« The long view | Main | Bunker, meet Poindexter »

The sovereign remedy

By Owen Paine on Thursday July 16, 2009 08:48 PM

Everybody tired of the Roosevelt parallels by now? Okay, so Obama has flunked the test. Big deal -- the test was never fair to begin with.

It's simple -- Obie took power too soon to be a Roosevelt II. He's in old Ram Macdonald's shoes, not Franklin's.

Imagine a presidential election not in '32 but in '30. Then, only a Huey Long dared fume about the need for national topsey turvey -- not respectable progressives like Frank. That took more riot and misery, a lot more riot and misery.

If elected in '30 roosevelt (or Smith) would have been nothing more than reluctant hunger chancellors -- just like Hoover.

And just like Obie is today.

Before Roosevelt took the helm the the system got to cook in its own acids for two more long long years. Not till then and only then could FDR ride the wave of naked need for reform and relief -- yes reform and relief -- emphatically not recovery.

By then the corporate fleet wanted reform like a nun wants Gable -- despite whatever its own captains' blustered. The times gave FDR his free hand. Put all the fool first-term inspired amateur tinkering aside, and all the hoopla, and all the zillion handshake make-work jobs too. Bottom line, the sustained New Deal reforms were system preserving -- right? That's a consensus conclusion today.

Sure we've strayed some, in recent years, but haven't contemporary events provided just the rude reconfirmation Ob will need to mount his rack of reforms and retroforms?

But as for recovery...

Every pundit is howling "where's my recovery"? There will be no full recovery, not for years -- and that's a dead-on FDR parallel. It's an old story, much beloved by Roosevelt haters, but true: New Deal recovery measures failed, if by recovery you mean the comon sense meaning of the word: a return to spontaneous self-sustaining full-capacity running speeds, not a limpy pegleg job full of emergency leaf-raking charity fests and other assorted googoo.

Nope, the Roosevelt recovery was as woefully inadequate from '33 to '39 as I suspect Obie's will be, from here to whenever the trade winds can rise again. FDR flunked then, and Ob will flunk now, and for the same reason: the global credit system required then -- just as it does now -- a serious, maybe decade-long drydocking, a decommissioning of its agencies, time to reshuffle the paper work.

In the blowback of all this reshuffling, earth's jobbled masses will be forced to take on lots of misery, a noble selfless sacrifice indeed, to save the big guys' system.

We could take another path, of course. We could really fire up a recovery so strong it morphed the system for ever and a day -- but such pink threats to hyperdrive our production platform are not in the new deal Ob has in store for us, any more than it was in Franklin's new deal.

Full-tilt action to fully employ the multitude comes only during global war drills. That's a hard and fast rule: the totalization of a modern sophisticated corporate economy can and will occur only as the response to a nation-threatening war cloud -- a real, honest-to-Ares war cloud. And I don't mean somethin' asymmetric, I mean a big-power-against-big-power thunderhead.

What about our climate anti-climax? That's the moral equivalent of a war, isn't it?

Nope, not threatening enough, in the near term, to the right people. Sorry.

Hey, I can hear FDR II now. He's telling his fellow Americans the dead end on the way to hope:

I hate war. War is a son of a bitch. Thank the God of me and Reverend Jeremiah there will be no war in my time. But my friends, when it comes to recovery, to good jobs, to a bright future, there is no substitute for war, but war itself.

Comments (17)

Amen, op-san, but since when does this "smart" and "let's move into the future" guy get to benefit from 1930s homilies?

He's making an even weaker attempt than FDR, and he knows or ought to know that the planet does not have another simple, easy, let's-make-more-crap Great Boom left in its innards or outards.

I'm also not sure he gets to say it's 1930. he went on 60 Minutes bragging about reading up on FDR.

This is the Second Time Around with this shit, too.

P.S. FDR labored under late racial nadir/pre-CRM conditions, too. This Obama character not only comes way after the CRM, but claimed to have been inspired by it!

