Is there a good "liberal manifesto" book I can also read?


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Initial post: Apr 8, 2009 6:31:19 AM PDT
Elhen says:
I want to suggest Levin's book for my book club, but also want to read a quality book that supports the "statist" argument so we can compare and contrast. Please suggest.

Posted on Apr 8, 2009 8:18:56 AM PDT
Deckard says:
Levin's book does argue for statism. He supports War for Israel (marketed as "War on Terror") and the military industrial complex.

At your book club, why don't you compare and contrast Levin's self-contradictory BS? Levin vs. Levin.

Posted on Apr 8, 2009 8:19:11 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 8, 2009 8:19:27 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 8, 2009 11:41:23 AM PDT
Master Shake says:
There are many books about socialist/communist manifestos out there, not too hard to find.

Posted on Apr 8, 2009 11:44:25 AM PDT
Snowman1/6 says:
The greatest liberal thinker of the 20th century was John Rawls. Read him. Basing what I see on these boards, most if not all of you may have to go back to school to take a few classes before you could tackle a real thinker. Rawls is what liberalsim is really about, not the cartoon version that Mr. Potato head, the "Grate" one, rants and raves against. Attilla the hun knew more about table manners than what Mr. Levin could ever know about liberalsim.

Now the bad news: The real political battles among Americans will be fought on the left, between the traditional liberals and the communitarians. Levin will not even be a foot note, no matter how many books he sells.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 11:53:38 AM PDT
Deckard says:
Good post, L. Salvatore. I have heard of Rawls before.

Posted on Apr 8, 2009 1:04:17 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 1:16:45 PM PDT
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Posted on Apr 8, 2009 1:23:23 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 1:30:28 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 1:41:40 PM PDT
Deckard says:
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Posted on Apr 8, 2009 1:55:01 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 1:59:25 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 2:51:08 PM PDT
Deckard says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 3:29:44 PM PDT
Like consevatives, Liberals come in many different flavors so " Manifesto's" tend to be both polarizing and misleading. I would have your Book club watch Michael Moore's Sicko and read the follwing essay { I would also persuse the writings and Books of Howard Richards - much is available on the web}

" Did we defeat Communism with Communism? Marxism with Marxism? I think the most salient test of the Republican and Conservative rhetoric at this time is to ask whether we considered the policies they're attacking as socialism, when they were in effect before in this country. For virtually all the Cold War, New Deal economics and big government were there. This WAS capitalism, when we made those comparisons. What made Free Markets free wasn't liberty from regulation but from the economic controls that typified Soviet Economiic Policy.

In the Soviet Economy, everything was planned out. It wasn't government encouraging this or that, it wasn't government setting a standard. It was government making all the decisions, from the distribution of materials to the value of the currency, to the pushing of certain products. You didn't have thousands of individual companies making decisions under the protection and policing of a set of laws and regulations, you had the government literally giving the orders on everything, for everything.

Not even in the heaviest days of New Deal economic policy did we see America approach this level of Central Planning. Our system rejected much of that, and what we ended up with was an economy where we all had freedom, within reasonable limits to make our own economic decisions. We could make national plans and go for national goals when we had to, or wanted to, but most choices were left up to the consumer, to the capitalists.

The Republicans want to talk about Liberal economic policy as if it's the opposite of the Free Market, as if putting restrictions on dangerous financial practices is the equivalent of Stalin's Five Year Plan, or Mao's forcing people to smelt metal in their front yards. What reasonable argument can be made for that? What about the deceptive practices and shoddy bookkeeping that got us into this mess is indispensible to the free market? What makes a market a free market is that people are free to decide what to buy and sell. I don't see how forcing people to tell the truth about how their companies is doing is contrary to the spirit of that. I don't see how allowing monopolies to form, allowing companies to become so big that their failure guts our economy is in the spirit of the free market. I mean, isn't the point of a free market that there be enough participants so that not everybody's taken down by the same boneheaded decisions? That people have enough choices of who to shop with that if one guy lowers his prices or improves his service, the others feel compelled to follow suit?

Part of the reason we can have a free market economy at all is the success of the New Deal in stabilizing the market, the success of generations of good regulations which have cut down on the fraud, the overconsolidation, the abuse of labor and the underpayment and undercompensation of workers. We raised the education level through public schools, to the point where we had a decent, thriving middle class, where people could get ahead and get out of poverty. Republicans grumble about punishing success when they speak of the coming phase out of the Bush tax cuts. Some even talk about "Going Galt", a bit of silliness I'll cover later on in another post. But what success can most people realistically aspire to? What's the greater chance, moving up from poverty to the middle class, the lower middle class to the upper, or each of us getting rich? If you're ambitious enough to become rich, I don't think a few percentage points of the top bracket of your income is really going to get in your way.

But what about the policies of the last few years have been good for the milder, more realistic ambitions that most people will have some likelihood of acheiving? The Middle Class has shrunk under the previous administration, and millions have descended into poverty. This has been the Republican Party's rewarding of success.

We have to decide whether Capitalism is meant to be a vehicle for the rich to get richer, or a means for an entire society, rich and poor, middle and working class alike to prosper. I think the logical position to take is that an economy that only works well for the ambitions and needs of the few is not an efficient economy, nor a stable one. The capitalism, the free markets that won the Cold War won that cold war because it proved that you didn't have to resort to a centrally planned collectivist economy in order to do the most good for the most people. By keeping the system fair to the middle class and poor, Liberalism smothered socialism in the cradle, prevented the need for more heavy-handed intervention and long term economic centralization.

The Republicans must realize that their laissez faire economics paved the way to this current situation. They led the charge to give the banks the ability to consolidate, making the economy less robust in the face of their failure. They led the fight to prevent the new, emerging financial instruments from being regulated, to keep those markets dark and opaque to regulators and investors alike. They led the fight to change accounting rules so that businesses could mark up profits they hadn't even truly made. They trusted that the markets would take care of the cheaters and the financial morons, that competition would cleanse the pondscum out automatically.

They didn't allow that businesses practices would simply take the shape of their container, flowing anywhere they were allowed to flow in their quest for profit, and that if that allowed cheating and fraud to occur, well that would be what would happen. They didn't realize that the market doesn't really judge beyond the balance sheet, and that some, in their competitive zeal, hide things from the market or engage in certain trickery in order to manipulate it.

So we've come to this: a point where the most dangerous question you might ask of your financial asset is " what is this damn thing really worth?"

Any market where a due-diligence attempt to establish the worth of an asset can lead to such devastating upheaval is not a stable or sustainable economy. It's not unlike those ungainly, unsightly stacks of furniture and miscellaneous items you see in the cartoons that the characters build in the attempt to get some place high, and the results of this, much of the time, aren't much different: Crashes and resounding thuds, much to the disbelief of those involved.

In no real world market can you prevent all fraud, all deception. There will always be hidden corners of corruption and double dealing. There will always be those who won't keep just one set of books. The question is, do you create an environment that encourages and rewards their misbehavior, or do your raise the risks for their behavior, raise the disincentives?

We need to restructure this economy so that it's no longer so fragile and top heavy, to where a sector or a corporation can fail without taking out half the country with it. The capitalism and free market economics of the nineties and the Bush years proved definitively that they weren't up to the challenge. Hopefully, we can bring about a new version of our old Free Market economy that can get us prosperous on a more sustainable basis, and once again save capitalism from itself. "

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 13, 2009 09:02 AM

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 3:47:14 PM PDT
Elhen : here is another supplement that addresses the primary issues:

"We can either have a situation where we have a small number of people with a huge amount of wealth or we can have a democracy. But we can't have both. -Bill Gates, Sr.
[There] is looming up a new and dark power... the enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economical conquests only, but for political power... The question will arise and arise in your day, though perhaps not fully in mine, which shall rule-wealth or man; which shall lead-money or intellect; who shall fill public stations-educated and patriotic freemen, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital.... -Justice Edward G. Ryan, 1873

" In the summer of 2002, George W. Bush stood at the peak of power. The American people, still reeling from 9/11, had given Bush support for whatever he deemed necessary in the global war on terror. Internationally, he still had much of the world's sympathy and backing.

The Bush administration's response to all the power it had been given was to grab for more. They released the National Security Strategy, a document that made clear that America would only experience real security when the rest of the world had been transformed into its likeness. While providing justification for invasions of evil states deemed as threatening to global security, the real thrust of the document went to US responsibilities and opportunities to export and widely promote the two great pillars of American society: democracy and free market capitalism. "

" For so many Americans, democracy and capitalism - free people and free markets - go to the heart of America's greatness, its exceptionalism, and its promise in the evolution of human culture. In a wanna-be Christian nation that regularly contradicts the teachings of Jesus, the establishment and protection of these freedoms has become the one true religion and Holy Grail. Good Americans turn all teary-eyed on the subject of freedom and have come to accept without question the continuity between individual freedoms and the freedoms of the marketplace: neither can exist without the other, and any infringements on one represent an infringement of both."

