Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chris Williams — Marx and Engels on ecology: A reply to radical critics

Chris Williams reviews Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique by Paul Burkett and John Bellamy Foster, Haymarket Books, 2017....
As shown by Foster and Burkett, Marx and Engels believed that to be truly free, humanity not only needed to overcome the alienation of labor but simultaneously our alienation from nature, both bestowed on us by capitalism
Capitalism privileges property ownership over people and the environment.
Marx and Engels go far beyond a mere utilitarian conception of nature and ascribe an appreciation of nature as a primary axis of human fulfillment and, furthermore, it is the duty of a socialist society to look after the air, water, and soil for the benefit of future generations of humans and other species. Marx’s tremendously important concept of the “metabolic rift” furnishes us with the analytical tools to understand why capitalism is inherently anti-ecological—and thereby anti-human—and furthermore, how a socialist society must operate to repair those rifts and overcome human alienation from nature....

Bloomberg — Big U.S. banks could see profit jump 20% with deregulation

The deregulation winds blowing through Washington could add $27 billion of gross profit at the six largest U.S. banks, lifting their annual pretax income by about 20%.
American Banker
Big U.S. banks could see profit jump 20% with deregulation

Bill Mitchell — The divide-and-conquer strategy of the CIA in France 1985-style

A good friend sent me a document that was released under the US Central Intelligence Agency’s rules about archives. The CIA has established a fabulous ‘Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room’ where all sorts of stuff is released after they deem it benign to current security concerns. The 1985 CIA document – France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals – written by CIA operatives, provides an analytical summary of the leading lights in the French left-wing intellectual thought in the 1980s with a view of promoting ….. It is redacted but only marginally. There is no doubt as to what the message is. It helps us understand the forces that were mounted against the progressive Left by right-wing, pro-market forces and how the public was manipulated to reject This is part of the research I am currently doing on the way literature, particularly fiction, is used to advance the neo-liberal ideological position – to make it look as though the ideas about governments running out of money and the like are just extensions of our usual individual experience in families and households. That research will be disseminated in a paper that Louisa Connors and I are giving at the upcoming MMT conference in Kansas City.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The divide-and-conquer strategy of the CIA in France 1985-style
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Robert Coalson — Is Putin 'Rebuilding Russia' According To Solzhenitsyn's Design?

Russia-watcher Miriam Elder noted in a piece on BuzzFeed that Putin's response and other statements he has made about Ukraine in the past reflect some of the arguments put forward by Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in a 1990 essay titled "Rebuilding Russia."
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Is Putin 'Rebuilding Russia' According To Solzhenitsyn's Design?
Robert Coalson

Edward Harrison — The failure of the Trump presidency

In sum, while Donald Trump, the cultural warrior, is failing as President on the economic front, not helping get us to the 3 or 4% growth he promised, he isn’t cratering the economy yet either. A US debt default or a military war could certainly change that though.
The US economy has been resilient. We are now back to 2% growth after a mid-cycle pause due to the (partial) bursting of the shale oil investment bubble. But, since we are in the ninth year of this economic expansion, you have to believe we are at the late stages of the cycle. That means we should be actively asking ourselves what the US economy would look like if a recession started in the next 12 to 24 months.
And that’s where my concern is. US households are spending beyond their means to sustain even 2% growth (see here and here). What happens when US consumers are forced to cut back? The hope has always been that tax cuts or wage increases would come before consumers do cut back. But nothing on the horizon shows this will happen. And Donald Trump’s ineffectiveness as President makes robust wage growth and tax relief for the middle class even less likely.
PS – The chaos in Charlottesville tells you that if you combined a failed Trump presidency with economic recession, you have the pre-conditions for some serious political extremism and revolt.
Credit Writedowns
The failure of the Trump presidency
Edward Harrison

Pam and Russ Martens — Three Critical Steps to Making America Great Again Are Not on Trump’s Agenda

  1. M&A rather than IPOs, stock buybacks. Primary investment is lagging. The environment for investment must be addressed.
  2. Deregulation for its own sake. Removing bank regulation was a factor in the financial crisis. Regulation needs to be revisited from the perspective of lessons learned.
  3. Control fraud and criminogenic environment were promoted by hands-off policy in regulation and oversight. Well-Functioning markets require appropriate regulation and supervision.

Paul Antonopoulos — Russia is certain the US will meddle in forthcoming presidential elections: Deputy FM

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Chinese and Japanese media in an interview that Moscow is certain the United States will attempt to meddle in the forthcoming Russian presidential election.

"We’ve got used to US meddling. We’ve learned to live with it. The same applies to the tapping of telephones by US secret services," Ryabkov said.

"The one who is unaware of this is an absolutely naive person who lives on a different planet and does not understand what’s what," he continued.
He then went onto say that "There can be no doubts it will happen" when quizzed in whether the US will meddle in the upcoming elections.
Fort Russ
Russia is certain the US will meddle in forthcoming presidential elections: Deputy FM
Paul Antonopoulos

Diane Coyle — Property is – theft?

Buying versus renting. Is buying over in the drive for rent-seeking?

The Enlightened Economist
Property is – theft?
Diane Coyle | freelance economist and a former advisor to the UK Treasury. She is a member of the UK Competition Commission and is acting Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation

Ryan Browne — Estonia wants to launch its own government-backed cryptocurrency called 'estcoin'

  • Estonia has proposed to launch its own state-backed cryptocurrency, called "estcoin".
  • Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin apparently gave feedback on the digital currency.
  • It would be launched via the digital coin community's version of crowdfunding - an initial coin offering (ICO).
Provocative article.
Last month Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said that her nation was "the only truly digital society," underpinned by the state.
"Almost all our citizens' interactions with the government, including voting, can be done securely online, and our 'e-residents' can incorporate and run their businesses in Estonia without ever having to set foot here," she said in an article for the Telegraph.
"Seeing this digital revolution up close has made me question whether the state as we know it today is fit for the 21st century."...
Estonia wants to launch its own government-backed cryptocurrency called 'estcoin'
Ryan Browne

Chris Dillow — A new capital?

What does capital do in the digital economy?
For one thing it applies the mass market. The huge asymmetry in income is lat least in part due to access to and use of mass markets. Contemporary managerial capitalism and digital entrepreneuring are based on creating new mass markets or capturing a share of existing or developing mass markets.  

While this is well known in business, economists haven't yet picked up much on it implications, at least in my roaming around the field as an onlooker.

