deflects analyst questions about details on price for the capital raise. “It’s like, it’s going to be like a typical large stock offering,” Dimon demurs. He says later, “We were willing to do what I’m going to call offensive capital raise, which is, we think, is so good, we’re going to have to replenish our capital a little, we’re willing to do this and go raise capital. We’re not raising capital to fill a hole. We’re raising capital to go on the offense, and so we feel pretty good about that, and we’re willing to do it.”

    Whose idea was this?: Dimon says, “You could ask the FDIC. They ran the process, we did what they asked us to do, we were ready to go, and it was a bidding process. They can tell you far more than we can. We bid to win because we wanted to win for a lot of obvious reasons.”

    What about lawsuits, like the class-action ones, pending against WaMu?: Dimon explains to analyst Jeff Harte of Sandler O’Neill Partners: “So I think the important thing to remember is we’re not taking the holding company. It’s an asset deal. And usually in an asset deal, there’s a lot of stuff you leave behind. Any liability related to the assets themselves will come with us, but a lot of the basic stuff was left behind, which we feel very good about.”

  29. traxus4420 Says:

    last thing for now: aside from your own psychology i don’t see what 9/11 has to do with this. there aren’t even rumors of wild card foreign agents involved, this crisis is 100% homegrown (with global consequences of course).

    wait, check that — there was a story floating around about the financial crisis being actually a terrorist plot.

    no serious rumors, anyway.

  30. Call it what ypu want, you know perfectly well these are things you have to think about if you’re ever going to be credible on these things, instead of continually refitting them for some abstruse environment or other. You answered none of the basic things I asked, which I expected and don’t care anyway. You just needed to be informed that everybody else HAS enaswered them, including the ones I don’t care for. You can call it a ‘bursting of bubble’, but that is no more correct than that you know enough about the banks. None of us do, but the points i made were valid. You have never faced them–lor revealed them or whatever it is– and maybe you don’t have to. But anyone knows that J.P. Morgan could not act purely on its own, or if it did, total consolidation of the sort you are both suggesting is not nearly up to such hyperreal standards yet. You’re actually talking about a kind of financial consolidation that is not even far from a kind of sinancial Singularity.

    “i don’t see what 9/11 has to do with this. there aren’t even rumors of wild card foreign agents involved, this crisis is 100% homegrown (with global consequences of course).”

    Of course 9/11 doesn’t have anything to do with this, you’re just side-stepping what I did ask. I expected that, do appreciate that you responded at all, and you can decide whether you need to work on some things. It’s hardly my problem. I think you’re a smart kid, but the element that is completely off here is one you aren’t prepared to face. That’s fine, I needed to say this to you long ago, but it was actually then that my fuse was short, not now. For what it’s worth, I don’t expect you to do anything but give it some thought, because these things have come in many dimensions and the internal contradictions in the thinking may be something you’ll tire of. What you are not doing is separating the kinds of thinking from each other that are so unrelated that when combined they add up to something that is not workable nor even really discussable. That was all. Good luck, and don’t be offended. Some of this had to be said, and if you don’t know that, then you’re not really talking about substantial enough things–if only because they have the look of wanting to appear substantial, so maybe you’ll figure out something. I’ll only conclude by saying that I won’t clarify why this quote doesn’t make any sense, about ‘what does 9/11 have to do with it’, because I wrote in the previous posts what I was talking about, and I think it was clear. You have to focus it more if you really want it to be understood, but it could also be that the financial crisis as it exists now may not interest all that much per se. It does interest me, even though I am struggling to comprehend it. The only sure thing I’ve found out in American reaction is that they value the punitive more than the expedient.

