The Public Must Be Compensated

Political partisans have been trying to claim that Sweden’s Public Health authority, fronted by Anders Tegnell, is unique in pursuing a “cruel” herd immunity goal. It is a bald lie. Herd immunity to COVID-19 is the end-game for all decisionmakers in public health, including in the authoritarian-coalition NPI (Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention, AKA mass, indefinite Isolation and Immobilization) response designed by Biosecurity experts (See the FOIA’d Red Dawn emails in the New York Times).

The difference from Sweden’s democratic-scientific approach to the pandemic is that the authoritarian coalition’s NPI Mass Isolation & Immobilization approach allows the security state to practice implementing population lockdown (Red Dawn emails discuss this goal, along with testing the internet.), while technocratic epidemiologists are thrilled to be using societies as laboratories (See https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/opinion/coronavirus-pandemic-social-distancing.html). All the “early”/”late” implementation discourse in the media is scientistic nonsense typically used to sell Biosecurity indefinite mass house arrest, as opposed to a testing-forward, selective-isolation policy that no coalition has emerged to champion within the authoritarian societies.

But we must start focusing on the bait dangled by the authoritarian-coalition strategy. The avalanche of economic, social and health costs it unleashes cannot be worth the golden carrot swaying before the manhandled public: an immunization crafted over 18 months for one (1) version of coronavirus, where novel coronaviruses develop repeatedly. (A new avian flu, the Red Dawn biosecurity experts noted, had developed in China early this year even while COVID-19 was taking the spotlight.)

The people must rise together and demand compensation from the state for their epic sacrifices to the authoritarian coalition’s social-control practice and universal-lab conveniences.

For A More Humane Pandemic

April 2020 revision

Including the US, many countries’ public health authorities, their virologists and hospital workers, have coalesced with politicians, citing mortality risks to the immune-compromised, and prioritizing support for health care professionals in a time of ramping demand in many jurisdictions. Together they have instituted an isolation and immobilization policy upon a great, crude swath of the people, now designated “non-essential workers.”

Eager to protect and serve, people have embraced the virologist’s statistical conceptualization of people as disease vectors. People have embraced a sort of altruistic policy, suggested by public health officials for indefinite implementation. We can see this collective enforcement everywhere, as people impose self- house arrest and dutifully sew their own face masks. Police have expanded checkpoints from DUI to immigrants and now the entire population of disease vectors. Parks are closed, corporations and states furlough and fire employees, New York epidemiologists call for Americans to “freeze in place,” and the only people allowed to move their bodies in plague-riddled Milan are people who own dogs.

 

There is a greater good at stake. It’s just not the greater good we think. While we admire the brand of selfless cooperation, there is also a very strong element of inhumanity in our approach to the pandemic. It is very much rooted in a fundamental, Malthusian premise: Our humanity is the problem to be eradicated. To follow expertise means faithfully following whatever lab-coated technocratic policy crushes humanity while, thankfully for the politicians (some of whom liquidated their vulnerable investments before policies were implemented), maintaining and augmenting economic inequality. The issue here is that indefinite detention, for example the prohibition of walking, the preference for indefinite isolation and immobilization, is also torture in a walking, communicating species, which is what humans are. Both policy confining people to cell-like apartments and mortality are distributed very unequally, afflicting people who live in public infrastructure-poor areas and in the US, particularly long-beseiged African Americans.

Yet if we agree with population management experts in law, that isolating and immobilizing criminals and migrants in prisons is a necessary cost, logically we must agree to the similar recommendation of population management experts in health:  immobilizing disease vectors long-term in their homes is a necessary cost. We have a specific model for how we address problems, optimizing the variables of masculine policing employment, maintaining the medical system as -is, reducing deaths among the immuno-compromised, and maintaining the state-mediated intergenerational transfer of wealth from the working class to business owners and top managers. Applied to the COVID-19 pandemic our “health” and “epidemiology” concepts are narrowly technocratic and political;  nonetheless when we say it’s all for health, we think of our mortality and feel deeply.

Governments have offered trillions to compensate businesses for the economic depletion accompanying extended shut-down of all but “essential” work– primarily hospital and guard work. When life is on the line, most people are pleased to pitch in, particularly helping to police and abnegate themselves. In Canada, a Globe & Mail thought leader posed himself a Pandemic Mr. Rogers, affirming that Canadians are “helpers,” and that what helpers do is isolate and immobilize themselves.  But there is more to being a responsible member of a human society, even in an emergency.

 

A better approach is possible in many places. In Vo, an Italian town where an early COVID19-related mortality occurred, the government instead tested everyone and isolated the 3% of the population that proved to be infected (80% of whom were asymptomatic). In a mere two (2) weeks, the blanket-testing and selected-isolation approach eradicated COVID19 from that population. Iceland is a prominent exception to the technocratic-political refusal of mass-testing. It has been mass-testing and select-quarantining to stop the virus in Iceland within a couple of weeks. With its high public health capacity and systematic incorporation of humane criteria in public policy, Sweden has pursued a testing-forward, selected isolation policy to maintain a socio-economy where federal transfers don’t facilitate business to loot the paychecks of future generations. With its high public health capacity and systematic incorporation of humane criteria in public policy, Kerala has responded to the crisis with effective disease suppression balanced with humane supports and democratic freedoms. As the Wall Street Journal recently observed, countries such as Germany, that are conceptually able (via corporatism) to recognize the contribution of their working class to their economy, soon moved onto increasing their testing capacity, toward a testing-forward approach that allows them to minimize population isolation and immobilization. Minnesota has the capacity to mobilize a testing-forward approach, and save its diverse working class and the economy that depends on human thriving.

 

While blanket testing takes state organization and costs money up front, it can be more efficient and effective–and useful in the long run, and will cost less than shutting down the entire society and economy, and indefinitely treating most people inhumanely as nothing more than disease vectors, a variant of criminals, as the technocratic-political population-management model must do.

 

Different conditions require different interventions. The testing-forward approach is not appropriate in urban concatenations, such as Milan, London, and New York City-Connecticut, where for specific reasons of age demographics, culture, and global economic network and transit centrality, COVID19 has raged throughout the population, and spread outward. In those metropoles, selected testing and blanket isolation & immobilization makes sense. Just as Wuhan was transformed into a “dystopia,” in the first week of May New York’s Governor Cuomo announced that New York City would become a surveillance and policing city as its response to its convulsive, central COVID-19 experience. Because NYC is a capitalist metropole, this will create a commercial export industry in antihuman infrastructure. This antihuman policy and infrastructure will be heavily promoted, but must be resisted outside these capitalist criminalized, disease-vector population cores.

Blanket testing/selected isolation would work best in regions with a lower incidence of transmission. The virus has been spread with the travel of business elites. Yet even in seemingly highly-infected Colorado, playground for the rich, testing has shown that only 1% of the population is infected. Regions less central and disadvantaged under global capitalism could move into a forward economic position, diminishing global inequality, if they were permitted to take advantage of their more moderate COVID-19 exposure, by instituting universal testing rather than the debilitating and interminable blanket isolation & immobilization approach that looks best on computer simulations preserving the existing parameters that produced the crisis.

 

Unfortunately, in countries like the US, policy flows from its financial metropoles. In a pandemic, this subsidiarization is not beneficial. It is a lack of regional-appropriate capacity. While global centers have the resources to manage morality throughout, including solidarity with the afflicted, distinctive high-capacity regions like Minnesota have a different responsibility, to always recognize that that the authoritative status of population management and policy expertise not only reflects their wonderful technical knowledge, but is also conferred by experts’ and politicians’ attunement to optimization at the hearts of the global system—misconstrued, in technocratic conceptualization, as universal welfare. Favoring “freezing” the hinterlands, metropole expertise will argue that the virus and antibody tests are not perfect. Yet if the virus and antibody tests are not perfect, in humane-policy jurisdictions like Sweden, Iceland, and Kerala, they have been shown to be sufficient to allow for efficient, targeted virus suppression and eradication—without incurring other forms of mass health devastation, economic collapse and exacerbated, multigenerational inequality.

