Economism and the Future of the Democratic Party

By James Kwak

I haven’t written much about the election itself (except to point out that the same data can be interpreted in diametrically opposing ways). That’s because the election was so close that the fact that Clinton lost can be explained by any number of but-for causes, and much of the Democratic Internet has been a cacophony of people insisting that their preferred cause (Comey, Russian hacking, not enough attention to African-Americans, too much attention to minorities, not enough attention to the white working class, too much emphasis on Trump’s personality, etc.) was the One True Cause.

I do think, however, that if Democrats (a group in which include myself) want to return to power and change the overall political dynamics of this country, one thing we need to recognize is that Republicans have been crushing us on the economic messaging front for decades. We have adapted by becoming Republicans Lite—no longer the party of jobs and the working person, but now the party of minimally intrusive market regulation, technocratic expertise, and free trade agreements.

This is the subject of my article in Literary Hub today, “The Failure of Democratic Storytelling.” Now that Democrats are out of power virtually across the board, we have the opportunity to develop a new vision, without having to compromise with Joe Manchin, Arlen Spector, and Susan Collins to squeak legislation through Congress. The question is what we make of that opportunity.

25 thoughts on “Economism and the Future of the Democratic Party

  1. Life is bad, it’s unreal, to think there is no time to save a loved one from the door knob and all of humanity’s efforts are geared toward that everlasting problem, well there is just not enough good money in the world at the moment.

  2. Both sides are guilty of very intrusive and distortive bank regulations.
    Where do you think we would be if the 600 years of banking before 1988 had been subjected to risk weighted capital requirements for banks?

    Can’t you understand how absurd it is to base capital requirements that are supposed to be there when encountering any type of uncertainty on the ex ante perceived risks?

    Dare to ask regulators to answer the following very basic questions.

    PS. By the way, in all statistics on employment where can I found information on how many robots gained employment the last quarter of 2016?

  3. Desperate capital astounding idiots are todays investing public, and i’m sure I left one out PER

  4. ‘How the Democrats Lost Their Populist Soul’ (Atlantic):

    “After Humphrey’s loss to Nixon, Democrats formed the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection, also known as the McGovern-Fraser Commission, which sought to heal and restructure the party. With the help of strategist Fred Dutton, Democrats forged a new coalition. By quietly cutting back the influence of unions, Dutton sought to eject the white working class from the Democratic Party, which he saw as “a major redoubt of traditional Americanism and of the antinegro, antiyouth vote.” The future, he argued, lay in a coalition of African Americans, feminists, and affluent, young, college-educated whites. In 1972, George McGovern would win the Democratic nomination with this very coalition, and many of the Watergate Babies entering office just three years later gleaned their first experiences in politics on his campaign”.

  5. We will not succeed in defending democracy with party politics nor will we succeed in defining the democratic party as advocates of democracy. Not only are these circular fallacies but they are misdirection and virtually controlled by the storytelling found in social-mass media. These tend to be waves of consensus that are neither solutions or operationally feasible (or at least plausible without reinventing politics and its total loaded lexicon of biases and fears). Democrats, as a party need to become disciplined. At this time it is a membership identity spearheaded by activists at the bottom and professional media driven profilers at the upper tiers seeking any wave of alphabet soup consensus. Self-proclaimed and self-servicing are mixed under identity tags of compulsive subservience like Progressive while Republicans routinely and brainlessly make vague accusations of being liberal or socialist as somehow self evident degradation against the real America (which they indignantly hold some special intuitive understanding and control). Ultimately simply two versions of asymmetrical “ME” seeking a group contingency to support them politically; worked over by specialists who are practiced at dividing them. So the empirical answer to a new vision, a new method, a new mission and a new prospect…is a seriously re-evaluated operational logic. I would suggest that the very first agenda should be to get rid of the tag names and close ranks against the opposition that is very clearly NOT the democratic agenda. The manipulated logic has been reciting a mantra of “give them a chance now” and adopting what the strategic Republicans are calling “constructive ambiguity” while calling for Democrats to be “loyal” and complacent in the name of “fair play” and political formality. What a joke!
    The second obvious misconception is that Government will run better if it is run like a corporation or a great business. Also a joke. Business fails. Corporations crush their opposition and cheat people with an eye on the profit incentive. Nothing is more stupid in history than this ECONOMISM that has now become a belief system in populist circular reasoning.
    So the actual phrasing should not be economism and the future of the Democratic Party, but economism as the false consciousness of democratic government. A well financed tyranny of the minority has managed to capture and control the basic logic that integrates mass media projections and has divisively (and vindictively) “factionalized” name brand democratic “visions” into self-imposing contradictions, and managed to galvanize opposition into seeing the dispossessed and “liberal” concerns as scapegoats for their own oppression. The tyranny of the minority has capitalized political consciousness as survival, and mobilized the fear of a tyranny of the majority against itself. But the brainwashing propaganda is that the health of democracy will be found in government as business…hence, only business people should be in government….WHAT A JOKE!

