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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

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20

Goodbye, Cold War

4
terms
6
notes
Needs summary

Rana, A. (2018). Goodbye, Cold War. n+1, 30, pp. 20-28

(adjective) having the same or coincident boundaries / (adjective) coextensive in scope or duration

21

As opposed to those of its global adversary, they contended, the interests of America were coterminous with the world’s interests.

—p.21 by Aziz Rana
notable
7 months, 1 week ago

As opposed to those of its global adversary, they contended, the interests of America were coterminous with the world’s interests.

—p.21 by Aziz Rana
notable
7 months, 1 week ago
21

IN SEARCH OF historical analogies for our present crisis, pundits often compare the present to the Civil War or to the reassertion of white supremacy immediately following the end of Reconstruction. But it is the longer Gilded Age that our own moment more closely resembles. In the 1890s, the US suffered the most violent labor conflicts in the world; in the 1930s, developments in the US caused the greatest global capitalist crisis in history. During all these years, it was routine to wonder whether the country was falling apart. Industrial society produced inequalities and physically destroyed workers in its factories; political institutions seemed incapable of responding. The constitutional system’s endless veto points made it nearly impossible for the poor to use elections to better their lot. Business elites wielded outsize power at virtually every level of government, which they exercised to defeat social programs and to criminalize labor organizing and protest. It was a political world marked by sensational conflict, in which class war wasn’t a metaphor. Nor, as in the person of Sanders’s hero Eugene Debs or in black labor leaders like A. Philip Randolph, was socialism a mere rumor. During the Great Depression, a major political party even became partly indebted to the labor movement. For a brief period, labor helped provide the Democrats with supermajorities—backed by an implicit threat of social revolution, which was necessary to implement meaningful reform.

—p.21 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

IN SEARCH OF historical analogies for our present crisis, pundits often compare the present to the Civil War or to the reassertion of white supremacy immediately following the end of Reconstruction. But it is the longer Gilded Age that our own moment more closely resembles. In the 1890s, the US suffered the most violent labor conflicts in the world; in the 1930s, developments in the US caused the greatest global capitalist crisis in history. During all these years, it was routine to wonder whether the country was falling apart. Industrial society produced inequalities and physically destroyed workers in its factories; political institutions seemed incapable of responding. The constitutional system’s endless veto points made it nearly impossible for the poor to use elections to better their lot. Business elites wielded outsize power at virtually every level of government, which they exercised to defeat social programs and to criminalize labor organizing and protest. It was a political world marked by sensational conflict, in which class war wasn’t a metaphor. Nor, as in the person of Sanders’s hero Eugene Debs or in black labor leaders like A. Philip Randolph, was socialism a mere rumor. During the Great Depression, a major political party even became partly indebted to the labor movement. For a brief period, labor helped provide the Democrats with supermajorities—backed by an implicit threat of social revolution, which was necessary to implement meaningful reform.

—p.21 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

(noun) the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment

22

Both parties had committed to the basic elements of what became “the American model.” At home, it involved a modest welfare state combined with meliorism on issues of race. Abroad, the goal was the reconstruction of foreign societies on American terms through the spread of market capitalism and the legal-political institutions of liberal democracy.

—p.22 by Aziz Rana
confirm
7 months, 1 week ago

Both parties had committed to the basic elements of what became “the American model.” At home, it involved a modest welfare state combined with meliorism on issues of race. Abroad, the goal was the reconstruction of foreign societies on American terms through the spread of market capitalism and the legal-political institutions of liberal democracy.

—p.22 by Aziz Rana
confirm
7 months, 1 week ago
23

Cold-war rhetoric also downplayed the extent to which systematic forms of political and economic subordination defined the experience of racial minorities and indigenous peoples within US borders. The cold-war vision presented the achievement of racial equality as a matter of simply completing the project of liberal integration. Unlike the dominant views on the left before the 1940s—when even establishment academics took for granted that the Constitution was a counterrevolutionary document—the new assumption of the cold-war order was that American institutions were essentially just, and the only necessary change would be to open these institutions to worthy members of black and brown communities. Little attention was paid, as it had been in sections of the left in the 1930s, to how racial and class subordination were intertwined, let alone to how American capitalism was both racialized and inherently oppressive. One should not romanticize that period; the incipient forms of 1930s organizing, against the backdrop of persistent racial discrimination within the labor movement, hardly suggested a clear path to liberation. But what marked that pre-cold-war era was real ideological openness, a variety of genuine political possibilities—some emancipatory, some deeply destructive—at least in comparison with what followed.

This closing off of ideological alternatives partly explains why the cold-war order was bound to unravel. The bargain between business and labor led to the entrenchment of economic hierarchy and the defeat of social democracy. Where in the 1930s radical elements of the labor movement had influence in the Democratic Party, following the cold-war crackdowns on communism, labor radicals lost it all. Government provision of social programs and business’s acceptance of collective bargaining came with a stipulation: the union had to change from a class-conscious instrument of mass democratic organization to a more limited special-interest group. The AFL -CIO left issues like control and management to business, and parroted cold-war patriotism. For union leaders like Walter Reuther, fearful of McCarthyism and optimistic after decades of union growth, this was an acceptable exchange. Over time, it cost unions the ability to contest the terms of the state, which chipped away at domestic labor gains while promoting a pro-business foreign policy through force of arms.

—p.23 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

Cold-war rhetoric also downplayed the extent to which systematic forms of political and economic subordination defined the experience of racial minorities and indigenous peoples within US borders. The cold-war vision presented the achievement of racial equality as a matter of simply completing the project of liberal integration. Unlike the dominant views on the left before the 1940s—when even establishment academics took for granted that the Constitution was a counterrevolutionary document—the new assumption of the cold-war order was that American institutions were essentially just, and the only necessary change would be to open these institutions to worthy members of black and brown communities. Little attention was paid, as it had been in sections of the left in the 1930s, to how racial and class subordination were intertwined, let alone to how American capitalism was both racialized and inherently oppressive. One should not romanticize that period; the incipient forms of 1930s organizing, against the backdrop of persistent racial discrimination within the labor movement, hardly suggested a clear path to liberation. But what marked that pre-cold-war era was real ideological openness, a variety of genuine political possibilities—some emancipatory, some deeply destructive—at least in comparison with what followed.

This closing off of ideological alternatives partly explains why the cold-war order was bound to unravel. The bargain between business and labor led to the entrenchment of economic hierarchy and the defeat of social democracy. Where in the 1930s radical elements of the labor movement had influence in the Democratic Party, following the cold-war crackdowns on communism, labor radicals lost it all. Government provision of social programs and business’s acceptance of collective bargaining came with a stipulation: the union had to change from a class-conscious instrument of mass democratic organization to a more limited special-interest group. The AFL -CIO left issues like control and management to business, and parroted cold-war patriotism. For union leaders like Walter Reuther, fearful of McCarthyism and optimistic after decades of union growth, this was an acceptable exchange. Over time, it cost unions the ability to contest the terms of the state, which chipped away at domestic labor gains while promoting a pro-business foreign policy through force of arms.

—p.23 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago
24

WELL INTO THE 2010S, American political elites of both parties shared a common vision. They remained gripped by a cold-war imagination that saw the ascendancy of American liberalism not as a unique confluence of events generated by the combination of the Depression, war, and Soviet competition, but rather as the country’s natural and permanent progression. Men like John McCain and Obama believed so deeply in this story because they had worked and suffered for it, and it had given their lives a larger meaning. And for periods in American life, if one kept to the proper circles, it could actually feel true: wealth was indeed generated, excluded groups were included, and threatening adversaries were defeated.

The problem turned out to be that neither the ideals nor the institutions were up to the challenges to come. Structural economic problems had been mounting for decades, and new problems had been created in the meantime. The US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were international adventures larger than any since the Vietnam war. The global financial crisis underscored the precariousness of middle- and working-class economic security and exposed the scale of the divide between haves and have-nots. As the country reeled from near-economic collapse, the carceral state’s generational effects on poor and black communities led to mass protest and social rebellion. The years 2014–16 saw more civil unrest than any time since the early 1970s.

—p.24 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

WELL INTO THE 2010S, American political elites of both parties shared a common vision. They remained gripped by a cold-war imagination that saw the ascendancy of American liberalism not as a unique confluence of events generated by the combination of the Depression, war, and Soviet competition, but rather as the country’s natural and permanent progression. Men like John McCain and Obama believed so deeply in this story because they had worked and suffered for it, and it had given their lives a larger meaning. And for periods in American life, if one kept to the proper circles, it could actually feel true: wealth was indeed generated, excluded groups were included, and threatening adversaries were defeated.

The problem turned out to be that neither the ideals nor the institutions were up to the challenges to come. Structural economic problems had been mounting for decades, and new problems had been created in the meantime. The US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were international adventures larger than any since the Vietnam war. The global financial crisis underscored the precariousness of middle- and working-class economic security and exposed the scale of the divide between haves and have-nots. As the country reeled from near-economic collapse, the carceral state’s generational effects on poor and black communities led to mass protest and social rebellion. The years 2014–16 saw more civil unrest than any time since the early 1970s.

—p.24 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

(noun) a usually short sermon / (noun) a lecture or discourse on or of a moral theme / (noun) an inspirational catchphrase or platitude. homiletic: the art of preaching or writing sermons

25

Politicians knew what homilies they had to repeat to be taken seriously by party gatekeepers and thus rise to prominence.

