Monday, September 14, 2015

"Shattered Consensus" - Another Prime Delusion of James Piereson

The ideological delusions of conservative "scholars" and wealthy philanthropists are responsible for generating more BS and historical nonsense in this country than all the oddball conspiracy books that have ever been published. A case in point is the crypto-revisionist Yale University historian Timothy Snyder in his latest book, 'Black Earth' - wherein he arrives at a totally cockamamie theory of the Holocaust - about which I will have more to write in a future post.

Sadly, these conservative schmuck revisionists like Snyder aren't even aware of their transgressions half the time, so caught up are they in their codswallop. Enter now James Piereson whose conservo bona fides are there for all to see in this Wikipedia bio:

Piereson is best known for his earlier wacked out biopic on John F. Kennedy:  "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism"

Like Snyder with the Holocaust, Piereson gets nearly everything wrong, from misreading JFK's early cold warrior pose as a permanent marker, to misinterpreting his tax policies (as "supply side")  to flippantly dismissing the assassination as part of a conspiracy.. It's important to start with this if we are to examine his latest work: Shattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America's Postwar Political Order.  Hence, my contention is that if he could get so much wrong and the perceptions skewed on Kennedy, there is really no end to how badly he'd muck it up on the postwar political order.

For example, let me deal with two statements made by Piereson in his Ch. 5. One, on p. 125, is that the "Warren Report was a giant cover up" said to be a "standard view among members of the New Left". But what exactly is required to define a "cover up"? What specific criteria must be met? Would it be the omission of two hundred material witnesses? Would that qualify? Former Justice Dept. special agent Walt Brown, in his 1995 book, 'Treachery in Dallas',  documents all of these, including Aquilla Clemmons - who saw another shooter, not Oswald, kill Officer Tippet, Mary Moorman -who took the Moorman photo at the instant of the head shot, and Parkland surgeon Charles A. Crenshaw who observed the gaping rear head wound. Add in the missing testimony of Tom Alyea (who allegedly first filmed the sniper's 'nest') and Julia Ann Mercer - who spotted a truck on the triple underpass with a rifle inside and you have more than the makings of cover up.

Does omission of critical witnesses not qualify as a giant cover up, then? What about producing fraudulent exhibits? Does that not qualify? This would include a bogus set of FPCC handbills putatively handed out by Oswald on Canal St., but which military science professor John Newman ('Oswald and the CIA',  1995 p. 307) referred to as "evidence that was deliberately falsified". Then there were the autopsy photos, x-rays and images which the original Parkland doctors described and which were shown in the book, 'Killing of a President',  all depicted as bogus.

The errors that betray Ch. 5 as revisionist bunkum carry over into Ch. 6 ('Assassin'), which even as I read it seemed to echo Gerald R. Ford's 'Portrait of the Assassin' from 1964. Ford's was probably the first book to emerge to try to reinforce the lone nut version of history. All the usual errors made by earlier WC apologists like Posner are repeated in Piereson's Chapter, including that Oswald shot at Gen. Walker, and that he went on an excursion to Mexico. (Belied by an actual photo of the actual person - presented in Newman's 'Oswald and the CIA') who bears absolutely no resemblance to Oswald and indeed, Newman presents a supplemental CIA cable from the Mexico City station to support that ('NO! Not OSWALD! NO!')

My point in this brief diversion is that if Piereson could get so many facts wrong or skewed in his Kennedy-Camelot hit effort, you know he'd be likely to do as much or more in his current work.

In 'Shattered Consensus' Piereson argues that the U.S. has undergone three "earthquakes" in its history: the Jeffersonian revolution, the Civil War and the New Deal.  In the first, one beheld the dominance of a new "anti-Federalist" party. In the second, one saw the banishment of slavery and the rise of northern Republicanism and in the last, the size and "intrusiveness" of the federal government was expanded.

Of course, the last is nonsense, and most serious historians now agree FDR's New Deal, including his federal work programs and the social insurance milestone of Social Security, actually rescued capitalists from themselves. Recall scurvy capitalists had set the stage for the Great Depression and economic collapse by fueling an asset bubble between 1922 and 1929 based on juiced up stocks and especially the invention of the "investment trusts" which lured ordinary people into the (then) rigged stock market. When those investment trusts collapsed they lost everything.

