The Evidence is Piling Up

 

Last week it seemed like every morning I’d wake up to find that another member of the Trump administration or his campaign team has been linked to high-level officials in the Russian government. We’ve already had one resignation because of such connections. It’s hard to tell where the fire is, but there’s definitely smoke.

Readers will remember that when the topic of the so-called Trump-Putin “bromance” surfaced during the election, I urged caution. Talking about Trump and Putin is kind of like a spectrum where you don’t want to ignore the connections, but at the same time you don’t want to overstate them. On one hand, there are legitimate concerns about Russian meddling in the election (which nevertheless did not win it for Trump), but on the other if you go around connecting every possible “dot” you might end up going paranoid and inventing some kind of bizarre conspiracy where Trump became a Russian puppet long before the rise of Vladimir Putin. And that, of course, would be just plain nutty!

Oh. Uh…Okay then. Let’s move on.

As we tumble down Trump’s Russian rabbit hole it’s useful to listen to a voice of reason, which when it comes to Russia topics is typically Mark Galeotti. In a blog piece Mark points out the roots of this Russian influence:

“The steady drumbeat of Russian contacts with Trump’s team on one level should not surprise. The Russians – like most real and wannabe global powers – assiduously network, hoping to gather insights and make connections that can later be parlayed into access and impact. This is, however, a case study of the way that the dirty little vices of modern democracy, from the inter-connectivity of transnational and untransparent business interests to the use of money and flattery to buy a voice, all the ways in which democracy becomes distorted by money, serve as a force multiplier for predatory authoritarian kleptocracies.

In fact, my view is that for the West today, the greatest security threat is not Russian tanks or Russian disinformation, it is our own corruption – and the ways Russia seeks to use it.”

I for one am just thrilled to see Mark drawing ever nearer to the conclusion that we must overthrow the capitalist system, and welcome him as a comrade in the glorious struggle! Seriously though, Mark’s pointing out the thing a lot of these status-quo think tank liberals don’t want to admit. For them it would be lovely if this is all a sinister plot cooked up by former KGB officer Putin driven by his proto-fascist Ivan Ilyin-inspired ideology. Because if that were the case, there’d be no need to indict the “Free-market-uber-alles,” managed democratic capitalist system we live in for being so wonderfully accommodating to kleptocrats, dictators, and war criminals (or in Putin’s case, all three!). In that case, it would be only a matter of bad people with bad ideas, people who could theoretically by displaced by good capitalists and good liberals who play by the rules and maintain the status quo.

But if Trump’s Russia connections aren’t necessarily some sinister plot, and he’s not a puppet of Putin being held in check due to fear of blackmail (which I highly doubt- see previous post), does it make sense to keep digging deeper into the case? Will anything be found that warrants such scrutiny, will it be worth it? My answer is…Wait for it…Yes.

Yes, there are good reasons to get to the bottom of this case, and I will enumerate them below:

First, Trump has, perhaps mostly unwittingly, helped Putin advance his foreign policy goals with his refusal to seriously criticize Putin at almost every conceivable opportunity. He has helped Putin by being an incompetent moron, thus paralyzing the US government and public and keeping them too occupied cleaning up the domestic mess he has made to worry about what Putin is doing abroad. You know how the administration suddenly reverted to supporting the status quo on sanctions over Ukraine, and specifically the Crimea? I don’t think for second that this had anything to do with the administration finally recognizing the need to get tough on Putin. They simply reverted to the status quo because they’re too occupied with the grease fire they’ve started at home and that status quo was never that tough to begin with. Putin has engaged in several aggressive actions in the Donbas recently, no doubt feeling secure in the knowledge that Trump is unlikely to make any move against him for the foreseeable future.

Second, even if Trump never intended to make conciliatory deals with Russia, the way he talked no doubt told certain Russian officials that there would be a possibility of concessions. This would have emboldened them. Had Trump been as bellicose about Russia as he was about Mexico during the campaign, the Kremlin might have preferred a much more cautious approach.The fact that they haven’t been cautious at all suggests confidence.

