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January 24, 2012


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Liberalism works in an expanding economy when anxieties about scarcity can be smoothed away. It fails when those anxieties overwhelm our reptilian brains. Imagine going to an all-you-can-eat buffet that's too crowded with diverse and often downscale customers. That's America now. The "haves" get to choose whether to stay or opt-out. Increasingly, they choose the latter. Those left behind are then forced into longer lines, greater stress, and the sense that prosperity is less a privilege now than a chimera. Into this bad mood, the necromancers of the American right conjure a Total Explanation: liberalism is to blame. It makes you share with people who are not like you. It tells you that you're no better than the street thugs jostling you in line. It cares more about helping "losers" than celebrating the "winners". And, most seductively, you'd be a "winner" yourself if it wasn't for the government promoting equal outcomes.

Liberalism works when people trust one another and fails when they don't. It's not an accident that cities are liberal - living in close contact with other humans is a choice that also underscores our interdependence. Suburbs and exurbs suggest something altogether different, that you can secure yourself and family in a fortress away from the strangeness and danger of those who don't look like you. You have "values" and you vote that way.

In a nation that self-fortifies against "others", suburbia is the natural habitat. On Sunday, I went biking in Anthem, where lookalike people live in lookalike houses with codes enforcing lookalike landscaping, and where class distinctions involve gates keeping certain pods inaccessible to the urban predators 40 miles south. The parks are pleasant and, interestingly, private. There isn't a public square so much as private investments in social capital and amenities. You buy into this arrangement in order not to involve yourself with people too different from yourself.

Anthem is Republican America. It's 98% white and aims to keep the future at bay for as long as possible. It sends people like AK-47 Queen Pam Gorman to the legislature. It makes sure taxes are low, investments are private, and the poor are safely out of view. It's Reagan's Shining City on the Hill, with golf courses, strangers for neighbors, and lingering issues with soil subsidence. Sadly, as much as they blame liberals for everything that's gone wrong, they trusted Del Webb to test the dirt before construction.

You called it Walter. Our new national motto:

"When the going gets tough, the tough turn on their neighbors"

The centrists running the Democratic Party only pay attention to liberals when they need foot soldiers for elections or someone to blame for their incompetence when they lose elections. To hear them tell it somehow the White House, DNC, DSCC, DCCC, DGA, and the rest of the Dem establishment were helpless before the teabagger onslaught in 2010 but a handful of disgruntled lefties on the internet discouraged millions of would-be Democratic voters.

Also, don't forget how much anxiety over women having freedom and the ability to refuse pregnancy drives the conservative movement. It's no accident that the very first thing the Tea Party Congress did upon taking over was to go after Planned Parenthood. "Family values" is code for "keeping bitches in their place".

See what U have done now HAL

PBM we need U to help keep liberalism alive and well.

My real name is cal lash, I choose not to hide.
my E-mail is [email protected]
call if U need help cleaning the library.

Damn Soleri, that was like a great song. What do U think Petro?

Speaking of dirt. Del Webb U know was allowed to live by the Chicago Mob so he could finish Las Vegas's first casino started by Bugsy Siegel. Bugsy and his main man Gus Greenbaum in Phoenix were killed by the bosses for skimming construction funding. (Gus and his wife Greenbaum throats were slit with their own barbecue knives in their backyard.)

Howzit, Cal? Thanks for invoking me - though I don't see soleri's contribution... perhaps you mean Mr. Hall, above, displaying a soleri-esque grasp on things. In any case, that & Rogue's post are illuminating.

I've got a quibble, and I'll mention only partly to stir the pot: This "middle class" business, and the "saving" of it. (My adolescent dabblings with Marx's paradigm - not "Marxism" per se - have come 'round again.) I'm taking the liberty of conflating Jon's & Walter's posts, since they are to me of an harmonious piece.


"Into this bad mood, the necromancers of the American right conjure a Total Explanation: liberalism is to blame. It makes you share with people who are not like you. It tells you that you're no better than the street thugs jostling you in line."

This. What fertile soil does this seed fall upon? The middle class has always been about codifying and justifying a very un-democratic inequality that is endemic to the post-Revolutionary Republic that has well-masqueraded as "democracy." The easily beguiled "middle class" specialises in the "turning away," it embraces the fiction of justice in this faux meritocracy. It has always been bought off by the so-called elites - and now that the greed of the movers and shakers (and, to a lesser extent - for awhile - the looming resource crunch) is consuming their ability to sate a critical mass of this enabling class, we now lament its demise and ponder its salvation?

Most of us here are, or have been, or considered ourselves, or at least aspired to, middle class. Are we asking ourselves the right questions about our complicity in keeping other classes down in service of our "justified" lifestyles? Now that we are jostling with these "lesser folks," is the right question to be how we make our return as the administrators of class inequality, or do we wake up and look around, and remake our view of America, the world, our fellows?

I put this to better minds than I, here, in this forum.

U sing well Petro.
" The easily beguiled "middle class" specialises in the "turning away," it embraces the fiction of justice in this faux meritocracy. It has always been bought off by the so-called elites - and now that the greed of the movers and shakers (and, to a lesser extent - for awhile - the looming resource crunch) is consuming their ability to sate a critical mass of this enabling class, we now lament its demise and ponder its salvation?"

