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ASSA; NYT: Socialism = enemy

Dollars & Sense dollar store, downtown Denver
Dollars & Sense dollar store, downtown Denver

I was not going to do another blog post until I’d returned from my trip out west for the Allied Social Sciences Association meetings in Denver, but after a couple of extra days out here visiting friends in Boulder, my return flight to Boston was canceled.  I hope to return later today, but I needed to stop by a Kinkos/FedEx to do some business, and I’m taking some of my time at a full-sized computer to give quick updates.

(1) The ASSA: As usual, I had to spend most of my time at the book exhibit rather than listening to the talks/panels.  Here are some of the highlights of the conference:

–I did get a chance to attend a panel at a “mini-conference” entitled “Labor Across the Boundaries: A New Collaboration of U.S. Labor and Employment Relations, Political Economy, and Labor and Working Class History Scholars”, featuring (among other speakers) D&S Associates Rose Batt and Randy Albelda.  Interesting presentations and discussion afterward about how academics studying labor can cross disciplinary boundaries and also interact with people on the front lines of the labor movement.

–At the exhibit table, I got a chance to meet lots of profs who adopt our books, and people we hope will adopt them.  I saw many longtime friends of D&S, and got to meet in person D&S authors whom I’d only known through phone or email, including Cyrus Bina, Geoff Schneider (co-author of Intro to Political Economy, which we publish), Bill Black (who agreed to be part of a D&S-sponsored panel at this year’s Left Forum), Michael Perelman, Steve Keen (who was on a couple of high-powered panels), and others.

–It was great to see Arlene Geiger, Polly Cleveland, Chris Tilly, and other longtime D&S friends.  Chris Tilly pointed out something that I’d noticed from the conference program–that finally, at the third ASSA meetings since the financial meltdown of the fall of 2008, there were a number of mainstream panels on the crisis and on economic crises in general.  As usual, though, the profession does not seem to be seriously examining its own role in the financial crisis.  I did not follow whether the code of ethics Gerald Epstein and others have proposed (which we’ve blogged about) was passed by the American Economics Association at these meetings–I am assuming not.

–I will have more ASSA news to post after I return to Boston.

(2) The shootings in Arizona: It has been interesting to be out West when these shootings happened on Saturday.  I was following the developments on Saturday afternoon via my Internet-ready phone.  We’ll have lots to say later, but for now I want to say that I almost dropped my phone when I read Matt Bai’s analysis in the New York Times, A Turning Point in the Discourse, but in Which Direction? Check out this claim from Bai:

[M]uch of the message among Republicans last year, as they sought to exploit the Tea Party phenomenon, centered–like the Tea Party moniker itself–on this imagery of armed revolution. Popular spokespeople like Ms. Palin routinely drop words like “tyranny” and “socialism” when describing the president and his allies, as if blind to the idea that Americans legitimately faced with either enemy would almost certainly take up arms.

I don’t know how to read this without concluding that Bai, like Palin, equates socialism with tyranny.  In fact, Bai’s seems to say explicitly that socialism is (or would be, if it were actually on the political scene) an “enemy”, and that Americans would be justified in “taking up arms” against it in that case. (Huh?!)

So in an article that purports to chide Palin and other politicians and pundits for their extreme rhetoric, we see how close to the surface equivalent ideas are in the thinking of liberal-ish pundits like Bai.  Really, how different is Bai’s more-than-implicit view of socialism from the views from Palin that everyone is jumping all over since the shootings?  Just wondering.  (I have not seen anyone else comment on this piece from Bai, interestingly.  I guess it is taken for granted that socialism is the enemy.)

That’s all for now–FedEx is charging me $.20/minute.

–Chris Sturr

PS  The image above is of a dollar store across the street from the hotel where the ASSA book exhibit was.  People kept mentioning it to me, so I had to take a picture.

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