BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-04-29 Th

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...


John Scalzi’I’m a dude with the usual amount of bullshit on his karma; I try to imagine the better version of me, and then cosplay that in public until hopefully it sticks. Or to quote Vonnegut: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be”…


Very Briefly Noted:

Share Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality


John QuigginRepublicans & the End of Hard Neoliberalism: ‘After four years of the Trump Administration, and a few months of post-election madness, the Republican Party has completed a transition that has been going on for decades. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Republicans were a hard neoliberal party…. Now the situation is reversed. The Republicans are a white grievance party… [that] still attempt to attract support from corporations by advocating tax cuts….

Think of the Eisenhower-era Republican party as a complicated mixture of many dissolved ingredients, in which the dominant element was the business establishment, and the Trump era party as a crystalised mass of plutocratic economics, racism and all-round craziness. The development over the 60 years between the two has consisted of keeping the mixture simmering, while adding more and more appeals to racial animus and magical thinking (supply-side economics, climate denial, the Iraq war and so on). In this process various elements of the original mix have boiled off or precipitated out and discarded as dregs.

Boiling off is the process by which various groups (Blacks and Northeastern liberal Republicans in C20, liberaltarians more recently) have left the Republican coalition in response to its racism and know-nothingism. The dregs that have precipitated out are ideas that were supposed to be important to Republicans (free trade, scientific truth, classical liberalism, moral character and so on) that turned out not to matter at all. Trump’s arrival is the catalyst seed crystal that produces the phase change. The final product of the reaction emerges in its crystallised form.

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Matthew ZeitlinPersonnel Isn’t Policy, Policy Is Personnel: ‘Janet Yellen is a fiscal and monetary hawk. Or at least she was. Sorta. But no longer…. The Biden administration, as might be expected, has many of the same figures from the Obama years and even the Clinton years…. Yellen herself was Obama’s choice to run the Federal Reserve and the chair of Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors after some time on the Fed Board. While on the Fed and in the Clinton White House, she supported policies that would be anathema to the current administration, she was affiliated with deficit hawk groups that, for now, have no particular hold over current Democratic Party thinking. And yet I have no doubt that Yellen will be an effective advocate and architect of exactly what the Biden administration and Democratic congress wants to do right: spend money on families, Covid relief, the environment, and not get too stressed about the deficit….

It wasn’t Larry Summers who allegedly told Romer that monetary policy had “shot its wad,” or tried to explain high unemployment with reference to bank tellers and ATMs.  It was Barack Obama…. We are attuned to a model where advisors influence and shape the thinking of their “principal,” but it seems just as likely that the principal shapes the advisors, or essentially farms out different “modules” of thinking to different people (a deficit hawk here, a stimulus advocate there, a health care reformer over there) and then shifts the degree to which she takes their input in accordance with what she already wants to do. Inasmuch as the advisors differ, they differ within a fairly narrow band set by the principal…. [Summers] is as on board for more spending as anyone in Greater Bidenberg—but will remain at least somewhat estranged, even if the winds of change blow from the same direction both within and without it…

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Antonio GramsciPrison Notebooks III: ’That facet of today’s crisis which is lamented as a “wave of materialism” is related to the so-called “crisis of authority”. The ruling class has lost its coordination—is not leading but merely dominant solely by force. The overwhelming majority no longer believe what they used to believe, and so have become unmoored from the ideologies of tradition. This, precisely, is the crisis: The old order is dying. The new order cannot be born. There is an interregnum. It is a time of monsters….

Can a gap between the popular majority and the ideologies of the rulers as serious as that since World War I ended be bridged by simple force, which attempts to stop the ideologies of the future from coming to organize society. Will the current interregnum end not in the normal-history process, which naked force blocks, but rather in a restoration? The shape of the ideologies is such that that can be ruled out in any practical if not absolute sense. he character of the ideologies, that can be ruled out-yet not in an absolute sense. In the meantime depression will lead eventually to wide scepticism, and a new accommodation—catholicism will even more become simply Jesuitism, and so forth.

These are highly favorable conditions for an unprecedented expansion of Marxism’s influence. Marxism’s oversimplicity and inadequacy when it takes its popular form will help it spread. Dead old ideologies turn into skepticism with respect to all theories and frameworks, to a focus on economic fact and money, and to politics that is either fantastical or cynical…. But this reduction to economic money and to political power means exactly the disappearance of established frameworks of ideas as anything other than rationalizations. That opens up the possibility—and creates the necessity—of creating the new culture…

Hoisted From the Archives:

From 2011: LECTURE: Seven Sects of Macroeconomic Error: Wrong Models of the Great Recession

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