Lawrence Glickman Profile picture
Sep 11, 2018 14 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Thread on the second Ezra Klein tweet in recent days that, I believe, frames an important problem badly, and dangerously so. (The first was on Trump's view of history.) This one manages to be bad in multiple ways. 1/
First, he elevates business (Silicon Valley) at the expense of politics (DC), invoking a false dichotomy. As @margaretomara and many other historians have shown, Silicon Valley would not exist were it not for the federal government. 2/
Second, by invoking "DC" and its inability to solve problems, Klein is sowing further doubt about the possibility of government to do good. Like the first misconception (that business and the state are totally separate entities), this diminishes the realm of politics. 3/
Third, and relatedly, Klein generalizes about government ("DC") at a time when the two major political parties have completely attitudes toward governing, and, I would argue, only one party in recent years, has shown a willingness and ability to take governing seriously. 4/
Such cynical generalizations work to the benefit of the GOP, in whose interest it is for large numbers of people to believe that "Washington is broken." This is not untrue and there are many reasons for it, but one of them is that the GOP has made it their ission to breek it. 5/
The idea that "Silicon Valley." which he implies is a thing unto itself, unrelated to "DC," solves "impossible" problems replicates a very old, and I would argue, deeply conservative, pattern of mystification about the "miracle" of free markets. /6
The elevation of business over politics, and the business leader over the political person, is another old trope in US history. Even the Progressives, who criticized business leaders (as Klein does in the rest of his thread), wanted government to become more "businesslike." 7/
Indeed, part of the appeal of Donald Trump (added and abetted by "The Apprentice" and media portrayals of this grifter as a business titan) rested on the old idea that the realm of politics is ineffectual and that only a can-do business leader can rescue us. 8/
Don't get me wrong, there is a lot to criticize about what Klein calls "DC." But Klein's tweet reinforces what I see as a denigration of the political, which goes along with an elevation & separation of "Silicon Valley," that is dangerous to our democracy, esp right now. 9/
The irony is that many recent polical movements (BLM, #metoo, #AbolishICE , health care for all, and the list could be extended) have foregrounded issues that seemed "impossible" to resolve, or that weren't even widely seen as problems at all, only a few years ago. 10/
The fantasy that business can solve our problems is dangerous, notwithstanding the amazing achievements of busiinesses in Silicon Valley & elsewhere. Businesses, by and large, are incapable of addressing the crucial questions of our day, which are about the public good. 11/
As Trump deconstructs the administrative state, it is important to recognize that regulation saves lives, and that only the government can address our massive infrastructure needs and the environmental crisis we face.... 12/
That fact that government hasn't address them is not inherent in the nature of "DC." Rather than abandoing politics because it hasn't solved crucial problems, we need better politics, something that grassroots movements and voting in large numbers can help us achieve. 13/
Long ago, Karl Polanyi warned against elevating "economic leaders" at the expense of "political leaders" (Great Transformation, p. 173). Let's not repeat this mistake, esp. at a time when "Silicon Valley" seems to be more the cause than the solution to our political problems. 14/

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More from @LarryGlickman

Sep 6, 2018
An underemphasized point about the self-serving op ed is how wrong it is in the claim that Trump "shows little affinity for ideals espoused by conservatives." On by far their biggest issue, tax cuts for the rich, the president has been their dream. 1/
What about other “conservative ideals”? Abortion? Gun control? Regulation? Military spending? Court appointments? In all these ways, he has been probably the most hardline conservative president in our history. 2/
On issues that divide conservatives, he has picked a side. But the side he has picked ob immigration, trade, and foreign policy accords with the fetishism of “toughness” that the right has long valorized. 3/
Read 11 tweets
Aug 26, 2018
Here’s a thread on my History of US Capitalism graduate seminar, prompted by the response, both critical and positive, to my tweet last week, which showed some of the books that we will be reading. (Warning: this is a long thread.) 1/
Here's more of an explanation of how I conceive of the course and the field. My photo is like a partial list of ingredients. I’d like to share more about the recipe., to move from the historical version of "Chopped" to "Iron Chef" (or, you might think, "America's Worst Cooks") 2/
First some institutional context. The course is Cornell specific, responsive to the quirks of our graduate program. Because of our small Americanist cohort, we don’t offer “field seminars,” as some of the bigger programs do. Most grad classes have to serve dual purposes. 3/
Read 38 tweets

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