Comments

  1. birgerjohansson says

    Yup. You are aligned to the values behind ‘The New Deal’ (minus assorted racism and misogyny) that ruled US politics for more than four deacades… until the radical faux-pppulist Reagan came with his trickle-down economics and his appeasing of the most bigoted segment of the population*.
    You and Bernie Sanders are the true traditionalists (and definitely not Clinton or Obama).

    Myself I am an ultra-conservative Swede: flags were mostly a thing for government buildings, why are the nationalist assholes waving flags everywhere? And Sweden managed without a National day until 1979, what is this new-fangled crap?
    Also, a real Swedish king should come from the Gustavian lineage, the Bernadottes we have suffered the last 210 years are young usurpers.

    *as Goebbels noted, for propaganda to be succesful it must target the least intelligent segment of the population.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m sorry, but “traditional American values” are capitalist greed, racism, patriarchy, genocide, jingoism, and, of course, Christian superstition. If anything, those values really are embodied in Trump and his millions of armed redneck goons. To pretend they are anything left of that is wishful thinking at best or, at worst, whitewashing by liberals who think they can redeem our irredeemable shithole country by claiming it’s more “progressive” than it really is.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    ‘Redeeming’ a country is a never-ending task. To understand the past, just assume it was as shitty as the renaissance England of the first Black Adder season- you will not be far off. Nevertheless, the past had some good thinkers and good reformers, otherwise we would still be deep under smelly muck.
    For instance, I wish today’s Democrats had the spunk of the original 19th-century Cassius Clay.

  4. dstatton says

    I have thought the same thing because I want to preserve our institutions like Social Security and public education, right wingers not conservatives!) despise.

  5. Matt G says

    Amazing how they pivoted from decrying the Evil Empire to being the puppets of a former KGB agent.

  6. Captain Kendrick says

    I’m trying to think of a time in the United States when this would be just satire.
    Not sure that time ever existed.

  7. robro says

    I sense there’s some irony in PZ’s post. The operative word for me is “again”. I don’t particularly want to go back to past American values. As Akira notes, the Founders…and their forefathers…were mostly interested in advancing their own interests. “All men are created equal” meant themselves and their fellow rich people. They practically invented racism to keep indentured Europeans from collaborating with indentured/enslaved Africans to protect their wealth and power.

    Matt G — Are they puppets of a former KGB agent? I think they…we…are puppets of a global network of oligarchs, one of whom is a former KGB agent. But a lot of them are American, British, French, German, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Saudi and other Arabs, Israelis…et cetera. I would start with the billionaires which per Forbes is 2,781 people worth $14.2 trillion. A few of them are not overtly greedy and evil, but they are a very rare exception.

  8. whywhywhy says

    American values are complex and contradictory and always have been. Yes, the racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc. are real and terrible. This country was founded on race based slavery and the subjugation/genocide of native peoples. Mixed in are the seeds of compassion, cooperation, and equity. Damning the entire nation also destroys the good parts. On our best days, we have shown the world what is possible (e.g. multi-ethnic, multi-religious representative democracy). We do not have enough ‘best days’ and at our worst we destroy our present and future.

    I will continue to fight for the promise of a nation “with liberty and justice for all”. We have a long way to go ( on the flip side of this; there is a lot of good work to be done).

  9. billseymour says

    I’m with you, PZ.  In my case, I’m all for the ideal that Adam Smith suggested in The Wealth of Nations, but with a more 21st Century notion of what constitute common goods.  One difference is that I’ve come to realize only in the last year or so (I’m not sure what planet I was living on) that capitalists are actually anti-competitive and so are more like wannabe feudal lords collecting their rents, basically the opposite of what Smith had in mind.

    Since writing this, I see that robro and whywhywhy have added comments that I totally agree with.

  10. Nathaniel Hellerstein says

    When I was a teenager, my father and I were arguing, for we loved to argue. He said, “Ahhh, you’ll become a conservative in your old age!” Stung to the quick, I retorted, “If so, then it’ll be on my own terms!” Looking back, I see that we were both prophetic.

  11. consciousness razor says

    I’m just one of the little elves in Santana’s workshop, so I doubt I can help you very much with that…. Maybe you should have a talk with the administration and/or your coworkers.

