Friday, January 29, 2010

Matt vs Bobo

Journalist Matt Taibbi has put a lot of energy recently into covering Goldman Sachs' crimes against the economy.  Because he has the goods on them, their defense has been typical of guilty parties--change the subject, deny accusations that don't exist, and resort to name-calling.

And so we see David Brooks of the New York Times launch an attack on Taibbi and his work for that ultimate in thought-crimes "populism."  Now the history of the Populist movements on the 19th century holds a LOT of fascination for me--mostly because the brains behind the People's Party was a storied politician from Minnesota named Ignatius Donnelley.  And since I have read a lot on the subject, I hold reasonably informed opinions on what Populism was.

Keep in mind that modern definitions of populism are all over the map.  But most stem from the idea that populism is a movement of the (disgusting, uneducated) poor who want to change their economic position in life.  MOST of such "definitions" are designed to insult and belittle populism as a movement of crude primitives.  The story of capital P Populism, including the history of the People's Party, cannot be so easily caricatured or dismissed.

What is interesting about this controversy is that while Brooks uses all the cheap slanders against populism, his basic thesis--that Populists have a serious beef with Wall Street--is undoubtably true.  Taibbi responds that he is NOT a populist--which is technically true.  Yet by dragging Wall Street's criminal behavior into the sunlight, Taibbi is doing exactly what the heroes of the People's Party did.

I intend to keep an eye on this!
Populism: Just Like Racism!
It’s easy to see why politicians would be drawn to the populist pose. First, it makes everything so simple. The economic crisis was caused by a complex web of factors, including global imbalances caused by the rise of China. But with the populist narrative, you can just blame Goldman Sachs.
via Op-Ed Columnist – The Populist Addiction –
Normally one would have to be in the grip of a narcissistic psychosis to think that a columnist for the New York Times has written an article for your personal benefit. But after his latest article in the Times, in which he compares the “populism” of people who “blame Goldman Sachs” with exactly the sort of racist elitism I ripped him for last week, I think David Brooks might be trying to talk to me.
I think that’s at least part of what’s going on in his latest column, which is odd. If I were in his position, I probably would have punched me in the nose for the shot I took at him last week, but the response of David Brooks to being called out as a racist weenie is to write a passionate defense of the rich, one that includes the admonition that while blaming the wealthy is easy and feels fun, truly wise men should “tolerate the excesses of traders.” more

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