28 April 2016

Lucifer's wedding

Just when Senator Cruz seemed to be settling into the role of the "establishment" candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, suddenly there comes John Boehner, the former Speaker of the House, with a personal attack of unprecedented vehemence. Driven from power by the Tea Party that forms Cruz's base, Boehner has called the Texan "Lucifer in the flesh" and "a miserable son of a bitch," which is the former Speaker's way of throwing poo on the metaphorical wedding of Cruz and Carly Fiorina, his newly designated running mate. In a gesture perhaps more futile than Ronald Reagan's naming of Sen. Richard Schweiker as his running mate before the 1976 Republican convention, where he would fail to topple President Gerald Ford. For once a Reaganite precedent isn't exactly a recommendation, as the Gipper's move was recognized as desperate from the moment he made it. If anything, Cruz's attempted coronation of Fiorina as his consort may prove more futile; it may actually hurt his already-dwindling chances of stopping Donald Trump. While Fiorina may be ideologically compatible with Cruz -- she told an interviewer this morning that "getting things done" in Washington is rarely a good idea -- she makes an unlikely rallying point for Trumpophobic Republicans and is unlikely to lure actual Trumpites away from their hero. Her problem is that she's seen as a loser after dropping out of the campaign early to endorse Cruz. Cruz's problem is the same one anyone faces who tries to advance the first woman into a formerly exclusive realm. No matter how reactionary Fiorina is, her deployment by Cruz is bound to look like an act of pandering, if not of political correctness, by the man supposed to be the most ideologically conservative, and hence presumably the most indifferent to identity politics, of all the Republicans who have run over the past year. At a moment when Trump is snarling that Hillary Clinton would be a marginal candidate were she not a woman, Cruz's stunt is bound to look exactly like a stunt, and a cynical one at that, whether the Senator believes sincerely that Fiorina is the person best qualified to be Vice President or not. By the standards of his own base, in all probability, it was not conservative, while women who actually care about getting a woman at or near the highest seat of power probably won't give a corporate creep like Fiorina the time of day. Cruz may hope to energize his campaign by anointing Fiorina, but it seems more likely now that it will prove his last gasp.

27 April 2016

Trump: America first, Israel second

Time magazine's website has a transcript of the foreign policy speech Donald Trump made today. The Republican front-runner made "America First" his theme, which guarantees you another wave of editorials denouncing the man for isolationism. For generations that has been a toxic slogan because it was a slogan of the pre-Pearl Harbor opponents of American intervention in World War II. However, the isolationists of 1941 didn't copyright the phrase and people 75 years later ought to be able to use it without being condemned by association -- and in any event Trump himself has no problem characterizing World War II as a good war in which "the greatest generation beat back the Nazis and Japanese imperialists," while the true heirs of the old isolationists still question whether all the trouble was worth it. For Trump, "America First" means, in his own words, "Under a Trump administration, no American citizen will ever again feel that their needs come second to the citizens of a foreign country." That doesn't sound unreasonable, and overall, despite his still-primitive rhetoric -- our leaders should be able to talk in complete sentences all the time and avoid using "beautiful" and other favorite adjectives too often -- his priorities appear mostly free of ideology. Trump's foreign policy would be conservative in the old sense of the word, out to "promote regional stability, not radical change" around the world. He boasts today of having opposed the invasion of Iraq -- a random comment to Howard Stern notwithstanding -- and points to that country and Libya as examples of what happens when democratization by force results in destabilization. He refuses to demonize either Russia or China, though he sees the latter as an economic adversary, but promises to make them respect the U.S. more than he thinks they do now. He wants the other NATO countries to pay what he points out to be their existing fair share for defense when most of them, he claims, are not. He didn't mention Vladimir Putin's name in the speech, and while he sees room for common ground in the fight against Muslim terrorism -- there'd be common ground there with China, too -- he warns that "If we can’t make a deal under my administration, a deal that’s great — not good, great — for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table." I actually like his lack of certitude about Russia when he says "Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out." I infer from that a lack of ideologically preconceived notions of what Russia wants or represents. If he can extend that open-mindedness around the whole world he might actually accomplish something.

Unfortunately, Trump has a couple of blind spots in the usual location: the Middle East. Understandably, his main concern in that region is defeating the self-styled Islamic State, which he promises to do sooner than anyone expects. But you would think that if Trump's number-one foreign policy goal -- apart from bringing jobs back to the U.S. -- is to destroy the Sunni Muslim terrorist entity that is provoking terrorist attacks in this country, that the self-styled master of the deal might hasten to make a deal with the IS's Shiite Muslim enemies. That doesn't seem to be an option, however, because if there's one nation out there that Trump sees as evil in the all-too typical American way, it's Iran. Why not? I don't think he's so dumb that he doesn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, and I don't think it's because he sees all Muslims as the enemy. In his speech he vows to work "very closely with our allies in the Muslim world, all of which are at risk from radical Islamic violence," though I wonder which countries he means by that. Could it be that Trump still carries a grudge over the hostage crisis of 1979? He definitely takes the recent incident involving American sailors to heart, seeing it as a huge humiliation for the U.S. But I can't help thinking that his animus against Iran -- a nation whose government admittedly gives you plenty of reasons to despise it -- is that Iran, more than the IS, remains the great existential threat to Israel's existence, the country most likely, in the Zionist imagination, to nuke the Jewish state. Trump can find a lot of reasons to legitimately criticize President Obama's foreign policy, but the fact that Obama has pissed off Israel is not really one of them. But when the subject turns to Israel Trump sounds just like a neocon.

Israel, our great friend and the one true democracy in the Middle East has been snubbed and criticized by an administration that lacks moral clarity. Just a few days ago, Vice President Biden again criticized Israel, a force for justice and peace, for acting as an impatient peace area in the region.[sic?]

By his own stated principles, or in line with his disavowal of ideological principles, Trump ought not to care whether Israel is a democracy or not. Meanwhile, describing Israel as "a force for justice and peace" borders on the delusional. Why he should think this way when he is neither an End Times believer nor in need of Sheldon Adelson's money is beyond me, but what else is new when it comes to the Middle East? Yet if an aspiring American president needs to show he's open-minded about foreign policy, that part of the world is where he has to do it, and that's where Trump's mind seems to be closed by prejudice and fantasy. He boasts of being willing to walk away from the table with Iran when Obama would not, but he should be willing to walk away from the table with any nation. If Israel is to be an exception to this, he should come up with better reasons than those that make him sound like every other mainstream American politician. And if he can't think originally about the Middle East you have to wonder how different the rest of his foreign policy actually will be. I'm not suggesting that he embrace Iran and throw Israel under the bus, but I would expect Donald Trump to talk about bringing those two countries to the table and making a deal, yet I didn't today. He's clearly going to take sides in the Middle East, it seems, and the consequences of that are a lesson he has yet to learn.

26 April 2016

Ego trumps collusion

The big story yesterday was that Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich had formed some sort of last-ditch entente to stop Donald Trump from winning a pre-convention majority of delegates for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump immediately cried foul, claiming that his rivals' pact was morally equivalent to criminal acts of collusion in the business sector. He needn't have bothered, since Kasich appeared determined to sabotage the entente almost instantly. As he understands it, the arrangement between himself and Cruz allows each man to concentrate his resources on the remaining states where he fares best against Trump in the polls, so that neither man wastes money in a state where he's likely to finish a distant third. That sounds reasonable, but saving money isn't going to beat Trump. Either Kasich or Cruz has to win these states in order to force an "open" or "brokered" convention in which delegates will be free to vote as they choose (i.e. against Trump) on the second ballot. In Indiana, Cruz trails Trump but leads Kasich in the polls. The sensible thing -- from the viewpoint of the Republican party if not that of any sane person -- would be for the anti-Trump vote to rally around Cruz. Yet obvious stubborn pride, barely disguised as modesty, prevented Kasich from saying so last night. Asked repeatedly by Anderson Cooper on CNN whether he would tell his Indiana supporters to vote for Cruz, Kasich answered repeatedly that he didn't believe in telling anyone how to vote. He tried to make it plain that he would not contest the state, or at least would no longer spend money there, but it was painfully more plain that saying "Vote for Cruz" was like swallowing hot coals for the governor. Again, for any normal person that's exactly how saying "Vote for Cruz" should feel, but Kasich was supposed to be making some sort of strategic sacrifice in order to stop Trump, and the only way to stop Trump seems to be to do all he can to help Cruz win in states where Kasich has no chance, as Cruz supposedly will do for Kasich in Oregon and other places, where, as in tonight's states where it's too late to stop Trump, Cruz is rightfully despised. The problem for this new entente is that, as far as I can tell, Kasich himself still despises Cruz.  But perhaps he loves himself more than he hates either Cruz or Trump. At this point, Kasich is nothing but an oldschool "favorite son" candidate trying to run a national campaign on the spurious premise that the Republican base is longing for a reasonable man to lead them this year. His persistence throws his own reasonableness (by Republican standards, that is) into question. I hate to say it, but we probably have to blame the news media, which want desperately to have a "good guy" in the Republican race besides Gog and Magog. They can sustain Kasich with ego-fueling free publicity, but in doing so they perpetuate both his own delusions and the larger illusion that the Republican party is still animated by sanity at this late hour.

