2012 – it’s the paradigm, stupid

Assuming that 2012 things are about like 2011 things or worse (N.B.:  big assume; a few months ago most mainstream economists thought happy days were almost here again), then the election will be a paradigm test:  Political pseudo-science calls for the Prez under bad economic conditions to be thrown out.  Against this theory – immortalized in the famous motto, “It’s the economy, stupid” – the Obamians would counterpose  a re-election strategy that will presumably equate, in politically permissible/marketable language, with “the social democracy of fear.”

Indeed, the O-team has, apparently, long seen 2012 that way.  Ed Kilgore explains it in consultant-speak:

Barack Obama (barring some truly shocking turn of events) will not only have the luxury of avoiding a base-tending primary challenge, but will have pursued what amounts to a general election strategy for the entire span of his presidency. From all appearances, Team Obama has long concluded its ace-in-the-hole for 2012 will be its ability to frighten both persuadable swing voters and unhappy progressives with the specter of what an extremist Republican government might do. Conservatives in Congress and in the early primary states are certainly doing everything they can to help Democrats paint devil horns on their eventual nominee.

That strategy must in turn be understood as aiming for the replacement of one political paradigm by another, not the end of economistic politics, but the advent of a politics for a different economy (and a culture-state in transition):  Second term as a completed transition into the new American epoch announced in the Fall of 2008 – what some wanted to call the Age of Obama, what others have called a Post-American Age.  Those terms do not  contradict, though I’m not ready to declare either more than serviceable.

As for political science – I’m a fan, but much discussion, at specialist blogs and in the endlessly repeated “strategist” discussion on TV, puts me in mind of Leo Strauss’ notorious statement about the discipline, which he liked to call “new” in order to contrast it with “classical,” and which his counterparts on the Marxist left would have called “bourgeois”:

[O]ne may say of it that it fiddles while Rome burns. It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns.

Get ready for lotsa fiddlin.


WordPresser
Home Page  Public Email  Twitter  Facebook  YouTube  Github   

Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

By CK MacLeod

Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

23 comments

  1. Quite some time now, there’s been an emphasis on painting the opponent as being of unsavory character or inclination.

    It’s easier in 30 seconds to pitch reasons why the uncommitted voters shouldn’t opt for the other guy rather than trying explain the superior merits of your position.

    Persuasion through reasoning is hard and relatively easy to counter, but emotional appeals are easy and make a lasting impression.

  2. @ fuster:
    True, but the hypothesis – virtually CW at this point – has been that on the Prez level that stuff is marginal, and that economic condition are much more predictive, with incumbents or representatives of incumbent parties consistently performing as predicted by whatever chosen economic indicators. So, there was plenty of mud to throw at O, for instance. Even without getting into Wright, McCain had a whole slick, high-tech negative “dossier” campaign prepared, and, even after it was mostly junked, Fox and independent actors like Dick Morris were going crazy on that stuff, but no one cared after the financial crisis. The reason I don’t buy it is that there are far too few really meaningful instances and no available inertial frame, especially if the frame of frames is itself being broken.

  3. It seems clear that Republicans won the debt-ceiling scare, and when Republicans win stocks are supposed to go up. Of course, it’s not that simple, but I think what’s happening does point to the fact that Republicans aren’t Republicans any more. In my opinion (and this is consistent with several article posts that CK shared), Obama is what used to qualify as a Republican. Strangely enough, Wall Street seems to know what kooks the Tea Party people are, and it makes sense that their victory would be recognized as being bad for the economy. Going back to when Wall Street was fat and happy, Clinton was clearly a capitalist of the first-order, having spread it to Russia in 1993 during a time when that country was most vulnerable to a privatization take-over. The only thing Bush-Chaney gave to Wall Street was Halliburton and Halliburton scared Bush. You can see that in the film-footage of him answering a press question about who was keeping Blackwater militia accountable. He said, “Help,” and laughed, but the laugh was real in respect to its expression of vulnerability. So Wall Street had a strange relationship with Bush. I remember the moment I knew he was going to win. It was when I saw all the super “green” stocks I owned crash in a matter of minutes. Anyway, things are stranger than ever, but I think I’ll pass on the fiddle. A nice yoga cave is what I’m looking for.

  4. Scott, that was very entertaining, but Brown and Root, which is the Mother Company of Halliburton, has been around for 80 years or so,
    Green stocks, you might as well invest in Dilithium mines on Titan,

  5. @ miguel cervantes:
    I didn’t know about Brown and Root. According to Wikipedia Halliburton bought KBR and from that source anyway, it seems that even though KBR got a lot of government contracts to build military infrastructures, it wasn’t involved in “Blackwater” type militia operations. Certainly Iraq was the first war to be fought by anything close (over 50 percentage by 2004) to the numbers of private contractors Halliburton put there, and the contracts Cheney got Halliburton were what made its stock go through the roof. That’s what I was referring to.

  6. Brown and Root, dredged up Cam Ranh Bay, for the Naval Base, they’ve been in the business for a long time,

  7. @ miguel cervantes:
    Was military contracting ever an issue outside of government circles before Iraq? Had civilians questioned the use of private militia before that or was it done in such small numbers no one noticed?

