November 22, 2010

A Friendly Note to Hugh (and a bit more)

Hugh is one of my favorite commenters at Corrente. I don't know him other than through the comments he leaves there. Much of the time I share his perspective and think he's largely spot on.

So I want to take this opportunity to give him a friendly nudge about this:
I'm pretty much at the point of just saying that Krugman is another corporatist hack. Much like Obama, he throws in a few progressive phrases to mask his overall conservatism and defense of the Establishment.
Go all the way, Hugh! Krugman is a corporatist hack in the end.

And to convince Hugh and as many others as possible, I suggest you give a close read to this Michael Hudson article. It's a long piece, and it's well worth taking the time for careful consideration. Here's one brief excerpt:
Enter Paul Krugman, one of the most progressive defenders of Democratic Party policy. His New York Times op-eds usually rebut Republican advocacy for Wall Street and corporate interests. But he also indulges in China bashing. To “blame the foreigner” rather than the system is normally a right-wing response, yet Krugman blames China simply for trying to save itself from being victimized by the Wall Street policies he normally criticizes when labor is the prey. By blaming China, he not only lets the Federal Reserve Board and its Wall Street constituency off the hook, he blames virtually the entire world that confronted Obama’s financial nationalism with a united front in Seoul two weeks ago when he and his entourage received an almost unanimous slap in the face at the Group of 20 meetings.

Sadly, Krugman’s “Axis of Depression” column on Friday, November 19, showed the extent to which his preferred solutions do not go beyond merely marginalist tinkering. His op-ed endorsed the Fed’s attempt at quantitative easing to re-inflate the real estate bubble by flooding the markets with enough credit to lower interest rates. He credits the Fed with seeking to “create jobs,” not mainly to bail out banks that hold mortgages on properties in negative equity.
Hudson has much more, and I suggest you read it.

Whenever I consider Krugman (not a favorite pastime), I always have this initial thought: "Why on earth would anyone expect Krugman to do anything other than ultimately defend the ruling regime? Since 1999, he's been a columnist for the fucking New York Times!" This is far from a trivial point. In many ways, it is the point. The NY Times is one of key pillars of the Establishment. No one who writes for it regularly is going to consistently challenge the Establishment in any serious way. To believe that he will is to engage in self-delusion on a huge scale. (When I refer to the "ruling regime" here, I don't mean the changing actors of the executive and legislative branches, who are ultimately of vanishingly minor importance. I refer to the corporatist-authoritarian-militarist system that's impoverishing, brutalizing and killing millions of people -- quickly abroad, and more slowly at home.)

Some months ago, I discussed Krugman's hackery in "Concerning Those Who Manufacture and Eat Shit." But my objection to Krugman is much broader and more fundamental than indicated in that article. My primary criticism of Krugman -- and why he is so perfectly suited to an odious embodiment of the Establishment such as the Times -- is that he completely accepts and embraces the mythological view of America and American history. One of the results of his acceptance and, very significantly, his propagation of this series of staggering lies is that he repeatedly abandons principles and uses issues of immense importance for shabby and disgraceful partisan purposes.

You'll find one repellent example of this pattern in Krugman's thought in "Obama and the Triumph of the American Myth." In that lengthy discussion, I set out the overwhelming evidence that establishes beyond doubt that torture has a long and nauseating history in the United States; indeed, that history of torture predates the formation of the U.S. as an independent political entity. Many Democratic apologists desperately cling to their belief that torture began with the hideous and unlamented Bush regime. That belief is entirely false. The fact that many people choose to credit it, and the fact that this false belief is most often used to prove that Democrats are purportedly marginally less ghastly than Republicans, testifies only to certain people's intellectual and moral bankruptcy.

After a detailed analysis of the history of torture in America, I excerpted a Krugman column. Because people tend not to follow links, I offer this passage from the concluding section of my essay (see the original for the numerous links):
Keep this history at the forefront of your mind, along with (as I wrote) "two of the most momentous aspects of those first years for America: the continuing genocide of the Native Americans, until finally almost all of them were slaughtered -- and the monstrous evil of slavery, the importation and brutal enslavement of millions of human beings, accompanied by an endless train of horrors that almost forbid contemplation."

Remember all this -- and also remember that the United States government and its military repeated all this in Vietnam, just as they have repeated much of this behavior in interminable interventions around the world ever since World War II, just as destruction, overthrow, mass murder and torture are inextricable parts of the U.S. ruling class's explicitly declared goal of American worldwide hegemony, just as oppression, institutionalized racism and unrelenting cruelties are constantly practiced against disfavored Americans here at home.

And then consider this paragraph, which comes from a fifth-grade civics lesson about the glories of America offered to not very bright young children -- and straight from the diseased heart of the torture obsessives:
America is more than a collection of policies. We are, or at least we used to be, a nation of moral ideals. In the past, our government has sometimes done an imperfect job of upholding those ideals. But never before have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for. "This government does not torture people," declared former President Bush, but it did, and all the world knows it.
Thus speaks the liberal-progressive God, Paul Krugman. "[N]ever before have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for."

The lie is breathtaking in its scope and comprehensiveness. The Native Americans, the millions of slaves and their millions of descendants, including all those Black Americans imprisoned in the disgusting "War on Drugs" yesterday, today and tomorrow, the slaughtered Iraqis, the tortured and murdered Filipinos, the murdered Vietnamese and other grievously unfortunate inhabitants of Southeast Asia, and all the many millions around the world who have suffered from America's unending drive to worldwide domination might be heard to protest that America has "betrayed everything [it] stands for" long before this latest descent into hell. But such objections, fully grounded in fact and supported by reams of evidence and mountains of broken, maimed bodies as they are, will never be heard or acknowledged by those who subscribe to the American myth.
I have one additional and very significant complaint to make about Krugman, one I've been intending to address for a couple of years. It concerns a monumental error that Krugman has repeated on numerous occasions, and one which leads to a nearly incomprehensible cost in human suffering and death. And it's an error that lies directly at the heart of Krugman's supposed expertise, for it concerns economics.

I will get to it soon. (Ah, you're curious now, aincha? Patience, my friends.)