 

We need to be able to recognize when and where population management detaches from the human, becomes inhumane, so that we can instead support policy alternatives more effective and efficient for circumstances in our part of the world, connected to but also distinct from people in other places. Doing like Sweden, Iceland, and Kerala, and following not just the virological disease-vector population framework and the politician’s population-communications framework, but incorporating Enlightenment sociological and developmental biology perspectives can help us keep our eyes on what it is to be human and what we need to make to support humanity.  In this pandemic, a cost-forward blanket testing/selected isolation approach would cost some percentage of the trillions governments are working to transfer from workers to business elites for generations, where such problems as coronaviruses are caused by already-excessive discounting of workers’ human needs and welfare (Wallace, Liebman, Chavez & Wallace 2020). It would require immediately building testing capacity under state direction. It would require an organized mobilization, redeploying many of the out-of-work legions in the work of testing, or bringing into testing the armies of frustrated altruists within the military. It would be stridently opposed by metropole expertise, because it would be an expenditure of collective resources, and the global financial metropoles will not benefit from either mass testing or the diminishment of socio-economic inequality.

A testing-forward turn would also reduce the runaway risks and costs of universalizing blindness to the multiple conditions humans need to thrive and survive. For all their hopeful public recitations, none of the potential upsides of the crisis will materialize if we are not able to recognize these conditions, and act upon them now.

 

Mid-March reporting held that Minnesota state and private (eg. The Mayo corporation) labs did not have sufficient supplies to do mass testing. This “shrug” reporting was quite common in the US and Canada at the time, and there was little interest in how the state might fund and organize testing in these jurisdictions.  Throughout the US the main interest in this story was exhibited by political partisans, who used it to bicker over which party was to blame for the poor testing capacity. This diversion is part of the problem with dependency on antidemocratic political leadership temporarily patronizing virologists. By contrast, Sweden averted politician leadership problems by having long ago built up an independent public health bureaucracy. Politicians have little say in public health policy there, though there was some attempt by politicians to intercede. Without politicians able to jump into manipulating people’s fears to keep policy choices within inequality-preserving parameters (eg. using police and commercial tech to institute a vast prison landscape), Swedish public health experts could take into account the significantly-deleterious mental and physical health impacts of treating humans as little more than population network nodes, and instead design epidemic interventions that preserve human health. While the US and Canada shrugged at their own incapacities or gave room for politicos to carp at their political enemies, governments such as Germany’s began to fund and organize mass testing capacity.

Mayo is among the private corporations that raced to produce immunization, as, with both state and private markets, immunization is expected to be more lucrative than testing. It could be that Mayo’s for-profit requirements mean that Minnesota, unlike Iceland (which state has more independence from New York), does not have the public-private-sector incentive to produce the testing that could end the epidemiological threat far more quickly than more-profitable immunization. This for-profit medical preference will be devastating to human health and the economic viability of the working class and capitalism itself in the short, medium, and long-term. Did Minnesota public health authorities have the capacity to intercede and redirect efforts? In April, Minnesota announced its public health officials had convened Mayo and the University of Minnesota to produce 20,000/day swab (molecular/RNA) coronavirus testing capacity. Yet the governor of Minnesota continued to prioritize isolation & immobilization policy, barring the public from parks and recreation.

Are we blinding ourselves to our humanity in order to prevent us from “squandering” our wealth on making less-central regions viable, in order to reserve our wealth as back-end compensation for the disruption of existing centers of overaccumulation? Minnesota’s economic and political elites are well connected to the US financial metropole; but because Minnesota also has working class people, from farm workers to small business owners to furloughed managers, following an isolation and immobilization program is not in this region’s health or economic interests. Ultimately, even our friends in New York can benefit from Minnesota pursuing a humanist testing-forward approach, and preserving health, social, and economic integrity in the US.

Our problem isn’t insufficient mobilization. Our problem is that we are already excessively subordinated, as our swift lockdown makes evident. Prioritizing policies that keep the wealth in overaccumulation centers, stubbornly discounting life outside centers of overaccumulation, will reproduce the crisis conditions, because those crisis conditions inhere in dehumanization and inequality. This pandemic, like the epidemics before it and the crises that will come after it, has everything to do with how capitalism in a dense human-population world smashes its giant, necessary, global working class into no economic choice but to reproduce themselves by living off of what awkward combination of commodified and, especially, uncommodified goods and services they can access and cobble together (Katharine Moos, 2019; Wallace, Liebman, Chavez, and Wallace, 2020). Capitalism separates wealth from the working class, but the population is needed to grow wealth. The wild game must be supplemented by poultry. The development must sprawl into field, forest, and watershed. While we clutch our pearls and claim that our expert antihuman policies are for the “health,” the frontline nurses and doctors, the grandpas and people of color, in fact we are living in a time in which a sinister Malthusian presumption undergirds our expertise: In our disposition to maximize the augmentation of dehumanization and inequality both in our everyday and our emergency policies and institutions, we continue to discount the humanity of working people, to discount their economic contribution, to take more and more from them, to immiserate, stunt and weaken them around the world and cut short their lives, our lives. How can we develop feelings about the foundation of our pandemics, so that we can stop reproducing them? Do well-educated Minnesotans have the capacity to break with the antihuman population management models? Can Minnesota put its weight behind testing rather than freezing humanity?

 

For supporting articles, follow Mara Fridell on Twitter.

References

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix:

 

Anglo-American Health Authorities Prescribe Indefinite Isolation/Immobilization:

‘How long will we need to practice social distancing? “For now, it’s probably indefinite,” Dr. Marrazzo said.’ —New York Times, March 17, 2020.

 

‘How long, then, until we’re no longer behind and are winning the fight against the novel coronavirus? The hard truth is that it may keep infecting people and causing outbreaks until there’s a vaccine or treatment to stop it.

“I think this idea … that if you close schools and shut restaurants for a couple of weeks, you solve the problem and get back to normal life — that’s not what’s going to happen,” says Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and author of a book on how outbreaks spread. “The main message that isn’t getting across to a lot of people is just how long we might be in this for. As Kucharski, a top expert on this situation, sees it, “this virus is going to be circulating, potentially for a year or two, so we need to be thinking on those time scales.’

Vox, 3/17/ 2020, Coronavirus Lockdowns.

 

Testing Data

COVID-19 Testing Data: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing

 

 

Materialism & Cultural Anthropology

Anderson (1968) cites Britain’s two areas of home-grown intellectual expertise (as opposed to importing White Emigre intellectual hit men) as literary criticism and Anthropology. [Revise: Metaphysics were esoterically permitted within literary criticism, as long as there was no scientific acknowledgement of the metaphysics.] Anthropology had imperial utility for Britain. How has Anthropology, as an imperial tool of surveillance, fit into the larger British avoidance of political-economic and classic sociological contribution to Enlightenment knowledge?

“…(C)laiming culture as foundational, anthropology approached mind and body alike as social constructions, and knowledge practices as phenomena of symbolic exchange. Culture represented a totality of symbol-systems…The imposition of meaning (was the) condition of human existence…Knowledge was a matter of an encompassing, collective, public and shared cultural context…Geertz concluded that while ‘becoming human is becoming individual‘, we nevertheless ‘become individual under the guidance of cultural patterns'” (Nigel Rapport, 2010: 9). Geertz and Evans-Pritchard built Anthropology in deference to White Emigre Wittgenstein’s imperial-friendly linguistic reduction and dismissal of time and change (Rapport 2010: 10; Anderson 1968).

Two Unreconciled Strivings; Two Warring Ideals in One Dark Body

Pagden (2013) shows that Enlightenment knowledge has always emerged from a community of philosophers launching social science, in order to know, via comparison, the range and associated contexts of human capacity, disposition, and institutions–for the purposes of establishing the possibility of and conditions for institutionalizing distributed sovereignty and freedom, or democracy (though not in its conservative-degraded sense). We recognize that Enlightenment philosopher-cum-human scientists were naive, their understanding was developing, and they relied on commercial ventures to span out across the world and gather comparative knowledge. We also recognize, per Melville, Rediker, & Linebaugh, that internationalist “motley crews” contributed to the advancement of the most valid Enlightenment knowledge.

When Rapport describes cultural-determinist Anthropology, he is describing a collective of both Enlightenment and anti-enlightenment scholars, constrained by anti-enlightenment parameters selectively augmenting and quieting voices, and at best wholly substituting the Anthropologist-interpreted insights afforded by (often bunkered and imperially-constrained) research subjects in place of the important, corrective insights of the autonomous, internationalist motley crew. In conceptualizing knowledge as “a matter of an encompassing, collective, public and shared cultural context,” the status work of the Anthropologist in an anti-Enlightenment social context was to make culture systems legible to imperial intervention strategists.