Stumbling and Mumbling
A new capital?
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle

Pedro Nicolaci da Costa — Fed rebel warns businesses to stop 'whining' about a shortage of workers

It’s an all-too common refrain among US corporations: we have jobs available, but simply can’t find qualified workers to fill them.
Economists, including top Federal Reserve officials, lend credibility to this dubious claim by arguing there is a "skills gap" among US workers that is preventing firms from finding employees with the right backgrounds.
However, ample research and basic common sense suggests that wage stagnation, which has dominated the US job landscape in recent decades, is a symptom of an anemic labor market, not a fully recovered one.
Credit to Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari for pointing that out during a speech to business leaders on Monday.
"If you're not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining," he told a group of business people at a Rotary Club meeting in Sioux Falls, S.D., according to the Washington Examiner.
Business insider
Fed rebel warns businesses to stop 'whining' about a shortage of workers
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa
ht Brad DeLong at Grasping Reality

Bill Mitchell — Central banks still funding government deficits and the sky remains firmly above

There was an article in the Financial Times last week (August 16, 2017) – Central banks hold a fifth of their governments’ debt – which seemed to think there was a “challenge” facing policymakers in “unwinding assets after decade of stimulus”. The article shows how central banks around the world have been buying huge quantities of government (and private) bonds and holding them on their balance sheets. Apparently, these asset holdings are likely to cause the banks headaches. I don’t see it that way. The central banks, in question, could write the debt off any time they chose with no significant consequence. Why they don’t is the question rather than whether they will become insolvent if the values crash (they won’t) or whether the yields will skyrocket if they sell them back into the non-government sector (they won’t). Last week (August 15, 2017), the US Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board put out their updated data on Foreign Holders of US Treasury Securities. Other relevant data was also published which helps us trace the US Federal Reserve holdings of US government debt. Overall, the US government holds about 40 per cent of its own total outstanding debt – split between the intergovernmental agencies (27.6 per cent) and the US Federal Reserve Bank (12.4 per cent). In some quarters, the US central bank has been known to purchase nearly all the change in total debt. That folks, is what we might call Overt Monetary Financing and the sky hasn’t fallen in yet as a consequence.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Central banks still funding government deficits and the sky remains firmly above
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Peter Cooper — Short & Simple 17 – A Notion of Macroeconomic Equilibrium

At the macro level, equilibrium requires that total demand in product markets equals total supply. This could occur at high or low levels of output and employment. For this reason, equality of supply and demand in product markets does not imply full employment.
Short & Simple 17 – A Notion of Macroeconomic Equilibrium
Peter Cooper

Hazel Marsh — Venezuela’s long history of racism is coming back to haunt it

The back story. 

Similar in Brazil and other Latin American countries. In Brazil the Carnival queen was deposed for being too black.

Defend Democracy
Venezuela’s long history of racism is coming back to haunt it
Hazel Marsh

M.K. Bhadrakumar — Russia Warns the US Over Afghanistan

The more one looks at it, President Donald Trump’s real challenge is not about winning the war against the Taliban, but the high risk he’ll be incurring, by taking his generals’ advice, to put his imprimatur on a full-fledged proxy war in Afghanistan against Russia, Iran and China.
Russia Insider
Russia Warns the US Over Afghanistan
M.K. Bhadrakumar

Pat Lang — The generals rolled him, as they rolled Obama ...

The difference between Trump and Obama is that under Trump generals are in key civilian positions that are supposed to put a civilian check on the military. Now there is in effect a military junta running military policy with State under the control of a former Exxon CEO and treasury under the control of a Goldman Sachs alumnus. This is even worse that could be expected if HRC had been elected instead, and it is what a lot people that voted for DJT were voting to prevent.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
The generals rolled him, as they rolled Obama ...
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.), former military intelligence officer at the US Defense Intelligence Agency

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump's new strategy toward Afghanistan is against Afghanistan's national interest.
Sputnik International
Karzai Slams New US' Afghan Strategy as 'Trump More Focused on War & Rivalries'

Also for consideration:

Voltaire Network
The anti-imperialist camp: splintered in thought

Thierry Meyssan


No plan, no strategy.

Reinforcing failure
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Pam and Russ Martens — Wall Street Banks Sued Again for Conspiring to Control a Market

As summer draws to a close and the Wall Street titans enjoy the last of their lazy long weekends in the Hamptons, summering next door to the army of lawyers that keep them out of jail, it’s a curious time to be reading about a major new lawsuit that has the potential to shake Wall Streeters right down to their Gucci loafers. The charges include conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the Sherman Act and unjust enrichment in a $1.7 trillion market.
Since the Senate hearings of the early 1930s, which examined the Wall Street practices and conspiracies that led to the 1929-1932 stock market collapse and Great Depression, there have been rumblings that Wall Street’s system for lending stock for traders to short is a viper’s nest of ripoffs. Now two major law firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Cohen Milstein are suing six of the largest Wall Street banks, alleging that they illegally colluded in this market. The defendants are the usual suspects: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, UBS and their stock lending units. (The only surprise here is that Citigroup is not named.)...
Wall Street On Parade
Wall Street Banks Sued Again for Conspiring to Control a Market
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Robert Vienneau — The Concept Of Totality

Georg Lukács quote.

Thoughts On Economics
The Concept Of Totality
Robert Vienneau

Graham E. Fuller — Global Disorder- What Are the Options?

Global disorder is on the rise. What can the US do about it? There are two fundamentally different approaches one can take—it all depends on your philosophy of how the world works.

The first school thinks primarily in terms of law, order and authority: it accepts the need for a global policeman. The second school is more willing to let regional nations take the initiative to eventually work things out among themselves. Both schools possess advantages and disadvantages. Something called Balance of Power politics lies halfway between the two....
Graham E. Fuller
Global Disorder- What Are the Options?
Graham E. Fuller | adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University, formerly vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, and a former senior political scientist at RAND

With words unprecedented for a US president, Trump called out Pakistan for harboring and supporting terrorist groups that target and kill US citizens and said there would be a radical change in policy toward the South Asian nation. Trump indicated the US would work to increase ties with India, Pakistan's neighbor and greatest enemy, a move sure to both enrage as well as frighten Pakistani elites.…
Trump said the US will work to increase ties with India, Pakistan’s neighbor and greatest enemy, as part of the “change in approach in how to deal with Pakistan.”
Pushing Pakistan into China's arms.
In what must have sent shockwaves all the way to Islamabad and Rawalpindi – the home of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service – Trump followed up his harsh words for Pakistan with a call for greater American cooperation with India.
Trump said the US will seek to “develop its strategic partnership with India” and described the country as “a key security and economic harbor of the United States.” He called for India to play a greater role in Afghanistan “especially in the area of economic assistance and development.”….
FDD's Long War Journal
Trump takes hard line on Pakistan for supporting terrorist groups
Bill Roggio | Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal


Russian expert says Trump’s new Afghanistan policy aimed at China`


The Duran
China tells Trump not to allow India to interfere in regional interests
Adam Garrie

Baltnews — Greek Minister refuses to attend anti-communist conference in Tallinn, and tells why

In a letter sent to the organizers of the event, Kontonis explained that such an initiative revives the climate of the Cold War, contradicts the values of the EU and equates Communism with Nazism, which is unacceptable.
"History can not be faked. Historical data and events declare the Soviet Army as the liberator of Europe and of the Nazi concentration camps, as a savior from the horrors of the Holocaust. In our thoughts and in our minds, the Nazi regime is a political system whose ideology is based on racism, hatred, intolerance and mass murder, and under no circumstances can it be compared with communism, with the political ideology that it represents, or comparable to something else, Or simply because humanity has not experienced anything like Nazism and I hope that in the future it never will again" his letter states.
According to him, communism has spawned dozens of ideological currents, including Eurocommunism, which influenced all of Western Europe.
"We believe that the initiative to organize a conference with a specific content and title sends an incorrect and dangerous political signal, reviving the climate of the Cold War, which has caused much suffering to Europe, contradicts the values of the EU and, of course, does not reflect the point of view of the Greek government and the Greek people.
And nazism and communism can not be two sides of the same equation. It is clear that the General Secretariat for Human Rights of the Greek Ministry of Justice will not participate in a conference with such a theme," said Kontonis.... 
Fort Russ
Greek Minister refuses to attend anti-communist conference in Tallinn, and tells why, translated by Tom Winter -

David Lazare — Israel’s Alarm over Syrian Debacle

Backgrounder on the Middle East.