Third, let us imagine for the moment that all of these connections we see, while unethical, never led to anything seriously illegal or compromising to national security. If that turns out to be the case, who’s to say the next administration doesn’t do the same thing with a foreign government, only that time they go further and cross the boundary from highly questionable to straight up illegal or even treasonous? If Trump’s Russia connections are nothing but smoke with no fire, the only way we’re going to know is after a thorough investigation. If that investigation never happens, it basically opens up such relations to both parties, and from there it’s only a matter of time before someone pushes the limit further. Coming down hard on the Trump administration is how we hopefully nip this kind of thing in the bud. We already have enough problems with our government carrying on friendly relations with unsavory regimes.

So yeah, this is definitely worth looking at. It is an investigation best left to professionals, both in and out of law enforcement. That means no journalists or “game theorists” connecting dots on Twitter, and yes, it rules out a serial shitposter such as myself.

You and I can do two things in this fight- push representatives, investigative journalists, etc. to keep digging, and then sit back with a big bowl of popcorn and watch the Trump administration go down in flames. If we’re really lucky, Trump’s clothes may one day match the color of his face. But if not, at least every American politician will be afraid to walk within ten meters of any Russian government official.*

 

*Except Dana Rohrabacher, because he’s an utter imbecile.

Advertisements

50 thoughts on “The Evidence is Piling Up

  1. AndyT

    Indeed.

    Frankly speaking, the Trump administration is already a mess, to say the least – I’m not privy to the inner workings of U.S. politics, but I can’t remember anything like that under previous Presidents.

    Quite interestingly, this reminds me of the almost equally troubled history of Rome’s city gov’t – where anti-establishment Five Star Movement is in charge since June 2016: several cabinet members have resigned due to corruption charges and/or internal strifes, and the Mayor herself is currently under investigation.

    Which will fall first? Time will tell.

    Reply
  2. ex culo (@threearows)

    “managed democratic capitalist system we live in for being so wonderfully accommodating to kleptocrats, dictators, and war criminals”
    Are you implying that socialism would be any better in this? Rly?

    Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        And your unspoken premise that a ‘Marxist’ system would provide the antidote to the ultra maleable capitalist one, is on its ears bizarre, pie in the sky thinking. There is nothing to support such childish musings.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        If only you could have come up with a coherent, concrete argument instead of a petty insult, huh?

        Let me explain something- there is no such thing as a “Marxist” system, since Marx didn’t really design any such system. At most he supported and critiqued some past and early attempts to create a modern communist system, most notably the Paris Commune and the Gotha Programme.

        A “Marxist” system, by definition, can only be some sort of system that begins with Marx’s critique of capitalism (for this is what Marx actually did) and then tries to use that as the basis for resolving the contradictions in capitalism.

        So far, nobody’s really been able to refute the fundamental aspects of Marx’s critique of capitalism. At most they’ve only been able to propose other problems with capitalism that Marx either didn’t take into account or didn’t treat in as much detail.

        Essentially Marx is like a doctor who runs some tests and tells you that you have cancer. Just because you then decide to go to some witch-doctor for some bizarre, unscientific treatment that didn’t work doesn’t mean that the diagnosis is wrong. You still have cancer.

  3. Mr. Hack

    Another well thought out posting. I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion that the bizarre Trump-Putin bromance needs to be investigated to the very end, for all of the reasons that you provide.

    Reply
  4. Mr. Hack

    I didn’t fault you for not understanding what Marx was all about, for I confess that I’m not half the expert that you are on the subject. What I was trying to do was to get you to more forthrightly explain why you seem to think that a system inspired by Marx’ ideas (there, is that better?) would somehow be less impervious to the pitfalls that are assailing the capitalist one (what ex culo originally called you on the carpet for)?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      There is no reason why a system based on Marxist principles wouldn’t run into its own problems in the future. We’ve seen this before in the 20th century.

      What we also see, however, is that the problems that Marx identified are still there, and people who have tried to tackle them have actually had limited success in various ways. It’s a question of coming up with better solutions.

      Moreover, awareness of what went wrong in the past and what can go wrong gives us an ability to attempt to prevent repeat mistakes or, should problems arise, an ability to deal with them.

      In a speech on the work and life of her father Murray Bookchin, Debbie Bookchin tackled a similar objection where some people opposed to her fathers ideas might say that the municipal organs of governance he advocates could become a de facto state. Her response was twofold- one is that governance and a state are not identical. Second, and more importantly, awareness that such bodies can become state-like gives people the ability to work towards preventing that.

      This is very true of future socialist systems. We have knowledge and capabilities that people in Lenin’s era couldn’t even dream of.

      Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        Even still, a Marxist inspired system would naturally entail one where a command economy is in effect. I prefer a system, as developed in the Western world, where I have thousands of options open to me when I purchase an automobile, rather that 2-3 as in the former Soviet Union (a Marxist inspired system). Bringing up China doesn’t really help. The only reason that they can offer some of their citizens many more options in the marketplace, than say the Soviet model of the past, is because their economy is directed towards supplying the Western world products at a lower price. Where do the profits end up from Chinese manufacturing? It has little if anything to do with Marxism.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        The economy wouldn’t necessarily be entirely command- again you’re assuming 20th century variants are the only possibility.

        But when you talk about all the options the market provides, you’re also ignoring all the times the market fails- when it produces a glut of certain products while necessary goods are in short supply or out of the reach of many people.

        The myriad of options you have necessarily require most of the world’s population to have decidedly fewer options, otherwise the system doesn’t work.

        Moreover, we cannot wait until enough investors are attracted by mega-profits to do something about the environmental impact of things like fossil fuels. Sure, there’s money to be made in renewable and green technology but here’s the thing- we don’t have time for the investors in fossil fuels or automobiles or whatever to decide this is profitable enough for them. The earth the universe, really doesn’t give a shit about human existence. We fuck this planet up and that’s it.

        So tell me about your many options when millions of people are displaced due to drought, rising water levels, etc.

        And actually bringing up China is a great idea because China’s ability to provide the West with those cheap goods relied on industrialization carried out by self-proclaimed Communists. Looks like 20th century Communists, with all their many flaws, save capitalism yet again!

        Also, you can say whatever you want about China’s industrialization (Great Leap Forward, for example), but it only goes to show that capitalism requires misery and exploitation somewhere.

        Western countries didn’t eliminate the sweat shop and the horrors of industry- they just exported them elsewhere.

  5. NonDenominationalLeftist

    Hey, I’ve recently been seeing this article floating around a lot of leftist groups I’m part of. I realize you’re fairly busy, but you are probably the most straightforward and reliable English-language source on the Ukraine-Russia conflict I’ve seen.. Think you might have the chance to quickly explain/debunk some of the claims here? Thanks.

    View story at Medium.com

    Reply
  6. peewee@aol.com

    “which nevertheless did not win it for Trump”

    oh, we’re back to this bs again, where jim is claiming some sort of exclusive knowledge that there’s no possible way that putinist propaganda or meddling led to the 107,000 votes that effectively gave trump the election.

    look – jim *might* ultimately be right – but as we’ve gone over here before, he has ZERO EVIDENCE OF THIS. jim’s irresponsible insertions of statements like “which nevertheless did not win it for Trump” are a mirror image – has that same sort of irrational religious quality about them – of various kremlin lackeys’ regular insistence after many denials of something or other that yes indeed russia was involved but by all means putin had nothing to do with it.

    jim: it is clear that putinist influences did not give trump 63 million votes. but you’re a total fool if you stick to your dogma of somehow knowing the unknowable that putinist influences did not in effect swing 107,000 voters to trump (including by deflating support for hillary by endless innuendo). you simply have no way of knowing that for a fact, and that you keep repeating that particular article of faith is both a sign of your chronic innumeracy and a stain on this otherwise sometimes decent blog.

    it is worth noting that if clinton won michigan, wisconisn, and pennsylvania she would have won the election. and if you had to name places in the US where white male voters are likely to get their news from exactly the sort of ‘alternative news’ outlets like RT and various conspiracy sites, michigan, wisconsin, and western PA would be on anybody’s list.

    Reply
    1. NonDenominationalLeftist

      I think the point is the election should never have been this close. Trump was deeply unpopular, even at the time of the election. If Clinton did not manage her campaign so badly, I’m confident she could have won by a landslide.

      Reply
    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Again you seem to not understand the concept of burden of proof.

      You have made a claim, that Russia is somehow responsible for swinging a certain amount of voters toward Trump (I’ve read the key figure is more like 77,000 but that’s irrelevant).

      Where is your EVIDENCE to support this?

      You say white male voters in those particular states are more likely to get their news from RT- great. Let’s see your polls, statistics, ratings, etc.

      Oh you don’t have any? Than tough luck.

      There is no “faith” involved here. You have made a claim and not provided any support for it. Ergo the default position is disbelief. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about this election or the subject of Creationism- the creationist can always shout “You can’t know what happened for sure!” Yes, that’s true- we don’t know for sure. But substituting God as the explanation isn’t knowing- it’s an argument from ignorance.