Apples v. oranges here. FDR > Obama, by a mile, so far, and in all-but-sure prospect. Bad as FDR admittedly was.

Matt Hardwick:

What does it say about the non-liberal Left today that what you're talking about is this month's Harper's cover?

Leaving the fact that you're more eloquent and to the point aside...



the system reconstruction pulled off by roosevelt 33-44
has no parallel or possible parallel
it is the american juggernaut
ob's is but a second pwog readjustment
like lbj's

and i suspect my opinion
of the new deal 33-36
might be higher then yours

fdr was fearless in his benighted activism
"damn what the boys on 'The Street 'think"

i see none of that in our honest ob
equal opportunity merit prizer

i was trying to notice
not only in order of entry to power
but more importantly
the change in Uncle's
world role
\He gets to play the UK
of this market earth wide crisis
and miserable protracted stagnation

albeit the US
is signifigantly ...signifigantly stronger
..obviously ...
relative to the rest of the top chasers
in the global pack

hell even that shattered Canadian dipso
skirt lifter and sinophile

the booze pickled bob mundell

gives our Uncle another hundred
top dog years...at least

non parallel:
by '30 the pax anglica was already
16 years dead on its feet


more ...hopelessly

the crisis protraction and ..sharpening
thru 31 and 32
gave conventional dem-progs time to "radicalize"
the fdr of early 33 was hardly the fdr of 31
or so i'd conjecture

now we have approaching stability ...or so it seems and if so then ob can afford to
let us inch along barely foward
pursuing a receeding goal
of system-optimal
'cruising speed 'type employment

despite the plain fact
the new deal reforms 33-38
--that uncle sustained --
were already three quarters accomplished
in britain by the prior"liberal" reform wave
of the pre great war period

it's not that the new deal caught us up some what it's that it still inspires us with its tradition rattling improvs
i see none of that coming out of ob's gang
voluntarily at least

anymore then out of the ram's
stanley baldwin remastered hunger kampf

btw recall the face mask role assigned him
by the squalid coalition behind him
allowed ram to cavort about
as a euro-peace maker

given his domestic stymie it must have been solice to him
in his final years
dying before 38 was a mercy for him

we never got a labor party out of the watershed of course
the problematic of the new model
house divided
big tent jack assery

but here drawing the giant outline
of our missing labor party
might we not best
beware ...

while dreaming the dream
that we project over head
mayhaps under our very keel
we be drifting
into trot infested waters

i'll row for safe shore

home work assignment for those
looking to add hot sauce to their doomers' stew
read up on the UK's general election
of 31
the parallel brit point
to the liberty empire's home land
poli con

okay so the waters were boiling considerably more back then ...
all the more the downer that
re action triumphed mightly at the polls

Al Schumann:

Matt, Harpers often does a very good job of picking up Left and Leftish things and introducing them to the pwog mainstream. They dilute and fussify them a bit, but they still perform a valuable service in that regard. I'd subscribe, in spite of my differences with their editorial policy, but my last subscription landed me on every pwog sucker bait mailing list in existence. They're easily as bad as the Nation when it comes to that; kind of like aristocrats who have fallen into a desuetude that, regrettably, requires genteel chiseling if the austere comforts are to be maintained.

Nevertheless, I'm happy to see Harpers has gotten around to publishing something on the Democrat du Jour versus FDR. Obviously I'm biased towards Owen's take, and won't be able to read theirs, but credit where it's due.


Genteel chiseling

One of the higher ironic arts

I dabble in it myself
when and where I can

Comrade Zhou forgives me

Ragamuffin rentiers
Can't help themselves

Its that
Sell... mattresses

Al Schumann:

Owen is too kind to mention it, but I have an embarrassing moment on the genteel chiseling front. I tried to organize a SMBIVA cruise ship fund raiser. Who could resist? I even bought a peg-leg and practiced stumping around. I memorized sea shanties! I can't say Owen didn't warn me. He tried his best.