Consortium News
Israel’s Alarm over Syrian Debacle
David Lazare

Will Denayer — The Great Repeal Bill: the neoliberal assault on democracy and human rights

The Great Repeal Bill grants May’s ministers the power to rewrite reams of British law without democratic oversight. Not only will there be no longer an equivalent to the Francovich ruling. The Great Repeal Bill will also diminish human, civic, social and environmental rights. It will considerably strengthen the position of the executive. A British Bill of Rights and “free” trade deals will replace the Human Rights Act and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Agreements will empower global corporations to sue the government in secret courts any time ‘state regulation’ stands in the way of corporate profit. It is the neoliberal assault on democracy and human rights in full action....

Bill Mitchell — Europe – the deliberate wastage of its youth continues

Earlier this month (August 11, 2017), Eurostat published the latest European Union data for – Young people in the EU: education and employment. This data now allows us to track the fortunes of three age cohorts – 15-19, 20-24 and 25-29 years since before the crisis to the end of 2016. So a teenager prior to the crisis (2007) would be transiting into the 25-29 years cohort in 2016. One of the disturbing trends shown in the data is the increasing number of young people in the older ‘youth’ categories that in 2016 we classified as being Neither in Employment, nor in Education or Training (NEET). Some will have been in that category for the entire duration of the crisis – that is, they dropped out of school early, are not receiving any skills development and are unemployed. Whereas in 2007, the proportion of NEETs in the 25-29 years cohort was 17.2 per cent, that figure has risen to 18.8 per cent by 2016 (although the peak of 20.7 per cent was reached in 2012). This suggests that the systems which provide transitions between education and employment are not working effectively because the demand-side of the labour market is deficient. That is, there is a lack of jobs available overall and the most disadvantaged youth workers are at the back of the queue along with the disabled and other stigmatised cohorts (for example, Roma people in the European context). There is an urgent need for a true Youth Job Guarantee, to replace the faux Youth Guarantee that was introduced in 2012. But then that would require abandoning the obsession with austerity and dysfunctional fiscal rules. The European Commission’s answer to the problem will be to have another ‘summit’ or two and issue plenty of statements replete with motherhood statements.

A recurring theme among mainstream economic commentators is that the ageing societies that the Western nations are experiencing will eventually impose massive health and pension costs, which governments will be unable to afford. The claims of financial incapacity are, of course, fallacious....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Europe – the deliberate wastage of its youth continues
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mark Perry — How Generals Talked Another President into Losing Strategy

Another Pentagon observer had a much different take. “This is Joe Biden’s plan, all the way,” he said, referring to the then-Vice President’s recommendation to Obama back in 2009. “Biden said that we should increase counterterrorism operations, draw down U.S. forces in the provinces, increase pressure on Pakistan and make a deal with India. Obama said ‘no’ to the idea, but you can bet Mattis was listening. This is his plan all the way.”
Almost everyone at the Pentagon agrees, though key senior military officers who have been privy to James Mattis’s thinking over the last weeks (but who remain unconvinced by it) provide a cautionary, and nearly fatalistic, note. “This Trump plan, at least so far as I understand it, sounds a lot like the kind of plan we’ve come up with again and again since the end of World War Two,” a senior Pentagon officer says. “We’re going to surge troops, reform the government we support and put pressure on our allies. In this building [the Pentagon] there’s a hell of a lot of skepticism. And that’s because we all know what this new strategy really means – and what it means that the only way we can get out of Afghanistan is to get further in. You know, it seems to me that if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that that doesn’t work.”
The American Conservative
How Generals Talked Another President into Losing Strategy
Mark Perry

Edward Harrison — The limits of monetary policy in today’s fiat currency world

First, let me say that two primary goals of macro policy everywhere and always should be full employment and stable prices. Why? I am looking at this purely through the lens of the political economy – thinking about how our fellow citizens live and breathe the economy and how government should be designed to respond to their needs. On the jobs side, we have seen that high unemployment leads to political instability, economic turmoil and conflict. When you have masses of people unemployed or unable to earn enough money to sustain the lifestyle they aspire to – especially young males – you have the makings of discontent that leads to political instability, electoral desperation, fringe voting, and even revolt and insurrection.
On the inflation side of things, high deflation and inflation are equally problematic. When you have, say, families with mortgages or businesses trying to expand, doing the things we see as ‘normal’ to get ahead, deflation makes their task harder by unexpectedly increasing the real burden of that debt. That leads to a downward spiral as fire sales force prices even lower, what we now called debt deflation. Now I know the Austrians say just let this play out. But politically, that’s never going to happen. Think about the housing busts of this last crisis. Just as with joblessness, you have the same makings of political discontent that leads to chaos. And as bad as deflation is, we know inflation is difficult too – not just Weimar or Zimbabwe-style inflation but even the moderately high levels of the 1970s....
Credit Writedowns
The limits of monetary policy in today’s fiat currency world
Edward Harrison

Sputnik — Russia's Nuclear Shield: From World's First ICBM to 'Dead Hand' System

The Russian "doomsday machine" continues to safeguard the country's sovereignty and national interests, RIA Novosti contributor Alexander Khrolenko writes, shedding light on how Perimeter, an automatic nuclear-control system dubbed 'Dead Hand,' actually works.…
After the end of the Cold War, the Russian "doomsday machine" was removed from combat duty in 1995.
However, "the United States and its allies did not appreciate this gesture of goodwill of the leadership of the Russian Federation, and began to actively create the world of 'American exceptionalism', with NATO proceeding to move closer to Russian borders," Khrolenko pointed out.
Thus, in December 2011 the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, Sergei Karakaev, announced in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda that the Perimeter system was up and running again....
Sputnik International
Russia's Nuclear Shield: From World's First ICBM to 'Dead Hand' System

CIA Dr Richards J. Heuer — “Information Collection vs Analytical Methods”

Information overload.

Intel Today
CIA Dr Richards J. Heuer: “Information Collection vs Analytical Methods”

Nafeez Ahmed — Inside the new economic science of capitalism’s slow-burn energy collapse


INSURGE intelligence - Medium
Inside the new economic science of capitalism’s slow-burn energy collapse
Nafeez Ahmed

Pam and Russ Martens — Wall Street’s Latest Plot: Blame the Financial Crash on the French

Wall Street appears to have a plan to get the deregulation it wants by pinning the start of the epic financial crash of 2007-2010 on (wait for it) the French, rather than its own unbridled greed, corruption and toxic manufacture of junk bonds known as subprime debt that it paid to have rated AAA by ethically-challenged and deeply conflicted rating agencies. (The same rating agencies that are getting paid by Wall Street to rate its debt issues today.)...
Wall Street On Parade
Wall Street’s Latest Plot: Blame the Financial Crash on the French
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

John McKenna — This alarming chart shows the reality of global warming over 100 years

Graphics and video.

