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‘Afghan Resistance Frees 480 Patriots; No One Hurt’

Finding good news while trying to avoid neo-colonial assassination and Bradley Manning guilty stories:

Taliban tunnel more than 480 out of Afghan prison
By Mirwais Khan and Heidi Vogt
Associated Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – During the long Afghan winter, Taliban insurgents were apparently busy underground.

The militants say they spent more than five months building a 1,050-foot tunnel to the main prison in southern Afghanistan, bypassing government checkpoints, watch towers and concrete barriers topped with razor wire.

The diggers finally poked through Sunday and spent 4 1/2 hours ferrying away more than 480 inmates without a shot being fired, according to the Taliban and Afghan officials.

The second piece of good news is that someone in the inner circles of power, this time former Bush Jr. staffer David Frum, in Both parties abandon the jobless has broken the main mainstream taboo in our post-democracy. And, yeah Dave, it’s weird:

The recovery is weak, and job creation is slow. Everybody knows that. But here’s something that we don’t know, or anyway don’t think about enough: Isn’t it weird that in this dismal economic situation, neither of the two great U.S. political parties is offering a plan to do anything about the job situation?

(hip tat to dakine01)

P.S. Colin Crouch originated the post-democracy concept. Here is Nick Anstead’s quick summary:

… In the early years of the century, the manual working class was lauded as the dominant class of the future.  According to Crouch, this prediction reached fruition in the years immediately after the second world war, when the working class, coupled with fellow travelers in the middle and upper classes, were able to construct an electorally dominant political coalition.  This led to the creation of modern welfare states, a focus on employment as the primary economic objective of government and the adoption of Keynesian economic policies.  However this dominance proved to be short-lived, as the manual industries that had fostered working class identity declined.  … 

Parties of the left, who could no longer rely on the electoral power of the working class to propel them to power, had to adjust to a world where voter identities were far less clearly defined.  Furthermore, de-aligned voters proved to be far more fickle than those in their parents’ generation, and were willing to move their vote from one party to the other.  They tended not to join political parties; they consumed politics, but did not partake in it.  In order to win and retain their support, parties moved away from any kind of substantive ideological discourse, promising both lower taxes and better public services.  Additionally, parties stressed valence issues (that is questions of management and efficiency where there is no major partisan distinction, only claims that “it can be done better”) as well as non-economic political issues, such as crime and immigration.  These messages were conveyed in soundbite format to cope with the decreased interest and political attention span of the electorate.    

This observation become especially significant when coupled with the Crouch’s second point, a critique of neo-liberal economic thought.  The architects of this approach, such as Friedrich Von Hayek and Milton Friedman, made two claims.  Firstly, that markets were far more efficient at the allocation of resources than other methods.  Secondly, that human nature, embodied in the profit maximizing firm and micro side of a market, would guarantee the efficiency of the macro element of the system.  These assumptions, however, present a problem when coupled with the circumstances of modern electoral politics.  The two neo-liberal assumptions can, in certain circumstances, be at odds with each other.  In short what would rational human beings do if profit maximization did not not occur through the efficient allocation of resources, but instead through the development and use of political influence?  In the middle years of the twentieth century, the electorate acted as a powerful counterbalance to the corporate interests.  However, in the post-industrial environment, weak relationship between parties and the electorate has left a huge vacuum at the heart of politics; a vacuum that can be exploited by corporate interests. 

… Crouch argues that the inevitable conclusion of his first two observations is a political system that is returning to a form of democracy that is more akin to the late nineteenth century than the democracy of the middle years of the twentieth century.  In other words, whilst many of mechanisms and institutions and democracy exist, power is, in actuality, focused in the hands of a narrow elite.

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