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Know I’m being a bit of a jerk, but it’s hard not to find it a bit funny to watch the atrios crowd discover that there’s only one thing their other hero, Brad Delong, hates more than the economic policy of Bush administration. Apparently, to offer even the mildest criticsm of global capitalist hegemony – criticism mild enough to make it on to the op-ed page of the NY Times forgodsake – is to expose yourself as "Crypto-Nazi scum." Take a look – especially at the comments – here.

Anyway, calls to mind an charming passage from Bob Woodward’s book about Greenspan. We could subtitle it, borrowing a phrase from Hobsbawm, "Clinton Learns the Rules of the Game." The game in question being the relationship between full employment and inflation.

All the economic models built
on years of history showed there was a limit to how high growth could go
without triggering inflation. To complicate matters, the economists believed –
and recent American economic history showed – that there was a level of
so-called full employment. There was a limit on how low the unemployment rate
could go without triggering inflation, and it was thought that the range was 6
to 7 percent. This lower limit was called the NAIRU – the non-accelerating
inflation rate of full employment. The unemployment rate had started the year
above 6 percent and was heading down.
    Even [Robert] Rubin insisted that there was an
optimum full employment rate of growth.
    The president [Clinton] was skeptical and even outraged. So the problems were too much economic growth and too many people working! It was ridiculous, he seethed.

But you know how the story ends.



Written by adswithoutproducts

May 11, 2005 at 12:28 am

Posted in Current Affairs

24 Responses

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  1. DeLong is simply vile, period.He pissed on Paul Sweezy’s grave, Ed Said’s grave, and is saving up urine for when Chomsky starts sleeping the big sleep.While he’s far from being the only brand-name intellectual who’ll construct a strawman version of his opponent’s arguments and then link to it, he’s especially brazen about itin this case, actually giving the entire text of Grass’ essay that gives the lie to his claims.
    To quote another member of the Dem. Ideology Border Patrol, Screw himhe’s a mercenary.

    et alia

    May 11, 2005 at 10:50 pm

  2. The horrible thing is that I have a sense that Krugman would be just the same, if headed off topic. Know what I mean? His early columns for the Times were, from what I remember, mostly of the “what morons marching against the IMF!” variety…


    May 12, 2005 at 1:12 am

  3. Agreed.He’s an economist, and liberalization of trade and capital flows across borders is the current orthodoxy for that religion.

    et alia

    May 12, 2005 at 2:51 pm

  4. Hi. Found you through The Valve. Hoping for a Stiglitzian conversion from Krugman, but I dunno if he’s there yet.
    Why, I wonder, was DeLong nowhere near as brutal toward Bourdieu as to Ehrenreich, Said, Grass, the peace movement, and others named above?


    May 13, 2005 at 2:18 am

  5. If you delegitimize the members of the legislature of a representative democracy–say not that they are wrestling with hard problems and making mistakes but instead that “Parliament is no longer sovereign in its decisions. It is steered by the banks and multinational corporations – which are not subject to any democratic control” and that “the threat to the state, or what should be regarded as Public Enemy No. 1, comes not from right-wing radicalism but… from the impotence of politics,” what then follows?
    And if you declare the essential equivalence of globalization and Nazism by calling the first “a new totalitarianism, backed as it is by the world’s last remaining ideology… the power of capital, which sees mankind as nothing more than something which consumes and produces,” what then follows?
    Grass makes both of these rhetorical moves. And we know what then follows: Legitimacy then falls to those who can turn out the greatest number of marchers in the streets, or sit through meetings the longest. Every means necessary to defeat the new totalitarianism of globalization is then on the table.
    You’re too wise not to know what is at the end of the road is that Grass is walking down. It’s not democracy.

    Brad DeLong

    May 28, 2005 at 11:14 pm

  6. You’re right Brad, it’s something far better. A democracy that gives a damn about human rights, such as water, a liveable wage, environmental sustainability, the abolition of sweat shops, and so very much more.
    Some might even say it won’t happen until the demands of the bourgeoning populist movement are forced down the coctail-greased throats of the IMF and World Bank, imposing on them some modicum of responsibility.
    To equate justified and absolutely correct criticism of late capitalism with fascism is the most tired, knee-jerk maneuver in the book.
    Answer a simply question, if you please: is Grass not basically correct? Is there not a question of sovereignty at stake when money is flowing like a mighty stream from boardrooms and yachts to Washington?
    Excuse my vulgarity, but it seems to me, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that you’re sitting pretty on a floating soapbox on deepening currents next to eroding banks, heading straight for a waterfall of unknown proportions, happy in the knowledge of your jet-pack while preaching to the swimmers alongside. Whenever someone points to the insecurity of the horizon, you call them “fascist.” So what I’d really like to know is, did this work with Clinton?


