Review of Mike Lofgren’s “Goodbye to all That”

Please read http://www.truth-out.org/goodbye-all-reflections-gop-operative-who-left-cult/1314907779 This is my response to that article, and what it spawns. In addition, you have to know some of the methods of critical reading: there are some universities that still require/offer a class called “Critical Reading”. That is to say, it is not just some intuitive thing that smart people can do. Even smart people need to take a moment to assess their critical reading skills.

Begin with the title: “Goodbye to All that: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult”. The red flags (for the critical reader) should be apparent: this is a disgruntled postal worker. This article is likely to contain rants. It will clearly lean one way – away from the GOP. It’s just something to think about, whether you lean that same way or not: if you want to make your own decisions in this life, you have to beware of what is in your kool-aid. You have to be a ware that this will be a slightly crazed, slightly angry, probably quite biased article. This is not to say that there will be no truth in it; however, you will have to uncover, or, un-color, that truth, if you want it.

Second thing is always the publisher: it is a little “grandiose” to host a web site called “TruthOut”. I’m sorry, but you don’t have “the truth”, either. “The truth” is probably got to by vectoring, at best. There is no direct path. Lao Tse would be wary of anyone who touts “the truth”. Perhaps we all should be.

He starts with a kind of premise – that both parties are rotten. Kind of cute to use “rotten”. When you use it a lot, when that is the only word you use, makes me wonder. “Rotten” is a kind of moralistic thing to say, and I, for one, don’t want your morality, in this article. When he says they are both rotten, but “not in the same way”, I get more disillusioned: if you’re rotten (imagine a rotten peach), it’s a done deal: don’t really care “how” you are rotten. What he is setting up here is a double standard, something critical readers look for, and hate when they find. He’s going to say that the GOP are, like, “evil”, but that the “other side” (since we used GOP, do we need to find a topical-political term that means “not the Grand Old Party”?). Of course, terminology, when discussing political affiliation, is problematic: there are no real Democrats anymore, no real Republicans; the Left is Center, not left; the Right is morally right; Conservative is completely misunderstood(!), and Liberal has come to mean “do pretty much what you want”.

However, luckily, the article refers to “party”, specifically, so we will assume Republican (which is consistent with GOP), and Democrat.

There is now a problem of low information. At this point, a person who is well-read in modern politics would, at this juncture, acknowledge that a number of other people have made the very point that the two-party system exists only nominally, in the modern era. Most notably, Ralph Nader coined the term “duopoly”, which suits Mr. Lofgren’s article pretty well, actually. That is, they are both rotten, but not in the same way. But they are both rotten. The USA is in the grips of a double-headed master. Indeed, it takes two heads to complete the grand lie, which envelops both Left and Right, Red and Blue.

My main critique of this article is, that he does not even partially succeed in this promise: 90% of this article is used to bash the GOP. There are really only a few paragraphs that hint at a mutual responsibility, or a real, original Democratic guilt. (Try Ctrl-F in your browser on the word “Democrat”). The way that Democrats are rotten, in this article, is a passive rotten: they don’t do anything wrong, they do no initiate any bad policy, they do not engineer large schemes which enable corporate interests: no, they are just “weak”, or the “concede”. Once again, the author engages in the no-no of running out of adjectives: he uses “craven” when referring to the Democrats, more than once. So, the Democrats are “weak” and “craven”. But, they are no CRAZY.

This brings me to my last point of critique: crazy talk. What I mean by crazy talk stems from my own thinking and reading – and my own writing – about politics. So, I’ll have to explain my meaning, before I can deliver my critique. I think you are in trouble when you start using the actual word “crazy”, or call people “crazy”, in what purports to be scholarly writing, or, really anything you hope to provide as conscious, thoughtful analysis. “Crazy” has a kind of crazy feel to it – on the part of the user, more than the accuser, in my experience. His use of “crazy”, coupled with the fact that he has just escaped from a long tenure amidst these “crazies”, sounds a little like a stress-reaction, at one level.

But, on a more important level, we can’t go the “crazy” level, if we want to solve the problem! It is moot in the political arena. I mean, there have always been truly, certifiably “crazy” people in politics, and to try to even substantiate this is a kind of intellectual waste. Do you consider it crazy to be the only person in history to drop the atom bomb – on living people? That’s crazy to me, regardless of the countless justifications that were given for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The crazy part was the everlasting ramifications of the at of actually using a weapon of mass destruction.

Hitler was crazy. Did that stop him from being remarkably effective in gaining world power? Did his craziness even really contribute to his political campaign? This is, of course, the realm of speculation and theory. The point is: in world politics, “crazy” doesn’t count for much of anything.

In fact, it is possible that if one were able to gather all the factors of current world politics into scope, and if it were possible to get a handle on the myriad facets of the current world economy, it would appear, indeed, “crazy”. But, this is only because our rational systems, to date, are lagging behind. We have dragged ancient models along for far too long – like the notion of Democrat and Republican, and these models are, really, crazy. It compares to going back in a time machine, and talking about the effects of information explosion to Ben Franklin – without the notion of something like the internet, Ben would think you were crazy – straight up.

The result of crazy talk is unfortunately more devastating for the side of the Good, than the Dark Side. As I wrote above, the one who writes of “craziness” often retains the brand, more than the “crazies s/he writes about. Consider Noam Chomsky, the long-standing bastion or reason and clarity. These days, I’m going to say that a lot of people, including people who once swore allegiance to him, would consider him a little “crazy”. And this is precisely because his latter writings began to really focus on deep and intriguing “plots” of masterminded world disorder. Ralph Nader, as well, comes across lately as “wild-eyed” – once again, because he is throwing up the crazy flag.

In conclusion, crazy is not the way out of our responsibilities. Can’t play that card. Further, it is not the GOP masterminding, and the Democrats side-stepping that makes them both rotten: it is worse. Both sides are masterminding. Both sides are side-stepping. There is, in fact, no real mastermind – this is the problem. We are in the state of dying Rome, where there was simply no one in charge, no one left with a far-reaching vision. The politicians were, indeed, crazy, in that they were engaged in a game that had lost the scorekeeper and all the playing pieces. The aristocracy was no more addled that the proletariat! Somebody has to be the first in America to emerge from the coma/ecstasy of the Dialectic, and begin a clean path of first-person assessment. As Lao Tse advised, “Put Your House in Order, and Wait on the Tao”.

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3 thoughts on “Review of Mike Lofgren’s “Goodbye to all That”

  1. Matt Owens says:

    This “review” would be markedly improved by even a half-hearted effort to address Lofgren’s actual arguments. You challenge no factual claims; you make us aware of no possibly relevant facts overlooked by the author; you offer no alternative interpretation of recent political developments. Instead, you try to put pressure on certain words and phrases. Unfortunately, the fruits of your “critical reading” are nothing more than what even the dimmest reader could already glean from the title: that Lofgren is frustrated and unnerved by what he deems a “crazy” ideological turn in the GOP, that he left its service for this reason, and that he will be reflecting in what follows on his experience.

    • princemyshkin says:

      Don’t think you understood what I wrote. I mean, I don’t think you want to understand me or my ideas, because you don’t address any of them.

    • princemyshkin says:

      But I do sincerely appreciate your comment and will think about it. I want to thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post.

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