      So please, come back with actual evidence that Russia swung those states for Trump.

      Reply
      1. peewee@aol.com

        Wow. Just fucking wow.

        Ah yes, i forgot about this “discussion” we had before where you, evidently not having taken elemetary logic 101 (and I don’t mean that flippantly – i mean exactly that they teach this sort of thing in classes titled ‘elementary logic 101’), are so fucking stupid that you don’t realize that the burden of proof is on YOU who has made a positive assertion of non-effect, and not on me, who has made none whatsoever.

        “You have made a claim, that Russia is somehow responsible for swinging a certain amount of voters toward Trump”

        YOU FUCKING LIAR. I did no such thing whatsoever. Apparently your first language is not English, so I’ll give you a pass.

        “So please, come back with actual evidence that Russia swung those states for Trump. ”

        For the 100000000th time, you fucking ignorant moron: I never claimed that Russia did. Because *I HAVE NO EVIDENCE THAT THEY DID* just like *YOU HAVE NO EVIDENCE THAT THEY DID NOT.* You – YOU jim, are the one making positive assertions that “Russia did not.” That is an assertion that YOU, JIM made.

        Seriously, dude. Take this text to anybody you know who actually knows things about elementary logic, go get schooled, and stop making a total fucking fool of yourself. I know you wont apologize now that I’ve called you a fucking moron so publicly, but really, you are embarassing yourself since your concept of ‘burden of proof’ is exactly wrong.

        And if you disagree, show me one quotation – just one – where I claimed that Russia definitely and critically influenced the election. Hint: you can’t. But it’s fucking trivial for me to find several where you made an assertion that they definitely did not.

        Seriously, moron: go read this page:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_burden_of_proof

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        It’s amusing watching you have a meltdown.

        Until evidence is provided showing the contrary- the default position is Russia did not critically influence the election.

        You’re playing with semantics when you say that me claiming this did not happen means that I’m asserting a positive claim. If I say there is no god, we’d typically understand that to mean that I’m actually saying I don’t believe in god. If you were to seriously ask me if I am sure there is no higher power that could be called a god, then I’d have to say no, because we can’t prove that.

        It’s the same with this election thing, something which is far more measurable. Saying Russia didn’t swing the election is like saying that 3 million people didn’t vote illegally. Both are possible and until someone actually bothers to investigate we can’t know for sure in either case- but in absence of evidence for both we must by default assume the negative.

        If you’re not asserting that, why are you getting so ridiculously upset?

  7. Mr. Hack

    ‘Also, you can say whatever you want about China’s industrialization (Great Leap Forward, for example), but it only goes to show that capitalism requires misery and exploitation somewhere.’

    Don’t blame the capitalists for what’s going on in China, Jim. Nobody put a gun to the heads of Mao’s offspring to produce all manner of goods to supply western markets. It only shows that the profit motif ‘trumps’ any ‘Marxist inspired’ system. You never did answer my question as to where the profits are ending up from Chinese business enterprises?…

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Once again you have it backwards. Your glorious capitalist system needs what’s happening in China to sustain itself. And now that standards of living have actually risen in China, capital has gone looking for even cheaper places for investment.

      As for where the profits go, that really depends on the ownership of the individual industries themselves.

      Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        How is it that I have things backwards? As I already stated: ‘Nobody put a gun to the heads of Mao’s offspring to produce all manner of goods to supply western markets.’ The Marxist inspired system in China has voluntarily sold out to Western interests to enrich the pockets of the few ‘Marxist inspired’ politicians and their satraps. It strongly appears that ‘Marxist inspired’ systems, like the ones that once existed in Russia and China cannot evolve without selling out. These ‘Marxist inspired’ systems can’t seem to prosper on their own, and in one way or the other sell out or compromise themselves to the point of becoming strange characaturers of their former selves. If what you say is true, that the ‘capitalist system needs what’s happening in China to sustain itself.’, then why doesn’t the ‘Marxist inspired’ system in China starve out the capitalist system by ceasing to cooperate with it and provide it with the goods that it needs to sustain itself?

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Again it looks like you’re resorting to pedantry without making any coherent arguments. When I make the point about China it is not strictly about China. You brought up China because I pointed out how even deformed socialist systems managed to raise people out of poverty. In the case of China, it’s the largest amount of people ever lifted out of poverty in a short time (and yes, part of that is due to China’s deals with the capitalist West).

