Arguing against racism

by John Quiggin on October 30, 2016

A while back, I made the case that the political crisis evident in most developed countries could be explained in terms of a “three-party system” in which the political forces were divided between tribalism, neoliberalism and a somewhat inchoate left. This replaced a neoliberal consensus in which power alternated between hard/right neoliberals (in the US context, the Republican party), relying on the political support of tribalists, and soft neoliberals (in the US context, centrist Democrats) relying on the left to support them as a lesser evil. The first stage of this breakdown has been the capitulation of hard neoliberals to the tribalist right. The most obvious instance is Donald Trump, but the same thing is happening in Australia with Pauline Hanson, in England with UKIP/Brexit and in many European countries as well.

That this is happening is now obvious. What should the left do about it? It’s obviously insufficient to make the point that Trump, or Hanson, or Farage is a racist (or uses racism for political benefit) and expect that to settle the question. That doesn’t mean that we should maintain the long-standing taboo on using the word “racist” to describe such people. Rather, we should start developing a proper analysis of political racism and strategies to oppose racism and tribalism.

The problem we face today is new in important respects. The civil rights and anti-apartheid movements were was a struggle against overtly racist racist state structures. The success of those movements did not end racism, but drove it underground, allowing neoliberals to exploit racist and tribalist political support while pursuing the interests of wealth and capital, at the expense of the (disproportionately non-white) poor.

That coalition has now been replaced by one in which the tribalists and racists are dominant. For the moment at least, ahrdneoliberals continue to support the parties they formerly controlled, with the result that the balance of political forces between the right and the opposing coalition of soft neoliberals and the left has not changed significantly. However, unlike the Civil Rights era, where racists had a clear agenda of defending the status quo, the new politics of the right is driven more by a general expression of resentment (or, if you want to be fancy, ressentiment) than by coherent policy objectives.

I have some ideas about what kinds of strategies and arguments are needed here, but I thought I’d post this first, and wait to see what others have to say.

{ 154 comments }

1

js. 10.30.16 at 5:47 am

I really think this sort of analysis, while OK as far as it goes, needs to seriously deal with the (apparent) fact that white petty bourgeois (and yeah, that’s the way I think they need to be described) have a vested interest in maintaining white supremacy, and no amount of left proposals or attempts to create a more equitably prosperous society is going to solve this problem.

2

js. 10.30.16 at 6:10 am

Just to be clear, my last comment is obviously not an argument against the left trying to create an equitably prosperous society. It wouldn’t be the left if it didn’t try to do that. I just don’t think it’ll solve the problem of racism.

3

ZM 10.30.16 at 6:33 am

There is something I have been thinking about the tribalist analysis for a while, and its that the left has tribalism too. It’s a word people use themselves to describe the group of people they identify with, sort of like sub-cultures or something, so I think its problematic arguing that tribalism is bad in and of itself, and also that tribalism is restricted to people on the right politically.

Having said that, I do think you have identified an actually existing group on the right side of politics even if I don’t think tribalism is the most useful description of it. It seems to contain discontent with economic reforms, populism, sometimes racism or fear of migrants and Islamophobia, anti-globalisation etc.

I think its a form of nationalism really, where the nation is defined to exclude others on the basis of cultural heritage, religion, or race. And where people in other countries are seen as less important than nationals, with some exceptions possibly for culturally similar national populations in foreign countries.

I would guess that it is the nationalism that excludes people in other countries from being considered fully equal, which then extends to transforming into racism etc in relation to people of other races/ethnicities/religion in the home nation.

Its very hard to think, for example, that people of Middle Eastern background in Australia are good and have made many important contributions to Australian multiculturalism, but people of the same ethnicity still in the Middle East are not equal to Australians. Its easier for people just to discriminate against all people of Middle Eastern background who live in the Middle East and in Australia (or other countries) too.

I think its right wing anti-globalisation which is a sort of nationalism, rather than tribalism.

Left wing politics has been anti-globalisation in many ways too. I don’t think left wing politics can mount a successful critique of right anti-globalisation nationalism without actually re-examining left wing attitudes to globalisation.

4

Bob Zannelli 10.30.16 at 6:35 am

Once again John Quiggin has put his finger on the problem. However, I would argue that real reform still lies with empowering the democratic party which is not 100 % neoliberal. There is a sizable minority of progressives in the democratic party we should support. We also need to have a realpolitik perspective. That is support real progressives in the primaries and soft neo liberals over any republican. We need to push the democratic party to the left in primaries where there is a lot of voter leverage and support the democratic party in all cases in the general election. Third party voting only insures that more reactionary and now even openly Fascist republicans will win elections. If Trump wins in few weeks, any hope for a government more responsive to the needs of all Americans will be doomed for decades.

5

Joseph Brenner 10.30.16 at 6:41 am

Cynically: is there a need to do anything? As long as the right is the (now out of the closet) home of racism, they’ve marginalized themselves. Open question: does the neoliberal-lite party have any incentive to cater to the left?

The problem with racism underground has been clear for sometime: the racists tell themselves that they’re clear-thinkers resisting the group think of the politically-correct mob.

I’ve thought for some time that there would be some value in an anti-racism FAQ: no one bothers to argue against racists (beyond shouting “racist!”) so everyone is rusty on what the data actually shows.

The point of this is not necessarily to convince racists that they’re wrong (good luck with that), but to shake their conviction that the anti-racists are the ones out of touch with reality.

I would start with the excellent “Intelligence, Genes & Success” (subtitled: “Scientists Respond to _The Bell Curve_”).

6

Joseph Brenner 10.30.16 at 7:18 am

ZM # 3;
I have some problems with the word “tribalism” as well, though I use it something like this often enough. We use “tribalism” dismissively, to suggest that some loyalites are primitive and misplaced– as opposed to something modern and rational like nationalism?

(If you were an Igbo living in Nigeria, why are you supposed to feel that being Nigerian is more important than being Igbo? The country is only a hundred years old, hasn’t been a democracy for decades, and often seems to act like a wholly-owned subsidiary of the oil cartel.)

The point that the left has it’s own affinity biases is well taken (by me at least) but is probably a subject for another day.

7

John Quiggin 10.30.16 at 8:03 am

@6 I honestly can’t believe that anyone who’s been reading my posts for any length of time would impute to me the belief that nationalism is the modern and rational successor of tribalism. Assuming you haven’t read my posts, I’d suggest that you do so, then engage with my actual views.

8

Chris Bertram 10.30.16 at 8:05 am

“That doesn’t mean that we should maintain the long-standing taboo on using the word “racist” to describe such people.”

I think you meant to type “shouldn’t” there John?

I’m not sure about the “driving underground” metaphor wrt to racism. Certainly some people hid their racism, but one thing that happens where there’s a taboo is that attitudes also change. With the renewal of overt racist discourse and the sense that many now seem to have that it is ok to be open (and in extreme cases to attack non-whites and foreigners) is that children and young people will start to believe that it is ok to be racist.

9

Bill Hawil 10.30.16 at 8:19 am

BH.
As far as I can understand the whole subject of tribalism, religion, racism, it appears to me that what really counts is, that the strong in the community use their power to exploit the weaker citizens and then governments of the strong exploit weaker governments.
As far as Democracy is concerned, there is no such thing, or it has been hijacked by the politicians for their own and the elite 20% of society’s advantage.
One good example is, when John Howard introduced the tax-free super for the over-sixties, there was virtually no opposition to it, from either Labour nor the independents.
The left, or so-called socialists or communists, are no different; best examples are many Russian billionaires who got extremely rich in a very short time, after the system collapsed.

10

Graham 10.30.16 at 8:47 am

I have spent a fair amount of time listening to trump supporters to try and figure out where they are coming from.
I now think overt racism as a motivating factor is exaggerated. There are some that support trump who are anti-racist but are allied with the overtly racist. The glue that holds these factions together is conspiracy theory.

I now believe conspiracy theory is a massively understated factor in this election and thus far there isn’t a good strategy to counter the spread of conspiracy theory. I’ve spent a fair bit of time looking at rebuttals too conspiracy theories and they tend to be poor both in presentation (which is mocking in a way that is likely to make a listener dig their heals in) and content.

11

ZM 10.30.16 at 8:54 am

(John Quiggin could you delete the earlier version of this comment please)

Joseph Brenner,

“We use “tribalism” dismissively, to suggest that some loyalites are primitive and misplaced– as opposed to something modern and rational like nationalism?
(If you were an Igbo living in Nigeria, why are you supposed to feel that being Nigerian is more important than being Igbo?”

Well its not only used to refer to “tribes” of indigenous people etc (I am not sure that it is still used much these days that way at all??) — for example one of our local crafts shops is called Tribe. People use “tribe” just to describe the sort of people they identify with, like crafters. I actually think its used more by alternative sort of people probably on the left politically to describe themselves than by conservative right wing people, although I could be mistaken. I could sort of imagine Rod Dreher’s “crusty conservatives” with the Benedictine Option idea describe themselves as a tribe. But not really Pauline Hanson or Donald Trump or Nigel Farage, all of whom tend to represent themselves as speaking for “mainstream” people, despite the fact that their views are marginal (apart from maybe Trump in America??).

Chris Bertram,

I thought John Quiggin meant “should” . I hope he can clarify. It might be different circumstances between the UK and Australia that have led to the confusion.

In Australia there has been a bit of a mainstream backlash against racism, for instance with our Australian football clubs, or when the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition made a speech in Parliament against racism in early October this year:

“Mr Trump – who once called for a shutdown of all Muslim immigration to the US – said Islamophobia was “a shame” but that there is an undeniable problem and called on Muslims to report suspicious activity.

At the very same time, a world away, the picture couldn’t have been more different as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten rose in Parliament to back a bipartisan motion calling for a respectful and unified Australia.

It highlighted Indigenous people, refugees and Muslims, reaffirming commitment to equal rights, a non-discriminatory immigration policy, reconciliation, multiculturalism and denouncing racism.

“Accordingly, we rise in this Parliament today – as John Howard and Kim Beazley did 20 years ago – to speak on this very motion – a 20-year-old unity ticket perhaps – celebrating and reaffirming the Australian values of a fair go and mutual respect for all regardless of how they look, how they worship or where they come from,” the Prime Minister told the House of Representatives.

“Australia is an immigration nation,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Today, almost half of us have a parent born overseas and more than a quarter of Australians were born overseas themselves.”

He said “everyone sitting in this chamber and every Australian is a beneficiary of the diversity that is at the heart of our nation”, before turning to Islam specifically.

“Australia and the world faces the threat of terrorism perpetrated and promoted by extremists who claim to be fighting and killing for Islam,” Mr Turnbull said, arguing terrorists “blaspheme Islam” and have been condemned by Muslims.

“Now the object of these terrorists is to divide Islam by driving a wedge of violence between Muslims, between Sunni and Shia and to turn Muslims against the West and the West against Muslims.

“The resolution of this conflict within Islam will ultimately depend on Muslims, but in the meantime the Islamist terrorists have succeeded in raising levels of anxiety about Muslim immigration, about the role of Islam itself within Australia.”
….

Mr Shorten said the word “tolerance” was no longer adequate and said Australians “embrace diversity”.

“Diversity is not a minor inconvenience to be endured, it’s not a device of political correctness … it’s the collective power of our nation, of all of us,” he said.”

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/as-donald-trump-questioned-muslims-turnbull-and-shorten-did-something-remarkable-20161010-gryqxy.html

12

loki 10.30.16 at 8:54 am

An important cause of what John Quiggin outlines is the recent revolution in communications. As recently as fifteen years ago the great majority of people got all their information from a few media sources run by governments and huge corporations (independent sources existed but they were small). As John Quiggin writes, the right used these media sources to appeal to tribalism, but the message was muted (eg they used ‘dog whistle’ issues) and care was taken not to go too far and upset the apple cart.

Nowadays, the tribalists are able to effortlessly talk to each other, and lefties like me are reminded of the amount of racist and misogynist aggression in society every time we stray into the bottom half of the internet (the comment pages on what appears to be pretty much every web site aside from Crooked Timber).

In contrast to all the fine talk by techno-utopians, what digital communication and social media has done to the polity is to empower racists, misogynists etc.

The easy answer is to say that the left has to be much better at using social media and digital communication. But its difficult for me to see how. As has been remarked over and over again, the messages spread by Trump, Farage, Le Pen etc aren’t based upon facts, they are invented, but they nevertheless appeal to large proportions of the population. Its extraordinarily difficult to counter a wrong message that nevertheless states what the audience believes already and wants to hear.

It seems to me that we’re witnessing a new age of Facebok facilitated populism. I don’t have an answer.

13

Kallan Greybe 10.30.16 at 8:57 am

I have to point out that Corey Robin has plenty of appropriate things to say about this. The biggest is that even though we are tempted to distinguish the racists from the neoliberals, they still have a common core commitment to the same political principle, that of hierarchy. The difference between the two is one of strategy, not of core commitment.

How that cashes out I’m not completely clear on, but it’s something to wonder about.

14

kidneystones 10.30.16 at 9:15 am

I read an interesting piece in the Nikkei, hardly an left-leaning publication citing Arlie Hochschild’s “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.”
Doubtless some here would like to see more misery heaped upon those who do not look to the Democratic party as saviors, but Hochschild is rarely regarded as a defender of the American right.

Few dispute that a significant subset of any given population is going to regard in-group/out-group distinctions along the highly imprecise lines of ‘race’ and ethnicity, or religion. The question, for some, is what percentage?

The Nikkei article by Stephen Grenville concludes: Over the longer term, the constituency for globalization has to be rebuilt, the methodology for multilateral trade agreements has to be revived…”

Grenville regards understanding the opposition to globalization by the Trump constituency as essential. If we are discussing America, we do not need to look to illegal immigration, or undocumented workers to find hostility to out-group immigrants along religious and ethnic lines.

These tendencies are thrown into sharper relief when this hostility is directed towards successfully assimilated immigrants of a different color who threaten the current occupants of a space – witness the open racism and hostility displayed towards Japanese immigrants on the west coast 1900-1924, or so. A similar level of hostility is sometimes/often displayed towards Koreans. The out-grouping in Japan is tiered and extends to ethnicity and language of groups within the larger Japanese community, as it does in the UK, although not as commonly along religious lines as it does elsewhere.

Generally, I think John is right. The term ‘racist’ no longer carries any of the stigma it once held in part because the term is deployed so cynically and freely as to render it practically meaningless. HRC and Bill and their supporters (including me, at one time) are racists for as long as its convenient and politically expedient to call them racists. Once that moment has passed, the term ‘racist’ is withdrawn and replaced with something like Secretary of State, or some other such title.