Losing the Enlightenment, Staying Paid

Subsequent collective efforts to maintain status while containing Anthropology’s imperial surveillance function have resulted in failed projects to serve indigenous communities, as where Anthropologists retained imperial cultural-determinism but dumped out Enlightenment social-scientific knowledge, with the Ontological Turn. They reasoned that cultural-determinism without humanism corresponds to a radically-parochialist aspect of contemporary, colonized, Christianized cosmology within some indigenous communities, and adding their academic voice to amplify that separatist cultural construct, Anthropologists testified ineffectively for already-imperially-culturally-interpellated indigenous communities in colonial court and parliamentary contests over territory and resources.

Anthropologists dropped the humanist Enlightenment aspect of knowledge within a context in which the cultural-determinist mode remains steadfastly, primarily useful to imperial-commercial power. It is useful to commercial-imperial power when their expropriation target does not have the capacity to inform ideas about made connections and making reconnections in relation to the flow of pleasures (and pain) over time, across Earthly life–when their target does not have the capacity to clarify what is at stake and ignite coalitional interest in building toward human institutional and dispositional possibility. Anthropologists romantically failed to grasp imperial centre-periphery history, power distribution, and political-economic relations, as overdetermined by the culturalism conferred by prestigious imperial-function constraints.

Materialism, in Anthropology and Beyond

Nigel Rapport (2010: 2) cites Kantian cosmopolitanism, as the combination of local diversity and global commonality, to legitimate his proposal that Anthropology adopt a materialist conceptualization of human nature as species capacities and liabilities.

Rapport cites a physiologist to describe how to undertand humans not via identity or idealism, but as a specifiable kind of process. “An organism is not made distinctive by the existence of a boundary, a skin, animal physiologist Scott Turner explains (2000), but by way of what its boundary does: exert an active, adaptive control over the flows of matter and energy such that the organism’s internal state is regulated in the face of changing external conditions” (Rapport 2010: 2). I would add that the external conditions may also change so that sufficient adaptation, sufficient control over the flows of matter or energy, sufficient internal regulation is no longer possible. Or the adaptation may itself impose limits, precluding further regulation, control, or adaptation, in which case inherent/internal change reaches its limits. In either case, the animal suffers or even dies. I am saying that a liability or capacity of humans is that we are not infinite or gods.

Rapport cites the organism’s boundary interpellation with its environment to emphasize not our susceptibility to having our dispositions reorganized, but rather more masculinely, to emphasize human control over an external environment. “Regulating the flows of energy and matter across its boundary effects an orderliness in nature such that the generating organisms may be described as ‘architects and engineers of their environments’ (Turner 2000: 7). To be human is to have the capacity to attend to the world in a particular way, to direct that traffic..Human beings have unique capacities to become; they can be uniquely fulfilled and thwarted” (Rapport 2010: 2).

At this point, Rapport digs materialism into a comfortable idealist, capitalist pit for his anthropological audience, arguing in purple-tinted prose that humans are specially gifted, in that their environmental “engineering” is “uniquely subtle, complex and flexible,” and more importantly, in that humans are infinitely “becoming,” adaptable (fortunately, for neoliberals and their expropriative masters). However, Rapport’s romantic reversion to imperial Great Chain of Being logic, as well as his romantic intimations of the posthuman (Do I smell the restoration of private-property slavery upon the wind?), are unnecessary and inimical to socio-materialism or historical materialism.

It is enough and better to say–and perhaps from a more-responsible sociological perspective, easier to notice–that human capacities and limitations exist within definite ranges (observable by comparative methods, and subject to organization and disorganization), within which humans are observably plastic, developmental–and their development can be appropriated and stunted. Of interest to Enlightenment human science, human capacities include communicative and  organizational capacities, interventionary cooperative and boundary-setting capacities, and a limited range of senses as well as technological capacity to augment those senses; and human limitations include non-omniscience.

The View from Political Science

The Political Science consensus in Canada holds two hand-me-down electoral strategy theories, the first older and derived from the US Democratic Party experience of mid-20th century African American internal migration, and the second newer and reflecting the financial- metropole (Wall Street-based and City of London-based) liberal national parties’ effort to theorize why following the first theory seems not to produce expected results (votes) today.

1a) Political parties should continue to focus on policies that appeal to the hypothesized interests of suburban voters, in particular conservative-liberal immigrant blocs, because of the theory that “The party that durably binds these rapidly growing groups to its coalition will dominate in the long term” (Zach Taylor, University of Western Ontario, 2018).

1b) The suburban-voter interests that parties and Political Scientists project include public provision of car-based infrastructure and the withdrawal of the state from supporting rival urban infrastructure.

Some theorize that core and suburban voters favour different parties because they have different policy interests. Core areas are dense and therefore support much lower automobile use in favour of transit and active transportation, and they feature a mix of land uses, housing types, and housing tenures. In postwar suburban areas, lower-density, single family detached housing tends to predominate, and home ownership and automobility are the norm. Homeowners have a stronger interest than core-area renters in preserving property values. At the same time, the individualist experience of detached-home ownership and automobile commuting has been correlated with lower political support for redistribution and collective benefits in Canada and other countries. The characterization of the suburbs as politically conservative derives in part from the lifestyles generated by physical environments and associated mobility systems (Fischel 2005; Moos and Mendez 2015)” (Taylor, 2018).

Thus, political-science/political parties’ older populism theory can be recognized as the Suburban Strategy.

By way of neutralizing the naturalizing elements of the structural analysis of suburban populism, I should note that in my government experience, what political parties and political scientists recognize as inevitable suburban “preferences” are demands marketed to suburb residents by suburb developers, as where developers’ communiques advise a suburb’s residents to take their experiential dissatisfaction with suburban life (as it falls short of the nuclear-family empyrean that was sold to them) and direct it into demanding exclusive public investment from politicians. It’s wise to seek out the underlying feudal ties in all conservative manifestations; identifying these permits strategy development (by which I certainly do not mean electoral tactics).

2) The spatial segregation of winners and losers produces liberal progressivism v. populism. “Neighbourhoods and regions in decline are found to be more supportive of defensive populist agendas, while the geographic winners of globalization and post-industrialization are generally more supportive of collective benefits, open trade and immigration (Inglehart and Norris 2017; Rodrigues-Pose 2018; Gest 2018)” (Taylor 2018).

Above I have highlighted some of the core hypotheses of these influential Political Science theses, including to underscore their logic hiccups. It seems clear that Political Scientists and the political parties that subscribe to and act upon these political theories will struggle to produce expected results, due to both spatial indeterminacies and changes in relevant variables.

Logic Hiccups:

  1. If Losers are Populist as theorized, and if the number or percent of Losers is declining or in equilibrium as liberal theories would suggest, how does today’s populism undercut the Political Science theory of growth-population political and policy pandering, the Suburban Strategy, where Political Scientists and parties had treated the Suburban Strategy as the main natural law of politics and policy?
    1. Might it be that the Suburban Strategy theory was itself a populism framework, and an excuse for prioritizing decidedly anti-populist FIRE interests? (See also research results showing that young people in suburbs have preferences unexpected in suburban pandering theory (Moos and Prayitno in the same volume, 2018).) In that case, “populism” is not new or resurgent. “Populism” is always the political party theory; political party theory only distinguishes varieties of populisms that diverge or converge with FIRE interests, and thus populisms which parties are variably geared to cater to.
    2. If the amount of Losers is not declining or in equilibrium, but is increasing, is there a problem with the effectiveness of the political system?
      1. Liberal theorists will answer 1.2 above with the Hobbesian theory that Today’s Losers are Racist White people whose pernicious impact on politics is outsized, due to their illegitimate, holdover White Privilege. It is a population that, morally, deserves a moderating comeuppance–citizenship reduction, per Hobbesian theory. Restoring the validity of the Suburban Strategy requires reducing the voice and collective action capacity of today’s Losers.
        1. This Antiracist TM antidemocratic political agenda, citizenship reduction, also reinforces expropriative FIRE interests.
        2. We note that while antidemocratic strategies to reduce the voice and collective-action capacity of today’s Losers are amply discussed by today’s Winners, there is no effort toward reducing the patently antidemocratic institutions— such as Houses of Lords (Senates), court systems, gerrymandering, electronic voting manipulation, unbounded marketing, unbounded private property legal innovation, international hoarding/tax avoidance institutions, and the electoral college–that would be amplifying right-wing populism. Nor has using wealth to build pro-democratic public institutions (public libraries, public schools, public research, public media, public transit, public planning capacity, tax enforcement, democratic property law reform, etc.) been on the liberal agenda for a couple generations.
  2. How are Winners both more supportive of “collective benefits” and “open trade and immigration”? That sounds like an unwarranted projection of contradictory preferences, or at best the preferences of a very tiny population: professional political scientists, or of the people not connected to Anglo-America’s baroque, anti-democratic political institutions–like young adults not connected to the primary system in the US.

