Life has always been socialized even as death is solitary

By ann summers

Ultimately it’s never a choice between socialist death and capitalist death. It is about actions that become necessary as we suffer this century’s latest strategy of tensions.


Life and death is easier for some psychopaths. Worse now that even military leaders pay attention to Commander-in-Chief rants made on Twitter. The heightened contradictions will continue until morale improves.

FILE- In this file photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, with retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, center left, and Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica, obscured second right, attend an exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of RT (Russia Today) 24-hour English-language TV news channel in Moscow, Russia. Flynn is widely reported Thursday Nov. 17, 2016, to be a potential contender to become national security advisor to U.S. president elect Donald Trump, although his appointment may be controversial. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file)
February (2017)

Donald Trump … defended Vladimir Putin against accusations that he is a killer, telling Fox News: “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

The US president appeared to place the US and Russia on the same moral plane in an interview broadcast before the Super Bowl kicked off in Houston, Texas. Asked by the host, Bill O’Reilly, if he respected Putin, Trump replied: “I do respect Putin.

“Will I get along with him? I have no idea. It’s very possible I won’t.”

O’Reilly said: “He’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”

“There are a lot of killers,” Trump replied. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump’s respect for and willingness to work with Putin was a familiar theme during an election that the US intelligence agencies believe their Russian counterparts sought to influence on Trump’s behalf.

Such claims prompted a split between Trump and the intelligence community that has not yet healed.

The fact that many of Mr Trump’s picks are plutocrats reflects his preference for pragmatists over pointy-heads, as well as his belief that moneymaking is a transferable skill. That was the underlying logic of his own candidacy. He also likes tough guys, ideally in uniform, hence his selection of three former generals: James Mattis and John Kelly, both former marines, at, respectively, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, and Michael Flynn, his national-security adviser. Mr Trump assured a crowd in Ohio that his cabinet would include the “greatest killers you’ve ever seen”...

Yet the biggest uncertainty surrounding Mr Trump’s cabinet concerns less the calibre of its members than the agenda they will pursue. It is hard to exaggerate how divided his team is on the big policy questions. Some members of the economic team, including Mr Mnuchin, who will be primarily busy with Mr Trump’s promised tax cuts, and Mr Cohn, who will play a co-ordinating and shaping role, are broadly in favour of free trade. Yet the likeliest architects of Mr Trump’s trade policy, Mr Ross, Mr Bannon and Mr Navarro, are economic nationalists.

Trumpian policy has now in the first months been chaotic at best, with attention paid to the most divisive policies and appointees, as if chaos could be a methodology.

Trump clearly hasn’t changed — he insisted on ordering Chris Christie to eat (his mother’s recipe) meatloaf at meals. Not about food, just about social control.

It’s clear that Trump internalized his parents’ dynamic, which carried over to his first marriage to Ivana Zelníčková, a Czechoslovakian immigrant. Ivana recounts an incident with Donald’s father Fred at dinner, where Fred insisted on controlling her menu choices: “I told the waiter, ‘I would like to have fish.’ O. K., so I could have the fish. And Fred would say to the waiter: ‘No, Ivana is not going to have a fish. She is going to have a steak.’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to have my fish.’” Donald insisted to Ivana that Fred was acting out of “love.”

If Miss Universe was more about exterior beauty, then The Apprentice focused on women’s killer instincts at business. The Apprentice ran for fourteen seasons, with Trump as the judge of over a dozen businesspeople competing for the prize of running one of Trump’s companies. According to Scott McLemee, The Apprentice changes “the normally precarious conditions of employment under neoliberalism into the entertainment of a high-stakes game.” Trump ends each episode in his boardroom, shouting “you’re fired!” at the losing contestant…

Trump himself set the “masculine” tone, and described himself as the “dictator” of the show. It was imperative for women on the show to adopt a calculated mindset and to manipulate others to win. In effect, they needed to internalize Trump’s business style…

But such a feminism devoid of class isn’t that far removed from that of her father’s. His vulgarities might be shocking, but in his everyday business practice he defined the dialectic of this feminism as something “sweet on the outside” but ruthless on the inside. One could say that Trumpism and corporate feminism are two sides of the same coin. In corporate feminism, patriarchy celebrates its domination as feminine.