25 April 2016

Populism and trade

For a few minutes yesterday I watched the President defend international trade from protectionists at the side of the German chancellor. On this subject Barack Obama, supposedly a flaming liberal and definitely a Democrat, is hardly any different from most conservative Republicans. You can hear the same argument from either party: individuals suffer but the nation benefits. For Republicans (and libertarians) it's a strangely collectivist argument to make, and for the GOP in particular it's arguably an even greater betrayal of the party's founding principles than its infamous Southern strategy. Donald Trump is made out to be a heretic (or an ignoramus) for seeking the Republican presidential nomination on a protectionist platform, while Senator Sanders is seen by many Democrats as nearly as heretical on the subject. Their common failing, the free-traders say, is their assumption that in global competition American companies and employees lose unfairly. The free-traders argue that we can't have the benefits or foreign markets opened to our products without accepting the reciprocal risk of competition with foreign products in our stores. In such an argument the "we" is the nation, but the cost-risk balance breaks down when we think in individual terms.

In what way, after all, does an American worker who suffers from foreign competition benefit from another American company selling more stuff abroad? For some, this is the wrong question to ask, the point of free trade being that every American benefits as a consumer from the lower prices and better quality of goods resulting from the widest possible competition. In other words, that unemployment check will last longer thanks to cheaper imports. It's all sophistry, of course, to cover up the true feeling of free-traders that economic competition means survival of the fittest, and that patriotism that protects the unfit is misplaced if not scoundrelous. I could almost buy this as long as price isn't a factor in fitness, but the most dogmatic free-traders seem determined to make it the primary factor. They definitely seem determined to make it appear oppressive to have to pay more than you might, when people are working cheaper than others say they should. They're also unbecomingly quick to decide when Americans deserve to lose.

Free-traders make a sophistic distinction between free trade and "trade war," while populist protectionists, from Trump on the right to Sanders on the left, may be more inclined to see trade itself as a form of war that Americans should win, victory meaning that Americans keep their jobs. Left protectionists like Sanders may be more inclined to wage a war of liberation, so to speak, by pressuring other countries to increase wages, while right protectionists like Trump, also recognizing low wages as a form of foreign cheating, are less interested in leveling that playing field than in defending the homeland with tariffs. Either way, the populist protectionist simply isn't as willing to write off the worker who loses to foreign competition as the free-trader appears to be -- and that resistance may help us a little more toward getting at the essence of populism.

While individual populists remain maddeningly selective about whom they include in their zone of solidarity -- "populism" and "humanism" are never quite synonymous -- they're still defined to some extent by that unwillingness to write off those toward whom they feel solidarity as losers in the game of life, whether through their own fault or through the breaks of the game. For the sake of analogy, Black Lives Matter is a populist movement because members refuse to write off anyone to whom they feel solidarity -- not even those who, to others, seem self-evidently deserving of death. Populism and its motivating solidarity don't seem to come as naturally to white people, given how readily they'll write off people of their own race or culture for "losing" in many facets of life. But white populism roars to life when whites perceive, as blacks arguably do more often, that shit doesn't just happen, that not all bad things are simply breaks of the game. Populism is a reaction to perceived unfairness, a perception that things are rigged by malicious or indifferent powers against the average person of populist self-regard. It assumes that it's not the loser's fault when he loses a rigged game, nor his responsibility, as the free-trader claims, to adapt to its rigged rules. The rules seem most obviously rigged in the labor market these days, so that's where populism makes its stand, whether by opposing the "race to the bottom" that results from global competition with unequal wages or by opposing the immigration of competitors for the dwindling labor market. By comparison, free-traders, be they ideological Republicans or progressive Clinton/Obama-style technocrats, insist that nothing is rigged, that the global market is an irresistible force of nature, its voice the voice of God. That might be hyperbole on my part, but they do seem to demand that we all accept the global market and its discipline on faith, while populism appears when faith is broken and appeals to faith ring hollow. Populism's opponents argue that the Trump and Sanders campaigns are also appeals to faith in their respective champions' ability to do the apparently impossible. While there may be cults of personality in play in these campaigns, they also seem to be, for good or ill, appeals to people's own power to change the rules that everyone says are immutable, including the rules of global trade. At least on that subject there's been a real debate this year.

