We need more analysis, less reading of tea leaves


Political news coverage consists of roughly three parts. First there is the reporting of an actual event that occurred (i.e., what makes up the ‘new’ in news). Second, there is an explanation of the context in which the event occurred that consists of the history and background that led to the event and the people involved, plus any actual consequences, such as how a new law that has been passed will be implemented in practice and how it will affect people. And finally there is the question of What It All Means, which consists of drawing broader conclusions and predicting future events based on the news event.

The first part is important but takes only a short time to report. The second part is arguably the most important but is one of the things that we get the least of. The news outlets tend to jump immediately from part one to part three and start speculating on future events based on the news item. One can understand the temptation. The first part requires reporters to actually get new information. The second part requires not only some knowledge and expertise but also time spent in careful analysis. But the third part requires only a point of view and everyone has that. You can take the news event and project on to it pretty much anything you like.

In the case of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprising win in the New York primary race, we see part three in overdrive, with much of the attempt being to downplay the role that Ocasio-Cortez’s embrace of socialism had on voters. But Briahna Gray provides some good analysis of the type two variety, looking at the conditions that led to her victory, and countering some of the fact-based speculations.

What gave Ocasio-Cortez’s platform its power is not just her rhetorical acuity — the fact that she’s frank where others are euphemistic. She’s able to be frank because her ideology is internally consistent and uncompromised by the influence of money — just as others are euphemistic where the truth would upset their donors.

Nor can her popularity be boiled down to the fact of her racial identity and the similarly brown demographics of her district — despite many attempts to do so. Wallace-Wells, for instance, notes early in his article that the 14th District is half Hispanic and only one-fifth white. “Crowley lost because of the changing demographics in his district,” writes Dana Milbank of The Washington Post. That implication is so pervasive that Ocasio-Cortez felt the need to push back, tweeting: “Some folks are saying I won for ‘demographic’ reasons. 1st of all, that’s false. We won w/voters of all kinds.”

And she’s right. The southwestern part of the district (located in northwest Queens) was where Ocasio-Cortez performed best, with 60 to 100 percent of voters choosing her over Crowley, even though that area is only 15 to 40 percent Hispanic.

Ocasio-Cortez’s socialist message is not an incidental part of a larger demographic story. And her socialism shouldn’t be treated as a virus opportunistically riding the vector of her Latina form. Socialism is inextricable from Ocasio-Cortez’s success because it’s the secret behind her ability to do what the Democratic party has long failed to do — articulate a holistic progressive vision for America.

Ocasio-Cortez put it best: “At the end of the day, I’m a candidate that doesn’t take corporate money, that champions Medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee, the abolishment of ICE, and a green New Deal. But I approach those issues with the lenses of the community that I live in. And that is not as easy to say as ‘identity politics.’”

There’s more good analysis in Gray’s article.

Comments

  1. Quirky says

    “Ocasio-Cortez put it best: “At the end of the day, I’m a candidate that doesn’t take corporate money, that champions Medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee, the abolishment of ICE, and a green New Deal.”
    .
    Just because one paints themselves as having integrity because they refuse corporate donations makes them no less a thief.
    .
    Suppose every federal political seat was filled by persons holding the political views of Ocasio-Cortez. In the role of a legislator who would they TAKE FROM in order to provide the things they promise?
    .
    Would they be willing to imprison persons who didn’t want to participate in the forced contributions that a Socialist state necessitates?
    .
    It is noteworthy that none of Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign promises included recognizing individual freedom. Politicians never offer that. That should tell anyone with an IQ over 70 what they are all about.
    .

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Quirky @1:

    recognizing individual freedom

    Are we supposed to know exactly what you mean by “individual freedom”? If taxes are theft, as you seem to imply, how should roads, bridges and sewers get built?

