tmccarthy0's picture

    The Genghis Law: Strength and Change Lie in Organization

    After reading Kevin Drums column and Genghis' Blowing Smoke, several academic papers on the Senate rules, the filibuster, and I selected some Journal Articles to learn more about what exactly is going on and what the solutions are for Democrats and Liberals in the future, because if they take no action now, they might relegate themselves to the status they currently hold for generations to come. The essays in no particular order are: "The Political Thought of Neo-Liberalism" (American Political Science Association Journal, 1955), Hegel and the Ontological Critique of Liberalism (American Political Science Review, 1997), and Labor Organization and Public Policy in the American States (Journal of Politics, 1998).

    I am more convinced than ever Genghis and Drum are correct: create organizations and compete to spread liberal policies or die on the vine of political power. How else will we convince Americans that liberal policies benefit them? Drum flat out says Democrats have abandoned the middle class.  If liberals want their beneficial polices to gain traction in the political mainstream, they must learn to deal with Politicians and existing political systems in order to effect change. But because we have failed to do so, we are unable at this point to take advantage of the energy for reform the American public is demanding.  We have failed in our efforts to convince politicians we are worth listening too because we have failed to combat conservative ideology, we often intellectually dismiss it, in doing so we have relegated ourselves to having a minor impact on our current political milieu.

     As I wrote in another blog, democrats and liberals come in all shapes and forms, we run our monthly meetings, we contribute and money and ideas and research, but we have little impact on the overall policies that the more liberal party chooses to support and most of the reason is we have failed as a large group to fight fire with fire, to mimic what conservatives have done in building their "think tanks". I mean let's take Grover Norquist's American's for Tax Reform. This man and his very powerful organization have had a huge impact on how people view taxes in America, whether they know it or not. Everyone it seems wants to pay fewer taxes, although they do want to continue to have their access to their favorite services, and with Republicans you get that, lower taxes, same access to services and huge debts. They have claimed the mantle of responsible government and liberal have been unable to wrest that mantle from their greedy tight grip. They have winning method, and they will not let it go so easily. So while the right has been organizing for the past 40 years, learning to use the government via lobbyists, we have failed. Where are the lobbyists that pressure legislators to enact liberal policies which benefit the middle and lower classes? How can we use those methods created by conservatives to help us pressure legislatures to enact more liberal policies, which will include raising taxes on the rich, on corporate interests.

    I've told you, we rarely see new faces at our monthly district meetings democrats have, and although we are heavily represented by labor interests at the grassroots level, we don't see that reflected in those who represent us nationally. Those of us who believe in liberal policies and practices have failed to educate on national level. Conservatives continue to get their message out there. Bob Somerby covers it almost daily at his blog site.

    Let's take Grover Norquist again, the policies of Americans for Tax Reform hurt the middle and lower classes.  Yet every election all we hear about is how the next politician is going to lower taxes for everyone!! WooHoo! Yet Americans by and large buy his argument that continuing to lower taxes will benefits all Americans.  The poor and middle class are being priced out of college, because of higher tuition costs, which is a result of decades of lowering taxes on everyone. Right here the UW is going to raise tuition 14%. Well when I attended the UW, the state and fed's picked up 80% of the cost. My tuition was $450.00 a quarter, Pell grants were in abundance for the poor, because education was the way to move to a better status in life. Currently tuition at public colleges and universities are skyrocketing. We all know why, all of our state government have been affected by the Norquist/Conservative movement that demands lower and lower taxes, and when we continue to lower taxes at these rates public institutions suffer. When are we going to fight fire with fire? What are we going to do about this?

    Conservatives at this point have won the ideological war conservative ideology permeates every level of government. At this point in time liberals and progressives organize around small issues whether they are opposing Citizens United, signing petitions about Elizabeth Warren or blogging about the evilness of all politicians and the sell out government. But we have failed to create organizations which specifically pressure congress to enact liberal policies. We really have to try to work within the system to change it, as we have seen; working outside the system has little impact. And if we fail to take advantage of what looks to be an era of reform, liberals and progressives will be relegated to bitching on blogs and continually fighting with one another.  I mean where is our Grover Norquist?  Where are our policy wonks that pump out white paper after white paper on say “the economic importance of infrastructure spending or why higher taxes are beneficial to those in the lower and middle classes?   I admit it would be hard to sell an organization with the name "Americans for Higher Taxes", but that also shows how terrible we are with messaging. Yes, we are terrible at messaging.  But my real question is, when will we quit lamenting that America is in decline, or isn't the America we once knew, and begin to force changes by organizing and pushing liberal policies?  We cannot change the system until we begin to impact the system like conservatives have done for 40 years.

    Propose your Organizations here:

    Here is mine: Americans for Affordable Access to State Colleges and Universities, the mission for my newly created organization will push the idea the the IRS should be used to now tax corporations as individuals since a federal court has ruled they are individuals and that any money collected will go straight to subsidizing tuition at state colleges and universities across the nation. We need creative solutions.