Big social, political and economic consequences in store.

World Economic Forum
This alarming chart shows the reality of global warming over 100 years
John McKenna

Roberta A. Modugno — The Levellers: The First Libertarians

Some interesting history.

The Levellers were one of the inspirations for classical liberalism and laissez-faire. Libertarianism is a contemporary manifestation of classical liberalism, in contrast to neoliberalism, which incorporates a role for the state in promoting commerce and capital formation.

Mises Institute — Mises Wire
The Levellers: The First Libertarians
Roberta A. Modugno

Kevin Erdmann — Leverage is not a sign of risk seeking, a continuing series

A contrarian view.

Idiosyncratic Whisk
Leverage is not a sign of risk seeking, a continuing series
Kevin Erdmann

Andrew Gelman — Publish your raw data and your speculations, then let other people do the analysis: track and field edition

There seems to be an expectation in science that the people who gather a dataset should also be the ones who analyze it. But often that doesn’t make sense: what it takes to gather relevant data has little to do with what it takes to perform a reasonable analysis. Indeed, the imperatives of analysis can even impede data-gathering, if people have confused ideas of what they can and can’t do with their data.
I’d like us to move to a world in which gathering and analysis of data are separated, in which researchers can get full credit for putting together a useful dataset, without the expectation that they perform a serious analyses. I think that could get around some research bottlenecks.
It’s my impression that this is already done in many areas of science—for example, there are public datasets on genes, and climate, and astronomy, and all sorts of areas in which many teams of researchers are studying common datasets. And in social science we have the NES, GSS, NLSY, etc. Even silly things like the Electoral Integrity Project—I don’t think these data are so great, but I appreciate the open spirit under which these data are shared....
Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
Publish your raw data and your speculations, then let other people do the analysis: track and field edition
Andrew Gelman | Professor of Statistics and Political Science and Director of the Applied Statistics Center, Columbia University

Mark S. Weiner — Trumpism and the Philosophy of History

This is a summary distinction between liberalism and traditionalism, although Weiner doesn't use the term traditionalism specifically. The distinction in the Western intellectual tradition begins with Plato and Aristotle's different political theories, with Plato's theory developing into traditionalism and Aristotle's into liberalism. In modern times, this would be reflected in the dichotomy between Hegel and Locke, and Continental versus Anglo-American thought. 

The main protagonists presently in the US are Steve Bannon representing traditionalism and conservatism and George Soros representing Karl Popper's Open Society view of liberalism. Weiner is aligning with the Soros "school" or liberal internationalism, neoconservatism, and interventionism here against classical conservatism and political conservatism.

The way the debate is now being framed publicly by both sides is in terms of American values and what  being "a real American" involves. Each side is attempting to lay claim to the mantle of "real American."

The conflict of over the future course of America and neither side is about to compromise in any way.

Project Syndicate
Trumpism and the Philosophy of History
Mark S. Weiner | Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law—Newark and former Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Legal Philosophy of the University of Salzburg

Sunday, August 20, 2017

He Yafei — New world order is the inevitable trend

After decades of turbulence, the world order led by the United States has begun to change, with the 2008 global financial crisis possibly being the turning point and this year signaling a new beginning....

The changing world order is not about the decline of the U.S. but about the rise of other countries, as Fareed Zakaria, a CNN journalist and author of The Post-American World, said. Nevertheless, global governance is set to change from West-led governance to co-governance by the West and East, as the democratization of international relations is a wish shared by all countries.
A multipolar world order and globalization will be the highlights of the new era. Countries across the world are willing to compete and cooperate on the basis of fairness and justice, yet the deadlock between emerging powers and the established ones will continue for some time....
China Daily
New world order is the inevitable trend
He Yafei, is former Chinese vice-foreign minister and co-chairman of the Center for China and Globalization

Bill Mitchell — When neo-liberal masquerades as anti-establishment

I am more positive and optimistic about the TOP (The Opportunities Party) critique of MMT than Bill is. It seems to me that it makes the major concessions that are most significant to reversing the status quo mindset about government finance. The objections are easily met, and Bill does in the post. So I would say that the ball has been advanced toward the goal in New Zealand. MMT got some free publicity, too. 

I don't see a problem with people bringing up questions or making objections, especially when they admit that the government as household or firm analogy doesn't hold. MMT proponents need to be ready with answers, and Bill's post provides some to the specific issues raised by TOP.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
When neo-liberal masquerades as anti-establishment
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sputnik — Society Should 'Filter' Information Based on Moral Principles - Putin

Putin puts his finger on a key issue without naming explicitly.

This is the classical question about what it means to be a good person in a good society.

Under Anglo-American liberalism, this question is not to be asked because the market is the arbiter of truth and value equates to prices. In this view, culture is based on utilitarianism, with its stimulus-response model of human behavior, and law exists chiefly to provide security and protect private property.

Traditionalism disagrees. In this view, human behavior involves moral responsibility and genuine freedom is impossible without moral responsibility.

Morality is about how people should behave, and law is about how people must and must not behave.

Morality and ethics are evolved culturally, and law is decided institutionally.

Classical conservatism is traditionalist. It looks to tradition for guidance in such matters.

Classical liberalism is rationally based. It looks to reason and evidence for justification.

Classical conservatives generally favor government taking a moral role and exerting moral authority where the need arises owing to conflict of views.

Classical liberals generally hold that this is is not a question for government to answer, although law makers must deal with it in legislating. Reason and evidence should be the guide rather than tradition and custom.

Putin is taking a liberal position for Russia, albeit traditionalist in Western liberal eyes. However, traditionalism and classical conservatism predominate strongly in Russian culture and politics.

Sputnik International
Society Should 'Filter' Information Based on Moral Principles - Putin

It’s up to the creative community to filter tele-and internet content as the government’s influence in this sphere should be reduced to minimum, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday at a meeting with participants in the Tavrida educational youth forum, commenting on an idea of establishing a kind of a filter for television and internet content to reduce aggressive and crime-related information that is adversely impacting the younger generation.
"What is prohibited by law must be outlawed everywhere - both in the internet and in television, and in other mass media," he stressed. "But everything else must be done only by one way - through filtering by the creative community. If the community elaborates a system of moral and ethical filters it would be right. The government’s say in this process should be if not excluded, then minimized. But better excluded."
The president called to "think together on the establishment of such mechanisms." He said he is in contacts with the CEOs of Russia’s leading television channels and with those "who influence this or that way what is going on in the internet" and these people, in his words, understand the situation and "are trying to change it for the better." "It is difficult to do it - to filter information torrents - in the present-day world. There are grounds to fear that such filtration could be ideologized and society would be stripped of the possibility to receive reliable, open and direct information," Putin added.
Putin says government’s say in filtering info content should be reduced to minimum

Robert W. Merry — Stop poking the Russian bear

New sanctions are coming, whether he wants them or not. NATO expansion and the West’s Ukraine meddling will continue. Encirclement is firmly in place.
It’s difficult to envision where this could lead, short of actual hostilities. Russia’s fundamental national interests, the ones Trump was prepared to accept, will almost certainly render such hostilities inevitable.
The National Interest
Stop poking the Russian bear
Robert W. Merry | Editor of the American Conservative

Kenneth L. Pearce — George Berkeley and the power of words

John Locke's epistemological realism versus George Berkeley's linguistic constructivism. Subsequent findings favor Berkeley's view. Human's participate in the construct of their reality through the way they express themselves about it and their relationship to it.