  3. Quirky says

    Rob, I hope you are not under the impression that the need for roads, bridges and sewers justify the utilization of various forms of violent compulsion.? Taxation is just one of these.
    .
    Men and women, not governments, build roads, bridges, and sewers.. Governments don’t actually exist. What exists is men and women with guns wiling to impose their will or the will of their commanders on others. If you or I conducted business in that fashion, would we be considered criminals? Is it so hard for you to fairly apply that standard of ethics to those who claim imaginary authority?
    .
    Is there any good reason that in the 21st century humanity could not admit the need to set aside antiquated violent modes of organizing society via the mechanism of government institutions that require violence to sustain their very existence?
    .
    The change will come when we admit the need. Necessity is the mother of invention.
    .
    Remember when society becomes anything more than voluntary interaction it can no longer be defined as social.
    .
    Rob, I appreciate your question and I hope you are not like most of the others here who refuse answering these questions.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    Quirky @3:

    Is there any good reason that in the 21st century humanity could not admit the need to set aside antiquated violent modes of organizing society via the mechanism of government institutions that require violence to sustain their very existence?

    No, there is no good reason. The question is how you get from where we are to where you want to be.

    The first monumental task would be to dismantle the existing hierarchical structures which are effectively supported, or at least accepted, by most people. How is this to be achieved?

    The second, and I think much harder, task would be to maintain the resulting society. All it takes to destroy it would be one small group which desires to control others. The others would, I think, resist the invasions…you see where this goes.

    I think you’re wishing for something which is impossible given the spectrum of human behaviour. Some will always seek power. How do you account for this?

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

    Our species is immune to necessity. Look at climate change. Look at extinction rates. We are cockroaches with philosophy and mathematics as hobbies.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    Also: Please just answer the question: How do roads, bridges and sewers get built in your society? Citizen committees coordinating with neighbouring citizen committees? Paid for by barter?

  6. chigau (違う) says

    Rob Grigjanis
    If it gets dark, I flip a switch on the lamp and there is light.
    If I thirst, I turn the tap and there issues forth clean water.
    If I shit, I push the lever and lo, the shit disappeareth.
    That’s just how it works. It just happens.
    I’m pretty sure the non-existent Government is not involved.

  7. Rob Grigjanis says

    chigau @6:

    If I shit, I push the lever and lo, the shit disappeareth.

    Except when it doesn’t. I hate when that happens. Fuckin guvment.

  8. chigau (違う) says

    Rob #7
    More fibre in your diet. That’ll speed things up.
    The Nazgûl Government need not be involved.

  9. Quirky says

    Rob I would like to first thank you for your honest answer of “No, there is no good reason.” Your admission along with gaining a like admission from others is the first step to a free society.
    Getting from ‘here’ to ‘there’ will be a great work. The moment that the institution is no longer hallucinated as legitimate it will lose its power and the hierarchy will fall. The only thing that gives it power now is that people imagine its authority to be legitimate. But no evidence of such legitimacy exists.
    .
    Yes it is a “monumental” and most noble task. But in the same way that you were honest in your answer, we must attempt to persuade others to honestly assess the illegitimate foundations of the institution.
    .
    “Some will always seek power. How do you account for this?”
    ..
    In an anarchic society that resulted from having undergone a conscious transformation, it will be readily understood that human authority over others is limited to the defense of ones individual autonomy, power-seekers will be immediately seen as predators. No legitimacy will be extended to them; any more so than you would extend legitimacy to the Mafia. Small predator groups may arise but they will be swiftly dealt with by the larger group that is conscious of their illegitimacy.
    .
    The problem now is that the larger group splits their brain by legitimizing the idea of the institution in spite of the fact that they recognize that if they conducted business the same way they would be criminals. This split, this hypocrisy, will soon be faced in the same way that the evil of other forms of slavery in the past were faced and rectified.
    .
    Who will build the roads, and keep the toilets flushing? Like always, men and women will handle these tasks. How will it transpire in an anarchic society? That’s like asking, “Who will pick the cotton if we abolish slavery?” I don’t have all the answers as to how the everyday affairs of an anarchic society might be arranged. One thing I do know though, I will be on the moral and noble side of History when the paradigm does shift. Better there than on the side of the cockroaches that were too fearful to face the light and admit they are living in the darkness of slavery and violence.
    .
    We’re not all cockroaches. I used to think that human nature was evil at it core. Others I met seemed to think the humans were basically good. But human nature is neither good nor evil. We can measure by the consequences around us that the human condition is mostly selfish and evil. But that condition is the result of programming. The inherent nature of the individual is neither good nor evil, but is programmable. We have presently been programmed to accept violence and slavery as a necessary condition. Proof is in the immediate reaction I hear all the time such as:
    “But, but, but, Who will build the roads, etc….”.
    .
    What well conditioned slaves, humankind has become. The question we all answer everyday, knowingly or unknowingly, by our actions and words is “Which side of History will I be on?”
    .
    Of course we know it doesn’t matter to the cockroaches. Right?