Ivanka’s corporate feminism is in no way unique to her. In fact, we see the same neoliberal jargon from other top women in business like Sheryl Sandberg — women who have endorsed Hillary Clinton. Indeed, without the accident of birth, one could imagine Ivanka Trump being a staunch Hillary supporter herself. Her message of female empowerment in a deeply stratified society is at one with Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street–backed feminism…


So what are the alternatives, can there be in the US context. a 2018 and 2020 set of elections that reverse what has always been a misogynist tendency, and will there be public policies or a theory of change that resist the current attempt to drive the left back into the wilderness.


As yet there have been holding actions like recently rejecting Trumpcare(sic), that could ultimately move the US closer to single-payer healthcare than the incrementalism of ACA and its neoliberal market solutions. Nowhere are there the biggest contradictions than those in reproductive health made even worse by the ideological transgressions on science.

Ultimately the move to social ownership of sectors like healthcare must be made, much like national energy production for utilities must be separated from the petrochemical and fossil-fuel sectors. One is more optimally owned collectively rather than privately, and regardless of regulatory regime.

Whether the steps are made at the regional or state level, they resemble the ways in which capital has been transformed in an oligopolized, yet “deregulated” telecom sector, or even as the contradictions are made more obvious in the conflict over net neutrality. It’s not lanes on a superhighway. It’s about planning of a sort that does not parody Soviet bread lines. And it’s always about culture.

This nation can get to progressive governance, but the sectarian struggles over candidate personalities have to end, considering how easily they seem to have been affected in the last election. Some of us still believe a preemptively negotiated “unity ticket” would have avoided the tragedy that the 2016 election has become, even as we appear to be closer to heightening public consciousness of a more pervasive US kleptocracy.

With climate change and apparently trigger-morose as opposed to trigger-happy leaders, the global threat is greater than investing in coastal sea walls to profit from a correctable global warming. The costs are killer. We do need to do everything, and send everybody.

Socialism’s Return: After more than a half-century in the wilderness, the socialist left reemerges in America. By Patrick Iber

For the American left, 2016 proved to be a year with a cruel twist ending. In the first few months, a self- described democratic socialist by the name of Bernie Sanders mounted a surprisingly successful primary challenge to the Democratic Party’s presumed and eventual presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

By the end of 2016, however, not only had Sanders lost the primary race, but Clinton had been defeated in the general election by a billionaire who dressed his xenophobic and plutocratic ambitions in the garb of class resentment…

But the apparent strength of the left wasn’t entirely an illusion. Even as late as November, the Sanders campaign had racked up a set of important victories. The Cold War had helped to entrench the idea of socialism as antithetical to the American political tradition, and Sanders had gone a long way toward smashing that ideological consensus. By identifying himself explicitly as a democratic socialist from the outset of his campaign, he helped give renewed meaning and salience to it as a political identity firmly rooted in the American tradition…


Sanders’s success with young voters reveals a bimodal distribution of socialist enthusiasm. The old guard that came of age in the 1960s, like San­ders, has now been met by a growing influx of organizers from the ranks of those born after 1980, people who have entered the workforce during years marked by varying degrees of capitalist crisis. The ABCs of Socialism, edited by Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara, and The Future We Want, edited by Sunkara and The Nation’s Sarah Leonard, offer us some insights into the ways in which this new generation is attempting to redefine the socialist tradition for the 21st century…But the apparent strength of the left wasn’t entirely an illusion. Even as late as November, the Sanders campaign had racked up a set of important victories. The Cold War had helped to entrench the idea of socialism as antithetical to the American political tradition, and Sanders had gone a long way toward smashing that ideological consensus. By identifying himself explicitly as a democratic socialist from the outset of his campaign, he helped give renewed meaning and salience to it as a political identity firmly rooted in the American tradition.

For Sanders, the problem is Wall Street and the billionaire class, which have captured the government and shaped the market to their advantage at the expense of ordinary workers.

For Jacobin’s socialists, the problem is more acute: It is capitalism itself.