  6. I think the democrats are the more desperate of the political animals Bruce, true it’s a one party of tyrannical rule where Nothing positive can be done about it.
    Even if Trump were to drain the swamp and the reflection struck a nerve of consciousness, the corruption is deeply imbedded with the law of numbers out weighing the law of reason.
    There just are not many good options left except to watch the large cap investors twitch with their inner discomfort as they try to manage the uncomfortable beast they have become. A hypocrisy the likes of which this universe has never seen before, so there are no guide lines to solving it.

  7. @skunk: Universal Hypocrisy…that’s the ticket! No guide lines, but serious gaming of the system (remember…all players on both teams trying in desperation to throw the game…in the service of a higher control fraud and public media capture)…as we revisit the scenario we used in passing; carefully working a game-plan based upon game theory itself and calling it rational choice. Graphic deceptions that become embedded as normative.
    Talking points and confirmation bias working hand in hand to bury reason under an econometric conception of self service. Sound bytes, Orwellian capture of the language, and the domination by an anarchistic libertarian confusion over the special drawing rights of capitalist’s sovereignty. Political agitators and devastators as electioneer operatives where fear mongering and hate baiting is a dark art and goes relatively unchallenged by a well greased corporate news media of perpetual commentating rather than analysis and critical advocacy of the people. Where is the media populous? All professionalized under a market regime change in this country that just placed economic tyranny in charge of the global order and disorder. The overwhelm is deliberate; swarming information, confusion, cognitive dissonance and “constructive ambiguity” (Krutcher’s favorite);
    keeps one side blaming the other when citizens lack MEANINGFUL REFERENCES to establish authentic opinions of their own: and vent the difference on their asymmetrical opposition created…by corporate driven rational choices. And the paradox is that they get intelligent people to then say: ” A hypocrisy the likes of which this universe has never seen before, so there are no guide lines to solving it.” (I thank you for that line).
    Keep the faith skunk; we are not out of tricks…and the best one is revealing truth and challenging the logic of the political media and its propagation of easily manipulated false consciousness. The greatest illusion has been that the people who have run the country (Obama as a false profit…Democrat included) are aligned with the very same people that usurped economic power and brought the economy to near collapse; and has basically saved it for more of the same. So call it what you will, but it is now a billionaires club in a complex reorganization of power. Under that spell, we must throw out the rule book with its framed answers in tow. And what does that say for a participatory restoration of democratic ideals against billionaire corporate backed mobsters and banksters? I think it means we must stop accepting the lies and start challenging each and every evasive answer or ambiguity that really matters. Unfortunately when real Democrats are confronted they tend to concede and the Republican scam is well aware of using that advantage as a tactic. On the other hand, when the Republican squirm under challenges they steadfastly DENY EVERYTHING and in the process deny all of us our due diligence and intelligent accountability. So for a starter we need to see Trump’s taxes.
    That should be a Democratic demand!—————
    Also check this out over at TRNN:
    January 9, 2017
    Trump is Obama’s Legacy !