    It seems like Political Science is optimistically aggregating distinct social groups with distinct interests, and distinct electoral behaviour (“Go away, Bernie Sanders, AOC, Ilhan, and Jeremy Corbyn. Won’t someone please bring back our beloved Clintons and Biden, our dearest Blair and Giddens“), into an ersatz liberal-virtue bloc that it then terms “Winners.” Shady. That’s not social science. That’s not even economics. That kind of wishful self-delusion is going to continue to produce unexpected electoral loss. Again, however, if electoral success is only an exoteric goal, always evaluated within a framework of probability given by unacknowledged variables, then perhaps we should notice that framework: It looks like the true goal, the framework, is simply ongoing polity support for FIRE asset expropriation. If political scientists can’t clear this up, then they have been too colonized by political parties to be recognized as scholars.

For example, here is an argument for de-democratization forwarded through the Washington Post by a Marquette political scientist (Azari, Julia. 2020. “Fix Primaries, Let Elites Decide.” Washington Post, February 18.)

Where are the Geographers?

It seems to me that Political Science, and parties, are bad at geography, which shouldn’t be surprising. They seem to use it more for justification than for valid analysis.

winnipeg growth is suburban

Despite the fact that Winnipeg’s “Active Core” is affordable and not densely-settled, 77% of Winnipeg’s population growth from 2006-2016 was in areas that require car transportation.

 

Note: The euphemism ‘preserving property values’ is doing some crazy-heavy lifting in Taylor’s litany of distinctive suburban interests above. This formulation needs to be separately deconstructed for its misleading neoclassical bias. When urban people vote for urban amenities like human-scale transit, infrastructure, quality public space, and greenspace, it’s not an altruistic irrationality induced by their lack of ownership. When urban people vote for public urban amenities, they are increasing both their own private welfare and others’ private property values (such as real estate value around high-speed transit stops), even at delayed cost to renters’ financial interests–so much so that urban property values are usually much higher in population centers than in their exclusionary, individualist suburban incarnation. Those are non-excludable goods, son. Recognize. They secretly feed the predation we lovingly call capitalism. This is a heterodox hint that economies are social– There is society, Maggie; and while capitalist law works to make value monopolized and scarce, everyone contributes to wealth.

What the economistic framework means by suggesting that suburbanites’ inferior property values are more salient to their politics is that these property values are exclusive, private smallholding goods, and so fit into neoclassical economic theory/mythology.

Why urban property values are high is because people require and want the non-exclusive public amenities on and about them, an obvious fact that a neoclassical economic framework struggles to apprehend. Economists should be troubled to explain why renters vote for public amenities that increase landlords’ property values–But at that point, all of a sudden, we’re in terra nullis outside of the orthodox econ explanatory schema: we’re apprehending capitalism as an imposed, coercively-reinforced framework permitting the exploitation and expropriation of life. So instead we remain quiet and befuddled.

But suburbanites don’t uniquely vote to increase property values. In Political Science and political party theory, suburbanites vote to maximize the inferior goods they share across their little, expensive kingdoms: car spaces, and, with political parties on their side, new public services, including light and airy new public schools. If you recognize inequality, it becomes clear that, not unlike socially-subsidized ranchers, suburbanites (are encouraged by developers to) view urban dwellers as rivals for the public investment that bolsters property value in human communities. The urbanites’ public-goods “head start” thus tends to be repressed and gutted by political parties. Especially in North America, cities without geographic advantages tend to be underdeveloped, endowed with insufficient, skeletal public goods and services, following the slaver-society model, and the built environment is in a constant state of expansionary neglect and rot.

When political parties pander to the developer-orchestrated suburban game of outrunning and outgunning urban development and property values, as they long have, they are privileging wasteful behaviour, in both post-war commercial-White Power and post-1980 commercial-multicultural incarnations. Polity players are redistributing wealth geographically to incentivize not uncertain “Baby Bird” voter imprinting, but to prop a predatory, inegalitarian theory pretending that non-commercial nonelite welfare does not contribute to value, and thus, environmental degradation, de-democratization, and social inequality are moral, fair and just.

Manufactured Political Illiteracy in the US

“The left-to-right political spectrum is a construct born of seating arrangements during the French Revolution.” Whereas in the substantive absence of democracy, the salient “impulse to define oneself in relation to an in-group — and opposition to an out-group — is a survival strategy…(Thus) political elites have enormous power to dictate ideological terms to their rank-and-file supporters. For a healthy chunk of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, the “liberal” and “conservative” position on most issues is whatever their party leaders say it is. Donald Trump’s success at redefining conservative voters’ consensus views on free tradeAmerican policy toward Russia and the relevance of personal morality to effective political leadership offers a particularly vivid illustration of this phenomenon.

When we look past ideological self-identification to polling on discrete public policy questions, America appears to be far more center-left than center-right.” –Eric Levitz, 2017

The Dem Party exists to manufacture popular political illiteracy, in order to herd the public to support FIRE interests.

The Apartheid Democracy Disposition

Directly opposing democratic Enlightenment theory, institutions, and practices, Apartheid Democracy is a conservative reconstruction of the democracy concept. An historical- provisional variant of Herrenvolk Democracy, Apartheid Democracy abjects democratic development institutions and dispositions, such as suggested by Rousseau, Dewey (1915), socialist-backed social democratic theory, inter alia.

In the 21st century, Apartheid Democracy inheres in and is exported by the US and Israel. Rooted in a coalition of slavery institutions and partisanship (including within the US polity and military), colonial Lebensraum theory, the post-Holocaust rejection of the European Enlightenment, and strategic Schmittian “Enemy” and Straussian exoteric politics theories, partisans of Apartheid Democracy are disposed to conceiving of all interactions with even tangential democratic implications as crucial win-loss contests. They have learned from the history of slavers’ US Civil War loss and the Holocaust that the Enemy, democratic Enlightenment, must be ruthlessly attacked and where possible destroyed. There can be no compromise. Capacity enhancement resources must be monopolized by the community, the enemies of the Enlightenment.

Thus, the Apartheid Democracy disposition readily tends to–overrelies on–bullying and lying in interactions with perceived Enemies.  Breaking down the opposition is not just policy, but also the interactional goal, directly opposed to practicing the democratic-development skills of exchanging information, ideas and grievances, permitting collective capacity growth across difference and change, and materializing collective objectives enhancing distributed sovereignty and human development.

While the Apartheid Democrat’s self-professed brand may be as a political realist, in situations where the partisan of Apartheid Democracy does not possess coercive power, the reflexive disposition to bully and lie through interactions can backfire, reducing the Apartheid Democrat’s capacity to achieve her objectives. Apartheid Democrats are highly sensitized to indicators of democratic alignment. By reflexively attacking Enemies regardless of the strength or probability of the democratic threat, the Apartheid Democrat cuts off paths and blows up bridges that could divert Enemies to mutually-acceptable alternative outcomes. The Apartheid Democrat’s realism is confined to situations where she possess monopoly control over the means of coercion. Branding aside, Apartheid Democrats are idealists deeply engaged in a war of position.

Moreover, by indiscriminately, too frequently shifting into belligerent gear within an institutional network she inhabits, the Apartheid Democrat reduces her own credit and cooperation linkages within that institutional network. Other network members may come to occasionally or even methodically constrain her capacity to disrupt the institutional network. The Apartheid Democrat will practice an exoteric politics of self-branding as apolitical to reduce constraint.

Neoliberals, by contrast, specialize in perceiving options that can divert Enlightenment democrats toward inegalitarian conservative objectives.

