Well, one day under the weather is a reasonable price to pay for 97% protection against shingles. Now, as to that clip from Noam Chomsky, which you can view here. Noam starts by pooh-poohing the foofaraw about Russian interference in the 2016 election, indicating by his tone of voice as much as by what he says that he considers it pretty small beer. [How’s that for two old fashioned slang expressions and one cliché in a single sentence?] Then he moves on to a recent scholarly study that shows in granular detail the influence of money in American politics, which he suggests is much greater than any effect Russian efforts at interference might have had. The second part of the short interview concerns the shape of post-war European power politics. Let me say something about the first two points.
Were it not disrespectful to someone whom I like personally and for whom I have the very greatest esteem, I would be tempted to respond, “Duh!” Big money plays a big role in American politics! Who knew? The ability of big money to shape politics is a fundamental structural fact not only about American politics but about the politics of all capitalist states. The state exists in a capitalist economy for the purpose of facilitating the smooth and unchallenged exploitation of the working class, and one of the principal ways in which Capital accomplishes this in capitalist democracies is by shaping electoral outcomes. Big money in American politics, to use again a catchphrase I have invoked before, is a feature, not a bug.
Does it therefore make no difference how that money is allowed legally to influence elections? That depends on whether you think there is any point in trying to make American capitalism less harsh, less exploitative, less inhumane, even though those ameliorations are only at the margin. I do think so. Hence, for example, I decry the notorious Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Did corporate and private wealth play a major role in American politics before that decision? A silly question. Would it continue to do so if the decision were reversed? Equally silly. Does the decision therefore matter? That is a question worth debating. My answer is yes. Hence, I think it matters who sits on the Supreme Court. Now, it goes without saying that every member of the Supreme Court now and for as long as matters has been nominated by a President, Democrat or Republican, who was committed to the capitalist exploitation of labor [though not of course under that description.] I think we can also agree that all of the ice at the North and South Poles will have melted [and hell, correspondingly will have frozen over] before there is a workable majority on the Supreme Court ready to rule that capitalism is unconstitutional.
So I quite agree that the effect of the Russians on the 2016 election, whatever it may have been, pales into insignificance [another cliché] next to the influence of money. Why, therefore, do I care about it?
The answer is simple. I think Trump is a more serious threat to everything I care about than Clinton would have been, bad as she is and was, and I think his manifest conspiring with the Russians, which has taken place in plain view, may yet bring him down. That’s it. That is why I care. Not because I believe it is besmirching the purity of the American political system, envy of the world; not because I think once he is gone America’s role as The Leader of the Free World, A City Upon a Hill, The Last Best Hope of Humanity, will be restored. Just because I think the Russia thing may bring him down.
But if that is why I care about collusion, why don’t I care about Stormy Daniels and hush money? Why don’t I care about the use of New York apartments to launder the dirty money of Russian oligarchs? I do care! And for exactly the same reason. As the talking heads have now become fond of observing, it was tax evasion that sent Al Capone to jail.
I have had my say on the last part of Noam’s comments, concerning post-war Euro-American power politics, so I will pass on that.