« Might be time to START a fire, guys | Main | The Crusades continue »

Why can't a Merica be more like-a France?

By Owen Paine on Thursday April 28, 2011 07:45 PM

I've recently become a quiet virtual visitor at Father S's most favorite of all elite pwog-left mailing lists, and as I write this, the listed few are chewing like the dogged radical high-church hyenas they are on that lovely old bone: "why our Yankee social income transfer system is so disgracefully inferior to advanced Europe's?"

My counter question -- a typical smartass meta-question, I admit: Is it really worth the time? Given the short ration of left pwogs around and, of course, the key point -- the actual street level value of the difference to say the middle 3 quintiles?

Yes, I know the difference to the bottom bulkitude is considerably north of George Wallace's dime. Yet grant me this... it's far far far south of even a structural sublation... eh? The Euro states' bigger national transfers never threaten those nations' corporate hegemony itself; and when the international "concerns" of their corporate hegemons cross the path of popular national interests, then hegemonic special purposes trump the nation's majoritarian popular will, as we see over there today.

Like us, the Euros have open free-for-all ballot battles periodically, but as the great Nixon's lemma to Lincoln's theorem suggests, the corporates can rely on this self evident truth: "You can fool enough of the people enough of the time." Yes, with some patience you can even run Sweden according to corporate requirements.

Speaking of that gorgeous Nordic ice palace reminds me of a small liberal arts college on the west coast of Florida which for the briefest of segments of world historical time this peculiar Paine and doc smiff simultaneously attended(*) in the high 60s.

A bit after our time, in the dusk-like early 70's, this college of barely 300 resident inmates got convulsed by a genuine femdom woman's movement. Said movement declared this small and peaceful place a liberated zone, and took over the administration building.

In the event, and decidedly unlike, say, Berkeley, or my other alma mater, Columbia, the elder powers that be of this most hyperliberal God-is-dead college simply waited the riot grrls out -- allowed 'em even to break what at the time looked like an unbreakable collegiate national record for continuous occupation.

As with the final end of Ahab's quest -- once their ferocious occupation trickled away, the goddamned con job of a place went back to running itself as it had run itself before and as such places are always running themselves and always have been running themselves since the Emperor Charles V's horse shit on the Pope's throne.

Such on a grander scale is the global supranational corporate hegemony -- untouched by tax and transfer systems twice our own's size.


(*) We two attended this joint with quite contrary results... [Paine/Smith dossiers suppressed by editorial fiat].

Comments (12)


Different only in the short term, Owen. Now we're both bums.


Was this nugget deposited on the aforementioned 'most favorite of all elite pwog-left mailing lists' and, if so, did it draw any precis-able responses worth our attention?


"why our Yankee social income transfer system is so disgracefully inferior to advanced Europe's?"

Easy. Cuz we're redskin killing and blackskin enslaving manifest destiners. (I hate how this sounds like the words of strident 19-year-old, but well, there it is.) And hence a self-governing republic of petty bourgeois white guys. Whereas the Euros did their dirty work in the colonies. (And now that the colonies are coming home to roost, European social democracy democracy is in jeopardy.) This is so elementary, yet most wishful thinking left-libs -- why can't we be more enlightened, like them? -- seem preternaturally incapable of getting it. So there must be something structurally determined about their whining, too...

My (probably bullshit) theory is that the bigger and more diverse the country geographically, ethnically, 'racially', culturally, and so on, the easier it is for an elite to divide and conquer by setting various factions against one another. The flip side of it is that people feel less empowered and more atomized. In a community of 10 people, if 1 person is pissed, he can let everyone else know of his troubles, and more importantly, its easier to believe that the others will notice. As you begin scaling up, that scales down.


What glue said.

Paul Alexander:

Progressives are cute. Owen, I do appreciate someone taking a longer view. It's the same thing that's been going on even before a horse took a shit on a chair. Take a look around, soak it all in, this is what human beings are like. Sure there may be methods of living that are more beneficial to a higher percentage of the world population. That argument has been made more than a couple of times, yet it has made nary a dent in the trajectory of humankind. I know this is trite, but sure "we've" been to the moon, "we" have cell phones and microwaves, and "we" have eradicated a number of diseases. Unfortunately there is a much larger number of "thems" that are still living in complete and total misery and who have no idea what the hell a Europe is, and probably couldn't care less. They just want the neighbors to quit dumping their buckets of malarial shit in the street, it's driving down the price of theirs shanties.

In closing: PARTY!

Can I have a 6 week vacation like the French? I'd settle for that.

awesome guy:

who is this ''father s"?


'father s' is the cruel tyrant who forces all to honor Mrs. Bill Clinton whenever they desire to submit a comment at this place. Otherwise, however, he is noted for his complacency towards his rude brood.

awesome guy:

Oh yeah, that guy. Thanks.

But while we're on the subject of why aren't Americans more like Europeans, maybe we should ask why the Europeans seem to be in a headlong rush to be more like us, and seem to be playing catch up in the race to strip mine their welfare states. I guess I needed a question mark in there somewhere, to make the sentence more bouncy and dynamic, but it seemed too many words away from the beginning.

Anyway, you get the idea.

"Yes, but why Europeans wanna be more 'mericanlike?"



The change vectors on sly social transfer systems are all headed south west

At different speeds of course
I think it's largely a bluff and a false front move
Corporate capitalism can live quite comfortably with these systems
But like a shark it can't stop trying to clear itself of un necessary
Increases in the carrying cost of any national job class

What's perhaps still a wonder
How the various national job classes managed
to extract the reforms

They have extracted over the past 115 years or so

The question may not be answerable either way
Ie the ups or the downs without a better globe wide model
Of the north south interaction
Perhaps the rise of chindia bodes a new swamping effect like
The one that hit mid 19th century earth


"What's perhaps still a wonder
How the various national job classes managed
to extract the reforms

They have extracted over the past 115 years or so"

Wonder? don't you think the working class has suffered increasing divs of labor/nationalisms/neonationalisms/cross cutting aliances during that period - along with various changes in 'legal' organizational rights and -partic post WWII- the shifting away from productive labor while other hand cap tended to gain specific gravity and organizational prowess -national/international/multinational/transnational playing region against region, State agai nst State, local against local to obtain largest direct and indrect subsidies.
Decades of retrogression to have been overcome via neo-liberalism, but no, so now a sturdier enforcement in the 'developed world'

Neoclassic econ with its emphasis on individualism and what even Walras noted as a false equilibrium helped replace the more objective labor value of political econ ideologies -- consumerism and spectacle were moved to the fore while union bureaucracies partnered w/capital.

So long as avg rate of profit tended upwards, this worked for the cap system but along came overaccumulation and rapidly declining rate -- so much for partnership, so much for a U.S. working class able to afford rebellion if not revolution - which does take a few bucks.

I am though curious about [seeming?] lack of social banditry - or would that be the drug trade?


Unable to create sufficient new employment, unable in many cases to pay wages, desertification, state partnering with non-Chinese TNCs, very large peasant population reliant upon use value production/direct exchange, fairly effective Maoist groups in neighboring Nepal, ongoing ethnic clash vs NW China [Uhuigurs?], tens of thousands of local rebellions, corrupt local party officials, migratory mutualisms [shared experiences; in effect a party building. Yes, many demographers ignore or deny this but I've seen it happen, coarse it may not in a much larger country but internal migrations are not so straight forward as usually presented]-- China is a revolution waiting to happen.

India simply too undevoped from a wage labor and generalized commodity perspective, corruption beyond repair, effective Maoist and M-L orgs, potentially larger Pak conflict - but yes, Tata, call centers, tech development and absorbtion...

guess I'd say spontaneity and organiziation have to merge in respects we're [I'm] still not aware of...but might be found in some combo of van Gennep's and Turner's works as well as '68-74 events - seems capitalism has been/is in a type of liminal phase increasingly dependent upon modern primitive accumulation, well built anticipation[s]and ahistoricity...
but no salvation via BRIC or IC

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 April 28, 2011 07:45 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Might be time to START a fire, guys.

The next post in this blog is The Crusades continue.

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