As it turned out, everyone could resist :-(

Fortunately, I've been able to use the peg-leg as the handle for a kitty litter scoop. The less said about the sea shanties, the better.


Who would have guessed that this modest post would generate such excellent replies, including OP's own? And a homework assignment, too!

I have to question OP's certainty that the US hegemony will last another hundred years. As witness, I call the much maligned (on this site) non-economist PCR, who yesterday asked on Counterpunch "What Economy?"

If you take away the American military (barely affordable by now), how long would this hegemony last?

Michael Hureaux:

We're all in a lot of trouble, so are the ruling elite. I don't know if we may be drifting into trot-infested waters, I think it's far more likely in this country that we'll see a sort of Narodnik -type resistance at first, libertarian in tone, propertarian in essence.

The elite may retain hegemony, if they can persuade millions of people that a debt service economy within which everyone is working to pay exorbitant interest rates on loans with sub-standard wages is operable. They have to pay for their wars overseas, they have to borrow to finance those wars, they can't repay that debt without grinding wage earners at an even deeper level. They have to come up with something resembling industry as they rebuiid econmy, which they're showing no interest in doing apart from their perennial war machine. And there are millions of mortgage holding interests in this country.

I believe we're heading into a period simiilar in some small ways to the U.S. and Britain in the 1930s, with isolated features similar to those which exploded in Kansas in the years before the Civil War. And I don't believe the ruling class can maintain hegemony either overseas or at home given such developments. Labor party or no, what happens in what's left of community forums and labor activity will be what decides what happens from there. I doubt they'll be trot infested water in such conditions, but something more akin to maoism, rooted as it is in the same fetish around land ownership that much of small farm and business politics always is. In any event, I see a wild ride ahead.


Speaking of mao

It looks as if the state capitalism of the present gang of dwarfs over there are proving what's possible even within the bounds of capitalism if the state runs the hi fi sector

33 percent growth in corporate loans for investments and 15 percent increase in household expenditures
has signifigantly
off set the dramatic export plunge

Grab the Commanding heights

Schumann politely refrains from mentioning that the cruise ship was sponsored by one of those chain restaurants featuring "servers" in tight T-Shirts, along with bad domestic beer and microwaved buffalo wings.

Honestly, I'd wasted a perfectly good copy of No Logo on him the month before. What's next, Schumann? A "seminar" at Six Flags?


Al Schumann:

Acrimony and recriminations are not helpful, needless to say. So I won't belabor the point that "wasted a perfectly good copy of No Logo on him" really means she slapped me upside the head with it. I was willing to read the damn thing. There was no need to smack me. I'm quite reasonable, certain ebay peccadilloes notwithstanding -- and no, if anyone is curious, that does not refer to my chiseling, genteel and not so genteel.

Six Flags? Hmmm. I think I might be able to come up with something...

Son of Uncle Sam:

I ordered my sleeveless Tuxedo t-shirt for a wedding after party today, (white w/ red rose one size too small), if there's a socail event I volunteer to serve w/ the help (sounds hot).
I'll even make traditional maritime punch, w/ the same ingredients that prevent scurvy( if that chain restaurant happens to be hooters).

Son of Uncle Sam:

Sea shanitie Karaoke?

Peter Ward:

I mean, it's true the powers that be need powerful motivation before giving anything away to the poor--or, I should say, need powerful motivation not to steal so much from the poor as they generally do--but that does not mean we have to sit and quietly take it. We can demand the economy work for us, if we can get our act together. Besides, even if one wishes it the kind of war necessary is impossible thanks to modern weapons of mass destruction. What we'd actually get would be suicide--a fate Israel seems to determined to illustrate for the rest of us.

Throw in this hat, and I'll be the first one in line at Six Flags, waiting to be Klein-slapped...


Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Thursday July 16, 2009 08:48 PM.

The previous post in this blog was The long view.

The next post in this blog is Bunker, meet Poindexter.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31