I’ve no clear ‘solution’ other than to support a more exact and thoughtful discussion of the causes of fear and anxiety that compels people to bind together into in-groups and out-groups, and to encourage the fearful to take a few risks now and again.

Here’s the link: http://asia.nikkei.com/magazine/20161020-An-era-ends-in-Thailand/Viewpoints/Stephen-Grenville-The-US-election-is-putting-the-TPP-trade-agreement-in-doubt?page=2

15

WLGR 10.30.16 at 9:56 am

js, your point is important but incomplete: petty (or petit) bourgeois is broadly appropriate but not 100% descriptive. The people we’re talking about may be petit bourgeois in the sense of their economic position as small property owners, but in a strict historical sense the petite-bourgeoisie are those whose small property ownership dates back to precapitalist society who were never fully dispossessed like the slave/peasant classes that became the proletariat, while most of the people we’re talking about (or at least their ancestors) were first proletarianized and then granted their small property as a share of the spoils of global imperialism, which is why the more precise term is “labor aristocracy”. In contrast to a true petite bourgeoisie, which has no historical memory of the full trauma of capitalist expropriation, a labor aristocracy on some level is aware that its economically secure position relative to the still-fully-dispossessed global working class depends on accepting and defending the racist/nationalist logic of imperial expropriation, which is why racism and nationalism are so thoroughly embedded in their ideological universe as “common sense” or “just the way things are”. This is also why it’s so maddening to hear liberals argue that talking about the economic basis of racism somehow excuses or justifies it, or that the ideological animus behind e.g. Trump is “either” economic “or” racial — on the contrary, refusing to talk about the economic basis of racism excuses and justifies the role of capitalism itself in creating and nurturing it.

Of course understanding this is one thing and understanding how to deal with it is another. Part of the problem is that to follow this reasoning to its conclusion is to dig much deeper into the roots of First-World economic stability under capitalism than even many First-World so-called leftists are willing to acknowledge: any leftist or liberal who argues against explicit racial bigotry while still accepting the premises of racialized/nationalized economic privilege (a Platonic-ideal example of which might be this) is trying to treat the symptoms without treating the disease, which to paraphrase good old Oscar Wilde arguably makes them part of the disease themselves.

16

WLGR 10.30.16 at 10:30 am

Even if experience has shown it’s futile, I still feel compelled to repeat the point that “tribalism” is a racist and imperialist pejorative (basically this imagery condensed into a single signifier) that shouldn’t play such a pivotal role in any remotely serious understanding, let alone one in which “tribalism” is used to describe the very same racist ideological currents that give the term its rhetorical power in the first place. As described in an earlier thread about all of this, my preference would be not to beat around the bush and go with “fascism” plain and simple, and even if one isn’t comfortable making that assertion directly, “ethnonationalism” seems like it could play an equivalent role to “tribalism” in this analysis with little or no extra clarification needed. Call me crazy but this seems like a pretty minor lexical sacrifice to make for combating racist imagery in one’s own language.

17

Bob Zannelli 10.30.16 at 11:44 am

I’ve no clear ‘solution’ other than to support a more exact and thoughtful discussion of the causes of fear and anxiety that compels people to bind together into in-groups and out-groups, and to encourage the fearful to take a few risks now and again.

Here’s my take on this. The question to ask is why has this happened? European workers have done much better in the new global economy.(The problems in Europe center around mass migration of people who resist assimilation and adoption of a Humanistic world view.) The answer is simple and horrifying.

A large percentage of American workers consistently vote against their own interest which has allowed the republican party in service to a powerful elite billionaire class form a reliable cadre of highly visible and highly vocal deplorables which even though slightly less than half the population of those who bother to vote have virtually shut down democratic safeguards which could have mitigated what has happened due to globalization. The combination of these reliable cadre of deplorables , controlled by faux news and hate radio , and the lack of political engagement by the low income Americans , has essentially turned power over to the billionaire class.

But now the elite have lost control of their deplorable cadre , who have been energized by an openly Fascist presidential candidate. The republican party , desperate to hold on to power at all costs, to insure that only anti constitutional judges like Scalia are appointed have convinced themselves that they can control the sociopath.

From their perspective , better a sociopath in the White House, then a democrat who could restore the court system to upholding the constitution which could dismantle the anti democracy arrangements at the state level that has allowed the minority republican party to hold on to power for several decades

18

likbez 10.30.16 at 12:05 pm

@16

“ethnonationalism” seems like it could play an equivalent role to “tribalism” in this analysis with little or no extra clarification needed.

Why I agree that “tribalism” a bad term that clouds the issue, I think the form of nationalism that prevails now can be called “cultural nationalism” not “ethnonationalism”. In a sense “cultural nationalism” is more inclusive, but it can be as radical as national socialism in the past. American exceptionalism is a good example of this type of nationalism.

19

Layman 10.30.16 at 12:11 pm

kidneystones: “Generally, I think John is right. The term ‘racist’ no longer carries any of the stigma it once held in part because the term is deployed so cynically and freely as to render it practically meaningless.”

Do these two sentences actually go together? Is it John Quiggen’s view that charges of racism have been overused? I find that reading hard to square with his reference to “…the long-standing taboo on using the word “racist” to describe such people…”.

kidneystones: “Grenville regards understanding the opposition to globalization by the Trump constituency as essential.”

Whatever else you think of globalization, the anti-globalization rhetoric as it exists in American politics today is essentially more dog-whistling designed to inflame racism and bigotry in the service of electing poltiticians to serve the 1%. The argument Trump makes – that your jobs and your wage increases and your future well-being have been taken from you and given to those Others over there by bad policies and bad leaders, and if you will elect me I will take them back and return them to you – contains not an ounce of economic reasoning. Was globalization avoidable? Was the GDP growth of the 50s sustainable? Is domestic income inequality or wealth concentration caused by globalization? Are there manufacturing jobs which can return?

On the other hand, it contains plenty of racist content, since at its heart what it says is “…wealth and prosperity rightly belong to you, not to those brown people over there.”

20

Alesis 10.30.16 at 12:13 pm

A strategy that doesn’t work inside the tent is DOA outside it. As it stands many liberals (largely white and this is an important distinction) share with the right a deep discomfort with acknowledging the centrality of racism to American politics.

Race is the foundational organizing principle of American life and it represents a considerable strain to keep it in focus. Donald Trump will win the majority of white voters as the racial resentment coalition has since the 1930s. An effective strategy for the long term is focused on breaking that near century long hold.

I’d suggest the direct approach. Call racism what it is and ask white voters directly what good it has done for them lately. Did railing against Mexican rapists brings any jobs back?

21

nastywoman 10.30.16 at 12:41 pm

‘What should the left do about it?’

The first thing the left should do about it – is becoming again the voice of the workers who seemed to have gone over to a self-proclaimed ‘Racist Birther’.

And then it would be helpful to define what is ‘the left’ -(or left of ‘the left’?) – as there is a political European landscape – which is far more advanced compared to the American landscape – in it’s inability to hold on to any type of dogmatic expressions of left and right.

22

Chevalier de la Barre 10.30.16 at 1:25 pm

““Accordingly, we rise in this Parliament today … celebrating and reaffirming the Australian values of a fair go and mutual respect for all regardless of how they look, how they worship or where they come from,” the Prime Minister told the House of Representatives…

“Australia and the world faces the threat of terrorism perpetrated and promoted by extremists who claim to be fighting and killing for Islam,” Mr Turnbull said, arguing terrorists “blaspheme Islam” and have been condemned by Muslims.

That’s a very impressive statement in favour of tolerance and mutual respect for all beliefs, combined with an equally passionate denunciation of those who pervert and blaspheme Islam. You must be very proud of how steadfastly your country defends its values.

23

Dipper 10.30.16 at 1:31 pm

If your analysis relies on UKIP being racist then you need to start again. UKIP is not a racist organisation. It has people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds in its membership and leadership, and is in favour of restoring migration ties with Commonwealth countries which are predominantly Asian and Black. There may well be members with racist views, but UKIP isn’t the only UK party with such issues.

The SNP was missing from your list of nationalist organisations, and for some reason they seem to get a free pass when it comes to being tribalist. The SNP also has members and representatives from a range of ethnic groups and are keen to avoid accusations of racism, but if you are going to analyse tribalist groups in the UK then you need to look at SNP and UKIP in the same way.

Arguments round identity and race in politics are highly complex and specific to local history and politics. I guess the challenge is to find the analysis that avoids being too high-level and simply does not accurately reflect what is occurring in any one location, and avoids being so specific that your observations and conclusions do not apply to any other circumstance other than the one you are analysing. Good luck.

24

Jake Gibson 10.30.16 at 2:28 pm

Trump seems to allied different ethnic/ideological nationalists.
Some are clearly White Nationalist/Supremacist.
Some are Christian Nationalists (though there is little about Trump that reflects Christian values, even Fundamentalist Christian values.)
There are Conservative Nationalists.
Most are a combination of up to all three.

25

Ciaran McCallum 10.30.16 at 2:35 pm

This seems to fit well with Dani Rodrik’s notion of a global ‘trilemma’. Your categories (tribalism, neoliberalism, and the left) certainly seem to map well onto the priorities described by Rodrik (national sovereignty, global economic integration, and democracy).

http://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_weblog/2007/06/the-inescapable.html

26

Anarcissie 10.30.16 at 2:39 pm

WLGR 10.30.16 at 10:30 am @ 16 —
It’s going to be pretty hard to find a word which has not been heavily used (tribalistically) to mean ‘people who are not like us, therefore bad.’ Fascist and racist are showing a lot of wear.

27

Thomas Beale 10.30.16 at 2:42 pm

The use of the term ‘tribalism’ in the sense of the OP seems problematic: it is described as if it were one possible political modus operandi, a recent alternative to (?certain flavours of) old school right and left. But the usual use of the word (e.g. in the standard term ‘tribal politics’) connotes loyalty to the party (and its ideology) above all else. That’s surely the MO for all party politicians of our era; trying to find a politician of any stripe on a talk show, press column or live interview who does not evade the questions and instead regurgitate the standard gobbets of their tribe’s ideological handbook is well-nigh impossible (ex: Greg Clark MP, thankfully taken down by Ken Loach on Question Time 28/Oct). Ironically, those who talk straightest, it has to be said tend to be those from the so-called racist right – the Farages and Hansons etc.

Those to whom the OP’s term ‘tribalists’ refer appear to me at least more like a segment of the population who are either done with politics as it is understood today, or never got it in the first place. I don’t see any ideology or thought leader to be loyal to, nor indeed any real coherence of thought. Can ‘racism’ be argued to be an ideology? Not as any kind of political programme, as far as I can see, and much as I am revolted by the current wave of clearly racist / xenophobic aggression here in the UK, it doesn’t look like a a political movement, it just looks like rejectionism. There are political expressions of the latter of course in some places (UKIP, BNP, EDL etc), but I see no easy fit for the Trump supporters, nor the broad Brexit vote here – far too high to correspond to only UKIP, BNP etc.

I think we under-estimate the conjunction of two effects: the realisation by so-called ‘left-behinds’ that they have been taken in by the nonsense of ‘trickle-down economics’ and other lies, and the ability to connect to others feeling the same way, via social media (as per loki@12). Whether that can create a new kind of political movement is surely yet to be seen.

28

John Garrett 10.30.16 at 3:04 pm

#10: conspiracy theory. “Am I paranoid if I say people are following me, and they are?” The problem with focusing on conspiracy theory as wrong and bad is that there are real conspiracies out there (e.g., the 1/10 of 1 % maintaining the tax code, discrimination in housing and lending) that are at the core of what we on the left confront. And you don’t need to prove a cabal to prove conspiracy: if they act like they are conspiring, they are.

JG

29

Joseph Brenner 10.30.16 at 5:01 pm

John Quiggin @ 7:

“@6 I honestly can’t believe that anyone who’s been reading my posts for any length of time would impute to me the belief that nationalism is the modern and rational successor of tribalism. …”

No: I’m not saying that you believe this, I’m saying that the term “tribalism” has that kind of baggage going along with it. Sorry if it seems like I’m pushing the discussion sideways: the point is that I’d rather have a better term than “tribalism”, but I haven’t been able to think of one, either. If I want to suggest quickly that one faction is substituting a sense of group identity for rational thought, I might very well accuse them of “tribal reasoning”.

Another variation is to accuse them of using “sports logic”, but I think that’s usually not as clear.

To put it another way: if a right-wing politician kept complaining about tribalism in politics, wouldn’t you assume it was some kind of racist dog-whistle?

30

Stephen 10.30.16 at 5:15 pm

ZM@3: are you sure it is wise to include “Islamophobia” in your list of the charcteristics of “an actually existing group on the right side of politics”?

If you mean an irrational fear and hatred of Islam, fair enough, there may be people with such unsupportable beliefs though I know none.

People with the entirely rational belief that some aspects of Islam, as understood by some Muslims, are completely incompatible with a modern liberal democracy, well, I don’t know why they would be on the right side of politics: using right as the opposite of left, not of correct.

For reasons I do not understand, some of the left appear to believe that killing homosexuals, killing anyone who challenges or leaves Islam, subjugating and mutilating women, treating all non-Muslims as legally inferior, is not really deeply unforgivably wrong in the way that voting Republican or Tory is.

When you write against “nationalism … where the nation is defined to exclude others on the basis of cultural heritage, religion, or race”: well, excluding on the basis of race is one thing, which nobody here would support. Excluding on the basis of culture or religion: are there no cultures or religions that you find intolerable? Nazis or Aztecs, for example?

31

Joseph Brenner 10.30.16 at 7:14 pm

@14:
The Hochschild book is pretty good, I’m reading it at the moment, and I saw her talk at the Paul Wellstone Club the other day. Hochschild doesn’t really have a “solution” outside of suggesting that if we try to understand where the other side is coming from we’ll do a better job of talking to them.

One of the comments from the audience made the point that they’re really big on politeness in the South, and it could be that the people Hochschild was talking to in Louisiana were actually toning down their act.

There’s a review by Nathaniel Rich of “Strangers in Their Own Land” in the current “New York Review of Books”, where he does a good job of comparing it to other similar books going back to “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”. He makes the point that the authors who were actually from the South are much harsher in their criticism (“Frank and Bageant grew up in the places they later chronicled as outsiders, which allows them a degree of scorn their more clinical colleagues avoid.”):

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/11/10/american-right-inside-the-sacrifice-zone/

I like Hochschild’s “Appendix C: fact-checking some common impressions”, it’s the kind of thing I had in mind for an “Anti-racism FAQ” (though not explicitly about racism).

(Um… I don’t see any reference to Hochschild in that Grenville piece. Thinking of something else?)

