Low expectations in context

You may have caught Liza Featherstone's piece, "If Joe Biden Moves Left, You Can Thank The Left," in Jacobin dated three days ago.

The content of this piece is a lot better than the title, which screams "I am a nice liberal with a big ego." If you read through the article you can see that some of the advice is good! Here's the conclusion as an example:

To give up on pressuring this administration would be a mistake; we need to demand that Biden keep his promises, while also explaining why our world needs more than good liberalism. We also need to guard against the greatest danger of good liberalism: if history is any guide, a Biden foreign policy could be viciously anti-socialist and murderously interventionist.

Above all, we need to build socialist, left, and worker power from the ground up, focusing on local and state government and on our workplaces. That’s the only way we can ensure that future generations will be able to expect better than Joe Biden, liberal edition. We cannot allow this complicated and chaotic moment to go to waste.

See? Good content. Also we might consider applauding the Biden administration for having a pandemic policy that is better than the Trump pandemic policy, which more or less made Trump into the principal accomplice to very-large-scale negligent homicide. And maybe Biden will have a few policies which don't have "crime family" stamped all over them! Yay! (Democrats in Congress can shove it for being complicit in last year's garbage, for all I care.)

Meanwhile on Daily Kos they've applauded Joe Biden's good deeds by saying that "An unapologetic Biden is finally saying goodbye to the centrism that has hobbled Democrats for decades." Whaddaya think, gang? Are all of the neoliberal social climbers in Biden's cabinet moving left, too? After all those anti-Sanders Tweets of hers, is Neera Tanden finally going to make peace with Bernie Sanders? The same people who have been telling us for the past thirty years that a Virgin Birth of a New Major Party was impossible are now claiming some sort of spontaneous Virgin Birth of the Left evidenced by behaviors within the White House.

Let's take a look at what led us to such low expectations, then. The primary cause has got to be America's sacred "two-party system." Every time we sit there and invoke said system as a justification for voting for "lesser-evil" candidates, the Left gets weaker, and this has been going on for forty years, since the beginning of the neoliberal era. We are now at the point of applauding a very tiny and disorganized Left for Joe Biden's "victory" over Donald Trump, when in fact Donald Trump defeated himself and the Left was another bystander. The applause for Joe Biden's small-potatoes good deeds is part of this vast overestimate of the power of a Left which has a fraction of the power it had, I dunno, in the 1960s? The fact that we have to go back five decades to find anything should tell you something. ("Look! The Squad has six members now!")

We've also got to give a lot of credit to today's Republican Party. Who would think that a party promising the public nothing for its hard-earned tax dollars could be so wildly successful? The Republicans are indeed the vanguard of a system in which the majority of voters support one candidate or another merely because "he's not the other guy." To counter this horrifying trend, when Obama was President the Democrats gave, to the Republican Party, all branches of the Federal government, 12 governor's seats, and 900+ seats in state legislatures. When Trump was President the Republicans gave much of it back. And now you've got people predicting a Republican resurgence in 2022. Back and forth, back and forth.

I really don't understand the offhand dismissals of a Movement for a People's Party. The Jacobin people did it yesterday after doing an interview with Richard Wolff. When we put our situation in perspective we can ask the dismissers: "uh, what else have you got?"

Have any of you read Andreas Malm's new book? Book came out last September -- very current and topical. Malm claims, quite accurately when you look at the facts, that we are in a state of chronic emergency, very scary. He suggests a reversion to Leninist "war communism" regimes and politics. The fact that Malm is recommending a political course of action that has no supporters in this day and age should tell you something about how low our expectations are.

Trump's out, Biden's in. Be patient, my friends!

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Cassiodorus's picture

If Jesus had indeed had a virgin birth, then he would have been a girl. You think God would have invented a fetus from nothing and replaced one of Mary's X chromosomes with a Y within that fetus (thus reducing Jesus' chances of surviving infancy) just for fun? Wouldn't it have been easier for God merely to inhabit Jesus regardless of how He was born?

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"Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care." -- Frank Zappa

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Cassiodorus

First off, Cass, a question: Is there supposed to be a connection between this Comment and the rest of your Essay? If so, I'm not grokking it; please clarify.

Now, as to the text of your Comment and the questions it asks:

On the Virgin Birth issue:

If Jesus had indeed had a virgin birth, then he would have been a girl. You think God would have invented a fetus from nothing and replaced one of Mary's X chromosomes with a Y within that fetus (thus reducing Jesus' chances of surviving infancy) just for fun? Wouldn't it have been easier for God merely to inhabit Jesus regardless of how He was born?

