The Mueller report and more

1. Trump and his team had hoped to cement in their interpretation of the Mueller report — “complete exoneration” — in the public mind before it saw the light of day. But that hope hasn’t materialized. Most people aren’t buying the spin of Trump, Barr, and other Trumpsters. And it’s only going to get more uphill for them with the release of the Mueller report, even in redacted form, tomorrow. If their rhetoric has been reckless and heated up to now, expect an escalation in the coming week. Trump won’t retreat; he will double down. And therein lies the danger.

2. New Yorker columnist John Cassidy on Trump’s bullying of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors:

“What is going on is perfectly clear. There is another Presidential on the horizon, the Trump-G.O.P. stimulus is running down, and economic growth is slowing. With the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, Trump knows that he can’t rely on Congress to juice the economy again going into 2020. So he is trying to bully the Fed into doing the job, regardless of the longer-term consequences.”

3. Here is an interesting study of the Democratic electorate. It presents a far more complicated picture of the trends among Democratic voters than many suggest. Moderates, according to the study, make up a significant swath of voters in the Democratic Party. The announcement of their death under the weight of political polarization, it seems, is greatly exaggerated. And no more so than in the Midwest states. In the political tradition that I came out of — and we were not the worse on the left — we set aside sober minded analysis on too many occasions for wishful thinking as our ideological disposition ran ahead of reality. Not a good practice then and worse still now.

4. The role of the left in the elections next year isn’t simply to bend the program-issue needle to the left. It should also be a force for unity in the presidential primary and the general election that follows. An unbending posture, litmus tests, and circular firing squads should have no place in the left’s playbook. Too much is at stake.

5. An article in Jacobin makes the case for the centrality of class over other forms of oppression. I’ve been down this road years ago and nothing good came from it. I’m afraid much the same will result this time, if this line of analysis is pursued. We would be better served if our focus is on the co-construction and dialectical interaction of class with other categories — race and gender to begin with — of analysis and struggle, not its centrality.

6. I wonder if Biden or Bernie, notwithstanding their present standing in the polls, are the best candidates to energize women, people of color, millennials, and newly registered and stay-at-home voters next year.

7. The struggle against Trump and right extremism is a form of class struggle. In fact, it’s the leading edge of class (and democratic) struggle at this moment. Only someone with a dogmatic cast of mind would think otherwise. Struggles never come in pure form. If they did politics, would be much simpler.

8. Socialism shouldn’t be reduced to economics, but it should be said that to radically expand and deepen individual and collective freedoms for the vast majority, a radical restructuring and democratization of economic relations is necessary. Exactly how to do that and at what pace is hard to answer with any precision ahead of time, but that fact shouldn’t preclude a fulsome discussion now. Here is one take on the matter.

9. It drives me crazy when I hear socialism smugly reduced to “working class power.” Who would find that appealing? It confuses means, albeit narrowly constructed, with socialism’s vision and aims. And it masquerades as a class approach.

10. If Obama in the White House heralded the approaching end to white skin advantage to a significant number of white workers, its current occupant signifies the beginnings of the restoration of those advantages to this same grouping of workers.

Coalition of unusual diversity

I hear people on the left make a case for a united front against fascism in one sentence and then exclude some of the very social constituencies that should make up that front in the next. It’s as if they see the necessity of a broader movement in the face of an existential danger, but are still, almost reflexively, hemmed in by politics that were, even in earlier periods, too narrowly cast. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a coalition of unusual diversity and complexity to save our democracy and the social progress secured through hard struggle over centuries. Breadth of approach, not a radicalism out of sync with the political requirements of our times, should be our strategic hallmark, as we look ahead to next year’s elections. I suspect that it will, much like it was last fall..

Bashing Liberals

I came across a post on Facebook yesterday that self righteously castigated “silly liberals who supposedly rely on the Democratic Party and the Mueller report to extract the country from the Trumpian fix that it is now in. Below is my reply:.

Silly liberals, and especially liberal women, were one of the main backbones of last fall’s election victory. I saw that here, but it was much the same in many cds across the country. I wish the left had made a contribution of that magnitude. What is more we can only hope that liberals, women and men, do much the same next year. Bashing liberals has been a cottage industry on the left since the sixties. While it made little sense then, it is completely wrongheaded now, given what we are up against. In the times in which we live, an accent on modesty and unity would serve us far better than self defeating broadsides.


I get the impression that some think that white workers in Trump’s coalition will bid farewell and come over to our side upon hearing an alternative to Trump’s economic policies. I wish it were that simple.

Cultural Wars

Sometimes the “cultural wars” over race, gender, sexuality, and patriotism are understood as simply a battle over values, symbols, words, etc. in contrast to the hard reality of economic struggles. Cultural wars, for sure, have that dimension and should be engaged at that level. But as this article reveals how they are fought out and resolved have every bit as much materiality and practical consequence as struggles in the economic arena. Further, economic struggles can’t be separated from “cultural struggles.” Neither form of struggle floats around doing its own thing in some self enclosed space. Instead, they are intertwined as well as mutually constructed. Thus they should be understood and acted on in that way.

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