Short and worth a read.

OUPblog — Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World
George Berkeley and the power of words
Kenneth L. Pearce | Ussher Assistant Professor in Berkeley Studies (Early Modern Philosophy) in Trinity College Dublin

Sam Kriss — The Myth of the Alt-Left

After Trump announced the existence of the alt-left on live TV, media outlets scurried to tell the world exactly where the term emerged from. CBS explains that it “came out of the conservative media.” CNN, quoting a director at the Anti-Defamation League, describes it as a “made-up term used by people on the right.” writes that “the term ‘alt-left’ began being used by the online conservative media in 2016 before it slowly migrated to more mainstream conservative voices, like Fox News’ Sean Hannity.” (Hannity, who repeatedly uses the term on his TV show, seems to be getting widespread credit.) The British Telegraph newspaper, meanwhile, flatters the president with a power of logodaedaly he definitely doesn’t have, claiming the phrase was “coined by Mr Trump” himself.

None of these explanations is really true. The term “alt-left” was probably simultaneously invented hundreds or thousands of times, always bearing a slightly different meaning depending on its inventor. But up until now, the people who most forcefully pushed the idea of an alt-left weren’t Nazis or 4chan posters or anyone else in the orbit of Trump and pro-Trump Republicans trying to invent a mythical opposite to the alt-right. The alt-left is, first and foremost, a figment of centrist Democrats....
The invention of the alt-left allowed centrist liberals to pretend that something entirely different was going on: They were sandwiched between two sets of frothing fanatics who secretly had a lot in common with each other. It established their particular brand of liberalism, possibly encompassing a few “moderate Republicans,” as the only reasonable ground, besieged by alts....
The Myth of the Alt-Left
Sam Kriss

Adam Garrie — Trump and American Left

Donald Trump’s rhetoric, promises and even at times his policies (when they see the light of day) are as far from the neo-con/neo-liberal status quo of contemporary American policies as one could have deemed imaginable for a US President, not long ago.
When one analyses his policy rhetoric, Donald Trump remains something of a Robert Taft style conservative. The defining characteristics of such an ethos is an opposition to foreign interventions and the bloated ‘moral’ (aka immoral) justifications for such wars, a strong sense of tradition and patriotism, a robust defence of both free speech and the American conception of low-church Christianity and perhaps most interestingly “a touch of socialism”....
When asked, “What do you think needs to be done to overcome the racial divides in this country?”, Trump replied,
“Well I really think jobs can have a big impact. I think if we continue to create jobs — over a million, substantially more than a million — and you can see just the other day, the car companies coming in with fox- you know, FoxConn. I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I'm- that I'm creating jobs, I think that's going to have a tremendous impact, positive impact on race relations”.
Trump continued, adding,
“And the other thing, very important, I believe wages will start going up. They haven't gone up for a long time. I believe wages now, because the economy is doing so well with respect to employment and unemployment, I believe wages will start to go up. I think that will have a tremendously positive impact on race relations. Thank you”.
The very notion that relations between social sects can be improved by material gain is a classic tenant of socialism, one which contrasted itself against the determinism of so-called reactionaries as well as against the utilitarianism of classical liberalism....
Trump and American Left
Adam Garrie

Sabena Siddiqui — Could the road from Charlottesville lead America toward civil war?

Considering all this information, it seems unlikely that the United States can remain a liberal country much longer.
The paradoxes of liberalism are coming to a head.

Philip Pilkington — Utilitarian Economics and the Corruption of Conservatism

Weekend reading on economic and political economy. Phil always has interesting things to say as a philosophical economist or economic philosopher.

American Affairs
Utilitarian Economics and the Corruption of Conservatism
Philip Pilkington

Charles and Louis-Vincent Gave — Gavekal On The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia's Role As A Global Game-Changer

This is an interesting analysis from the POV of globalization, the global economy, geopolitics, geostrategy and political economy.  I am not endorsing the analysis itself, although it is plausible and makes many good points such as the geopolitical conflict between sea-power or thalassocracy, and land-power or tellurocracy. 

While the specifics are interesting, the method of analysis is much more significant.

The chief reason I am posting it is to show how developing an entire economic outlook based on microeconomics, as conventional economics tends to do, is insufficient, since there are many non-economic factors and forces in play that need to be taken into account. Political economy has to take much more into account.

Any such analysis is contingent on decisions taken in the future as the players adapt to each others' moves on the grand chessboard.

Zero Hedge

“Virtual Autism” May Explain Explosive Rise in ASD Diagnoses By Marilyn Wedge, PhD

It seems that children need to spend time with other children and adults as well as play with toys for their brains to develop properly but far too many of them are spending too much time logged onto their computer screens, tablets, and mobile phones instead. I read of one woman who was late home and worried about her boy maybe getting up to no good and found him and his friends all sitting around in silence in the kitchen all one glued to their mobile phones.

Boy, did I have fun as a kid, in those days you were just allowed out to play without parent supervision. I remember even at five years old before I went to school I was allowed to go in the streets to play and I would meets loads of other kids my age too. When I was six I remember wondering for miles and I never got lost knowing every street corner on the way back. When I think back it was almost like photographic memory, but all of that gone now, though.

Some children who have been diagnosed with autism or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) could dramatically benefit from not being exposed to electronic screens.

New clinical case studies have found that many young children who spend too much screen time—on TV’s, video games, tablets and computers—have symptoms labeled as “autism.”1 When parents take away the screens for a few months the child’s symptoms disappear. The term for this phenomenon is “Virtual Autism” or autism induced by electronic screens. The term “Virtual Autism” was coined by Romanian clinical psychologist Dr Marius Zamfir.

Romania witnessed an astonishing rise in autism among youngsters in a children’s hospital. The cause was unknown, so one psychiatrist dug into the activity logs the hospital collected on all admitted patients. In those records he found a strong trend: children presenting with autism were spending four or more hours a day watching some kind of screen: television, computer, tablet, or phone. Today in Romania, treatment of autism by screen withdrawal is considered routine and has public support.2

We are seeing a startling rise in autism diagnoses in the United States, a trend that has parents, teachers, and mental health professionals puzzled and concerned.

These statistics from the Center for Disease Control paint a stark picture of the rising rates of diagnoses:

In 1975, 1 in 5000 children were diagnosed with autism.