    Okay, it is your turn, join mine or create your own.


    That is the single best idea I have seen all week.


    But for safety's sake, stay away from repubs with guns!

    Since Corporations are considered individuals we certainly should use that to our advantage shouldn't we Dick.

    Another organization that, unfortunately, totally caught Liberals flat-footed was the Heritage Foundation, which set about grooming Conservative judges and inserted Conservative philosophy into every level of the judiciary system, and have nearly wiped out all those so-called 'Liberal activist judges' that Fox News still likes to use as a boogey-man to scare their viewers.  We need a Liberal version.

    I want a Foundation for Corporate Improvement, whose main objective would be to overturn the ruling that corporations are people. Our core belief would be that entities work better when they stop pretending they are something they're not and obey the rules and regulations of society and pay their fair share. 

    And, of course, any Committee to Abolish Grover Norquist would have my full support.

    Here's a good one.  

    The irony is that Paul Weyrich modeled the Heritage Foundation on the Brooking Institution...

    A year or so later, Mr. Weyrich attended a meeting of aides to Congressional liberals that was also attended by lawyers, lobbyists and Brookings Institute fellows. What he witnessed was a revelation, he said. The subject of the meeting was President Richard M. Nixon’s failure to move forward on fair housing legislation.

    “All I did was sit there with my mouth open, watching the system being orchestrated,” he recalled years later in an interview with The Washington Post, “including getting outside demonstrators, when to get the op-ed piece in the newspaper so it would coincide with the demonstrations, when to have personal lobbying, who was going to speed up the timetable at Brookings to get their study out. It was magnificent. I said, ‘Thank you, Lord, I have needed this insight.’”

    From that moment on, he said, he devoted himself to creating the same system for the right.

    Well I give Mac the Dayly Line of the Day Award for the Week at this here Dagblog Site, but I have to give Smith the Dayly Line of the Day Award for the day at this here Dagblog site, given to all of them from all of me. hahaahahahahah


    I have to agree Dick, Mr. Smith deserves the award and I  want to be the head of the Committee to Abolish Grover Norquist! Yes I do.

    So when do we file the papers for our tax-exempt status?   KOAN is not the sound of one hand clapping, or a radio station West of the Mississippi, it's the Kommittee to Abolish Grover Norquist!

    KOAN... I like it! We file today, er tomorrow, okay Tuesday!

    Folks, the message of this blog, if I may, is that trying to get rid of Norquist is not a productive approach. For one thing, you can't. He's not an elected official. At best, we can implement some campaign finance reform, but that has not proven very effective.

    So you know what they say to do if you can't beat 'em... What the left needs is a Grover Norquist or two of its own.

    Yeah, we know... You're right, of course.  But can we keep the KOAN name and make it the Kommittee to Organize Against Norquist's Numbskull Notions? 

    Genghis is correct. We do need one or two Norquists of our own. You are exactly right about Norquist about the folly of demonizing one guy, rather than finding a way to combat that guy and his ideas with our own person and our ideas. I have a real life example of what you are saying.

    In 1998 a dude here in Washington began to write initiatives for a living, he got people to vote for them and it has really decimated Washington States ability to fund anything. People voted for his initiatives. So what did Democrats do, they wrote and initiative to declare this fellow a horses ass. Which was funny, but quite lame. So today that guy continues to write crazy initiatives to cut funding from the state and county and city coffers, leaving the state in debt and counties and cities unable to invest in public transportation and a range of services that the working poor need to have access, and it included the continual cutting of basic education k-12). You'd think parents wouldn't stand for such folly. But they do because democrats and liberals and progressive don't combat this head on, we believe people are smart (they are but...) and figure they will realize the folly of voting for this guy's initiatives. But it doesn't happen because we don't play the game we just have faith.. it isn't working.

    Democrats, liberals, progressives have largely sat out of the initiative game. Ultra conservative Norquist types play the game to the hilt, and what we have it what we have. Not participating gets us to the place we are, even in a liberal state like Washington, and if we are not careful they will take over our legislature and the governors spot. That is what non-participation gets us, literally nothing good.

    This has got to be a World Record for the number of times in a thread that the phrase, "Genghis is correct" has appeared ... Not that there's anything wrong with that ...   

    I am more convinced than ever Genghis and Drum are correct.

    I'm not sure about that Drum dude, but Genghis is certainly correct.

    I have always said that Genghis. I mean that you are always correct....especially when you find it in your heart to put me on the front page.



    Thanks for offering a paper from the 50s and two from the 90s for consideration (for future reference, it helps to provide a link).

