Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

Radio 4 Programme Next Week Claiming Universal Credit during Lockdown

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 8:18pm in

According to next week’s Radio Times, for 27th June – 3rd July 2020, Radio 4 is broadcasting a programme next Monday, 29th June 2020, on Universal Credit claimants and their experience of having to wait five weeks for their first payment during lockdown. The programme’s title is Your Call Is Important to Us, and the blurb for it simply says

The personal stories of people claiming Universal Credit for the first time during lockdown, waiting in isolation for up to five weeks for their first payment to arrive. (p. 119).

The addition piece on it by Tom Goulding on the previous page, 118, runs

In times of prosperity, it is easy to feel detached from the conversation surrounding benefits. But with around three million applying for Universal Credit since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, more people are finding themselves at the sharp end of the process, made all the more torturous by weeks of isolation. This programme delves into some of these individual stories, including a warehouse manager who has been forced to shield and saxophonist who has moved back in with his parents. For balance, we also hear from staff of the Works and Pensions department on how they have coped in the crisis.

I think part of Tory policy towards the poor, the disabled and the unemployed was always about keeping the numbers below a certain level so that they voting base wouldn’t become too alarmed and start to wonder if it would happen to them. If it did, then some of them might actually catch on to the fact that they really aren’t doing anything to help people, just punishing and victimising them for being poor and daring to be a burden on society, or rather, the super-rich. This strategy is obviously threatened when a significant part of the workforce is suddenly thrown out of work, or furloughed, as has happened during lockdown.

Labour should have been protecting these people and holding Johnson and his gang of thugs and profiteers responsible for their continuing persecution of the unemployed and the disabled. Despite everything, the Tories have continued with their dreadful, murderous policy of austerity. But Starmer has said zip about all of this.

As for the DWP and its staff, I dare say some are genuinely conscientious people, who care about their clients. But those are not the qualities desired or encouraged by the Department’s chiefs, like the odious Iain Duncan Smith. Their concern is simply to get people off benefit. If they can’t find them work, then they invent utterly fake, spurious reasons to sanction them, all to provide the tax breaks the Tories give to the 1 per cent. When questioned about their policies, the Tories simply lie, and I have no doubt that is exactly what many of the staff interviewed on the programme will do in order to justify what is frankly unjustifiable.

The programme’s on at 11.00 am, if you want to listen to it.

Thursday morning thoughts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 5:18pm in

Morning thoughts from my Twitter:

More and more local authorities are ready to go bust

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 5:00pm in

According to the Local Government Chronicle, Manchester City Council is contemplating a section 114 notice (effectively a declaration of bankruptcy) and Leeds and Liverpool city councils, Wiltshire Council, Cumbria CC and Windsor & Maidenhead are all thought to be in a similar position. London boroughs have also warned of ‘catastrophic’ cuts and council tax rises... Read more

FBI Expands Ability to Collect Cellphone Location Data, Monitor Social Media, Recent Contracts Show

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 4:56am in

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may be watching what you tweet and where people gather.

The federal law enforcement agency’s records show a growing focus on harnessing the latest private sector tools for mass surveillance, including recent contracts with companies that monitor social media posts and collect cellphone location data.

On May 26, as demonstrations around the country erupted over the police killing of George Floyd, the FBI signed an expedited agreement to extend its relationship with Dataminr, a company that monitors social media.

A few days later, the agency modified an agreement it signed in February with Venntel, Inc., a Virginia technology firm that maps and sells the movements of millions of Americans. The company purchases bulk location data and sells it largely to government agencies.

The FBI has long pursued advanced technological tools to rapidly predict crime and locate potential suspects, capabilities that have raised concerns that the agency targets lawful forms of protest and free expression. Earlier this year, the agency released a bid proposal for technological solutions to “obtain early alerts on ongoing national security and public safety-related events through lawfully collected/acquired social media data.”