Corollaries & Hypotheses:

  1. The US military is the absolutely essential condition for Apartheid Democracy.
  2. While Anglo-America/Israel can aggressively dominate and subordinate jurisdictions without coercive power, clashes between Anglo-America/Israel and Europe likely produce fewer wins for the Apartheid Democracies than would otherwise be possible if they used a more varied (eg. neoliberal) tactical repertoire.
    1. Thus, a Trump presidency is suboptimal for US strategy and power relative to Europe. Discounting the relationship with Europe may be an effect of post-Cold War, reduced European-theatre US military interests, where Apartheid Democracy centers the US military.  As well, the US may be assigning EU relations to the UK.
  3. Individual Apartheid Democrat dispositions are best constrained by Europeans and Europeanists.
  4. Politically-mobilized neoliberals and other conservatives enable and supplement Apartheid Democrats where they do not possess control over the means of coercion.

 

 

Foreign Policy & Immigration: France

Reviewing the US perspective (Paul Gallis, Congressional Research Service, 2006) on French foreign policy requires some interpretation, or reading between the lines, but here are notes:

  1. Anglo-Americans cannot understand that French societal reproduction balances the deeply-antagonistic cultural contenders, laicite (secularism) and Catholicism. Managing this explosive cultural antagonism is why there is precious little independent room for other religions to shift French societal reproduction.
    1. Anglo-Americans misread French culture as wholly secularized because, as Tories and slavers, Whigs and capitalists, they are scandalized by the persistence of any democratic reproduction capacity at all. It consumes their attention, while Catholic culture seems natural.
  2. Sources of French sovereignty include:
  • Proven European coordination capacity;
  • Consensus-cohering human rights and democracy brand;
  • The UN;
  • Arab and worldwide colonial ties;
  • US governance has been constrained by economic orthodoxy, which reduces US strategic degrees of freedom.
    • For example, France can (and can coordinate Europe to) take advantage of  extreme US averseness to disrupting core FDI-based commercial relations, permitting the “medium size” “modest resource” country strategic sovereignty to resist and counter some of the US’s military geostrategic disruption and reorganization initiatives.

 

Caged within the orthodox econ framework that political-economic organizers like Paul Samuelsson and Milton Friedman had erected, it was impossible for the American polity to understand why France did not cooperate with the belligerent imperial takeover of Iraq, and worse, it was impossible for them to understand how France was able to not cooperate. According to econ theory orthodoxy, the FDI ties should have absolutely subordinated France to US sovereignty. After all, the territorial invasion and takeover was executed on behalf of the immediate economic interests of an international capitalist community–though monolithically conceived and under-specified.

Designed to support financialization and expropriation, the orthodox econ perspective rigidly excludes interests external to its view-from-the-top framework. France was afforded greater strategic degrees of freedom by French theories–including a revolutionary theory of democracy that economic orthodoxy had excluded and rendered completely illegible/irrational to US polity members. (This sheds light on the value France places on maintaining its own semi-sovereign philosophical establishment.)

Although France was the target of US exasperation, the conceptual and strategic constraints imposed on the US polity by total economic orthodoxy capture was a significant source of frustration to the US Congress in the early aughts.

I hypothesize that, relatively freed by its conservative paradigm (with its sacred social hierarchy core, as opposed to the more constraining liberal paradigm core, absolute private property right), the Republican aspect of the US Congress learned from this conflict with (what it viewed with frustration as) an “illegitimate” European power.

Trump was propelled to leadership by the Republican Party because of his capacity to engage imperial strategy beyond economic orthodoxy. Trump’s dogma is conservatism, wider than private property-bound economic orthodoxy, and endowed with more strategic degrees of freedom in the current expropriation-oriented context. Unlike Bush strategically constrained by economic orthodoxy in the early aughts, Trump today can suppress France’s sovereignty, and other sovereignties, and subordinate other governments and alternative interests to US strategy because he can temporarily suspend commercial relations. Prior to Trump, that tactic had been unthinkable. In both orthodox economic and Ordoliberal theory, only capitalists, and not states, were supposed to have the capacity to suspend economic relations as a power tactic. As President Bizniz, Trump is trusted to wield capitalist and state powers.

While other countries today are frustrated with Trump’s tactical suspension of commercial relations to impose absolute US sovereignty, it is important to point out that this phase is the consequence of foiled, unrealistic expectations that were implanted by the artificial constructs sewn by the theoretical monopoly of economic orthodoxy–to which most those countries (not SE Asia in 1997, not France in the early aughts, not Russia or China) and factions still cling. Two truisms apply here: “It is difficult to get a man (or a polity) to understand something, when his salary (GDP) depends on his not understanding it” (Upton Sinclair); 2) They want their cake and to eat it too.

The Democrats are in disarray as remnant heterodox factions struggle to expand their theory and collective action repertoire, and their core continues to try to pursue traditional neoliberal policies constrained by orthodox economic theory, and the traditional racial management objectives that coordinate global ruling class interests. The crisis in a US that has been nearly gutted of theory diversity, including the democratic Enlightenment theory that allowed its independence, is between a faction operating within the authoritarian slaver legacy of conservative theory, as embodied in the Southernized US military,  and a faction around the DNC, operating within economic orthodoxy and devoted to managing domestic and international racializations (including with military coercion) to serve secure private property rights to major global asset acquirers.

Foreign Policy & Immigration

The State’s Objective: Racialized population management on behalf of an international network

In the 1950s, UBC political scientist David Corbett compared postwar Commonwealth Canadian and Australian immigration and foreign policy. He started with the premise of the objectives of foreign policy and domestic policy. According to the political scientist, while foreign objectives are satisfied in policy, domestic objectives are satisfied in politics. Racial management from a British perspective played a central role in both foreign and domestic objectives.

The objective of foreign policy is…prevention of a precipitous move into the communist camp on the part of the non-white populations of the world,” while the objective of “domestic politics” is preserving “harmony among ethnic groups, and the economic strength and national patriotism necessary for a nation to meet its international commitments, defend itself, perform its treaty obligations and carry out its proper responsibilities in the community of nations” (Corbett 1958: 115).

While Corbett used language that tended to hide the sociological distribution of duties and obligations within Commonwealth social contract, it is apparent from the Commonwealth perspective that, along with controlling racialized peoples around the world, domestic ethnic management primarily serves the anti-Rousseauian purpose of permitting the Commonwealth country to perform its obligations to external interests. A postwar liberal might specify those interests in relation to some nations, as Corbett did, and a more contemporary observer would specify those global interests as belonging to an economic network or the capitalist class, and carried by states.

[While critical analysts in the US core can often more clearly see the structure and political organization of the capitalist class, the advantage of the tributary Commonwealth perspective is that it can more reliably apprehend the spatial distribution of that interested class’ network, a perspective that the US lost as it became a financial and consumption core tied to an aging oil-based GPT. Together, they may shed light on the distribution of sovereignty in global capitalism.]

Failing to Conceptualize Postwar Australian Policy

Labouring to jam his comparative case study within a Procrustean bed of liberal notions (Realism, Idealism), Corbett goes on despite himself to demonstrate that the Australian Labour Party was able to efficiently parlay its wartime nationalism brand into the capacity to manage the conversion of working-class interest in reducing working-class competition– via immigration– into the working-class interest in full employment. By instituting full (male) employment, the Labour Party was able to institute mass immigration without contribution qualifications–that is to say, not capitalist but humanist immigration, immigration without structured stigma.

It was very difficult for Corbett to conceptualize the postwar institutionalization of Australian foreign and immigration policy from within a liberal framework. From a liberal perspective, Corbett had to interpret full-employment-embedded mass immigration without stigma as “idealistic” policy. However slippery the Realism/Idealism terms, by liberal definition, anti-capitalist policy is not “realistic.” But in fact, in combination with policy supporting universal working-class access to income, stigma-free immigration is a pro-worker variety of nonelite mobilization.

The normalized mobilization, called simply “immigration,” contrastingly tends to be designed and legitimized by economists, capitalists’ think tanks, and consanguine conservative-liberal policymakers to disrupt and constrain nonelite collective action, in service of the governing objectives Corbett described at top.

It was not that the postwar Australian liberal party was simply, craftily using nationalist credibility earned in the war and solidified in a brand to orchestrate exoteric domestic politics imposing the objectives of international capital, but rather that the Australian working class understood its interests and responded not with the irrationality that liberals and conservatives automatically, tendentiously attribute to the working class’ distinct interests, but with rational cooperation.

