It is more than two months since the “insurrection”. Many things still up in the air but some have landed so an update is overdue.
- I expected SCOTUS to hear some cases on unlawful changes to election rules. I was wrong about that. SCOTUS just refused to hear the last of the Trump campaign disputes (Wisconsin).
That has lots of implications which have not yet landed, so I won’t start analysis now.
- Trump’s recent speech confirmed his complete domination of the GOP with much the same orientation as before plus a focus on making it harder to vote in battleground States where GOP still controls the legislature but lost to Biden. Effects of that campaign and Federal legislation still have not landed.
- As I expected anti-Trump opposition within GOP has basically fizzled. A large majority of GOP Senators and a majority of GOP in House of Representatives oppose Trump but they won’t fight and Trump will. So the GOP will become a right wing populist party led by Trumpists with a large, militant and angry mass base and substantial representation in Congress.
The calibre of Trump’s opponents in the GOP is well illustrated by the fact that they want to use Trump’s brand to raise funds for defending GOP incumbents against Trumpist challengers:
That is a significant change to the US political system the results of which will become more clear after the 2022 primaries.
- Another significant change is the full commitment of Democrats to batshit craziness. It is now compulsory to believe that Trump incited an insurrection to overturn the last elections. Not one single Democrat in the House or Senate voted against that. The results of that, and of the efforts at media censorship, are also still up in the air.
In particular there is not yet any indication that the question of who decided not to protect the Capitol from an openly planned break in by militia groups will become an issue.
- There is still a race between vaccination and the new strains of covid-19 both in Europe and North America. Rest of the world still not likely to get vaccine quickly enough. Likely outcome still looks like at least several years of a new endemic disease. Less likelihood of hospital systems actually collapsing in developed countries but they are still trying to open up far faster than is justified by the levels of vaccination. Effect of that on US politics still up in the air along with general impact of new administration.
I just bought “The Revolt of the Public” by Martin Gurri (former CIA analyst). Hadn’t heard of it before, it originally came out in 2014 but the later edition (2018) has an update about the Trump presidencyhttps://www.amazon.com.au/Revolt-Public-Crisis-Authority-Millennium/dp/1732265143
He has a blog called the fifth wavehttps://thefifthwave.wordpress.com/
Here is a recent interview of him by Matt Taibbihttps://taibbi.substack.com/p/interview-with-martin-gurri-a-short?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cta
I subscribe to MTs substack feed, he has a review of Gurri’s book there but that one is for subscribers only. Here’s an extract:
The thesis of The Revolt of the Public is that traditional centralized powers are losing — have lost — authority, in large part because of the demystifying effect of the Internet. The information explosion undermined the elite monopoly on truth, exposing long-concealed flaws. Many analysts had noted the disruptive power of the Internet, but what made Gurri unique is that he also predicted with depressingly humorous accuracy how traditional hierarchies would respond to this challenge: in a delusional, ham-fisted, authoritarian manner that would only confirm the worst suspicions of the public, accelerating the inevitable throw-the-bums-out campaigns. This assessment of the motive for rising public intransigence was not exactly welcomed, but either way, as Kling wrote, “Martin Gurri saw it coming.”
Downloaded “Gurri revolt” 2018 edition from Library Genesis. Will read soon.
(Also has epub etc)
Recently read Matt Taibbi “Hate Inc”. Excerpt from review seems to contradict his own book’s analysis of commercial motivations. Taibbi prefers the good old days of 3 networks. Inspired by Chomsky “Manufacturing Consent” (which exposed that) but concluded currently media manufacturing hostility/hatred instead. Appendix interview with Chomsky has Chomsky taking position closer to the ideas of the ruling class being the ruling ideas (which also contradicts his own “Manufacturing Consent”). Now a third analysis of delusional ham-fisted authoritarians.
Have also recently read “Angrynomics”. I think it has a better analysis of the basis for populism, followed by bizarre policy recommendations from “left” populism.
