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Bad news is good news for fascists


I’ve been taking notes for a book project with the working title of DOOM JUNKIES.

The central thesis is this: Doomerism is the fascist’s best friend.  Either because it leads to the embrace of fascism directly, or because it robs the opponents of fascism of the will to fight it.

Paul Krugman’s new column touches on this, when discussing why so many liberal/left/progressive people have such a pessimistic view of the economy under the Biden administration. Krugman acknowledges that it’s pointless to argue with right wingers about facts, for what ought to be obvious reasons:

I can report from experience that talking about these issues with people on the right is basically impossible. Point out that most workers’ earnings have significantly outpaced inflation since the eve of the pandemic, and they’ll say you’re a member of the elite who has no idea what things really cost. Point out that Americans are more likely than not to express positive views about their family’s own financial situation and that strong consumer spending belies claims that families are suffering, and they’ll say you’re a snob telling people how to feel. It’s a no-win situation.

Dog bites man news for sure, but what about all the progressives who express very similar views? (Including many commenters on this blog whenever this subject comes up):

One group that might be amenable to persuasion, however, is progressives unwilling to acknowledge good economic news because they say that there’s still a lot wrong with America. I don’t know how large this group is, but I seem to know a lot of them, and their negativity may be affecting the general tone of conversation.

To be sure, Biden’s America isn’t a progressive paradise. Too much wealth and power is still concentrated in the hands of a few people, even as millions of this rich nation’s citizens still live in poverty and lack adequate health care.

But there has nonetheless been real progress. We’re finally taking serious action against climate change and investing in infrastructure. Increased subsidies have helped expand health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And one little-known fact is that Biden’s full-employment economy has led to a big fall in wage inequality, with large gains for the lowest-paid workers.

And things would look even better if Democrats had won even a slightly bigger victory in the 2020 elections. Notably, just one or two more Democratic senators would have meant a permanent extension of the expanded child tax credit, which would have sharply reduced child poverty — and still could, if Democrats find a way to win big in 2024.

So progressive reluctance to acknowledge recent progress is a case of letting the perfect get in the way of the coulda been much worse.

And the kicker here of course is that the choice isn’t between plutocratic authoritarianism, enlivened with an theocratic auto da fe or three, and the Classless Society, or (slightly less fantastically) democratic socialism, or (now we’re starting to approach the borders of an imaginable American reality) Euro-style social democracy, but Joe Biden’s super boring post-New Deal standard issue mildly regulated capitalism with something like an actual social safety net, and . . .

. . . the alternatives. Over the past few months, Republican policy discourse has taken a hard right turn, with renewed pledges to repeal Obamacare — threatening health insurance coverage for more than 40 million Americans — and a push for cuts to Social Security.

So here’s how I see it: The results of Biden’s victory in 2020 have fallen well short of progressives’ dreams, but a Biden defeat next year would be the stuff of progressive nightmares. Are left-leaning Americans able to hold both facts in their minds and act appropriately?

This shouldn’t be a tough challenge for anyone constitutionally eligible to attend junior high school, but many of the leading voices of the American left, such as it is, are apparently twelve years old.

This all reminds me of some historical antecedent that is slipping my mind right at the moment, although on an unrelated note Babe Ruth had an adjusted OPS of 201 in 1932, when he supposedly defended having a higher salary than the president of the United States on the grounds that he had a better year.

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