    May 29, 2005 at 7:58 pm

  7. Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!The mighty DeLong himself deigns to stop by and dispense another helping of distortions!Let’s see what we have here:
    If you delegitimize the members of the legislature of a representative democracy…what then follows?Yet another variation on Have you stopped beating your wife, sir?As anyone who reads Grass’ essay can tell, Grass is concerned (among other things) with the *threat to democracy* posed by lobbyist and influence peddlars, with the powerlessness of representative political organizations in the face of capital.
    The equation of Globalization and Nazism is yours, not Grass’.It is simply a way to deflect Grass’ entirely appropriate, and if anything, perhaps too politely put, criticisms of free-market ideology taking hold in Germany (not, as you would have those too hyponotized by your name learn by reading Grass’ own words, globalization.)
    When apologists for an ideology cannot honestly answer criticism, when they make claims and tacit insinuations that can be shown to be false with the click of a mouse, and, once caught, continue to lie and distort the substance of criticism launched against the position they defend, what can one conclude about their intellectual honesty and integrity?
    Seriously Brad, how do you sleep at night?Do you have to take a fistful of Ambien or are you just a sociopath?

    et alia

    May 29, 2005 at 8:58 pm

  8. et alia, here’s the relevant quote from Grass:
    “When the German Reich unconditionally surrendered 60 years ago, a system of power and terror was thereby defeated. . .
    “We can only hope we will be able to cope with today’s risk of a new totalitarianism, backed as it is by the world’s last remaining ideology.”
    That pretty clearly equates globalization with Nazism. You may not object to the analogy, but you can hardly claim fairly that Grass doesn’t make it.
    Going off to swallow a handful of Ambien and slaughter some innocents.

    Sean McCann

    May 29, 2005 at 10:46 pm

  9. Brad,
    The slur you threw at Grass of the same genre as that thrown at those elements of the French left that voted no today. They don’t like the competition clauses, see them as a trojan horse for privatization, and the center and the MSM throws up their hands: Ah, they must hate the Turks! Hypocritical left!
    And furthermore:
    Washington Post, 7/1/99
    “McCain came to the home of the first primary to declare that a new president cannot break ‘special interest’ government in Washington without first destroying “a campaign finance system that is nothing less than an influence-peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.”
    McCain = Crypto Nazi Scum. Right Brad? A “special interest” government? Let’s just burn the fucking thing down, right?


    May 30, 2005 at 1:36 am

  10. Sean:
    With reading skills like that, Wesleyan students who take your classes should ask for their money back.Or do you know how full of shit you are and are trying to suck up to DeLong?

    et alia

    May 30, 2005 at 11:09 pm

  11. I’ve heard similar accusations from rightwing loonies, et alia. Too bad for my students, I guess. But if you wouldn’t mind, where’s the problem with my reading skills? I can see a fair complaint that DeLong overreacted, and I CR’s comparison to McCain helps to show how (though the analogy to attacks on the French electorate are not really on point, since the reasoning CR complains about there is actually closer to Grass’s account of German democracy), but do you disagree that Grass makes the comparison between Nazism and capitalism? Why?

    Sean McCann

    May 31, 2005 at 3:12 pm

  12. I’ve heard similar counters from snail farmers. Too bad for their gastropods, I guess.
    I suggest you first go back and read what Grass said. It is very clearly an admonition.
    “We can only hope we will be able to cope with today’s risk of a new totalitarianism, backed as it is by the world’s last remaining ideology. As conscious democrats, we should freely resist the power of capital, which sees mankind as nothing more than something which consumes and produces. Those who treat their donated freedom as a stock market profit have failed to understand what May 8 teaches us every year”
    Risk! Risk! Do you think Grass is unaware that under totalitarianism his article couldn’t be published?


    May 31, 2005 at 7:24 pm

  13. I don’t doubt that Grass is aware that under a genuinely totalitarian system criticism couldn’t be published, Harry. Nor do I doubt that his remarks were an admonition. But I miss why that’s relevant. The admonition runs: capitalism is a totalitarian ideology comparable to Nazism (and the last of its kind). We experienced the evils and suffering that the former created. If we do not resist the new totalitarianism now, we may suffer similar evils again. Indeed, those who celebrate capitalism fail to appreciate the evils of totalitarianism and of liberation from it.
    So, yes, that’s an admonition and> it’s an analogy between Nazism and capitalism.

    Sean McCann

    May 31, 2005 at 7:51 pm

  14. Sean,
    Grass is saying that capitalism runs the risk of becoming a new totalitarianism; that there’s now an ideology driving it which elevates market forces to a higher status than humans; that no alternative systems of economics have the strength to present a challenge; that the consequences of leaving that ideology unchallenged are potentially genocidal.
    I think there is cause for concern, and I think he expressed it very well. A discussion of that, however, changes the subject to _whether_ an analogy between capitalism and Nazism is valid and away from what Grass said.
    Grass’ remarks, furthermore, were originally addressed to German audience. An author here might make reference to Manifest Destiny.