  8. @ Scott Miller:
    “Ever” is a long time, and there have been a lot of variations on the theme going back to the origins of civilization. Certainly the concern exploded along with the huge upsurge in contracting to the likes of Blackwater for roles that in modern wars would previously have been served by uniformed personnel.

  9. @ fuster:
    That does kind of ring a bell. But, okay. As you guys could probably tell, I was probably heading this toward some kind of point about how the idea of “spreading democracy” and contracting soldiers who don’t answer to any governmental authority to help do the spreading is darkly twisted, so I commend you for keeping the peace and will go back to things about aliens or something.

  10. @ Scott Miller:

    No, go ahead and try to develop the point, but, much as I hate the idea and The Shitpile formerly-known-as Blackwater, I’m not sure that it’s any different than trying to encourage the free flow of water by pouring harsh chemicals down your toilet to burn out a clog.

  11. Getting back to the thread at hand, it takes a remarkable cynicism by Hamas supporter and ‘devil’s advocate’ for Matt Hale, Gleen Gleenwald,
    to ask us to ignore the current economic conditions, that is a masterstroke worthy of maybe not Chavez, but his more respectable
    counterpart in Ecuador,

  12. @ miguel cervantes:
    ?
    @ Scott Miller:
    Sure it’s contradictory, though when I went all historical and meta-historical on you, I wasn’t just being snide or something. The maverick military historian Martin Van Creveld forecast developments something like what we’ve seen with the contractors a generation or so ago. He’s a skeptical pessimist on the nation-state and associated institutions, sees it as kind of an historical accident or detour, and suggested that things might be developing more toward the “private army” model that in one way or another has more often often been a core social/anti-social institution in diverse civilizations. The professionalization of national armies, the decline of mass-engagement warfare, the rise of militias, and so on, all can be seen as part of the same process, if you’re of a mind to generalize. I think it’s also possible to imagine a kind of interlocking 3-D jigsaw of security and corresponding social concepts, but if the global economic situatoin takes a particularly harsh turn for a sustained period, it might start looking a lot less secure and a lot more scary, even in still relatively well-organized and wealthy places like the US of A.

  13. The private military contractor, is a tool of Government policy, they are an adjunct, no matter how much bad pulp fiction, tries to paint it
    as an adversary element, now this administration having gone after
    our own cohort of what they consider ‘bitter clingers’ and simultaneous
    serving as the armory for other less principled paramilitaries south of the border, has a touch of irony, which the Two Minute Hate against
    NewsCorp has obfuscated.

  14. fuster wrote:

    Me, I’m malformed that way

    Funny video. But if you didn’t check it out, the one CK posted is actually amazing if you watch the whole thing. I love it especially when he says, “Fuck boats.”
    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/08/mental-health-break.html
    I tried over and over to quote Miggs’ last comment. It was everything I expected. I’m going to maintain the peace and not comment, but…oh my god…what a sentence and what…I’m just shaking my head. It really deserves to be somehow immortalized as a literary representation of how things happened the way they have. Go Miggs.

    miguel cervantes wrote:

    The private military contractor, is a tool of Government policy, they are an adjunct, no matter how much bad pulp fiction, tries to paint it
    as an adversary element, now this administration having gone after
    our own cohort of what they consider ‘bitter clingers’ and simultaneous
    serving as the armory for other less principled paramilitaries south of the border, has a touch of irony, which the Two Minute Hate against
    NewsCorp has obfuscated.

    miguel cervantes wrote:

    The private military contractor, is a tool of Government policy, they are an adjunct, no matter how much bad pulp fiction, tries to paint it
    as an adversary element, now this administration having gone after
    our own cohort of what they consider ‘bitter clingers’ and simultaneous
    serving as the armory for other less principled paramilitaries south of the border, has a touch of irony, which the Two Minute Hate against
    NewsCorp has obfuscated.

    miguel cervantes wrote:

    The private military contractor, is a tool of Government policy, they are an adjunct, no matter how much bad pulp fiction, tries to paint it
    as an adversary element, now this administration having gone after
    our own cohort of what they consider ‘bitter clingers’ and simultaneous
    serving as the armory for other less principled paramilitaries south of the border, has a touch of irony, which the Two Minute Hate against
    NewsCorp has obfuscated.

  15. @ miguel cervantes:

    A large organization whose client list is not limited to one government is a rather imperfect tool of policy. The organization has its own agenda and is as no more likely to perform as an obedient servant of policy than as a semi-independent ally.

  16. You’ve been reading Pressfield’s The Profession, for it would seem Ret. General Salter’s Force Inflection, seems to fit that model, XE moving to train the UAE’s security services are concerning, in that light

  17. fuster wrote:

    A large organization whose client list is not limited to one government is a rather imperfect tool of policy. The organization has its own agenda and is as no more likely to perform as an obedient servant of policy than as a semi-independent ally.

    To put it lightly.

Commenter Ignore Button by CK's Plug-Ins

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *