Cognitive Dissonance Today

By Al Schumann on Thursday January 12, 2012 01:02 AM

Matt Stoller does a superb job of defining consumer liberalism, the views of its adherents and the calamitous meltdown of what achingly meager sense they had.

...she does not understand the thesis, but instinctively rejects it as conspiratorial nonetheless. Her response as to what she believes in suggests not a coherent system, but simply a menu of concepts she finds pleasing. She lists off a set of concepts, like a consumer at a shopping market, picking and choosing what she wants. Oh, I’ll have the human rights, the egalitarianism, some social justice, and a side of, oh that looks good, “pragmatic skepticism of all forms of power, private as well as governmental.” Oh, and democracy, that too. Yummy. Having such an attitude requires ignoring the historical links between the oil industry, war-making, and the New Deal. It requires believing that infrastructure like highways and airports were built because good liberals were in charge, instead of the very obvious point that this stuff made the oil industry a lot of money while spreading prosperity to the middle class.

Stoller, and the Naked Capitalism writers, come very close to my conception of liberalism, which has had its proponents of humane consideration and real reformist endeavor. Now is not the time to get into my objections to that program. Digby, Drum, Alterman, the liberal hawks and the crackpot realists, the Nader-baiters and the Obamaphiles in general are in no way distinguishable from wingnuts. They're brand identity consumers on a shopping spree. Stoller has them dead to rights. And they don't like it all.

Just as a footnote, for my own selfish amusement, this is pretty fucking sweet. The old Reds here will be dead and buried before anything good comes along, but it could happen! It really could and that's heartening.

Comments (15)

Good title. Reminds me of those who Crow describes as gatekeepers. Gatekeepers to their own consciences, I reckon.

Al Schumann:

I could feel a comradely concern for the shopping liberals under some circumstances. Compulsive consumerism soothes the troubled soul. The better retail outlets give them a sense of being valued, welcome individuals.

Stoller has been decent towards them. He's left them a way of out self-inflicted disgrace. I doubt they'll take it, though.


"Paul, by criticizing American empire explicitly and its financing channels in the form of the Federal Reserve... enrages liberals by forcing them to acknowledge that their political economy no longer produces liberal ends"

from liberal ends v neo liberal ends

now there's no growing
the safety net
good paying low skill jobs neither

Al Schumann:

A couple of clarifications.

It's encouraging that there are progressive (not pwogwessive) reformers. For a long time, I thought Mason Gaffney was the only one still living. They'll take on serious structural analysis, pwogs won't, and they'll stick to their guns. Doesn't mean they'll get anywhere. But...

It was not my intent to compare Stoller to a better retail outlet. My previous comment, alas, could be read that way.

Al Schumann:

Owen, I would credit Stoller and friends with forcing liberals to engage. They're the ones that spotted the contradiction and demanded it be seen. The pwog liberals are knee jerk jackasses. They ankle bite, shriek and generally play out politics as brand identity self-expression.



"I have to admit that I don’t fully understand Stoller’s thesis although I do find myself instinctually rejecting the idea that liberalism is based upon a contingent relationship between finance and war making"

"contingent "

" — but perhaps that’s just because of the very unpleasant historic resonances in that conspiratorial premise."


"Considering that war has been omnipresent since humans emerged from the slime, I find it hard to see this correlation as anything more than coincidental"

"coincidental "

".. it’s possible that I’m being obtuse. In any case, I was more confused by it than anything and that’s probably my own fault."


you really can't improve on that can you


unexamined mutually inconsistent preferences
are the soul-stuff of consumerism

Al Schumann:

The pull words you highlighted form a splendid pwog mantra.

I don't see it. Not even close. "Consumerism?" What, pray tell, is that? The roads were built to please only the oil industry? What about the auto corps, the construction contractors, and, more importantly, corporate capitalists in general? Of course, this guy thinks talking about the Fed is a somehow serious critique of the political economy of US militarism. He also suggests that this political economy at one time was indeed "liberal" in the sense meant by the Digbys of the world. Hah!

Liberals are half-hearted and self-deluded, and the Dembot form swallows rank atrocities in the process.

I fail to see how this writer's tweaking of that hoary and massively obvious point comes close to justifying his own intellectual barf-hash.


you expect too much sometimes

its a start this break by MS
with the "liberal" establishment

matty mattel's master narrative

reads like
a present day flaubert might crib
his bouvard and pecuchet note books
on received ideas

yes this awakening is more like a restart
and yes as falsely humble and conflicted
as repentant gambler

old perceptions rediscovered starts a motion

let it develop

this stoller is better then the blogger version
of 4 years ago
so easily bashed here in the past

i suspect his tour of duty on the Hill
has tempered and deepened him

wised up
without excessive debilitating cynicism

Maybe so, op-san. But this Stoller cat packs as many whoppers into each line as any mainline Dimbot blogger you'll find. Maybe more. I fail to see how two wrongs make a right here.



"Stoller cat packs as many whoppers into each line as any mainline Dimbot blogger you'll find "

couldn't agree more

i particularly dislike
this chap's
calibre of harvard yard
over confident polymath ignorance

but i bite my tongue

we need many voices " in our chorus "
to be heard

even if they sing off key and garble the lyrics


please don't tempt me to go after him md

my sullied flesh slouches toward jerusalem
when he cuts into his collegial back slapping act

"we keen few " !!!!

he's much like that benign kumquat at slate
what's his name ??

juice greenwald ??

Al Schumann:

There's no line struggle in this. Me, I'm still enjoying the distress of the preening cluckers Stoller ruffled. Their description of Naked Capitalism as a hotbed of Bircher nonsense cracks me up, no end. His description of the shopping spree is delightful. Isn't that enough?

Al Schumann:

And to derail this a little, line struggles are great for articulate, well-educated, rhetorically talented people with strong wills and lots of drive. They're not so hot for everyone else, which category includes most of humankind.

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