[Conservatives and liberals influenced by conservative thought (eg. Hobbes’ tendentiously-narrow definition of non-elite liberty as bodily movement) will not grasp the distinction, but with a socialist recognition that labour mobility can come in both pro-labour and anti-labour forms, what the Australian Labour Party instituted is pro-labour mobility, as contrasted to migration as “a capitalists’ proposal, a weapon against labour” (Corbett 1958: 113).

From a liberal framework that simply naturalizes the working class subjectivity as irrational, Corbett was unable to satisfactorily explain the Australian working-class’ acceptance of postwar mass immigration. In wavering language, he suggested that “probably” mass immigration was imposed upon and sold to an unwitting working class with idealistic messaging (Corbett 1958: 115). He offers this weak analysis, lacking any empirical evidence, as confirmation that under unspecified conditions, Political Science’s Idealist hypothesis is as valid as its Realist hypothesis. This framing begs the question of the conditions under which “Idealism” v. “Realism” may operate.]

Postwar Canadian Liberalism: Immigration Policy

Corbett’s comparative case, exemplifying Realist governance, was Canada, where the Liberal Party leader Mackenzie King presided in the postwar period, as before. The ruling Liberal Party did not institute full-employment policy in Canada, and, despite postwar resettlement needs, maintained the capitalist’s contribution-qualified Canadian immigration policy, only expanding numbers gradually.

Over the decades, the Australian right removed the full employment framework, restoring the working-class disciplining variety of mass immigration.

In Canada, the variety of mobilization, the “immigration” that King maintained was eventually expanded, and has become branded not only in Canada but abroad as well as the model for achieving the state’s domestic-politics objective, the objective of ethnicized population management in service of an external network.

The context for the diffusion and adoption of Canada’s model is the neoliberal milieu, conditions in which (we have begun to recognize) liberalism has been widely reoriented to conservative social-ordering principles of inequality and inegalitarianism. But these social-ordering principles are not how neoliberal delegates sell their transitional work. Historically, conservatives have sold their society as a form of divine paternal protection and cultural patronage. In facilitating the transition to greater inequality and inegalitarianism, neoliberal delegates aestheticize, moralize, center, and normalize the marginal experience.

Research Agenda

How does King’s Canadian immigration model continue to reflect and amplify the conservatized liberal consensus? How does it continue to secure the worker-constraining variety of immigration? (TFW.) How does the Canadian model achieve the domestic objective to secure compliance across ethnicity for the benefit of international economic interests? (Multiculturalism.)

With the growth of refugee migration, could the Canadian model lose its glamour again, even for liberals, if pro-worker governments arise elsewhere to institute “idealistic” policy? In that case, it may be useful for the growth industry of Canadian immigration expertise to diversify their portfolio and comparatively consider the virtues of different varieties of immigration policy within distinctive policy packages.

Method: Compare Canadian to contemporary Swedish foreign and immigration policy.

Sweden as Comparator: Immigration & Integration

The utility of Sweden as a comparator in discussions of immigration and cohesion is partially that Sweden is a society that achieved integration, coherence at the turn of the 20th century, though this fact tends to be buried in liberal propaganda characterizing Swedish coherence not as a hard-won social achievement, but as “natural” or “biological.” What is the function of portraying a political achievement as a biological attribute?

Liberal and conservative consensus portrays Sweden as “monolithic,” an inferior or insufficient multicultural model in comparison to “diverse” Canada. While I experientially understand the difficulty of integrating into Swedish and as well Canadian social relations, my analysis is that the Sweden-is-homogeneous framework is an overplayed symptom of global military and economic interests in breaching the country’s democratic-sovereignty boundaries. Any “homogeneity” (cohesion, sovereign democratic boundaries) Sweden has is a hard-won achievement, and those boundaries can be at odds with metropole priorities. Like Canada and Ukraine, Sweden was integrated into the global economy as an extraction (forestry, mining) periphery. Prior to the social democratic reorganization at the turn of the 20th century (not so long ago), it was a highly-balkanized country, in terms of regionalism, elite internal conflict, and relations with global powers–Britain, Germany, and Russia. Capitalist ideology will always paint any degree of working-class sovereignty as an obstructive monolith…a many-headed hydra, as Linebaugh and Rediker observed.

Canadian Multiculturalism: More Than Ethnic Management?

It has been suggested that Canadian multicultural policy serves as a sort of vehicle for deliberative democratic practice, fortifying sovereign democratic development. One researcher starts from the empirical observation (surveys) of dehumanizing and non-compromising attitudes in Ukraine. The idea here is that these attitudes are cultural, not based in ongoing experiences where there are little by way of compromise options. This view sees untapped capacity, multiculturalism not as ethnic management but as Bahktinian carnivale. After all, in the staid old Soviet Union, bureaucrats were also involved in disruptive collectives as critical artists (O. Kulick, 2020). With the addition of multicultural institutions, space could be made within capitalist societies for more deliberative democracy and regional sovereignty, right?

By contrast, I have been viewing multicultural policy as an insufficient vehicle for deliberative democracy in the face of global financial and military interests. I have been living for 11 years in Canada, and, along with studying comparative immigration policy, I am versed in the Canadian and OECD arguments for the virtues of Canadian multicultural institutions–These arguments tend to highlight Canadian multiculturalism as a culturalist vehicle allowing rapid immigrant ownership of the nationality, thus enabling smoother market integration, and as a byproduct, social integration. Canadian multiculturalism is really cultural, taking the form of toleration aesthetics and manners, and food celebrations.

While it is tempting in a context of liberal cultural determinism to imagine that we can negate externally-imposed intra-territorial conflict by simply, stealthily instituting cosmopolitan cultural-appreciation institutions, Canadian multiculturalism is not constructed as a vehicle for the deliberative democracy that can build sovereign democratic capacity, that can set boundaries (to some extent) upon imperial interventions. Canadian multiculturalism is an institution cohering for the global market a colonial society comprised of a selected (“chosen,” with all its divine connotations) influx of contributing labour and capital superimposed over a defeated native population. But even were it backed by similar pro-immigration norms and structural factor requirements, multiculturalism is probably not robust enough to overcome ongoing, externally-imposed alienation.

My research in Sweden was with immigrant groups and the political parties (Vansterpartiet), unions (LO), and national and state welfare and research agencies involved in newcomer integration and advocacy. Multicultural policy in Sweden predates Canadian multicultural policy. While this is a heightened moment of immigration in which conflicts come to the fore, Sweden has been a longtime immigration country (including, per LO-led policy, for distinctly different, particularly war-refugee, economic-refugee, and family reunification migrant populations compared to Anglo-American settler countries, including Canada, primarily managing economic mobilizations). As well, Sweden uniquely exercises particularly strong, institutionalized, sociological self-critical capacity, while maintaining (struggling to maintain, but still struggling) the boundaries that allow for the reproduction of substantive democracy (real equality of opportunity and democratic outcomes).

Consequent to my Sweden-Canada immigration comparison, I tend to view multiculturalism as an oblique contributor to market-centered social cohesion, an adjunct to a national order that prioritizes market autonomy, not deliberative democratic capacity. Multiculturalism helps coordinate market actors and so stabilizes the market–an antidemocratic institution. It also can accommodate or reproduce non-democratic dispositions, practices, and skills. It doesn’t require education for democratic development (Dewey 1915), only communications professionals. It is a policy jewel owned by conservatism still under socialist heat, though multiculturalism was not even pioneered by conservatives or liberals, but by social democrats with socialist backbone. Though it has been posited as a integration resource in Eastern Europe, I think multiculturalism has thin capacity to substitute for or create the conditions for deliberative democracy enabling citizens to collectively organize sovereign boundaries and development. It may not be adequate to the social challenges of tributaries riven by imperial rivalry.

Still, perhaps market-friendly multiculturalism is a possible humanistic integration institution for regions, like Canada, that are confined to asserting symbolic sovereignty?* Sweden was able to assert some developmental sovereignty because a) political organizers prioritized cross-national union and working class development prior to polity strategy, and b) it works in a regional alliance with other Nordic countries serving different imperial masters. That may not be an optional development path everywhere. It’s not desirable in the British Commonwealth network.

Because it becomes institutionalized in an expert market, Canadian, American, and UK policy tends to be overhyped and exported excessively and uncritically, including to Canada’s and the US’s own hinterlands. This expertise can often be counterproductive to tributary regions’ political-economic and social development. Yet as a sociologist always aware of the social construction of our world, I am also committed to the collective, comparativist Enlightenment approach to knowledge building. I continue to think there is a great need for well-specified, interregional-comparative and historical-comparative scholarly interventions.

