Public Goods

In standard economese (an esoteric language spoken only by economists), a “public good” is any good that is “non-rival” and “non-excludable.” When a good is non-rival, anyone’s consumption of that good does not make any other person’s consumption more costly: think pre-cable television or net-neutral internet. A good is non-excludable when I cannot prevent someone from consuming it for free. So, for example, clean air and water by this definition are not “public goods.” Nor, apparently, is voting for citizens, or campaign contributions — to say nothing of affordable healthcare, education, or reliable information. By the standard definition, these are at best what are called “common” or even “private” goods. The aim of militant market advocates is to make all goods private goods; how do we know their value if they don’t have a price?

I have two objections to this way of distinguishing among goods. My first and most basic objection is that no good — or not one I can think of off hand — is truly public in this sense. Take air. Now take air in today’s Beijing or LA circa 1970. While it certainly true that my consumption of particle-filled, carcinogenic Beijing air does not prevent the next victim from breathing it — in this sense it is non-rival — it is also true that not all consumers have equal access to the pure oxygen sold on street corners and vending machines. Clean water perhaps offers a better example. If I live in Flint, Michigan, or any number of “Flints” scattered across the free world, I am compelled to buy water off the shelf — in which case it is definitely not non-rival — or risk ingesting heavy metals and other toxins at levels that my body cannot sustain. Even formally free airwaves are so clogged with misinformation, disinformation, and all out lies that I must pay a premium (in superior education, leisure and political access) to learn how to distinguish what is worth and what is not worth following. Should there be goods that are non-rival and non-excludable? Maybe. But there aren’t.

My second objection, however, is that this definition of “public” applies nowhere else in the English lexicon. It appears specially formed and specially suited for cost-benefit analysis. Cost-benefit analysis, however, is a tool that applies uniquely to private goods, goods produced by and for private markets. This distinction between public and private goes way back to classical Greece, where thinkers were brought to distinguish between public things, shared among all citizens in a city; and private things, distributed among members of a private household. To this day, our English terms political (Greek πολιτεία) and private (Greek οἰκονομία) bear a close resemblance to their classical originals. Οἰκονομία is simply the science of private household (οἶκος) enterprise. Πολιτεία is both the space where and the process through which equally endowed citizens agree on the things they share in common. Its Latin equivalent, ironically, is res publica, the wealth we hold in common, or, in English, commonwealth. Here, it is the public itself that identifies what is or should be a public good (and therefore shared among all), and what is or should be a private good (enjoyed or endured within the private household, the οἶκος).

In this case, private goods lend themselves to marginal analysis. How much or little of a good a private household should produce or consume will always be a matter of trade-offs. Public goods, by contrast, are enjoyed irrespective of their cost. So, for example, once it is determined that clean drinking water should be available to all citizens, the public is therein authorized to make sure that this is so. Public goods, by this definition, may at any time be deemed private only when the public determines that it is so. Similarly, formerly private goods, lets say WiFi signals, may at some point and in some communities be deemed public, at which point the public is authorized to make WiFi equally available to all citizens.

Obviously should citizens desire a premium brand — pure oxygen, for example, by contrast to its mixed gas, real-world knock-off — then they are free to pay for it.

Do public goods give rise to private costs? Of course they do, both today as in classical Athens. And citizens must weigh these costs across a municipal, regional, state or national budget. And, yet, because these administrative bodies all enjoy the authority to tax themselves in order to achieve desirable public ends, they must always be in a position to decide whether the marginal benefit they derive from a public good is worth the “deadweight” loss or “misallocation” of resources — terms that in economese are heavily weighted in the direction of private markets. Perhaps a public that enjoys superior education is not a deadweight loss at all. Which raises the interesting question: how would a public responsibly determine whether it was or was not unless it enjoyed a superior education?

Ok. You economists or social scientists; am I right or am I right?

Neoliberalism is Liberal

This morning my Urban Economics seminar looked into Aurora Wallace’s “Mapping City Crime and the New Aesthetic of Danger.” In her article Wallace shows how the way these maps are designed “supports a neo-liberal agenda of individual responsibility over safety in the context of outsourced security” (J of visual culture 8(1):5). Wallace’s thesis reinforces the difficulty cities and citizens have even conceptualizing, much less cultivating, public space. Conceptually this difficulty arises out of framing “public goods” in private terms, so that we end up subjecting public good “markets” to the same metric as private goods. “Public goods” therein become a subset under “private goods.” At the same time, when we fold public goods into private goods we end up with a more consistent and faithful characterization of the city than when we arbitrarily isolate the two; begging the question: what is a public good?

