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Monday, December 14, 2009


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Despite the flak I took during the lead-in to the last election for having the temerity to suggest that it might actually be better to have McCain win than Obama, for precisely the reasons you give above, I haven't changed my mind one bit.

As one who only votes to keep abortion safe and legal, may I ask what other alternative I have than voting Democratic, even though I have no illusions that they are any thing other than bought and paid for politicians, agreeing that they are worse than Republicans? Even Diane Feinstein, who I detest, has come out in favor of legal abortions continuing, while the Republicans have said no to even birth control.

Sam, the last Republican administration had the majorities and power needed to make abortion illegal. But they didn't. They whittled away, with some eager assistance from their Democratic colleagues, who are now whittling away with things like the Stupak Amendment.

The parties are by no means monolithic in outlook, and each has a few principled people, but institutionally they do agree on some fundamentals. One of which is their nominal constituents enjoy liberty on sufferance.

Human rights are seldom abrogated all at once in a formal democracy. They're undermined until a spectacular incident can be used as an excuse to make a complete mockery of the formal protections. This whittling away is not going to be brought to a halt by Democrats. Not voluntarily.

Many other parties support keeping abortion safe and legal, and unlike the Democrats some of them also support slashing the military budget, ending corporate welfare, single payer health care, and other things you'd probably like to see. Beyond that, you might want to take a look at this.

John: Give an example. Nader, for instance, dismissed glbt issues as gonad politics and also supported those who wanted to keep terri shavio alive

P.S. Abortion rights also aren't just about privacy: http://pink-scare.blogspot.com/2009/07/why-privacy-justification-for-abortion.html

Actually, Jenny, Nader was talking about abortion, not about glbt issues when he tossed out that phrase in 1996. I don't know the Green Party platform, but I presume that was one of the parties John had in mind.

I've never been completely convinced by Nader's later explanation of what he meant by it, which you'll find in the David Barsamian interview I just linked, but 1) it doesn't equate with being anti-choice, and 2) it doesn't have much bearing on the fact that abortion rights were whittled away under two Democratic Presidents, Carter and Clinton. And while Obama did undo the gag rule on abortion in international clinics, I keep wondering why such a matter is subject to the whims of the President in the first place, and I'm not sure it does much to make abortion more accessible to women in the US.

Nader, for instance, dismissed glbt issues as gonad politics...

No, he just said he didn't do gonadal (i.e. sexual) politics—which isn't surprising coming from a guy who's seemingly asexual. You can read a clarification here, and read more about his positions on gay issues here.

And Duncan, it seems like he was in fact talking about glbt issues in that quote, though with the context-free way the New York Times reported it it's hard to tell:

Nor will Nader adopt the platform of the Green Party, though its stand for same-sex marriage would boost his ratings in Northern California: "Not interested in gonadal politics."
In any case, Nader's support for gay marriage and gay rights has been clear for a long time...though I don't see that that has much to do with this discussion anyway.

And I was thinking of the Libertarians in addition to the Greens, though I'm sure there are others.

John, thanks for answering my question, I read the Moore column. Seems like he did fall for it again, as did I. I am really glad you are back.

Again though, I don't think Conservatives would improve the abortion access situation either. You can have a right to have an abortion, but its still impossible in many states to actually afford and get one easily.

Nomad: why would you think the U.S. would be better with McCain? I thought you said it was because it'd be a theoretical fall of the empire or some such. That or it was an idea of revolutionary decay in that the shittier things get, the more people would be likely to revolt.

why would you think the U.S. would be better with McCain?

I don't. But that's the point. It would go to hell in a handbasket faster, which would probably be better, in the long run, for everyone involved. I'm thoroughly convinced that the main obstacle to progress on any number of fronts is the political, military, economic, and cultural dominance of the US, and anything that ends that — preferably dishing Americans a massive dose of humble pie in the process — is a good thing.

That or it was an idea of revolutionary decay in that the shittier things get, the more people would be likely to revolt.

Basically, yes; it's the frog in the pot syndrome. Things are going to get shitty anyway; it's just that, with the likes of Obama in charge, it will take longer to get there, and he's more likely to drag everyone else on the planet along for the ride, since they seem to be unable — or unwilling — to understand what's happening. By the time people realise what's going on, it will be far too late to do anything about it.

With an idiot like McCain (or, eventually, Palin) in charge, the insanity would be much more obvious, and resistance much more likely to arise.

Basically, if someone like McCain didn't do the trick, then it really would be totally hopeless. Of course, we now have Obama, so we're probably fucked.

Ah, that'd be the vulture theory of socialism then: http://theactivist.org/blog/the-vulture-theory-of-socialism

I agree with the general thrust of John's argument, however in fairness I don't feel we can describe the Democrats as either worse or better than the Republicans. I like the way Father Smiff illustrates the issue in the ratchet effect. In this formulation, the two parties are complimentary mechanisms operating in a single elegant machine.

Why does the public tolerate this? I really don't know. It could be, as some have suggested, that the public mind is simply too primitive to understand the world it lives in.

If people like E. O. Wilson (sociobiology) and Marvin Harris (cultural materialism) are to be believed, there are sound reasons why this should be so. Speaking very generally, I think you can look on any society as a kind of synergy-animal wherein a relatively small number of cells exersize intelligence in order to direct the animal, while the rest exersize only so much intelligence as is necessary to allow them to animate their bodies.

I mean, if critical thought were a social good free of any negative consequences, wouldn't you expect to see more of it? Surely something is standing in the way?

The vulture theory posits revolutionary change as a result of intolerable immiseration. That's more frequently imputed than held as a conviction. Ironically, the imputation nearly always comes from people following a "worse the better" strategy of their own, pursued in the hopes that a crisis of diminishing expectations will make the tepid pseudo-meliorism of the Democrats more palatable.

I don't see any vulture theory in Nomad's comment. Only musing about a decline into relatively toothless desuetude, with whatever "good" there is to that coming from a reduced ability to cause harm. It's plausible and bleak. I don't see a decline of that magnitude coming along any time soon. Just a slow descent into misery, with much harm coming over many years. Imperial managers have many cards to play. They can keep finessing contradictions until external forces push things beyond their ability to control. It would take a disaster on the scale of important trade partners going to war, or massive dislocations through climate disaster to achieve that. That's not a road to socialism.

A crisis of rising expectations, pushed forward by internal movements that have some ability to deliver the essentials of life, is remotely possible. But any large scale success in that would entail an enlightenment amongst liberals. They have the numbers, the resources and skills. Unfortunately the history of liberalism is one long self-centered, self-absorbed, spiteful triangulation. Deserters and dissenters from the program get marginalized.

RLaing, I'd say they're complementary, not conflicting. From what I've seen of his stuff, Mr. Smith and I are in total agreement when it comes to domestic U.S. politics in general and the Democrats in particular.

I love how the Greens are solidly pro-GLBT and pro-choice, as was Nader last time I checked. Yet you can totally count on a cornered Prog to keep digging up the tired old whinges about something stupid that Nader once said once almost a decade ago. As if that excuses every bowl of shit we've been force-fed by the alleged Prog vanguard ever since then. (Not to mention before then.)

Go, Dems! Go!

JCaruso, if what William Fisher says is true, I concede your point. The Democrats are worse.

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