Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Rank and file rebellion

By the mid-20th century, when the repose of an industrial aristocracy was being broken by the progressive mission of global capital and the welfare state, US conservatism began to find a home amongst "the people," laying the groundwork for the right-wing populism we enjoy today.

Liberalism, in its turn, without the working class, has come to mean corporate; to be "liberal" is to be culturally corporate. This is described by the left as "sanity": it is normal, and prevailing; as Jon Stewart says, we are too busy working to go to rallies! In any event, it is what we know.

Rank and file conservatives see in themselves, correctly, an underdog in the face of global capital. There is no small government that will ever come from the Republican Party, only less government for the working class. To their credit, they look with skepticism on "crony capitalism" in a way that Obama supporters, patiently awaiting the next FDR, would do well to study.

Liberals see in themselves an advocate for working people, but this suffers from their integration into corporate structures by which they benefit more than most. Their advocacy extends as far as what the Democratic National Committee will allow. They fight for a base of power within the state, from which they will do good for all -- or at least for themselves and their favored minorities, while they use the state to enforce corporate culture in rural schools and local communities that appear intransigent. They compete as voters against financial institutions in setting policy, and predictably lose every time!

"The left" would do well to acknowledge its economic position in relation to capital, and understand that most of the electoral "right" exists subordinated to it. An identification with "progressive issues" does not bear on where one stands, or what one contributes to, every day we participate in an unexamined career.


Anonymous said...

hooray! a rally for people who don't see much wrong with anything!

Cüneyt said...

What are liberals' "favored minorities"?

JRB said...

The ones that vote Democratic.

Minorities that vote Republican, cultural minorities, e.g., are first on the liberal's list for disciplining by the state.

Consider the liberal fearmongering around what local communities choose to teach in their schools, for example.

Cüneyt said...

What comes first--the minority's vote, or the representation of the voters' interests in the actions of the supported party?

And how Democratic politics have been good for black America is something I'd like to hear. Maybe they've been better, but I'm not exactly sure that Dem police state versus Republican police state is all that great a divide.

Minorities that vote Democrat, too, are pretty high on the liberal's list for discipline.

JRB said...

Yes, that's very good.

I wasn't clear enough: this is happening at the level of representation. So how parts of the working class are portrayed -- as scary religious zealots, or lazy welfare loafers -- informs a party's electoral appeal, whether or not any actual policy comes from it.

"Welfare reform," for instance, merged popular stereotypes about blacks with corporate preferences about work.

On the other hand, whether local school districts teach their students bible stories in science class may be tolerated in practice until the business community decides otherwise. For now, it is mocked and derided for electoral use.

Brian M said...

But what if the "local, rural culture" involves Jim Crow and the White Citizens Committees? Or, hanging the local queer kids on a fence post?

JRB said...

That's right -- and it's not a hypothetical question, either.

So, what do we do about it?

One answer is to let the corporate state take care of it, which it won't, because that's not its priority. So these things perpetuate themselves. It doesn't matter if you send in the National Guard; that won't change the culture.

Another answer might be to take the issues seriously enough to do something about them ourselves, by dealing with our own communities.

Which is the better option will depend on the circumstances: maybe we just aren't up to dealing with certain problems yet. Does that make the state an acceptable alternative?