In 2005, 1 in 500 children.

In 2014 (the most recent CDC numbers), 1 in 68 children.

The latest government survey of parents suggests that today the number of children living with autism may be as high as 1 in 45. That means that today in the United States a child is 100 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than children in 1975.

The Paradox of Capitalism (Kaivey): Why Amazon's UK tax bill has dropped 50% by Simon Black

Amazon make no profit at all on its postal deliveries. Years ago everything was delivered by a Royal Mail postman which was a low paid, but pleasant job if you didn't mind the cold weather in the winter. Up until a few years ago the postmen used bicycles and you could see their Royal Mail bikes chained up everywhere - and often not chained up at all because no one would nick them with their distinctive company colours. It was a little bit of Old England seeing the postmen on their bikes, but all that went with privatisation.

But when the government opened parcel delivery to the market things started to change. In the fierce competition delivery men often became self employed losing many benefits, like sick pay and pensions, but some delivery companies even gave jobs to anyone who had free time and housewives who had finished taking their kids to school could drop off a few parcels on the way home. They might be given two hours to drop off the parcels but in reality it took a lot more time, so some of these housewives never competed the task and their homes became filled up with undelivered parcels but no one ever checked on them to see if the parcels had been delivered.

Nowadays Amazon drivers come around in their domestic cars to drop off parcels, and they are always in a hurry. Amazon UK has been in trouble lots of times recently for under paying paying - or not even paying - their delivery drivers and their wage seems to be incredibly low. Even the postman nowadays pushes the parcels through the door before I have fully opened it and then he is off in a scurry, no time for a quick chat anymore, just a hello.

Anyhow, I can walk one way and within minutes be in miles of beautiful countryside and walk the other way and within 15 minutes be in a small town centre with a huge Tesco hypermarket.  I buy everything from Tesco including my clothes and almost everything else is bought online mainly from Amazon and eBay. I haven't been to a town centre for years with all that hassle and crowds.

But I was worked to death in my old job where life became very unpleasant which went on for years until it made me very ill causing me to leave work.

Simon Black, BBC

Amazon has seen a 50% fall in the amount of UK corporation tax it paid last year, while recording a 54% increase in turnover for the same period.

This snippet of news raised eyebrows this morning when it was revealed. So what's going on?
The answer is simple on the face of it.

Taxes are paid on profit not turnover. It paid lower taxes because it made lower profits. Last year it made £48m in profit - this year it made only £24m so it paid £7m tax compared to £15m.
What is more interesting is WHY its profits were lower.
Part of the reason is the way it pays its staff.

Amazon UK Services is the division which runs the fulfilment centres which process, package and post deliveries to UK customers. It employs about 16,000 of the 24,000 people Amazon have in the UK.

Each full-time employee gets given at least £1,000 worth of shares every year. They can't cash them in immediately - they have to hold them for a period of between one and three years. 

HMRC loses

If Amazon's share price goes up in that time, those shares are worth more. Amazon's share price has indeed gone up over the past couple of years - a lot. In fact, in the past two years the share price has nearly doubled, so £1,000 in shares granted in August 2015 are now worth nearly £2,000.

Staff compensation goes up, compensation is an expense, expenses can be deducted from revenue - so profits are lower and so are the taxes on those profits.

But surely this extra income for the staff is taxed? Probably not.

HMRC rules allow employees to receive £3,600 worth of shares from their employer tax free every year. Most of these awards are below that threshold.

The employee wins through a tax-free windfall, Amazon wins because it hasn't got to pay any cash out, which leaves HMRC as the big loser.

This is not just allowed by UK tax law - it is required by it.

So, weirdly, the more valuable Amazon becomes, the less tax this particular bit of its business pays.

There is heightened sensitivity around the tax affairs of technology giants such as Amazon, Google and Apple. The challenge of adapting a tax code written for a bygone era to work effectively on technology multinationals who have socked billions away in low tax jurisdictions remains.

But the practice of giving staff shares is widespread, generally seen as a good way to promote loyalty and engagement - and is 100% legal.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ben Kamisar — RNC raises millions more than DNC in July

The Democratic Party establishment apparently hasn't gotten the word yet.

Michael Krieger — Donald Trump Finally Comes Out of the Closet

If the genuine left is smart, it will take a step back and see this for the gigantic opening it is. Lots of Trump voters are now up for grabs, and if they can come up with a genuine message of economic populism that avoids the typical leftist pitfalls — such as supporting misguided young people dressing up like ninjas, carrying flags and hurling rocks at people trying to give a talk — the opportunity to create a populist movement of immense national significance is there. People across the country are craving it, but they want nothing to do with antifa, political correctness, or aggression against free speech. Noam Chomsky gets it, and I hope others heed his words.

As such, here’s what I would recommend to any burgeoning populist movement wanting to unite the country against oligarchy, as opposed to just becoming a leftist echo chamber. It is the exact same thing I suggested to Trump, but he obviously didn’t listen....
Liberty Blitzkrieg
Donald Trump Finally Comes Out of the Closet
Michael Krieger

George Friedman — China and India are guarding against the preposterous


Business Insider
China and India are guarding against the preposterous
George Friedman, Geopolitical Futures

Friday, August 18, 2017

Zachary Keck — Report: Americans Support Use of Nuclear Weapons If It Saves Lives of U.S. Military

As Sagan and Valentino note, the results speak for themselves. “The main conclusions of these survey experiments are clear,” they write. “The majority of the U.S. public has not internalized either a belief in the nuclear taboo or a strong noncombatant immunity norm. When faced with realistic scenarios in which they are forced to contemplate a trade-off between sacrificing a large number of U.S. troops in combat or deliberately killing even larger numbers of foreign noncombatants, the majority of respondents approve of killing civilians in an effort to end the war.”
The results do strongly suggest the nuclear taboo and norm against targeting civilians have not taken hold, at least among the American public.…
Perhaps the most important lesson of the survey is that it is imperative to cultivate strong, far-sighted leaders to guide the country abroad. After all, respondents suggested they were willing to support a president’s decision even if it was not their preferred choice. The need for far-sighted leadership is especially pressing at a time when improved accuracy is giving America the ability to use smaller nuclear bombs that cause far less civilian casualties. In the wrong hands, these bombs could be tempting to use, even though doing so would let the nuclear cat out of the bag, with uncertain and potentially catastrophic repercussions.  
The National Interest
Report: Americans Support Use of Nuclear Weapons If It Saves Lives of U.S. Military
Zachary Keck

Deconstructing Bill Browder’s Dangerous Deception – Alex Krainer: with review by The Saker