    May 31, 2005 at 8:55 pm

  15. Harry, you’ve pretty much just repeated what I said. So, after the invective, the point isn’t that I misread but that we shouldn’t overemphasize the importance of the analogy. Ok, fine. But even if DeLong shouldn’t have overreacted, there’s nothing wrong with noting the analogy and considering whether it’s accurate, or illuminating, or prejudicial. I imagine that in Germany even more than in the U.S. suggesting that people you oppose could be proto-Nazis or potentially “good Germans” who’ll supinely accept the rise of a new Nazism is an inflammatory charge.

    Sean McCann

    May 31, 2005 at 9:07 pm

  16. Sean, I could make a good case that neoliberal capitalism is driving us towards fascism. The ideolgically driven economic shock treatment in Latin America, the former Soviet satellites and, now, Iraq, along with the brutalization of dissidents here and abroad, legalisms to justify torture and state sponsored jingoism make that very easy. I have laundry list of crimes, sober analysis and links to documents from decision makers that would back me up.
    Would such a discussion interest you? I think it might be selfish or rude to use this weblog for that. My email address is


    May 31, 2005 at 10:24 pm

  17. Oh, by all means – it’s all yours… Go ahead with the debate, I’m sure others would like to see it.


    May 31, 2005 at 10:28 pm

  18. My opening argument is that neoliberalism is a utopian scheme.


    May 31, 2005 at 11:07 pm

  19. Thanks anyway, Harry. I appreciate the offer. I’m not a fan of market fundamentalism myself and I’m aware of the things you point out. But even given the enormity of some of them, I don’t think calling them fascism or nazism or totalitarianism is helpful–if only because the terms are then being used less to describe comparable political regimes than as adjectives to identity extreme evils. It seems sufficient to me to say that what’s being described is bad or unjust in the extreme or evil without needing to call it proto-totalitarian.
    No doubt you’ll disagree, but that’s all an aside. The argument we were having was about whether Grass drew the analogy you’re now making. Scorn was pored on the suggestion that he had. Now it no longer appears so scornable. Since my only point was that Grass did in fact draw the analogy and since you’ve agreed that he has, the debate’s over for me.

    Sean McCann

    June 1, 2005 at 12:06 am

  20. “No doubt you’ll disagree, but that’s all an aside.”
    Well, no, I do agree to a large extent. The terms have been so abused that the meaning has been sucked away. I do think at some point neoliberalism will be considered an infamy on a par with other inhumane ideologies. I don’t think nay amount of warning will change the minds if people who adhere to it it. A good example of that would be its defender labeling a critic “crypto-nazi scum” as soon as he drew an analogy that that particular critic had not made.
    I think it’s reaching far and hard to draw the conclusion that I agree Grass had made the analogy. Especially when I have taken pains to point out that Grass is saying that capitalism runs the risk of becoming a form of totalitarianism, rather than saying it is comparable. Dropping a point, fine or otherwise, is not conceeding. It _is_ a recognition that there is no point to continuing a “yes he did, no he didn’t” discussion.
    The scornful quality to my first comment was not productive. I regretted that and backed off in my second.


    June 1, 2005 at 3:52 am

  21. Harry, my initial point was that, overreact as DeLong certainly did (and I agree the proto-Nazi scum line was way, way out of line), it would not be wrong to say that Grass drew an equation between globalization and Nazism. (I was responding to et alia’s remark: “The equation of Globalization and Nazism is yours, not Grass’.”) The equation is that both are extraordinarily dangerous ideologies that if left unchecked did create or will create totalitarian regimes; that current neoliberals are thus proto-nazis; and that those who fail to resist them with sufficient commitment are in danger of becoming the “good Germans” who allowed the Third Reich to come to power. I don’t think you’ve disagreed that this is Grass’s analogy. And your comments suggest that you think the analogy is sound. (E.g., “neoliberal capitalism is driving us towards fascism.”) So I’m not sure where we disagree, or why. Saying that neoliberal capitalism is not yet totalitarian but is an ideology driving toward totalitarianism is drawing a pretty fine distinction.

    Sean McCann

    June 1, 2005 at 7:27 am

  22. To try to not be an asshole again (for which I apologize) while still demurring:
    Saying that neoliberal capitalism is not yet totalitarian but is an ideology driving toward totalitarianism is drawing a pretty fine distinction.
    If it’s not yet totalitarianism, then there’s still the possibility it can be rolled back.Also: the features of whatever type of totalitarianism neoliberal capitalism _might_ lead us to *will* be different from fascism.To put it in what might be a perverse (but I hope illustrative way) way, Nazism offered positive freedoms organized around an ideal of authenticity based on national identity, while it looks like the totalitarian end state of neoliberal capitalism would offer only negative freedoms based on abstract sovereign individual/consumer.The former has active oppression by the state; the latter, malign neglect by the state, and privatization of abuses.
    From where I sit, these seem to be significant distinctions.

    et alia

    June 2, 2005 at 11:45 pm

  23. A finer distinction indeed.


    June 3, 2005 at 6:24 pm

  24. So what’s with the other site, Matt?


    June 4, 2005 at 2:03 am

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