32

John Quiggin 10.30.16 at 7:33 pm

@WLGR I’m happy to reconsider terminology. But I’ve been using “tribalism” for a kind of politics that’s not necessary as extreme as ethno-nationalism, let alone fascism. In essence, anything that relies on identification with an in-group against those outside the group. In that sense, nearly all of Trump’s support base is tribalist, while only some could be described as racist/white nationalist.

33

Joseph Brenner 10.30.16 at 7:35 pm

Oh my apologies to kidneystones, I said: “Um… I don’t see any reference to Hochschild in that Grenville piece.”, but actually it’s right there on page 1 of 2, he quotes Hochschild’s “cutting in line” bit. I must’ve been looking just at page 2:
http://asia.nikkei.com/magazine/20161020-An-era-ends-in-Thailand/Viewpoints/Stephen-Grenville-The-US-election-is-putting-the-TPP-trade-agreement-in-doubt

That’s a good example of what I mean about Hochschild: she’s done a good job of phrasing the way they feel about things like Affirmative Action and the women’s movement, but once you understand that, what’re you supposed to do with it? They thought that “white male privilege” was supposed to get them to the promised American Dream? They’re too dumb to get that it’s not the “line jumpers” that have stopped the line? If I just work really hard at being sympathetic to these folks, I’m going to find some way convince them to stop voting for con artists, and all will be well….

34

likbez 10.30.16 at 7:39 pm

@20

The term “Tribalism” implicitly stresses the ethnic/racial component in the complex phenomena that modern nationalism represents. That’s a major weakness.

Even in modern Ukrainian nationalism cultural elements are stronger then ethnic.

35

Raven Onthill 10.30.16 at 8:49 pm

I think the most important things for the left to do is to stand together and stand fast. Keep in mind, too, that the tribalist factions will, where they come to power, initiate mass deportations. Their current relative calm is only temporary.

36

djr 10.30.16 at 8:51 pm

The balance of power has certainly shifted on the right. Not realising that this was happening explains the Brexit stuff up by the Conservative party in the UK. Between Cameron promising a referendum during the last parliament and a few weeks before the referendum, I assumed that at some point the big money wing of the conservative party would take Cameron into a quiet corner and explain the facts of life to him. Now I think they simply didn’t realise what a gamble they were taking.

I don’t think that the neoliberal right will stick with the deal now that the “social issues right” are in charge any more than the Blairites have loyally followed Corbyn’s leadership, but a few years of going hard right on both fronts is not going to be fun to live through.

37

Sebastian_H 10.30.16 at 8:57 pm

John, I agree that tribalism is a huge force in politics, but the way you have defined it describes a huge portion of how people on all sides vote. All sorts of research shows that a majority of people seem to use the rubric “what do people of my affiliation believe” to reach conclusions and then defend them rather than following any particular chain of logic about the actual question. So I’m not sure what kind of differentiation work the term is doing.

On the other hand I think you’re definitely on to something about the change of formerly stable political orders, and I’m not sure I can identify what it is either. I sort of see what you are trying to do with the in-group/out-group thing. Those impulses always existed, so I wonder what has changed? Is it assimilation norms that have weakened? Economic loss or the fear of it in the ‘in group’? Fear of going from an ‘in group’ to an ‘out group’? Combination of those?

38

bruce wilder 10.30.16 at 9:34 pm

The success of [civil rights and anti-apartheid] movements did not end racism, but drove it underground, allowing neoliberals to exploit racist and tribalist political support while pursuing the interests of wealth and capital, at the expense of the (disproportionately non-white) poor.

That coalition has now been replaced by one in which the tribalists and racists are dominant. For the moment at least, [hard] neoliberals continue to support the parties they formerly controlled, with the result that the balance of political forces between the right and the opposing coalition of soft neoliberals and the left has not changed significantly.

There’s an ambiguity in this narrative and in the three-party analysis.

Do we acknowledge that the soft neoliberals in control of the coalition that includes the inchoate left also “exploit racist and tribalist political support while pursuing the interests of wealth and capital, at the expense of the (disproportionately non-white) poor.”? They do it with a different style and maybe with some concession to economic melioration, as well as supporting anti-racist and feminist policy to keep the inchoate left on board, but . . .

The new politics of the right has lost faith in the hard neoliberalism that formerly furnished its policy agenda of tax cuts for the rich, war in the Middle East and so on, leaving the impure resentment ungoverned and unfocused, as you say.

The soft neoliberals, it seems to me, are using anti-racism to discredit economic populism and its motivations, using the new politics of the right as a foil.

The problem of how to oppose racism and tribalism effectively is now entangled with soft neoliberal control of the remaining party coalition, which is to say with the credibility of the left party as a vehicle for economic populism and the credibility of economic populism as an antidote for racism or sexism. (cf js. @ 1,2)

The form of tribalism used to mobilize the left entails denying that an agenda of economic populism is relevant to the problems of sexism and racism, because the deplorables must be deplored to get out the vote. And, because the (soft) neoliberals in charge must keep economic populism under control to deliver the goods to their donor base.

39

RichardM 10.30.16 at 9:41 pm

“That doesn’t mean that we should maintain the long-standing taboo on using the word “racist” to describe such people.”

Whether you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ largely depends on which country you are in; the US has sufficient minorities able to vote that a ‘wide’ definition of racism is almost certainly a net vote-winner.

The UK, Australia, etc. don’t. So they have to rely on opposition to racism on moral grounds, which in turn depends on using a narrow definition.

Alternatively, you could be talking in an academic context, independent of any particular country’s politics, in which case I would imagine that using different words for different things would be minimally confusing.

40

LFC 10.30.16 at 10:50 pm

Alesis @19
Race is the foundational organizing principle of American life

There is no such thing as “the foundational organizing principle of American life.” There are conflicting ideologies, a conflicting set of histories, and a conflicting set of regional traditions, plus founding documents that are subject to conflicting interpretations. There are certain experiences that might be presumed to shape some sort of common collective memory, but nowadays even that is debatable.

41

Kurt Schuler 10.30.16 at 11:00 pm

As one who has lived for more than fifty years in the United States, rather than just a few years here and there as John Quiggin has, I assure him that racism has not been driven underground here. It has died as a mass sentiment capable of serving as a power base for such figures as Lyndon Johnson, George Wallace, or Jimmy Carter. All had to change their tune to retain or increase their power, and that was about half a century ago. No aspiring politician could get started today making the kind of racial appeals they did at the beginning of their political careers, and in the cases of Johnson and Wallace for a long time thereafter. There is no mass sentiment for re-establishing separarate drinking fountains, toilets, dining areas, schools, etc. by race or for repealing the Civil War-era amendments to the Constitution. I even hear rumors that Americans may be receptive to the idea of electing a black President.

42

Alan Luchetti 10.30.16 at 11:11 pm

I just put up this link for consideration:
http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/07/10/when-and-why-nationalism-beats-globalism/

My suggestion is to tackle the pandering by the rich party for the poor’s votes by appealing to racism, rather than the racism itself. “You’re being played” may work better than “you’re wrong”.

I also think that the severity continuum of racism needs to be emphasised. We pretty much all exhibit minor solecisms as we overcome features of our culture and upbringing. When a gentle correction triggers complaints about monstrous PC allegations, I recommend a response like “Hey, it’s no biggie. You’re not Hitler. Why are you taking a dive?”

43

porpoise 10.30.16 at 11:29 pm

“Tribalism” in the sense it’s being used here has nothing to do with “primitive” tribes; it’s a reference to the ancient Roman tribes (the origin of the word) and the similar Greek phylai, which were essentially arbitrary groupings of citizens which struggled amongst each other because of group identification despite all being of the same ethnic group and nation. If there’s a better word for this, it isn’t ethnonationalism or fascism.

44

Omega Centauri 10.31.16 at 1:19 am

I think poor to outright horrific epistemology in public discussion creates the basis for a lot of bad politics. Many have described our current time as a post-truth era. There have been some efforts towards fact-checking, but these seem to be simple refutations of facts, like Trump saying
that he didn’t say X, when we can play a two-day old tape of him in fact saying X. Part of the manifestation of “tribalism”, is the holding of in-group shibboleths, and the failure to critically examine them -for fear that that might weaken their role as weaponized-memes. That and our
politics has severely degenerated into character assassination, much of it unfounded. So we can’t even have a semi-rational discussion about issues, as political actors have to expend all their efforts fending off attempts to assassinate their reputation, and to level even more damaging attacks against their enemies.

So we have to start reclaiming decent epistemological practices in our public discussion. I don’t think this is going to be an easy or a quick process. But without it, we are highly vulnerable to emotion based movements and their demagogues. Graham’s conspiracy theory observations, as well as those of bob@4 and loki@12, are symptoms of this degeneration of epiestemology.

45

John Quiggin 10.31.16 at 1:44 am

nastywoman @21 The idea that “the working class” has gone over to Trump is oversold. In US political discussion, “working class” is used to mean “no college degree” which isn’t at all the same thing: it includes lots of small business owners, for example, and is also correlated with age.

The terminology appears to be driven by data. Education level is objective and easily elicited, whereas social class is not.

46

Mike Furlan 10.31.16 at 1:50 am

Racism (and sexism), something described by Tom Magliozzi’s “Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis—Unencumbered by the Thought Process” is impervious to argumentation. I’ve lost a lot of friends driven mad first by the Kenyan, and now by that “nasty woman.”

Imagine a future scenario of yet another financial crisis the pushes unemployment above 30% and mere words will certainly fail you.

My hope is to build communities of loving people, so that we are not picked off one at a time as we compose blog posts.

47

Bob Zannelli 10.31.16 at 2:19 am

The great problem progressives face is that many , if not most of the working class really don’t want social justice , they want to be the fat cats. And when they don’t join the ranks of the fat cats they are easily convinced that this is because the liberals are stealing from them to give to the “welfare” people. Trump has expanded to include hordes of invading Mexicans and Muslims.

48

Bob Zannelli 10.31.16 at 2:20 am

“There is no such thing as “the foundational organizing principle of American life.” There are conflicting ideologies, a conflicting set of histories, and a conflicting set of regional traditions, plus founding documents that are subject to conflicting interpretations. There are certain experiences that might be presumed to shape some sort of common collective memory, but nowadays even that is debatable.”

I agree with this.

49

js. 10.31.16 at 2:39 am

Re bruce wilder

the credibility of the left party as a vehicle for economic populism and the credibility of economic populism as an antidote for racism or sexism. (cf js. @ 1,2)

1. I have no fucking idea what you got out of my comments, but just to be very clear, I would almost certainly support, and strongly, almost all _policies_ that you’re likely to classify as “economically populist”. (I prefer a term like “socially equitable”—in a material sense, not talking about symbolic stuff or the politics of recognition here. But e.g. I think repeal of the Hyde Amendment should go under exactly the same heading as minimum wage increases, trade deals with strong labor protections, etc.—which kind of thing gets lost when people talk about “economic populism”.)

On the _politics_ you and I each think the other one is dead wrong, and both of us already know this, and neither of us is about to give half an inch, so I don’t think there’s much point in pursuing the argument. But…

2. …Entirely leaving aside racism for a minute, when has it ever seemed plausible that “economic populism” would be an effective counter to entrenched sexism? This makes no sense to me whatsoever.

——

Re WLGR

In contrast to a true petite bourgeoisie, which has no historical memory of the full trauma of capitalist expropriation, a labor aristocracy on some level is aware that its economically secure position relative to the still-fully-dispossessed global working class depends on accepting and defending the racist/nationalist logic of imperial expropriation

I’ll have to think about more. My first instinct is to say — there’s something to this, but the contrast is significantly less sharp than that (in both directions), but I need to think it out more.

50

WLGR 10.31.16 at 4:18 am

I seriously doubt a human social phenomenon as broad and universal as “identifying with an in-group against an out-group”, if this is how y’all intend to define “tribalism”, can be made narrow enough to usefully describe a specific tendency in modern capitalist politics. It would be absurd to claim that nobody who isn’t a fascist/racist/ethnonationalist/etc. determines their political priorities on some level according to ingroup/outgroup morality — speaking from experience in a US context, cosmopolitan liberals’ disdain for “rubes”/”hicks”/”rednecks” from “flyover country” (probably the very people “tribalist” is intended to denote) could itself be described as “tribalist” in the sense you mean it, as for that matter could many socialists’ disdain for liberals, or economists’ disdain for sociologists, or old-money politicos’ disdain for nouveau-riche boors like Donald Trump, or whatever. People seem to be shying away from the idea that what defines so-called “tribalists” as a political force in developed capitalist nation-states is “tribalism” regarding a particular aspect of their worldview, namely race and nationality. I get that this is a contortion to avoid the politically charged act of calling people “racists” or “fascists” (although it’s perplexing that so many people here have surrendered to reactionaries’ bizarre contention that using these terms even when they’re suitably descriptive is somehow foul play) but insinuating a categorical deficiency of basic human social consciousness compared to the categorically more enlightened social consciousness of the accuser is hardly any less insulting, even before you get into the racial implications of the term itself.

The best comparison I can think of is the way so-called “New Atheists” tend to group their ideological taxonomy according to the distinction between “rational” and “irrational”: both of these are such thoroughly universal aspects of human thought and behavior that it can only be monumental hubris to characterize “rationality” as the very cornerstone of one’s worldview and “irrationality” as the very cornerstone of an opponent’s. A weaker and more defensible claim of rationality about a very particular aspect of one’s worldview, such as the existence of deities, leaves open the possibility of irrationality in other aspects of their worldview, such as the alleged existential threat of Islam (about which many “rationalist” “New Atheists” are famously paranoid and reactionary). Now imagine the term “irrational” has been used for centuries as a sloppily interchangeable pejorative for various targets of systematic marginalization, oppression, enslavement, and genocide.

51

Graham 10.31.16 at 4:52 am

do those qualify as conspiracy?
Perhaps they do

I would say that after talking to people the republican base is the coalition of
1. Plutocrats
2. Single issue abortion voters
3. Conspiracy theorists and religious conspiracy theorists (end times prophecy mixed with conspiracy)
4. True believers – that is free market types who believe that top end tax cuts and cutting minimum wage actually help the poor
5. Basket of deplorables you racist/mysoginest you name it

Type 1, 4 and some of 2 have been pealed off the R coalition during the trump campaign due to how shocking a candidate Trump is. However, type 3 and 5 are more energized than ever. If there was an effective way to counter type 3 republican voters their coalition would reduce by maybe half. I know that sounds like a lot but I’ve lived in the south and have a lot of friends there. Conspiracy is more powerful than people realize

52

nastywoman 10.31.16 at 4:57 am

‘The idea that “the working class” has gone over to Trump is oversold.’