The Saker:
Today I want to introduce you to a book whose importance simply cannot be overstated: The Killing of William Browder: Deconstructing Bill Browder’s Dangerous Deception by Alex Krainer. I consider that book as a *must read* for any person trying to understand modern Russia and where the new Cold War with Russia came from.
Most of you must have heard of the Magnitsky Act or even maybe of William Browder himself. You probably know that Browder was a British businessman who founded Hermitage Capital Management investment fund which Sergei Magnitskyrepresented as a lawyer and auditor. Finally, you must have heard that Magnitsky died (was killed) in a Russian jail while Browder was placed by the Russian government on a black list and denied entry. For the vast majority of you, that is probably as much thought as you ever gave this topic and I have to confess that this is also true for me. I never bothered really researching this issue because I knew the context so well that this, by itself, gave me a quasi-certitude that I knew what had happened. Still, when I read this book I was amazed at the fantastically detailed account Krainer provides to what is really an amazing story.
In his book Alex Krainer offers us the truth and truly shows us how deep the rabbit hole goes....
The Vineyard of the Saker
Deconstructing Bill Browder’s Dangerous Deception – Alex Krainer: with review by The SakerThe Saker

See also
As Congress still swoons over the anti-Kremlin Magnitsky narrative, Western political and media leaders refuse to let their people view a documentary that debunks the fable, reports Robert Parry.
Consortium News (Updated Aug. 4, 2017)
A Blacklisted Film and the New Cold War
Robert Parry

Jonathan Easley — Bannon back at Breitbart after White House ouster

President Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon returned to Breitbart News on Friday just hours after parting ways with the White House.
Bannon has reclaimed the title of executive chairman for Breitbart and directed the outlet’s Friday editorial meeting, the website said in a statement on Friday.
“The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,” said Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.
The Hill
Bannon back at Breitbart after White House ouster
Jonathan Easley
Bannon spoke to the Weekly Standard Friday afternoon, shortly after news of his departure from the White Housebroke. He told TWS that his leaving the administration marked a turning point for Trump's presidency.
"The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over," Bannon said. "We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It'll be something else. And there'll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over."
Washington Free Beacon
In Interview, Bannon Says After His Departure Trump Presidency ‘Is Over’
Charles Fain Lehman

Andrew Prokop — Steve Bannon’s exit from the Trump White House, explained

What will — and won’t — change in a post-Bannon White House.
The establishment and deep state win. Mike Flynn and Steve Bannon gone. What's next?


Lars P. Syll — Dutch books and money pumps

According to Keynes we live in a world permeated by unmeasurable uncertainty – not quantifiable stochastic risk – which often forces us to make decisions based on anything but rational expectations. Sometimes we ‘simply do not know.’ Keynes would not have accepted the view of Bayesian economists, according to whom expectations “tend to be distributed, for the same information set, about the prediction of the theory.” Keynes, rather, thinks that we base our expectations on the confidence or ‘weight’ we put on different events and alternatives. To Keynes, expectations are a question of weighing probabilities by ‘degrees of belief,’ beliefs that have precious little to do with the kind of stochastic probabilistic calculations made by the rational agents modelled by Bayesian economists.
Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Dutch books and money pumps
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Stephen Metcalf — Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world

Last summer, researchers at the International Monetary Fund settled a long and bitter debate over “neoliberalism”: they admitted it exists. Three senior economists at the IMF, an organisation not known for its incaution, published a paper questioning the benefits of neoliberalism. In so doing, they helped put to rest the idea that the word is nothing more than a political slur, or a term without any analytic power. The paper gently called out a “neoliberal agenda” for pushing deregulation on economies around the world, for forcing open national markets to trade and capital, and for demanding that governments shrink themselves via austerity or privatisation. The authors cited statistical evidence for the spread of neoliberal policies since 1980, and their correlation with anaemic growth, boom-and-bust cycles and inequality….
The Guardian — The Long Read
Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world
Stephen Metcalf

Dean Baker — Using Protectionism to Try to Keep China Down

There is a recurring theme in public discussions, seemingly embraced by everyone from Steve Bannon to columnists at the New York Times and Washington Post, that we should use protectionist measures to try to keep China from overtaking the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power. This effort is both incredibly wrongheaded and doomed to failure…
Beat the Press
Using Protectionism to Try to Keep China Down
Dean Baker | Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C

Thursday, August 17, 2017

But what should be more troubling to Antifa is that its strategy of participating in violence provides a unique opening for right-wing extremists. We are hearing more and more about Antifa not because its anti-fascist message is being disseminated more effectively. Instead we are hearing about it as the bogeyman of white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other far-right groups.
Antifa is, in this context, the violent provocateur of the alt-right. Unless and until the left acknowledges this political vulnerability, being able to distinguish Antifa from its ideological opponents will increasingly become a blurry enterprise.
This was true back in the Sixties and Seventies when the Black Bloc provoked violence at otherwise peaceful demonstrations. There was a theory that the perpetrators of violence were was agent provocateurs, and there likely was some truth to that in cases. However, it was not true of all cases and perhaps most. The people perpetrating the violence were far left. They self-identified as anarchists. Later this became known as the black bloc.

I knew some of these people back then. They were predominantly anarchists, although it seemed to me that some were just thugs looking for a fight with The Man. This was a fringe group at the periphery of the much larger antiwar movement, when most demonstrations were organized as protests against the Vietnam War. This was the extent of their interest for some, but there were also a lot of people that were also peacefully protesting a system that they viewed as exploitive and corrupt. This can be viewed as a dialectical response to the status quo at the time that considered "normal" in America. A lot of younger people didn't want to sign up for that future.

Among the protesters were fringe groups of socialists and even a few communists, but they were also generally peaceful in my experience. It was the self-styled anarchists that were into bashing, and their target was the riot police. Most of the policing of the demonstrations was by regular forces, but there was also a contingent of riot police in the background and violence would work to draw them out. The mainstream media never reported on this, and the rest of the demonstrators mostly ignored it as an aberration, if they even encountered it at all. It was not a widespread phenomenon.

But now the media is on it, and it is also on the Internet. The peaceful opposition needs to be aware that this is an issue and not try to cover it up or deny it, or it will become toxic.

Antifa Needs a New Way to Fight the Alt-Right
James Braxton Peterson is professor of English and director of Africana studies at Lehigh University

Noah Smith — "Theory vs. Data" in statistics too


I think Noah has this right. Fit the tool to the job, rather than the job to the tool.

Aristotle defined speculative knowledge in terms of causal explanation. This definition stuck although Aristotle's analysis of causality did not.
In the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle places the following crucial condition on proper knowledge: we think we have knowledge of a thing only when we have grasped its cause (APost. 71 b 9–11. Cf. APost. 94 a 20). That proper knowledge is knowledge of the cause is repeated in the Physics: we think we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause (Phys. 194 b 17–20). Since Aristotle obviously conceives of a causal investigation as the search for an answer to the question “why?”, and a why-question is a request for an explanation, it can be useful to think of a cause as a certain type of explanation. (My hesitation is ultimately due to the fact that not all why-questions are requests for an explanation that identifies a cause, let alone a cause in the particular sense envisioned by Aristotle.) — Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
There is a distinction between reasons and causes. Some types of explanation seek only reasons, while other seek causes. Causation subsequently came to be viewed in terms of articulating mechanisms or lines of transmission (models) that are substantiated in evidence.

Explanation by reasons is different since the strict criterion of articulating mechanisms or lines of transmission that can be checked against evidence is not required.

Explanation by reasons rather than strictly by establishing causation is based on the principle of sufficient reason, which is usually credited to Spinoza and Leibnitz.