    Here is a more recent one: Princeton's Martin Gilens on Inequality and Democratic Responsiveness in the United States, from 2007. As often, these things don't lend themselves to soundbites, but the short version of his findings on government responsiveness to popular preferences is that

    "When Americans with different income levels differ in their policy preferences, actual policy outcomes strongly reflect the preferences of the most affluent but bear little relationship to the preferences of poor or middle class Americans".

    I.e. the government only cares about rich people. More precisely, government policy is aligned with the preferences of the 90th income percentile and completely ignores the preferences of the 50th percentile as well as the preferences of the 10th percentile.

    And he goes through possible hypotheses why this is so: (i) it's not that the rich care more or hold clearer preferences on policy than the poor and the middle class. The middle class care roughly the same, and are pretty much as clear. (ii) it's not that the rich are more active in voting and volunteering. The middle class are roughly as active. (iii) it is however the case that the rich donate much more and thus the political influence that comes with money explains why the government caters only to the rich.

    He concludes: "There has never been a democratic society in which citizens' influence over government policy was unrelated to their financial resources. In this sense, the difference between democracy and plutocracy is one of degree. But by this same token, a government that is democratic in form but is in practice only responsive to its most affluent citizens is a democracy in name only.

    Most middle-income Americans think that public officials don't care much about the
    preferences of "people like me." Sadly, the results presented above suggest they may be right. Whether or not elected officials and other decision makers "care" about middle-class Americans, influence over actual policy outcomes appears to be reserved overwhelmingly for those at the top
    of the income distribution."

    So this suggests that it is not a matter of right-left. After all, what does the religious right have to show for their wonderful 'organizing' skills? How are they doing on gay marriage? On abortion? They're losing massively across the board. The 'right' is winning to the extent that the RICH ARE WINNING. This isn't a matter of fighting the wingnuts. It's a class affair.

    If the middle class - and by that I mean those really in the middle of the income distribution - are going to be heard, they have to decouple themselves from a Democratic party that does not care what they think, a Democratic party that is now as corporatist as the GOP (in the literal sense of receiving the same in corporate pac contributions). They have to form a political organization that in its culture and in its structure is not dependent on competing in money terms with the main parties.

    Because, look at this realistically: the top 10% make 50% of the country's income. The top 10% possess 85% of the wealth. That means, donating the same percentage of their income in political donations, they match the bottom 90%, and they can of course more easily give a greater percentage of their income than cash strapped working class single parents and such. And remember they give a huge amount in pre-profit, pre-tax, corporate donations and corporate lobbying. Just look how outgunned workers are here:


    Labor unions, the biggest middle-class lobby, with the biggest money muscle, can't muster even one tenth of any of the main corporate lobbies. Better organizing? Double the money, even? Won't make a dent in that wall of corporate cash. There needs to be a break.

    Is that idea naive? Can one leverage political power without money? Well it better be possible, because there is no other option. The idea pushed here by McCarthy, "if only the middle class were more organized, they'd get heard" is basically saying workers are getting fucked because ... they're just too lazy. Which sounds like horseshit to me. Not only does it sound to me like horseshit, the most up to date political science study of government responsiveness to various constituencies ... says it is horseshit!

    It's not about organizing better.

    Still, has there ever been a political party that has been massively outfunded yet successful? Maybe not, but that, imho, was because information and advertising have been traditionally expensive to distribute, networks expensive to set up and keep working. That, with the information revolution, is no longer the case. Mainstream media is no longer our primary information filter. For better or worse -in this case, better - now Facebook and social media plays that function. Networking capabilities are built into the software, for pete's sake.

    This should be easy, people just need to realize it is necessary, and that it is possible.

    Apart from all that, fine blog!



    "If the middle class - and by that I mean those really in the middle of the income distribution - are going to be heard, they have to decouple themselves from a Democratic party that does not care what they think, a Democratic party that is now as corporatist as the GOP (in the literal sense of receiving the same in corporate pac contributions). They have to form a political organization that in its culture and in its structure is not dependent on competing in money terms with the main parties."

    Bingo.  Thanks for the above, too.  I wasn't so sure the Drum piece even necessarily supported the OP. 

    Interesting discussion, T McCarthy.

    By the by, having now read The Political thought of Neo-Liberalism, which seems to be a wide-ranging delightfully zany mashup of remarks on how to create that German obsession: "high culture", and how society is structured by relations of force rather than economic organization, and how sadism and masochims are the indivudial-psychological reflections of the conquerors and the conquered, I really wonder

    what in God's name you think this has to do with Genghis' theory?

    (Other than the fact that his forefather - the Khan - is mentioned along with Aristotle, Plato, cavemen, Ibn Kaldoun, Karl Bohm and the pyramids (in no particular order).

    Maybe I'll read the others if you offer some hope they illuminate this issue of how to give progressivism som political punch.

    I was interested in this one:

    Labor Organization and Public Policy in the American States (Journal of Politics, 1998), but all I could find was a book by the same name that talked about the movement in the early 1900s; I wondered if her reference had talked about the socialist beginnings of the labor movement. 