Not if we count all ‘the workers’ – who follow and will vote for Trump because he promised them to bring their jobs back -(with fascistic solutions)

According to a study of Alan Krueger that examined prime-age men (ages 25–54) who are not working or looking for work – there are alone about 7 million (lost) workers -(and their wives and relatives) – many of them supposedly dropped out of the labor force altogether and reporting ‘pain’ that keeps them from taking jobs.
These workers – a lot of them who had lost their jobs by US companies outsourcing or terminating their jobs altogether after the economical collapse of 2008 – are a ‘traditional constituency’ of the left – and they should have been supported much better and NOT ‘picked up’ by Trump.

53

kidneystones 10.31.16 at 5:48 am

@ 31 Hi Joseph. The link actually takes you to page 2 of the Grenville article. He cites Hochschild on page 1: ‘Arlie Hochschild’s “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” captures the intractability of the discontent: “‘You are patiently standing in a long line’ for something you call the American dream. You are white, Christian, of modest means, and getting along in years. You are male. There are people of color behind you, and ‘in principle you wish them well.’ But you’ve waited long, worked hard, ‘and the line is barely moving.’ Then ‘Look! You see people cutting in line ahead of you!’ Who are these interlopers? ‘Some are black,’ others ‘immigrants, refugees.’
They get affirmative action, sympathy and welfare — ‘checks for the listless and idle.’ The government wants you to feel sorry for them.”

@50 WLGR “….rational” and “irrational”: both of these are such thoroughly universal aspects of human thought and behavior that it can only be monumental hubris to characterize “rationality” as the very cornerstone of one’s worldview and “irrationality” as the very cornerstone of an opponent’s.” Agreed. Happens here all the time, or used to.

54

Bob Zannelli 10.31.16 at 6:13 am

“People with the entirely rational belief that some aspects of Islam, as understood by some Muslims, are completely incompatible with a modern liberal democracy, well, I don’t know why they would be on the right side of politics: using right as the opposite of left, not of correct.”

I applaud Stephan’s comment. It seems when it comes Islam some on the left seem to want to find common cause with Jihadists. That they are just fighting western oppression seems to be the viewpoint. This is delusional. Anyone holding liberal views should be concerned about religious fundamentalism of all stripes. And Islam in the mother load of bad ideas, as someone I know has said.

This doesn’t mean that we should sign up for Trump’s Muslim hate club. The vast majority of American Muslims are not Jihadists and nothing ever justifies any form of discrimination on the basis of religion. This is a liberal value. All Human beings in a decent society are entitled to human rights , ideas are not.

55

Val 10.31.16 at 6:22 am

I tend to agree with what WLGR is saying about ‘tribalists’. What porpoise @43 said is interesting historically, but I don’t think it removes the overlay from later colonial and imperial associations of ‘tribes’ with ‘primitives’/inferiors. So I don’t think tribalism is a good word here, but not sure what would be a better one.

‘Cultural nationalism’ seems to come closest, at least in the Australian and British contexts I’m familiar with, because the so-called ‘tribalists’ seem to be people who have a strong idea about who are the ‘right kind’ of Australians (or Britons), and it is a mixture of cultural and racial/ethnic characteristics.

Here in Australia, it is certainly possible for people from non-Anglo backgrounds to be at least conditionally accepted by the ‘tribalists’ if they appear to embrace the tribalists’ idea of Aussie culture (although it’s conditional because the ‘tribalists’ who are ‘accepting’ the non-Anglo immigrants unconsciously see their ability to pass judgement as related to their own Anglo/white background, I think). Complicated, I am getting tied in knots, but I agree tribalist isn’t the best word.

56

Neville Morley 10.31.16 at 7:24 am

Porpoise @43: I’m slightly puzzled by your version of classical history. Yes, the Romans had tribes, dating from the very beginning of their history; these *were* seen as relating to what you refer to as “primitive tribes”, and according to at least one ancient source reflected the original composition of the Roman people from Latins, Sabines and Etruscans. Yes, by the late Republic these were largely (not entirely) arbitrary divisions of more or less homogeneous citizens – but by that date there’s no evidence that I’m aware of that they served any purpose other than organising voting in the comitia tributa; certainly no struggles because of group identification.

57

ZM 10.31.16 at 7:45 am

bruce wilder,

“The soft neoliberals, it seems to me, are using anti-racism to discredit economic populism and its motivations, using the new politics of the right as a foil.”

I think economic populism is problematic really, depending on what policy settings you mean by “economic populism” I guess.

I remember thinking Australia could have more protectionist policies and that would be a solution to some of our economic issues, but then I did an economics group project with a woman from Singapore, and I realised a country like Singapore would be much worse off if other countries resorted to protectionism as a response to the financial crisis, and I was being unfair thinking more protectionist policy was the answer.

I don’t think that the economic populism of the post-war era is really something we want to return to — in Australia at least it was connected to the racist White Australia Policy which was dismantled over time by 1973 and also to sexist policies that benefited male wage earners with the “living wage” but prevented women from taking up certain jobs or from working after marriage and that sort of thing.

Also in the post-war era Australia benefitted from trade networks with the UK as part of the Commonwealth, but I presume that some other countries didn’t benefit from that set of international trade agreements (although I have never looked into what the international trade settings were to know which countries overall benefited and which countries disbenefited).

I don’t think returning to economic populism is a solution. There were a lot of problems, both within countries with racism and sexism, and also between countries with unfair international trade agreements.

Any solution to current problems has to be equitable within the nation, and fair between nations. If economic populism is the answer it has to be a transformed economic populism that is capable of that, and also of managing our global and local environmental problems.

58

ZM 10.31.16 at 8:05 am

Also at the moment the Australian federal government is doing the “Racism. It Stops With Me” campaign around Australia trying to encourage everyday Australians to speak out against racism when they encounter it in their daily lives. I hope the US government does something similar if Trump loses the election, I really think anti-racism is better off being bi-partisan, and its a bad long term strategy by either main party in America to use race to divide voters.

https://itstopswithme.humanrights.gov.au

59

Alesis 10.31.16 at 10:20 am

I think the notion that racism is somehow regional in the US or that their are “conflicting histories” is pitch perfect example of the difficulty of keeping race in American life in focus I mentioned in my comment.

There is no region of the US in which race did not play a foundation role. No history of the US which does not rest in the disenfranchisement of “lower races”. From Oregon to Florida. From New York to California. From 1700 to 2016 this is an American constant and we will continue to the “Shocked! Shocked!” That more Trump’s arise until we recognize that.

60

RichardM 10.31.16 at 10:53 am

> The terminology appears to be driven by data. Education level is objective and easily elicited, whereas social class is not.

Race too, of course.

It doesn’t seem like it would be beyond the power of a single guy who wanted to write a book to bring a torch and see if there is anything interesting hidden where the lampposts don’t shine.

The raw data seems to be available[1], it just needs correlating with polls. That’s a 2-3 man year project, probably doable within a 5 digit budget.

[1] https://dqydj.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2013scf_income_v_wealth_united_states.png

61

SusanC 10.31.16 at 1:41 pm

I think I agree that “conspiracy theory” is a strong element in current politics. It has been for a while, of course. See for example Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

In a democratic system, any party hoping to win has to somehow persuade the voters to vote for them and not the other party. Hence impugning the judgment or moral character of the opposing party is one of the obvious strategies. Accusing the other party of actually being crooks (as opposed to merely making poor decisions, or decisions that benefit some group other than the voters one wishes to court) takes this a step further. Once a party had taken the “they’re a bunch of crooks” move, it would be surprising if they didn’t leap at the chance when they can make a credible and specific allegation of lawbreaking by their opponent, instead of just relying on non-specific “would you buy a used car from this man?” rhetoric. (“man” -> “woman” if we’re talking about Hilary Clinton rather than Richard Nixon, but the same principle holds)

The current round of populism seems to go further still, in attributing crookedness not just to their political opponents but to just about everyone involved in the entire system, e.g. by alleging that the election might be fraudulent.

The term “conspiracy theory” often has rather dismissive or perjorative connotations, but I think this basic political pattern could exist even if the opposing party were actually in fact crooks.

[And over here in the UK, it’s also a kind of conspiracy theory that Tony Blair lied to the people about the case for going to war in Iraq. It’s less obvious what Blair could actually be charged with criminally (as opposed to Hilary Clinton), but that hasn’t stopped people calling for his head … possibly in a literal, rather than metaphorical, sense]

62

JimV 10.31.16 at 1:59 pm

Omega Centauri 10.31.16 at 1:19 am (#44): great comment, puts the finger on the problem, and deserves engagement. Unfortunately, all I have to offer are solutions from science-fiction: reliable lie-detectors and benign A.I. government. But how to avoid the obvious misuses and bad side-tracks on the way to utopian deployment of such technologies is beyond me. The Internet already gives us the ability to do our own fact-checking and analysis of issues, but it seems more effective at spreading lies.

63

MPAVictoria 10.31.16 at 2:29 pm

Unions, unions, and more unions are the answer to the question of what the left should be doing going forward. Union members are more likely to:
– Vote
– Volunteer in support of progressive campaigns and causes
– Support progressive economic AND social policies

The left’s strategy going forward MUST include efforts to increase union density.

64

WLGR 10.31.16 at 3:46 pm

js, I guess the most important caveat re: the US (along with other settler societies) is that many Euro-Americans never actually went through proletarianization themselves, but probably would have been pushed into the working class they’d stayed in Europe through the heyday of capitalist industrialization, so they left Europe and joined the metaphorical shock troops of settler-colonialism in order to avoid it. The important point is that the combined spoils of settler-colonial expropriation, racial/national hierarchy, and continuing imperialist exploitation in the Third World have largely spared the much-ballyhooed “white working class” (i.e. labor aristocracy) from the abject poverty capitalism invariably wreaks on the working class proper — and on some level these people realize that as long as capitalism exists, this economic safety net is only really justifiable if there’s some fundamental hierarchy of humanity dictating that they as a group deserve to be offered better lives than the people trying to “steal their jobs” and so on. The extent to which different people in different situations are compelled to articulate this ideology in fully conscious ways is another matter, but when they are, terms like “racist”, “ethnonationalist”, and “fascist” are entirely descriptive and not the least bit inappropriate.

For anybody who hasn’t heard of it, the book Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat is an accessible exposition of this kind of viewpoint (and for anybody who takes a glance and can’t get past smarming at the crude typesetting and nonstandard semantic choices e.g. “Amerika”, just grow up).

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WLGR 10.31.16 at 3:52 pm

likbez @ 16, it seems to me that the effort to differentiate race-based from culturally based ultranationalism is still tangled in the weeds of a colloquial understanding of “race” and “racism”. Populations can be racialized according to literally any conceivable physical, social, or cultural characteristic — the idea that it can only depend on specific differentiating factors like one’s melanin count or descent from Charlemagne or whatever is itself a racist idea, an attempt to reify particular forms of racism as rooted in some immutable aspect of “the way things are”. Although from my understanding Ukrainian citizenship like that in most of Europe is primarily determined by jus sanguinis, and like most of Europe it’s still deep in the muck of racial discrimination toward e.g. the Roma, so unless I’m misreading things it seems like a stretch to put too much distance between Ukraine (or Europe in general) and even a very colloquial sense of “ethnonationalism”. It can be articulated more explicitly by outright fascists or more obliquely by mainstream centrist parties, but it’s still there.

And as long as we’re talking about academic definitions of racism (I’m partial to the definition proffered by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “the state-sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death”, although Emmett Rensin’s obnoxiously thorough definition is also good) funnily enough they tend to point at something pretty much identical to what Quiggin appears to mean by “tribalism”. Except unlike with Quiggin’s definition of tribalism @ 32, racism is explicitly a political and economic phenomenon to use a particular ingroup/outgroup differentiation as a way to systematically disenfranchise and subjugate the outgroup, which seems like the only reason we’d bother talking about it as a specific mass political movement at all. And again, as annoying as it is to have pigheaded reactionaries accuse us of twisting language and “playing the race card” and so on, putting up with this noise is preferable to sacrificing useful concepts like racism and fascism from one’s everyday understanding of the world, and it’s certainly preferable to swapping out the terms in question for a racially charged term like “tribalism”.

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Anarcissie 10.31.16 at 4:13 pm

Mike Furlan 10.31.16 at 1:50 am @ 46:
‘… My hope is to build communities of loving people, so that we are not picked off one at a time as we compose blog posts.’

Or at least tolerant people who are positive about relationships with the Others even though they may err. Surely this would be a requirement for achieving equality, because otherwise you have the good people and the bad people, and the good people would have to defeat, rule over, or maybe even exterminate the bad people. P. J. O’Rourke once wrote that the reason Evangelicals adhere to the Republican Party (and Black people to the Democrats) is that that is the party which, while it doesn’t do much for them, doesn’t hate them. We have seen that expressed in the recent past not only with Trump’s success but with the ‘basket of deplorables’. Even a petrochemical plant poisoning your back yard may be preferable to submitting to the power of those who openly despise you and your kind.

But a lot of people want to fight.

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John Quiggin 10.31.16 at 8:33 pm

Kurt Schuler @41 This seems an odd choice of post on which to claim special authority as a US resident, given that it’s about developments common throughout the developed world, and refers to Australia and the UK, as well as the US.

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js. 10.31.16 at 8:47 pm

Meta: I had thought (hoped?) that with the new all-comments-moderated system, comments would sequentially come out of the moderation queue and there would be less moving around of comment numbers (which I think only occurs when moderated comments are released or posted comments are deleted). Instead, comment renumbering seems to have gotten much worse! What gives?

——

On topic:

The idea that “the working class” has gone over to Trump is oversold. In US political discussion, “working class” is used to mean “no college degree” which isn’t at all the same thing: it includes lots of small business owners, for example, and is also correlated with age.

Right. This is why I think petty bourgeois (petit bourgeois if you want to be all fancy and French about it) is a better term.

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nastywoman 10.31.16 at 9:43 pm

In conclusion this analysis is still based on a traditional understanding of left and right which doesn’t exist anymore in most European countries – as concerning the most important issues like globalization and protectionism the radical left and the radical right seem to agree.

And so the the traditional understanding of left and right is often used for justification of the own political position, while it is less and less helpful to explain voting behavior.
As in voting behavior the dividing lines are NOT so much anymore between left and right, but more between a liberal, cosmopolitan bourgeoisie in the center and on both edges populists who are propagating partitioning and protectionism.
This is true not only for Europe but also for the United States of Trump – aka the once ‘United States of America’ -(if this currently very popular joke in Europe is allowed?)