20 April 2016

Clinton vs. Sanders: who is the enemy?

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary in her adopted state of New York by a landslide margin generated mainly in the biggest cities. Where I live, Senator Sanders crushed her, amplifying an unexpected volume of left dissent first expressed two years ago when Zephyr Teachout ran strongly against Gov. Cuomo in the Democratic primary. The way some see it, however, we must be a bunch of whitebread Bernie Bros up here. To some, the Sanders supporters are the right wing of the Democratic party, precisely because they are, to whatever extent, socialist. That seems to be the premise of a piece written on primary day for the Quartz website. According to Marcie Bianco, Sanders and his supporters are backward, or worse, in their failure to recognize, as Clinton supposedly does recognize, that "the long arc of equal rights in America is primarily based on identity." Sanders' sin is to propose a "revolution" that is primarily economic in orientation.

And despite what he may say [Bianco adds] an economic revolution is not tantamount to a sociopolitical overhaul. To put a finer point on it: Achieving a $15 minimum wage will not stop racially prejudiced cops from shooting black people. It will not stop immigrants or refugees from being detained at our borders. Dismantling Wall Street, whatever that means exactly, will not shore up or extend women’s reproductive rights.

Marxism itself is on the right of Bianco's political universe because  "The universalism of the workers’ fight against “Wall Street” or the “1%” or whatever term is currently being used to describe the capitalist bourgeoise deliberately overlooks oppressed identity groups such as women, people of color, the disabled, immigrant communities." Bianco notes cryptically that "The Achilles heel of Marxism is humanity itself." I find it cryptic, at least, because I'm not sure what she means. I suspect she means something along the line of "humanity has a tendency to oppress itself prior to the introduction of class, and Marxism at its worst only further empowers some of the oppressors." Whatever Bianco actually means, she paints herself into an uncomfortable corner with her rhetoric. What she's saying, after all, is that "the banks" or "Wall Street" (or any particular economic class) are not the real enemy, and that those who say they are are fools or knaves. What does that leave us? It seems pretty clear from Bianco's rhetoric that there is an enemy out there, and if there is, it may not be the white devil of a slightly different political imagination, but it is definitely the Man in any number of senses of the word. Equality in American won't really be equal for Bianco unless it is equal along racial, gender and sexual-orientation lines, at a minimum -- and to oppose Hillary Clinton, she implies, is to oppose all of this. Can Bianco really believe that Bernie Sanders opposes all of this? Her only real evidence for such a belief is that Sanders opposes Clinton. Perhaps any male candidate opposing any female candidate would be equally guilty of standing in the way of history, but to interpret the Clinton-Sanders race in all its particularity in this broad manner is absurd if not downright sinister. After every victory Clinton crows about breaking barriers, a concept that clearly resonates with her multicultural base. But if the Clinton campaign is as essentially about identity politics as Bianco claims, and as implicitly accusatory toward those who don't get with the program, it may build as many barriers to progress as it breaks.

19 April 2016

An American 'spring?'

It's only coming to my attention -- which probably isn't a good sign for the new "Democracy Spring" movement -- that more than 1,000 people were arrested in Washington D.C. last week for protesting outside the U.S. Capitol. It only came to my attention because some celebrities, most notably Ben and Jerry of ice cream fame, were among those arrested. Democracy Spring wants to start a mass civil-disobedience campaign across the country, disrupting campaign fundraisers and the like in order to force their two main issues, the reversal of the Citizens United decision and the rollback of perceived vote-suppression laws, onto the election agenda. While the group cites a number of American models for their movement, not all of which can be called successful, their name -- I asked myself why it isn't "American Spring" and my cynical answer was that someone must have thought that sounded like bottled water  -- is meant to evoke all the "Spring" movements, not all of which can be called successful, either, that have appeared around the world since the Prague original in 1968. In practice, the intent seems to be to combine the passive resistance of the Civil Rights Movement, embodied in members' willingness to get arrested, with the fervor of the "Springs," the "color revolutions" and other "people power" movements. It all seems very naive.