In a Semitic country in 4 BCE? No way in [phrase which rhymes with "clucking bell"] !!

Remember, Jesus (as God the Son) allegedly accepted Incarnation as a human being to deliver a message and accomplish a mission. For this, Jesus needed a minimal modicum of respect; and in a Semitic culture of the early to middle Augustan Age, that definitely required ownership of a penis.

"If you had come today you would have reached a whole nation;
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication!"

-- Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar

Wink

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Cassiodorus's picture

@thanatokephaloides The idea of the "virgin birth" was cobbled from Egyptian mythology, which was itself gotten elsewhere.

http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp264-ss13/2013/02/26/jesus-vs-horus/

https://www.smh.com.au/national/there-s-nothing-new-about-virgin-births-...

As Berwyn Lewis pointed out in the second link: "Claims of divine intervention aside, virgin births may have a more human explanation – a tragic demonstration of the extreme measures women have been forced to take to save themselves and their reputations." Virgin birth, in other words, was written into theology to make Mary look good in the eyes of the same captives of patriarchy who demanded that Jesus be male.

My point was that an actual virgin birth, occurring through parthenogenesis, would only produce a girl, never a boy.

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"Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care." -- Frank Zappa

Cassiodorus's picture

for the diary per se. I'll try to stop being witty long enough to focus. Here's Ezra Klein from three days ago:

Democrats, Here’s How to Lose in 2022. And Deserve It.

His advice:

But now Democrats have another chance. To avoid the mistakes of the past, three principles should guide their efforts. First, they need to help people fast and visibly. Second, they need to take politics seriously, recognizing that defeat in 2022 will result in catastrophe. The Trumpist Republican Party needs to be politically discredited through repeated losses; it cannot simply be allowed to ride back to primacy on the coattails of Democratic failure. And, finally, they need to do more than talk about the importance of democracy. They need to deepen American democracy.

Whaddaya think, gang? Are they motivated to do those things?

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@Cassiodorus
on anyone popular. Now they have established that you can impeach someone not in office just to prevent them from running for office,

that and running another Bernie (AOC?), preprogrammed to fold on the verge of victory. If there is not a new party, I'm not going to participate in these farcical elections any more. Even if there is, they will just suddenly "discover" millions of votes to put their anointed henchmen into victory.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus

After the CARES Act? Are you kidding?

Well, yes, you are, of course. Smile

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cassiodorus's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal thanks for joining the conversation!

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"Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care." -- Frank Zappa

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus

Smile

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

ovals49's picture

Child rearing positive reinforcement efforts will have no effect on Alzheimer’s patients. The flurry of small victories via executive actions, as welcome as they may be, do not touch the the big issues. Murderous interventionist foreign policy. Global temperature rise. Resource depletion. Extinctions. Government that serves corporate “persons” over the needs of the populace.

There is so much bad news disguised by the relentless media narratives that people who still participate in, and have their hopes linked to, our terminal two party duopoly, simply refuse to consider the possibility that both parties are fully committed to the ongoing betrayal of the people.

I agree that we need a viable third party, most urgently.

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“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” – Albert Einstein

earthling1's picture

This is not the Democrat Party of the 60s. This is an abomination, a perversion, a bastardized version.
Don't get me wrong, I do not miss the Dixiecrats at all.
But I do miss the New Deal policies embraced by Democrats since the 30s.
And you are also correct in that 22' is the Democrats to lose either on purpose or through felony incompetence.
We either fight to get our party back or find a new name. We cannot go on calling ourselves "Democrats". The right has demonized that name.
IMHO
Thanks for the post, Cassiodorus.

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

Trump undid as many of Obama's executive orders as he could and Biden will undo those. Biden's not about to touch the Trump tax cuts any more than Obama touched the Bush tax cuts. Unlike Trunp, Biden might add a new military adventure or two.

As for SARS-CoV2, Biden will play for time -- the vaccine will reduce the number of new infections and that in turn will reduce the number of new deaths, but his team isn't about to stomp on the virus that has proved to be effective in a few countries, and therefore, it's too soon to tell how long it will remain with us.

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@Marie
Biden will make some tinkering reforms. Maybe cut the limit on state and local taxes. perhaps a token increase in the top rate, countered by a new loophole or something like full taxability of SS. But that is coming anyway as the taxing of "rich" SS recipients is unindexed to inflation. I'm now "rich" by those rules because I'm liquidating my IRA to pay off the mortgage. funny, spending down your assets makes one "rich".