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J-D 10.31.16 at 11:04 pm

And so the the traditional understanding of left and right is often used for justification of the own political position, while it is less and less helpful to explain voting behavior.

It was never any more helpful than it is now; therefore, it is incorrect to say that it is less and less helpful.

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William Berry 10.31.16 at 11:07 pm

likbez @34: “The term “Tribalism” implicitly stresses the ethnic/racial component in the complex phenomena [sic] that modern nationalism represents.”

No, it doesn’t necessarily do any such thing.

I am late to this, I know, but the linguistic essentialism on display here, and in the remarks of some other commenters, is getting really tiresome. This has happened on other threads in which JQ has used the term “tribalism”. He has clarified and qualified his usage ad nauseam against the determined non-comprehension of certain commenters.

Here’s the deal: a term is needed for the set of phenomena JQ is talking about. He has chosen a commonly used metaphorical extension (Metaphorical extension: that is how meaning in language works, lives, evolves. Look it up.) of the term “tribalism”, and has defined it for his purposes. This is, or should be, the point of departure for a discussion of the real substance of his remarks.

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Howard Frant 11.01.16 at 12:27 pm

JQ@66

If you’re talking about countries X, Y, and Z, why shouldn’t someone say, “I’ve lived for more than fifty years in country Y, and it’s nothing like what you’re saying,”? That seems like a useful contribution.

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Dipper 11.01.16 at 12:45 pm

nastywoman has it I think.

One of the features of the EU referendum in the UK was the disagreement on who “we” are. Many Scots clearly identify themselves as Scottish first, and then European secondly. Many pro Remain supporters clearly identified as European, and used arguments comparing the UK to a state in the USA to argue for free movement and a European parliament. Many Leavers saw themselves primarily as British, and used arguments comparing the UK to the USA to justify leaving the Eu.

Unless parties have a clear and politically acceptable view on who the “we” they represent is they will not generate widespread support as most voters will decide for themselves who the “we” it is the parties represent, and in all likelihood will conclude it isn’t them.

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Alesis 11.01.16 at 1:40 pm

Part of the trouble appears to be that the left is a bit mired in Marxist class analysis and lacks a developed language to address racial animosity. Hence the endless debates over whether working class or petit bourgeois is the “proper” terminological to describe people who by and large aren’t even voting for Trump.

I suppose “white privilege” is a tad declasse…

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Brett Dunbar 11.01.16 at 2:54 pm

The fascist far right has always been hostile to capitalism and free market economics. They were corporatist, corporatism is pretty closely related to mercantilism and was, like Marxist socialism, promoted as a theoretical successor to capitalism.

Corporatism is pro-monopoly, nationalist, protectionist and relies on the state to pick winners. Corporatist economic policy favours consolidation and cartels to produce national champions various sectors.

Capitalism is pro-competition, internationalist, pro-free trade and is highly sceptical of the state’s ability to pick winners. Capitalist economic policy favours competition, with the state vetoing mergers and cartels that would render business sectors uncompetitive. Using a market selection to produce effective efficient businesses in a manner akin to Darwinian natural selection.

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William Berry 11.01.16 at 3:48 pm

Since my comment, above, has been in moderation for fifteen hours, I thought I might as well add this thought:

An clue to the signification of cases of the “tribe” group of words is the particular form being used. Words such as “tribe”, or “tribal”, can obviously have an ethno-cultural kind of context, although, even then, not necessarily. When you get to “tribalism”, “tribalistic”, etc., the very form of the word suggests that we might now be in the realm of abstraction and metaphor.

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William Berry 11.01.16 at 3:50 pm

Should be “A clue”, not “An clue”, obviously!

78

WLGR 11.01.16 at 4:52 pm

As stated, I think a three-party system of (neo)liberalism, fascism, and socialism is quite adequate and has the benefit of consistency with historical vocabulary of political philosophy, with the obvious caveat that hegemonic liberal ideology can often stunt the ideological development of the latter two “parties”, channeling their divergent currents back into the liberal mainstream. (This is why IMO it’s helpful to think of the archetypal Western two-party system as “liberals vaguely pretending to be socialists” versus “liberals vaguely pretending to be fascists”, with the amount of vagueness in either pretense varying both by country and over time.) But a simple alternative riffing off the recent popularity of the prefix “alt-“, as inspired by Carl Beijer here and here, might be a three-party system of simply “alt-right”, “alt-left”, and “alt-center”.

What I like is how this highlights the meaninglessness (or rather, obfuscation) of typical mainstream notions of left and right, which refer to rival ideological subgroupings within liberalism, where alt-right and alt-left can be understood as groupings that reject certain basic premises of liberalism altogether; alt-center can then be understood as denoting establishment-aligned liberals of both “right” and “left” varieties, whose clear priority above and beyond superficial two-party bickering is to maintain the hegemony of liberalism (i.e. neoliberalism) against potential ideological competition. We can see this neoliberal/alt-center tendency in the US with moderate Republicans backing Clinton against the proto-fascist/alt-right tendencies channeled by Trump, and a mirror image in the UK with Blairite Labour’s ongoing quest to marginalize the socialist/alt-left tendencies channeled by Corbyn at the expense of empowering the Tories under May. Of course I don’t like the idea of conceding to alt-centrist liberals that the left/right dichotomy without “alt-” prefixes means what they claim it means, but as a way of planting the notion in people’s heads that much of mainstream political discourse is more likely to hinder true understanding than help it, the “alt-” taxonomy seems easy enough both to explain and to understand.

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Stephen 11.01.16 at 9:49 pm

SusanC @60: “it’s also a kind of conspiracy theory that Tony Blair lied to the people about the case for going to war in Iraq”.
The words “a kind of” are being used in an extremely vague and attenuated state. Rather a large number of people would interpret your meaning as “not in the slightest”. Or are you trying to insinuate, I would not say argue, that Tony Blair told the truth the people about the case for going to war in Iraq?
I ask as one who supported Labour before the Iraq war, which I see as criminally dishonest to a degree I would not have previously thought possible.

80

Stephen 11.01.16 at 9:55 pm

Nastywoman@68: I would recommend a long article from that well-known crypto-Tory propaganda organ, the Guardian, which sets out your case far more eloquently than I could. The title is not the author’s responsibility, and is somewhat misleading.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/01/the-ruthlessly-effective-rebranding-of-europes-new-far-right?

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William Berry 11.01.16 at 10:36 pm

You can just delete my comments.

Twenty hours in moderation is absurd. This is no way to run a railroad. Or a comment section.

[Apologies, William. We’ll try to do better.]

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nastywoman 11.01.16 at 11:38 pm

Stephen –
Yes! – Europe’s left had it’s traditional constituency -(the workers) – stolen by the (new) right wing parties.
That’s why it’s so hard to understand how Americas left let it happen – that a Racist Birther could accomplish the same – up to the point where ‘winning back the jobs for the workers’ had become his major winning argument.

And who has it noticed yet?

83

J-D 11.02.16 at 1:24 am

There shouldn’t be any taboo on using the word ‘racist’. If it’s used accurately, to describe attitudes, actions, or people that are in fact racist, then the people whose attitudes and actions are being described may not like it, but that’s not a reason not to do it; just as people who actually are fraudsters may not like being described as fraudsters, but that’s not a reason not to do it. People should be careful not to use the term inaccurately, but that doesn’t equate to a taboo.

84

Howard Frant 11.02.16 at 4:16 am

WLGR

I learned from my reading at another OP that the difference between socialism and left (neo)liberalism is that socialism values equality above individual rights, including human rights. I am incredulous that anyone living in the 21st century (i.e., with the experience of the 20th century) could possibly hold such a position, yet apparently it’s so. That being so, you might to want to keep alt-center for those trying to preserve the hegemony of *liberalism*, i.e., the primacy of human rights over equality, without muddying it up with a lot of stuff about neoliberalism. When people start talking about “(neo)liberalism” with parentheses, it’s anyway a sign that the thing in parentheses has not proved very useful. I’m still trying to figure out why Hillary Clinton is a left neoliberal and not a left liberal.

85

Layman 11.02.16 at 12:56 pm

SusanC: “It’s less obvious what Blair could actually be charged with criminally (as opposed to Hilary Clinton)…”

I’ll bite: With what obvious crime could Hillary Clinton be charged? If an obviously partisan head of the FBI like Comey couldn’t find a charge that would stick, what did he miss?

86

ZM 11.02.16 at 1:22 pm

I think one thing that’s different between Australia and America and might have something to do with the rise of Trump as a major party candidate for President in the USA when the closest politician in Australia with similar racist policies is Pauline Hanson and she is a minor party politician and I think her policies are actually not as loopy as Trumps TBH, is that in America racism is a problem but there also seems to be a lot more prejudice against poor white people in America than there is in Australia from what I can observe as someone who has never been to America…

87

Anarcissie 11.02.16 at 2:24 pm

nastywoman 11.01.16 at 11:38 pm @ 82 —
If you accept my definition of the Left as the side of freedom, equality, and peace, then a leftist is someone who does not think there is enough freedom, equality, and peace, and wants more. But both major parties prefer to pursue war, imperialism, surveillance, imprisonment, and plutocracy, and succeed politically in this way. There is, therefore, no effective organized Left in the US, although there are many people with leftish sentiments. In the absence of an effective Left, the lower orders must pursue their interests through the Right as best they can. Hence the racist birther, and worse.

88

John Quiggin 11.02.16 at 9:08 pm

@84 My impression is that you haven’t learned anything much about liberalism, socialism and neoliberalism from reading here. This might help

http://johnquiggin.com/2008/09/27/neoliberalism-defined/

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nastywoman 11.02.16 at 10:49 pm

– in another conclusion ‘Trumpism’ might have rendered all future efforts to differentiate between left and right ad absurdum – in the same absurd -(or bizarre?) way the word ‘Trump’ might replace the word ‘America’?

As the ‘right wording’ or ‘labeling’ seems essential – as the wisdom goes – that US never ever will vote for a ‘socialist’ – or even a ‘social democrat’?

And so the final question goes: Would ‘Racists’ have voted for Trump if they would have been aware of his real name F…face von Clownstick?

90

Sebastian H 11.02.16 at 10:50 pm

The problem I have with ‘tribalism’ as the third category, is that it describes an in-group out-group dynamic that is true of essentially all political groupings.

I think you’re on to something with the idea of a third generalizable group, and I’ll admit to not having a firm handle on what I think describes the third group.

I agree that it isn’t quite ‘racism’ in the classic sense, though I also think it can lend itself to racism, and it is clear that some nasty proportion of racists have found their home in it. Stephen’s Guardian link at #80 is definitely reaching in a similar direction at trying to define the group, though I think the author feeds into the left-right dynamic that you are trying to add a third part to.

Perhaps part of the problem is that it is an emerging coalition, so it isn’t clear how it is going to shake out? So it is possible to accurately say that there is racism, and anti-globalism, and middle class fears, and a resentment for jumping ahead in line, but that it isn’t clear what will be the main organizing force which it ultimately (if at all) coalesces around.

If so, the correct way of dealing with the issue of racism is to correctly label it when it comes to the fore, but NOT to use is as part of whatever general label we try to give to the group unless it actually coalesces around racism.

I suspect that part of the political dynamic is to try to call it racism in order to dismiss everything that the people in the third group want to say. That can work so long as the group remains small because you just put them out of the political mind. But if it gets larger, it becomes dangerous to employ the term ‘racism’ to describe it as a dismissive technique, because you will be calling a bunch of people with non-racist complaints ‘racist’ which may cause them to be less hostile to the actual racists who may be traveling in similar circles. This in turn will allow the actually racist leaders or followers to have more power because the ‘in group’ of elites classifies the entire out-group as racists.

91

Manta 11.02.16 at 11:06 pm

I read in some comments (and in the Guardian article @80) the idea that the “far right” has taken the voters from the “traditional” left parties.

I would say the opposite is true: the “leftist” parties have in many cases abandoned their traditional constituencies, who had to find someone else to represent their interests: see for instance the left parties in France and Italy implementing right-wing labor reforms.

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nastywoman 11.02.16 at 11:08 pm

or in other words and about what kinds of strategies and arguments are needed –
Let’s keep the data and change the terminology – just the way F…face von Clownstick changed his name into ‘Trump’ to become more electable for everybody who might like the word ‘Trump’ better than the words ‘social democracy’?

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nastywoman 11.02.16 at 11:16 pm

– and seriously – wouldn’t it help a lot to replace the word ‘Racist’ by the name ‘F…face von Clownstick’?

94

Lee A. Arnold 11.02.16 at 11:22 pm

The kinds of “strategies and arguments” which are necessary to fight “motivated social cognition” or “social cognitive bias” is difficult. There is an existing literature on this. Some of the known strategies are:

1. Take a middle position between the two wings.
2. Cross their experts, i.e. find an expert whom the people already respect, and who will start to sing them a different tune.
3. The Benjamin Franklin effect; induced cognitive dissonance, etc.

A remarkable effort using variations of these kinds of arguments was dropped just two days ago:

95

Howard Frant 11.03.16 at 7:29 am

JQ@88

I like some of the stuff I’ve read by you a lot. I think you really do best when you keep your personality out of it.

Thank you for providing me with my umpteenth distinct definition of neoliberalism. This does sound more or less what I had always supposed it to mean. It is not, though, the definition you use at CT, where this is only “right” or “hard” neoliberalism. Then there is some stuff about Charles Peters and the DLC, and we get left neoliberalism, so that neoliberalism is the ideology of not just the Republicans, but every single person in the US Congress, with maybe one exception. And my question still is: what exactly do we lose by referring to left neoliberals as left liberals? If we take the most consequential US left-liberals of the 20th century, FDR and LBJ, how do they differ from Hillary Clinton? Not, God knows, in being against military intervention. Not in being supported by unions (she is). Not in being protectionist on trade. True, we don’t find Hillary talking about the malefactors of great wealth. But I don’t think that’s enough to merit its own prefix.

You’re right: I never was quite sure what Sanders meant when he called himself a socialist. Are you? Is he?

96

SusanC 11.03.16 at 9:05 am

@79. I think there’s pretty solid evidence that Tony Blair really did lie over Iraq. But it also has the form of a conspiracy theory. So unlike e.g. NASA faking the moon landings, or contact with extraterrestrials at Roswell, we have the case of a conspiracy theory with sold evidence that it is actually true. So the conspiracy theory tendency can really go to town over Blair, because this time just about everyone agrees with them that they’re right.

97

SusanC 11.03.16 at 9:17 am

P.S. Thanks to Snowden and others, the conpiracy theory staple “the NSA has deliberately undermined the security of NIST’s standards in order to spy on US citizens” (see e.g. The film Sneakers for a fictional example of the trope) is now in the category of “conspiracy theory with solid evidence that it is actually true”.