  10. Holms says

    Small predator groups may arise but they will be swiftly dealt with by the larger group that is conscious of their illegitimacy.

    So… police. Enforcing agreed-upon behavioural norms designed to maintain peace and order. Which is no different to what we already have.

    The problem can’t seem to grasp is that if we abolished all governments, we would only need to reinvent them.

  11. Quirky says

    Hello Holms, thanks for the comment.
    .
    “So… police. Enforcing agreed-upon behavioural norms designed to maintain peace and order. Which is no different to what we already have.”
    .
    So here’s the difference. 1) In an anarchic society there might exist for instance a defense agency that might resemble the police of today but they would not enjoy any powers or authorizations that other individual members of the society didn’t also enjoy.
    .
    2) there would be no “agreed-upon behavioural norms designed to maintain peace and order” because Anarchists recognize that no group or individual authority exists to create laws by agreement. For instance, murder is a crime of theft against another human at the natural law and any statute declaring murder to be a crime is redundant. The evidence of harm that results in the case of murder is the basis for the crime, not some agreement between persons.
    .
    Once you embark on the road of “agreed upon” preventative laws, the violation of which does not require a damaged party, you have descended down the slippery slope of imaginary authoritarianism, the end of which can never be found.
    .
    Authoritarianism equals slavery. Believing in the authority of either the state or laws agreed upon by others is belief in slavery. Belief in imaginary authority that has no basis in reality is belief in slavery.
    .
    Once state authority is consciously understood to be illegitimate, you will not have a need for it be “reinvented”. The paradigm will have permanently shifted. Other societal mechanisms will replace it.
    .
    I am no prophet, so I cannot foresee the details of those societal mechanisms any more so than those who were concerned as to who would pick the cotton (and other chores) were unable to foresee the influx of commercial machines that would soon take over. But it happened, and that’s what is important. We don’t have the spectacle of that barbaric institution of slavery any longer. The same will one day occur with respect to the institution of government with all its violence and it will pass away.. Which side of History will you be on?
    .
    But even if I knew that it would never occur, I would still choose the right side of History.by exposing government’s illegitimacy.
    .
    .

  12. Holms says

    So here’s the difference. 1) In an anarchic society there might exist for instance a defense agency that might resemble the police of today but they would not enjoy any powers or authorizations that other individual members of the society didn’t also enjoy.

    But then how would they apprehend anyone and curtail their activities?

  13. Quirky says

    Holms questions, “But then how would they apprehend anyone and curtail their activities?”
    .
    The inherent ability and right to defend against someone who has committed a crime by apprehending such a one or otherwise curtailing their activities resides in each of us.
    .
    None of us, however, have the right or the inherent authorization to commit crime in order to apprehend a criminal. The Statist on the other hand thinks that authorization/authority exists to force contribution for whatever political agenda including police and military.
    The contemporary Statist thinks that this pseudo authorization, this pseudo authority, arises as a result of the majority will. In times past the lie was that the authority arose from the will of the King.
    .
    Both of these lies perpetuate the slavery and death of millions. The Truth is that no one can WILL authority into existence. Individuals were never granted authority over others. Individuals do have the authority to defend themselves or to voluntarily appoint others to act in their defense, or to voluntarily support ‘defense agencies’ that are constructed for that purpose. But at the moment that participation in the support of such a defense apparatus becomes involuntary, it ceases to satisfy the ends of protection for which it was designed.
    .
    If theft or other criminal actions are required so as to maintain the existence of a ‘defense agency’, then such an agency would be as criminal as our present day police.
    .
    Therefore in an anarchic society ‘defense agencies’ would be supported voluntarily as opposed to the method of forced contribution that is employed in the statist model.
    .
    Would a voluntary society produce a perfect world? Of course not. But it would 1) initially be free of the LIE that one group of murderers and thieves can and will protect us from the rest of the world’s murderers and thieves, and 2) avoid the mass democide and genocide that States alone have enjoyed the historical capacity to accomplish due to the belief in the LIE that human authority can be willed into existence.

