OWS XIV: Livingston Debates Piven and Brennan on TV

Go to YouTube and type James Livingston on CrossTalk in the Searh bar, do it right now!

You’ll be able to see the debate on OWS between Patrick Brennan of National Review, Francis Fox Piven of CUNY–and many important books–and me.

It’s a 30 minute program, so stay buckled.  I have to say I’m pretty convincing!



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2 responses to “OWS XIV: Livingston Debates Piven and Brennan on TV

  1. Jim: I can’t decide if CrossTalk was a good or bad forum for you. I think Piven worked okay with you, but Brennan seemed only to want to contradict you—to show you up a bit. Like all talk shows, any given episode is only as good as the guests. – TL

  2. Paul Wolman

    Hi, Jim, and well done on CrossTalk (where the intro currently has you as James Livingstone with an e, which may confound some searchers).

    I especially liked the discussion of “movements,” and the dynamic, historical context that both you and Piven put it in, contra the David-Brooks-clone Patrick Brennan. I thought you and Frances argued well about the roots of change in reference to the salient political movements, such as the American Revolution, Abolitionists / Civil War, and so on. And you both refused to get caught in the “I want closure in 15 seconds” theme that the moderator kept pushing. Your points about creating new vocabularies, though they may have whizzed over the heads of many, were particularly apt. Not to say you shouldn’t have said them: it will take time, too, to dignify that concept in the public mind.

    Now I don’t in any mean to get into what I recently learned is called “Treppenwitz,” or “L’esprit de l’escalier,” the what ya-could-a-shoulda-woulda said, which I just thought of on the staircase on the way out.

    Just in reflection, it occurs to me that “movements” of one kind or another are really an integral, though perhaps underrecognized, part of politics; a suprapolitics, perhaps, if you will. This isn’t a “full-blown from the brow of Zeus” comment; it needs development. But I recall in my own book, so long ago, discussing the Progressives in exactly that context. That is, in economic foreign policy in the early 1900s, proprietary capitalists, seeking to consolidate their eroding position in economic and political life, drew from German and English political economy (lots of those midwesterners had gone to Harvard, after all) and that flowed into such popular notions as the “Iowa Idea,” which was to cut all tariffs on “trust made” goods to undermine their price dominance. That would have led to a more cartel-like large-scale capitalism, with mandated balances between unintegrated and integrated enterprises, and it fell of its own weight, in part because it was not enough and was superseded by anti-trust and other regulatory legislation.

    My point here is that the core ideas of equality here (expressed in and deriving from a somewhat retrograde, and even “European” sources) became as American as Iowa, and brought Albert Cummins to the Senate, and soon put Bob La Follette, Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and others into the forefront of political and economic change that established at least the notion of a well-regulated corporate order.

    The point is this is not the left or the right “posing” as mainstream: it’s a key part of the mainstream and of the roots of the present era in both its good and bad aspects. Better in a seminar for now than on TV, but still, we have you and Frances (and Patrick as a good foil) to thank for raising the issues and ideas reasonably and cogently.

    Keep swingin’ , James.


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