Friday, August 14, 2009

Without class analysis, without a solution

Paul Krugman, New York Times:

What, then, should Mr. Obama do? It would certainly help if he gave clearer and more concise explanations of his health care plan. To be fair, he’s gotten much better at that over the past couple of weeks.

It's safe to say that Paul Krugman can be counted among the crown jewels of American liberalism. In the same spirit that critics of socialism will say, "Well, it's nice in theory, but it doesn't work in practice," I can only refer people back to what already exists, and ask if the solutions put forward by liberalism's finest minds are in the least way persuasive.

The problems are understood well enough. With regard to health care, a popular administration with a mandate for "change" has ventured too far into the established turf of private commercial concerns. This has rallied much of the business community around the core principle on which it stands: that government exists to advance their concerns, not anybody else's. Subsequently, the right of investors to capture ever increasing profit has once again been unfurled from our Constitutional masthead as America's most sacred principle, on which a government acting for any other purpose necessarily tramples.

As usual, the fight is not fair, power consolidated as it is in the private sector. The Republican Party's well-established infrastructure of irrationality produces far more than its own weight in disinformation and lies, in large part because its corporate sponsors see no need to challenge them in more respectable news forums. Again, ownership has its privileges; among these, the constitutional right to say whatever you want -- all day, every day -- in whatever media market you control.

The inadequacy of mere liberalism to confront these problems, or even to frame them properly (the political system just reflects the balance of power in the broader society, after all; narratives about Democrats and Republicans wholly miss the point) should be evident from the pitiful solutions it floats, as above. No, the answer is not that President Obama needs to do a better job talking, somehow penetrating the morass of unmitigated horseshit -- Obama's Hitler health care will kill your grandmother! -- which freely flows 24/7 with the occasional press conference and civic appeal. Liberalism has installed Obama and the Democrats to get the job done for the rest of us, never realizing that their power does not create itself spontaneously through the strength of their convictions, but in conjunction with the rest of society. Whatever portion of society is best organized writes the laws.

This is a class war. There is no amount of Democratic spine or presidential ingenuity that can compete with the organized power of the owners of America. They understand the importance of government, and so invest themselves in controlling it, while working to ensure that nobody feels a similar inclination, lest it dawn on them that their government could work for them, making life that much less of a struggle, and redistributing the burdens of social responsibility to include those groups which have always profited most.

The responsibility for delivering a decent life to Americans in the face of an organized opposition cannot be relegated to political saviors, but instead must be the product of a comparably organized popular response. That means anyone and everyone who gives a damn about such things must do something to address them in ways that are coordinated with others so as to magnify their effect. It is never sufficient to leave the task of running one's life to anybody else.


Coldtype said...

Superb. I've been having some variation of this very conversation with the liberal wing of my family since the Hope & Change Express left the station about five years ago.

Truth Excavator said...

Spot on critique. National strikes, tax rebellions, and a march on Washington, as we saw in the 60's, are the only solutions for health care reform, and financial reform.