While I won’t listen to podcasts I am interested in more books with various analyses of what’s happening. Wish there were some that actually made more sense and could be identified as a widely held coherent view that needs to be fought ot allied with. But its worth understanding what others are thinking as these are indeed strange times.
I’m not going looking for them as need to focus on economics. But will listen while walking to any recommended that are available in library genesis.
Also listended to Varoufakis “Letter to my daughter”. Really awful.
Currently listening to “Naked Money”. Explains money and banking, exchange rates etc in the hopelessly wrong manner that rebuts some popular predjudices and reinforces others so also need to understand it to get where people are at and what they are thinking.
It’s not ‘Really awful’! I’m trying to learn economics too, and want to get to a point where I can actually understand what Blyth and Varoufakis are saying, in order to evaluate any possibly ideas for the future. I have Varoufakis university-level textbook now as well and it seems to be actually readable. Any authors which can make this stuff actually seem interesting and important ought not to be dismissed with just the two words ‘Really awful’!!
(Enough of that kind of thing on twitter, which leads me to both a fourth and a fifth ‘lens’ on understanding what’s happening in media over the last decade. Really the same lens but two different apertures perhaps. I’ve linked to an article on each below.)
Just noticed your comment from nearly a week ago as I haven’t been checking the blog.
I agree that just dismissing with two words is inadequate, especially when those words were “really awful”. Was intending to follow up that offhand remark with something more useful. Still intend to do so and will first look at your two links. Then look forward to chat about both books.
I also have Varoufakis textbooks and part of my reaction was I thought they were better as they did not have the patronizing tone he adopts when pretending to be writing for a 12 year old (though his explanation of “the global Minotaur” was pretty weird).
My reaction to “Angrynomics” was much more positive, or at least less negative, in that it does contribute usefully to understanding the basis for right wing populism. But the proposed solutions were based on the “Magic Money Tree” as an appeal to “left populism” – at least not coming from a Finance Minister who should (and does) know better.
Looking forward to future chat about both soon. I did find them worth reading to understand what wrong ideas are being explained in ways that seem clear and interesting so that people really do believe they have got some better understanding of how the economy works despite the clear, simple explanations of complex issues being wrong as usual.
As well as “Naked Capitalism” by Charles Wheelan I have started “Naked Economics” from same author. Both more unpleasant to read as explaining “clearly” the more mainstream complacent view of things.
Also started “Value” by Mark Carney. As a former Governor of the Bank of England (and previously of Canada) part 2 does shed light on how central bankers viewed the last financial crisis (whereas Varoufakis should have been able to do so but instead just made stuff up). I almost gave up before getting to part 2 because part 1 took a long time to not say much.
I will probably try to do a combined review of those 3 authors.
Meanwhile I do recommend “Gurri revolt” 2018 edition from Library Genesis. He doesn’t pretend to be explaining economics (and I agree with Bill that he underestimates importance of economic issues in explaining the current political situation). But he does do what strikes me as honest and accurate political analysis of what has been happening based on studying the open source media rather than just spouting his own opinions. This is rare, and especially rare from US intelligence analysts who are notoriously even worse at analysis than journalists.
PS I don’t agree with Gurri (or Bill) that “nihilism” is a good summary. Hope to write about that soon too.
PS Just read both interesting links to two apertures on what’s happening in media. Also one of Freddie De Boer’s articles (“Nitro”) and am keeping pages open to come back to.
My quick take: I’ve stayed away from both social media and TV for a long time so don’t have an independent impression of the culture. Do read 3 newspapers daily and can certainly confirm they have noticeably degenerated at quite a rapid rate (so it is encouraging to read that their circulations and revenues are collapsing and journos becoming unemployed 😉
I also encountered the even worse English tabloids when campaing out at “Conservative Home” Tory website during Brexit fight.
Worth remembering that mass literacy is comparatively recent and most of the planet being able to write to each other only just happened.