    I found it but it looks firewalled if you don't have access through a university account.

    There's a full-text version posted here as of now.

    (Shhh, it's a private link. I'll take it down tomorrow)

    Thanks; I always wished I'd kept some of Sleepin' Jesus's links; he knew some labor history.  I'll copy it now if it will help.   ;o)  Uh...nope; ain't got no university account.  I've even maxed out my free NYT articles; rats.  Gonna have to get a ouija board....

    Oh, well, tiddley-pom; it won't cut and paste. Can I print it tomorrow?  They won't moidal-ize ya 'er nothin'?   Ah'm beat, and Red Green's on...then Red Dwarf and I don't wanna hook up the printer (she whined....)

    But remember: If the women don't find ya handsome, they should at least find ya handy!  G' night.

    Hm. see below the text, where it says "download" in hot red? Click on that and ... this magical thing happens, where you don't need to copy the text yourself. It goes all by itself through this series of tubes and into your computer, so you can read it any time you want...



    Okay; that's pretty embarrassing then.  Downloaded and read; a bit complicated with the charts for me, and funny that it all concerns metrics involved with ADC which no longer exists.  It did get me googling TANF info, though, and the array of thought about whether or not it 'worked', even though only a third of the number of recipients now receive aid compared to 1997, poverty levels are still a high.  I didn't see anything about birth levels, which was one of the major reasons for enacting TANF and ending ADC.  No numbers for 2010...

    But okay; union density matters to liberal policy.  And in the 'tension' between classes, less union pressure means less spending on education and 'welfare', and 'other activities' (tax progessivity).  Obviously, there needs to be more pressure for liberal economics.  Duh. 

    It's a class war, baby, and the Democratic elites...well, never mind.

    Still, has there ever been a political party that has been massively outfunded yet successful?

    Just realized there is an obvious example north of the border: Canada's socialists, the NDP.

    The fundraising numbers for the three parties were as follows:

    Total Conservative party funds raised since last election: $47,711,373

    Total Liberal party funds raised since last election: $19,913,434

    Total NDP funds raised since last election: $10,418,699

    So here we have a much smaller, with little in terms of party infrastructure on the ground, getting outfunded two to one by their center-left rivals, and outfunded five to one by the right wing party, yet they win 103 seats to 166 for the right and only 34 for the center-left party. Consequently the socialists replace the liberals as the opposition party.

    Well stated.  My immediate concerns lie in what we are doing to overcome the obstacles we will face in the next election to prevent complete republican rule in federal government.  With the new voter supression/election laws, no more ACORN out there registering low income and minority voters, redistricting, voters who are disappointed and less likely to vote, the economy in general with current unemployment and gas prices...  we have many obstacles to overcome in the next election before even getting started.  My impression is that the republicans intend to 'take' the next election which explains why they are so blatantly acting against the public interest and the public good.  The special election in NY was great but it was not in a swing state where new laws supressing lower income, minority, and student voters have been enacted. 

    I agree that if corporations are going to be treated as a person they must not be 'privileged' person and they should pay taxes accordingly.   It is highly illogical that a 'group' of persons can come together to form an entity that is recognized as an additional 'person'.

    I wish college education were free in our country.  My daughter is studying to be a teacher.  I recently learned that Finland has an excellent education system and their teachers go through a much higher degree of training in our country.  I feel that is what is necessary in order to improve our education system in terms of the results we are getting.  I fear for my daughter that her training will be mediocre and she will be outdone in the future.  I recall the education of teachers in my college in Indiana seemed very inferior to me when I was just a college student.

    Bravo on your efforts!


    Thank you Synch,

    Yes attending college used to be much less expensive. And the less funding higher ed gets the more the middle and lower classes suffer, and by extension the more our society suffers. And if students do make it out of college they are buried in debt, which is no way to start out life as an adult.

    I think I saw that same program with talking about teachers in Finland, it was amazing, and I do wish we could implement a similar system here. They are number one as far as educating and preparing students for the future. As a nation it should be a priority, not tax cuts and subsidies for Oil Companies. I think it is worth fighting to get greater public funding for education. I'd definitely pay higher taxes for such an effort.

    You daughter is going to be a teacher, good for her.

    (OK. Here’s my two cents.  Better yet how about two fingers of Jameson’s ?)

     So it wasn’t the butler after all.  “The Hippies did it.” 

     Talk about your organizational skills.  Now those “hippies” were a tightly wound, disciplined and focused little army, modern day Jesuits following the military-like life style described in the writings of their founder St. Kerouac of Loyola.  Their arsenal of weapons was advocacy of civil liberties, egalitarian economic and social morality, and the pursuit of peace among nations.  How many despotic regimes down the long corridors of history followed the same path to domination and empire?