—p.25 by Aziz Rana
confirm
7 months, 1 week ago

Politicians knew what homilies they had to repeat to be taken seriously by party gatekeepers and thus rise to prominence.

—p.25 by Aziz Rana
confirm
7 months, 1 week ago
25

[...] American political institutions actually require precisely the opposite to work: a near-angelic degree of social cohesion (if not agreement on political ends) among empowered elites. The cold-war order had in fact been forged on two related facts. The first was an organized working class that helped deliver the supermajorities needed to defeat barriers to mass democracy in the 1930s, and then mustered enough electoral strength in the decades that followed to expand, or at least protect, the social safety net their efforts had secured. Just as essential, the confrontation with the Soviet Union fostered cohesion among political elites in ways that produced the conditions for compromise, most dramatically evidenced during the period of 1960s civil rights legislation. When the Republican senator Everett Dirksen helped break the Southern filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, declaring, “The time has come for equality of opportunity. . . . It will not be stayed or denied,” he was speaking the same liberal universalist language as Lyndon Johnson and was motivated, regardless of the partisan divide, by much the same vision of the country and its global mission.

With working-class organizations weakened, it has become hard to see how any political coalition can elect a supermajority capable of overcoming the Constitution’s roadblocks. At the same time, the US’s enemies, from marginal global players like North Korea to weak nonstate actors like al Qaeda or ISIS, hardly present an existential competitor in the style of the USSR. There are no longer external incentives for elite agreement. Instead, a combination of intense party polarization and the profound influence of money have left the legislative branch constitutively unable to confront fundamental social issues. And as Obama’s post-2010 time in office made clear, even the ever-more-powerful executive branch is limited when it comes to reshaping domestic policy.

—p.25 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

[...] American political institutions actually require precisely the opposite to work: a near-angelic degree of social cohesion (if not agreement on political ends) among empowered elites. The cold-war order had in fact been forged on two related facts. The first was an organized working class that helped deliver the supermajorities needed to defeat barriers to mass democracy in the 1930s, and then mustered enough electoral strength in the decades that followed to expand, or at least protect, the social safety net their efforts had secured. Just as essential, the confrontation with the Soviet Union fostered cohesion among political elites in ways that produced the conditions for compromise, most dramatically evidenced during the period of 1960s civil rights legislation. When the Republican senator Everett Dirksen helped break the Southern filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, declaring, “The time has come for equality of opportunity. . . . It will not be stayed or denied,” he was speaking the same liberal universalist language as Lyndon Johnson and was motivated, regardless of the partisan divide, by much the same vision of the country and its global mission.

With working-class organizations weakened, it has become hard to see how any political coalition can elect a supermajority capable of overcoming the Constitution’s roadblocks. At the same time, the US’s enemies, from marginal global players like North Korea to weak nonstate actors like al Qaeda or ISIS, hardly present an existential competitor in the style of the USSR. There are no longer external incentives for elite agreement. Instead, a combination of intense party polarization and the profound influence of money have left the legislative branch constitutively unable to confront fundamental social issues. And as Obama’s post-2010 time in office made clear, even the ever-more-powerful executive branch is limited when it comes to reshaping domestic policy.

—p.25 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly (plural: encomia). as the adjective encomiastic, means bestowing praise, eulogistic, laudatory

25

In the 1990s, encomiums to the Constitution were taken for granted.

—p.25 by Aziz Rana
notable
7 months, 1 week ago

In the 1990s, encomiums to the Constitution were taken for granted.

—p.25 by Aziz Rana
notable
7 months, 1 week ago
27

THE UNITED STATES is in a remarkable place: for the first time, we are living in a truly post-cold-war political environment. For those on the center-left and center-right, there remains a desperate hope that if Trump were to be removed from the scene, through impeachment or defeat, the US could somehow return to its previous trajectory. And for all the past year’s politics of despair, a likely electoral outcome, because of popular revulsion toward Trump, is that centrist politicians in both parties will gain another shot at power. Given the razor-thin margin of Trump’s victory—despite institutional advantages like the electoral college and voter suppression—there is little reason to assume that Trump the politician will enjoy lasting political dominance. But as long as party stalwarts persist in recycling cold-war tropes, they will remain trapped in the same cycles of social crisis and popular disaffection. Even if this combination of nostalgia and outrage works for a couple of election cycles, it cannot work indefinitely. This is not 1989.