        Again your whole point seems to revolve around the fallacious notion that all alternatives to capitalism must necessarily follow the same trajectory of 20th century socialist experiments. I see no reason to assume that. It’s like saying any emerging capitalist state must resort to colonialism, slavery, or child labor.

      3. Mr. Hack

        ‘Your glorious capitalist system needs what’s happening in China to sustain itself.’

        Perhaps, it’s just the other way around,Jim? Actually, the American economy was doing just fine from the 50’s – 80’s, just fine without the huge input from China that was to follow later.
        In actuality, both systems are using each other to stay afloat!

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        More accurately until about the 70’s, which is incidentally when Nixon opened relations with China. Prior to that the US advantage was in the fact that all its competition had been destroyed in the war.

  8. Mr. Hack

    ‘ we don’t have time for the investors in fossil fuels or automobiles or whatever to decide this is profitable enough for them.’

    So what’s your solution, Jim? To save time, are you suggesting that this planet adopt some sort of ‘Marxist inspired’ political/economic system to save itself from ecological Armageddon?
    To save time? Really??

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I’m suggesting that the economy be subordinate to human need and ecological reality as opposed to the personal profit motive of a tiny minority of the human population.

      Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        How about the ‘personal profit motive’ that drives the engine in ‘Marxist inspired’ China?
        A system where poverty and communism dominate for the billions of citizens at the bottom, while capitalism fuels the lavish lifestyles of those directing the ship at the top? BTW, this system is not bound to change for many decades.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        What exactly is your point here? This doesn’t really describe Chinese society at all. Sure there is massive poverty, but many people are small-scale entrepreneurs, something you don’t have in 20th century socialist systems for the most part.

        One reason that system isn’t going to change, however, is that the figure I mentioned before about China experiencing the biggest drop in human poverty is a fact- China created a huge middle class and many people aren’t yet keen to upset that system, however wrong they may be about its long-term prospects.

        I simply don’t see what kind of argument, if any, you’re trying to make here.

        The funny thing about China in much of the Western press is that whenever we speak about its success, real or imagined, it’s always truly capitalist (which is correct), but when someone brings up the human rights violations, it’s suddenly Communist again.

  9. Mr. Hack

    I’ll be quite honest with you, Jim. My desire to converse with you about Marxism is because I’d like to find out more about this movement in the 21st century, and you’re the only person that I know of who professes an allegiance to this movement. I also appreciate your commentary about contemporary Russia and Ukraine. Your reticence to write about your political beliefs, however, provides me comfort in knowing that the world revolution is way off in time…way, way off…

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Well it’s funny you should mention that- see my “reticence” is due to the need (at least when it started) to make this blog commercially successful. It’s never directly earned money, but it has been quite successful indirectly, getting me everything from full-time gigs to a part in a reality show.

      Isn’t that interesting though- I don’t write about the thing I’m most passionate about due to a need to continue eating and having a roof over my head. It’s almost as if…my right to free speech is being limited by the need to sell labor power or otherwise engage in some other economic activity in order to survive.

      Now granted, I could just open a second blog that could be dominated to my political beliefs, but why do that when now I have the ability to engage in real face to face activism?

      Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        Do you really think that you’ll be able to successfully propagate a movement of Marxist activism in a country that has already experienced so much human terror and tragedy in the name of a former system of governance that was also ‘Marxist inspired’? Your’s supposedly will be the , real, true-blue, moralistic new improved brand? Good luck with that, Jim!

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        That country still has a straight up Communist on its banknotes, in case you didn’t notice. Ukrainian nationalism is rooted in left liberalism, Marxism, and socialism going back to the 19th century. What caused the suffering was Great Russian chauvinism rebranded as socialism.

        If someone wants to dispute that, then I’d ask them why Russia was still a threat prior to 2014. After all- it wasn’t Communist in any sense. They didn’t even claim to be.

        Again what you can’t seem to get your head around is this idea that just because other people called themselves Marxists and did such and such doesn’t mean that every attempt at socialism is connected to the Soviet Union or that experience.

        Do you ever see someone in Ukraine ask a neoliberal like Anders Aslund why he supports child labor and slavery? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t (maybe the former, who knows?), so why should he answer for capitalist states of the past? It’s utterly illogical.

