Monday, October 31, 2011

Interview Regarding OWS

Charlie Rose interviews Amy Goodman and Chris Hedges. Watch here.


HispanicPundit said...

My favorite take on OWS is Megan McArdle's take (remember her? the one who predicted the housing bubble before Krugman???). She calls it for what it is: The Rage Of The Almost-Elites. It's basically a bunch of white upper middle class leftists who shroud their jealousy of the elite with the false perception that they have anything in common with the true poor person in the United States.

Btw, if you have visited the OWS website "We are the 99%", you gotta check out the rebuttal website: "We Are The 53%"

Jon said...

I think the kind of argument that you find most compelling is the argument that sounds plausible and requires no proof. I will read your link from Megan and haven't yet, but just speaking generically I'm kind of expecting the following. It makes sense to her that it's jealousy. She'll weave a plausible sounding story. And for you that works.

I think you'd really find evolutionary psychology appealing. Really creative stories which purport to explain certain behaviors. It's interesting. I linked to something like that from Dawkins recently. But the huge hole in it is this. How do you prove such a thing?

When it comes to motivations here's the first think you do. Ask people why they are doing what they are doing. Who's a better source for motivations of Islamic violence? Is it Bob Dutko or Osama bin Laden? Or perhaps individuals that have long been on record expressing the very grievances Muslims the violent Muslims likewise cited? Bob Dutko will spin what he thinks are plausible sounding motivations that all have one thing in common. They conform to his prior preconceptions and beliefs. If they are unfalsifiable, so much the better.

Megan is an apologist for big banks. Maybe you saw the interview she did along with Matt Taibbi. Taibbi has long been on record as objecting to precisely the same kinds of abuses you hear about repeatedly at OWS. Megan in this interview kisses so much banker ass that Taibbi is incredulous. His attitude dealing with her is "How do you sleep at night spinning abuse and crimes of the powerful?" You don't like Taibbi. You don't agree with him. You side with Megan. My point though is this. Is Megan, long time apologist for wealth in the eyes of the people that formed the intellectual foundation for OWS, is she the best source when it comes to speculating about motivations? What would we expect her to come up with? Nefarious motivations that prop up her long standing banker apologetics. So when she spins a nefarious motive that has the benefit of being unfalsifiable, how much stock should we put in that?

Why not rather listen to the people that have long expressed precisely the same grievances that you hear about at OWS. People like Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Noam Chomsky, and Amy Goodman. Goodman's show is literally about OWS every day and that has been true from the very beginning of OWS and the beginning of her show years before OWS started. You should listen to her. She really knows her stuff. Seriously, I highly recommend her writings and Democracy Now, the hour long daily news cast that she runs. Give it a try.

I don't go to Noam Chomsky to try and understand what motivates the Tea Party crowd. I listen to what they say and what those that have long expressed similar grievances say. And if Michael Moore stepped up and said "They just hate black people" I'd dismiss that. Megan is just about the worst source on a question like this.

HispanicPundit said...

Since you started first with the assumptions and name calling....

The reason you and leftists in general see Megan McArdle and others as bank apologists, and people like Taibbi as "truth finders" is...wait for it...economic ignorance.

You don't understand economics. And so like a little kid, you see anything that you think "favors" banks as apologetics. It's the simplistic way you have to view the world outside of economics. I see it all the time. So when Megan McArdle talks about free trade, the arguments against a finance tax, or any other such "pro-bank" argument - instead of digging into the arguments and seeing what economists believe, you just think "ah, tool of the banks".

Even though people you admire like Robert Reich, Paul Krugman and others - by being economists - would agree with her statements.

It's the only tool you have.

Jon said...

But I wasn't name calling you. So for instance if you say "Taibbi is an idiot" this doesn't bother me. We're kind of having a private conversation here. Taibbi doesn't read this blog. I wouldn't expect you'd talk that way if he were here, but you know, people in private might say things about others not present that if they were to hear it would be considered rude. I wouldn't take that as license to call you names. I think you should make that distinction.

Does it offend you that I talk about Megan that way? I'm treating this like a private conversation between the two of us. I assumed this wouldn't bother you or prompt you to start calling me names, but apparently it has. If you are unable to make the distinction (I'm talking about someone not present in a way I wouldn't talk to their face) and take offense I'll try to curb that. Don't retaliate with name calling without at least informing me first.

As far as your claims of my ignorance, you've once again misunderstood me and now you call me names because you don't understand what I say. You should first ask to be sure you know what I mean.

I didn't actually say Megan's pro bank arguments were wrong. What I said is that there is a divide in this country. OWS is one side of the debate and on the other we have banks and their apologists (or supporters if you prefer). Who is likely to give us the best evaluation of the motives of OWS? It's not the banks. It's not the banks apologists. It's the OWS protestors and their apologists (like Greenwald). So when a banker apologist offers an unfalsifiable assertion about what motivates OWS, what should we make of that? What should we make of an enraged OWS protestor's claims about what motivates banker action? These points should be considered.

So tell me, what should we make of that? And in light of that why do you think Megan is the best source for informing us of the motivations of OWS?

HispanicPundit said...