With the end of the cold-war frame, the left is now truly present at the political table for the first time in decades. It represents a growing and increasingly vocal slice of the American electorate, and it is more ideologically assertive than at any point since the 1960s, perhaps even since the 1930s. The left’s strength today is in its extra-institutional energy and capacity for mass mobilization. It is in the ability to turn out participants to public rallies and engage activists for specific and targeted protests. The strength also resides in broad popular sentiment, most dramatically evidenced by the shifting public perceptions of socialism and capitalism. Despite internal disagreement, this broadly democratic socialist left, as expressed in everything from the Fight for $15 to the vision statement of the Movement for Black Lives, has a systematic and practical agenda for addressing the central problems that have roiled American life: the destructive rise of plutocratic power, the reality of structural racism, and the effects at home and abroad of American militarism.

—p.27 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

THE UNITED STATES is in a remarkable place: for the first time, we are living in a truly post-cold-war political environment. For those on the center-left and center-right, there remains a desperate hope that if Trump were to be removed from the scene, through impeachment or defeat, the US could somehow return to its previous trajectory. And for all the past year’s politics of despair, a likely electoral outcome, because of popular revulsion toward Trump, is that centrist politicians in both parties will gain another shot at power. Given the razor-thin margin of Trump’s victory—despite institutional advantages like the electoral college and voter suppression—there is little reason to assume that Trump the politician will enjoy lasting political dominance. But as long as party stalwarts persist in recycling cold-war tropes, they will remain trapped in the same cycles of social crisis and popular disaffection. Even if this combination of nostalgia and outrage works for a couple of election cycles, it cannot work indefinitely. This is not 1989.

With the end of the cold-war frame, the left is now truly present at the political table for the first time in decades. It represents a growing and increasingly vocal slice of the American electorate, and it is more ideologically assertive than at any point since the 1960s, perhaps even since the 1930s. The left’s strength today is in its extra-institutional energy and capacity for mass mobilization. It is in the ability to turn out participants to public rallies and engage activists for specific and targeted protests. The strength also resides in broad popular sentiment, most dramatically evidenced by the shifting public perceptions of socialism and capitalism. Despite internal disagreement, this broadly democratic socialist left, as expressed in everything from the Fight for $15 to the vision statement of the Movement for Black Lives, has a systematic and practical agenda for addressing the central problems that have roiled American life: the destructive rise of plutocratic power, the reality of structural racism, and the effects at home and abroad of American militarism.

—p.27 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago
28

The goal is not merely to bring back the social welfarism of the past. It is to create an actual left majority—cross-racial and class-conscious—that has a clear agenda serving its interests and, just as vitally, the bargaining power institutionally to pursue those interests. To move past the moribund legacies of the cold war, we need to invest in new democratic reform efforts across the American institutional landscape.

Most obviously, this means harnessing mass anger at the corporate corruption of the political process and at the undemocratic implications of political features like voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the electoral college. But it also requires a targeted effort to bring together both economic and democratic demands, since when intertwined, these projects can help expand the left’s practical institutional capacity. One exemplary option, already being taken up by some activists, insists that “ban the box” hiring-reform efforts must be seen alongside the overturning of state felony-disenfranchisement laws. Another possibility, much older but less often heard today, would be to strengthen the classic bases of left politics like unions by, in addition to making it easier for them to organize and to strike, returning to the language of “workplace democracy,” insisting that the labor movement be viewed not as an interest group bargaining for mere material goods but as an institution that epitomizes how economic and democratic needs can be jointly satisfied. A similar approach could be taken to the decriminalization of immigrant status, since an empowered immigrant community is one able to press both at work and in politics for a racially and economically reconstructive agenda.

—p.28 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago

The goal is not merely to bring back the social welfarism of the past. It is to create an actual left majority—cross-racial and class-conscious—that has a clear agenda serving its interests and, just as vitally, the bargaining power institutionally to pursue those interests. To move past the moribund legacies of the cold war, we need to invest in new democratic reform efforts across the American institutional landscape.

Most obviously, this means harnessing mass anger at the corporate corruption of the political process and at the undemocratic implications of political features like voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the electoral college. But it also requires a targeted effort to bring together both economic and democratic demands, since when intertwined, these projects can help expand the left’s practical institutional capacity. One exemplary option, already being taken up by some activists, insists that “ban the box” hiring-reform efforts must be seen alongside the overturning of state felony-disenfranchisement laws. Another possibility, much older but less often heard today, would be to strengthen the classic bases of left politics like unions by, in addition to making it easier for them to organize and to strike, returning to the language of “workplace democracy,” insisting that the labor movement be viewed not as an interest group bargaining for mere material goods but as an institution that epitomizes how economic and democratic needs can be jointly satisfied. A similar approach could be taken to the decriminalization of immigrant status, since an empowered immigrant community is one able to press both at work and in politics for a racially and economically reconstructive agenda.

—p.28 by Aziz Rana 7 months, 1 week ago