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

here's what they'll do:
First, it will take Biden less than a month to convince himself that he doesn't even have to pretend to be acting for the public good. There will be 23 months of ever increasing "welfare" then "Entitlement" cuts, pentagon increases, military escalations and interventions, and any public complaints will be denounced with blanket ad hominem attacks followed with more intelligence agency and police oppression.
And after the 2022 wave we'll be talking about how the Democrats will be nothing but a New England/west coast regional party.

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On to Biden since 1973

Cassiodorus's picture

@doh1304 You've got a few people trying to save the Democrats, and you've got a few people trying to create the People's Party. None of them have the vision necessary to save the planet from social collapse. Do their attitudes evolve as the actors on stage reveal their true characters?

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"Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care." -- Frank Zappa

The Big Lie that the left is scattered is a sign how scared they are.
DKos new narrative also shows how scared they are.
The People's Party terrifies them. They're trying to fool the left that they've changed stripes. That won't stick. America has wised up. The Establishment always betrays the working class for big money.
The working class will see the People's Party can be turned to.
Dems are dinosaurs.
Desperate dinosaurs.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Battle of Blair Mountain totally enthralled to the Democratic Party. There's a reason why the anti-Trump coalition went with Biden and not Hawkins even though Hawkins would have given us the better outcome. They have a strategy: elect two new members of the Squad every election cycle. By the year 2200 they should have a majority in Congress.

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"Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care." -- Frank Zappa

Shahryar's picture

we can push left if we like but putting our hopes on the Dems is a sad mistake. "Go left while we build something else" is more like it.

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because of the perception that 3rd parties never succeed here. And the thought that such a party would disproportionately take votes from democrats, and lead to republican landslides.
Maybe if both major parties were challenged, people would be more willing to back a 3rd party. For example, let Trump form his "Patriot Party" to weaken Repubs and maybe the People's Party would have a shot. It oughtn't be this hard in a democracy. Maybe that's the problem. Smile

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Cassiodorus's picture

@peachcreek the Democrats need no help giving away all of their offices (outside of, perhaps, California, where less than a quarter of the voters are registered Republicans) to Republicans.

Perhaps the only real purpose of the People's Party is to hold Democrats to Bernie Sanders' promises. It's good enough for me. We are entering into a rather extraordinary period in human history in which lots of people are going to die because they can't think their way out of the Utopia of Money. Already hundreds of thousands have died of COVID-19, and thousands globally die each year of the effects of climate change. How many more of them have to die before American politics experiences a realignment is really an open question. But realignment will come.

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"Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care." -- Frank Zappa

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@peachcreek

unless we're talking about one of the less frequently used meanings of "succeed:"

verb: succeed; 3rd person present: succeeds; past tense: succeeded; past participle: succeeded; gerund or present participle: succeeding
1. achieve the desired aim or result.
"keep trying and you will eventually succeed"
Similar:
triumph
be victorious

2. take over a throne, inheritance, office, or other position from.
"he would succeed Hawke as Prime Minister"
Similar:
replace
take the place of
take over from

3. become the new rightful holder of an inheritance, office, title, or property.
"he succeeded to his father's kingdom"
Similar:
inherit
accede to
assume
take over
come into
acquire

4. come after and take the place of.
"her embarrassment was succeeded by fear"
follow
come after
follow after
take the place of
replace

Parties succeed here in the 2nd and 4th senses. They don't succeed in the first or third senses. As for the third definition, I would quarrel with the word "rightful;" as for the first, while the two parties keep handing the Congress and the Presidency back and forth to each other, is any of that really because of the parties' organization and efforts?

Remember that Joe Biden won the primary on earned media alone. It's hard to imagine that that win actually emerged from his or the Democratic party's efforts. What efforts?

As for the general election, it's ironic that arguably Trump's win was one of the few instances in which the actions of a political figure or party accounted for the results. The only other election in this century that might qualify would be Obama's 2008 win, in which they probably would have rigged it for either Hillary or Obama if they'd needed to, but Obama and his campaign team were so good at campaign politics that they didn't need to.

Even more ironically, Trump's win was not the result of his actions, nor the Republican party's'; it was the result of the actions of Hillary 2016 and her captured press.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal I emphasized 'perception'.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

It was because of regularly recurring election fraud, and the unwillingness of our legal system to do anything about it.

But I was wrong. We need a political party so we can think through it and imagine ourselves through it. That's a little sad, but it's true, and I am sorry I wasn't on board with the PP earlier.

Here's hoping the establishment continues to underestimate Brana and the others.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cassiodorus's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal Especially in a time of civilization-wide collapse.

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"Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care." -- Frank Zappa