In his Nicomachean Ethics and his Politics, Aristotle invited his students to qualitatively differentiate between πολιτεία and οἰκονομία. Πολιτεία is the formal space occupied by equally equipped citizens of the πόλις, the city. Οἰκονομία, by contrast, is both the practice and the science of managing the οἶκος, the private household economy. Aristotle readily admits that, although we may be political animals by nature (Pol. 1253a1-18), cities governed by free, equally equipped, citizens are the historical exception, not the rule. By far the most common ways of governing the πόλις are through despotism or tyranny. When a πόλις was governed tyrannically, its citizens were governed by rulers less qualified than themselves. When a πόλις was governed despotically, its citizens were counted as δοῦλοι (slaves or employees) within the despot’s (δεσπότης) private enterprise. Rarely, if ever — and certainly not in Aristotle’s Athens — did equally equipped citizens govern a city. And, in this sense, πολιτεύω or republican rule was far from natural. For, as Aristotle noted in his Politics, it was far more common to govern the πόλις as though it were a private enterprise, an οἶκος, where each individual is equipped differently and where individuals dominate or submit to one another.

From this vantage point, the capitalist social form entails the universalization of both the οἶκος, the private enterprise, and the principles that govern the οἶκος, i.e., οἰκονομία. So, for example, when “public goods” are evaluated in terms of their marginal benefit and marginal cost, they are, in fact, being treated as though they were private goods produced by the private enterprise for consumption not by citizens, but by consumers.

Our failure to be able to think of public goods in any other manner is specially troubling for “political” entities that count themselves “republics,” from the Latin equivalent (res publica) of the Greek πολιτεύω. Nothing could be more certain but that the framers of the US Constitution conceptualized the entity they were constituting as a commonwealth or republic. Absent a clear grasp of what a republic is, and how it differs from a tyranny or a despotism, “public” figures in the US have simply adopted the conceptual framework of the οἶκος and applied it indiscriminately to the πόλις.

These distinctions help us to better understand the rapid degeneration of  liberal democratic rule into neoliberal post-democratic rule. For, at least as an economic system, liberal means only that the social relations within a community are governed by free markets. From this vantage-point, from 1929 until 1972, the US grew increasingly illiberal. Beginning in the 1970s under President Carter, policy makers gradually reclaimed ever larger, broader, and deeper segments of American social life for free marketsLiberalism, then, is already neoliberal; or, we could say, neoliberalism is liberalism that has passed through a phase of illiberalism. From this vantage-point 1929-1972 is the anomaly. The rapid degeneration of the illiberal into neoliberalism could, on these grounds, be credited to the failure of policy makers to adequately distinguish πολιτεία from οἰκονομία, public space from private enterprise.

A more rigorous defense of republican values — here referring not to the US political party, but to traditional republicanism — would have clearly identified the equipment without which citizens would be ill-equipped to participate in government. This was precisely what Aristotle set forth in his lectures on Politics. As the American colonial expression has it, citizens in a republic needed to be equally “healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Since the survival of the republic depends upon these goods, they — i.e., healthcare, a living wage, and superior education — will not be made subject to the rules that govern the private enterprise, the οἶκος.

A “public good” is therefore not simply a private good that has public utility — water, roads, electricity, etc. — or that would be inefficiently or insufficiently supplied by private entities. A “public good” is any good that is necessary to equip all citizens to govern ενάρετα, or virtuously.

Turning back to Wallace’s article, we can now see that the liberal map of the city was already neoliberal, that the justification for the New Deal was principally, though not entirely, οικονομικός, i.e., economic. Between 1932 and 1972 a much stronger case had to be made, but was not made, for the public character of public goods. So long as the economy was growing and expanding, which for the most part it was from 1938 to 1968, the distinction between public and private hardly mattered. When it finally did matter, from 1968 forward, policy makers had either lost or, perhaps, never enjoyed a sufficient grasp of how public and private goods differed from one another. More disturbingly, I cannot think of a general economic textbook that fails to measure public goods in private terms: we have lost the capacity to even conceptualize in what this difference might even consist.

