Author: John McClure

The Time It Will Take: Building Left Social Democracy in Spain (and the U.S.)

  In the wake of Bernie Sanders’ defeat in the Democratic primary there’s been considerable talk about what sort of left agenda should shape the American movement–what sort of program it should embrace, what sorts of obstacles that agenda will face on the path to electoral victory, and how long it is likely to take to convince a majority of Americans to make it their own. In this post, I want to explore the case of Spain’s upstart party Unidas Podemos, which after only six years of existence has become the junior partner in Spain’s new left coalition government....

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Put Your Yard Signs Out Again

Around here (Easton, Pennsylvania) where people have yards or at least porches and front windows on which to display their election preferences, almost everyone put their Biden and Harris signs away after election day both out of deference to neighbors who had voted for Trump and as a way of declaring the election over, the results sealed. But here are Trump and his despicable enablers, publicly tearing up truth and the Constitution every day. I’m thinking of bringing my sign out again, at least until Thursday, and wonder whether it’s a good idea. It is, isn’t...

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Social Democracy in One Country? Spain’s Struggle

  In a recent article in the Washington Post, Robert Samuelson contemplates the looming possibility of a new sovereign debt crisis in Europe. The Great Recession of 2008, he recalls, brought the weaker European economies, including Spain’s, to the brink of default, and the countries themselves to the brink of expulsion from the EU and economic devastation. The COVID-produced economic crisis, Samuelson contends, is having the same effect. Once again the deeply indebted countries of southern Europe will not be able to save themselves either through frugality or through spending: they will have to be “rescued” by the EU...

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I Believe I Saw Donald Trump’s Chariot Today

I believe I saw Trump today or at least his chariot. I was digging a long row of holes for dahlia tubers down on the farm–beautiful late morning, sun and clouds, wind, trees swaying around the edge of the field. Suddenly an unbelievably loud sound from above, as though the sky were being torn to pieces. And then a southbound 747 overhead, only a few thousand feet up, climbing fast with two fighter jets pinned to each wing. Then gone. My friend explained that he’s seen it all before. When Trump returns to Washington from his NJ golf club, he is flown out of Teterboro, NJ, not too far to the north of the farm. “Sometimes they are so low I duck,” he said. For me, a reminder of the sheer scale of American power, awesome and as V.S. Naipaul once said, obscene. Even when, on 9/11, other jets screamed north over Rutgers at minimum altitude and maximum speed toward the City. Or when decades ago, returning from two years with the Peace Corps in Kenya, I came into Piraeus harbor, Greece, at dawn and saw, as the sun burned away the fog, the U.S. Mediterranean Fleet at anchor, ship after ship after ship, an apparently endless unveiling of...

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I Can’t Believe What I Just Watched on TV

I can’t believe what I just watched on tv.  This evening’s briefing by the President was horrifying. Trump is being pushed on how the Federal government will address the grotesque situation in which state and city governments are compelled to bid against each other in the “free market” for PPEs, thus driving the price of gloves, masks, gowns etc. higher and higher. We’re getting production ramped up, he said, but we won’t intervene in the market. It’s up to the governors to have purchased these things in preparation or to purchase them now. ” We’re not an ordering clerk. We’re a back up and we’ve done an unbelievable job.” Forty years of neoliberal Republicans give the President a standing ovation; the ghost of Roosevelt bows his head in shame; outside, in the streets, the protests are already beginning. Or is only the sound of chickens coming home to roost? After all, the logic has been with us since the Reagan Revolution of the 80s. We can’t nationalize production and distribution in a time of crisis. That’s socialism. We can’t even set a fair price for the goods on an emergency basis and leave the governors to deal with the producers. That’s socialism too. NO, we’ll intervene to get production up and then allow the producers (“our base,” to quote Bush) to get the best price they can in a...

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