  8. I thank you fer the encouragement Bruce. Yet this skunk is approaching the limits as to his options as a lone skunk, a trusted tangible team would throw off the pursuit and enable more options yet even that is a gamble? a protective critter could get thrown to the wind over and have to bail out after running out of chips. I’m not throwing in the towel mind you, but growth in these parts has yielded mostly risk with no reward except to keep the squirrels pleased. Plenty of fight left, yet plenty of repair too.

  9. Thanks fer the link Bruce, that’s a rather busy place, i’ll keep my eyes trained from time to time.

  10. @skunk: A skunks greatest defense makes being alone their greatest potential option; as long as security is not confused with actual survival.
    Keep the faith; there are many skunks in the woods, so let’s protect the water rights and similar survival needs that are not yet privatized. The truth apparently sets no man free, but a skunk on the other hand,…well freedom is their domain. Let’s stay with Kwak and encourage good followings and topical coverage to educate the other skunks in the USA…and the World.

  11. I can concur fer the most part with your response, two things to keep in mind though, a skunk gets lonely after a few decades of being completely alone, and a skunks needles “dollars” in order to practice their trade. It’s a first and foremost requirement with the battle of the gvt war on women, there are many gvt battles/wars no doubt, drugs, poverty, energy, transportation, information, the list goes on and on, as does the never ending list of offenders.
    My battle (and its a universal one) has been reduced to the gvt war on woman, and surviving it, for the most part.
    Best wishes to you and yours by the way.

  12. @skunk: Conception need not be absolute reception and disillusionment should be a reflective correction not a path dependent rejection. Americans have become individuated rather than individualized and the isolation drives us to believe that security and independence is an economic belief in ranked materialism that divides us from the collective conscience of human connectivity; a creature comfort relief that is very attractive but deeply flawed as a society. We economize our life and politicize our strife, and in the mix we disconnect our ‘rationalized’ spirit from our humanly inherited soul. It is a divide and conquer stratification of power and the lifeboat scenario floats above an Ocean of tears. Culture is not a vulture. We need not circle above the wasteland looking for nourishment. You are an eagle. Nothing less.

  13. Well Bruce, I thank you for the analogy, I might be just as well off to simply be a good looking keeshond. Once people get stereotyped and profiled, they lose their ability to protect and better themselves because pregidice then rules the day. I appreiciate the reduction of resistance, it’s long over due. Yet we act, or dont act, on information which other people dont have, further separating the beliefs and ideals of these same peoples. The first law of holes is “if you are in one, stop digging”.

    I blame tyranny with redundancy and the cause and effect of “because thats the way its always been done”, which has contributed to societies ills. That and the law of numbers against change from these same failed ideals, once the majority are wrong about something, there is no mechanism to reverse this, there are simply to many levels of corruption which prevent the truth from getting to Mr. Big. Who in his own right quickly falls back on the disbelief, denial, and anger stage, and then become either silent or totally forgets everything the next day and then resets with his own original status quo. Time and time again, i’ve witnessed this first hand, to many useless watchdog accountants and not enough hope and change make for a boring day.
    Actions have consequences, especially if they are wrong. Dont give away your knowledge or give the devil his due, he will take you for everything you have, and are, i’m experienced like that.

  14. @Per Kurowski ( et al)
    “Why would corporate capital ever permit the ‘full secure employment’ policies of the old Fascism in exchange for gaining popular support?
    This would undermine its greater new power, which is to be free of the needs or demands of any working class anywhere.”
    This is a facetious and cynical rhetorical question raise in a comment by John McMurtry (commenting) from University of Guelph, Ontario in 1994.

    The comment ends a critical response to a thought provoking article by
    Edward Nicolae Luttwak (born November 4, 1942), a military strategist, political scientist, and historian who has published works on military strategy, history, and international relations. He also provides consulting services to governments and international enterprises including various branches of the U.S. government and the U.S. military.
    Writing in 2007 in National Review Online, former George W. Bush’s speechwriter David Frum said Luttwak “is a very genuinely interesting writer. His book on the grand strategy of the Roman Empire was terrific, and his Coup D’État is that astounding thing: a great work of political science that is also a hilarious satire. Part of the secret of his success is his tone of total confidence. He makes startling claims in a tone that says, ‘If only you knew my super-secret sources.’” Frum was writing on the occasion of having just seen a column by Luttwak in the UK magazine Prospect, titled “The Middle of Nowhere”, in which Luttwak “magisterially and sardonically attacks a whole series of intellectual errors that allegedly dominate expert opinion on the Middle East”

