Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Accelerating Contradictions: When and How

This post over at MyDD seems a bit wrong-headed to me. Obama, speaking in Nevada, said:
Because of the housing crisis, we are now in a very dangerous situation where financial institutions across this country are afraid to lend money. If all that meant was the failure of a few big banks on Wall Street, it would be one thing. But that's not what it means. What it means is that if we do not act, it will be harder for you to get a mortgage for your home or the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. What it means is that businesses won't be able to get the loans they need to open new factories, or hire more workers, or make payroll for the workers they have. What it means is that thousands of businesses could close. Millions of jobs could be lost. A long and painful recession could follow.

To which Jerome Armstrong responds:
But I thought the reason why this happened was because credit was too easy to get for those who could not afford it? But... nevermind.
Which in no way contradicts anything Obama said. The causes of the trouble and the effects of the trouble don't have to be identical. This is how crises work: overproduction leads to a glut leads to a decapitalization leads to underproduction. It's called a business cycle. Same principle applies here.

Armstrong's point in all this is:
Yea, I am mocking of Obama. The underlying attitude I have is: why he is abandoning his self-proclaimed skepticism of Bush here, why? Can anyone say with a straight face that his argument for why Democrats should go along with Bush and back this bill that he's presented is sound? I don't even see an argument. All that he's offered is a bit of fear mixed in with post-partisan and some language changes to go along with a few platitudes.
Presumably, Armstrong would rather see the sort of thing Digby (via a reader and Rick Perlstein) is calling "a progressive Shock Doctrine." That is, letting the crisis deepen to the point where people will welcome a new New Deal. Back in the olden days, this was called accelerating the contradictions (although this phrase has a more activist sense than the rather passive formulation given by Digby, doing things to make the crisis worse instead of simply waiting for it to deepen on its own).

All well and good. But does Armstrong really beleive that a Democratic presidential candidate is not only going to embrace such a strategy but going to declare in a public address that he is embracing such a strategy? Really?

Obama's statement seems to sit right in the middle of the concerned prognostications given by a pretty wide range of commentators. That's not an argument for the Paulson plan. But I don't take Obama to have been offering an argumant for the Paulson plan. In fact, he seems to be playing his cards pretty close to his chest when it comes to specific proposals. That's probably smart. If Obama's a Marxist, it's best to remain a crypto-Marxist for now.