All conservative extremists, make no mistake, have had a problem with the New Deal - but having just watched  the last two instalments of PBS' excellent series,  'The Roosevelts' one sees how there'd have been little obstructionists could have done at the time to stop it. There was too much need, too much desperation, too many people needing a helping hand which no capitalist could provide.

The organized effort to try to repeal the New Deal actually only came after World War II with the start of the conservative movement, most of which credit is given to William F. Buckley. The GI Bill was the immediate stimulus for this, given it was one of the last spinoffs of the New Deal. Many conservatives at the time, indeed, believed it gave "too much to GIs" and instead preferred the vets to have gone to companies themselves and been judged based on their war records. Those who did more would then get more, housing, education paid for and so forth. But the conservos don't believe in giving anything away gratis.

The most obnoxious claim in Piereson's 19 chapter flight from reality (most of which are retread pieces from two extremist Right rags: The Weekly Standard and New Criterion, is that in the wake of Obama's election we are facing an epic crisis of "debt, demography and slowing economic growth, compounded by political polarization and inertia". None of which he blames on his little Right wing darlings, like William F. Buckley, or Ronnie Reagan.

Like the typical Right simpleton he attributes the perceived national demise to the "collapse of an 80 year consensus forged in the post-War years. According to this fable, the consensus "assigned the national government responsibility for maintaining full employment, and for policing the world in the interests of democracy, trade and national security".  By this time, one has to wonder what Piereson drops in his Earl Grey tea at night.

Of course, most sane liberals would vehemently disagree with his fulsome bollocks, noting that in fact the global policing dikta can be traced to Paul Nitzke's document NCS-68 which provided the template for empire building. But see, most liberals don't see the U.S. as this empire that Piereson does, but rather a Republic  - which as Ben Franklin once jibed "Is yours if you can keep it!"

But with Piereson's prescriptions for a full war and police state, there's little chance of keeping it - but that is what he's bawling about. As he whines, the 80 year consensus (more an artifact in his brain than a reality) "was required for a polity to meet its challenges but longer exists in the United States".

Of course, given this it's a sure bet Piereson would rail hardest against those he believes helped destroy this magical consensus. Thus, we behold the anti-Vietnam student protest movements of the 1960s, 1970s. Indeed, he pinpoints that  whole era as when the "collapse" in his febrile imagination commenced. Oh, that along with the "discarding of traditional moral and social values among key elements of the Democratic coalition."  

Oh, Jeezus Christ, yes! God forbid we "key liberal elements" fight for social justice, to ensure every kid has a full belly before he goes to bed at night, and his parents have work that pays enough to live on. Or that even the most  menial workers at least have health care, the better to ensure that glorious aspiration set out in the Declaration of Independence "the pursuit of happiness".  Even if for many that "happiness" doesn't exceed getting to eat a Twinkie before bedtime.

But see, in Piereson's elitist and entitled world all of these things, since they emanate from government, are anathema.  And, of course, what do we find occupying one of Pierson's chapters? Well, by gosh a mini redux of his earlier attempt (in the book cited earlier) to take down the Kennedy-Camelot myth. Trouble is, as with his sorry earlier effort, all that comes through is the same failure to understand what Kennedy did - never mind getting 99 percent of the history of his administration wrong. (Which fits in with the desire to weave Right wing fables about him, i.e. that he was this 'cold warrior" -never mind he evolved and fast after the Cuban Missile Crisis!)

All  I can say is spare us from the likes of chumps like James Piereson.

See also:


Rather than forcing a populace to adhere to a particular state ideology, the general public in the United States is largely depoliticized through the influence of corporations over schools, higher education, and other cultural apparatuses. The deadening of public values, civic consciousness, and critical citizenship are also the result of the work of anti-public intellectuals representing right-wing ideological and financial interests

1 comment:

Copernicus said...

For the inane commenter who wrote: "Spoken like a true Marxist', Sparky, a true democratic socialist.