Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Journal entry: 10-5-20

10/5/20 Journal entry


 One can only hope that the Republican party's neo-fascist leadership COVID infections will assist their defeat in the presidency and the Senate, and retreat from the current political scene. The latter remains doubtful. A fascist movement as big, as well funded, and infested in the highest institutions, as this one --- led, for now, by Trump -- will not expire from the scene with his personal passage . Nor will the underlying systematic contradictions and inequities, both national and international, that are driving the paralyzing political divides recede autonomously. Without the imposition of serious, nationwide public mandated therapies -- economic, healthwise, environmental, and political therapie, our descent into hell will not be slowed or arrested. To say that such requirements argue for a "war footing", equivalent to that of the last time global fascism rose to power, may be understating the matter.

Consider three latest items in the 2020 daily cascade of horrors from national and international info outlets:


2. A local ministries leader's call for help meeting the Homeless Challenges in my home county. Local Institutional support is either missing or overwhelmed.

3. Biden win could restore US-EU partnership for coordinated approach to China. The international humpty dumpty has been broken by Trump. Restoring it will be complicated, and made harder by Chinese international (Belt and Road global development actions) and domestic performance and resilience during both COVID and economic recovery --- all while under increasing economic and diplomatic assaults by Trump. The competitive pressure on western political and economic systems will grow very intense if Chinese socialism keeps consolidating its gains as it has done. Persistent Chinese gains will compel global recognition of the socialist alternative approaches to economic management, and principles of "peaceful coexistence" This does not bode well for unity returning   quickly to US-EU, or US-China relationships, in the short run, however. There will be little help, and possibly military conflicts, from the international catastrophes compounded by COVID.

The COVID, and associated economic, plagues are proving that corrupt, billionaire cliques --- and the political and institutional domination of market relations by a variety of billionaire cliques --- are futile against forces of destruction of this scale, and that are triggered external to markets. The fed cannot fix this. Keeping the financial system from collapsing is essential, but fatally insufficient. Public spending and investment on a massive scale -- but under the most scientifically informed leadership is necessary: coordinated, national, international, but decisive leadership. The poisonous political paralysis of the Obama years after passage of the ACA is not a state from which any remedy to the catastrophes can be retrieved.

Unfortunately, other ideologies have considerably more influence in politics than science: religion, "morality", "property", "family values" -- can together or severally serve to transform raw or crafty interests, or targets of personal grievances into organized political factions or anti-factions. The factional ideologies can frequently be adapted (picture the Falwell's) to serve a particular class, or other powerful economic interest. The public's vulnerability to these pitches is due in no small part to the tiny proportion of the population that has genuine training and education in scientific subjects and methodologies. Fascism -- rule by force on behalf of the most powerful billionaire factions -- is an example of the billionaire's mentality when attempting to opportunistically manipulate factional ideologies among races, nationalities, and other identities, while profiting from vast social challenges and conflicts. Trump's infection on the heels of his Big Lies about the virus is a good illustration of the ultimate futility of such efforts. But that futility will only add extra curses on the immense damage.

It is certain that the cure must include universal health, a new division of wealth and public private balances of power, a full reckoning with the curse of slavery's legacy of racism, of full equality and social participation for women, and a renewed national identity that embraces internationalism in a multinational, multiracial society. Climate change places severe time limits on the urgency of meeting these challenges, since its own logic and the logic of political inaction is inexorable. Science knows.
Socialism, too, is historically born out of a need to address massive external shocks to a system inherently unable, or too enfeebled, to defend society in its old forms. But socialism arises from working classes, not billionaires. (beware the "fake" socialisms, like "national socialism" of the Nazis, that are just propaganda covers for billionaire rule.) It too seeks coordinated, decisive leadership from public authority to address a crisis in society. The United States has no shortage of revolutionary models in its history that model executive power -- economic and military force -- in action in a progressive historical direction: Washington's army in the establishment of national security for the formation of an independent, partially democratic republic; and Lincoln's assumption of extra-constitutional executive powers in the war against slavery. Karl Marx wrote very little about "socialism", or "communism", and what he did write, he characterized as necessarily partial and speculative, from the standpoint of circa (1870). But he aspired, always, to achieve a scientific understanding of the emergent capitalist economic system, and its life-cycle. He came to economics from philosophy, and in particular, with a desire to turn philosophy away from "standing on its head" to "feet firmly planted on solid ground". Economic and social science is like physics in that it exposes material explanations for observed and studied phenomena, and ideologies, too. It differs from physics in that the "data" in the analysis of society is always at arms length from laboratory reproducibility. For accuracy it relies upon statistical and probability analysis, which depends, as data science has proven, on the amount of data and the smartness of algorithms increasingly implemented by machines themselves!

The premise of Chinese socialism is that socialists and communists can scientifically manage both capitalist market and non market relations better than capitalists. The Russian experiment shows that the outcomes are not guaranteed, and that raising the supremacy of science, and expertise over corruptions, are keys to success. Nonetheless, the concept, sometimes known as Commanding Heights, originated from Vladimir Lenin, but was abandoned by his successors in Russia. Half a century later, however, the biography of Chinese communist leader Deng Xiaoping is a powerful testimony to Lenin's insight, and the complexity of mastering it in a very different national environment than where it originated. Among other things, the Chinese implementation demonstrates that the national histories, character and cultures of each nation uniquely stamp the political character of their "socialism". But this principle --- that socialialists can manage capitalism better than capitalists -- appears to thrive, if it can be mastered. The current crisis is as close we are likely to get of a historical test of this thesis. The Nordic "socialisms", although not Marxist led, are also doing better at recovery, than the US and the rest of Europe The test is being taken by all nations. Our history foretells that this will be a hard one for us, as Americans.

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