Al of which makes it hard to reassure those who might extend it to, for example “NSA and or their Russian counterparts are using their known ability to hack computer systems to alter the results of elections carried out using electronic voting machines, with the effect that the next US president will be decided by which group of hackers wins, rather than who the people voted for” I dont think there is solid evidence for that one yet.

98

nastywoman 11.03.16 at 10:32 am

Anarcissie – 87
If you accept my definition of the Left as the side of freedom, equality, and peace, then a leftist is someone who does not think there is enough freedom, equality, and peace, and wants more. ‘
I accept the definition – but as there are all kind of ‘political sides’ – especially in Europe – who don’t think there is enough freedom, equality, and peace and they all ‘want more’ the question how to get it – and what kinds of strategies and arguments are needed – becomes awfully confusing.
And the (general) analysis that some of these parties -(in the US just two) – prefer to pursue war, imperialism, surveillance, imprisonment, and plutocracy is not helpful if there are certain issue – like the currently dominating issue of so many Americans who just want ‘change’ even if ‘change’ means to elect an Insane Fascist Racist Birther as their President.
So the dominating issue becomes: How to prevent such an Insane Fascist Racist Birther from taking over your ‘homeland’?
And how to prevent similar attacks on our democracy in the future?

99

Manta 11.03.16 at 11:08 am

SusanC,
how can you characterize “Blair lies about war” as a conspiracy theory?

I would say “politician lies about war” is the default mode, and the case when that doesn’t happen the rare exception.

100

Ronan(rf) 11.03.16 at 12:48 pm

“The terminology appears to be driven by data. Education level is objective and easily elicited, whereas social class is not.”

In the sense that it’s used instead of income, I’m Not sure if it’s only driven by data, so much as trying to define”class” as a cultural category. (Which i don’t think is necessarily in opposition to your point)

This is quite a good book

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-new-minority-9780190632540?cc=ie&lang=en&

which uses education as a proxy for class (his reasoning being that focussing only on income ignores “ethnocultural” differences based on class, age, regional identity et c)

101

Ronan(rf) 11.03.16 at 12:50 pm

..sorry typo

“(his reasoning being that focussing only on income ignores “ethnocultural” differences based on CLASS, age, regional identity et c) “

Class there should be race/ethnicity.

102

Alesis 11.03.16 at 2:42 pm

“I suspect that part of the political dynamic is to try to call it racism in order to dismiss everything that the people in the third group want to say.”
Honestly since when has racism been dismissed from public life?

Have any political actors ever paid a net penalty for it?

103

Sebastian H 11.03.16 at 4:51 pm

And the (general) analysis that some of these parties -(in the US just two) – prefer to pursue war, imperialism, surveillance, imprisonment, and plutocracy is not helpful if there are certain issue – like the currently dominating issue of so many Americans who just want ‘change’ even if ‘change’ means to elect an Insane Fascist Racist Birther as their President.
So the dominating issue becomes: How to prevent such an Insane Fascist Racist Birther from taking over your ‘homeland’?
And how to prevent similar attacks on our democracy in the future?

This gets at what I tried to say in the Brexit thread. The way you prevent it is by making things good enough for people that risking “almost any kind of change I don’t know how it will work” is obviously a bad deal for them. That’s also the problem with labeling them all racist when they aren’t–you’re lumping them in with the people you don’t want them to vote with.

You need to keep the number of people who are willing to risk massive revolutionary change down. Letting too many people fall into the “nothing in the establishment is going to ever bother helping me” category leaves them open to manipulation by racist or otherwise scary political opportunists. Those opportunists ALWAYS exist, but if you are doing things right in your country they won’t have many people to gain traction with.

104

Layman 11.03.16 at 7:58 pm

“The way you prevent it is by making things good enough for people that risking “almost any kind of change I don’t know how it will work” is obviously a bad deal for them.”

This suggests there must be no rich or comfortable people eager for ‘almost any kind of change’, even one that embraces racism. That’s a testable prediction right there. Shall we examine the evidence?

105

bruce wilder 11.03.16 at 7:59 pm

. . . what exactly do we lose by referring to left neoliberals as left liberals? If we take the most consequential US left-liberals of the 20th century, FDR and LBJ, how do they differ from Hillary Clinton?

It is always a mistake, I think, to imagine that practical politicians are philosophers with coherent and systematic philosophies cum ideologies, but if we take leading politicians as signs of their own times, maybe we can say something that isn’t completely crazy.

A New Deal liberal as represented by FDR or LBJ differs pretty substantially, ideologically and programmatically, from a left-neoliberal like Obama or Clinton. If we don’t give them different labels, then we fail to see the substantive shift in outlook and agenda, purposes and intent.

The New Deal instituted a thorough-going structural reform of the financial sector, encouraging large subsectors organized on mutual principles, such as savings and loans, credit unions and mutual insurance, and with restraints on firm size and scope (notably Glass-Steagall). A system of deposit insurance and detailed state and federal examination of bank operating practices by audit, was established, with special procedures of expedient bankruptcy designed to protect the payment system from panic and bank runs. Progressive-era prohibitions on usury and gambling were reinforced by the states. Special government-sponsored institutions facilitated very long-term credit at relatively low rates so that families could finance home ownership. The New Deal established Social Security on a pay-as-you-go system, without means-testing or private investment of funds. Private employers were encouraged to provide health insurance and pensions universally to their employees and union organizing of industrial sectors expanded greatly, with the aim of improving working conditions but also to reduce the precarity of wage employment and to obtain health insurance and pension benefits. Programs of unemployment compensation and workers compensation as well as regulation of hours and working conditions were instituted at the Federal and State levels. Programs were instituted to aid the poor with financial assistance, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, etc.

So, in summary, New Deal liberalism combined financial repression and financial populism with labor regulation and social insurance, to reduce the precarity of life for waged and salaried labor. Combined with the effects of a WWII program of industrial mobilization that deliberately sought to prevent or limit war-profiteering and GI Bill, a substantial shift in income distribution in an egalitarian direction was accomplished and toward Labor and away from Capital, with a large increase in public provision of goods.

The New Deal coalition was not ideologically pure; FDR herded his Party of Democratic Cats with a rhetoric of pragmatism, and deliberately drew on a heritage of Republican Progressivism, southern and western rural Populism as well as the bastard socialism of Big City political machines. Many elements of the New Deal were fashioned by people we might regard as philosophically conservative or reactionary. Carter Glass, a principal author of the eponymous Glass-Steagall legislation, the FDIC (as well as a founder of the Federal Reserve as an author of Glass-Owen back in 1913) and so on, was a reactionary and racist leader of the Virginia Democratic Party’s Byrd Organization, a political machine. FDR’s first Securities and Exchange Commission chairman was Joseph Kennedy, a conservative Democrat well-known for his own sharp practice on Wall Street in the 1920s. But, overall, the direction and purposes of the New Deal reforms were colored by the leadership and rationales of the liberals nee progressives or populists and their campaigns on behalf of the common man, the consumer and the ordinary worker against the power of the elite big business and the wealthy. With political and policy success, the mainstream of both Parties paid lip service to the cliches embedded in these rationales, and we trace the continuation of the New Deal pattern of politics thru Nixon (who established some of the last of the alphabet regulatory agencies, EPA and OSHA, and attempted price controls and declared himself a Keynesian)

Since circa 1980, American politics has been about dismantling the New Deal. The economy was “de-regulated” and nowhere did the reform of economic regulation go further than in the FIRE sectors. The distribution of income shifted dramatically in an upward direction and toward Capital and away from Labor.

As in earlier times, the partisan and ideological division of American politics adapted a new consensus, after initial radical moves by Reagan and later, George W Bush. Those offering technocratic cum ideological rationales and advocacy for Reagan’s economic policies were the right neoliberals. Those, who accepted the new alignment and tried to find partisan advantage in a “third way” alternative to the Republicans became the “left neoliberals”. In the U.S., that was Clinton and the DLC. (Charles Peters was a timely prophet.) (In Britain, something of a parallel evolution occurred with Thatcher and Blair.)

Should we claim that Bill Clinton, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton are “the same” as earlier Democratic politicians ideologically or programmatically? Is creating a structure of financial repression “the same” as tearing apart a system of financial regulation? Is presiding over upward redistribution of income and the financialization of the economy “the same” as earlier efforts to tame and limit the predations of the financial sector? Do we think Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was extending southern populist traditions when she was using her influence to protect Florida’s pay day lenders from prospective Federal regulation?

In an earlier era, liberals advocated for Keynesian fiscal policy; neoliberals argue for monetary policy and quantitative easing. In earlier eras, liberals and before them progressives advocated for structural industrial policies, utility regulation, anti-monopoly legislation such as the Robinson-Patman Act and direct government administration and provision of public goods. LBJ took a year to implement Medicare, a program of universal social insurance administered primarily by public officials at low administrative cost and considerable restraint of private profit; Obama took 4 years to implement the ACA, a cumbersome program encouraging private insurance monopolies and complex tax incentives alongside a maybe-maybenot means-tested extension of Medicaid — are we to pretend these are “the same” left-liberalism? One attempted to reduce precarity for most people; neoliberalism seems to want to celebrate decorating increasing precarity with Rube Goldberg economic institutions the better to fleece the unwary or unlucky.

Neoliberalism, left and right, has been a collaborative project and one that has pretended an end to ideology. Its most characteristic slogan has been “There is no alternative.” Escaping that idea is part of escaping neoliberalism. Escaping the notion that the evolution of the distribution of income has been a mysterious outcome of impersonal “forces of globalization” and biased technological change and not a matter of policy requires some effort.

Everytime someone proposes “making college affordable” by increasing the availability of loans and credit, I would say that’s neoliberalism at work. That’s what neoliberalism is: the public-private partnerships that feed on the body politic with privatized schools and privatized prisons and privatized justice, socialized losses and privatized profit. Trying to “remedy” poverty with private credit provision and tax-subsidized “private investment” instead of income and investment in public goods like decent infrastructure and education.

So, when Elizabeth Warren asks financial regulators why they are not regulating, why no one is going to jail in vast banks dominating the financial landscape and daily exposed as criminal enterprises, well, she’s not being a neoliberal. When people call for single-payer health insurance (“Medicare for all”), they are departing from neoliberalism. When people decry the austerity visited on Greece and the institutional reforms forced on that benighted country, they are trying to find a way out of neoliberalism.

It is not easy to escape “there is no alternative”. But, I think we could start by getting clear that it is not all the same.

106

Sebastian H 11.03.16 at 11:37 pm

“This suggests there must be no rich or comfortable people eager for ‘almost any kind of change’, even one that embraces racism. That’s a testable prediction right there. Shall we examine the evidence?”

You’re universalizing for no reason. NO rich or comfortable person? Some people are just pathological no matter their upbringing or status. You don’t have to please EVERBODY. You just have to do good enough that 52% won’t vote for Brexit or whatever. I’m not sure exactly where the break point is, but we appear to be well past it.

107

LFC 11.04.16 at 12:58 am

BW @105
Agree there is a difference, in some respects large, betw New Deal liberalism and the direction the Dems began to move in in the late 80s and ’90s.
That said, it is worth adding as a footnote that HRC has proposed spending on infrastructure (and there is even Repub support in Congress for this). It is also the case that global forces did exert pressure on social democrats (dem. socialists) and left-liberals in various countries — recall for ex. Mitterand’s u-turn, faced w the prospect of capital flight, in the early ’80s — so to blame *everything* on policy decisions w/o taking into account the broader context seems not right.
But on the basic pt re the differences, yes, with the proviso, as you suggest, that FDR relied on Southern Dems for some of his votes and didn’t challenge them on race.

108

John Quiggin 11.04.16 at 8:45 am

AFAICT, the core group of Trump supporters aren’t rich and comfortable, but they also aren’t poor and desperate. Rather they are middle-income, low education whites who are doing rather less well than they expected and who frame the problem in racial terms. This framing naturally arises when working class whites are doing badly, but the actual working class is more likely to see things in class terms.

Again AFAICT, most movements of this kind in the 20th century have drawn on this kind of support base.

109

novakant 11.04.16 at 9:03 am

Sebastian, you might want to take a look at this:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/04/enemies-of-the-people-british-newspapers-react-judges-brexit-ruling

There is no way to satisfy these people except establishing a neo-fascist state.

And you’re wrong as painting Brexit voters as the downtrodden, compared to the unders 35s, who overwhelmingly voted Remain, most of them are economically secure, they are much more likely the people who lost the culture wars.

110

Z 11.04.16 at 9:04 am

Thanks bruce wilder, very well said. Let us now hope Howard Frant will read it. Rich Puchalsky often mentions Frank’s latest Listen, liberal in that context and indeed it paints a striking picture of how much of the 1990’s Democratic party was constructed in a rejection of the New Deal and its policies.

@LFC recall for ex. Mitterand’s u-turn, faced w the prospect of capital flight, in the early ’80s — so to blame *everything* on policy decisions w/o taking into account the broader context seems not right.

But the broader context is itself the result of policy decisions and at least in the case you mention, crucially so. In 1981/1982, Mitterand was faced between the alternative of either implementing his program in a coherent way (the way described in his very program for instance) or continuing the monetary union project of the original European neoliberal (Giscard of the center-right neoliberal variety, Schmidt of the center-left one); a monetarist project which was explicitly designed to ensure monetary stability at a high exchange rate. One can (at the time credibly, I believe) make the case that the continuation of the European project was paramount, or argue (slightly less credibly, at least in retrospect) that the very real international isolation that France would have faced if it had leaved the European monetary snake would have been worse than the turn to austerity, but the choice was there, and it was an eminently political one, not a case of “I would sincerely like to keep my electoral promises but reality forces me to do otherwise”.

To tie this with the OP, it is good to remember that 1984 is the year the Front National became a consequent national political force in France, and so the beginning of an arc that brings it in good position to come ahead of the first round of the presidential election 33 years later.

111

Z 11.04.16 at 9:28 am

“Rather they are middle-income, low education whites who are doing rather less well than they expected

Isn’t that point crucial, though?

Assume for the sake of argument 1) that the key variable to understand the social trajectory of a family nowadays is the capacity to transmit and be able to fructify educational, not usual, capital (unless you are born in the 0,1%, in which case you’re fine no matter what), and 2) that having this capacity is very strongly correlated with occupying some specific social positions (educated professionals, academics…). Then we should not be surprised to see vast segments of the electorate believing the system is rigged against them, even though they might actually be doing quite well for the moment in economic terms, because in a certain sense it is. It is not a very nice though to entertain as a CT reader, but the upper 10% in educational capital have in the last 30 years gamed the system in order to ensure that their children and grand-children will end up in the same position just as deviously and ruthlessly as the upper 10% in financial capital have.

