Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When the rulers are more "progressive" than the ruled

I was watching an old Champsky bit and came across two sentences that I found very helpful.  Champsky remarked that Democrats were aligned with big business, whereas Republicans represent the business community generally.

To my mind, this explains whatever cultural differences exist between them, with corporate America assuming the "liberal" internationalist position, and domestically-oriented industries and small business free to take up more conservative and "nationalist" causes.

At one time, the Democratic Party reflected a collusion between big business and big labor.  But as labor was gradually broken by business, the Democrats fell more completely under the sway of corporate prerogatives.

As we analyze the conflicts between the corporate mainstream and the smaller, domestic business factions of the ruling class, we want to look at what each actor needs to accomplish economically, and then understand how this is expressed ideologically for public consumption.

For example, the long-standing American openness to foreign labor, just like the long-standing American hostility to foreign immigrants, has always reflected the needs of an industrial ruling class, and bitter competition amongst the working class, respectively.  Ideologically, the ruling class has always portrayed this as a benevolent feature of US society, without emphasizing that it coincides with ruling class aims.

Today, "openness" is articulated as the "civilized" position to take on Mexican immigration within mainstream corporate culture and among the liberal professionals who champion its perspective.  Conversely, lower tier workers whose industries are negatively impacted by the corporate deployment of an "industrial reserve army" from Mexico, to use Marx's phrase, exhibit their resentment toward immigrants in all the usual ways.  Their bigotry may be real, but it stems from an economic source.

Comparatively, the mainstream of ruling class opinion may be viewed as "more progressive" than its smaller, weaker rivals.  It is power that is progressive, because power can afford to be.

This is important to think about.  Should we align ourselves with what is "more progressive" about somebody else's rules, or engage the bigotry of our class in order to devise our own?


Anonymous said...

Damn, I just want to ask what "progress" means, along with who gets to define it -- and why?

Good one JRB!

JRB said...

Charles F.,

Your instincts serve you well.

Thanks, btw.