It’s not clear exactly how the February Venntel contract was modified. Chris Gildea, the president of Venntel, did not respond to a request for comment. The company is a subsidiary of Gravy Analytics, a major data broker that sells location-tracking information to advertisers and other clients, which also declined to comment “due to the confidential nature of that work.” A spokesperson for the FBI also declined to comment for this article.

Dataminr, which already held contracts with the FBI worth over $1 million, monitors social media for breaking news and events. “Dataminr provides the FBI with First Alert, a product that delivers breaking news alerts on emergency events, such as natural disasters, fires, explosions and shootings,” noted a spokesperson for Dataminr in a statement.

The statement claimed that the service “was designed and built to technologically restrict all forms of surveillance and be compliant with the user protection and data use policies of social media platforms.”

Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, has warned that “terrorism today moves at the speed of social media.” During testimony last year, Wray told lawmakers that threats from “everything from anarchist groups to racially-motivated violent extremist groups” tend to “begin mostly online.”

But critics of the agency are concerned that the new reach could encroach upon First Amendment-protected speech.

“We are deeply concerned that the FBI is further expanding their surveillance capacity,” said Mary Zerkel, coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s Communities Against Islamophobia program.

“The FBI has for decades used surveillance and racial profiling to target Muslims, immigrants, people of color, activists in general, and Black activists in particular. AFSC itself has a substantial FBI file,” added Zerkel. “Mass data collection tools will only serve to further criminalize protests and free speech, and expand the criminalization of Muslims and people of color.”

Few regulations exist to restrict the use of location-tracking data, a form of data collection that many common phone applications collect and monetize. The Supreme Court’s 2018 Carpenter v. United States ruled that government prosecutors require a warrant to obtain cellphone location data from service providers. But many experts worry that the ruling may not apply to third-party data brokers such as Venntel.

The Intercept has reported that since the recent wave of street demonstrations, FBI agents have questioned at least one individual for simply tweeting in jest that they are members of “antifa,” a reference to a style of violent activism popular among some on the activist far-left. Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force have also questioned protest organizers at their homes — sometimes within hours of posting an event on social media.

The FBI has tapped other notable surveillance firms in recent years, including Palantir, which builds tools to visualize relationships using an array of information, from social media to license plate numbers.

But the embrace of powerful mass location data through a firm such as Venntel represents a potential new era for the agency.

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had tapped Venntel for tax and immigration enforcement, respectively. After the initial story ran, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., reportedly reached out to the company to inquire about the federal government’s use of the technology — but that the company declined to answer most questions.

The post FBI Expands Ability to Collect Cellphone Location Data, Monitor Social Media, Recent Contracts Show appeared first on The Intercept.

Hurrah! Katie Hopkins Evicted from Twitter

Earlier this week anti-racism activists finally succeeded in having hatey Katie Hopkins banned from Twitter. Hopkins started her notorious career as one of the contestants in the British version of The Apprentice. She was one of the runners-up, but her noxious right-wing beliefs nevertheless got her taken on as a columnist for the Scum and the Heil. She lost these thanks to her very outspoken racism.

In this clip from Novara Media’s Tysky Sour, Michael Walker and Aaron Bastani discuss her noxious career. This included such lows as her infamous description of immigrants and asylum seekers as ‘cockroaches’ for whom she had absolutely no love. This made that last sentiment very clear in a Tweet aimed at Philip Schofield after the sinking of a migrant ship and its human cargo in the Med. The newspapers covered this with a picture of a grieving father, who had stopped at Turkey, looking at the body of his infant son, which had just been washed up on the beach. Hopkins went on to say that illegal immigrants should be gunned down if they tried to cross into Britain. But perhaps the nadir came in a Tweet she made after the Manchester bombing in which she called for a ‘final solution’. This was too much even for whatever paper was then employing her, and she was given the heave-ho. But she was still free to spew her hate on Twitter. And now she’s lost even that.

Bastani and Walker agree that her banning is an open and shut case. She deserved it. But they also point out that the people who enabled her by giving her platforms and newspaper columns are still around. Stig Abell was the editor of the Scum who took her on. He hasn’t been damaged, and is now at the Times, where he’s pretending to be the voice of moderation. Well, I’ve absolutely no respect for the Times and its sister paper, the Sunday Times, because of their repeated smears and libels against the left, and particularly of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, including Mike. While they use a much more extensive vocabulary and are aimed at a far better educated readership than the Scum, those two rags are still utter, disgraceful trash. The time’s long past when all of the mendacious Tory press should have been cleaned out of his liars, propagandists and smear merchants.

I’ve no doubt that there are complaints against Hopkin’s ban as well as accusations of censorship, but I don’t think her defenders really have a case. There have been cases like Hopkins’ before, in which a right-winger with very racist or intolerant views has been banned from a social media platform like Twitter or YouTube. Their supporters have always tried to defend them on the grounds of free speech. But in America, this clause of the Constitution only applies to the government. They can’t imprison or persecute citizens for expressing their beliefs. But it doesn’t apply to private corporations.

Twitter is a private company. According to Conservatives and Libertarians, private industry should be left to do whatever it likes within reason in the pursuit of profit. Government should respect the rule of laissez faire economics and not interfere. But Twitter is a private company, and so it can, by the same reasoning, decide who or what it wants on its platform. And if it decides that hatey Katie has violated its terms and conditions, it has every right to throw her off. Also, Britain and other European countries don’t quite have free speech. A wide variety of opinions are permitted, but nevertheless it is an offence under British law to incite racial hatred. I’m not sure if someone has ever tried to prosecute her under the terms of the act, but she has certainly sailed close to the wind.

Hopkins has moved to Parler, which according to Zelo Street is rapidly becoming a cesspool full of racists like her and other extreme right-wingers, like the vile Toby Young. This is bad news for Hopkins as it means that she will probably never recover her popularity or audience. One of her fellows down there is Milo Yiannopolis, formerly of Breitbart. Yiannopolis is gay, half-Jewish and married to a Black man. But he’s another extreme right-wing propagandist, who made his name with attacks on ethnic minorities and feminism. All was going well for him. He had a speaking tour of American universities and a book deal with Simon & Schuster’s right-wing imprint. Then he appeared on the Joe Rogan Show and made comments suggesting he approved of paedophilia. At this point, it all vanished, including Yiannopolis’ invitation to CPAC or some other Conservative event. Yiannopolis tearfully retracted his comments, apologised and said that he now recognised that he also was a victim of child abuse. But it was to no avail. He was also turfed off Twitter, and has no joined in his fellow rightists in Parler.

Yiannopolis was also a massive grifter. He was also begging for money. One of his money-making schemes was appealing for donations for a bursary he was setting up so young White men could afford to go to college. He received plenty of money, but it all went straight into Yiannopolis’ own bank account. There was no bursary, and he never paid any aspiring underprivileged White male student anything. When last I took notice of him, Yiannopolis was claiming that he debts of £4 million. His chances of paying this off are slim. According to Zelo Street, his messages on Parler have included whinges that he now only has 1001 followers, who never go to anything he does, or buy anything from him. Well hard cheese. If only the same thing happened to others like him, who preached race hate and exploited the gullible. Now Hopkins is in the same boat, and likely to have the same difficulty recovering anything like her former success.

The only pity is that Abell and the rest of the ‘respectable’ Tory horrors that facilitated her haven’t also suffered the same treatment.

See also: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/parler-vous-racist-sewer.html



Norman Tebbitt Thinks Nazis Must Have Been Far Left Because of Name

Here we go again. Things must be desperate for the Tories, as they’ve got Thatcher’s bully-boy, Norman Tebbitt, to write a piece declaring that the Nazis were far left and socialists. Because they had the word in their name, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. It’s an old like that’s been going around for years. It surfaced about the beginning of this decade with the publication of Joshua Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism. Now Communism as genuine far left socialism is guilty of horrendous atrocities by Stalin and other monsters, but the Nazis were never socialists. They had their origins in radical right-wing patriotic movements around the time of the First World War, which believed that the Second Reich of the Wilhelmine emperors had failed to capture the support of German workers, and thus left them exposed to the allure of democracy and socialism.