 

*Note: It sounds like I’m harshing on Canada. I do not think its immigration and integration policies are good export models. However, I do think there is a Canadian advantage, which some other countries share: It doesn’t have such a big population that it wastes incomprehensibly-vast amounts of cultural capital and human life on junk jobs, rentier activities, underemployment, military keynesianism, policing, surveillance, and incarceration, like the national capitalist cores do. It still wastes a lot of life.

However, what makes the Canadian model tick as a class compromise is that it is a pretty simple capitalist tributary–it never had any ambition to mess around with democracy beyond capital-serving political parties coordinated by metropole bond raters and Anglo-American capitalist core political parties (public goods and services are skeletal and mean, information is hard to get, there’s no white collar crime enforcement, it protects global mining rents from taxation, the police exist to remove indigenous peoples from resource extraction right-of-way); its main form of societal reproduction, the immigration pool, is highly vetted, and charged, for its capacity to deliver over cultural and financial capital; the population is low enough that only indigenous lives are systematically wasted; and Canadian virtue is achieved simply via expressions of nationalism, men’s hockey, and charity. Although it’s a neoclassical econ model, it’s not a societal model.

 

Econ Efforts to Mobilize Factors of Production

“It has become clear that migration is an essential element in the world
economy. Sending countries benefit increasingly from remittance payments
and the return of skilled migrants, receiving countries benefit from younger
workforces, and migrants themselves find new opportunities through their
move to a new country. Migration redistributes wealth at the world level and
plays a central role in development and poverty reduction. Moreover, within
the current globalization process, which favours an increasingly free
circulation of goods, information and capital, it is worth considering including
free movement of human beings as well.”–A. Pecoud, Universite Paris, paragraph 3 in Migration without Borders, 2007.

 

 

 

Law & Political Economy

The enduring entanglement of modern property law with this original “feudal calculus” is a thread running throughout Pistor’s book. Most importantly, it informs her skepticism about the alignment that is commonly assumed in liberal grand narratives among progress, property rights, and the rule of law (understood in the sense of the universal applicability of general rules, such that no one class received preferential treatment by the state).

There have been revolutionary moments, Pistor concedes, in which property owners did line up behind the demand for general rights—the American and French Revolutions being cases in point. But once their property was established, owners became, like their feudal predecessors, defenders of privilege. They have advocated not universal binding rules, but what Max Weber called a “modern particularism,” finding ways around the law when it suited their interests.” —Tooze reviews Pistor (2019).

The Usual Suspects: The University of Chicago, Ronald Coase, and Aaron Director established the school of Law and Economics in the 1960s. Its purpose was to diffuse the functionalist liberal grand narrative on capitalist law, in which capitalist law is mythologized as harmonizing interests throughout society by creating rules that maximize efficiency, productivity, and economic growth. This obfuscatory economist-managed myth factory helped distribute resources and power globally, but within the inegalitarian rules of feudal privilege that efface the citizenship and interests of smallholders and life on Earth.

Responding to the 20th-21st century expropriation explosion and democratic dissipation, Pistor is part of a new school, Law & Political Economy, that clarifies that global Anglo law, based in New York and London, actually marries exceptionalist feudal restrictions on [immobile] land property alienability with increasing volumes of extremely-mobile exclusive private property claims [only obliquely upon–but governing the disposition of– tangible assets], so that states enforcing this elite, privately-manufactured law have come to unequally, inequitably, exceptionally enforce the asset claims of large, global capital owners against the interests and welfare of the rest of societies.

Note the gendered leadership of the Law & Econ v. Law & Political-Economy networks. Together patriarchs may imagine their protection racket as benevolent. Women are experientially informed about the central, pervasive, destructive role of expropriation in capitalism.

 

Bibliography

Bhattacharya, Tithi. 2017. Social Reproduction Theory. Pluto.

Choudry, Aziz & Adrian A. Smith, eds. 2016. Unfree Labour? Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant Workers in Canada. PM Press.

Ghodsee, Kristin. 2018. Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism.

Graeber, David. 2006. “Turning Modes of Production Inside Out: Or, Why Capitalism is a Transformation of Slavery.” Critique of Anthropology 26 (1): 61-85.

Kapczynski, Amy.

Kalecki, Michal. 1971. Selected Essays on the Dynamics of the Capitalist Economy 1933-1970. Cambridge University Press.

Kato, Daniel. 2015. Liberalizing lynching: Building a new racialized state. Oxford University Press.

Law & Political Economy blog.

Lawrence, Andrew G. 2014. Employer and Worker Collective Action. Cambridge University Press.

Marx, Karl. 1867. Part VIII, “Primitive Accumulation,” Capital V. I.

Moore, Jason. 2015. Capitalism in the Web of Life. Verso.

Orren, Karen. 1991. Belated Feudalism: Labor, the Law, and Liberal Development in the United States. Cambridge University Press.

Pistor, Katharine. 2019. The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality. Princeton University Press.

 

 

Strategic Error Bias amongst Authoritarian Nonelites

Hypothesis 1: At least a portion of the lower-managerial and producer “Middle” working class is  systematically afflicted with an inability to accurately assess power relations and strategize messaging and action.

Hypothesis 2: This social segment’s systematic analytical error reproduces collective action incapacitation within working-class communities.

Corollary: In particular, non-elite subjectivities can be strategically handicapped by an overly-simplified Power Structure and Power Resource analytical framework. The interactional failures this analytical oversimplification produces in turn reproduce an inadequate tactical and strategic repertoire biased toward individual and collective de-capacitation.

The Non-elite Power-perception Error: Deploying an overly-simplified model of power, and importing elite perspectives on non-elite individuals’ object status, non-elite dispositions can misrecognize any individual power as monopolized sovereign power. For example, they can imagine that a strong individual will or passion alone can reliably overmaster and subordinate other individuals in any situation. As well, they theorize inaccurately that when an objectified will does not simply submit to the command of a presumptive Master will, this is because the objectified person is a faulty object. As with other objects that fail to ameliorate human sentience in the world, the resistant person targeted for objectification is psychologically apprehended by the presumptive Master as treasonous.

Psychological or discursive domination can work on a limited scale; but it is more limited than authoritarian non-elites tend to perceive. Psychological domination tends to work at a low hum along, and not against, categories of social status. Its effects may not be reliable or durable. In a complex society, psychological domination is not transposable to all interactions and relations.

Consequent to a misrecognition of all power as monopoly sovereign power, an authoritarian non-elite individual A (ANE-A) will tend to assign to other non-elite individuals (NE-N) the responsibility for carrying out ANE-A’s own personal interests. Probably, other individuals will not serve as instruments for the individual passion of ANE-A, but rather will pursue their own individual interests or the interests of a more-powerful, organized collectivity.

This is because non-elite individuals do not have sufficient structural social power to individually incentivize or impose what is a hierarchical functioning (subordinating others’ wills, converting other people into manipulable objects, tools, hands).

This structured experience the authoritarian non-elite individual (ANE-A) psychologically projects as a function failure, or malevolent defection, of the object (the objectified), NE-N. Psychological projection of harmful intention onto objects is natural (See Scarry 1985.); but the error that leads to the objectification of people, and projection of treasonous intent or incapacity upon insubordinate people, lies in power-relations illiteracy. The authoritarian non-elite subjectivity misinterprets insubordination as a malevolent and dysfunctional (incompetence) withholding of cooperation and credit in a world of fluid but absolute monopolized sovereignty, realized in simple domination by force of personality in individual interactions.

Emergent problem: Because the structured experience of subordination/objectification failure is rampant within authoritarian non-elite relations, incompetence and treason are perceived as ubiquitous in non-elite subjectivity, and so non-elite people tend to lean heavily on punishment as a tool for managing all but ideal patronage relations. This reinforces a tendency toward patronage-seeking behaviour and social hierarchy. Where corporal punishment is inaccessible, authoritarian nonelites will rely on moral condemnation in an effort to break down their target’s semi-sovereign (social but positionally-distinctive) self.

This produces a collective-action problem within the working-class: Working-class communities are bound up in punishing and thwarting each other. Their strategic capacities and tactical repertoires–including Power Structure and Power Resources analyses, negotiation, and cooperation–are constantly bound, atrophied, and stunted, and not just from above. Defection is universalized within the working class.