  31. Okay, maybe this explains it somewhat. What’s happened recently is that the more I have realized that the hard left characterizations of the msm were wildly exaggerated, I have spent almost all my time in various versions of these. In the past, I looked at all these Marxist blogs, of course, and was hypnotized by them as if they really knew something. They proved to know considerably less, which could actually prove that all the people in the classes with whom they’re not in touch really ARE as competent as they say they are, because they themselves are clearly incompetent, whether or not the evil thieves are or are not. So that what interests me when I read a thread at Lenin’s Tomb or any one of these things is when they sometimes coincide with the msm. Criticism of the msm is deserved and it’s made, but there is more in the msm than there is in the leftist marginalia. There used to by some hypnosis to all these blogs, and what’s happened is exactly that guilt-oriented thing they’re always talking about, whether it’s about a punk band or something ‘intimate’ or what have you ‘human-sized.’ These blogs do not have any more power and have been expropriated just the way the banks are being bought up. They are now only interesting when they agree, at long last, to speak in an intelligible language. Most of even the most extreme ones are doing this slightly more than they used to with the exception of the one troll I mentioned above, who lives there. It may have been his own failure–since he was the only one who had total belief and still does no matter what, in the delusion–that has caused the hard-leftist blogs to be bought up, as it were, by the msm. They have exposed their impotence, and they cannot regain it. No response necessary, of course. I am just trying to tell you that it is nothing new to anybody even inthe mainstream that the big banks want to buy up the smaller banks. And it is of some interest that the left bloggers have been forced to speak intelligibly instead of in endless fantasies during this particular kind of crisis, which, if pure ideology was followed, would be only beneath contempt. After all Obama is perfectly willing to go into Pakistan if he sees fit. In other words, for a few years I saw the msm though the lens of the hard-left bloggers, bu that’s been reversed. I suppose it has to do with the gradual expropriation of the small banks by the big ones. Yeh, yeh, yeh.

  32. traxus4420 Says:

    you’re certainly right about the msm – blogs (left or right, whichever) merger. they’ve become officially aware of each other and of the nature of their relationship. certain postures are no longer plausible. thanks for posting that, it’s really helpful, though it cuts both ways of course.

    (the “guilt-oriented thing” is surely what the msm wants to capitalize on with the blogs, and one can see it in how much chummier the hipper journalists are getting, though oddly not more personable. even when they’re too professional for all that, there’s still the moments on cnn when everyone sits around a table with their laptops, reading blogs.)

    also you’re much less charming when you shift from gadfly to journalist — self-righteousness doesn’t particularly suit comment boxes. i dodged your questions because you would think realizing this: “Arpege is a kind of fence-sitter herself, and does not believe 9/11 was an inside job” — would have told you something about your own blog-based understanding of ‘marxism.’ but apparently it hasn’t. of course everyone is confused by the bailout, and 9/11, but befuddlement is not as much of a virtue among bloggers as it is among columnists. it’s more like a condition of possibility. when i look at the blogs in my link list i see that most have settled into their personas and are at work. which is better for everyone, since it’s clear there are questions not answerable in this medium, mostly to do with identity. so unlike you i don’t see anyone else having answered your questions, they’re just more graceful and natural about avoiding it than me. (as if my ‘blog relations’ extended beyond 3 people, including yourself.) as i think i’ve said before, you keep looking for and unreasonably demanding something that this medium exists to dissolve.

    (and the fantasy spinners are still at it, bless their beautiful souls, there are little blog symposia now on the corpus of nick land).

  33. Well, that’s all fine, but I didn’t mean for it to be self-righteous so much as, since I’ve tended to take you seriously, it’s maddening sometimes not to be able to figure out some basic things you’re talking about. Can’t follow some of what you said about my ‘blog-based understanding of Marxism’, but you seem to have some specific ideas about what blogs can and can’t do. I always talk about their limits, but my interests, of course, have to do with their shared limits with other online communications by now. I don’t claim to understand many things, but there are some things I do know, that’s all. Anyway, I don’t think you’re less graceful about ‘answering my questions’–what I meant was that they’ve already answered those questions by their own output, so I know where they stand. You may be doing something that is your own and viable, and in that case, it’s true you don’t have to tell me or anybody else how you’re operating; it’s only in a rare case of such embarassment of riches that it no longer matters that there will be someone who will really talk about their ‘solid material’, for lack of a better way to put it right now.