    NOT.  What the “Hippies” did have was a certain joie de vivre and a generosity of spirit.  In the promising post WW II environment a small ( very small ) group of the newly minted bourgeoisie saw an opportunity for true liberalism – the equitable sharing of the burden and reward of social organization so dramatically demonstrated by the defeat of fascism and imperialism.  Unfortunately fascism is a by-product of industrial society.  It existed in the U.S. in the 1920’s and simply went underground until after the defeat of Germany.  Imperialism is the child of national narcissism and every nation state imagines itself an empire.  What “hippies” thought was an historic debate between Rousseau and Hobbes was really just a fleeting moment of drama and optimism.  Larger forces were at play, so large that no one could sense them operating.

    In the late 1950’s the San Francisco police engaged a campaign in North Beach to end the popularity of this little Bohemian garden.  Small as it was the powers-that-be felt the need to kill the buzz.  As a result the Haight-Ashbury era was born.  But what is important here is to notice how virulently American society opposes any form of independent life.  In short the lack of large organizations isn’t the problem. Large organizations are the problem.  The Liberal spirit is the spirit of decentralization.  A call for larger organizations is inherently illiberal and at war with itself. 

    In our very modern America King John has appeared to take back his rightful powers of monarch. At the moment the barons and earls are on his side.  But soon they will be bickering among themselves and a new political dualism will emerge.  My advice is to stay as far away from that fight as you can and heed the advice of Voltaire:  “Tend to your garden.”

    Now wait just one goddamn minute.

    My joie de vivre did its best with my second wife.

    I mean, talk about gardens for chrissakes.....

    Sure I am a liberal but she made me stay out of one election just because residence became a problem whenswhe moved in with me....okay so I did not vote strickly because of my desire for myvery special joie de vivre.

    Now, of course I have no joie de vivre at the present time and so I maintain my liberalism.

    But for chrissakes, do not diss my joie de vivre.

    the end

    I am tempted to suggest that you may be holding your French-English dictionary upside down but I'm too frightened by the thought of what response that might elicit from you.  Therefore I remain

    Speechlessly Yours


    the end

    Uh, what exactly is it that the hippies did? Not do diss the hippies. They drove the anti-Vietnam War movement and played important roles in the civil rights and womens rights movements. But there were also plenty of disciplined organizers behind those movements who might take issue with your chalking it all up to joie to vivre and generosity of spirit. Not to mention the non-hippie legislators who gave us the Civil Rights Acts, the Fair Housing Act, Medicare, Medicaid, housing assistance, foodstamps, etc.; the non-hippie black leaders who organized the civil rights protests, the non-hippy Supreme Court justices legalized abortion and mandated integration, the non-hippie journalists who took down Nixon, and so on.

    Political change requires spirit, yes, but it also requires organization. That doesn't necessarily mean large bureaucracies, but it does mean coordinated, dedicated, long-term efforts. Undirected enthusiasm is pretty useless without it.

    For a lot of the earlier stuff, agreed they weren't all hippies. But from my research, and limited experience,, the "hippie" element and attitude has had a shockingly large impact on the environmental movement, as well as on the evolution of the Internet. * Whereas, to be truthful, the Hun have done jack shit for the Movement.

    I don't know about the Hun, but the Mongols invented the Internet.

    Granted, they used ponies instead of digital packets, but from what I understand, Buzkashi was the first viral app.



    Silent Spring which was released in 1962 (pre-hippie days) began to document the effects of pollutants in our environment. DDT had been used since the 40's to kill weeds. Carson, a scientist spent years documenting the effects of DDT.  Then of course Nixon himself, yes a jerk but not a dumb man, helped to create NEPA and the EPA. NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act), was enacted in 1969. The hippies so you say, were still out there protesting the War, but they weren't screaming about the environment yet.  It wasn't until 1972 that "the hippies" created Earth Day. It is a cool day to celebrate, but it does nothing to help create laws to protect the environment. Not only does NEPA out date Earth Day, so does the EPA.

    The fact is you cannot say it was just hippies that had a "shockingly large impact on the environmental movement" because they didn't participate in the system, if they did wouldn't there have been a President McGovern?

    I think we were lucky in the late 60's and early 70's because scientific research trumped ideology. Legislators from the west coast including Magnuson and Jackson, both very conservative Democrats from Washington, Hatfield a Republican from Oregon, and others including liberal republicans from the north east had a big role in pushing that legislation along.

    But this isn't really a blog about what hippies did or didn't do, it is about how to take the conversation back by participating in the system to get the legislation we want to see. I get that there are lots of people who don't want to do that, but like I wrote to Larry, that particular tactic isn't working.

    DDT was not used to kill weeds. As Quinn says, you don't know jackshit about DDT if you think it was used on weeds!! In WWII typhus killed huge numbers of troops and refugees, and malaria was rampant in the tropical battle fields of the Pacific. DDT was considered to have saved millions of lives in the 1940's and 50's throughout the world because it wiped out the lice that spread typhus and the mosquitoes that spread malaria. Please just note these facts. I am just trying to educate those here who are unaware of history, I am not critical of the banning of DDT which as a persistent pesticide also wreaked wide and lasting environmental damage.

