Thursday, May 7, 2009

Which Side Is She On? The Fence, Of Course. If We Understand Her Correctly.

At last, something not drowned in high-finance house-of-cards bullshit. This reporter does understand class struggle. An excerpt from a Foreign Policy article about middle-class Thais rioting against the rural poor, & she's off to the races.

But before we follow her out of the gate, let's examine part of the excerpt provided by Ms. McArdle about what's claimed to be up in Thailand.

One former U.S. ambassador to Thailand puts it bluntly: The middle class "disdain[s] the rural masses and see[s] them as willing pawns to the corrupt vote buyers." Instead of fighting for democratic rights, in other words, the People's Alliance is protesting against them.
Megan's reaction to this is a vaguely historical  recap of the "progressive era" which stops somewhat less than a hundred yrs. ago, though not by much.  No mention of more recent anti-democratic attitudes & initiatives, from her side of the aisle. Or that Sammy-Joe the Ex-Plumber is espousing this very line:
But, you also have to take into consideration that the Democrats say they are for people in poverty.

[...]

People in poverty keep them in power—that's what people have to understand.
The same sentiment, better-expressed than Sammy-Joe, from the comments, as well:
After reading the whole article, it seems like the middle class is weary/leery of a democracy with voters that don't respect property rights.
You know you're in for it when "property rights" are invoked. Watch:
Now that the population seems to be less committed to the idea that anybody has a right to keep what they own, and that everybody has some sort of implied right to the property of anybody that is well off, I'm not sure you won't see more of a backlash against democracy here.
All of the above, of course, a direct result of the election of Barack Obama. What else has happened to bring about this sudden sea-change in public opinion? Maybe the discovery that we're not anywhere near Egypt, 2000 BCE. But that's far enough in the past for historian McArdle to start (Hell, we're surprised she she got as far as the early 20th century, except to explain how FDR made it all worse.) reminding us how capitalism has made the world a better place in the last 4009 yrs.
The poor benefit from the capitalist system, probably more than the rich--compare Pharoah [sic] to Bill Gates, then compare a standard Egyptian peasant around 2000 BC to, say, a minimum wage worker in America.  But if you don't have the social capital to make it to the top, at any given time, it may look like it pays off to undermine or overthrow the system.  Naturally, the middle class, which preserves the system, will be averse to any system that gives them the power to do so.
Ai yi yi, Ms. McArdle, it wouldn't be quite as bad if you could write clearly. Then we could deal w/ your silly ideas straight on. Please explain the last sentence. Diagram it, even. Who is "them" in that sentence? The middle-class? In which case the sentence makes little sense. Or (I'm really trying to help you be comprehensible here, Megan, stop fidgeting) to make sense, "them" would have to be the poor people you mentioned. At the beginning of the paragraph, two sentences ago. Now do you see the problem, dear?

As to the ideas, isn't it the principle of the thing? Whether the peasant of Egypt had to support his betters & earn his grain carrying Pharaoh around in a sedan chair, or has to slave on her feet eight hrs. a day behind a cash register while repeating "Have a nice day" to assholes to keep her betters from the necessity of work, what fucking difference does it really make?

And this "social" capital you speak of? Being white & well-off? Really, it's just capital that gets you to the top. Why not say it out right?
And if you're sitting there, feeling all superior to those benighted bourgeois, consider all the things you want to take out of the hands of ordinary Americans because otherwise those amoral toads will do the wrong thing.  Gay marriage. Or prayer in school. Immigration. Trade. I've no doubt that you have some very compelling reason that these things are entirely different from support for the rule of law or a standard liberal economic order. The point is, no one's really comfortable with letting the majority set all the standards.
There is a point. I recognized it because Megan pointed me to it. And now that I get it, I could send her an e-mail explaining the Constitution, civil rights, tyranny of the majority, that sort of thing, but as her actual point seems to be anti-democratic (&, we could say, anti-free market) why bother? Ms. McArdle either can't type clearly enough to get her point across, doesn't want to reveal her thoughts on democracy, or is just floundering, nothing at all occurring between her elf-like ears.

And we enjoyed her defamation of "progressives" (granted, a collection of Mid-Western Protestant dickwads)
Think of some of the signal accomplishments of the Progressives:  Planned Parenthood.  Immigration restrictions.  Civil service reform.  Massive campaigns against the corruption of the urban machines.  "Mental hygeine[sic]".  Spot a trend?
and the insertion of the phrases "classical liberal" & "standard liberal economic order" in opposition to Progressives & their shameful ideas. My gawd, Planned Parenthood & Civil Service reform. What's she mean there, huh? Who determines that this is the "standard" (or "liberal") economic order? Of course, we know what these people mean when they say "classical" liberalism, & that the capital "P" Progressives are not today's America-hating so-called progressives. But clam up w/ the "classical liberal" crap. Try to get your philosophy from at least the twentieth century, not a collection of weasels in powdered wigs & breeches.

Megastats:
Blockquote: 16 lines
McArdle: 26 lines

Almost a two to one ratio. Much better, but we're still not there yet.

Elements of Style©:
Ever read anything by even a semi-pro that was any sludgier, clunkier, or incomprehensible than this?
This is pretty much exactly the story of the Progressive movement in the United States, which was a backlash against the corrupt hoi polloi. Rent-seeking populists, backroom-dealing political machines--these were both inimical to classical liberalism, and also the voice of minority-majorities, who used favorable local demographics against members of the national elite.

6 comments:

Ken Houghton said...

"Think of some of the signal accomplishments of the Progressives: Planned Parenthood."

In the words of Steve Martin, "EXCUSE Me?"

Planned Parenthood was started by some distant relatives a ways back, so maybe I get picky about the point, but since it's one of the few actual positive accomplishments of the Ancestral Party lets place its founding correctly:

Connecticut Republicans. You know, the traditional Small Government types who realize that if you want people to choose The Right Thing, the choice has to be available to them, and so tried to provide it in the market.

That McMegan would disparage such people should tell you all you need to know about her bona fides.

clever pseudonym said...

The "standard Egyptian peasant" comparison is ridiculous. If you think about it, poor people in the US today have higher standards of living than rich people did during that time. They're less likely to die young from disease or bury their children. They have access to almost infinite information in regards to medicine, science and literacy. Their lives are not nearly as bound to duty and superstition as they once were. Hell, I'll take my poorest days of the past over being in the shoes of King Tut and dying at twenty.

But I'm guessing that Megan's definitions in regards to quality of life pretty much center on how much wealth you have compared to those around you. That's what's most important to her and how she determines what makes one human better than another.

Marshall said...

God I shouldn't not expect this but she completely mangles the history of the progressive movement. If you want to look at the disruption of the political machines of the 19th century the first step was to open up the nomination process for office. It happened around 1882 in New York. It wasn't anti democratic in any way.

CaptBackslap said...

How does a supposedly educated person write "the corrupt hoi polloi" in something she knows is intended for publication, than look it over before hitting the publish button, and still go ahead and publish it anyway?

CaptBackslap said...

God dammit, I knew there would be a typo somewhere in that last comment.

Anonymous said...

Christ, she doesn't even know what "hoi polloi" means.