    As for being less charming as ‘a journalist than a gadfly’, I’m not a clown that you can write off as being unserious, even if that was possible as recently as a year ago. So the gratification I’ve gotten because I was charming has been suffficient, to say the least. I don’t talk about things I know NOTHING about, even though I am not so scared that I’ll talk about things I haven’t mastered. People who are afraid to fall flat on their faces can never be professional (and that word is more expanded than it used to be.) I’m not trying to be a journalist so much as I have been thiinking about these phenomena in very different ways–the way people are not even personally threatened by the crisis are not showing concern for anybody else so much as just fury and new versions of panic that are the result of that specific moment which had almost happened when Bear Stearns was saved, and which we all know began to really manifest itself in loss of confidence after Lehman failed on the same day AIG and Merrill both were either bailed out or bolstered (if JPMorgan caused something to happen to Lehman on the Friday, it still wasn’t known till the Sunday, and it’s the psychological loss of confidence that will lead to even less consumer confidence, shown through retail spending, etc., to show in the reports that won’t come out till January, when the cratering moments that seem to have eased up for a week–they were predicting Black Monday last week and it didn’t happen–so that everything is uncertain, which is not as bad as explicitly disastrous.) The fact that JPMorgan was involved in Lehman simply adds on another detail, just as the $62 billion claimed to be a ‘gift to Warren Buffett’ or even the vile AIG ‘partridge hunt paid for by the taxpayers’ are hangovers from the old systems which won’t be able to resuscitate themselves in exactly the same forms no matter what.

    Which is to say, I couldn’t talk about any of these things in you ‘Immanent Performance Art Internet Gadfly Charm’ form. I also really don’t hate any of these people you seem to think I did, I just am not part of a community of them in the same sense others, and perhaps you, are (at least at this moment in time.) I certainly never thought there was anything wrong with your not knowing the difference in size in Lehman and Bear, for example, except I had to harp on it because it is important no matter how you interpret what the purpose (or not) of the Paulson and Paulson-related actions are/were. I have nothing against your friendship with Arpege, and like her in my own distant way anyway, of course. She voted for Obama, and then could be said to have tried, at LT, where here vote would speak volumes, to ‘cover it up’, which I found amusing. Steppling was doing the same thing, by trying to convince some of them that despite the ‘fact’ that ‘there is no difference in McCain and Obama’…etc. , ‘at least he’s black’. That he’s black is important, but it is certainly not important BY itself, and it is in no way true that they are the same. The hard-leftists think I am right-wing simply for not being a Socialist. All Democrats are right-wing. We know perfectly well this isn’t true.

    So what I was talking about was 2 Different Languages. I see that you try to speak them both, and it’s not bad at all, but once in a while the proportions will be off, less in what you’re saying yourself than in what you’re judging, or I’ll think they are off. That’s why I lit into this one, because the JPMorgan/Lehman tie-in is an important detail, but it does not change one’s perception of the overall phenomenon except in a minor way. And neither does the $62 billion, even though it has to be investigated and dealt with if there’s time, and I first found out about that at Jodi and Qlipoth only yesterday. So who care’s who gets some details right or wrong, there are or are not ways through some parts of understanding what’s going on, and the perception is bound to change by the conclusion of the election, which does look like it won’t suffer the Bradley Effect (members of Dukmejian’s, or however you spell it, explained why it didn’t really apply in yesterday’s WaPo by one of its campaign people, himself an Armenian, which itself didn’t represent BelAir and Malibu all that well..)

    “(and the fantasy spinners are still at it, bless their beautiful souls, there are little blog symposia now on the corpus of nick land).”

    Can you explain? You mean something specific, don’t you? I’d like to see it, and I think you don’t mean anything at Hyperstition, which is Robin and Reza doing ads for their books and journals.

    So that all this talk of ‘co-opting’, whether leftism, or blogs by the msm, or punk bands the ‘sell out’, now seems to be a one-sided kind of talk. The best things always have a tendency to RISE, even if they don’t sell out along the way. There has, thus far, always been a ruling class in every society, no matter what it said, and they always co-opt from above. In Cuba, as in the Soviet Union, they always have prestige items like ballet and other high art with which to aggrandize their regimes. So that whatever is valuable in blogging is actually tested by attempts to co-opt them by the msm. There’s a way it separates the valuable from the valueless some of the time. And LT, of course, proves that the deep desire to stay completely out of the mainstream is quite, quite possible. That Arpege would let them know that she voted for Obama is very important, I’d think. She supports most or all of their Socialist principles, and is saying, at least, that she decided that voting for Obama was this time more important than voting for Nader, because even if it can’t be proved Nader aided and abetted Gore’s defeat, it definitely can be proved even before the elections, that the answer is going to be either Obama and McCain. The very babyish ones, who think that a revolution will fire up with a McCain victory are proof that co-opting hasn’t happened yet, though, I’d think. Because no such thing would happen. About that, Steppling was right, and Seymour too, there would just be desolation and resignation to total misery–really, for almost everybody including those who aren’t so bad off. Thanks for the time.

