The FTX Implosion, Pragmatism vs. Principle Among Millennials, Count Kalergi Reassessed, The Israeli Right Triumphant, The DEA's "Most Corrupt Agent"
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Paul Krugman isn't much of an opinion writer, but he once had an interesting observation about the triangular dog-chases-tail relationship of important people: intellectuals, government workers, and the wealthy. Intellectuals want the power of the government workers. Government workers want the riches of the wealthy. The wealthy want to be thought of as smart like the intellectuals.
When I saw that 2:30 SBF spiel about effective altruism I was wondering who would actually be impressed by this crap. Still not sure what the answer is.
Loved this one - I wasn’t familiar with Kalergi, fascinating
Excellent as always. Proponents of "popularism" didn't receive the memo
On the divisions in the Democratic Party, the way that plays out is, in many ways, dependent on how things play out in the Republican Party. Ironically, the presence of Trump and other "Trumpist" types in the Republican side has led to the Democrats tacking to a more "popularist" line, given that they think they don't really have to argue policy or values to win -- they can just argue "we are not Trump or his supporters" and probably win, even in an unfavorable political environment (as we saw last week). That means that the more the GOP is Trumpist, the more the "popularist" wing of the Democrats retains its sway, I think. Conversely, the more the GOP becomes removed from Trump, the more likely that the actual hard left wing (AOC, Squad, etc) of the Democrats will re-assert itself, as we saw it doing around the same time Trump was rising on the Republican side in the mid 2010s, in the wake of the failure of Occupy during a Democratic administration.
I expect that it will be quite some time before the Democrats, as a practical matter, stop making Trump the subject matter of the election, even if Trump isn't actually running (after all, he wasn't running in 2022). Even if he doesn't win the GOP nomination in 24 (as I personally expect him not to do given what happened last week), I think that the Democrats will still make the ideas that Trump's supporters tend to stand for the basis of their campaign so that they can kind of still run against Trump even though Trump isn't the candidate. That will almost certainly be the case if the GOP run DeSantis, who the Democrats will likely paint as a mini-Trump, or a Trump who has a different demeanor. So I don't think we're close to being done with the Democrats running on Trump, Trump and Trump (because it's just their most powerful electoral message by far, really -- far more motivating to people than policy pitches or, as the "popularists" point out, "values" pitches which are not likely to resonate with most voters anyway). That likely means that the popularists will maintain the power position in selecting candidates, because it plays into the strategy of appearing to be the moderate/centrist party and offering that up as the alternative to the Trumpian extremists. It's much harder to make that message stick if your own candidate is a far-left firebrand type, and you also don't happen to actually be running against Trump himself.
So I think the AOC wing likely has to wait its turn for a bit. In the meantime, it will be interesting to observe whether, as the calendar years slip into the future, the younger millenials and Zs remain as ardently left -- we shall see.
On Israel, this shift has taken place in Europe for some time really, probably because the Jewish population there is not as politically powerful as it is in the US. In the US the anti-Israel voices on the left have been largely silenced by the fact that historically most Jews supported both Israel and the American left, without perceiving this to be contradictory as some non-Jews on the left did. That has changed, as you point out, with many younger Jews moving leftward in their assessment of Israel as well, and becoming more critical of the idea of maintaining the status quo of Israel as a Zionist/Jewish home-country. The rise of Netanyahu, who is loathed by many American Jews, probably has something to do with that, as does the overall drift among the young, in general, towards more intensely and consistently left perspectives -- this has impacted American Jews as well, without question.
Of course that doesn't map to Israeli politics itself more or less at all. While the Bibi/Gvir coalition is largely reliant on the large and growing religious right, with its strong Haredi core, the secular Israelis on the coast are also rather Zionist. The idea of turning Israel into a pluralistic, US-style multicultural proposition state isn't really one with a lot of actual on-the-ground support in Israel, at all. So there will be a massive disconnect there between the rising generation of American Jews, on the one hand, and the mass Israeli population, on the other -- one that spans the political divide in Israel, as Beinart rightly points out.
If the Democrats aren't very careful about that, Israel could become a Republican issue entirely, which would have interesting implications both for domestic US politics (although most American Jews and especially younger ones would presumably remain Democratic loyalists in that scenario, not all would ... there are always the Bari Weiss types out there) and foreign policy (which has already been veering towards more colder and more distant US/Israel relations during Democratic administrations than Republican ones).
The mother of the cretinous turd Sam (SBF) is a Stanford professor specializing in ethics. Perfect: Matt Tiabbi says modern America is Rome.
