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This time we're goin' for the whole ball of wax

By Owen Paine on Wednesday April 2, 2008 10:14 AM

Not everything you read at Counterpunch is as good as Father Smiff's recent low-Mametic blow. Take this offering:


... titled New Deal Nostalgia by one of those new radical rainbow hypenates, Dunbar-Ortiz.

Off the top -- here's a passage striking a bogus brass bell:

"By 1880, a little over fifty percent of the U.S. population was farming, but the proportion declined to seventeen percent in 1940 and then to about two percent today. The decline to 17 percent in 1940 was largely due to New Deal policies to industrialize agriculture. What happened to those who would have become farmers? Were they no longer needed? Growing food remained and will remain a necessity, but large corporations took over the land and displaced individual farmers. Patriotism -- in the form of allegiance to a distant government, with its flag and other symbols, with its wars in distant lands -- has filled the black hole left by the loss of land and a way of life they loved."
The New Deal -- a death star to yeomanry? Read on.
"New Deal policies were themselves designed to end subsistence farming. Farmers could have survived with government assistance, but the New Deal allowed banks to foreclose and destroyed surplus food production to maintain high prices, while people were starving. The government could have bought and distributed the food they destroyed ("dumped in the ocean," my father used to say)."
To what devil's end?
"the Dust Bowl refugees were put to work picking cotton and fruit for agribusiness in California, the Northwest, and Arizona, driving out the Mexican farm workers, until the United States entered World War II, and the Dust Bowl refugees went to work in the war industry. All those angry ex-farmers and wannabe farmers making bombs and fighter planes, whole new generations following in that nasty work, a good many other of them serving in the military, now a business, not a civic duty. They get to drop the bombs and man the guns on the tanks that the others manufacture. Subsistence farmers, small farmers, like peace -- not war that takes away their young sons, and now daughters. Getting rid of them, reducing them to a tiny minority, has made military recruitment and passive acceptance of war much easier than during World War I, when farmers rose up in rebellion, as did workers, against a "war for big business," which all modern wars are."
"Subsistence farmers, small farmers, like peace -- not war." Could ya expect to find a more flat-footed raw-bar nugget of kandy korn retro guff -- even in a month of secular Sundays?

There's a lesson drawn: "As we search for historical models, it is important that we be fearless in what we draw from them." In this case, according to our radical hyphenate, Howie Zinn sums up the New Deal just right:

"capitalism remained intact. The rich still controlled the nation's wealth, as well as its laws, courts, police, newspapers, churches, colleges. Enough help had been given to enough people to make Roosevelt a hero to millions, but the same system that had brought depression and crisis -- the system of waste, of inequality, of concern for profit over human need -- remained."
The message?
"When we envisage the New Deal as our model for social change, we are accepting the permanence of capitalism and assuming it can be reformed, and we are separating the state from capitalism, rather than acknowledging that the US state is a plutocracy"
Now why does such a black and white checker pattern portrait of the New Deal and arsenal of democracy render me -- fatigued?

Because its center of gravity, the point this thought field condenses to, exists somewhere between hapless bald earth nonsense, and all or zero noodledom. Premise: we need to suggest refoms that burst the bonds of "the system... be realistic and imagine the impossible."

I suggest we find the boundaries of the real and push them for a burst through. Want a for-instance? The arsenal of democracy is a fine figurative blueprint for a clean green automated production machine for Norte America.

This time we don't build a better death star.

Comments (15)


What's with the hyphen-hating? Should the parents have just gotten with the program?

Al Schumann:

I think Owen's hyphen-hating ways come from a dread of the politics in which the identity of cultural differences trumps the identity of class.

Is that a fair way of putting it, Owen?


you bulls eyed me meme sanctum


that first passage
the farm all tractor review
of the years 1880 to 1949

has more briary mis directs causal reversals
assignment errors and continuity chops
then a george mason austrian school phd "desert-ation"
its almost as good as
the quote from chandler
about santa anna nites


"I suggest we find the boundaries of the real and push them for a burst through"

this notion needs a better
figure to "ride "
then an invisible welded boiler

i'd best take it back
to the chop shop
and come up with somethin' more
like a blasticated result of the bursting of something
more intricated

like an alexander c wind structure


for every scylla ....a charybdis

here's what lurks on the other side of the prog fairway

those who cam work with one wing of the corporate elite

the anti low roader non greed heads the the class statesmen or ..

“High Road” businesses and developers - on the other hand - tend to understand the longer-term importance of a skilled, healthy and prosperous work force, of sustainable development and a clean, healthy environment. They often see that these things are beneficial to them as well, and they are willing to work in democratic alliances to realize these conditions."

ps carl d 's ghost of out fits past

Al Schumann:

Who the hell is he writing for? It reads like a marketing pitch, a prospectus for a dotcom consultancy.

Tim D:

Proyect, also commented on this recently:


Roxie is a posturer who greatly overestimates the power of "identity." You wonder if she'd have hyphenated herself if she'd married a white dude named Phillips.

Proyect's every word is an attempt to crown himself The New Lenin.

Socialism in both these battlers' hands is just about exactly what "change" is in Obama's, if not less.


ole proyecto there
is a solemn ass of side saddle trottterite

if doctor marx and his boy lenny
had a way forward machine ....

he needs to be choked
like a danish goose


more on looouigi p

i can indulge his imbecile brain
no ones perfect
as joe e brown famously said

but this is ...ignorance

"The dynamics of the world capitalist system for the past 40 years or so establishes ...
the capitalist system since the 1970s at least demands Herbert Hoover type policies"

there is no way to get a new deal now
you fuckin wage smurfs and pwog ponders

its all --- i mean the whole
fuckin mode of production ----
is teetering on a knife's edge

try anything novel and bim
....the entire earth wide
capitalist system will go into
a near death convulsion

errr like the great depression ???

but lou dear didn't that lead to ....

nope not this time comrade pal

this time the whole big fuckers
gonna burst
right into thin air

like one gigantic interlaced
enron/ teddy bear stearns
balance sheet

and the north pole
will shake hands with the south pole


how 'bout this
for utterly baseless fright frolicks

"it(the capitalist exploiter class)
needs to dismantle Social Security because it is an onerous burden on the national treasury.."

the system's in surplus u giff
a huge surplus that has about ten years
to taper down before its back to paygo

ten years
long enough to destroy...even ...troy

If only we were all as brave and clear-sighted as those heroic Trots who saw that refusing to fight Hitler was the true glorious path to the worker's paradise. Just imagine what wonders would have ensued, had the masses wised up then and followed their shining Leninist, proto-Proyectian example!

Tim D:

I dunno. I think that's kind of harsh re: proyect (by the way, as far as i can tell, he now eschews his sectarian trotskyite past). proyect usually provides decent analysis on very many issues. i also think many of his criticisms of the new deal are legitimate and his arguments more compelling than dunbar-ortiz's.

i certainly don't think a "new" new deal is in the offing, not least of all because the economy (and more importantly the world system) has changed since that time. but as i've only begun to probe these issues myself, i'm willing to yield to more expert opinion (although judging by the deeply divided response from the luminaries of the left to the recent anniversary of the new deal, i'd say the jury is still out and probably always will be).


tim d ..u imply the real question

how has the global system changed since 1933??

i oughta throw together my view of this

a functioning pax americana
vs a broken pax britanica
is the clear start line
but as to qualitative system dynamics
beyond function mal function

i need to compact my thoughts

ps lp is both more cogent and coherent
but all his hand waving about fundy
structural change
in the capitalist system
is pure declamation

"show me the algebra !!!"

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