  34. I still want to know about the blog symposia, but have you read that thing he did as a Kipling poem. Oh my lawd Jesus Chrahst. Previous article had been interesting in some ways, but I wonder if cutting himself off from his past has caused this manic sensibility. Some of the economic analysis is no doubt very good in the Oct. 28 piece, but the Kipling thing just beats all. I think he gets off on such manias, and I think I may not get to LA this year if I purchase his Shanghai book, due to lack of consumer confidence on my part…

  35. traxus4420 Says:

    sorry, i mean this and this, linked to by his old protege k-punk here.

    the earnestness just makes me wistful.

  36. Well, I had seen briefly without paying too much attention that Accursed Share blog, but it’s run by a Canadian student also named Nick, obviously not Land. That first link you have does seem to suggest to me (not sure that it was intending to) my own feeling that ‘Landianism’ is definitely involved with accelerationism, perhaps in itself. It seems somehow to be clumsier than it wishes. It doesn’t succeed. Nick Land succeeds but doesn’t, something like that. What earnestness are you ‘wistful’ about in these pieces? Probably don’t have time to talk about it. It just makes me sad that Nick is so brilliant and yet so incapable of seeing how he thinks he is not left with nothing after throwing out everything of value. He actually had ‘passions’ for Rove and Cheney. Surely this means there are no more passions, and all of the ‘tough love’ modes he finds attractive are means of rushing at top speed into the future–and a future not really that different from what I can tell, of that old version, the ‘future that never comes’ because it never ever is given a chance to have any presence of any substance at all. You have to forget about having ever wanted anything you ‘cared for’. Or something like that. It is then, little wonder, that you begin, as Land does, to talk about ‘happiness is babies.’ Babies are the perfect symbol of total transience and failure to engage if they are thought to be the SECRET of happiness. As the ‘secret of happiness’, they are meant to ‘get a little time’ and then, on schedule, devalue themselves by having more babies; but it is only noted bitterly that only the babies have the real happiness and you really only get a vicarious form of it if that’s what you think happiness is. I’m not going to read the Shanghai Guide, I now think. Are you or did you? I like him, but it’s a clunky instability that is the shape of who he is, and there’s too much ‘enforcement’, one might say, that is demanded by anyone looking on, but it’s not possible to go along with all that beautiful fluidity which is then stopped dead by some grotesque old graceless American political fart pulled out of the air and ass-kissed (to really put it where it is.) But make no mistake–in those old days of the ‘great Hyperstition exchanges’, it was definitely Nick Land’s that had the most verbal power, until you discover that he has somehow ‘broken himself.’ Does that make any sense. In short, he would qualify as ‘tragic’ if he had any respect for tragedy, and he doesn’t. So one has to move onto the much easier reality of his living with Obama as president than OUR having to live with those unbelievable 8-year assholes. I simply cannot believe they’ve been dislodged–and Cheney and Bush plan all sorts of mischief this month and next, as part of their ‘legacy’. I do understand why people were sick yesterday, because it was not possible that McCain would not be a further disease and total explosion of what had putrefied during these 8 years–and there was an acceleration without peer, it was fucking impressive by the time they really were just ignoring subpoenas and using executive privilege. All the most paranoid are surprisingly understandable by now, because it actually is a bit amazing that there was, no trumped-up way to figure out how to bomb Iran, etc.

  37. i think you always ‘got’ nick the best, and precisely by avoiding coming at him from the pointy-toothed theoretical end. despite reservations about obama i am of course endlessly grateful that bush and cheney are getting out. fears about sudden coups seem obviously overblown but still scary and sickening because of the reality they represent. but now they in all likelihood will not get to bomb iran, and they have too much shit in the fan right now to bother with any conciliatory ‘legacy’ things. amen.

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