As Social Darwinists, the Nazis believed that the aristocracy and the leaders of big business were biologically superior to the rest of humanity. Hitler made it clear to the genuinely anti-capitalist elements in the Nazi party, led by Otto and Gregor Strasser, that he didn’t intend to nationalise anything. Businesses and enterprises would only be taken into state ownership if they were failing. He courted the support of German industrialists by giving a speech in which he declared that private enterprise could only survive through the personal autocracy which the Nazis were going to introduce. Hitler had introduced the word ‘socialist’ into the party’s name against the wishes of its founder, Anton Drexler. He did so with the deliberate intent of luring voters away from the real socialist parties – the SPD, USPD and later Communists. Yes, thanks to Stalin’s order, the Communists did demonstrate alongside the Nazis after the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact. But once the Nazis seized power, socialists and communists were among the first prisoners in the concentration camps, as well as trade unionists after they smashed them.

Nazi Germany was a centrally-planned economy, like the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy, in which the government controlled production and issued commands to business. But industry was largely not nationalized. It was controlled through a series of state-mandated trade and industrial associations. German law divided property into three categories: private, public, and private, but used for public purposes. The industries they controlled fell into the last. They also embarked on a massive privatisation campaign. Even when the industries remained largely in state ownership, like electricity, the heads of the associations managing them were drawn from private industry. The Nazis also took over private businessmen as heads of the government department managing the economy. It’s a method very similar to New Labour’s and the Tories’ appointment of senior business chiefs to run government departments in the new corporativism.

The Nazis weren’t socialists at all for all Hitler’s propagandistic claims. But Conservatives, including the American Republican Party, like to claim that they were as a smear on the left. They also contradict themselves by trying to deny that the Nazis were nationalists, despite the glaringly obvious fact that it is precisely what they said they were. Candace Owens, a young Black lady whose one of the leaders of the American Conservative youth organisation, Turning Point, infamously denied that the Nazis were nationalists when she and the equally loathsome Dave Rubin turned up over here trying to promote their British branch, Turning Point UK. Owens declared that Hitler wasn’t a nationalist, because he wanted everyone to be German. This is flat wrong – he wanted a Europe ruled by Germany, in which those races deemed biologically unfit or hostile would be exterminated. This started with the Jews, but as he makes very clear in Mein Kampf and his Table-Talk, would have gone on to the Slav peoples like the Czechs. She also thought that Hitler’s policies would have been all right, if he’d only put them into practise in Germany. Which means presumably that she believed the ending of democracy, the imprisonment of political prisoners and the Holocaust would all have been acceptable if he’d just stuck to Germany. She was naturally torn to shreds for this stupid, ridiculous and vile remark.

As for Norman Tebbit, he became notorious in the 1990s for his remark that British citizenship should be decided on who you supported at cricket. If a Black or Asian person didn’t support England, then they weren’t really Brits. Not surprisingly, people also tore into him for this piece of prize bigotry.

Mike’s put up a piece criticizing this latest piece of Tory lying, including some very amusing and interesting Tweets by the very many peeps not impressed with the Chingford Skinhead’s knowledge of such matters. My favourite is the comment wondering, based on Tebbitt’s logic for telling the world that the Nazis were socialists, whether he has had spotted dick. It’s a good question, as while I don’t doubt Tebbitt enjoys good, traditional British fare, he also has a reputation for homophobia.

Joking aside, this is a deliberate attempt by the Tories once again to misinform the public and distort history. Tebbitt always had a reputation for thuggish ignorance, but the Torygraph is supposed to be an upmarket, informative newspaper. Well, it lies badly and constantly, like the Tories themselves. This highly mendacious claim is yet another demonstration why shouldn’t believe anything it says.

The newspaper is making a loss hand over fist, and is heading down the tubes at a rate a knots. And this piece has just shown that when it finally goes under, British journalism will improve.