        And what we see is that you are wholly unable to put forth any argument that doesn’t amount to- “Look this self-proclaimed socialist state failed!”

        Athenian Democracy failed. The Roman Republic failed. Both concepts were later resurrected in much better forms, which have improved greatly within a short space of time.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I might also point out that whatever horrors Ukraine suffered under self-proclaimed socialism in its past, Ukraine TODAY suffers due to capitalism, whether we speak about corruption in Ukraine or Russian imperialism- both are enabled and encouraged by the capitalist system.

        Do Ukrainians living TODAY mean anything? Or is it so much better to publicly cry crocodile tears for those long dead because in that case you aren’t compelled to actually DO anything?

        I suggest you don’t go that route because both in Russia and Ukraine I’ve seen too many Westerners who are so concerned over memorializing the dead but show no concern whatsoever about the living- in some cases they flat out disrespect the people whose ancestors they seem to care so much about.

      4. Mr. Hack

        ‘I don’t write about the thing I’m most passionate about due to a need to continue eating and having a roof over my head.’

        The ‘thing’ that you’re most passionate about is ‘Marxism’, and even though you run a blog that includes a lot of threads about political issues you shy away from this topic in order to make your blog ‘commercially successful’. The clear inference is that Marxism doesn’t attract a reader base, and that in order to sell you gig here, you’re forced to compromise your ideals.
        Hello Jim – doesn’t this situation tell you loads about the currency of Marxism in the world today?

      5. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Actually lots of things don’t attract a wide readership. In fact, Russia didn’t really attract much and it still doesn’t even since 2014.

        Have you ever actually read a contemporary Marxist theoretical blog? Or ANY theoretical blog for that matter?

        So there goes another poor attempt at an argument.

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      It also doesn’t seem like you really want to discuss Marxist theory at all. You’re just using tired old cliches and logical fallacies that folks like me had dealt with long ago.

      Let me put it this way- I would say that capitalism and liberal democracy have given us the highest living standards in all hitherto history. But I would also say that we could do better. And when it comes to ecology, we must do better, because like I said- nature, the universe, doesn’t give a shit about the theories of Milton Friedman. Either we as a species learn how to properly husband the resources available to us or we go extinct. It’s that simple.

      Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        Sorry to be referring to the real world, and not strictly to textbooks. But towards the end of the ‘Marxist inspired’ system called the Soviet Union, where was there more pollution being produced? And now, where is there more pollution being spent into the atmosphere, China or the US? It seems that the ‘Marxist inspired’ economies of the world have a hard time staying true to an ecologically pleasing vision. you have to admit, that the profit motive seems to have conspired against or at least compromised any true form of a Marxist state. Why is it that China has not been able to lift so many people out of poverty without tainting itself with strong
        tendencies to incorporate capitalist practices into their system?

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Again, you’re engaging in a false dilemma and logical fallacies.

        You’re assuming that the only possible socialist systems are those that existed in the 20th century.

        Again there’s no reason to make that assumption.

        I’ve already acknowledged capitalism’s indisputable accomplishments. The problem is that it also has problems that it cannot reconcile, and ultimately some of those can force us as a species back to worse conditions or in some cases they could drive us to extinction.

        So in other words, we have to do better. If you’re insisting this is not possible, there’s really no reason to assume that.

        Now maybe you want to suggest that such a system IS possible, but that it wouldn’t be socialism or rooted in Marxist theory or whatever. That would be a valid argument, but then you’d have to explain what system you had in mind and defend that.

      3. Mr. Hack

        If we can surmise that the Soviet Union experience was an experiment in socialism then I think it’s fair to say that the American experience has been one of capitalism. And I think that we can agree as to which system was more successful. Therefore, the empirical evidence provided so far would point to the success of which system into the future? After all, like your vision of a new improved socialist system, there’s no reason not to believe that capitalism can’t make improvements too. I’ll put my faith in the type of system that has come out on top so far, and not waste my time or efort on the one that has to this point failed miserably.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yes, the American system is more successful. Since I’m not proposing anything like the Soviet system, that is irrelevant.

        And yes, we can see that capitalism can make improvements, but there is a limit to those improvements, and lately we’ve actually seen a trend towards regression I would say.

        So while we should obviously fight to win such improvements, we must also realize that we eventually need a more permanently solution. Otherwise you end up with something like the welfare state in the post-war era. As soon as the ruling class gets the upper-hand they snatch back whatever concessions they were forced to make.