    DDT was used extensively during World War II by the Allies to control the insect vectors of typhus — nearly eliminating the disease in many parts of Europe. In the South Pacific, it was sprayed aerially for malaria control with spectacular effects. Wiki  

    DDT is used in Africa today to combat the scourge of malaria, which kills millions each year, WHO advocated its use indoors in malarial regions of Africa in 2006:

    The World Health Organization reversed a 30-year-old policy yesterday and declared its support for indoor use of the pesticide DDT to control mosquitoes in regions where malaria is a major health problem.

    The Geneva-based WHO, which provides advice to many developing countries, believes the benefits of the long-acting pesticide far outweigh any health or environmental risk it may pose.

    Mosquitoes were growing resistant to it, also.  Our mosquito district now uses larvicides, which are more expensive, but tough crap.  And after the ban, lots of it was dumped into Mexico, prompting concerns that we are still eating the stuff we import.  Apparently some targets to phase it out there are helping now.  Who knows for sure?

    Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT now.
    Give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees, please.

    DDT is used in Africa today to combat the scourge of malaria, which kills millions each year, WHO advocated its use indoors in malarial regions of Africa in 2006:

    And there's a lawsuit about its use to fight malaria in Uganda; as it turns out, not only about the public health issues but how it has hurt the development of the organic farming business. US foreign aid is talking out of both sides of its mouth on it, supporting organic farming and supporting DDT for malaria which ruins the possiblility of organic farming.

    Tmc. I get it that you would like to see traditional Democratic Party players and non-mainstream types (such as hippies, progressives and greens) come together and beat the Republicans. Most of them would like that too. But your way of putting things is basically to blame them for the parting of the ways, jam them in the eye with a screwdriver as having failed to achieve useful change, show that you know very little about them, then insist you want unity again. Sorry, I've been doing this all my life as well, and that kind of approach won't work. For instance, when I say hippies had an oversized influence in growing the environmental movement (and I'm not a hippie, by the way), you can't even support the point, but have to start into some jazz about Rachel Carson and Richard Nixon, and how important THEY were. Which is an area I kinda know about, and sorry, while Carson and Nixon played a role, if you think I'm making up the hippie influence stuff, then... you just don't know. Which leaves me feelingl like you're insisting that these people you detest and have no respect for should come over and do things YOUR way. Don't you think if you're actually aiming to bring these people together, you'd WANT to find out the good stuff they did, before pitching Richard Nixon's fabulous role?

    Yea.  He's been jamming screwdrivers in people's eyes his whole life and now he has to live in a one room cabin on an ice flow in Northern Canada and the only thing keeping him afloat is the Ecology movement.  Is that how you want to end up?

    Remember what the song says:

    They had it comin'.

    “They wore their hair long, they used drugs, and they were loathed by the mandarins of organized labor.”

    Thus does Kevin Drum describe the malefactors he says caused the Democratic Party to lose its moorings and drift away from the labor movement in particular and the working and middle classes in general.  He used the term “New Left” but I took the small license of applying the more colloquial label “Hippy.” 

    Somehow this small band of innocents and idealists brought down upon our heads Nixon who begat Cheney who begat Reagan who begat Bush.  It always amuses me to see this idea when meme like it reappears.  The notion that they (we) had any significant impact on the course of history is as romantic and silly as any SDS meeting I ever attended.  

    The Old Left (then, now we call it the old Old Left) eschewed the New Left as effete, undisciplined and unfocused.  In retrospect they were mostly correct in this opinion.  However then as now the drudgery of one more Stalinist/Trotskyite/Maoist/Castroite marathon debate seemed quintessentially ineffectual.  It was time to move on, wherever that might be, with appreciations to the likes of Marx, C. Wright Mills and Domhoff.  On the other hand establishment liberals advised patience and care not to disturb the achievements of the past and all the institutional clap trap that went with that past.  Harry Reid would have been quite comfortable in the company of H.H. Humphrey, Everett Dirksen and William Fullbright.  Senator Wayne Morris is no lonelier today in his grave than he was when he served in the U.S. Senate.  On a more personal note I don’t recall being treated as any kind of serious voice.  I do recall being called a Communist and a traitor. And such were those times that I recall having to sign a loyalty oath to get a job with the U.S. Post Office in 1969, my first job after two years honorable service in the U.S. Army, a requirement that anticipated the spirit of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act by several decades I would observe.

