About the Realignment Project

The Realignment Project is a group blog dedicated to the discussion of current political events, political strategy, ideology, and history.

Co-Founders:

Steven Attewell is a PhD student in the history of public policy at UC Santa Barbara, studying the history of direct job creation programs from the New Deal to the rise of Reagan. When not doing that, he is also the UCSB Recording Secretary for UAW 2865, and a member of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party Central Committee.

Daraka Larimore-Hall is a labor and Democratic Party activist in Santa Barbara, CA. He is currently pursuing a PhD in sociology at UCSB, writing about social movements and political parties. An officer in UAW 2865, he also serves as chair of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County.

Contributors:
Hillary Blackerby (coming soon)

We welcome any and all inquiries from people who would like to become Contributors to The Realignment Project.

  1. I just came across the Realignment Project blog and wanted to reach out. I’m working with the New York State Department of Transportation helping to get the word out about 511 New York.

    511 New York is a new telephone and Web service that provides dynamic traffic, transit, and weather condition information.

    We thought your readers might be interested in this new service.

    You just call “511” (the call is free) or go to the Web site http://www.511NY.org to get updates. The system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    We’ve also just launched 12 Twitter feeds covering individual regions and 9 feeds covering NYC subway lines.

    You can access these individual feeds at http://twitter.511ny.org/

    Thanks so much.

    • Ok, this is a bit spammy, but it’s on topic and it’s not a robot, so I’ll let it pass.

  2. “Commenting is a privilege, not a right…” Interesting rhetoric from those who propose such grandiouse “rights” that FDR made infamous in 1944. FDR’s proposals fly in the face of the very things that made the USA a G-R-E-A-T country. The rights which you espouse are nothing more than entitled wants. But then again, we do live in the Gilded Age of Entitlement…

    • Actually, “commenting” is WordPress’ stock phrase – I didn’t choose it.

      However, I have to disagree with you about “the very things that made the USA a great country,” because it’s a deeply ahistorical argument.

      Government intervention in the economy has been a major source of American strength throughout the 18th-19th centuries, from the Bank of the United States, through to “internal improvements” like the Cumberland Road and the Erie Canal, to the Federal investment in railroads, to the Morrill land grant colleges, to the tariff system. Government intervention to help people is right down there in the Constitution- “promote the general Welfare.”

  3. A Great Blog!

    Your thinking is along much the same lines as mine – with the difference being that, in my opinion, all of the reforms you discuss need to be implemented within a new, distinctively American ideology of Nationalism.

    It is my belief that “Nationalism” should be viewed as a bottom-up
    movement,led and guided by a socially and economically progressive elite, with the goal of replacing “Globalism”
    as the economic and ideological expression of the national will.

    “Globalism”, with its emphasis on increased immigration, outsourcing and job exportation, has socially and economically brought this country to its knees. It has directly caused the extreme income inequality that is now rending the nation’s social fabric. It has made the last three “recoveries” essentially jobless. It has directly caused the underivestment in infrastructure and education by not only exporting jobs but the
    industrial tax base as well. It has made economic expansion and
    job creation wholly dependent on unsustainable “bubbles” – which, when they collapse, further ratchet down the economy in a vicious
    cycle of ever-tightening permanent contraction.

    In short-“Globalism” has destroyed America – and led to strife, dislocation, and environmental degradation elsewhere as well.

    “Nationalism” – focused on labor, strong,environmentally sustainable communities, Government direction of the economy, and an unabashedly pro-American stance in trade and international relations can replace it.

    Together with two collaborators, I am writing a book – “The Nationalist Manifesto”, due for publication in 2010.

    Best Regards.

    Mike Hlavacek

    income inequality that has decimated the middle class.

    • I certainly sympathize with your concerns over globalization, and I certainly would not argue that the global expansion of economic liberalism has been to the benefit of humanity or any of earth’s creatures.

      Having said that, I harbor just as many reservations about nationalism, given the historical baggage that the term carries, not to mention the vision-limiting parameters inherent to it.

      I am too prudent an individual to call for abolition of the nation-state, but I don’t think we should bank on patriotic nationalism as a productive or sustainable path. Isn’t that largely what animated nineteenth and twentieth-century populisms?

      As for deciphering the “national will” – well, I simply suggest reading up on the Committee of Public Safety…

      • Well, this is where we get into the division between ethnic and civic nationalism – there’s a lot less baggage with the latter.

        On the topic of the Committee of Public Safety – I encourage reading Twelve Who Ruled. The Jacobins were more complex than Charles Dickens might suggest.

      • Indeed, I would never recommend turning to Dickens for history. Or literature, for that matter.

        I admit it’s been many years since I’ve read Palmer’s classic, but I can’t say that it made me feel more positively about the Committee of Public Safety.

        But then, I’m a Doyle fan, so tragedy looms large in my thinking about the Revolution in general.

