Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nietzsche, Hayek, and the Meaning of Conservatism

The concluding paragraphs of Corey Robin's rebuttal (now in complete form at Jacobin):
One possibility is that my work unsettles the boundaries so many libertarians have drawn around themselves. (The liberal-ish conservative Goldman is a different matter; in his case, I think the problem is simply a lack of familiarity and experience with these texts.) Like some of their counterparts outside the academy, at Reason and elsewhere, academic libertarians often like to describe themselves as neither right nor left — a political space, incidentally, with some rather unwholesome precedents — or as one-half of a dialogue on the Left, where the other half is Rawlsian liberalism or analytical Marxism. What they don’t want to hear is that theirs is a voice on and of the Right. Not because they derive psychic or personal gratification from how they position themselves but because theirs is a political project, in which they borrow from the Left in order to oppose — or all the while opposing — the main projects of the Left.

That kind of politics has a name. It’s called conservatism.

A significant step toward equality

I thought of this quote by Subcomandante Marcos when I read the news that DOMA had been declared unconstitutional:
“Yes, Marcos is gay. Marcos is gay in San Francisco, black in South Africa, an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Ysidro, an anarchist in Spain, a Palestinian in Israel, a Mayan Indian in the streets of San Cristobal, a Jew in Germany, a Gypsy in Poland, a Mohawk in Quebec, a pacifist in Bosnia, a single woman on the Metro at 10pm, a peasant without land, a gang member in the slums, an unemployed worker, an unhappy student and, of course, a Zapatista in the mountains.

Marcos is all the exploited, marginalised, oppressed minorities resisting and saying `Enough'. He is every minority who is now beginning to speak and every majority that must shut up and listen. He is every untolerated group searching for a way to speak. Everything that makes power and the good consciences of those in power uncomfortable -- this is Marcos.” 

All of our struggles are connected. Suffice it to say, I'll take a modicum of good news any day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Of course, it IS rational to flee from torture

Whatever Snowden's ideological leanings, it is very obvious that his act of whistle-blowing provided a valuable public service to anyone willing to actually pay attention. If our current regime had its druthers, Snowden would be black-bagged and thrown into some deep dark hole, to be tortured mercilessly and to never see daylight again - much as has happened to Bradley Manning. As of this writing, it appears that Snowden shall avoid Manning's fate, for now, and should successfully find asylum in a friendlier locale.

Says Freddie:

As I write this, the media is working itself into a frenzy about Edward Snowden fleeing Hong Kong, possibly for Ecuador, and is passing through other countries on the way there. (From RED CHINA to COMMUNIST RUSSIA!) The usual suspects are arguing that this is proof positive that he's a traitor, or whatever, under the unassailable logic that only a guilty man would run from the brutal regime whose crimes he's exposed. I would merely like to remind them that a United Nations functionary last year  confirmed the obvious, which is that the United States tortured Bradley Manning for actions similar to that of Snowden. It is profoundly rational to flee imprisonment and torture. Indeed, I have a hard time thinking of anything more rational. Might be relevant.

Some background on some of the intellectual foundations of neoliberalism

Every once in a while, I will find an article, or a series of articles and blog posts that discuss various ideas by neoliberalism's various proponents. So, consider this just part of a very occasional series of mine - and something of an interlude while I finish something else (given my schedule, it may be a minute before it is complete). Recently a progressive writer named Corey Robin (of the blog Crooked Timber) published an article on Hayek's intellectual roots - Nietsche's Marginal Children: On Friedrich Hayek. It makes for a provocative read, and has indeed provoked a number of criticisms, which Robin has subsequently addressed: Nietsche, Hayek, and the Austrians and The Hayek-Pinochet Connection. Each of these is worth reading, as they help the lay reader understand the foundations of our current toxic economic order.

I highlight all of this as I am in the process of laying out some thoughts about why I consider - whether as an advocate, activist, or candidate - being merely antiwar as insufficient a justification for support of a candidate or movement. My interest here comes from the fact that a number of antiwar sources are explicitly libertarian or paleoconservative and are explicit proponents of the work of Hayek, von Mises, and the emo-neoliberal rantings of Ayn Rand. It is very clear to me that those who uphold the viewpoints professed by these individuals - although ostensibly outraged by the violence resulting from the series of wars started in the aftermath of the Twin Towers attacks of 2001 - feel no shame in advocating the sort of organizational and structural violence that is at the heart of a neoliberal capitalist worldview. Such violence is every bit as damaging, and arguably more so, than that resulting from contemporary warfare. As a worker, I could not in good conscience support violence against my fellow men and women, regardless of the lofty rhetoric in which it is presented.

Update: Via BLCKDGRD, here are a couple other posts worth reading - The 10 commandments of neoliberalism (an amusing, snarky take on our current world order) and The Thirteen Commandments of Neoiberalism (a considerably measured variation on the theme).