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View Diary: Open thread for night owls. Thomas Frank: Talk about squelching inequality can't be left to elites (67 comments)

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  •  Excepting for the fact that (9+ / 0-)

    Frank does what too many people do, even the smarter ones, and assumes that "no one talked about inequality" or whichever paraphrasis he actually made.

    The hell we didn't ask! The hell we didn't know!

    Everyone I knew, even in my very earliest days as a lefty (I will do true confessions at another time), said that Reagan was out to systematically destroy the New Deal and restore the status of things to that of pre-Crash 1929.

    Too many writers, even the ones sympathetic to the twin causes of justice and equality, just want to state what they want to state without even a nod to the context. The historical context.

    Why did Clinton, and then Obama, model themselves after Reagan? Because the form worked. The substance destroyed the American body politic. Such smart men, yet so craven in their policies and dim-witted in the hope for paternal approval, via the conservatives, that they will don policies that are antithetical to the very possibilities of their own existence as powerful men, to say nothing of their political careers.

    This is where it would be nice to have an index, or a timeline, or a bibliography on verifiable and agreed-upon historical facts so that we can nip over and say, "Yup. Here's that."

    (Maybe I don't know my way around DK well enough yet, and this is all here already.)

    It is a waste of time to have to reinvent the wheel. While I agree with much of what Frank says here, he's just plowing over old ground.

    Or, that shows how old I am.

    But, I am also so old that I cannot remember the name of a really important speaker I saw in Berkeley just before Iran-Contra started breaking in the alternative press (we're talking Mae Brussell, here among others). Anyway, this guy was giving a talk in a tiny room above Sufficient Grounds (and sponsored by the dammed Maoists) about the patterns of media consolidation. From over 250 to 50. Sigh. Those were the days. Still, he predicted we'd be down to 5 in the long run. Prescient dude.

    More to the point here, he spoke of the explicit editorial shift made by the New York Times post-Reagan.... rightward, to follow Reagan. And this is how you manage a discourse to prevent talk of inequality and how the system is being changed.

    I've been looking everywhere for a reference to this event so that I can try to reconstruct this talk.

    Am I just whistling aimlessly here?

    But, back to the original point-- YES. WE KNEW. AT THE TIME. (Rather like everyone here knew that Condoleeza Rice was being ridiculous when she said that "no one thought anyone would use airplanes as weapons.") AND WE OBJECTED. But, in those days of yore, both pre-Internet and pre-Google, one has to go to actual paper-based archives and have an inkling of what one is looking to verify.

    Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

    by JrCrone on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:37:24 PM PST

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    •  I agree with most of what you're saying... (7+ / 0-) I was one of those in the '80s, for example, who said (as in, wrote for publication) what you are saying "we knew. at the time."

      But the numbers who knew (or who spoke out about knowing) were few in number, had small audiences and were widely ridiculed not just by the "elite," as Frank so politely calls them,but by much of the rump left at the time, which was either 1) drifting rightward, 2) dropping out, 3) engaged in the suicidal sectarianism.

      Frank also, imo, fails to acknowledge that the narrative (though not the data) about inequality has emerged not from the elite, but the people. Some of us would have said "the masses" 30 and more years ago.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:48:01 PM PST

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      •  You're right, of course. (0+ / 0-)

        So, I amend part of what I rambleranted about Frank to say "a small number of people" is not the same as "no one."

        Let's not act as clueless colonialists of our own history.

        One way to take power over the discourse is to note our own strength and that people who predicted this outcome existed. Like yourself!

        Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

        by JrCrone on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:06:34 PM PST

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