If this model is correct, then we should expect to see part of the Trump electorate formed of hard-core racists and strong reactionaries (10 to 30 per cent of the electorate depending on the states, in the US context) but then a mass of people (maybe another 30%) who are more anti-left progressive than anti-neoliberal and more anti-neoliberal than xenophobes, because they evaluate (correctly, if the above is true) that left-progressives are damaging their social standing more with their actual (if not stated) strategies of educational capital reproduction than neoliberals with their strategies of usual capital reproduction, who in turn hurt them more than immigrants (legal or not).

Who does the typical Trump voter (not the typical attendee at a Trump rally) despises more? His neighbor Joe Sanchez or egg-head academics in their ivory tower and elite journalists? Again with the proviso that this analysis bear a semblance of truth, arguing against racism starts very close to home, for many of us here.

112

kidneystones 11.04.16 at 10:21 am

Whilst the discussion here on racism has been rather good, imho, in particular BW on the New Deal, there is something truly other worldly about the discussion of racism in the press. Here are some of the headlines at Real Clear Politics from the establishment media:

Why Trump is Different — and Must Be Repelled, The New Yorker
We Can’t Let America Become Trumpistan, CNN
James Comey’s Self-Righteous Meddling, NYT
Here’s How You Destroy a Democratic Republic, Wapo
Trump is an Existential Threat, NYT
Media Has Failed to Convey the Policy Stakes if Trump Wins, Vox

I realize that Vox probably doesn’t see itself as establishment, but the number of aspiring VSPs per word must be higher than at any other site. I can’t decide which is my favorite, but I lean very much towards “James Comey’s Self-Righteous Meddling’ coming from always humble NYT stable of donor-class water-carriers.

Unlike others I do not see a great deal of ill-will between different ethnic communities in the US, but rather a deep sadness and frustration.

I took a research class on a brief tour of the Massachusetts’ manumission laws, Mungo Park, Brown, Lee Daniels’ the Butler, and Randy Newman’s ‘Rednecks.’ As an outside observer of the US, and a fan, it seems to me that despite a great many ‘liberal’ protestations to the contrary – Americans from European countries are as fearful and unhappy about living in close proximity with Americans descended from slaves brought over from Africa, as ever. This is as true of ‘liberals’ as it is of ‘conservatives.’

Despite the rancor of the hacks and partisans I see a great willingness and desire in Americans to find a common solution to this and other problems. I wish them luck, patience, and fortitude. Whatever happens on November 8th sinks will still need to be cleaned, children washed, dressed and packed off to school.

Let’s wish them all a better future.

113

Layman 11.04.16 at 11:47 am

Sebastian H: “You’re universalizing for no reason.”

John Quiggen: “AFAICT, the core group of Trump supporters aren’t rich and comfortable, but they also aren’t poor and desperate.”

Indeed, lots of not-rich, not-comfortable, low-education people are supporting Trump; but if they were the only ones supporting Trump, he’d by trailing by a huge margin in the polls.

Trump gets 27% of voters with incomes above $150k, and 40% of voters with incomes above $100k. He gets 35% of voters with college educations, and 25% of voters with post-graduate degrees. In fact, among people who are college-educated, fully employed and earning more than $150k, 1 person in 3 is voting for Trump. Those are rich or comfortable people by any reasonable standard.

These voters have not been forced by ‘things’ which for them are ‘not good enough’ that they now must ‘risk’ ‘almost any kind of change’, even one which embraces explicit racism and bigotry. Obviously something else is motivating their support of an openly racist and bigoted candidate.

Furthermore, 1 in 3 people who are ‘rich or comfortable’ support Trump for other, non-economic reasons, it is reasonable to assume that a large fraction of Trump supporters who are not ‘rich or comfortable’ support him for those same other reasons.

http://polling.reuters.com/#poll/TM651Y15_26/filters/LIKELY:1,EDUATT:3,SVQ6:1,INCOME:6

114

LFC 11.04.16 at 1:45 pm

Z @110
Since you’re French and have closer knowledge, I’ll defer, esp. as I don’t have time to research the episode right now.

115

alas anon 11.04.16 at 2:38 pm

Re: 105 at 11.03.16 at 7:59 pm

Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the fire
But mama, that’s where the power is.

Thank you Mr. Wilder. I could build a fort on that rock.

116

Sebastian H 11.04.16 at 3:26 pm

Layman, That isn’t a very good use of statistics in view of this discussion. The link you provided is dynamic and currently doesn’t return the same results as you did, but I will presume that you were right at the time you quoted them. It currently returns “There aren’t enough responses to give sufficiently accurate results in this time period. “

The reason it gives that response is because your filter is less than 1% of respondents. Which is precisely what I would expect. College Educated+likely voter+$150K+employed full time+voting for Trump IS A THING. But it isn’t an important thing in the sense of our discussion because you are talking about less than 1% of respondents.

So if I stick to just likely voters under $25K (6% of respondents and already more important your link) I see Clinton 40% Trump 38%.

Lets expand the income range up to $50k (21% of respondents) I see Clinton 41% Trump 39%.

Now interestingly, the US median household income in 2014 was just under $52k. So we are already talking about half of the US population.

You say “Indeed, lots of not-rich, not-comfortable, low-education people are supporting Trump; but if they were the only ones supporting Trump, he’d by trailing by a huge margin in the polls.”

This may be true, but it is completely not interacting with any of my points. I wrote things like: “You need to keep the number of people who are willing to risk massive revolutionary change down. Letting too many people fall into the “nothing in the establishment is going to ever bother helping me” category leaves them open to manipulation by racist or otherwise scary political opportunists. Those opportunists ALWAYS exist, but if you are doing things right in your country they won’t have many people to gain traction with.”

You should note that I fully accept there will be some idiots who want revolutionary change no matter their status.

According to the polls data you linked to, likely voters in the bottom half of the economic spectrum are polling with a tiny preference for Clinton. That is a pretty big sign of exactly the kind of failure I’m talking about.

You use statistics without seeming to understand how they interact with my argument. You say things like “Furthermore, 1 in 3 people who are ‘rich or comfortable’ support Trump for other, non-economic reasons, it is reasonable to assume that a large fraction of Trump supporters who are not ‘rich or comfortable’ support him for those same other reasons. “

First, I don’t AT ALL think it is safe to assume that the rich and poor support candidates of either side for the same reasons. But even given that supposition, even if we posit that every single Trump supporter in the rich category is a completely unreformable racist (and not just voting Republican for whomever the nominee is on pure economic interest) AND if we suppose that it translates EXACTLY to all poor supporters of Trump, that still leaves a huge percentage of poor Trump voters who are not in the unreformable racist category.

If Clinton were winning that ~7-10% difference in people who are poor she would be winning with the biggest margin since Reagan.

If Clinton were winning even half that ~7-10% difference in people who are poor she would win almost every state in the US, so the electoral college would be irrelevant.

Yes Trump wouldn’t be so scary without the racists. But Clinton would be unstoppable if she were appealing to the non-racist poor Republican voters.

Now I don’t even believe that hardcore racist voters are 1/3 of the population. I’d put them at more the 1/5-1/6 range. Still dangerous, but not a big threat if we are doing things properly. But even under the formulation you propose with the rueters polling, Clinton would be doing so much better as to be completely unworried about Trump if the areas I discussed weren’t working against her.

117

bruce wilder 11.04.16 at 3:52 pm

LFC @ 107 (4.11 11:58 am)

History is serial autocorrelation: where you are is at least as important as where you imagine you want to go in determining the course travelled. I think the New Deal did challenge the racism and patriarchy that organised the politics of the U.S. and especially of the southern states. Ira Katznelson isn’t wrong exactly, but he isn’t historical either.

The New Deal and the liberal shaping of the war effort set in motion the processes that integrated the armed forces, made equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination conventional ideals, established the principle of one-man, one-vote, and so on. It is hardly anomalous that LBJ, a New Dealer, should be the shepherd of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964 as well as the War on Poverty. We look back with contempt for the hesitancy and compromises and the long boring of hard boards. But that is about us, as much as it is about them.

I admire the way Corey Robin has been trying to blend the notions of political ideology as perennial expression with an awareness of political anacyclosis as context. Neoliberalism is a phenomenon of a long political wave and adapting to circumstances. For an American like myself it is easiest to see at a great distance in the politics of late 70’s Britain, say. Coal and steel were going away. There really was no choice about that, though there may have been better alternatives than the one offered by Thatcher.

118

alas anon 11.04.16 at 4:03 pm

I’m sticking with Ressentiment rather than actual racism as the key. Overt racist statements may simply be the new dog whistle. You can’t simply say I hate my neighbor who didn’t have a big home equity loan in 2008 and lose his house. I can’t say I hate my neighbor who had a tech job instead of a middle management position and didn’t get laid off with no health insurance and little or no pension due to computerization. You can’t say I hate all you smart asses who seem to be moving right along with your lives despite what occurred in 2008 when my 1500 shares in Wachovia turned to absolute $hit. Ditto the nice white couple down the street that drives a prius and attends the f’in gay lovin episcopal church or whatever. I don’t see them suffering…. and they’re not even real Christians.

So then overt expressions of racist sentiments as a signifier that we’re not one of them, not one of that namby-pamby, librul, tree-huggin’ gun-hatin’, queer lovin’ crowd. The same crowd that enables all of Hochchild’s line cutters. The crowd hinted at in 111 @ 11.04.16 at 9:28 am.

So yeah: ressentiment. Or maybe a marvel comics like tag: Rejectos

119

Guy Harris 11.04.16 at 7:01 pm

Kidneystones:

Let’s wish them all a better future.

Good luck with that.

120

kidneystones 11.05.16 at 1:00 am

What constitutes ‘racism’ and/or ‘hate-speech’ at Youtube.

Donald Trump’s closing argument.

Watch for yourself and decide if this 120 seconds warrants the warning attached by the donor-class corporation to the anti-globalist argument:

121

Guy Harris 11.05.16 at 1:57 am

Kidneystones:
The video’s YouTube page doesn’t appear to have any such warnings on it. The “More” button appears to let users report a video; some viewer may have decided to report it as such. I don’t know whether the complaints are displayed once a report has been made; it appears that if the Google/Alphabet reviewers deem the complaints valid, the video is removed, and if they don’t deem them valid, the video stays up (and “no amount of flagging will change that and the video will remain on our site”).

So perhaps this had nothing to do with Google/Alphabet deciding that pro-Trump videos must be flagged as inappropriate, and that they, in fact, deemed the flagging invalid and left the video up (sans marking as racist/hate-speech).

(There may have been some comments flagged as racist or as hate speech; the first time I went to its page, there were comments at the top that seemed pretty inappropriate to me – I forget whether they were blaming the Satanists or the Jews or what – and, in fact, they disappeared. No, I didn’t flag the comments.)

122

John Holbo 11.05.16 at 8:15 am

I have debated in my mind whether to let Kidneystones turn this thread into a one-man Trump rally and have decided I could do without, thanks all the same.

123

Layman 11.05.16 at 1:37 pm

Sebastian H: “First, I don’t AT ALL think it is safe to assume that the rich and poor support candidates of either side for the same reasons.”

To quote something I read recently, “You’re universalizing for no reason.”

Trump appears to be underperforming Romney at incomes above the median, and substantially underperforming him at incomes above $100k. So, some people among that group are “…not just voting Republican for whomever the nominee is on pure economic interest.” The most likely reason for that IMHO is that those people are recoiling in the face of his naked racism and bigotry. Conversely, the other people, the ones who are supporting him, are not repelled by his naked racism and bigotry, and instead are endorsing it. I suppose you could try to argue that they don’t recognize it, but that seems facile to me. We have a word for those who advocate for racism to their own benefit: Racists.

I think you’re trying to tell a story in which racism and bigotry are not the driving force behind Trump’s rise and popularity; that the driving force is economic anxiety. It is certainly true that there’s economic anxiety out there. But if you look at that poll, selecting for those below the median wage (as you did) and then filter for race, what you’ll find is that the difference between Romney’s result in 2012 and Trump’s polling now is made up entirely of white people. Why might it be that among those suffering economic anxiety, it is only white people who are turning to Trump?

Relating this back to the OP, Trump is an openly racist candidate, and racism is a big driver of his support. How do we respond to it? Well, it’s true there is economic anxiety out there. It’s true that neoliberal policies aren’t, by and large, helping lower-income people. It’s true that the Democratic Party has yielded too much ideological ground to conservatives, going back to Clinton 1. But to say that we should ignore the racism and argue against the economic policy is to blame someone other than the racists for their racism, and that makes no sense to me at all. Trump is executing a campaign to make racism an acceptable social and political behavior. The proper response to that is to recognize that it is racism, call it racism, and oppose the racism.

124

Layman 11.05.16 at 1:40 pm

“But to say that we should ignore the racism and argue against the economic policy is to blame someone other than the racists for their racism…”

This should read “…to say that we should ignore the racism and instead argue only against the economic policy is to blame someone other than the racists for their racism…”

125

engels 11.05.16 at 4:09 pm

‘Tough on racism, tough on the causes of racism’ would be my friendly advice.

126

alas anon 11.05.16 at 4:15 pm

“allowing neoliberals to exploit racist and tribalist political support while pursuing the interests of wealth and capital, at the expense of the (disproportionately non-white) poor.”

I’m not so sure about this statement and the formulation of “the poor”; or even the non-white poor, as the primary victims; at least not beginning with the systemic economic slowdown beginning in 2006 and the collapse of 2008. I can’t quote figures or references off the top of my head but the housing bubbles around the world and certainly here in the US created a surge of work and increased income and apparently increased wealth that led to all sorts of spending behavior the end of which for the average middle class white Joe could be likened to pulling a Thelma and Louise. The ripple effects led to the shedding of probably millions of middle class jobs in Government services, public education, local, state and Federal government. The effects on the private sector had to be even greater.

I don’t understand why the crash of 2008 hasn’t completely discredited the tenets of neoliberalism. These types of results can easily account for the shifts as described in 11.04.16 at 3:26 pm # 116 above. And it seems to me that if it weren’t for the votes of Black and Hispanic and the disproportionately non-white poor; “soft-neoliberalism” wouldn’t stand a chance in this current election.

And be careful about blaming the victim as this article in the New Republic notes.
https://newrepublic.com/article/116919/big-lie-haunts-post-crash-economy

127

Ragweed 11.05.16 at 4:18 pm

Holbo- this may be a blog, rather than an academic journal, but there is still a difference between being censored and failing to pass peer review. I for one appreciate the peer review.