Unfortunately, this incapacity is not limited to post-democratic neoliberals. It cuts across methodological and even ideological lines. If therefore anything remotely like republican values and institutions are to be restored, we desperately need policy makers who enjoy a clear understanding of how public and private goods differ from one another. The alternative is an endless series of more or less despotic, more or less tyrannical public officials for whom the lines between public and private have completely disappeared.

Christology without Capitalism

Image result for second century jesus

Christology antedates capitalism by a good twelve centuries, yet, today, no social form plays a more central role in how Christians experience and critically reflect on Christ than the value form of the commodity. Both the ease with which the value form is lost in, but then transcends the bodies it occupies, and the highly differentiated, quasi-personal, rational, and universal character of the value form grant to it pseudo-Christological qualities that Christian thinkers are more than ready to mistake for their Lord and Savior. Only once we clearly identify the historical emergence of this peculiar social form and come to appreciate some of its more salient characteristics can we also clearly differentiate this form from its divine twin.

I attend Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, Berkeley, where our priest in charge, Rev. Blake Sawicky, is attending a conference hosted by Pusey House, Oxford. His attendance at the conference has provoked some thought.

Although I am trained in European History and teach Economics Theory at UC Berkeley, some of you may remember that I was first trained as a Church Historian and that, long ago, I counted myself a left-wing Barthian. Barth was actually my fourth theologian. My first was Lewis Sperry Chafer, among the founding thinkers of US fundamentalism. My second was Jean Calvin, which I read before my residency at Francis A. Schaeffer’s L’Abri. So that my third was Herman Dooyeweerd. I started reading Barth’s Dogmatics at L’Abri and finished all nine volumes before my Sophomore year at Wisconsin. From there I branched out to Jürgen Moltmann, Dorthee Solle, Wolfhart Pannenberg. By the time I reached seminary, I had already reached a dead end. So, after earning my M.A., I set off for the University of Chicago to study history.

There I learned what I was looking for. Something strange — even bizarre — had turned the course of religious experience not in the fifteenth, but the fourteenth century. When capitalism was born in Ghent in 1324, the explosion it generated continued to build for the next seven centuries, all the way to and through the present. Put simply, when the abbot of St-Pierre instructed fullers to install a clock in the workhouse recently constructed there, it set in motion a revolution in time and value that has made a world of difference (Landes 1983; Le Goff 1977; Lough 2006), not least to Christology. St Thomas’ Summa is available everywhere on line (e.g., Thomas’ Summa makes clear that as late as 1274, the theological challenge was not to explain how God could become flesh, but rather why all flesh was not divine (see pars. III).

Between 1274 and 1517 Europeans came to experience their worlds in qualitatively different ways, such that a relatively unproblematic doctrine — the two natures doctrine — suddenly dominated the stage. Why?

It would be a mistake to draw our lines between constructed and natural, since all human experience is constructed — that is how we are made. What makes sense, for me, is to reflect critically on how spiritual practitioners experienced and described their encounters with the divine prior to the emergence of the capitalist social form and how they experienced and described their encounters as capitalism spread throughout Europe.

To make my aim as transparent as possible from the outset, my aim is to show how the directionally dynamic, two-fold character of the value form of the commodity established itself at the base of contemporary Christology, beginning not with Luther, but with John duns Scotus and William of Occam. Here I intend only to establish the plausibility of this thesis. Its proof would entail a book.

Again, in order to be as transparent as possible, should this prove plausible, then it would also call into question not only Jürgen Moltmann’s invocation of GWF Hegel, but also, I would argue, the line of Kantian epistemologists from Rickert to Whitehead and so, from there, to Pannenberg and outward. Because the radical isolation of bodies from logic and logic from bodies is at the core of the good abbot of St-Pierre’s discovery in 1324. In what did that discovery consist?

The escapement mechanism entered Europe from China over the course of the thirteenth century. It solved a huge problem: when Frère Jacques should awaken his brothers for prayer. During Europe’s mini-ice age, water clocks were out of the question. Ropes and candles, though used, burned unevenly. Sundials required daylight, impossible during winter Hours. The escapement, driven by weights or by a spring, freed Europe’s cloistered communities from reliance upon unreliable methods. A notch in the gear lifted and then dropped a small bell, alerting Brother John that it was time to ring the larger, manual bell, for prayers. And, so, during the thirteenth century, the escapement captured Europe’s cloistered communities.

