T.A. Jackson confirms: Carlsbad is a liberal

It is official; T.A. Jackson now confirms: Carlsbad is a liberal.

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Carlsbad 1819 blog when IDC confirmed that the Carlsbad 1819 readership has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all newsreaders. Coming close on the heels of a recent T.A. Jackson survey which plainly states that Carlsbad 1819 has lost more readership, this news serves to reinforce what we’ve known all along. Carlsbad 1819 is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by falling dead last in the recent #frogtwitter poll.

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Temptations of right-wing socialism

[My time has been sucked up lately by a do-nothing internship I was accepted in, in which I spend most of my time smoking my pipes. My tin of Peterson Irish Flake is nearly finished, so I need to restock with some cheap over-the-counter shag cuts, the only thing that’s available ’round these parts. But it’s also not entirely devoid of educational value, either. Anyway, here’s a brief addendum to the last essay…]

There comes a point in every rightist’s intellectual development where they hit upon the elephant in the room concerning political economy: “Wait a minute, capitalism eradicated feudalism… this means capitalism isn’t traditional… muh Whigs, 1688, Dutch maritime republicanism, classical liberalism and Cobdenism vs. the Tories… what am I supposed to believe in now?!”

Congratulations, Marx already knew this. He devoted an entire section in Capital, vol. 1 to it: part 8, and even gave it a cool name: “primitive accumulation.”

(This leads to the laughable articles that pop up every now and then where someone tries to give a “right-wing rehabilitation” of Marx — I’m thinking of Kerry Bolton here at the moment, — to show us the “based Marx” hiding underneath.)

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Despotism ain’t a bad place to be

Simon-Nicolas-Henri (S.N.H.) Linguet (1736-1794) was a lawyer and man of letters who attracted a great deal of attention from the 1760s to the 1780s before falling into obscurity by the following century, in a fate analogous to Herbert Spencer in his own time (with the apparent exception of Japan). His modern reception is as contradictory and confused as it was by his contemporaries. He is chiefly remembered for his supposed defense of Asiatic monarchies as a superior form of governance to both European absolutisms and liberalisms (an oversimplification of what was his chief work, a multifaceted counter-Enlightenment treatise attacking ideas of “natural liberty”), which was something that irked him when he was still alive. Dubbed the “advocate of Neros, sultans and viziers” by his detractors, he was at the same time admired by Gracchus Babeuf, and was positively received as an early critic of bourgeois economy by Karl Marx in his Theories of Surplus Value. Marx particularly loved Linguet’s phrase that “the spirit of the laws is property.” A book by Norman Levine entitled Marx’s Rebellion Against Lenin cites Linguet as a member of the “Enlightenment Left,” which may have been news to him.

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Cultural Marxism: an alternative history

Cultural Marxism emerged from the failure of fin-de-siecle and interwar Orthodox Marxism to properly grapple with the national question, and with the failure of historical materialism to deal with psychological motives of economic classes. The work of French and Italian Marxist revisionists in the making of proto-fascist ideology is well known, but a similar process evolved in the rigidly leftist side as well. Orthodox Marxism had increasingly become a rote and vulgarized system of keywords to be applied in order to confirm a predetermined consensus. Words like “imperialism” and “bourgeoisie” had gone on to mean just about anything, with the absence of a well-defined Marxist theory of the state contributing to this state of affairs. Eduard Bernstein and the social-democratic reformists had accepted social liberalism in everything but name. The antibourgeois character of Marxism never had a very strong psychological foundation to begin with. The Junker’s existence is threatened by the burgher in a way that the proletarian’s isn’t. No surprise the prole would want to emulate his “class enemy,” the burgher, especially since there were no hereditary restrictions to accomplishing this, and as it became easier with increasing consumerization and expansion of credit.

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The Old New Left: Student Radicalism in the 1930s

Ho Chi Minh! Ho Chi Minh!

There has long prevailed a certain exceptionalism about the 1960s. It all went so well with the decade prior, with Father Knows Best on the air… and then, the Yippies are nominating a pig for President, “free love” reigns freely indeed, and the Jews sell America out in 1965. Except really big this time around.

It wasn’t that exceptional, not even the youthful vitality. For there was a student radical movement contemporaneous (sometimes collaborating with) the New Deal some 30 years before. It has been swept under the dust and much of it thrown into the memory hole, but it’s a fascinating little episode. It’s the link between Old and New Left, as these terms tend to be used. Grounded on class analysis, but with very strong concerns for racial equality and fighting fascism.

Common wisdom is that America could never swallow the social-democratic pill like Europe. Yet in an interview with former American Student Union (ASU) leader Joseph P. Lash, he confided that FDR was “accomplishing social reforms beyond the dreams of most of the Socialists of Europe.”

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Rough edges of the New Deal revolution

You know, the post office in every community ought to be the people’s contact with the government. We ought to make more of it. The post office is a natural for co-operation between the people and the Federal Government.

— FDR as quoted by Frances Perkins in The Roosevelt I Knew (1947) [source]

Selig Perlman was one of the great labor historians in the institutionalist tradition of Richard T. Ely and John R. Commons. Unlike theorists focusing on class struggle, he viewed unionism as creating a “job and wage consciousness” instead, which intersected with a so-called “scarcity consciousness” on part of the psychology of the wage worker, in which his perception of limited economic opportunity precludes him both from entrepreneurialism and any grand scheme of socializing production, instead focusing on immediate pragmatic goals of raising wages, reducing hours, reducing workplace hazard, etc. Impressive, given that Perlman was a Russian-born Jew drunk on the Marxist theory of Plekhanov, until he got deconverted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison… deconverted into something no less peculiar.

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