Monday, February 27, 2012

Trouble-Psalm 9

For some reason, people are usually surprised when they learn that I am a fan of heavy metal music. I suppose I don't fit the stereotype of the "metalhead." In any event, as of late I have been listening to a good deal of music produced by the American doom metal outfit Trouble. Hailing from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois, Trouble's sound is somewhat reminiscent of early Black Sabbath.

Trouble stood out from the 1980s heavy metal pack with their retro 1970s sound and pro-Christian lyrics, which led some observers to dub their music "white metal" in opposition to the Satanic black metal scene that would eventually become infamous, especially in Norway where black metal musicians were implicated in church burnings and even murder. Anyway, above is the title track from their 1984 debut album Psalm 9. Enjoy.

There Are Alternatives

Michael Hudson has a great article on Modern Monetary Theory as an alternative to neoliberalism over at his website. A must read.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Confessions Of An Old Labour High Tory

The indispensable David Lindsay has a new book out. I strongly recommend a purchase. Mr. Lindsay has one of the best blogs out there, and I am sure his newest book will be even better.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Red Statism

Paul Krugman with a very good opinion piece on how many of the most conservative areas of the United States are also the most dependent on Federal spending, here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Austerity And Its Discontents

Michael Hudson has an excellent video on his website regarding the savage austerity being imposed on Greece and other countries. A must view.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Woe To You Pharisees

Rob Urie has an interesting article over at Counterpunch on Charles Murray's new book. Urie does a good job pointing out that the sins of the rich and powerful (starting pointless wars, economic predation) are apparently left out of Murray's calculations, as he prefers to concentrate his definition of morality on unemployment and out-of-wedlock births. It is an interesting point and one that I agree with, even though I think people are right to be concerned with the decline of family life among working-class and poor Americans.

American conservatism often tends toward a Pharisaical kind of morality. As the late Christopher Lasch once noted:
"Conservatives stress the importance of religion, but their religion is the familiar American blend of flag waving and personal morality. It centers on the trivial issues of swearing, neatness, gambling, sportsmanship, sexual hygiene, and school prayers. Adherents of the new religious right correctly reject the separation of politics and religion, but they bring no spiritual insights to politics."
Lasch's point about American conservatism lacking spiritual insight is especially important. I have seen very few articles coming from prominent conservatives on the subject of the morality of the Iraq War, asking whether we, as a nation, should be engaging in soul-searching over the fact that we fought a major war that led to tens of thousands of deaths, all over fabrications regarding non-existent weapons of mass destruction and a non-existent alliance between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

But we do get plenty of Bill Bennett and others writing about the bad habits of the unemployed and underemployed. Even if you agree with Bennett, it is obvious that the bad behavior of the poor is given a great deal of attention while the sins of businessmen, politicians, and generals are either ignored or excused by appeal to "reasons of state" or "the requirements of the market." I am all for having a debate about morality and public policy, but let us be fair about it and include the high and mighty along with the lowly and weak.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Generation Silly

A.J. Dellinger has a revealing article over at Salon about why so many members of Generation Y are enamoured with Ron Paul and libertarianism. It is a rather confused piece, and that is to be expected. Apparently, Generation Y is irreligious, permissive on drugs and social/cultural issues, wants to end foreign military intervention, return to the gold standard, have a zero-percent income tax, and universal healthcare. Supposedly this is some new combination of personal responsibility and libertinism, but really, this just looks like a nicer version of the hippie-turned-yuppie ideals of the 1980s.

I don't understand why this worn out, failed philosophy is still attractive. Dellinger probably overstates how popular Gen Y libertarianism is, but I think there may be some truth to his article. It reminds me of the South Park Republican concept from a few years ago, which was used to describe the beliefs of socially liberal/economically right-wing young people. While I suppose it is a consistent ideology, I find it rather silly, especially because it does not grapple seriously with the question of power, outside of simply mocking powerful institutions.

By contrast, the Europeans seem to understand the issue of power with more seriousness and clarity, given their reactions to austerity and the realization that many of the European Union states are no longer fully sovereign and that national governments can be toppled and replaced with neoliberal "technocrat" administrations. Libertarians, in their blanket condemnation of authority, end up without a serious theory of power. Simply reciting the magic words "liberty," "freedom," and "personal responsibility" isn't going to cut it.

The Whole Story

Paul Krugman has written two great blog posts (entitled "Blaming the Victims of Inequality" and "Wages and  Values" respectively) that act as counterpoints against Charles Murray and his analysis of the decline of family life among working-class Americans. Prof. Krugman also links to some other interesting articles by other authors.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Look North

George Lakey has a very informative article on how Swedish and Norwegian populists succeeded through nonviolent struggle. A very interesting read.