In capitalism, capitalists are relieved of universalized defection and crippling by monopoly control over resources. Their monopoly access to social power allows capitalists greater tactical latitude to make allies, form coalitions, and collaborate with rivals, while distributing patronage to delegate their agency. These rich tactical and strategic resources also incentivize capitalists to hysterically avoid expulsion from the capital-saved network and fortify class boundaries. Capitalists can be authoritarian without undermining their collective action capacity. This is not true of non-elite people.

Common “ameliorative” interventions in this serious social inequality problem tend to be constrained to moral discourse: Smallholder identity group coalitions simply exhort each other to act more deferentially, validating authoritarian non-elite individuals’ analytical error–the overprojection of hierarchical relationships of command and objectification. Doomed to fail and to proliferate a sense of alienation, the deference-demand “fix” reproduces the class’ strategic incapacitation.

Note: Some theory entrepreneurs have intimated that British Commonwealth or Southern US culture provide superior deference skills–presumably such that prevent, for example, authoritarianism from eroding nonelite collective action capacity. They suggest that a strong deference culture provides a micro-interactionist solution to collective-action capacity inequality, or makes collective-action capacity inequality a moot issue. I think this (often chauvanist) claim can be contested, including with empirical evidence from the Commonwealth and US South.

If we allow ourselves to imagine that non-elites can use their supposed surfeit of time to become psychological therapists preserving authoritarianism, then we can alternatively propose that instead, they can be assisted to better conceptualize power and improve their collective action capacity. Non-elite people need a better power-analysis framework and a relational-tactics and strategy repertoire expanded beyond authoritarian Master-servant relations, however glorified as “deference,” toleration, or accommodation. For a model, elites are not only better incentivized to understand each other as more than simple hands, they are also better socialized to use a broader array of interpersonal tactics and strategies, to work together coalitionally across rival interests. The sociological craft tradition (Mills, Bourdieu, Lamont, et al) can study and convey to working-class, racialized, and feminized people more expansive power knowledge.

Recommendation: To organize the balkanized smallholders, including feminized and racialized contingents, use the television series Game of Thrones, up through season 8 episode 3 (“Battle of Winterfell”) as a resource to stimulate power-structure and power-resources identification and theory development. Like The Prince, The Prison Notebooks, and The Power Elite before it, Game of Thrones is designed up through season 8, chapter 3 as a prolonged, multi-pronged, didactic corrective to popular misunderstandings of power relations. It was built to stimulate power-theory development. More effective would its pedagogy be if implemented as curricular discussion material in collectives.

(Note: After season 8, episode 3, Game of Thrones degenerates into a dog’s breakfast of Whiggish ideology and movie industry auto-canonization. Zeynep Tufekci (2019) recognized the show abandoned sociology for psychology at the end. If you’re the sort who enjoyed the democratic Enlightenment, or even if you’re a non-slaver American, you will hate being force-fed the Red Coat/Cold War moral framing of Daenerys’ clunky M.O. swerve, along with most of the hackneyed gruel you’re served after the Battle of Winterfell. Orly, Sam Tarly is a naive academic, but our True ‘n’ Just King is The Storyteller. Get over yourselves, Renaissance Festival. Truly, neoliberal times blow in terms of moral-fable product.)

The goal of power-theory development and tactical-strategic repertoire building amongst non-elites would be to replace the preponderance of thwarting and punitive tactics–both corporeal and psycho-discursive–with a broader, more valid power-relations analysis and skills repertoire, thereby reducing working-class political stunting.

 

Game of Thrones: Lessons on Power

GoT power-relations lessons are not necessarily encapsulated in pithy verbal recommendations, but rather by examining how characters embody power-relations tactics and strategies, and their effects, as well as learn over time. Still, the character Peter Baelish pivots to advise Sansa Stark, as she moves into a queen role, with an important reminder to remain strategically adroit:

Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend… Live that way and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.” –Peter Baelish to Sansa Stark, Season N, Episode N.

 

References

Adorno, Theodor et al. 1950. The Authoritarian Personality. University of California Press.

Benner, Erica. 2017. Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli’s Lifelong Quest for Freedom. New York: Penguin Random House.

Game of Thrones, seasons 1-8, episode 3.

Kierkegaard, Soren. 1846. The Present Age.

McAlevey, Jane. 2016. No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. Oxford.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. 1513. The Prince.

Mills, C Wright. 1956. The Power Elite.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1887. On the Genealogy of Morals.

Tufekci, Zeynep. 2019. “The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones.” Scientific American, May 17.

 

 

 

Oakeshott Establishes the Bien Pensant on Nietzsche

In a 1948 Cambridge Journal review of a book (by Lavrin) on Nietzsche, conservative Catholic English toff Michael Oakeshott announces the correct interpretation of Nietzsche.

Oakeshott identifies Nietzsche as an artist. This means that Nietzsche’s work is to diagnose European culture. Nietzsche’s diagnosis is that European culture is plagued with nihilism, irreligion, and weakness, which pathologies Nietzsche illustrates “in every field of human activity” (Oakeshott 1948). European culture is decadent and inclined to disintegration.

Nietzsche’s syphilis Oakeshott and Lavrin consider a mystical font of truth. Like a smoldering lightning strike from a god, syphilis bestowed not just suffering and mortality but as well divine Sight, Nietzsche’s prophetic diagnosis of Europe.

Where both liberal and socialist analysis would locate private troubles within social relations (which for the socialist could be alterable, if the private troubles undermined distributed sovereignty), and in so doing diminish shame as a social weapon, conservative logic rather reassigns the Great Man’s problems to others’ shame: “The disintegration of me, a Great Man, is in Truth the disintegration of society.” Oakeshott and Lavrin affirm the equivalence as especially “sharp-eyed,” “sharp perception,” “vigilant,” “clear-eyed,” even “clairvoyant” “scrutiny.”

oakeshott

Instructively, Oakeshott spills a lot of ink insisting that up to the late 1940s idiots (“culture-philistines up from the suburbs”) misattribute Nietzsche’s importance to his reform platform, calling for the reinstitution of aristocracy. Focusing on Nietzsche’s reform platform, Oakshott warns, is akin to abridging or systematizing Nietzsche; it’s all destruction of Art. Not the reform platform, but the artist’s complaint (His J’accuse! corpus) is Nietzsche’s contribution, Oakeshott insists. It is not knowledge. It is a stimulus to sweet, sweet, manipulable affect. Nietzsche is a primer.

(To be fair to him as an individual contributor to the conservative community, Oakeshott advocated Homo Motus issuing a total kingdom of aethestics: Everything that should exist ought to be understood as art, inducer of emotion, and everything produced should be art, inducer of emotion. Metaphysics, sociology, interests, strategies are not fit topics for polite society.)

Oakeshott is at pains to point out, a few times in a two-page review, that only a Great Master could correctly conduct a genealogy–be it Nietzsche or his interpreter. This foundational requirement of conservative theory tends to escape Sociologists, impressed by the bold conservative command to black box the metaphysics of Nietzsche’s work. These Sociologists adopt genealogy and encourage their students to adopt it. This is an odd manoeuver, because the authority of genealogy as a conservative epistemology relies strictly on an ontological precondition, the recognized social power of and behind the interpreter. Foucault had the power of the French state behind him. Little Debbie Hinterlands Masters Student has jack shit.

She has the erstwhile backup of Latour and other 20th century German-inspired French philosophers cherry-picking cases to argue that collectivist scientific knowledge has no capacity to allow people to know their world beyond the habituated thought conferred by state (commercial) power. But that’s not much, as the point of that argumentation is to frighten and splinter scholars off from scientific communities of scholarship, reasserting the Cartesian compromise with the church (scientific knowledge of the inert material world v. divine, expert knowledge of the soul), driving them back to submit to the authoritative, decisionist expertise of French state-backed philosophers (at best). We hope these patriarchs mean us well?

In adopting genealogical method against social scientific craft, the student both repudiates democratic knowledge accumulation and proliferates claims without social power. It’s fine for pumping out cheap commodities in a market without demand; but recommending individualist genealogy for students ill-equips them for effective civic engagement, thereby fulfilling its domineering conservative logic. To paraphrase Anatole France, the idealist philosophy, in its majestic equality, permits the commodified as well as the patronized to pronounce bridges, streets, and bread unnecessary.

In another essay, Oakeshott locates Germany’s philosophical rebuttal to democratic science in the works of (Dane) Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

.