  14. lanir says

    @Quriky: Were you attempting to provide an example of the third part our host referred to? Whether intentional or not, I think you have succeeded.

    As far as the logic of anarchy and it’s benefits, there are two things you may want to consider if you have not already. And my apologies to anyone who isn’t interested in diving down this particular rabbit hole: please skip the rest of this comment if you wish.

    The first is that what you are talking about when you refer to people recognizing norms of behavior that are okay and others that are not okay, this is a form of coalition building. People will have differing opinions but it’s the areas in common that will form the basis of how other people expect you to behave.

    The second is that what you’re describing as benefits of anarchy are really behavioral norms based on a greater respect for one’s fellow humans. It’s the foundation to everything else you’ve described. Without this one thing, all the rest becomes meaningless and no positive change will ensue.

    The specific issues listed by Ocasio-Cortez as part of her campaign show a strong bias towards greater respect for other people, the second item I listed. Politicians have lied to us before about things like this but not showing support for the idea lets the opposing forces win. And what they really want is less respect for others. At worst we’re still moving the Overton window in the direction we prefer.

    Coalitions are built by emphasizing the things in common rather than focusing on the differences. I would respectfully suggest that building a coalition focused on more respect for people is probably the only possible path to what you want. It’s a step in the right direction. Patting yourself on the back for dreaming up a beautiful vision of your end goal is not the way to be on the right side of history. Taking steps toward it in our current less than ideal world is.

  15. file thirteen says

    @Quirky

    Your comments to me reflect a libertarian fantasy of no government. Rather than turn the thread completely into an argument about why that doesn’t hold water, I recommend (re-?)reading Scott Alexander’s the anti-libertarian FAQ, particularly the part on the co-ordination problem.

  16. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Quirky:

    Who will build the roads, and keep the toilets flushing? Like always, men and women will handle these tasks.

    You know what I hate more than the existence of government? The existence of casual cissexism.

    But on the other hand, you’re the moral giant of this thread, so there’s that.

  17. Holms says

    #15
    Temporary defense agencies supported by locals on an ad hoc basis. So… mob rule.

  18. Maya says

    Who will build the roads, and keep the toilets flushing? Like always, men and women will handle these tasks. How will it transpire in an anarchic society?

    Oooh, how about all of us users of the sewer system voluntarily get together and engage in some sort of collective decision making process about providing periodic contribution of funds in order to hire people and cover maintenance costs? We could call it “rule by the people”.

  19. Quirky says

    @ lanir and filethirteen, sorry for the delay, I have been really busy.

    For an understanding of my position from a much more articulate advocate, read “The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey” by UC Professor Michael Huemer. A review of Huemer’s book explains, “Modern states commonly deploy coercion in a wide array of circumstances in which the resort to force would clearly be wrong for any private agent. What entitles the state to behave in this manner? And why should citizens obey its commands? This book examines theories of political authority, from the social contract theory, to theories of democratic authorization, to fairness- and consequence-based theories. Ultimately, no theory of authority succeeds, and thus no government has the kind of authority often ascribed to governments.

    The author goes on to discuss how voluntary and competitive institutions could provide the central goods for the sake of which the state is often deemed necessary, including law, protection from private criminals, and national security. An orderly and livable society thus does not require acquiescence in the illusion of political authority
    .
    If you don’t have access to the book you will surely find this discussion interesting. Huemer addresses common objections to an anarchical society. Check the following out:
    .

  20. Quirky says

    @ Crip Dyke,
    .
    If some persons who consider themselves gender variants want to help keep the toilets flushing, I have no problem with that.

  21. file thirteen says

    @Quirky

    I’m sorry, but I have no desire to seek out a book on your favourite libertarian author, or to watch a video of said author speaking. For all I know, you are Prof. Huemer yourself.