      • At the risk of bombarding the comment section, I just wanted to clarify that my rather glib suggestion to read up on the Committee of Public Safety was simply my (lazy) way of pointing out the the very concept of political will – let alone any mechanisms that might animate it – is notoriously messy in practice. Actually in my view, it doesn’t even make for great theory.

        But, I’m certainly no expert.

  4. I just got back from seeing Michael Moore’s film Capitalism. I started googling second bill of rights and this site came up.

    Imagine a world where everyone knew their basic needs would be met. What would happen then? Bertrand Russell in Proposed Roads to Freedom suggests an creative revolution.

    I believe it starts small.. buy your food from the farmers market, your shoes from Will Steiger, support local independent businesses.

    • Thanks for dropping by.

      Personally, I’ve always been suspicious of the “start small” approach, for the same reason that I’m skeptical of communes.
      In the face of multinational corporate capitalism, it’s not big enough to have the kind of impact on aggregate consumption and
      production; you might carve out a small space (which is usually dominated by those who can afford the higher prices of independent producers), but the mass of humanity still has to live in the market.

  5. I’ve been scrounging around to find a primer on the American welfare state, just an introductory anatomy and history of the thing, with little success. Any advise? Good histories/books are welcome as well, but an inquisitive person only has so much time to shift obsessively from interest to interest.

    • Whew, there’s a lot of good books. I’d say either Trattner’s From Poor Law to Welfare State, or Katz’s Shadow of the Poorhouse are good overviews. Trattner does a more thorough blow-by-blow account but it’s a little dry, Katz is exploring a political argument, but it’s a more entertaining read.

      I hope this helps.

  6. Good stuff. My own little dead horse I like to ride is that if we do not have free will (in the ultimate sense), and that our agency is socially determined, then social justice means trying to distribute that agency equally. So if neither the rich or poor, successful nor unsuccessful, can “deserve” their lot in life, then we must do our best to structure society so that we can all have equal access to that glorious mana that is self-efficacy, agency, self-realization, whatever you want to call it.

    In the mean time – let’s support the idea that *paying taxes* is a great way to guarantee every citizen access to agency. My facebook page is here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Paying-Taxes/112221112221?ref=ts

    My blog is here: http://supervidoqo.blogspot.com/

  7. The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property.
    We should not say that one man’s hour is worth another man’s hour, but rather that one man during an hour is worth just as much as another man during an hour. Time is everything, man is nothing: he is at the most time’s carcass.
    Karl Marx
    Your Theories are very dangerous to the free society and property rights. I wonder if you ever had a real job rather than these utopia type think tanks.

    • Actually, the theory of Communism involves the abolition of the private property in the means of production.
      But given that I’m not a Communist, I don’t quite see the relevance.

      I have had real jobs, this think tank job being quite recent, that’s part of the reason why I think that the liberty
      and property rights of the worker are generally violated by their employers – as I write about in my “Industrial
      Democracy vs. Economic Liberty” essay.

  8. This site has been a fantastic find and I just wanted to take the time to thank you for all of this food for thought. I truly wish the masses would just merely get back to the times of arguing these political ideologies instead of listening to much of the nonsense that is being pushed upon them by the mass media.

    I lean towards your political opinions, as do most who have some understanding of just how difficult it can be to even live from day to day, on our current state of affairs but the massive amount of scrutiny placed upon public figures in our country by the media and other driving factors has not allowed the general public to see our true problems. Thank you for providing a straight forward outlook with little frills. You always seem welcomed to argue your view points while continuing to give priority to the things that this country needs as opposed to what this country wants to hear.

  9. I thought I was about the only one who realized just how much the prevailing belief in free market fundamentalism undermines our entire national debate, and affects the world. I should have known better.

    The Realignment Project is now a homepage tab. I guess I’ll be checking in often. Good work here, for which many thanks.

  10. I really like the article on social consumption — I have been looking for that kind of reasoning for 20 years.

    I have my own concepts to share: The Health Care Crusade and
    The Anti-Debt Agenda.

    Steve, please give me your email address so I can send these pamphlets to you for your review.

    Thanks

  11. Thank you for this website/blog! I am a former grad student, NYU social psych, unemployed, who’s worked in low-status jobs throughout my career (trailing spouse-type). I already know much of the work (Saez, Stiglitz, Hacker & Pierson, Spirit Level) – my problem is my “betters”, esp here in central Indiana, have zero knowledge about these facts. I will continue to follow it – nice to have a source to which to refer others/etc.

  12. What a gift to have come across this blog! In somewhat of a rage inspired by a ny times piece on the revival of the luxury good sector of the economy, I googled the phrase “rough equality,” which landed me on your blog.

    I was pleased to read you accept inquiries from people interested in becoming contributors. I don’t see contact information, however. Might I inquire as to how I might go about this?

    Thanks so much,

    Ruth Lindsay

    Graduate Student
    School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
    Arizona State University

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