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Less the heroes of our stories than the villains of some other bastard’s

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Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

10 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 11, 2016 @ 3:58 pm

    I particularly like the end here. One of the things that I’ve found grounding here is the fact that, even if I didn’t expect the particular horror that is Trump, I expected something like this by dint of the fact that the hard right had a foolproof longterm strategy: seize control of the machinery of one party in an entrenched two-party system and wait for the inevitable moment when it comes back into power. Somewhere in the 2016-2024 range there was always going to be a terrifyingly far-right US government. And the inevitability of that is 100% down to liberalism’s stranglehold on consensus reality.

    Reply

  2. John G. Wood
    November 11, 2016 @ 7:37 pm

    Well, that’s two powerful and thoughtful essays in a row. Thank you both. And yes, I am guilty of falling into some of the traps cited, and will be reflecting on that (hopefully in a non-baste-in-guilt way, if I can manage it). I keep on trying to learn, and that in itself is a hopeful activity.

    Reply

  3. Homunculette
    November 11, 2016 @ 8:23 pm

    Hey, Jack – not absolutely directly related to your writings here, but I think it’s a good time to go reread Benjamin’s “On the Concept of History,” which a professor of mine brought up yesterday and which really cleared my head.

    Reply

  4. Sridhar
    November 12, 2016 @ 11:36 am

    Out of curiosity, what is the sense in which Michael Moore’s analysis is deeply flawed?

    Reply

    • Jack Graham
      November 12, 2016 @ 11:59 am

      Re-reading him, he actually got a lot right. I may have done him a disservice.

      Reply

  5. Daru
    November 12, 2016 @ 6:50 pm

    Great articles from both you and Phil in the last couple of days. Thanks both for being and oasis of sanity.

    Reply

  6. Tim B.
    November 12, 2016 @ 8:38 pm

    Thank you for both this & Phil’s essays.

    Jonathan Pie’s piece on Youtube offers some powerful insight too.

    Apart from the anti-demagogue argument (which I think would be better tackled through improving education & meaningful interaction between people and governing organisations, as well as an increase in empathy) what are the intellectual case for maintaining the electoral college system?

    Reply

  7. Doug M.
    November 15, 2016 @ 11:03 am

    I hate to fact-check a fine rant, but:

    “the connections between NAFTA and poor Mexicans trying to escape a country which hasn’t seen economic growth for more than twenty years.”

    — actually, Mexico’s average GDP growth rate since 2010 has been just under 3% per year. That’s not spectacular, but it’s actually higher than the US.

    This goes towards one of the great unmentioned facts of this fact-free election, which is that immigration from Mexico — both legal and illegal — has been slowly but steadily declining for years now. This is partly because Mexicans are a little bit better off, and partly because of demographics. Mexico’s TFR (the number of children per woman, on average) has been falling for decades. It’s now around 2.2, which is just barely above replacement level. Mexico’s population growth rate has slowed dramatically, and its population is starting to age. Back in 1980, the median age for Mexicans was around 19. Today it’s about 28. Immigration, legal or otherwise, tends to be a young person’s gig, so it’s slowly drying up.

    “Millions have seen their kids go to fight foreign wars and not come back.”

    Since 2002, US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan combined are around 60,000 — about 7,000 dead and about 52,000 injured.

    That’s bad enough, man. There may be topics where it’s cool to exaggerate to make a rhetorical point. This isn’t one of them.

    Doug M.

    Reply

    • Doug M.
      November 15, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

      — expanding that a little: Mexico’s higher growth rates go all the way back to 1997 — twenty years. They’ve had two recessions, a small one in 2001 and (like everyone else) a bad one in 2008-9 — but they shrugged both of them off pretty quickly.

      In constant dollars, Mexico’s GDP has nearly doubled in the last 20 years — from about 800 billion to about 1,450 billion. Per capita GDP hasn’t grown as fast (population growth -> more people dividing that GDP), but it’s up by about 35%. “No economic growth in 20 years” is just a non-fact.

      (And before anyone asks, Mexico’s Gini coefficient declined slightly over that period — meaning the country got slightly less unequal in terms of wealth and income. The bottom half of the distribution actually increased their incomes slightly faster than the top half. Yes, really.)

      There’s this idea that NAFTA wrecked Mexico’s rural economy, forcing small farmers off the land and causing immigration to the US to surge. I’m not a booster for NAFTA, but that narrative seems to be a half truth at best — and insofar as it is true, it’s just one part of the larger story.

      Mexico has actually been doing okay. Mexicans of all incomes are still coming to the US, but that doesn’t mean that Mexico is a backwards hellhole. Nearly half of all Mexicans illegally in the US aren’t poor “wetbacks” who’ve sneaked across the border. The biggest single group is visa-overstayers. And most of that group are (by Mexican standards) middle class.

      (Yes, that means that cries to “build a wall” are pretty moronic. But we knew that.)

      Doug M.

      Reply

    • Jack Graham
      November 16, 2016 @ 8:58 am

      Blimey, did I actually write “millions have seen their kids… not come back” there? shakes head at self.

      As for Mexico: as I understand it, their GDP has grown less than 1% a year, on average, for 20 years, representing a slow-down after decades of relative expansion which were slowed by increasing neoliberal reforms, into which NAFTA locked the country. But yeah, okay, “hasn’t seen economic growth for more than twenty years” was wrong.

      Reply

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