"People power" would have a hard time catching on in the U.S. no matter what the cause behind it, because the legitimacy of "people power" in other places is based on the absence of "rule of law," "civil society," etc. in authoritarian or totalitarian countries. That is, the legitimacy of people power is inversely proportional to the availability of other options for expressing and organizing dissent. Where civil society does exist, or is declared to exist, you'll find that any mob is just a mob. Such a mob can be dismissed by the casual observer and the determined opponent alike, each of whom can call the mob sore losers because they can't get their way at the polls or in the courts. It may call itself "Democracy Spring" but it will be seen as a threat to democracy itself, as many if not most Americans understand the term. The civil-disobedience side of the movement is meant, presumably, to shame Americans into recognizing an injustice so glaring that people are willing to be jailed, or worse, to protest it. But while many Americans outside the south in the Sixties could plead ignorance of the racist injustice down there until the footage from Birmingham and other places got on TV, many Americans now are well aware of the injustices Democracy Spring is protesting, and doesn't see them as injustices. They see the potential for fraud at the polls as sufficient reason to demand photo i.d. from voters and remain suspicious of those making excuses for those without i.d. They see the commodification of political speech as a necessary (if not necessarily harmless) counterweight to the self-interest of the state and the iron law of incumbency. They are unlikely to be swayed from their own beliefs by the sight of kids and celebrities in handcuffs. Groups like Democracy Spring need to realize that they're up against not just money and power but belief, and that nothing they do will amount to an argument against that belief.  If they're really radical, they may decide that the crisis is past the point of argument. They may decide that the belief that money is speech is not to be refuted but suppressed. If they're seen as a threat to democracy, and if they really believe in democracy, their main challenge is to show that democracy doesn't mean what the other side thinks it means, but more than Citizens United might get overturned in the process. Democracy Spring's agenda seems like small potatoes compared to the stakes involved in other people power movements, but let's reserve judgment until we see how ambitious they really are.

18 April 2016

The three estates: workers, consumers, entrepreneurs

Medieval societies, France especially, were divided into estates: nobility, clergy, and the rest, each represented in the rare representative assemblies of the nation. While anyone in theory could join the clergy, with that exception you were pretty much locked into the other estates. American society is different. You can choose to which estate you belong, and while that doesn't determine how you're represented in government, it can determine how you vote. Much of our political culture actually discourages working class people from identifying as such. More specifically, most of the political establishment doesn't want the working class to think of itself as a class, much less a proletariat. Thomas Frank recognizes this. The April Harper's ran an excerpt from his latest book, a critique of the American liberal establishment as embodied by the Clinton family and their foundation. The Harper's piece was concerned with debunking the trendy global fad of microbanking, as promoted by the Clintons. It gave Frank a springboard for his main thrust against Clintonism. Hillary Clinton's drive to make history echoes her family's commitment to breaking barriers to achievement, particularly those created by discrimination; "no ceilings" is a popular motto in their circles. There's nothing wrong with that in isolation, but what Frank perceives is that the Clintons and liberals like them seem more concerned with making it easier, through remedies from microlending to affirmative action, for people to become entrepreneurs than with making life better for the working class, the people who most likely always will work for someone else. Frank fears that, amid their concern that there be no ceilings, liberals neglect the threat of "no floors," no limit to the immiseration of the permanent working class. I'm sure that Clintonites will say that Frank's portrait is at least selective, at worst unfair. They might claim that Frank betrays a bias against entrepreneurs. Perhaps they're right, but if we can't all be entrepreneurs, despite the utopian dreams of liberals, libertarians and others, then someone has to speak for the working class and affirm the primacy of their concerns.