Raving racist Norman Tebbit admits he’s more right-wing than Hitler

Why Don’t We Call It Treason?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 1:00am in

John Bolton in Ukraine, 2018. Photo credit: paparazzza / Shutterstock.com. I don’t like John Bolton any more than you do....

Read More

On Foucault on Erhard, 31 January 1979: On Representation, Output Legitimacy, and Guaranteeing Freedom (XII)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 12:05am in

Now, in April 1948, a Scientific Council formed alongside the German economic administration in what was called the Bi-Zone, that is to say, the Anglo-American zone, presented a report which laid down the following principle: “The Council is of the view that the function of the direction of the economic process should be assured as widely as possible by the price mechanism.” It turned out that this resolution or principle was accepted unanimously. And the Council voted by a simple majority for drawing the following consequence from this principle: We call for the immediate deregulation of prices in order [to bring prices in line with] world prices. So, broadly speaking, there is the principle of no price controls and the demand for immediate deregulation. We are in the realm of decisions, or of demands anyway, a realm of proposals that, in its elementary simplicity, calls to mind what the physiocrats called for or what Turgot decided in 1774. This took place on 18 April 1948. Ten days later, the 28th, at the meeting of the Council at Frankfurt, Ludwig Erhard—who was not in charge of the Scientific Council, for it had come together around him, but of the economic administration of the Anglo-American zone, or at any rate of the German part of the economic administration of the zone—gave a speech in which he took up the conclusions of this report. That is to say, he laid down the principle of no price controls and called for gradual deregulation, but he accompanied this principle, and the conclusion he drew from it, with a number of important considerations. He says: “We must free the economy from state controls.” “We must avoid,” he says, “both anarchy and the termite state,” because “only a state that establishes both the freedom and responsibility of the citizens can legitimately speak in the name of the people.” You can see that this economic liberalism, this principle of respect for the market economy that was formulated by the Scientific Council, is inscribed within something much more general, and this is a principle according to which interventions by the state should generally be limited. The borders and limits of state control should be precisely fixed and relations between individuals and the state determined. Ludwig Erhard’s speech clearly differentiates these liberal choices, which he was about to propose to the Frankfurt meeting, from some other economic experiments that managed to be undertaken at this time despite the dirigiste, interventionist, and Keynesian ambiance in Europe....What was at stake, and the text itself says this, was the legitimacy of the state.
   What does Ludwig Erhard mean when he says that we must free the economy from state controls while avoiding anarchy and the termite state, because “only a state that establishes both the freedom and responsibility of the citizens can legitimately speak in the name of the people”? Actually, it is fairly ambiguous, in the sense that I think it can and should be understood at two levels. On the one hand, at a trivial level, if you like, it is simply a matter of saying that a state which abuses its power in the economic realm, and more generally in the realm of political life, violates basic rights, impairs essential freedoms, and thereby forfeits its own rights. A state cannot exercise its power legitimately if it violates the freedom of individuals; it forfeits its rights. The text does not say that it forfeits all its rights. It does not say, for example, that it is stripped of its rights of sovereignty. It says that it forfeits its rights of representativity. That is to say, a state which violates the basic freedoms, the essential rights of citizens, is no longer representative of its citizens. We can see what the precise tactical objective of this kind of statement is in reality: it amounts to saying that the National Socialist state, which violated all these rights, was not, could not be seen retrospectively as not having exercised its sovereignty legitimately. That is to say, roughly, that the orders, laws, and regulations imposed on German citizens are not invalidated and, as a result, the Germans cannot be held responsible for what was done in the legislative or regulatory framework of Nazism. However, on the other hand, it was and is retrospectively stripped of its rights of representativity. That is to say, what it did cannot be considered as having been done in the name of the German people. The whole, extremely difficult problem of the legitimacy and legal status to be given to the measures taken [under] Nazism are present in this statement.
   But there is [also] a broader, more general, and at the same time more sophisticated meaning to Ludwig Erhard’s statement that only a state that recognizes economic freedom and thus makes way for the freedom and responsibility of individuals can speak in the name of the people. Basically, Erhard is saying that in the current state of affairs—that is to say, in 1948, before the German state had been reconstituted, before the two German states had been constituted—it is clearly not possible to lay claim to historical rights for a not yet reconstituted Germany and for a still to be reconstituted German state, when these rights are debarred by history itself. It is not possible to claim juridical legitimacy inasmuch as no apparatus, no consensus, and no collective will can manifest itself in a situation in which Germany is on the one hand divided, and on the other occupied. So, there are no historical rights, there is no juridical legitimacy, on which to found a new German state.
    But—and this is what Ludwig Erhard’s text says implicitly—let’s suppose an institutional framework whose nature or origin is not important: an institutional framework x. Let us suppose that the function of this institutional framework x is not, of course, to exercise sovereignty, since, precisely, there is nothing in the current situation that can found a juridical power of coercion, but is simply to guarantee freedom. So, its function is not to constrain, but simply to create a space of freedom, to guarantee a freedom, and precisely to guarantee it in the economic domain. Let us now suppose that in this institution x—whose function is not the sovereign exercise of the power to constrain, but simply to establish a space of freedom—any number of individuals freely agree to play this game of economic freedom guaranteed by the institutional framework. What will happen? What would be implied by the free exercise of this freedom by individuals who are not constrained to exercise it but who have simply been given the possibility of exercising it? Well, it would imply adherence to this framework; it would imply that consent has been given to any decision which may be taken to guarantee this economic freedom or to secure that which makes this economic freedom possible. In other words, the institution of economic freedom will have to function, or at any rate will be able to function as a siphon, as it were, as a point of attraction for the formation of a political sovereignty. Of course, I am adding to Ludwig Erhard’s apparently banal words a whole series of implicit meanings which will only take on their value and effect later. I am adding a whole historical weight that is not yet present, but I will try to explain how and why this meaning, which is at once theoretical, political, and programmatic, really was in the minds of those who wrote this discourse, if not in the mind of the one who actually delivered it. Michel Foucault, 31 January 1979,  translated by Graham Burchell, Lecture 4, The Birth of Biopolitics. 80-3