Back in the sixties, the dominant ideas were much more backward than now and we could only combat the media with wax stencil duplicators. But things exploded quite suddenly over a period of less than two years. (The “woke” are signalling their “rebellious” virtue in much the same manner that previous generations of conservatives did when likewise furiously and indignantly upholding mainstream views).
Hopefully the reaction against social media like facebook and twitter has already started and will be as extensive as the reaction against newspapers and TV.
Initially the internet was confined to very narrow circles and discussions were at much higher level. There are actually far MORE people using it at a higher level now than there were then. What’s still missing (as it was in the 90s) is a radical left with a clear and relevant program. As you know there is no shortage of interesting and intelligent material from STEM circles.
Followed 2018 edition advice to read final “Reconsiderations” chapter first for update from 2014 to include Trump. Very intereresting! Much better analysis than others I have seen. Unclear about his proposals and expectations. Key point of agreement is decadence and collapse of what he calls the “elites” as explanation of rise of populism. But he somehow sees these “elites” as the “political class” and “the ruling class” and the system as first liberal democracy and only second capitalism. The Iraq war indicated vast gulf between actual decision makers and the “political class” who were largely clueless about what the decisions were about. Actual owners of capital and increasing obsolescence of capitalism are outside his view. The chattering classes never did have “authority” and never were the rulers but he correctly analyses that they are now widely despised by people who are still not contemplating taking power themselves and the actual rulers seem paralysed politically while getting on with “business”.
Looking forward to reading from beginning after first finishing “Naked Capitalism”. Strongly recommend as worth reading and worth starting at “Retrospectives”.
I read that Chapter, will need to read it again sometime. Agree that it is good and I hope others read it.
I suspect he has found the right word to describe the current era:nihilism. Although I’ve progressively come to understand why the Democrat Royal Family (Hilary, Barack, Joe etc.) has become so unpopular I didn’t understand how chaotic and messy the opposition has become. As Gurri spells out it’s a world wide phenomena, not just the USA. (But hasn’t arrived fully in Australia yet). No doubt that Trump is a narcissist but is that the best word to sum him up?
That made me think of another book that uses the nihilist word a lot (Marshall Berman’s “All that is solid melts into air”. Have to think more about it and, as I said, reread.
One area where I disagree with him (Gurri) is that he discounts the 2008 economic collapse as an important factor in the current upheaval. My understanding is that many in America and world wide never recovered from that and that the precariat is the new proletariat. Another recent issue he doesn’t mention is the rise of the wokes.
Agree also that Matt Taibbi’s “Hate Inc” provides another perspective on how the media became so bitterly balkanised with warring tribes angrily pursuing their own fractional truths, the disintegration of a coherent mainstream narrative.
PS Broken link needs to be on separate line. Just start a new line, plus an extra blank line then paste the link then leave another blank line before writing anything else and people can then actually click on the links. eg
Try it now for your amazon link which was also broken.
Going through comments at that link:
Adam Curtis examines the failure of liberal government systems, positing that they eschewed leadership for systems management. But capital is now managing the systems, corporate and finance structures have eclipsed the role of government. Where government is required, the outcome is dictated by capital. Hence the politicians have become mostly meaningless. No longer concerned with leading, and their management role greatly reduced, they have become empty media figures. From Trump to AOC, cheerleaders for cultural demographics. Bought this guys book. Cool interview.
I assume Adam Curtis is:
Comments all over the place.
My quick take.
1. Theory is primary in periods like now where there needs to be a revolutionary movement but there cannot be one without theory and program.
2. Vanguard party is still the only plausible answer to the dilemma of necessity and dangers of hierarchies. From the masses to the masses. Without it revolts are just incoherent and incapable of transforming social relations.
3. The times call for developing a coherent theory so that a party can be develop a coherent organization and program. Meanwhile General Confusion and Major Disarray remain in command.
4. But people are clearly learning to think again.