    The article in question is:
    London Review of Books
    Vol. 16 No. 7 · 7 April 1994
    pages 3-6 | 3414 words
    ……………..Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future…………..
    By : Edward Luttwak
    @Per Kurowski: i followed your reference link for your full employment or humane unemployment and your original article that was censored. It is very interesting and I was happy to see a different version away from Regulatory banking concessions (and obsessions).
    I think you should update, elaborate and advance your argument (particularly since robotic technology replacing labor is a hot item and increasing gaining speed). Of course ez-crash toll booths make money at a cost to society, but remember that the high tech behind the scenes R& D coreation, production & maintenance comes at a much more capital intensive and lucrative market share, even while it dislocates people and disconnects society from the revenue stream. Replacing manual labor with robots is high tech and capital intensive capture of the economy and places labor at a disadvantage that will far exceed the reduction of wages created by outsourced jobs to the third world economies. What you can bet on is that the tech jobs that produce those robotic industries, will be kept outside the countries that are captured by them, and in the most controlled slave-labor countries that will harbor the technology (India / Philippines etc).
    I think the above article will be valuable to you in researching a more contemporary tracking (1994 to 2017) of what we are seeing as the potential Fascist Wave of the future now. McMurtry”s critical response to
    Luttwak’s diligent argument is worth your attention.

    Good Luck with that!

  15. I always recall Per as being a risk weighted capital requirements for bank lending man, seemingly implying that large cap company’s had an advantage over the small cap mom and pop operations because the small banks had to hold more money than large ones when determining their lending rates.
    A financial man who perhaps had little knowledge of body mechanics and the damage certain job tasks can take on the human being, (human capital), lifting, driving, and long term eye damage from welding just to name a few. Now he seems to be more concerned about things that take away income from those same human beings. A worker should be happy that someone gave him a job rather than the human suffering which accumulates from that job at the end of the day, or career, of said worker.
    A financial man who possibly has the formula for individual securities once the individual expires and NEVER got hold of their securities, we’ll call him a fancy administrator cause we are NOT privy to the terminology, or lay of that land. Why else would he be more concerned about potential lost human income rather than reducing the cost of living so said human would not have to be as concerned about making money to survive?
    It seems to me that gvt inefficiency is the sole reason for cost of living increases, in direct proportion from taxes to gvt, derived from business and gvt pension promises and a lack of truth in design, manufacturing, and advertising. Costly wars and poorly educated citizens which raises the percentage of GDP from health care and defense, defense GDP(17%) and health care GDP (18%), these industries account for nearly 35% of GDP today, just think of all the things which could be done if our society was healthy enough and had no need to defend itself, this is a waste of money derived from a poor education system. Well I guess I could/ or have been, going on forever about it, so I wont.

    Per where do you stand on the issue of lowering the cost of living?

  16. “I always recall Per as being a risk weighted capital requirements for bank lending man”

    No, I came to all this as an advisor to many SMEs and entrepreneurs who, when borrowing from banks, suddenly found their access to bank credit made much harder as a result of that banks had to hold more capital against loans to them, than against loans to the sovereign and the “safer” private corporations.

    About the rest I am not sure what you refer too, but I am of course in favor of diminishing the gap between the cost of living and the earnings, in all reasonable and legal ways, including by means of Universal Basic Income.

  17. But aren’t just about all so called “sovereigns” broke and live off their full faith and credit to tax their citizens and make favorable laws to collect said taxes? And most corporations are close to the same and tax their customers by their ability to raise prices, all in the name of keeping the shareholders happy?
    So what was your approach to the entrepreneur when suddenly it was harder for them to obtain credit because the banks had to hold more capital against loans rather than use the old fashion way of collateral. Its not as if you could dip into your pocket to balance the banks leverage with stock to make it easier for your entrepreneur friends to obtain loans, or was it?

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