    The history of the U.S. between the end of Richard Nixon’s term as Vice President and the beginning of his term as President was dominated by accession by assassination, pointless and exhausting warfare and draconian state security policy.  (You may recall that those journalists who “brought down Nixon” were warned that their lives were in danger.)  Turn down the volume on your Led Zeppelin cd for a moment and try to recall what it was really like.  It was like today and the road to today began with the first administration of Richard Nixon.  Sometimes it is observed that he would seem to be a liberal by modern standards but he was not.  He was a monomaniacal autocrat.  The details of all of this are well known but hard to accept.  I have some sympathy for wanting it to be a more inspiring tale of romantic heroism.  As for the Hippies it turns out that they were not an important part of some historical moment.  They did what they did because, like Dr. Rieux, it was their nature to fight.  The plague always ends in death regardless.

    It is in the nature of things that a death certificate issues after the actual death.  The critique of the New Left certified morbidity although at the time it was thought to be merely grave illness accompanied by deep coma.  The real Hippies knew better.  

    Sorry dude, but I don't buy the "not an important" and "plague/death" things any more than I buy what the anti-hippie assholes are selling. The plague/death thing in particular strikes me as a... pose. ** That said, what most gets in my craw are the morons who piss all over the greens and hippies and lefties and internet types for some supposed undermining of the party. When to me, they were the only source of new ideas and grassroots energy supplied into an otherwise completely sclerotic band of warmongers. Certainly, I find it hard to see anything much in the way of organizational or legislative innovations the party traditionalists have produced. At which point, sometimes I wonder "why have we bothered" ... but there you go. A Plague Doctor's work is never done. And never successful........ Whoops. What were you saying again?

    OK.  OK.  But is it just me or did you think of Luke Skywalker and his prosthetic hand when you heard that Obie signed the extended Patriot Act with a robot pen.

    Life imitates art.


    Drum meant hippies all right, and flat out says it later.  One baffling part of his odd history is that hippies took over the Democratic party, but he fails to show they had the financial power to do it, just numbers and ideas, we then assume.  And it was arguably around ending the war; thus, McGovern.  Big Fail.  Then he has all the former McGovernites head to Wall Street like they were all Barry Meltons, but still wants us to believe that money and ‘liberal’ super-infrastructure is the only thing that will bring back wealth redistribution.

    So google Drum, and you find out that after journalism school, he spent nine years marketing tech stock…okay.  Did he get beat up by a hippie one day?  A commenter at My.fdl called Drum’s take on the 60s the George Wallace view.

    He leaves out that in the early 1900s the labor movement was driven by socialists, too, and credits the Party hippies with hating labor (more bullshit, IMO), and charges them with being ‘effete intelligentsia’ or something, and abandoning politics once the war ended.  ‘Goo-goo’ whatever he called it.

    He totally leaves out Reagan and the PATCO strike and the AFL/CIOs silence back then, and the draconian anti-union laws ushered in, and big business’s gutting of worker rights and safety measures, then yep, came pay concessions and benefit cuts…all in the time that the ‘Earth Was Becoming Flatter’, and CEOs didn’t have to ensure their workers had ample wages to buy the crap they were making any longer.

    He doesn’t factor in the deceit that advertising showed us, how ideas can be floated through the teevee and magazines to shape what people believe about themselves and must want, and the corporate influence of the news, in the last decade, even PBS.  Or how Outsiders become Insiders so quickly once elected to Congress, rubbing elbows with the uber-wealthy and powerful, and wanting more for themselves.

    He calls for stronger countervailing forces, but declares that unions are dead, and this blog seems to think he means in aid of the Democratic Party being more progressive, but he stops short of that, IMO.  The man’s possibly confused as to his prescription.

    On Cmaukonen’s diary praising the Drum piece at my.fdl, I dropped in this contra-argument from a post I did at the Café forever ago objecting to the ‘Death of the Woodstock Nation” meme on some anniversary or other.

    I wrote an admittedly mediocre piece last year on the ’60s on some anniversary of Woodstock after hearing asshat pundits Kevin-Drumming the decade. After the war, draft resisting, the availability of birth control and the burgeoning woman’s movement and multicultural expansion at colleges, these parts address some of who actual hippies then are today: STILL HIPPIES in the best sense of the word:

    The youth of the country began to question if the pursuit of money were a noble goal, whether working in a cubicle for a faceless capitalistic corporation could satisfy them. Some folks tried out the peace corps; some created their own healthy businesses; some attorneys became public defenders; some took on class-action lawsuits against polluting corporations. Idealism ran high. Of course many went back to the money-making grind; idealism didn’t always buy shoes for the babies. But some good, noble service organizations got their starts in the era.

    In Boulder and Kent, hippies learned to share; we learned that we really were our brothers’ keepers. Whether we knew it or not, lots of us tried to emulate Christ’s life, and share what we had, and accept help from others when they had, and we didn’t. Many learned to meditate, to value peace and broader humanistic values. We learned the most insidious lesson of all: to question authority. Some of the protests led to absurd take-overs of government buildings, they were well-intentioned, but half-baked, and really did no harm. But the actions often gleaned attention for unconventional arguments which gained popularity among the public.