Nobody here is arguing that she is the "best" choice - only A choice.

Where did I say "best"? Also, can I read from your response that one should then NOT read people from "the other side"?

Did you read her post (really a quote of another post)? What did you think?

HispanicPundit said...

Btw, I should also mention here that I have resorted to staying on topic with you in discussions. You may think I am ignoring your point, but I am often not. Sometimes I don't respond to a direct question or charge or tangent because I think - and we probably both agree - that alot of our disagreements stems from misunderstanding each other.

Whatever it is (personality difference, political difference, writing style difference etc?) that causes that, alot of typing can be wasted on a topic that stemmed from a simple misunderstanding. It takes alot of time to finally hash that out. Since time is of value for me, I try to avoid those needless redirections and focus on a point at hand that interests me. If I am going to spend alot of time on a topic with you, I want it to be something worthwhile - something we BOTH find interesting.

Jon said...

You called it your "favorite take" on OWS. So "best" in your world. She's on the other side of the divide and yet purports to tell us the motivations of OWS. I would expect her not only to not be the best source. I'd expect her to be among the worst. Do you understand why I expect that? Do you think my reasoning makes sense? Is Michael Moore the best source on the motivations of the tea party? Bob Dutko on Islamic violence?

But no, I haven't read it yet and can't do it right away. "Rage of the Almost Elites" it's called. It's going to be tough to trudge through this because I'm expecting a lot of caricatures. Lots of unfalsifiable snarky assertions that conform to her preferred conclusions. Do you really want to understand motivations? You really should read Greenwald before reading Megan. Or watch the interview here (did you at least do that?) On the other hand if you want to just make fun and go with confirmation bias Megan is the right choice.

HispanicPundit said...

Favorite means "one that makes most sense to me", not "best", as in most accurate source. For example, Chomsky may have your "favorite" take on economic matters, but I don't think you'd be so bold as to say he is the most accurate source on economics.

I've read Greenwald, I've read other supporters of the protesters...I read a wide variety of leftists. But they all suffer from some shortcoming. Something that makes me think, "well that doesnt make sense". That is not to say that Megan's link doesn't have the same - but it resonates most with my experience, knowledge, etc.

But again, here we are getting into a topic I can pretty much careless about. The protesters dont interest me. Protests rarely accomplish anything in this country. Even the immigration protests, I would argue, made it WORSE for immigration. So even if I sympathized with the protesters - which frankly I dont - I wouldn't find it interesting to read about em. I'm more interested in ideas...not emotions.

Btw, if you click on the link you will see that the main point was in fact NOT written by Megan McArdle. She is quoting a law prof and commenting on it. Just saying.

Jon said...

Protests rarely accomplish anything in this country.

Just a little thought for you to consider. Reading people like Zinn and others you see that they claim that almost every single right you have, every tiny bit of progress that has been made, was made because someone that you may have never heard of identified an unjust abuse of power, stepped up despite the fact that it was illegal and broke the unjust law, then went to jail and suffered, possibly never saw the law changed, but in doing that built the foundations that led to the changes you now enjoy. Every freaking one of them.

Sure, MLK was the face of an awesome protest movement. But how many black men you've never heard of got sprayed with fire hoses, lynched, and beaten in order to earn equality under the law?

I've talked about the right to free speech. Didn't really exist in this country until relatively recently, sometime around the 60's. People stepped up and spoke though it was illegal and said "Send me to jail." Which they did.

Do you know about Susan B Anthony? Through a technicality of some kind (I forget) she showed up at a voting booth, already a respected woman because she spoke around the country in efforts to gain suffrage, and said "Damn it, let me in. I'm voting and it's my right." An intimidated clerk allowed her. Later a judge would rule that in fact the law did not give her a right to vote. When the cops came to arrest her she said "Cuff me. Treat me like the criminal you say I am." She wouldn't let them get away with going easy on her. And the judge said "Guilty, pay a fine of $1" or whatever it was, you know what she said? "Eff you, I'll never pay a single penny. Leave me in jail if you like." I mean, just awesome. And the shame of the injustice of it all is what brought the unjust laws down. She never saw women get the right to vote, but obviously her civil disobedience and protest was HUGE.

It just goes on and on. Protest is everything. The history books don't talk about it. They like to glorify a particular leader, like say FDR. But FDR only did what he did because he feared the public and real consequences. The public brought pressure. Without them he'd just give away the farm to business interests. He'd really have no choice. But, like Goodman says in the interview (did you watch?) certain people normally have Obama's ear. And he'll do what they say. We have to give him the ability to say to those business interests "I'd love to do what you say, but if I do they'll storm the Bastille." Only popular pressure can even give a President the opportunity to do the right thing. Everything we got from FDR came via this mechanism. Of course business is trying to beat back those gains. That's why they protest.

Or maybe it's the rage of the "almost-elites."

HispanicPundit said...

Civil disobedience is quite different than protests. My point was with protests specifically.

Jon said...

Civil disobedience occurs at protests, and these are the protests that have done so much good.

HispanicPundit said...

Maybe so - but still not the same thing.

Civil disobedience certainly has a role...protesting, especially in the United States, is a waste of time and often counter to your cause.