Lind on Galbraith

Dennis R Redmond dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Sat Oct 24 17:26:55 PDT 1998

On Sat, 24 Oct 1998, Doug Henwood crossposted from Michael Lind:

> [from Michael Lind's review of James Galbraith's Created Unequal, Washingon
> Monthly, November 1998]
> The most egalitarian countries in the world are
> the nation-states of Northwestern Europe and East Asia -- countries that
> are racially and culturally homogeneous and also have low rates of
> immigration.

Not anymore they don't. One in ten Swedes is officially an immigrant; in fact, all the social democracies experienced tremendous inflows of immigration starting in the mid-Seventies. And there are millions of East Asians living in Japan. Still, they haven't gone the US/UK route of hideous polarization, thanks to something Lind completely fails to mention -- strong unions, Left parties and socialist cultures.

> Nor is it a coincidence that the Civil Rights
> revolution drove most of the former constituents of the New Deal Democratic
> coalition into the Republican party, where they now vote against government
> programs identified with "others" -blacks and immigrants.

Oh, *yuck*. This is unutterably vile, the sort of ressentiment-filled spew you'd get from a mid-level staffer of the DNC, who slobbers over Clinton's compassion (it's there, you just have to look hard enough) and insists that everything went to hell after Kennedy was shot (they say Oswald, but they mean Castro). I can't believe anyone could argue that the Civil Rights movement was responsible for the death of the Great Society. This is like arguing the democratic activists of the Weimar Republic were responsible for Auschwitz -- but perfectly consistent with the politics of Clintonism.

> A purely territorial and political definition of American identity
> is too vague and insipid to inspire personal and collective sacrifice,
> including the sacrifice of higher taxes.

Ah, the velvet glove of egalitarianism draws back to reveal... the iron jackboot of neoliberalism. Adorno pointed out a long, long, long time ago that the logic of capitalism is, at its heart, the logic of sacrifice (i.e. unequal exchange). Lind wants blood and soil nationalism, chest-beating primordialism, vast commitments to an abstract Sacrifice which is never defined, and never explained, and therefore perfectly identical with the real, existing sacrifice US workers have been making to the agents of Capital for the past thirty years: declining real wages, decaying public services, tax breaks for the rich and rentiered and police batons and jail cells for the poor.

Just despicable. Let me guess -- Lind considers himself a "progressive", right?

-- Dennis

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