In Our Revolution, Sanders defends the idea of capping the size of major banks and briefly discusses having the government support worker-owned businesses.

But as Sunkara, going far beyond Sanders, puts it in his essay for The ABCs, the socialist vision remains “abolishing private ownership of the things we all need and use—factories, banks, offices, natural resources, utilities, communication and transportation infrastructure—and replacing it with social ownership, thereby undercutting the power of elites to hoard wealth and power.”

That doesn’t mean the state will seize your “Kenny Loggins records,” Sunkara puckishly adds: Socialism requires the abolition of private property, not personal property…

But the left cannot sustain itself on defense alone.

Other than doing what it can to stop Trump’s worst abuses, the left must develop a theory of change for a moment when the Democratic Party doesn’t control any branch of government.

For a time, Sanders seemed to have shown us how to pull the Democratic Party to the left.

Yet the vulnerability of his strategy was that it required the party’s more centrist wing to win the presidential election—which, as events have proved, isn’t something we can take for granted. Despite this defeat, the energy to resist—and to build—is there.

If the Democrats are still afraid to speak of class, they will have to be taught. Those who cannot or will not stand up to Trump need to face primary challenges from the left.

And even if the party’s next presidential candidate isn’t a progressive, the left needs to make clear in the intervening years that he or she will have to win over a sizable number of young voters who are.

Trump’s enormous unpopularity means that, assuming the continued existence of small-D democracy, the Democratic Party will win major elections in the future.

The left’s job is to make sure that when it does, it will be a more egalitarian and progressive force. Until then, the broad left should focus on the common ground: civil rights, economic equality, universal services, and real democracy for all.

Whatever Trump succeeds in dismantling, we must have the ideas at hand to rebuild it stronger and better once he’s gone.

In short: What do we need to do next? Everything.

It is entertaining for some to suggest ways that we should be able to converse with “conservatives” by assuming that the discourse situation will be “ideal” in the sense that variables like race/class/gender aren’t a component adumbrating topics of public policy, and “trust” will prevail in a time of extreme ideological conflict.

It would be foolish to suggest that we could hold constant ceteris parabis, Enlightenment thought prior to discourse as though we were neoliberals much like Habermas’s communicative action is cooperative action undertaken by individuals based upon mutual deliberation and argumentation. It could happen, but as we witness the daily contradictions, only under extreme cultural homogeneity. Discourse has no comparative statics, even if often, the option moves emotionally to Trumpian immaturity.

springfield_1_.jpgThe Handbook of Neoliberalism posits that the term has “become a means of identifying a seemingly ubiquitous set of market-oriented policies as being largely responsible for a wide range of social, political, ecological and economic problems.” Yet the handbook argues to view the term as merely a pejorative or “radical political slogan” is to “reduce its capacity as an analytic frame. If neoliberalism is to serve as a way of understanding the transformation of society over the last few decades then the concept is in need of unpacking.”[4]

Neoliberalism (neo-liberalism)[1] refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.[2]:7 These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, unrestricted free trade,[3] and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.[11] These market-based ideas and the policies they inspired constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.[12][13]

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2 Responses to Life has always been socialized even as death is solitary

  1. Just read an interesting article on HuffPo that is on point. Professor analyzes how our thinking evolved into a place where “conservative” no longer means conservative, and “liberal” no longer means liberal.

    The GOP Is No Longer A ‘Conservative’ Party – They’ve become radical, and they want to remake America.

    • ann summers says:

      excellent article although there are some categorical issues like civic nationalism that are a bit idealized, much like “conservatism” while admirable, cannot ever return to practical politics if it actually disavows the GOP, and even then lacks a sense of reflection or self-criticism if one reads NRO for example.

      ….”Whether motivated by cynicism, greed, fear, delusion, helplessness or true belief, by its inaction the Republican Party has abandoned the last vestiges of a conservatism that is skeptical of change, values individual liberty and accepts the premise of representative government. This Republican Party is a radical right containing elements of theocracy (Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the evangelical base) and fascism (the extreme alt-right, who remain unrenounced by the president and who are represented in the White House by Chief Strategist Steve Bannon)”

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