I like TGGP’s stream of consciousness style in blogging, so I’ll add to it.

I just got back from a 2 week jaunt through Vancouver, Rochester NY and NYC. Scarecely academic related, though I did attend a Telos conference in Manhattan which I’ll write a bit about some time (though considering I missed most of it due to the prior evening’s very late train arrival, I won’t have much to say). In the mean time, let me just say that the talk on the “ideology” of Left Fascism was more a list of anti-American and anti-“modern” sentiments and their spokespersons than it was a descripton of any actual ideology, lacking as it did any remnant of Philip Converse’s “constraints” and coherent “idea elements.” I’ll put a few photos here soon.

Joshua Frank and Scott Horton discuss the radical left and right’s agreement as to the Obama administration’s (thus far) adherence to a politics as usual style of governing, albeit with a patina of “change” to gloss over the third way politics that has reigned since the era of Daniel Bell’s “End of Ideology.” Sure, there are some differences, such as lip service to the ending of Guantanomo and torture (the latter of which even McCain shared) but when compared to the variety of opinion and associational options we see in market relations and even other governments, to think this is significant is  a testimony to our collective ratcheting toward apology for the lack of choice in matters of state.

The discussion surrounding partisanship, or the lack thereof as Glen Greenwald would claim, is confused by an absence of clarity on just what ideologues and their agents in Washington are disagreeing on. Greenwald is correct that high profile bills and resolutions relating to national security, international terrorism and emergency economic measures gain bipartisan support (in the latter case only after satisfying Republican demands for tax cuts – i.e. catering to ideology), as well as anything ostensibly for “the children,” but at the same time there is solid evidence for increased partisanship overall. As Robert Y. Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon write in a recent issue of Critical Review:

…Peter Trubowitz and Nicole Mellow (2005) find that bipartisan voting in Congress has declined more radically than at any time since the late nineteenth century, on both domestic and foreign policy issues.

And contra Morris Fiorina’s thesis in Culture War?, the public is along for the ride:

The public relies heavily on partisan elites for information communicated through the mass media, and there is evidence that the increase in partisan polarization among elites has penetrated the public’s psyche. Thus, there is substantial evidence for the increasing importance of partisanship and liberal/conservative ideology in public opinion and voting behavior.

(I watched the first presidential debate at school, and the uproar that ensued among the spectators when the first channel to pop up on the screen was Fox News – airing the same debate as every other news channel! – is testimony to the pathetic lows that partisanship can take a person.)

Though according to Andrew Gelman, the specifically “culture war” aspects to this partisanship is relegated to the upper classes of both conservatives and liberals (not necessarily synonymous with Republicans and Democrats, respectively).

It can be easy for people on the fringe of politics, such as the Lew Rockwell and Counterpunch crowd, to feel as if everyone else are simply two sides to a statist or capitalist coin, but apparently all those folks think their differences mean a whole lot. And try as we might to resist it, us libertarian types are considered a branch of the Republicans, nominally “cool” when Bush was in power but back to being right-wing survivalist extremists and selfish cyber-punks, I’d venture to guess, now that Obama has arrived.

The “Democrat” and “Republican” heuristics, and the tendency to lazily couple these with “conservative” or “liberal,”  leave little choice for discerning detail; whichever way you choose to describe yourself will inevitably be placed under one of these two large umbrellas, again illustrating the homogenizing and aggregating effect of a two-party system presiding over 300 million people.

On another front, Spain stands out among European nations as being both exceptionally anti-Jew and anti-Muslim and anti-Christian.

Jeffrey Friedman and Stephen Earl Bennett respond to Bryan Caplan in a lengthy piece here. Part of their (or at least Friedman’s) critique I talked about here.

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