The others, it merely annoyed. Since wages and prices were governed by the principles of “just wage” and “just price,” thoroughly dominated by an “unholy” alliance between trades and the clergy, there was as yet no hint of the working day apart from the variable rising and setting of the Sun. This meant that bells were ringing well after the rising of the Sun in Summer, but (more annoying) well before the rising (and well after the setting) of the Sun in Winter (and Summer).

When, following the good abbot’s lead, ever more employers took their cue from the church bells, this led to a clash between those who defended “natural” (i.e., variable) time, and those who enforced “unnatural,” fixed clock time.

What has this to do with Christology? Everything.

We can think of it this way. Absent the escapement mechanism, John duns Scotus and William of Occam are no more than crackpot nominalists, such as have always gained a hearing from time to time. The escapement mechanism and its gradual colonization of western European experience made all Europeans practical nominalists, capable without much forethought of differentiating bodies from values, time from eternity, necessity from freedom. Thus, while the two-fold character of Christ had been acknowledged at least since the third century, it only became transparent over the course of the modern period, when bodies were once and for all deprived spiritual status and when spirits lost their bodies.

GWF Hegel has proven central to contemporary Christological discussions in large measure on account of his unforgiving, immanent critique of I Kant’s transcendental account. Here is GWF Hegel:

It is the Kantian  philosophy which has not only felt the need for this point of union, but has also clearly recognized it and brought it before our minds. In general, as the foundation alike of intelligence and will, Kant took self-related rationality, freedom, self-consciousness finding and knowing itself as inherently infinite. . . .  But since Kant fell back again into the fixed opposition between subjective thinking and objective things, between the abstract universality and the sensuous individuality of the will, he it was above all who emphasized as supreme the afore-mentioned opposition in the moral life, since besides he exalted the practical side of the spirit above the theoretical. Having accepted this fixity of opposition recognized by the thinking of the Understanding,  he was left with no alternative but to express the unity purely in the form of subjective Ideas of Reason, for which no adequate reality could be demonstrated, and therefore as  postulates, which indeed are to be deduced from the practical reason, but whose essential inner character remained unknowable by thinking and whose practical fulfilment remained a mere ought steadily deferred to infinity (Aesthetics, “Introduction,” 7(i)).

GWF Hegel, by contrast, developed what he along with others took to be an incarnational ontology-qua-epistemology, in terms of which fully knowing the body is knowing the spirit enfleshed.

Kant’s view is that ‘the sublime, in the strict sense of the word, cannot be contained in any sensuous form but concerns only Ideas of Reason which, although no adequate representation of them is possible, may be aroused and called to our mind precisely by this inadequacy which does admit of sensuous representation’ (Critique of Judgment, 1799, p. 77 [§ 23]) (Aesthetics II.2).

To this GWF Hegel contrasts his own position:

This outward shaping which is itself annihilated in turn by what it reveals, so that the revelation of the content is at the same time a supersession of the revelation, is the sublime. This, therefore, differing from Kant, we need not place in the pure subjectivity of the mind and its Ideas of Reason; on the contrary, we must grasp it as grounded in the one absolute substance qua the content which is to be represented (Aesthetics II.2.)

I would argue that this is an improvement over I Kant’s disembodied, moral Christology. And, yet, because its underlying logic is the logic of the value form of the commodity, it invites us to read Christology eschatologically, as the foretaste of a state that has not been fully revealed. This misled G Rose to propose an ever present repetition of bodily destruction as a quality, if not of divine being, then at least of Christian experience (see J Lough, “One Absolute Substance” forthcoming). More broadly, it has brought us to seek the divine sub contrario absconditum — in its opposite (as though flesh were opposite the divine.)

By contrast, a Christology without Capitalism would, not unlike St Thomas, neither seek a violent mortification of the body by the sublime nor the elimination of the body in pure spiritual contemplation, but would take the body itself as revelatory of what it is. This, of course, raises the sticky question of Christian experience. If we are thoroughly shaped by the capitalist social form, then to what extent can we encounter a Christ Who is not either transcendental or Hegelian? To which I would provisionally answer: whenever we join ourselves through the sacraments to Christ’s living Body, our Baptism casts the capitalist doppelgänger in stark relief. Or . . . these bodies point beyond themselves to their Kantian original.

Economic Geography?

This fall I will be teaching my first economic geography course. And I have to admit, its a bit daunting to step into still another field — after theology, church history, European history, and Economic Theory and History. As I familiarize myself with the most recent literature, I have grown accustomed to the usual caveats: “economics and economic geography differ . . .” in this way or that.

