“To live in a glass house is a revolutionary virtue par excellence”

(In Moscow I lived in a hotel in which almost all the rooms were occupied by Tibetan lamas who had come to Moscow for a congress of Buddhist churches. I was struck by the number of doors in the corridors that were always left ajar. What had at first seemed accidental began to be disturbing. I found out that in these rooms lived members of a sect who had sworn never to occupy closed rooms. The shock I had then must be felt by the reader of Nadja.) To live in a glass house is a revolutionary virtue par excellence. It is also an intoxica­tion, a moral exhibitionism, that we badly need. Discretion concerning one’s own existence, once an aristocratic virtue, has become more and more an affair of petty-bourgeois parvenus.

Walter Benjamin in “Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia” (1929)

Tories have their internet bubble – A lesson for the Left?

In a recent twitter spat between Jonathan Portes and the Tory MP Stewart Jackson, Douglas Carswell, another Tory MP, tweeted the following:

I thought this was odd. A Tory MP saying that they “no longer need to have folk like” the Director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research “determine parameters of debate”. In other words “Thanks to internet” Tories can ignore people like Jonathan Portes, former Chief Economist at the Cabinet Office, and don’t need to debate them or seriously consider their opinions.

But then I thought this is basically how much of the twitter-left conducts itself today: border-policing, disavowal and ressentiment.

A statute-book is a people’s bible of freedom

{L}aws are in no way repressive measures against freedom, any more than the law of gravity is a repressive measure against motion, because while, as the law of gravitation, it governs the eternal motions of the celestial bodies, as the law of falling it kills me if I violate it and want to dance in the air. Laws are rather the positive, clear, universal norms in which freedom has acquired an impersonal, theoretical existence independent of the arbitrariness of the individual. A statute-book is a people’s bible of freedom.
—Marx, Debates on Freedom of the Press (1842)

h/t Harrison Fluss

A story to make you love Ireland

This is brilliant:

A BROTHER of a government minister whose bread van is still missing after being stolen on Thursday evening has called for the deployment of the Army on to the streets in order to thwart criminals, write Tom Shiel and Sam Griffin.

John Ring, brother of junior minister Michael Ring, made the call yesterday as gardai continued their search for his van.

The vehicle, containing about €1,000 in cash and cheques and €1,500 worth of bread and cakes, disappeared from outside ‘Ronnie’s Shop’ in Springfield, Castlebar, Co Mayo.

“It’s worse than Vietnam here now and absolutely nothing is being done to stop it,” Mr Ring said. “The Army should be brought on to the streets to curb the growing lawlessness.”

God I love Ireland sometimes.

A story to make you love Ireland

Depressing facts about Holland

ECFR/Social Europe/El Pais informs us that the Dutchies are planning on dismantling the welfare state:

The Dutch government’s recent announcement that the welfare state will be substituted by an undefined “participative society” may be the news story of the year — or at least deserves to be.

While this is terrible in and of itself, I’m a bit puzzled by the politics of it.

The current Dutch government is a VVD (Conservative Liberal – right wing of ALDE) and PvdA (Labour – PES) coalition. But what’s unusual is that the PvdA was in the 2012 election under real threat from the Socialist Party (a post-Maoist radical Social Democratic Party – GUE/NGL). In the end there was a late swing away from the Socialist Party and PvdA won 38 to the SP’s 15 seats.

However, during the election he PvdA won a lot of support from the SP effectively by adopting all their policies during the election. 

I don’t follow Dutch politics closely but it would seem they have now not only turned their back on those electoral promises but ran the other way.

Recent polls show little support for the NL goverment’s polices. In July Dutch News reported:

Just one in five of the Dutch population backs the cabinet’s decision to go ahead with a €6bn austerity package next year, according to the latest Maurice de Hond opinion poll…

The government is being forced to make new cuts in order to meet eurozone budget deficit rules. However, some 50% think the coalition should not make any more spending reductions and 30% think less than €6bn is a better option.

And support for the government is collapsing according to recent polls.

However, as can be seen from the above graph, although support for the PvdA (dotted red line) has collapsed, support for the SP (solid red line) has not fully recovered from the election time swing against it. Instead, what we can see is a consistent and depressing rise is support for Geert Wilders very racist Partij Voor de Vrijheid (PVV) (solid grey line).

In short – FUCK!

Also, for anyone interested – useful article by Dan Finn in the NLR on the Dutch election. 

Conservatism – Libertarian Bluster

Interesting little article by Josh Barro at Business Insider on US republicans:

They have an abstract idea that they regret the New Deal and the Great Society. But they don’t actually want to undo the big entitlement programs that those agendas gave us: Social Security, SNAP, Medicare, Medicaid.

They’re not boxed in by the electorate. They’re boxed in by their own acceptance of the New Deal consensus, and their simultaneous unwillingness to admit that there is such a consensus. They think the government is too way big but they’re not in favor of specific ways to make it much smaller. And when the resulting incoherence of their agenda becomes clear, they get angry, because they have no idea what the hell they are doing.

Take SNAP, commonly known as Food Stamps. Participation in this program is at an all-time high, with more than 1 in 7 Americans receiving benefits. Conservatives are outraged. They are attacking Barack Obama as the “food stamp president.” And their radical plan is to cut SNAP… by 5%.

The 5% SNAP cut is not some plan that was cooked up by milquetoast establishmentarians trying to nod toward conservative goals without rocking the boat in Washington. It’s the plan that was demanded by the true believers—by and large, the same House conservatives currently forcing the government shutdown over Obamacare—after they defeated leadership’s plan for a 2.5% cut.

Or look at Medicaid. Many Republican politicians are bitterly resisting the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare. But not a single state has chosen to withdraw from the traditional Medicaid program, even though that would produce real budget savings and put a major dent in Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society legacy. Even states with Republican legislative supermajorities and very conservative electorates stay in. I can only conclude that conservatives do not actually want to undo Medicaid.

Republicans will take big symbolic votes against the Great Society, as with Paul Ryan’s budgets that would deeply slash Medicaid funding and radically restructure Medicare. But when they have actual power to deeply cut existing entitlements, they decline. This is the opposite of what you do if you are afraid of the electorate; they have no fear of saying they want to deeply cut these programs, but they choose not to.