Monday, May 7, 2012

The contradiction for actual progressives

(Cross posted from Naked Capitalism)

I agree that the article that Lambert links to and highly recommends by Sterling Newberry is well worth reading.

It is full of brilliant gems.  Such as "Obama’s money mandate is to Do Bush Right".  (Remember that he nailed this in July 2009.)
I would add two points. 
First point: The move from the old economy to the new economy will be a larger shift because it will be a shift from rules evolved for the production of things to rules for the production of knowledge.  The shift from petroleumism to CleanEnergyism that Newberry foresees is theoretically possible but highly unlikely.  The current elite derives so much of its power not from increasing productive forces but from throttling the development of the knowledge economy that it is unlikely that they will be able to play a forward-moving role even in the material sector of the economy. 
This biggest problem to solve for any knowledge-driven economy is this:  It must do two things at the same time:  compensate those who do the work and turn the knowledge totally free.  I strongly suspect that neither private property + corporations nor state property + government can do this, but that something new will be required.
Progressives are connected with the emergent knowledge producing class (in a broad sense).    This is one reason why the relationship between "Progressives" (advocates for the next economy) and "Moderates" (advocates for rationalization of the old economy to prop it up longer) is more complex than Newberry presents.  (Note too that Newberry is using these terms somewhat different from their usual usage. In particular, "moderates" are not watered-down progressives or pragmatic progressives, but a separate opposed pole, rational conservatives.  Really, go read the article.  After you finish my post)  In particular, many who are genuinely progressive are nonetheless following supposed "Progressives" who are actually "Moderates".  Actual progressives have comparatively little (miniscule) institutional support.  As a result, leadership among progressives often goes to those "progressives" who are subsidized by "moderate" opponents of progressivism in return for helping keep progressives as a colony of the "moderates".
This "undercutting" of progressives at the very top mirrors what happens in the real economy.  Within the knowledge producing class, the greatest resources are given to "creatives" who work in one form or another as propagandists for the old economy and technologists who themselves have become part of the rent-collecting elite (Microsoft and Apple, for example).
This contradiction between the actually existing knowledge producing sector and the potential of knowledge producers, both as a social force and as an expression of expanded human development, is an under-recognized factor, particularly in politics and culture.  I believe it goes a long way in explaining why the elite has so far been paralyzed by its own corruption and is driving us along a path that will not be sustainable for long even for the elite themselves. 

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