  12. consciousness razor says

    But I hope using a pseudonym is still okay. If it’s important to you, unlike others, I personally don’t exactly “need” to use one here … just an old habit I guess.

  13. chrislawson says

    billseymour@9–

    Free-market absolutists who put Adam Smith on a pedestal are pretty much the same as ‘prosperity gospel’ Christians. Both positions are completely untenable to anyone who knows even a little bit about the contents of Wealth of Nations or the New Testament.

  14. chrislawson says

    @1 and 10–

    Conservative no longer means what it used to. The current ‘conservatives’ on the Supreme Court have been far more radical, activist, and anti-Constitutional than any SC bench in US history.

  15. chrislawson says

    Just to add, up until the 1980s the labels conservative and liberal were not considered mutually exclusive.

  16. billseymour says

    chrislawson @13:  I don’t put Smith “on a pedestal”; but I’m wondering what’s “untenable” in The Wealth of Nations.  I know “a little bit” about it since I’ve read it all the way through (although I confess that my eyes glazed over when he was going on about the values of rents expressed in units of corn).

    Also, I’m certainly no ”free-market absolutist” since I think that’s just capitalism.  My takeaway from Smith’s book is that there are two proper functions of government:  pass such laws and regulations as keep competition fair and open (and keep the rentiers in check), and provide common goods in cases where competition doesn’t work well.  What’s wrong with that?

  17. chrislawson says

    Bill, sorry for any confusion. I wasn’t saying you were a free-market absolutist or put Smith on a pedestal, I was saying that free-market absolutists often refer to Smith and Wealth of Nations, when Wealth of Nations says very clearly, over and over, that free markets require government regulation to work. He also supported progressive taxation and organized labour rights, while opposing rent-seeking. He is most famously quoted for his ‘invisible hand’ argument that self-interest can lead to favourable economic outcomes, but he was equally adamant that unfettered self-interest was a recipe for disaster. (Direct quote: ‘All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.’) That is, he was staunchly antagonistic to the tenets of many who idolise him and quote him today. I did not mean this to apply to you and I apologise for not being more clear.

  18. chrislawson says

    As to Wealth of Nations, it is a remarkable book any many of Smith’s observations and recommendations are as valuable today as when he wrote them. But the book is nearly 250 years old, so it is not much of a criticism to say that there are many things he did not get right. Some are relatively trivial, like his insistence that civilisation started around the Mediterranean (awfully Eurocentric, but it didn’t affect his underlying argument about the importance of transportation to trade). Other not so trivial errors include that the value of labour is invariable to the labourer, and his failure to address externalities.

  19. Silentbob says

    @ 1 birgerjohansson

    You are aligned to the values behind ‘The New Deal’ (minus assorted racism and misogyny) that ruled US politics for more than four deacades… until the radical faux-pppulist Reagan came with his trickle-down economics and his appeasing of the most bigoted segment of the population

    Uhm. You somehow seem to have skipped Nixon. Which, alas, we did not in real life.

    https://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/may-2020/chicago-riots-1968-dnc-nixon-trump/

  20. Silentbob says

    Nixon’s election broke apart the New Deal coalition, which had ruled American politics since the Great Depression. His presidency began an era of reactionary conservatism, of which Donald Trump is the current avatar. Trump, an admirer of Richard Nixon, is already using his hero’s slogan to try and salvage a re-election campaign that’s flailing as a result of COVID-19 and the 20 percent unemployment it’s produced.

  21. billseymour says

    chrislawson:  thanks for the explanation.  I erred in thinking that your earlier comment was directed at me.

    I think we’re on the same page 8-).  I would definitely update The Wealth of Nations, at least to include among common goods things like infrastructure, transportation, education and health care…probably other things that I’m not thinking of off the top of my head.  I remember also being unhappy about his remarks on guilds.  I hope he was complaining about something unlike present-day trade unions which I support because I think they put employers and employees on a level footing.

  22. Rich Woods says

    @Roy #22:

    Wasn’t the first Blackadder season pre-renaissance?

    The first episode is set in 1485; the Renaissance had spread as far north as England by this time. The Scottish nobility even had personal eating forks in the 1490s!

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