Hovering above these caveats, I believe, is the conviction that unlike economics, geography concerns itself with space. I have had to challenge myself on this conviction. And, I have to admit, I find it lacking. Here’s why.

I have no difficulty finding fault with how some of my colleagues grant the production function (MPL = ΔQ/ΔL) a near quasi-independent, consciousness. This fault could easily be overcome by exploring how a socio-historically unique form of mediation acquires quasi-independence and pseudo-consciousness: how it appears to acquire agency. E Durkheim was surely mistaken to ontologize organic and mechanical solidarity, which led some of his readers to mistakenly conclude that mechanical solidarity was not practically articulated. But he was spot on to the extent that he identified the ways that social forms display logical structures that are, in turn, internalized and rationalized by social actors. In this respect, it is unfortunate that E Durkheim was not sufficiently well versed in GWF Hegel’s works and that his K Marx, tragically, was excessively benign. Why?

First, yes. GWF Hegel surely ontologized the value form of the commodity. But his philosophy of spirit (or mind) was so highly articulated that, without too much thought, it is relatively easy to retranslate it into socio-historically specific categories; more specifically, into the capitalist social form. Here a highly differentiated, directionally dynamic, quasi-rational spirit shapes and is in turn shaped by the thought forms and structures it generates in its compilation of the world it is making in real time out of itself.

Further, the living Substance is being which is in truth Subject, or, what is the same, is in truth actual only in so far as it is the movement of positing itself, or is the mediation of its self-othering with itself. This Substance is, as Subject, pure, simple negativity, and is for this very reason the bifurcation of the simple; it is the doubling which sets up opposition, and then again the negation of this indifferent diversity and of its antithesis [the immediate simplicity]. Only this self-restoring Sameness, or this reflection in otherness within itself — not an original or immediate unity as such — is the True. It is the process of its own becoming, the circle that presupposes its end as its goal, having its end also as its beginning; and only by being worked out to its end, is it actual (§18).

It took a good deal of critical reflection — and a good deal of self-criticism — for K Marx to finally admit that this self-moving Substance that is Subject was not the industrial working class. This was his thesis in 1848. It was still his working thesis in 1850. Gradually, however, K Marx was brought to see that this self-moving Substance that is Subject was the value form of capital:

[The value form] is constantly changing from one form into the other, without becoming lost in this movement; it thus becomes transformed into an automatic subject. If we pin down the specific forms of appearance assumed in turn by self-valorizing value in the course of its life, we reach the following elucidation: capital is money, capital is commodities. In truth, however, value is here the subject of a process in which, while constantly assuming the form in turn of money and commodities, it changes its own magnitude, throws off surplus-value from itself considered as original value, and thus valorizes itself independently (Capital I.i.4).

K Marx’s immanent reading of the value form, I believe, is analytically more rigorous than E Durkheim’s, insofar as it seeks to account for the path through which a form of practice acquires independent social subjectivity and agency. Remarkably, K Marx abandons the working class as the subject of history. That position he now grants to the value form of capital: “[I]n the circulation M-C-M, value suddenly presents itself as a self-moving substance which passes through a process of its own, and for which commodities and money are both mere forms” (I.i.4).

No one would mistake this for anything other than a socio-historically specific exegesis of GWF Hegel’s Preface. What GWF Hegel mistook for the spirit of history, the human spirit, even the divine spirit, K Marx reinterprets as the value form of a socio-historically specific form, the value form of the commodity.

This insight has value, not only for economic theory, but also for economic geography. The analytical frame through which economic geographers appear to operate holds that economic theory transhistoricizes and ontologizes socio-historically specific social forms. This criticism invites us to practically account for states of social subjectivity. But this is not where economic geographers take us. Instead, they ontologize the multiplicity of socially (and geographically) constructed landscapes. These landscapes are real, as is their multiplicity. And, yet, the observation that this is so arises from a specific vantage-point, which has itself to be deconstructed. It is not.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that each socio-historically specific social form — save one — is unaware and unconcerned over its socio-historical constitution. (Indeed, part of its vulnerability consists in this lack of concern or awareness.) Among the value form’s achievements was to relativize all values: to draw all valuation into the vortex of the abstract value form of the commodity. From this socio-historically specific vantage point, we can now see, and appreciate, how all values are relative — historically relative.