The long, extraordinary passage is introduced by Foucault as an example of "German neo-liberalism" which is the more "important" kind of contemporary liberal governmentality (79). The other kind is the American type. In the interest of space, I defer exploring why Foucault claims, although it is vital to understanding his intentions related to the fact that for him "he state is nothing else but the mobile effect of a regime of
multiple governmentalities." (77)

The "elementary simplicity" that drove Turgot's decision-making led, via famine and state bankruptcy, to the French revolution. By contrast, Erhard's decisions led to the Wirtschaftswunder.Foucault strongly implies that the contrasting fortunes between otherwise similar policies can be explained not just in terms of contrasting historical and economic contexts, but also in terms of the (for lack of a better word) political conceptualizations that accompany them. 

Before I get to the content of Foucault's analysis, I note that he repeatedly treats Erhard's words as "apparently banal" (87).  It's also in the French. Now, 'banale' is a term Foucault throws around quite a bit in the lectures. So, I don't want to claim that the pairing with Arendt's Eichmann is deliberate. Even so I think the use of 'banale' is quite deliberate. For, Foucault is explicit that whatever Erhard's intentions, the significance of his words came later and are added by Foucault ("I am adding a whole historical weight that is not yet present"). Erhard is treated as a functionary, who is delivering words that echo the Ordo doctrines (and it is, despite the mention of the Austrian school just before in the lecture, quite clear to Foucault that the Freiburg Ordo theorists who "wrote" it). 

Foucault makes an uncharacteristic mistake both in setting himself above the historical agents he is characterizing and in treating Erhard as a mere instrument. Under Nazism, Erhard showed more independence of mind as can be readily ascertained by reading his (1943/4) War Finances and Debt Consolidation (Kriegsfinanzierung und Schuldenkonsolidierung), which dangerously anticipated German defeat and also sheds light on some of his commitments.