        So basically your whole argument is invalid because it assumes that the Soviet experiment is the only possible socialist system when there is no reason for such an assumption.

  10. Mr. Hack

    ‘Actually lots of things don’t attract a wide readership. In fact, Russia didn’t really attract much and it still doesn’t even since 2014.

    Have you ever actually read a contemporary Marxist theoretical blog? Or ANY theoretical blog for that matter?

    So there goes another poor attempt at an argument.’

    Actually, there goes another poor attempt at supplying a response. My point was that by your own admission Marxist subject matter doesn’t sell. And you totally avoided answering my question about whether this doesn’t tell you something about the prospects about the viability of a Marxist inspired system making it in the world today:

    ‘Hello Jim – doesn’t this situation tell you loads about the currency of Marxism in the world today?’

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Lots of things that are important don’t sell. That’s kind of the whole point. Sustainable energy doesn’t sell, which is why we’re still fucking up the world.

      Providing everyone with clean water doesn’t sell. Hell you don’t even need to go to Africa to see that- check out Flint right now.

      Basically your argument is an appeal to popularity, but set in economic terms you actually kind of demonstrate the inherent flaw in the capitalist system.

      We need a system based on fulfilling needs and not what sells.

      Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        ‘We need a system based on fulfilling needs and not what sells.’

        And this is where the great flaw in any ‘Marxist inspired’ system first appears. Who’s to determine what these needs are? A small (relatively speaking) clique of ‘experts’ who will dictate what it is that people should need and want? I think that the market is a much better and democratic determiner of what these needs are. Sustainable energy is indeed selling, look at Germany and even in the US and see that it’s growing by leaps and bounds. As far as the sustainable water situation in Flint Michigan is going, the capitalist press makes me sure that I know of the tragic circumstances that have enveloped that community. Law suits (another component of the western system, where the rule of law counts for something) will insure that things get back to a safe level. How often do you see a citizen taking the government to task in a court of law in a ‘Marxist inspired’ system and come out on top? In your hometown of Phoenix, AZ, you’ll be glad to know that a veteran who was wrongfully injured due to sloppy diagnosis, just yesterday won a huge lawsuit against the Veteran’s Administration for $2.5 million.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yeah it’s definitely a flaw if we use the strawman system you propose there.

        Again you’re pointing out the successes of the free market under capitalism while ignoring the glaring failures which continue. Sure, in Europe green energy is growing- on the other hand in America we see the fossil fuel industry has really won a victory with Trump.

        Another example would be conspiratorial, sensationalist media such as Infowars or Fox News vs. factual reporting.

        It’s obvious at this point that you’re basically just going to continue using strawmen and you’re not actually presenting any kind of theoretical argument even though you’ve been given plenty of opportunity to do so in spite of this being totally off topic.

        So you know what that means? Time to exercise my sacred rights as an owner of private property!

  11. Bill Malcolm

    I’ve read this blog for just over a year. Found it refreshing for a while. Now I find it wanders off on wishy-washy trails, never quite getting to the point. That’s my take.

    And on this Ukrainian situation, I’d like you to be a whole lot more explicit. Am I supposed to believe that the current right wing government, propped up by the US, EU and Canada is actually a shining beacon of light, or just recycled haters? Our Foreign Minister Freeland’s maternal grandfather was a Nazi sympathizer from all accounts, and she’s all gung-ho to support the current regime, and is persona non-grata in Russia. Not bad, ha ha, for a Foreign Minister who’s supposed to represent Canada on the world stage, and isn’t much trusted except when she parrots the old Hillary/Obama line, viz the CIA to “friendly” bootlicker nations too scared to disagree. Just five years ago she wrote a book complaining about oligarchs and elites; now she’s as staunch a neoliberal as can be, all in favour of free-trade deals full of lawyerese and ISDS provisions. I regard her as worse than useless, and as a turncoat, untrustworthy.

    Christine Lagarde got an early new contract as head of the IMF for lending Ukraine a further $3 billion IMF funds, when Ukraine still owed Russia $3 billion, all fair and legal, upon which Ukraine reneged. It’s against IMF policy to lend to debtor nations proven to not be paying off debt, but Obama thought Lagarde’s actions in “bending” the rules were just fine, hence the re-up. The brass-ring old boys network at full chat, and screw anyone who disagrees. They told Russia to sue Ukraine in some London court. Talk about a corrupt deal just to poke Russia in the eye.