The proselytes of this all too viral Americanism blithely discount the terrible difficulties that have befallen so many newly "free" nations: the haphazard break-up of the Soviet Union, the wrenching, horrible tragedy of Yugoslavia, and such freed but failing economies as Chile, Argentina, and Brazil (to name a few). "Mere growing pains," the Americanizers proclaim. As long as they open their markets (especially to America) and hold some reasonably free elections, then any suffering, dislocation, and civil strife such countries undergo warrant little more than a condescending shrug from their American superiors.

Even worse, these evangelical Americans either ignore or outright attack any democratic systems or free market economies that do not absolutely toe the American Way. Rare discussions of European-style democracy or Canadian-style healthcare or Japanese-style pension systems get quickly derailed with dire warnings of creeping socialism and the futility of State-run economies. Not surprisingly, the dissemination of American-style democracy and capitalism has come to take on all the form and trappings of an Old Testament religion: there exists one and only one true way and those who do not follow deserve their suffering, while heaven awaits those who help spread the good news.

Aside from the arrogance of thinking that any one way will work best for everyone, we really must question just how well democracy and free market capitalism have worked together in America. After more than two hundred years of free and open elections, American democracy has some glaring faults, including shamefully low voter turnout, ugly, mean-spirited campaigns, near total control of the legislative processes by big money interests, and, as the 2000 election proved, serious problems at nearly every stage of the electoral process, from the slapdash design of ballots and voting machines to the antiquated rules that cashiered Al Gore.

America's capitalism, likewise more than two hundred years in development, still produces as many scandals as success stories, leaves unconscionable numbers of citizens unemployed and without access to essential goods and services, runs roughshod over the environment, behaves imperialistically toward other nations, and channels so much money into the political process as to render the overclass fairly immune to community oversight.

Though Americans naturally think of democracy and capitalism as working in concert, in fact, these two profoundly differing viewpoints have clashed and conflicted throughout America's history. For while democracy aims to distribute power more equitably among all, capitalism promises that only the worthy few will achieve great wealth. Democracy follows the concerns of "demos," the People, while capitalism follows the bottom line materialism of stuff and money. Democracy, at its best, brings people together to decide vital matters of common import. Capitalism splits the People into fields of separate actors, each looking after his and her own interests, with little regard for those of others. Democracy epitomizes the group, public and cooperative, while capitalism stands for the individual, private and competitive.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter: the more free and unencumbered America's market economy, the less effective its democracy and less free its people. Capitalism tends to undermine democracy, rather than support it. To the extent that America achieves the main capitalist goals of reducing taxes, removing government regulations, and privatizing public enterprises and institutions, the nation becomes decidedly less democratic.

Consider America's tortured attempts at campaign finance reform. Everybody knows that electoral victory nearly always goes to the candidate who spends the most money, that incumbents use the power of their office to raise funds and thereby retain position and power, and that the wealthy use their campaign contributions to influence politicians and the electoral process. America has truly, sadly, become "the best democracy that money can buy."

Yet efforts to move toward public financing, or to place limits on campaign spending, or to lessen the influence of large donations fade before the rhetoric of free market capitalism, as if the process of choosing our leaders should steadfastly follow the same guiding principles as that of choosing a new detergent. Incumbants define campaign contributions as a type of public discourse and then frame any attempts to limit such contributions as interferences with the freedom of speech. In America, the freedom of the wealthy to decide public policy shall not be abridged by the common ideals of a genuine, working democracy.

Ultimately, the prophets of triumphant capitalism aim for the virtual elimination of government. The privateers have set their salivating sights on public education, Medicare, Headstart, the postal system, the public financing of various media and the arts, and, the jewel in the crown, Social Security. They would have us believe that private, unregulated enterprises could do all of these things better than government - that men and women motivated by personal profit will always outperform those motivated by civic responsibility, by the desire to serve others, by spiritual principles, or even by an impassioned patriotism.

If America really wants to bring freedom and democracy to the rest of the world - a worthy goal, and the surest counter to global terrorism - then it must first resolve this long-running conflict between free markets and free people. Despite the assurances of neoconservative theorists, personal freedom without the regulating force of community oversight, as expressed through laws, rules, licenses, and customs, leads inevitably to conflict, strife, and ultimate rule by self-serving elites. While the government that governs least may indeed govern best, in the total absence of governance we see people at their worst. For all the genuine evils of totalitarian over-governance, we do no better sliding into the oligarchic controls of under-governance.

