Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 31, 2010

Calling all Comrades

Filed under: media — louisproyect @ 8:32 pm


Calling All Comrades!

October 31, 2010, 12:31 PM

Imagine the chagrin.

Louis Proyect, the Unrepentant Marxist, dinked a $25 donation into Counterpunch‘s Fundraising Drive only to click on the site five minutes later and discover he had been insulted by the co-proprietor and guiding force of the site, Alexander Cockburn.

And not just the everyday run-of-the-mill sort of insult bloggers blow out their nose every chance they get–often words suffixed with “-tard” (“libtard,” etc)–but one drawn from Greek myth, one of those Oxbridgean putdowns you don’t run into too often at yard sales and such.

Who says these days that in the last analysis, the only way to change the status quo and challenge the Money Power of Wall St is to overthrow the government by force? That isn’t some old Trotskyist lag like Louis Proyect, dozing on the dungheap of history like Odysseus’ lice-ridden old hound Argos, woofing with alarm as the shadow of a new idea darkens the threshold.

That’s a hard one to have a snappy comeback to. “Yeah, well you remind me of Tiresias before Athena cleaned the wax out of his ears!”

See, that just doesn’t scan; you’re not going quiet any heckler with that line.

But as Proyect amiably notes to a commenter, “[N]o matter how much I badmouth Alexander, I really rely on Counterpunch.”

Me too also similarly likewise.

Alex wrote some vicious personal things about me in the past, but that was during the Tong Wars, everyone was a little testy.

But I have donated to the site before and will do so again during this Fundraising Drive.

I go to it for Mike Whitney’s economic analysis:

There’s no doubt now, that the Fed’s efforts to engineer a sustained recovery have failed. The fact that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is planning to resume his dubious Quantitative Easing (QE) program is an admission of failure. That said, I expect the Fed to “go large” on November 3, and purchase another $1.2 trillion of long-term Treasuries adding roughly $100 billion per month to the money supply. That should placate Wall Street and keep stock markets sufficiently “bubbly” for the foreseeable future. After 12 months of QE, unemployment will still be stuck at 10%, the output gap will have narrowed only slightly, and confidence in the Fed will have plunged to historic lows. Monetarism alone cannot fix the economy.

The fiscal remedies for recession are well known and have effectively implemented with great success for over a half century. QE is a pointless detour into uncharted waters. It is like treating a hangover with brain surgery when the bottle of aspirin sets idle on the bedstand. Why bother?


Typically, personal consumption and housing lead the way out of recession. This time, the rebound was spurred by gigantic injections of fiscal and monetary stimulus, dodgy accounting practices (blessed by the SEC) and unlimited funding guarantees by the Central Bank. Now the stimulus is running low, the equities markets are tilting sideways, retail investors are exiting the markets in droves, wages are contracting, businesses are hoarding over $1 trillion (for lack of profitable outlets for investment), and deflationary headwinds are beginning to gust with increasing ferocity. So, what is Bernanke’s remedy?

Rather than push for more fiscal “pump priming” so households can continue to pay-down debts and rebuild their savings, the Fed chair is planning to flood emerging markets with hot money, increasing currency volatility and forcing trade partners to clamp down on capital controls so they don’t drown in the surge of greenbacks fleeing the US. He’s merely adding to the turmoil.

This week, interest rates on 5-year inflation-protected bonds went negative for the first time while two-year Treasury yields set a record low. What does it mean? It means that investors are so utterly flummoxed that they’re betting on inflation and deflation at the same time. No one really knows what the hell is going on because the policy is so muddled. And, when uncertainty grows, long-term expectations change and investment slows. QE is undermining the prospects for recovery. It’s time to fire Bernanke.

The angry alarm cries of former Reaganite Paul Craig Roberts.

To keep eyes off of the loss of jobs to offshoring, policymakers and their minions in the financial press blame US unemployment on alleged currency manipulation by China and on the financial crisis. The financial crisis itself is blamed by Republicans on low income Americans who took out mortgages that they could not afford.

In other words, the problem is China and the greedy American poor who tried to live above their means. With this being the American mindset, you can see why nothing can be done to save the economy.

No government will admit its mistakes, especially when it can blame foreigners. China is being made the scapegoat for American failure. An entire industry has grown up that points its finger at China and away from 20 years of corporate offshoring of US jobs and 9 years of expensive and pointless US wars.

And then there are Cockburn’s own contributions, his style and independence managing to weather these weary times.

The sun will rise next Wednesday on a new American landscape, the same way it rose on a new American landscape almost exactly two years ago.