    And I will say that in our county, at least 80% of the participants of our Peace Demonstrations are Boomers, and I would guess most were or are still hippies. Nationwide, plenty of the generation eventually ran for public office, some of them successfully.

    “Pot-smoking hippies” is no-doubt a pretty fair concept. But to my mind, the more important drug was LSD. In the beginning, it was a bit more like a sacrament, a ritual, an experiment about expanded consciousness described by John Lily and others. My sense is that many of the folks who became so eco-conscious and involved in planetary health issues were influenced by it. We are told that lysergic diethylamide changes the quality of the neuro-transmitter chemical packets passed between the dendrites of nerve cells. But that doesn’t tell you much about the ways in which your perceptions could change to actually see the organic nature of all life, and the increase awareness of the inter-connectedness of it all. It’s so easy to poke fun at it all now; I’ve had the discussions with straight people a thousand times.

    Later the Boomers began posing questions about mind-body issues, i.e. “Were mind and body discrete entities, or could they be inter-related, and what are alternative ways we can get and stay healthy?” The New Age movement eventually got commercial and thus a bit crappy, but Alternative Health ideas have stayed. Over half the health care dollars in the U.S. are spent on alternatives to AMA practices. (which most insurance companies don’t cover, so the ACA mandate seems even more lame and punitive.)

    Mediocre writing, but I’d add that a large chunk of us learned that power was insidious, and we opted for more satisfyingly simple lives, and some agitated from the outside, some got elected to local offices, lots became organizers for the Dems, and often campaigned for progressive candidates in the primaries, only to have the DNC and DLC sweep in with massive money and ad buys to defeat them for centrist or whatever candidates.

    And we clarified human values and rights for ourselves and exposed the dangers of killing the planet and more, and warned of the dangers of war and the security state, though only some of those values are evident today.  But the alternative ideas may becoming ascendant again simply because what exists now simply isn’t sustainable.  Yep; the dirty fucking hippies were right.

    So to me, it seems that end runs around the existing system is the only thing that will help in the near future; lots of ideas are out their in their infancy for populist movements, but Obey’s right: social media may spread whatever spark comes out of nowhere to ignite something better to come, no matter how messy it may be.  And I hope passionately that it will be non-violent, but enough to change the Elite Domination in the class war.


    If you remember the Whole Earth Catalog and such, the hippies were a very industrious bunch, but had a non-industrial vision of the economy. They didn't much see any relevance for trade unions. Mostly co-op stuff and share the land.

    If you mean 'hippies' wouldn't have voted for Hubert Humphrey over Bobby Kennedy, then I suppose you're right.  Yes; we are/were a rather industrious bunch.  Wanna arm-wrestle?    Innocent

    The honest truth is that if we cannot pressure those who elected to craft and enact more progressive policies then we never get to effect the system.  Staying out of the system left us flatfooted in health care legislation because over the last 40 years we failed to play the game. And yes it is a game. For example, even though many progressives say they want "single payer" or a "public option" for health care to "stronger regulatory schemes"  and other progressive legislation, those policies have not been codified.  Right now Democrats win elections when Republicans fuck up. Medicare is the most current example of this method of getting elected. Dem's are taking this issue and clubbing the R's over their collective heads with it, and R's are more than willing to overstep what voters expect. However, this has not lead to Dem's being in control more often, nor does it lead to more progressive national policies. Any power Dem's have is fleeting because  it relies on R's screwing up. No doubt they do that plenty, but it is no way to run a country.

    We have 40 years of electoral data indicating this particular method doesn't work.  But for all those who don't want to be in the system or play the game that is your right, but it is no way to get the country you want.  Ultra conservatives have been able to work the system for 40 years, unopposed by progressives. And they get results, and what they do is exactly what Wolraich and Drum say we should be doing, not withdrawing from, but participating in the system. That method works. We can see the results before out eyes.

    As to the rest, meh, look our world is larger and more complex than it was in the past. Fundamentally that means our systems will trend towards greater complexity.

    Calling Larry H.  It might be in order for you to expand your comment a bit.  The first time I read it, I confess I bristled a bit; the second time, not; I thought I read it almost the opposite.

    But given Genghis's consternation, could you explain more fully?  Given that I still am a Dirty Fucking Hippie, Genghis is not (I assume), could you explain?  I was just about to post a comment when I saw this from Genghis.

    Well now I was kind of a nonfucking hippie in those days.

    A lot of boils on my face like Job; but I knew Nixon was a bastard. hahahahahaha

    Might be TMI, Dick; but glad ya got the Nixon part right.  Jesus, I prolly was scarred by my very own mother having campaigned for Barry Goldwater; used ta hand out copies of None Dare Call it Treason.  Arrrggghhhh!

    What if the middle class stopped voting against its own interests?

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