    I will follow links and read cogent arguments if you care to point me to them.

    Otherwise, I have no sense of Huemer.

  22. file thirteen says

    @Quirky

    I felt, perhaps foolishly, that since I had intimated that I would read through links, I should. Fortunately it wasn’t too long.

    Unfortunately, denying that government has a valid social contract is not a valid argument against government. Nor is pointing out specific failings that government didn’t cope with. Failings of the police are not failings of government. Failings of the courts are not failings of government. Even failings of parts of the governmental system is not enough to argue that the entire governmental system should be discarded.

    You can spend a lot of time and effort arguing that people shouldn’t use force to push laws on others without addressing the elephant in the room that unless you engender some collective force to push back against forces that push against you, you will be at the mercies of any other forces that arise.

    In the absence of an elected government, there will be no absence of criminal groups and irresponsible corporations (and please don’t mistakenly interpret that as me implying that all corporations are irresponsible) trying to fill the void. So whatever you come up with to replace government better have teeth.

    The chapter you linked to doesn’t address that at all, it’s just social contracts 101. No doubt you have links to other chapters, but I already tire of reading more. And this post, which was never meant to be a forum to discuss the merits of libertarianism, has already slipped to page 2. So I’m done here. Please read from the link I posted before if you haven’t already.

  23. Quirky says

    @ filethirteen,
    .
    As I explained in # 24 the chapter dealt with the social contract theory and why it doesn’t work. I apologize for not being more specific as to the fact that Huemer covers other objections in other chapters. He also gets into how an anarchic society could work.
    .
    Wish the other chapters were available online. The other possibility is your local library if you don’t wish to purchase.
    .
    Thanks for reading it. I did read the article you linked, but found the authors logic severely flawed. One example follows in the next two paragraphs:
    .
    “Third, when push comes to shove the Non-Aggression Principle just isn’t strong enough to solve hard problems. It usually results in a bunch of people claiming conflicting rights and judges just having to go with whatever seems intuitively best to them.”
    “For example, a person has the right to live where he or she wants, because he or she has “a right to personal self-determination”. Unless that person is a child, in which case the child has to live where his or her parents say, because…um…the parents have “a right to their child” that trumps the child’s “right to personal self-determination”. But what if the parents are evil and abusive and lock the child in a fetid closet with no food for two weeks? Then maybe the authorities can take the child away because…um…the child’s “right to decent conditions” trumps the parents’ “right to their child” even though the latter trumps the child’s “right to personal self-determination”? Or maybe they can’t, because there shouldn’t even be authorities of that sort? Hard to tell.”
    .
    No it’s not hard to tell. The author seems to irrationally overlook the fact that the parents have first committed aggression against the child. This aggression gives rise to the child’s right to a remedy and further authorizes anyone else to react to the child’s defense. .
    .
    The existence of State based political authority is not necessary.
    Authorization exists for anyone to aid such a child independently of some State based police force that would claim a monopoly over the authorization/authority to aid such a child.
    ……Other examples of the author’s faulty logic are far too numerous to address on a forum such as this.
    .
    The bottom line however is that as of today I have never read or heard a morally justifiable argument for the existence of government.

    .

  24. file thirteen says

    The author seems to irrationally overlook the fact that the parents have first committed aggression against the child.

    You seem to irrationally overlook the point of that paragraph, which shows that developing laws based on a non-aggression principle is far from intuitive. And if I disagree with a law that you make and make my own instead, how is this to be resolved between us? What recourse do we have to resolve this conflict in a way that avoids force when there is no authority?

    See also, co-ordination problem.

    See also, government.