I respect Matt Stoller and I am part of his Substack. While I understand the role many Republicans played into the lack of regulation, the sheer amount of money poured into the Midterms on behalf of the Democrat party establishment against populist Republican and even some populist Democrat candidates cannot be ignored.
US/Israel relations are ultimately about geopolitics, not ideology. From 1948 to 1967 the US had extremely frosty relations with Israel. The first US foreign policy decision taken after Israel was created was to impose an arms blockade. The expectation in Washington was that Israel would be defeated by the Arabs (who were armed by Britain). In the 40s and 50s the US backed Arab nationalist coups in Egypt and Syria, mainly because the US wanted to drive the UK and French out and keep the USSR at bay. After '67 it all changed when Johnson decided that he wanted Israel firmly within the US/Western bloc.
The long-term future of US/Israel relations will ultimately depend on how interested the US remains in Western Asia.
Having said that, at the rhetorical/theatrical level US foreign policy is invariably 100% domestic politics. The issue of Israel will always draw a lot of heat in the US because people will use it as a means of defining themselves ideologically. Ethnonationalism is the great political taboo for now, but the US is not the arbiter of the world's fate or Israel's. Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Turkey all have their own ideological perspectives on the proper relationship between state and ethnos and these have little in common with American fads. The future of ethnonationalism within the West will be settled in large part by the fate of Europe. Which leads me to conclude that it is all up for grabs.
As for Israel, it will remain what it is: a Levantine Rorschach blot upon which people project their anxieties and obsessions.
With all the talk from Shor types about “popularism,” I’m stumped about why Biden’s people haven’t been shouting at the top of their lungs about the antitrust moves the admin has been making (as covered by Matt Stoller, who’s mentioned above). It’s the rare issue that has quite a bit of “bipartisan” appeal (in the sense of: different tranches of the two parties’ bases).
The struggle between pragmatists and idealists may well be settled (at least provisionally) by the fallout from the emerging crisis in Silicon Valley. Musk's layoff are the start of a much larger restructuring that will have a huge effect on the employability and financial prospects of a key constituency for the Dems: Gen Z within high tech. It is too soon to say how the realities of unemployment in an era of austerity and mass immiseration will play out. Most likely it will further radicalise many, if not most, of them. The hippies of the 70s turned to the Right in the Reagan/Bush/Clinton years because there was money to be made. It is unlikely that there will many opportunities to join the bourgeoisie any time soon.
The forces driving populism are also becoming more, rather than less, urgent. The Democrats either meet some of the populist constituency half-way or they will have no choice but to embrace a more vigorous authoritarian approach to crush it. As Americans get poorer, politics is certain to get rowdier.
Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. Perhaps we should be praying very hard that the truth prevails.
Great post as always!
You quite rightly point out the growing gap between Israeli Jews and Kwan Jews. But the conflict is not likely to be of great importance to the state of Israel because (liberal) American Jews, like liberals and progressives everywhere, are dying out. Their TFR and intermarriage rate will make it unlikely a sizeable liberal Jewish community will exist in 2100, whereas I know there will be a giant Israeli population then. I am very jealous of the Israeli people. They will still exist 100 years from now, whereas the French, Dutch, Germans and even Croatians cannot say this with as much certainty.
Speaking of Croatia, I will be visiting Split this coming February. Any travel advice?
Would love to see a piece on the Reaspora
Now I wonder if the top of mind response we all have with the Kalergi Plan is largely meant to obfuscate his Pax Europa ideas and his fervent wish for a new aristocracy.
1) That Larry David Super Bowl ad WAS pretty funny as ads go. Turns out we should have listened to the character and not the tagline.
2) In the type of law enforcement the DEA and counter-terrorism agencies do, the line between you and being a full blown criminal in the manner of those you're ostensibly pursuing becomes so thin as to be functionally nonexistent. It requires a moral and spiritual fortitude that is utterly at odds with the fabric of the very people who would pursue such a career. We will never have effective law enforcement in these spaces for this reason.
3) RE: Kalergi: "his father a mixture of several different European ethnic groups ranging from Flemish to Greek" In America we would refer to this simply as white and ignore the rest. This is something that always makes my colleague, a Russian Jew who grew up in the Soviet Union, and I, a Mormon kid from the Vegas suburbs, laugh.
Excellent, as always, sir. And congrats on the 1,000 subscribers. I hope that figure continues to rise exponentially.
Um. Is it wrong to be puzzled by Niccolo's opening photo mash .... as in "why is there a photograph of Trevor Noah next to the Alameda girl?"
Yeah, I might need to update the eyeglass prescription. (Have a laugh at my expense anyways.)