As I move on from what i once believed was my middle class since the late 50's I have taken to "Shrinkage". Every year I unload something more and hopefully by the time of my passing I will leave little crap for others to sort out. I got rid of the big house on South Mountain in a couple of years ago. I closed out the last of my capitalistic ventures 12-31-11. The Honda Civic lease goes away tomorrow. I am down to living in 320 square feet with my 20 year old dog and a fun Honda Ridgeline to haul my recumbent in.

Keep singing Petro.


Walter, you sure are covering a lot of ground with that bicycle. I would ask that you stay away from the east valley until the snow birds leave. These Iowa drivers will plant you on their grill and they won't even notice that you are there.

Hey AZ Rebel, aka, Helen and warren.
I thought U were buying Petro and I a cup?
How much money U got
we could invite the whole blog

Hello, hello, hello,

I'll be out of town this coming weekend, but I would be happy to spring for coffee at Urban Bean on Saturday Feb. 4th.

Helen would live to go bike riding with Walter, but she would have to ride side-saddle. She's saving her virginity for cal.

make that "love" to go bike riding, but "live" works too.

Urban Bean, 7th & Osborne? I can be there... give me a time. :)

Assuming I don't drink too much coffee for the ride back on the light rail (we built it without restrooms, you bastards).

10 AM, OK Helen?
Petro I can pick U up at the light rail stop at Central and Lexington. In front of the LEX ONE condos. I am about 5 minutes from there. call me at 602 316 1755

Just a note: three new comments in the previous thread, "Sunny Delusions", to commenters "pbm" and Cal Lash.

The question forming the title of the current essay is intriguing, and deserves more thought as well as further comment: but I only have so much time in a single Internet session, so my two cents will have to wait.

I left some love back on Sunny Delusions myself.

Actually HAl I think u r in a libary deep in the bowels of a Temple in Salt Lake!

I sure wish this phony "Rogue" would stop denigrating the Occupy Movement; there lies our best hope for transforming the malaise into something he dreams of having as the truly moral basis of a new society. Wake up, ye of little imagination or faith!

I concur with Gaylord: the constant denigration of Occupy makes Rogue look like a grumpy old man.

There is no messiah for modern man. The dream of The Great Magician --whether it's Occupy, My Personal Jesus, or There is But One, etc., etc., etc. -- is the great crime of religion. Let it go. Cheer the great deeds of those struggling to Occupy the various hells and taking a tear gas canister in the face, or even those who simply wish to Party with some Tea.

Thanks, Cal - I'll give you a ring before then.

Gaylord and SC - as an unabashed #Occupy booster, I know what you mean. I get chapped by the criticism - but the nature of the movement, if its going to remain being worth anything, is to listen carefully to its critics, and evolve... into what, no one of us can (or should) say, though of course I have my own ideas. And, while I wouldn't necessarily say that Rogue lacks imagination - it is the vast majority of people, who *are* imagination-challenged, that have to eventually be reached...

The movement needs to be critiqued, even denigrated, in direct proportion to its ineffectiveness, lest it devolve into what its critics already fear that it is.

This is as good a place as any to hash it all out, I suppose. :)


Mr. Talton wrote: "I left some love back on Sunny Delusions myself."

Right back at ya, Big Guy -- let's play handball. Then I'll buy you a beer. (Only you'll have to post it since I can't get it to show up.) I also posted a reply to a substantive comment regarding crime and socioeconomic status. Eventually I'll get to the current thread (and I'll try not to start a knife-fight).

This is not a "progressive blog." It is a reality based blog. The powerful are held to account. Ideas and movements will face serious examination. I have raised substantive questions about Occupy that its supporters have yet to seriously answer. Similarly, Mr. Obama will be held to account just as GW Bush. In addition, I have been writing on such issues as income inequality and declining economic/social mobility for years. Better a grumpy old man than a gullible kid.

When do the GW Bush murder trials begin?

America will survive just as every other world power that has had it's day in the sun.The Italians had the Roman Empire. The Spanish were boss as long as they could loot the new world of it's treasure. The French ruled Europe for a century and then ceded the role of empire builder to England. And now the American century is ending as we squabble over what's left of the treasure of our post WW II hegemony. We aren't going to borrow our way out of this one, and it seems we're just too tired to make an effort to restore the middle class that is essential to a growing economy that can absorb the new workers coming online.
Like the faded movie star who refuses to recognize her age, America thinks the rest of the world hates her. They just really want her to go away and leave them alone.European socialism is looking better and better

I tried to post this last night but wasn't allowed.

Hemingway could not have said it better.

wonder if they have RV parks in Norway?

The US will remain an imperial world power for the foreseeable future even though it is in decline. There is no other nation able to replace US world leadership. The government of China's primary challenge is maintaining power in the Celestial Kingdom. It is a generation behind the US Navy. Its economic miracle could easily go the way of Japan's growth after WW II.

The US military dwarfs all other nations' military and America will continue to spend lavishly on it at the expense of all other expenditures.
The average US citizen's standard of living can rapidly decline and have no effect on the projection of American Empire. Americans are so patriotic.

The American right has demonstrated a willingness to take political risks. It appears that Democrats lost their confidence to do so sometime during the 1980's and have not regained the risk taking animal spirits.

Congressional Republicans have obstructed almost all efforts proposed by Obama to improve the economy during his first term. They risked taking the blame for this obstructionism but the electorate will likely assign more blame to Obama.

He or she who dares wins.

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