  25. Quirky says

    filethirteen, writes,
    “And if I disagree with a law that you make and make my own instead, how is this to be resolved between us? What recourse do we have to resolve this conflict in a way that avoids force when there is no authority?”
    .
    Just because there is not any political authority having monopoly jurisdiction to dictate and coerce persons with violence to follow whatever dictates they call law in no way means that there is not LAW. When crime actually occurs both the victims and anyone else is authorized, vested with authority, to come to their defense. This actual authority however differs from political authority that is magically bestowed upon a sub-group of humanity by political rites similar to rites of a religion. This actual authority differs from imaginary political authority that is claimed to be created at will, either by the will of a dictator or the will of a majority. This actual authority is rooted in a right to defend oneself and others. But actual authority does not include the right and power to violate the rights of others and neither is it ever monopolistic in nature, i.e.being exercised solely by a select group.
    .
    Actual law exists in the absence of States and Rulers. Anarchy means “without rulers”. Rules, better described as moral laws, inevitably exist and are to be discovered and taught. Persons with the heightened consciousness to live in an Anarchic society have the ability to recognize their existence and for the most part follow them .
    .
    Does this mean that it would be a perfect society? Of course not. But far less violence and evil will occur in the absence of the state than with it. 264 million people were murdered in the 20th century by states/governments due to order followers believing the lie of political authority. This did not even include those killed in wars. Without States large scale wars would not occur and neither would the violence that results from forcing compulsory dictates upon others. Removing this sort of violence from the equation would automatically lessen the total and make the world much more peaceful.
    .
    This is all better explained at PeaceRequiresAnarchy.

    https://peacerequiresanarchy.wordpress.com/author/peacerequiresanarchy/

    Finally don’t conflate the idea of force with violence. There may be times that force will be necessary in defense of ones rights, but such force is never violence. This is because violence requires the violation of someones substantial rights, something government does on a regular basis.

  26. file thirteen says

    @Quirky #28

    The problem with your description of law as it would function without government (1st paragraph) is that it is entirely theoretical, whereas the devil is in the details. If you really want to discuss ideas rather than lecture me from your podium, perhaps you should bring up concrete examples.

    The rest of your arguments seem to boil down to “government is bad MKAY”, but when you say nonsensical statements such as “264 million people were killed etc.” then there isn’t any point in our wasting time conversing further. And “anarchy” actually means lawlessness and disorder – maybe what you meant was anarchism, the completely fictional utopian ideal that gets libertarians all wet when they think about it.

    Incidently, I hold the usual English definition of violence, which as you can see is defined in terms of force, and which holds nothing in common with “violation” except its Latin root.

  27. alixmo says

    I admit that I stopped reading somewhere down the comment section. Anyway, here are my two cents on Libertarianism:

    In the real world, without a government the rich would rule as an oligarchy. (At least for a while, till they fight it out and some kind of “emperor”/dictator emerges).

    At the moment there is an insanely huge Wealth Inequality in the world, with billionaires owning unfathomable amounts of money and land. And the trend goes towards an even wider Wealth Gap.There is not the slightest doubt that these would be our new “overlords”, “governing” over our lives would libertarianism get its way.

    Rich people would reign freely, guys like Jeff Bezos or the Koch Brothers or (further down the “hierarchy”) Robert Mercer and Sheldon Adelson. (Sarcasm alert) You know, great people, who care for other human beings and the environment.

    To stop possible revolts they would employ mercenaries in the vein of (rich boy & Betsy De Vos brother) Eric Prince`s Blackwater.

    (Sarcasm alert) Hail freedom! Hail the libertarian paradise!

  28. Holms says

    #25 file thirteen

    In the absence of an elected government, there will be no absence of criminal groups and irresponsible corporations (and please don’t mistakenly interpret that as me implying that all corporations are irresponsible) trying to fill the void. So whatever you come up with to replace government better have teeth.

    The funny thing to me is, whatever system they come up with to combat these perils of the world, will simply be a form of government. It might be a better one than what we have at present, it might be worse – my money is on worse, for reasons given below – but it will be a form of government all the same. Quirky seems to think people will magically come together and agree on what behaviour is proper and what is not, with no regard for the fact that human populations have never worked in this way, but it scarcely matters – any system that decides on, codifies, and enforces systems of behaviour is by definition a form of government.

    Unless there are no codified rules and no system in place to do so, as he has hinted somewhere; in which case, what you have is plain old mob rule.

  29. KG says

    That should tell anyone with an IQ over 70 what they are all about.

    Oh well, that excludes glibertarians then. They are so stupid, they think that abolishing the state would end oppression and violence.

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