Perhaps the Clintonian embrace of "opportunity" is another expression of the Neo-Lincolnism evolving in our time. Lincoln, we're told, was all about eliminating barriers to achievement; that was why he opposed a slaveholding oligarchy that retarded opportunities for whites, by monopolizing and wasting land, while oppressing blacks. Lincoln, of course, was also the man who said, refuting the concept of "wage slavery," that Northern workers had only themselves to blame, with exceptions for very bad luck, if they remained employees all their lives instead of becoming entrepreneurs. Perhaps the Democrats under the Clintons, rather than the Republicans, are the party of Lincoln now. But for those who see themselves as workers rather than thwarted entrepreneurs, there's still the party within the party, the party of Senator Sanders. There's even the party outside the party, the party of Donald Trump. Each candidate reaches out more to the American as a worker than his rivals within each of the major parties. Each is a critic of modern American trade policy, which each man blames for the loss of manufacturing jobs. While Jonah Goldberg, a conservative columnist, dismisses Trump as a misguided patriot, he regards Sanders and the liberals and progressives who support him as hypocrites of a sort. Assuming the progressives are "citizens of the world," he questions why they oppose free trade policies that have improved the lives of millions of manufacturing workers around the world. Does Bernie Sanders want these people to keep foreigners poor by denying them American markets? It's one thing for Trump to cry "America first!" but Goldberg thinks it odd for progressives to say the same thing -- forgetting the narrative that portrays Sanders and his supporters as populists. If that magical word means anything, then in this context it means that Sanders' first concern is with shoring up American workers' standard of living, while his second, at best, would be to improve working conditions for the rest of the world rather than their American market share, perhaps by using trade policy as leverage.

Even were Goldberg to abandon his sophistic argument against Sanders' alleged hypocrisy, he'd still say that Sanders is as wrongheaded as Trump about trade. When we come down to Goldberg's real argument for free trade, Trump and Sanders are wrong for the same reason. Each, on this issue at least, refuses to recognize Americans' primary identity as consumers. 'Free trade is good for most American workers and all American consumers, not just the “1 percent.”,' Goldberg writes. The columnist is a right-wing consumerist, as opposed to left-consumerists more concerned with quality than price (think Ralph Nader) and thus committed to a degree of regulation Goldberg abhors. For right-consumerists like Goldberg, only price matters -- or should matter. Any other consideration, presumably, distorts the workings of that all-wise singularity, the Market. It's also necessary for the citizen to think of himself as a consumer first and a worker second at best. Right wing consumerism differs again from the left wing variant by requiring you to define yourself as a consumer -- in effect, to renounce any solidarity with fellow workers that might require a sacrifice from the wallet. A consumer remains free to pay more for quality, but he should not feel pressured to subsidize "uncompetitive" fellow citizen when imports can be had for less. When Goldberg sneers in print that "American labor unions hate foreign competition," his hope that foreign competition will further  break down organized labor could not be more obvious. While union folk and many liberals will still tell you that organized labor swelled the ranks of the American middle class in the 20th century, Goldberg tells an alternate history according to which "it is largely thanks to trade that the average American worker is in the top 1 percent of earners in the world." In other words, you owe it not to yourselves but to consumers worldwide. In this narrative the consumers are always on the winning side of history, and to take the workers' side, probably superficially in Trump's case and perhaps more substantially in Sanders', is a chump's call. So there are your choices: liberal entrepreneurship and its risk of debt; conservative consumerism sacrificing all to competitiveness; or the world as it seemed to be not so long ago, when workers could make the market answer to them. Don't say you don't have any real choices in politics.

Goldberg closes his column on a curious note:

One irony to this all of is that despite all the textbooks that claim nationalism and socialism are opposites, the reality is that when translated into policy, they’re closer to the same thing. The rhetoric may be different, but the economic program of nationalism is socialism, and the emotional underpinnings of socialism boil down to nationalism.

The curious thing about this is Goldberg's implicit repudiation of nationalism. You'd think any self-styled conservative would be a nationalist, on the assumption that the conservative is loyal to traditions, and particularly cultural traditions, while distrusting cosmopolitanism and individualism. Of course, Goldberg may mean something more sinister by "nationalism" than a mere synonym for patriotism, as he is the man who wrote a book called Liberal Fascism. But what is he actually defending by casting these aspersions? The individual, presumably, and the consumer especially. Above all, Goldberg defends the principle that if I can make and sell a product cheaper than anyone else, I deserve to win -- and I can never sell too cheap or pay too cheap. He's defending the idea that no one has the right to say I sell or pay too cheap, much less penalize me for it. When he invites you to think of yourself as a consumer, this is what he expects you to believe. And if you imagine yourself an entrepreneur, with help from Clintonian liberals, you'll have to think this way to if you want to survive in Goldberg's world. If you don't think that way and don't want to think that way, you'd better hope that another world is possible, no matter how unfair or unfree that world may seem to other people. You have to choose which of the modern estates you belong to, and you have to act and vote accordingly.