I mention this, in part, because when Erhard undertook his economic reforms he was almost certainly exceeding his legal authority to do so. And so we must recognize that the very effect he was trying to achieve, re-establish, perhaps establish for the first time, "juridical legitimacy" (82) in Germany, required an act of statecraft, of a gambling will, if one so wishes, that can only be legitimated in some sense by its effects. That is to say, this is no mere functionary, who merely repeats liberal piety of the past. As he puts it at the start of the 1948 speech Foucault quotes, "I am not preaching a return to the liberalist economic patterns of historic tradition." (27)

Okay, with that in place, let's turn to Foucault's interpretation. For Foucault Erhard claims that the state maintains its legitimacy and representative character when it guarantees the basic rights of its citizens. And, indeed, Foucault is surely right that in addition to rejecting marxist planning, and Keynesian interventionism, Nazism is the more fundamental target here. It is worth emphasizing, however, that Erhard also explicitly rejects "anarchy." This is a defense of the role of the state in guaranteeing basic rights. I don't think Foucault misses this, for he is clear that German liberalism presupposes such a state role.

The nature of representation that Foucault recognizes is in  a strange way one of output legitimacy. For, the legitimacy of the new German state will be ground in both the effective protection of rights. And, in virtue of such legitimacy the state can represent, speak and authorize on behalf of, its citizens. This is not the usual notion of representation, so Foucault is right to emphasize it.The 'consent' involved is extremely indirect.  We may say that only later, once basic rights are secured, did output legitimacy shift toward a focus one economic performance. 

This is not to deny that Erhard himself presents these basic "human rights" primarily in terms of freedom of choosing one's occupation and consumptions:

Any system which does not leave completely intact an individual's free choice of occupation and of consumption contravenes human rights and harms the very social classes for whose protection these spurious measures were conceived. Who, for example, would deny today that the present controlled economy- rejected though it may be by all concerned - has brought most suffering to the weak and the poor or that this class of the community entertains the profoundest hate of all for a system which has oppressed and humiliated them.  (28)

Crucially, and Foucault oddly misses this, Erhard relies on a kind of soft, proto-difference principle that the political order must, as a necessary condition, at least also promote the interests of the "weak and the poor." That is to say, the test of legitimacy, the gaining of the representative character, is really two-fold: it's both the protection of human rights (relatively narrowly understood) and the promotion of the interests even dignity of the "weak and the poor." And this concern, with a kind of bottom up fairness is very much on display in the earlier 1943/44 discussion, which is also framed in terms of the rough perceptions of fairness of those subject to economy policy. That is to say, more than actual fairness, what matters is the political acceptance of the vulnerable and least powerful. He captures this point in 1947 in terms of the "spirit of democracy." 

Now, I happen to think that this social economy (soziale Marktwirtschaft) brings Erhard (who was a Christian-Democrat) rather close to Smith, despite the distance to versions of late nineteenth century liberalism. I don't mean to deny that Erhard's position evades complex questions about how to measure and gouge such perceptions. What's crucial for my present purposes is that in virtue of missing this second feature, Foucault reduces the German form of governmentality to a defense and state construction of the market. And while I understand why for his larger narrative this might make sense, and that in this reductionist interpretation, Foucault echos the most misguided defenders of liberalism, it is important to see that the defense of the market is presented in a larger moral-political order that is worth revitalizing.


*My Marxist intellectual friends tend to ignore that a planned economy tends to be experienced by the vulnerable as open-ended series of humiliations.

America Sits on Its Hands as Covid-19 Cases Rise

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/06/2020 - 7:15pm in

More signs of Covid-19 breakdown.

Trump Made a Racist Joke in a Phoenix Megachurch and the Crowd Went Wild

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/06/2020 - 6:50pm in



Watching from home, at first it was hard to say which moment in Donald Trump’s rally at a Phoenix megachurch on Tuesday was the ugliest. Was it when the president of the United States repeated the racist joke he told last weekend in Tulsa, calling Covid-19, the viral disease that emerged in China last year, the “Kung Flu;” or was it a split second later, when thousands of his young supporters erupted in cheers?