America could really use a few new myths, indeed, a whole new Story. Paeans to the rugged individualist recklessly braving the cutthroat competitions of life must give way to tales of groups, organizations, and governing bodies selflessly cooperating for the greater good. Celebrations of national independence should evolve into global celebrations of interdependence. The prevailing notion of personal profit as a fair and effective motivator in human endeavors needs the tempering influences of empathy, compassion, service, community, and a bottom-line concern for the most disadvantaged in society.

Money can no longer serve as the prime measure of a person's value or of the worthiness or lack thereof of social policies; instead, we need to view individuals and their governments through a universal prism of transcendent, ethical, and spiritual values. Nor can the use of force - power to the strongest, richest, and most capable of violence - continue as the primary way of making decisions and resolving conflicts. America needs to manifest nothing less than a genuine working democracy, where the most dominant force resides in the voice of the common people. "

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2009 4:36:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2009 4:38:02 PM PDT
This is a good argument for regluation, but I simply don't trust the current adminstration to fairly enforce such regluation. I don't trust a man who took 127million dollars in campaign contrubiations from Eddie and Fannie to enforce such regluation equally across the field. I don't trust Christopher Dodd, who did most of the fudging of books in Eddie May and Fannie Mac to then 'regluate' an entire fincinal system. I don't trust a enviromentalist worshipper like Nancy Pelosi to write enviromental regluation that has any mesurable amount of common sense, regluation that will make running a power plant with anything but wind-mills and corn-made bio-fuels as expensive as the entire U.S. government budget.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2009 6:10:42 AM PDT
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Posted on Apr 9, 2009 7:20:44 AM PDT
MP says:
Karl Marx's "Das Kapital"

Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (Penguin Classics)

Enjoy, COMRADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted on Apr 9, 2009 7:21:29 AM PDT
"But, when comparing the damage that can be done, we are in less danger now than when we had this other group of fascists exercising their powers of office."

Mary, hon, can I see your proof for this statement? And what exactly is your definition of "fascist"? Personally I think Benito Mussolini's (He should know, doncha think??) definition of fascism is pretty good. He said that "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporat power." Hmmm Kinda puts ME in mind of a recent Washington Post headline: Obama Seeks Expanded Power To Seize Firms. Oh my!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2009 7:32:54 AM PDT
MP says:
The proof is in the worship of the Dear Leader Obama.

Posted on Apr 9, 2009 10:35:11 AM PDT
Mary E. Deane -

No, but then neither did the Bush adminstration make such naked power grabs, useing situations they themselves set up to justify them. The AIG 'scandal' being the one of the most recent examples, setting the precidtant that the government can just tear up contracts they themselves made when it has any excuse it thinks is good enough. Even the abuses at Gitmo was rooted in useing one of the 3 basic functions of government, that the miltary is there to protect the people. Now it can be argued that they went too far and a few innocents were caught up in it, and Bush and company are paying the poltical price for it. But they did it in the belief that the government needed to protect the people from a forigen clear and present physical danger.

Now this adminstration is so quick to aplogise for this that they are giveing full pardons to everyone in Gitmo, and already they are being re-picked up particpating in terrorist actions like bombings.

It seems to me that Obomba measures the greatness of a country in it's soup kitchens, national medical care, and how publically benovolant it's government is to people who beg the loudest. Not in having great centers of learning (actual learning, not indrocation), a strong miltary, innovative science, great enginnering, or a strong ecnomey.

MP - I have to ask, how is someone haveing the worship equlivtant to a reglious leader proof that they arn't doing great damage. May I point out Father Flager and Jesse Jackson. They are quite popluar in many areas. And frankly that the leader of the US having the same kind of blind worship of so many people scares me. That people won't realise their mistake until something like Kent state happens, or we get attacked by China, or Israel and Iran go to war and all Obomba does is make 'treaties' that are broken as soon as Iran has recovered from the last battle.

Sorry for getting into an off-topic area of this discussion, but it's hard to just sit down and shut up about such things, and free speach is still here, at least until the 'fairness doctrone' gets through congress. Who cares that it only applies to radio, no?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2009 10:38:39 AM PDT
MP says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2009 11:41:30 AM PDT
Hello. You could try "The Conscience of a Liberal," by the late Senator Paul Wellstone. I haven't read it myself (and am not interested) and don't actually know if it gives statist arguments, but it might.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2009 3:28:02 PM PDT
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Initial post:  Apr 8, 2009
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Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto
Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin (Audio CD - March 24, 2009)
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