In philosophical logic, two negative criteria are foundational. Valid reasoning is vitiated by 1) arguing in a circle and 2) infinite regress.

Without recourse to checking against evidence there is no stopping point in assigning causes other than stipulation, e.g. of a first cause.

However, there may be a reason for a stopping point that doesn't involve causality based on evidence from observation or only stipulation, for example, principles that are "self-evident" based on intuition such as Aristotle's conception of intellectual intuition, or Kant's synthetic a priori propositions as articulated in the Critique of Pure Reason

On the other hand, Hume argued that causality is merely over-interpretation of constant correlation, there being no knowledge of the world other than that based on sense data. There is no observable causal link.

Cutting to the chase, scientific explanation based on causality is grounded in models that articulate causal mechanisms or lines of transmission that show how things change invariantly, which is the basis for deterministic functions. Where this is not possible, then there are two other avenues. The first is explanation by giving reasons, which is the domain of speculative philosophy. The second is employing statistics to explore patters of correlation. The question then is to what degree causal models can be gained from statistical methods, or whether it is possible at all. 

This is the issue that Noah Smith's post is getting at.

"Theory vs. Data" in statistics too
Noah Smith | Bloomberg View columnist

Patricia Pino — The fringe event that promises to empower Labour’s Progressives against neoliberalism

Professor Bill Mitchell – a major proponent of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) – will attend a Labour Conference fringe event this September, it’s a rare opportunity progressives must seize.…
Through the mass misinformation that is the neoliberal doctrine, the elites created a set of economic rules which presents them and only them as the indispensable saviours of society, and thus the only entity that must directly benefit from economic policy. They then dressed this fantasy as common sense, aided by their media sycophants whose very positions depend on the continued support from the wealthy classes. Dissent against this destructive order is presented as madness. Obedience is absolute: the poor think they must protect their masters, even at the expense of their own wellbeing.
In fact, every ill of society, every injustice, every incident of exploitation and systematic cruelty, finds its justification in some false economic dogma that goes unquestioned. And that is why the fight for social change goes hand in hand with economic reform....
If this movement belongs primarily to the young, then it is time for them to take the lead. Until millennials arm themselves with strong economic arguments, they will be defenceless when the establishment blames their money troubles on indulgence, their growing personal debt on irresponsibility and their joblessness on laziness. Until millennials can explain why these societal issues are a direct result of economic policy, the establishment will continue to promote them as individuals’ problems. The difficulties presented by a population that has endured 40 years of neoliberal indoctrination cannot be underestimated....
Help the organisers: visit the Crowdfunding page for this event. 
The Pileus
The fringe event that promises to empower Labour’s Progressives against neoliberalism
Patricia Pino

also by Patricia Pino:
Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss MMT at length with Professor Bill Mitchell himself. My objective was to find a way to explain its fundamentals in a way which could be easily understood by anyone, without the requirement of an academic background. He was kind enough to help me in this task.
To understand MMT, it is best to start by comparing it to Neoliberalism.…
It should now be evident why the neoliberal model presents a destructive path. Immediate environmental and human concerns (namely climate change and destitution) are relegated to issues of secondary importance. But to replace this model with that proposed by MMT a number of challenges remain.…
The following are a few basic principles of MMT which must be understood in order to challenge the neoliberal myths:
Labour’s economic alternative to neoliberalism

David Motadel: The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now

It has never been more important to knowledge the history of fascism and neofacism in America.

David Montadel is assistant professor of international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

America is currently experiencing a wave of increasingly aggressive far-right and neo-fascist activism. Observers have routinely considered fascism an ideology alien to American society. Yet it has deeper roots in American history than most of us have been willing to acknowledge.
Consider the interwar period. The crisis years of the 1920s and 1930s not only gave rise to fascist movements across Europe – a moment captured in Ernst Nolte’s classic The Three Faces of Fascism – but around the globe. The United States was no exception.
Across the country, fascist and proto-fascist groups sprang up. The most prominent among them was the paramilitary Silver Shirts movement, founded by William Dudley Pelley, a radical journalist from Massachusetts, in 1933.
Obsessed with fantasies about a Jewish-Communist world conspiracy and fears about an African American corruption of American culture, its followers promoted racism, extreme nationalism, violence and the ideal of an aggressive masculinity. They competed against various other militant fringe groups, from the Khaki Shirt movement, which aimed to build a paramilitary force of army veterans to stage a coup, to the paramilitary Black Legion, feared for its assassinations, bombings and acts of arson.
An important role in this history was played by radicalized parts of the Italian and German American community. Inspired by the ascent of Mussolini, some Italian Americans founded numerous fascist groups, which were eventually united under the Fascist League of North America.
Even bigger was Fritz Julius Kuhn’s German-American Bund, founded in 1936. Its members considered themselves patriotic Americans. At their meetings the American flag stood beside the Swastika banner. At a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York on 20 February 1939, a crowd of 20,000 listened to Kuhn attacking President Franklin D Roosevelt, referring to him as “Frank D Rosenfeld” and calling his New Deal a “Jew Deal”.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

teleSUR — Brazil's Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Indigenous Claim

Indigenous communities in Brazil have scored a major victory, as the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in their favor in a conflict over the Xingu Indigenous Park, in the state of Mato Grosso, and the Indigenous reserves of Nambikwara and Parecis.
Brazil's Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Indigenous Claim
teleSUR / md-IB-cl

Robert Kuttner — Steve Bannon, Unrepentant

Trump’s embattled strategist phones me, unbidden, to opine on China, Korea, and his enemies in the administration.
Great article.

The American Prospect
Steve Bannon, Unrepentant
Robert Kuttner

It gets better. Bannon thought this was off the record.

Raw Story
‘Leaker’ Bannon ‘never intended’ for free-wheeling interview to be on record: report
Elizabeth Preza

Michael Krieger — Americans are Rapidly Descending Into Madness

This is interesting post. It reflects a key strain of thought at the time of the craziness over Vietnam that led to the countercultural revolution, communalism, the underground economy, etc. Most people that grew up after that period are unaware of the profound shift that took place in American culture from mid-Sixties (seeded by the Beat Generation of the late Fifties) to the mid-Seventies. The transition was complete by the late Seventies and America set off on another generational round at the time of the Reagan presidency.

Krieger's post, with which I identify from those times, suggests that something similar may be happening. This would accord with the generational theory of Strauss and Howe and also suggested by Ravi Batra in The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos.

Interesting also, Krieger calls for raising the level of collective consciousness as an antidote to the mass craziness, something that also characterized the period of the countercultural revolution in America and the a renewed interest in spirituality apart from institutional religions. Now meditation is a household word in the West, recommended by health professionals and adopted as a management technique.

According to Stauss & Howe, the Sixties generation was one characterized by Awakening and I agree that this is an apt characterization of what transpired then. However, the present cycle of generational change is characterized by crisis, and that also seems to be the case. This period is a phase transition to the next generational cycle. It is a period of destruction before a new period of reconstruction.

Liberty Blitzkrieg
Americans are Rapidly Descending Into Madness
Michael Krieger