Economic Inequality

Economic Populist: Orwell's Catastrophic Gradualism and 0.1% Apologetic

My attention was just brought to this essay by George Orwell (h/t geomoo, "Catastrophic Gradualism".

The essay is reflecting upon a reaction to the work of Arthur Koestler by Mr. Kingsley Martin, but before launching into that exchange, Orwell lays the foundation for what he means by "Catastrophic Gradualism":

At present this theory is most often used to justify the Stalin regime in the USSR, but it obviously could be—and, given appropriate circumstances, would be—used to justify other forms of totalitarianism. It has gained ground as a result of the failure of the Russian Revolution—failure, that is, in the sense that the Revolution has not fulfilled the hopes that it aroused twenty-five years ago. In the name of Socialism the Russian regime has committed almost every crime that can be imagined, but at the same time its evolution is away from Socialism, unless one re-defines that word in terms that no Socialist of 1917 would have accepted. To those who admit these facts, only two courses are open. One is simply to repudiate the whole theory of totalitarianism, which few English intellectuals have the courage to do: the other is to fall back on Catastrophic Gradualism. The formula usually employed is “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” And if one replies, “Yes, but where is the omelette?”, the answer is likely to be: “Oh well, you can’t expect everything to happen all in a moment.”

For someone of my generation, on the trailing edge of the Baby Boomers or the leading edge of Generation X (and those kinds of boundaries are intrinsically ambiguous because generational cohorts are defined by their core rather than by their boundaries), the first reaction is that visiting the past is visiting a different country. Imagining a time and place when such arguments would be used to defend Stalin's Soviet Union is a bit mind boggling. But then, using the essay as a prism to look back with fresh eyes to the current time and place ... maybe not so mind boggling after all.

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A Grand Conspiracy in Plain Sight

This week, Barack Obama unveiled his budget proposal. Among the lowlights is a proposal to  cut Social Security and Medicare in exchange for a few very modest tax increases on the wealthy. And that's just his opening bargaining position. 

I decided to conduct a little experiment. I'd watch or listen to some mainstream news, such as CBS or NPR during prime news time(early morning and late afternoon), and see how many times the media mentioned this very important news. For the most part...(crickets). 

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The Travesty of Barack Obama's Second Inauguration on Martin Luther King Day

In just a few hours from now, a travesty will happen. President Barack Obama will publicly begin his second term by taking the oath of office while placing his hand on the Reverend Martin Luther King's Bible, and on the holiday that was set aside to honor the latter to boot. If such a thing as sympathetic magic or a wrathful God really existed, either the Bible or the President would burst into flame.

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Post-Election Progressive Scorecard Update: Kasich 3, Obama 0

In a previous entry on Fire Dog Lake, I gave Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio a 1-0 lead over Democratic President Barack Obama on issues since the 2012 election because the Kasich Administration opposed a proposal by Obama's Department of Agriculture to cut Food Stamp benefits for many recipients by up to 50%:

http://my.firedoglake.com/ohiogringo/2012/11/13/post-election-progressiv...

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