Which begs the question: is there a critical vantage-point from which this relativity of value can be criticized?

To this question, GWF Hegel had no satisfying answer. Indeed, the paragraph immediately following §18, cited above, delivers an all too vivid description of God creating the world. God, quite literally, is self-pleasuring: “Thus the life of God and divine cognition may well be spoken of as a disporting of Love with itself” (§19). Well, yes, but . . .

When we say “there is no universal here,” do we also therein imply “there is no vantage point of critique”?

Let me therefore propose an alternative interpretation and methodology. Like K Marx, let me propose that the value form of capital should be our vantage point of critique; not because it is universal, but because it has been made universal. And let me propose that we focus our attention not on the value form’s universality, but on the practices that made it so. This will mean that we focus, specifically, on its socio-historical contingency — on the specific practices that compose its coherence, both practical and theoretical.

Here I am not faulting the practices out of which the capitalist social form is composed. I am cataloguing them. I am making sense of them. My criteria for cataloguing is not transcendent. It arises within the same world as the object of my critique, the object I am cataloguing. But, the mere recognition of socio-historically specific categories deprives these categories of the ontological, transhistorical character granted to them by a less than fully rigorous social science. The fault I am therefore finding in mainstream economic theory is not an absence of space, but, in fact, an absence of time and temporality, of socio-historical specificity. My critique — which holds equally for economic theory as for economic geographic theory — is of the transcendental, ungrounded, character of the non-Marxian critique.

This removes economic geography from its comfort zone. Economic geography, in this case, is not about equality, or justice, or resistance. It is about adopting a more rigorous, comprehensive, model. This, I believe, is what K Marx’s mature social theory adds to both economic science, but also, therefore, economic geography.

Playing Games Seriously

While walking home this afternoon, a NYT headline flashed on my watch face: “Merkel Reverses Long-Held Stance on Migrants in Bid to Save Her Government.” In part, the headline caught my attention because I had just been prepping a presentation group slated next Monday to talk about Game Theory in economics.

Game Theory — aka rational choice theory — assumes that every negotiation consists of a set of stated or understood rules to which parities tacitly agree, parties who know how to play the game, and identifiable costs and benefits associated with different outcomes. The classic game is played between two independent nations, but can be played between, say, the monopolistic industry dominating a city (Player 1) and the city’s employees/citizens (Player 2). So, as I was walking home, I got to thinking: what is this game? What are its rules? And what are the costs and benefits?

Is the game: Republican EU? Democratic EU? Divided EU? What is the game?

The rules: are the rules those that govern republics? Are they rules that govern democracies? Or might they be rules that govern isolated communities? What are the rules?

Finally, what are the costs and/or benefits? If our game is a republican game, then benefits arise from the broadest, most egalitarian distribution of wealth: res publica. If our game is a democratic game, then benefits arise when the majority dictates policy to the minority? And if it is a game of isolated, integral identities, then benefits arise from purity.

The game gets interesting when players are playing different games, with different rules, with qualitatively different outcomes. The games of republics, democracies, and ethnic or national purity are sufficiently different that it is difficult to imagine any outcome acceptable to all parties. (I could include other players — e.g., radical republicans (“Jacobins”) or radical democrats (“anarchists”), but they are, at best, minor players, or, at worst, non-players in this round.)

Which leads me to Chancellor Merkel’s announcement. Let us assume that she was playing a republican game. In that game, winning consists of distributing wealth broadly enough to generate broad participation by equally qualified participants: the text-book definition of republican. Her opponents, by contrast, believed themselves to be playing a game of democracy, at best, and nationalism, at worst — but, in any case, leveraging democracy on behalf of nationalism.

The best outcome from the democratic-nationalist front would be the elimination of the republican player. This means that, by shifting ground, Chancellor Merkel “wins” by denying the democratic-nationalist front its optimum outcome; but “loses” by affirming, in principle, the validity of the democratic-nationalist principle.

The question we pose to Chancellor Merkel, then, is: does Chancellor Merkel believe that by temporizing she can win breathing room to ultimately win? Or is she only interested now in minimizing losses? And, if she is minimizing losses, how does this game end?

The question we pose to the democratic-nationalist front is: is her adoption of your principles sufficient to satisfy your aims? Or will your base now hold you more dearly to a full victory?

If the former, then we may still be able to avoid 1932. If the latter, then 1932 should be visible already on the horizon.