The president’s attempt to divert attention away from his botched pandemic response, which has cost tens of thousands of Americans their lives, by inciting racist resentment against the nation where the virus jumped from animals to humans, is deeply ugly. As is the fact that thousands of Republican student activists, packed tightly together inside, ignoring social distancing and mask-wearing, responded with thunderous applause.

But there was something even more disturbing about the incident that was not immediately apparent on the live broadcast. Video recorded from inside the packed Dream City Church by the photojournalist Nick Oza revealed that Trump and his fans had shared a moment of call and response hatred in the build up to the joke.

Trump began by observing that the pandemic illness he has spent the past two months downplaying is known by a confusing array of terms. He then paused to ask the assembled student activists if they had seen his speech in Tulsa where he made the same point. When they cheered in response, he started to list some of what he said were the “19 or 20 names” for the disease, most of which referred in some way to its origins in China.

As soon as Trump said, “Wuhan — Wuhan was catching on,” the crowd began to murmur with excitement, clearly anticipating that the president was about to repeat the slur his aides had spent the previous day denying was racist. When Trump drew out the tension by offering “Coronavirus” as the next name in his list, one excited voice after another shouted from the crowd: “Kung Flu!” “Kung Flu!” “Kung Flu!”

The president completed the call-and-response by saying, “Kung Flu, yeah,” and was met with frenzied applause. Oza’s footage shows that several young men leaped to their feet, pumping their fists in the air in exultation, apparently thrilled to see their hero transgress all bounds of common decency right in front of them.

Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News, who reported in March that a White House staffer had made the same racist joke about the disease to her face, noted on Twitter that “Trump relished the feedback” from the crowd in Phoenix. “He often tests out material at rallies like a stand up comedian, and it appears this is going to be part of his act,” she added.

After a bizarre aside, in which the president seemed to suggest he was unsure what the 19 in Covid-19 stands for — “I say, ‘What’s the 19?’ Covid-19. Some people can’t explain what the 19…” — (it refers to 2019, the year the new coronavirus disease emerged), Trump returned to his list of alternate names. “Some people call it the Chinese Flu, the China Flu, right? They call it, the China,” Trump said, making it clear that his intention is to blame China for not containing the virus his own government has all but given up on suppressing.

As if the spectacle of the president actively inciting a racist backlash against Chinese-Americans wasn’t appalling enough, the alternate names for the disease he proposed were also a slap in the face of public health experts, who have spent the past five months trying to make it clear to Americans that this deadly new illness, which could have longterm health effects for even those who survive it, is not, as Trump repeatedly insisted at the start of the outbreak, merely a form of influenza.

The president’s effort to pretend that the viral outbreak has been contained, which no doubt encouraged almost all of the young activists in the hall to crowd together without masks, even extended to telling them at one point that the United States, in the past two months, has lived through, “hopefully, the end of the pandemic.”

Trump also repeated his false claim that the spike in new cases in states that have pressed ahead with reopening businesses without meeting the benchmarks for containment released by his own coronavirus task force was merely a statistical blip caused by more widespread testing. As he did, someone in the audience reportedly shouted out, “Stop the testing!”

What made that exchange accidentally revealing is that the audience member, a supporter of the president, was at that moment risking infection by being in a tightly packed auditorium in which almost no one was wearing a mask, while Trump himself, who is protected from the virus by having everyone he interacts with tested daily, was standing at a safe distance from the crowd, alone on stage, and more than 10 feet from a separate podium set up for other speakers to use.

If Trump wants to demonstrate that testing really is, as he has said, “overrated,” and there is no need for Americans to fear infection, he could start by no longer requiring anyone who gets close to him to be tested first, and get back to shaking some hands at his next rally.

The post Trump Made a Racist Joke in a Phoenix Megachurch and the Crowd Went Wild appeared first on The Intercept.