That was the dawn of Obama-time. Millions of Americans had dined delightedly on Obama’s rhetoric of dreams and preened at his homilies about the inherent moral greatness of the American people.

Obama and the Democrats triumphed at the polls. The pundits hailed a “tectonic shift” in our national politics, perhaps even a registration of the possibility that we had entered a “post-racial” era.

The realities of American politics don’t change much from year to year. The “politics of division” which Obama denounced are the faithful reflection of national divisions of wealth and resources wider today than they have been at any time since the late 1920s.

In fact the “dream” died even before Obama was elected in November 2008. Already in September that year Senator Obama, like his opponent, Senator McCain, had voted, at the behest of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, for the bailout of the banks. Whatever the election result, there was to be no change in the architecture of financial power in America.

Two events are scheduled for next Tuesday. If we are to believe the polls, the voters will install Republicans as the new majority in the House of Representatives. A longer shot – they may even win the Senate.

If that happens, Obama will be in exactly the situation that Bill Clinton found himself on November 9, 1994, the day after the Republicans won control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

Also on Tuesday or maybe Wednesday, chairman Bernanke and the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve Board will convene in Washington and decide on how much money to create – “quantitative easing” – and hand to the banks, in order to lift the country out of a Depression which has 30 million Americans either without a job, or working part-time. Their deliberations will be more consequential, at least in the short term, than the verdicts of the voters in the democratic contest.

The November 2 election will at least settle a simple question: will the Tea Party movement, as nutty a bunch as has diverted America since the Goldwater movement of 1964, have any sort of decisive political effect?

So far as the US Senate is concerned, the Tea Party has been the prime factor in keeping Democrats in certain states in any sort of contention…

Now that Gourmet magazine is no longer on the newsstands, it’s vital to keep Counterpunch a going operation.

That’s a total non sequitur, just to see if you were paying attention once you reached the bottom of all this text, but if you have money to give, give.


  1. Hey, what matters is he cares. Maybe if you sent him flowers?

    I wish the left didn’t suffer from Baptist disease.

    Comment by Will Shetterly — October 31, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  2. Personally, i would very much like my own, customized, long-winded insult for $25. Maybe Cockburn is on to something to help his fundraising. How about you get his insults in a nice card for $35 and for $1000 you get it read in person by Jeremy Irons or shouted at you by Brian Blessed 🙂

    Comment by Antonis — October 31, 2010 @ 11:59 pm

  3. To jump forward from Ancient Greece to Elizabethan England I find Alex C to be all sound and fury.

    Comment by SGuy — November 1, 2010 @ 6:34 am

  4. Speaking of charity, watch the Glenn Beck interview with U.S. Communist Party chairman Sam Webb. You’ll gain some insight into just how difficult it’s going to be for you guys to reach out to the American working class.

    Comment by MB — November 1, 2010 @ 8:56 am

  5. MB. You’re obviously a bigger idiot than both Beck & Webb combined.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 2, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  6. For pointing out that it’s going to be truly difficult for socialists to reach out to a thoroughly brainwashed American working class?

    Comment by MB — November 3, 2010 @ 5:49 am

  7. Actually its the idea that Beck represents the working class in the USA.

    Comment by Michael T — November 3, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  8. No MB, it’s for suggesting that segment of Glenn Beck’s where he ambushes a fairly inarticulate CPer like Webb is truly indicative of anything except the bankruptcy of leftists backing democrats.

    The fact is as objective reality worsens for working people all the brain washing in the world will not prevent them from ultimately organizing a fightback for their class interests, that is, against a system that puts profits before people.

    30 years ago one could have similarly argued that Catholics were so brainwashed it’d be hard to break them of their faith. Next thing you know hundreds of priests are found wrecking rectums in the rectory. After thousands of civil and criminal suits alleging compound aggravated sodomy — millions of the once faithful lose faith.

    The point is brains may be easily washed but they are just as easily contaminated by the fecund bacteria of another stripe — which may be a lot more Red than white & blue.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 4, 2010 @ 2:33 am

  9. Karl,

    Hi hope you are well.

    I think the Americans will get the message loud and clear when we bring the struggle back to the streets, Main St, Wall St, Church St, etc. We will be aided of course by a failing economy, an uncaring government, and the arrogance of the oppressor.

    It’s hard to tell a homeless, hungry person, who’s son is missing two legs and he gets no medical benefits that all is well.

    It is not if but when. Let us be prepared.


    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — November 5, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

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