    Here’s an article from the Guardian almost three years ago before they became a UK government pussycat puppet and before the IMF bribe:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/30/russia-ukraine-war-kiev-conflict

    It suits what I think I know. Do you agree or what are you actually trying to say? C’mon, spit it out. I have little time for mental masturbation, obfuscation and trying to guess what the hell point-of-view you are pushing after paragraphs of tortured analogies and dead ends.

    Swearing, strawmen and other BS I will only tolerate as long as it takes me to remove my bookmark. So, what exactly is your point and where do you stand?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I don’t quite understand what “point” you expect me to get to. If you’re hoping that I’m going to make everything super simple by boiling it down to black and white, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

      ” Am I supposed to believe that the current right wing government, propped up by the US, EU and Canada is actually a shining beacon of light, or just recycled haters? ”

      Ukraine’s government is not “right-wing.” Center right, maybe, but that’s pretty normal for Europe these days. They’re far less right wing than the Russian regime or the Polish PiS government.

      The main problem with the Ukrainian government is corruption, followed by outdated bureaucracy.

      But the situation is changing. Just recently Ukraine has seen its first serious indictment of a high level corrupt official, head of tax service Roman Nasirov. Nasirov, incidentally, is a man closely associated with president Poroshenko.

      I am not familiar with your foreign minister’s family, but I don’t think her family members have any bearing on her. It seems to me you’re trying to tar her and Ukraine by implying some kind of link between her family member’s activities and her support for Ukraine. This is ludicrous, especially in light of the fact that many CURRENT neo-Nazis have taken Moscow’s side against Ukraine.

      As far as the IMF goes, I’m no fan of the institution, but who else is supposed to help Ukraine? Much of those problems stemmed from Yanukovych, though Yanukovych was no opponent of the IMF. In fact they apparently praised him for adhering to their recommendations.

      As for Russia’s 3 billion debt- they probably should have thought of that before invading and annexing the Crimea and occupying the Donbas. It stands to reason that if your priority is recouping a debt from a country, you probably shouldn’t go to war with them (granted countries went to war over unpaid debts in the past, but this was often outright stated).

      “I have little time for mental masturbation, obfuscation and trying to guess what the hell point-of-view you are pushing after paragraphs of tortured analogies and dead ends.”

      I won’t apologize for thoroughly analyzing certain topics. You keep asking me to “spit it out,” but what is “it,” exactly?

      If it’s your strawman about Ukraine’s government being a “beacon of light” or whatever, that clearly doesn’t resemble anything I’ve written.

      If you want to know my “point,” you’re going to need to be a lot more specific. My point about what?

      Also please do not resort to pathetic threats to remove your precious bookmark. That is utterly meaningless to me.

      Be more specific and don’t prevaricate.

      Reply
      1. Makhno

        P.S. Prove a Marxisms would work WITHOUT Gulags and big moustache of Stalin or I will delete and BAN from bookmarks.

        Thx you have been warned.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        LOL! Thanks for the support. I seem to have encountered a wave of pedants who, unable to actually argue for their own ideas, feel the need to engage in semantic games.

        These days there are literal capitalists who talk about post-capitalism. If one wants to argue against Marxist solutions it’s not hard- just explain how one of the irreconcilable contradictions he identified within capitalism can actually be reconciled within the system for example. One could reasonably argue that a universal basic income makes a revolution unnecessary.

        I’d still argue to the contrary, but at least we’d have a debate.

      3. Makhno

        Alas, internet comments sections have a tendency to encourage Dunning-Kruger in full effect.

        I wouldn’t class myself as a “practical” Marxist, being more inclined to the utopian anarcho-impossibilisms of my namesake (whilst practising woolly democratic socialism because what the fuck else is there?), but to dismiss his in-depth and continuously relevant critique of political economy “because Soviets”, is just arsewitted.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        It makes you appreciate that these people weren’t more prominent in aviation history:

        “Haven’t you noticed that EVERY attempt at powered flight has failed, miserably? You Wright brothers are nothing but dreamers!”

    2. Makhno

      “It suits what I think I know” really is the abiding slogan for the modern age, especially the Venn fanboy diagram of conspiracy theorist/Putin fan/Brexiter/Juggalo President.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s