Imperialism, neoliberalism, and the prospect of Donald Trump’s re-election


So I looked out my bedroom window this morning:
IMG_0041
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, November 12, 2019.

It actually fucking snowed. Not a lot, but nonetheless. And I still don’t have a real job.[1]IMG_0042
Fig. 2. My still faithful car, just before I plunged onto the salted roads. Let the corrosion begin. Photograph by author, November 12, 2019.

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Fig. 3. I have to admit, though, it is pretty. Photograph by author, November 12, 2019.

Naturally, the second ride of the day took me up Rialto Street, one of the steepest in Pittsburgh, and back down again (on a round trip). But it’d been salted, so apart from the fact the street is also ridiculously narrow, it wasn’t really a problem.

By mid-afternoon, however, I noticed that snow was sticking in some places, and not just the bridges (yes, they do indeed freeze first). I got an order on Mount Washington and a street was closed. Google’s alternative route took me up a steep alley and yes, I lost traction. Fortunately, I remembered something from a YouTube video about turning the wheels.[2] It’s a trick that wouldn’t have worked so well on a rear wheel drive car. But my car is front wheel drive and it worked great.

As usual, the most spectacular pictures are the ones I can’t stop to take, but as it was getting late in the day and toward my quitting time, I was reaching the conclusion that Pittsburgh was made for the snow (figure 4).
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Fig. 4. Photograph by author, November 12, 2019.

It is, I think, at its most spectacular with a light dusting.


I’ve been thinking about something Barack Obama said when he was first running for president that got him in a lot of trouble:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.[3]

There’s an irony here because the core truths here, that “the jobs have been gone,” now for 35 years, that “these communities” still haven’t “regenerated,” and that, my god, “they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them” remain the case. Obama’s handling of the financial crisis[4] didn’t help. And really, Hillary clinton stepped into the same booby trap with her “deplorables” remark:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of [Donald] Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

But the other basket, the other basket, and I know because I see friends from all over America here. I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas, as well as you know New York and California. But that other basket of people who are people who feel that government has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they are just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine [sic], feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.[5]

Obama inadvertently exposed the lie of neoliberalism. Clinton relied on that lie as a path to the White House. And the mainstream of the Democratic Party still believes in that lie, even as it hasn’t an intellectual leg to stand on.[6]

I fully understand and heartily endorse the desire to be rid of Donald Trump. But people need real jobs, not the fucking Wal-Mart jobs[7] they are supposed to satisfy themselves with. Hell, I need a real job,[8] not the “gig economy” bullshit[9] I am supposed to be satisfied with. They need hope. I need hope. More of the same old fucking neoliberalism isn’t it. The Democratic Party is determined, nonetheless, to defend neoliberalism and is accordingly likely to surrender the 2020 election.

We need to be rid of the Democrats just as surely as we need to be rid of the Republicans and I wish that so-called “progressives” would stop trying to redeem what should more properly be referred to as the neoliberal party.


Assault weapons

Mairead McArdle, “Supreme Court Allows Sandy Hook Lawsuit against Gun Manufacturer to Proceed,” National Review, November 12, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/supreme-court-allows-sandy-hook-lawsuit-against-gun-manufacturer-to-proceed/


Gaza

The latest violence appears to have been provoked by the Israeli assassination of an Islamic Jihad military leader.[10] The impasse over forming a government[11] is unresolved, so assume that Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to strike (he denies this, alleging the operation had been planned months ago) is indeed about making it more difficult for his rival, Benny Gantz, to form a government[12] and bolstering his own electoral prospects.

Times of Israel, “190 rockets launched at Israel since targeted killing of Islamic Jihad commander,” Times of Israel, November 12, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-november-12-2019/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  2. [2]Bjørn Nyland, “Tesla vs Hummer on steep hill,” YouTube, February 22, 2018, https://youtu.be/hlSv9fGT1Fk
  3. [3]Barack Obama, quoted in Ben Smith, “Obama on small-town Pa.: Clinging to religion, guns, xenophobia,” Politico, April 11, 2008, https://www.politico.com/blogs/ben-smith/2008/04/obama-on-small-town-pa-clinging-to-religion-guns-xenophobia-007737
  4. [4]Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire (New York: Metropolitan, 2012).
  5. [5]Hillary Clinton, quoted in Jonathan Capehart, “This is what’s ‘deplorable’ about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and this campaign,” Washington Post, September 12, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/09/12/this-is-whats-deplorable-about-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-and-this-campaign/
  6. [6]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  7. [7]Scott Sernau, Worlds Apart: Social Inequalities in a Global Economy, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2006).
  8. [8]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/; David Benfell, “The larger question of California’s AB 5,” Not Housebroken, September 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/14/the-larger-question-of-californias-ab-5/; Robert Maxim and Mark Muro, “Uber’s IPO fallout underscores the need for a new labor model,” Brookings, May 23, 2019, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2019/05/23/ubers-ipo-fallout-underscores-the-need-for-a-new-labor-model/
  10. [10]Times of Israel, “190 rockets launched at Israel since targeted killing of Islamic Jihad commander,” Times of Israel, November 12, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-november-12-2019/
  11. [11]Steve Hendrix, “Netanyahu fails to form new Israeli government; rival Gantz poised to take up the challenge,” Washington Post, October 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/netanyahu-fails-to-form-new-israeli-government-rival-gantz-poised-to-take-up-the-challenge/2019/10/21/7a4574d4-e27e-11e9-be96-6adb81821e90_story.html
  12. [12]Steve Hendrix, “Netanyahu fails to form new Israeli government; rival Gantz poised to take up the challenge,” Washington Post, October 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/netanyahu-fails-to-form-new-israeli-government-rival-gantz-poised-to-take-up-the-challenge/2019/10/21/7a4574d4-e27e-11e9-be96-6adb81821e90_story.html

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