Sewer Socialism — So much I want to say about this but I don’t have the time to deep dive. Relevant:
A few months ago, Sandy Johnston called for a revival of a US tradition called sewer socialism, associated with Socialist Milwaukee mayors Emil Seidel (r. 1910-12), Daniel Hoan (r. 1916-40), and Frank Zeidler (r. 1948-60). The Milwaukee socialists boasted of the municipal sanitation system that they’d built, and were notably corruption-free. This was while they remained in good standing in the Socialist Party, which was orthodox Marxist; Seidel was Eugene Debs’ running mate in the 1912 presidential election.
The problem with the sewer socialist tradition that Sandy cites is that it inevitably makes the sewers more important than the socialism, and soon, the socialists turn into technocrats. This happened to European social democrats starting in the 1930s and 40s. Out of power, and even early in power in the 1920s and 30s, they talked about replacing capitalism with socialism. After years of power, they built public housing for the working class, comprehensive education, and national health care systems, and abandoned revolution; within the US, Zeidler was influenced by Debs and identified as a socialist but explicitly rejected Soviet communism.
The people who passed the laws creating public works, social welfare schemes, and public services were usually committed to social and economic equality, but the people running them would be promoted and rewarded based on competence rather than ideology. A politician could succeed in a social democratic party by showing ability to implement a government program rather than by showing ideological commitment. Sewer socialism turned into sewer big-tent center-left politics, and subsequently into sewer neo-liberalism.
Describing the floor at CPAC — A fine observation on the careerism of being a conservative activist.
No, those protesters aren’t paid. Some sanity about both sides of the debate regarding protesters and town hall meetings. Do the Democrats even remember the Tea Party? Anybody? One of my friends is fond of saying that Americans have the cultural memory of gnats and the older I get the truer that feels.
Machiavelli as homo politicus — in analogy to economics’ homo economicus. A self interested ruler whose self interest leads to better outcomes all around. He goes on to discuss how a ton of the really bad things that have happened in the world have happened because of too little Machiavellian rulers, i.e. bad things are done in the name of “good”.