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nxylas's Journal
nxylas's Journal
October 18, 2013

Stratfor softening us up for dictatorship?

This article from the director of Stratfor, the Texan company exposed by Wikileaks as part of the "intelligence-industrial complex", appeared on the influential center-right (as opposed to batshit crazy TeapubliKKKan) site Real Clear Politics. It basically argues that dictators can be divided into "good" dictators like General Pinochet and some southeast Asian dictators, who dutifully advance the goals of the 1%; and "bad" dictators, like those crazy Muslims with their inconvenient belief that usury is a sin.

I wonder if we're going to see a steady drip of articles like this in the future, followed by lots of pundits questioning whether democracy is really all it's cracked up to be, followed by...?

(Note: although the article doesn't mention Obama, the comments thread is predictably full of wingnuts going "You know what makes someone a dictator? Presidenting while black, that's what", and ignoring the actual content of the article completely.)

October 8, 2013

Tammany Hall: a (partial) defense

Found this article challenging the conventional view of Tammany Hall as a byword for the Democratic Party's corruption at an unexpected source: the conservative blog Front Porch Republic. Though perhaps "traditionalist" would be a better descriptor, now that "conservative" has become a virtual synonym for "fascist".

When they were doing their jobs, the bosses (the word is a New York one, from the Dutch Baas, meaning master; a word that has spread from this archipelago off the New Jersey coast to the entire English-speaking world) looked in two directions. They looked out for the interests of their wards in Albany and, to a degree, in Washington; they also looked out for the individual interests of the pushcart vendors getting hassled by the cops and the sandhogs digging the foundations for the Brooklyn Bridge and the brides under their chuppas: everyone who either had a vote, or had the ear of a man with a vote.

In the most cynical terms possible, in modern politics votes are acquired through advertising, which is guided by the findings of public relations experts using the psychological technology of the focus group and the poll. Since 2004, House and Senate races have been won by the candidate who spent the most money between 83 and 98 percent of the time. The intimacy and persuasion needed in vote-getting are generated primarily through the medium of the TV screen, and the direct financial beneficiaries of that money are, of course, the TV stations.

By contrast, in Tammany New York, votes were acquired through social contact and practical favors, financial and legal assistance, jobs and drinks at the pub. The direct financial beneficiaries were, yes, the politicians and the businessmen who got contracts at far above the market price– but also the poor families whose rent got paid, the boy who got a job working for the new El being put up along Greenwich Street and 9th Avenue, the couple whose hotel room was paid for when they were burnt out of their apartment.

In less cynical terms: Tammany was a corruption, but it was a corruption of something good: the idea that government should, as Plunkitt said, be “warm and personal;” that decisions should be made locally; that rulers should directly and practically help the ruled; that there should be an everyday and immediate connection between the politicians and the people.

More at: http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2013/10/the-once-and-future-boss-the-possibilities-of-tammany-hall/

Profile Information

Name: Nick Xylas
Gender: Male
Hometown: Bristol
Home country: England
Current location: Bristol
Member since: Sat May 13, 2006, 07:28 PM
Number of posts: 6,440
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