128

nastywoman 11.05.16 at 4:38 pm

‘Trump is executing a campaign to make racism an acceptable social and political behavior. The proper response to that is to recognize that it is racism, call it racism, and oppose the racism.’

Agreed – but if you can cure the Racism of so many of the Racist Fascist followers – by giving them some well payed jobs back – and thus some kind of ‘purpose – these often very depressed workers – might be too busy again – not to live out their racism – and especially not motivated to vote for a Racist Birther?

129

engels 11.05.16 at 4:48 pm

Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) 05/11/2016, 16:37
I do not believe that most of the people who are thinking about voting for Mr. Trump are racist or sexist.

Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) 05/11/2016, 16:37
Some are, but I think most are people who are hurting, they’re worried about their kids, they’re working longer hours for lower wages.

Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders)
05/11/2016, 16:39 Our job is to reach out to Trump voters to tell them that we’re going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just a few.

130

nastywoman 11.05.16 at 4:51 pm

– and if we could agree on the simple analysis – that historically – each time we had these economical problems – like right now in the US and in Europe – the F…face von Clownsticks had an easy path to exploit the lowest instinct of the voters – and raise their racism in a way where a ‘Racists Fascist’ suddenly becomes a ‘serious’ candidate – as somebody else has mentioned here: ‘Keep the people happy’ – and especially the people who are so tremendously easy to be raised in the most unpleasant (racists) way!

131

Yan 11.05.16 at 4:55 pm

124
“This should read “…to say that we should ignore the racism and instead argue only against the economic policy is to blame someone other than the racists for their racism…”

Can you identify the specific passage in this (or any CT thread) where a poster can be charitably read as saying we should ignore the racism and only argue economics?

Sincere question: do you really believe any or many on the left think that?

Alternative views that you might allow your opposition holds:
Racism and economic grievances are equally important.
Ditto, except economics is more important.
Ditto, except racism is more important.
Any of the above, adding they are causally independent, demanding separate analyses and solutions.
Any of the above, adding they are causally interdependent, demanding combined analysis and solutions.

Note that on some versions of the final view, to not argue economic policy would be, practically speaking, to ignore racism. Mistaken or not, they’d be trying precisely not to ignore racism by focusing on what they believe, mistakenly or not, is its principle controllable causal aggravater.

Note, too, that most holders of these other versions agree we should blame racists for racism even if it has complex causes that include economics. However, they would consider simply calling out and laying blame a form of “ignoring racism” — identifying it, disapproving, then giving no practical answers about how to reduce and prevent it.

In some sense, that’s what the Trump movement is: the results of ignoring racism by ignoring racists, pretending that by calling out then looking away they go away. And what is the preferred left solution to Trump? Continue ignoring, by calling out, blaming, and refusing to find causes and thus cures.

My doctor keeps ignoring my lung cancer by yammering on about cigarettes.

132

Layman 11.06.16 at 12:06 am

Yan: “Can you identify the specific passage in this (or any CT thread) where a poster can be charitably read as saying we should ignore the racism and only argue economics?”

I’d say nastywoman @128, and Sebastian H @ 103. Since the latter is the comment to which I was specifically responding, I imagine you’ve read it.

Also, too, there is a world beyond CT, and it is awash in the ‘economic anxiety’ trope, as ably demonstrated by the quotes engels provides at 129.

133

Faustusnotes 11.06.16 at 1:25 am

Sebastian, why don’t you repeat that statistical analysis of below-median income voters after adjusting for north south differences? E.g confederate vs non confederate states. Unless I’m very much mistaken you’ll find that for the preferences to be evenly balanced in the whole sample, the confederate states have to have a huge bias towards trump and the industrial north against trump. What does that tell you about the specific motivating factors amongst those earning below the median income who want to vote trump?

You also say that to avoid brexit we need to make things better for the people who voted brexit so that they don’t feel that any change is better than the status quo. But in the case of brexit, you’re talking about a country with cradle to grave welfare, free health care, and one of the richest economies on earth. How exactly are you going to “make things better” for these people in that country? And what do you going to do if the only thing they want improved is “less foreigners”?

Seriously, trump and farage have consistently, loudly and continuously made clear that their political program is racist and their ideological goal is racism. They yell this from the rooftops. When are commentators going to understand that people vote for the thing they hear the person saying he will do, not for the things he never says he will do? It’s really clear that trump is going to kick out Mexicans, ban Muslims, and give all the jobs that are freed up to whites. You don’t need to try and read minds to understand why people like him – they like him because of what he is saying he will do.

The same with brexit. The leading newspaper supporting brexit, the daily mail, yesterday described the uk high court as “enemies within”. This is the newspaper that wanted to “take back control” from the European courts – to enemies within? No, this newspaper that supported Mosley is a fascist organ, and brexit is the next step in its fascist program. This isn’t a mystery – they tell you, on the front page of their newspaper, every day. Why are you wasting time trying to find other explanations when these people are openly telling you what they believe and what they will do?

134

SamChevre 11.06.16 at 1:35 am

Starting back at the beginning–I keep thinking of a piece in Democracy Journal; The Case for More Immigration. It just casually–as if it is unimportant–mentions that “assume immigrants move from the developing world to the developed one until wages in the two locations are equalized.”

There is no way that that will be good for, or acceptable to, the middle three quintiles in the developed world. The only way to do it is removing the decisions about immigration from democratic control. And that’s what we’ve seen.

135

ZM 11.06.16 at 3:25 am

I think Trump’s policies are racist, and that supporting him is a form of racism of one kind or another depending on the individual, but telling people on the opposing side of politics that they are racist for about a year (which is the length of the primaries and election campaigns) is probably not a great way of changing minds.

The Democrats aren’t even going to the election with any specific big anti-racism policies, so there are not policies to debate apart from criticising Trump’s loopy policies about a wall between the USA and Mexico and deporting Muslims etc.

Since Trump won the primary there are no other major candidates for the other side of politics to vote for, which I think is one of the disadvantages of having an elected President. In Australia we just vote for our local MPs and State Senators, so even if there is a Prime Minister we don’t like we can just focus on who are the best for our local MPs and Senators, and we have several parties, and preferential voting where we number all the candidates from best to worst. The leader of the party who would become Prime Minister if the party won isn’t up to us.

The Democrats want to win the election so they are only trying to change the minds of some people in the middle who are swing voters, and calling the others racist or “deplorables”. Calling people deplorable is a pretty bad way of changing their minds. I would only call someone I really hated deplorable. If you think Trump supporters are racist you probably need to be trying to change their minds, not just calling them racist and deplorable. So it would mean going out and talking to people and holding events and running anti-racism campaigns and that sort of thing, and having counter policies. I think Trump’s campaign is racist, but just saying it’s racist isn’t going to change a lot of people’s minds.

Also the Democrats aren’t really the ones who should be changing the minds of the steady Republican voters. It should be Republicans who are speaking out about racism within the Republican party. But as long as race is being used by both parties as a wedge issue, its unlikely that many Republicans will speak out about racism in the party. Maybe this will be a turning point and the Republicans will see they need to do more to tackle racism within the party.

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Guy Harris 11.06.16 at 3:28 am

SamChevre:

Starting back at the beginning–I keep thinking of a piece in Democracy Journal; The Case for More Immigration. It just casually–as if it is unimportant–mentions that “assume immigrants move from the developing world to the developed one until wages in the two locations are equalized.”

And then, in the next sentence in that paragraph, says “Of course, the nations of the world would never agree to changes this seismic; that level of movement would never be tolerated by developed countries or the countries where migrants come from.” There is no indication that the author of that piece is advocating such a move; he’s citing the premise of an extreme-case model – a model constructed by George Borjas, who has written a piece called Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers, so the model making that assumption doesn’t appear to have been constructed by an advocate of such a move, either.

(Not that “The Case for More Immigration” might not sound a bit glib. I shall probably offend some readers by noting that he’s an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute and was at the Competitive Policy Institute before that, and may further offend some by using the term “glibertarian”. But I digress.)

And, when it comes to the conditions of the US working class, how much of the stagnation and reduction in wages and employment is due to workers immigrating to the US and how much of it is due to jobs emigrating from the US? The people losing their jobs at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis didn’t lose them to Mexican workers who immigrated to the US, they lost them due to Mexican workers in Mexico.

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ZM 11.06.16 at 3:45 am

“There is no way that that will be good for, or acceptable to, the middle three quintiles in the developed world. The only way to do it is removing the decisions about immigration from democratic control. And that’s what we’ve seen.”

I think it would be good, consumption and income are not everything in life.

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ZM 11.06.16 at 5:10 am

Guy Harris and Sam Chèvre,

“There is no indication that the author of that piece is advocating such a move; he’s citing the premise of an extreme-case model – a model constructed by George Borjas, who has written a piece called Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers, so the model making that assumption doesn’t appear to have been constructed by an advocate of such a move, either.”

Leaving aside the issue of immigration being the tool to bring a convergence in living standards, which I don’t entirely agree is the best way since I wouldn’t like Australia to have a really high population — most of countries already agreed to work towards some form of convergence in the UN Sustainable Development Goals agreement last year.

One of the driving factors of the Sustainable Development Goals replacing the Millennium Development Goals was the realisation that the entire world can’t have the same consumption levels as countries like the US, Australia, and UK, since it wouldn’t be environmentally sustainable or even possible.

One of the main differences between the Sustainable Development Goals and the Millennium Development Goals is that wealthy countries are included in the SDG as needing to transition to a sustainable form of development.

Also China has a policy to become an advanced economy country by 2050, so given the size of the population of China what an advanced economy looks like is going to need to change to accomodate China, as trying to block China is not fair or feasible and could lead to military confrontation or regional instability in the Pacific.

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Collin Street 11.06.16 at 8:46 am

And, when it comes to the conditions of the US working class, how much of the stagnation and reduction in wages and employment is due to workers immigrating to the US and how much of it is due to jobs emigrating from the US?

Ah, and you use racism — see the UK — to make sure that the two remain different questions.

[the EU is a single market in labour, precisely to stop market-segmentation approaches to lowering your wage bill]

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alas anon 11.06.16 at 5:09 pm

Collin Street 11.06.16 at 8:46 am 139:

Could you expand upon that comment? As if I haven’t proved it already I have no education in economics and very little in political science or sociology.

I believe you are implying that leave support might allow market segmentation approaches which could then be used to suppress wages if the British economy were not restrained by EU rules?

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alas anon 11.06.16 at 5:12 pm

Collin Street 11.06.16 at 8:46 am 139:

Could you expand upon that comment? As if I haven’t proved it already I have no education in economics and very little in political science or sociology.

I believe you are implying that leave support might allow market segmentation approaches which could then be used to suppress wages if the British economy were not restrained by EU rules? Nevermind. This question is sort of off topic and I’ll google it and see what I can learn.

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engels 11.06.16 at 7:48 pm

Great Deepa Kumar piece on the Hillary campaign’s cynical mobilisation of faux feminism and anti-racism to shut down criticism from the left:
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/11/spin-clinton-campaign-feminist-privilege-politics/

Layman, for the record I agree with the Sanders quotes. They would only support your point against Yan if he was saying racism isn’t important. He isn’t.

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Layman 11.07.16 at 11:55 am

@ engels, I don’t mean to suggest that you agree with me, merely to point out that your quotes from Sanders support my point. Sanders says explicitly that racism is not a major element of Trump support, and goes on to provide the ‘economic anxiety’ explanation as the primary driver of that support. His prescription is to focus on the economic arguments, and he offers no prescription for the racism. This is the prevailing narrative about Trump support. As for Yan, if his objection is that is said ‘ignore’,then I’ll amend that to ‘downplay’, or ‘minimize the importance of’, or ‘discount’, or some other words to that effect.

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WLGR 11.07.16 at 4:33 pm

ZM: “The Democrats aren’t even going to the election with any specific big anti-racism policies, so there are not policies to debate apart from criticising Trump’s loopy policies about a wall between the USA and Mexico and deporting Muslims etc.”

This is the crucial point: Clinton can defeat Trump at the ballot box, but the neoliberal agenda she champions can only strengthen Trump and all the future Trumps to come, handing them their built-in electoral bloc on a platter. The ruling class Clinton represents enjoys great ideological satisfaction from depicting capitalism and its “creative destruction” as one and the same with racial/sexual/etc. inclusivity and liberation — among other things, it presents them as unambiguous good guys and their anticapitalist opponents as bigots. But they can’t possibly be so delusional as to imagine that capitalism will never generate ideological resistance, so they must be aware that helping bigots claim the inevitable appeal of anticapitalist rhetoric will ultimately hasten one fascist resurgence after another. They’re playing with fire and they know it, but that’s OK to them, because the prospect of contending with a humanist and internationalist anticapitalism frightens them far worse than anything Donald Trump (or Hitler for that matter) could ever dish out.

Of course this implies that liberals would also prefer to ruthlessly suppress and marginalize antifascist anticapitalism whenever it has any real leverage (right down to enlisting fascists themselves to do the dirty work) and otherwise to summarily dismiss it as if it doesn’t exist at all. The repeated case of liberal/leftist dialogue we’ve seen throughout this US election cycle, where female/nonwhite leftists try in vain to interrupt a Clintonite liberal’s umpteenth “brocialist” tirade only to be ignored or gaslit, is just a tiny peak of this enormous ideological iceberg.

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engels 11.07.16 at 11:49 pm

Sanders says explicitly that racism is not a major element of Trump support, and goes on to provide the ‘economic anxiety’ explanation as the primary driver of that support.

He says most Trump voters aren’t racist and are motivated by anger caused by their economic situation. That’s not denying racism is important or a even a ‘major factOTT!. He’s addressed the racism elsewhere.

Do you how many Trump voters voted for Obama? What’s your opinion if them!

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engels 11.07.16 at 11:50 pm

They’re playing with fire and they know it, but that’s OK to them, because the prospect of contending with a humanist and internationalist anticapitalism frightens them far worse than anything Donald Trump (or Hitler for that matter) could ever dish out.

Yup

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Layman 11.08.16 at 1:30 am

engels: “He says most Trump voters aren’t racist and are motivated by anger caused by their economic situation.”

Your formulation is no improvement.

“Do you how many Trump voters voted for Obama? What’s your opinion if them!”

I have no idea. My opinion of them is that they’re cretins.

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faustusnotes 11.08.16 at 2:20 am

Will GR, why is this:

Clinton can defeat Trump at the ballot box, but the neoliberal agenda she champions can only strengthen Trump and all the future Trumps to come, handing them their built-in electoral bloc on a platter

true? Why doesn’t this agenda support Sanders or socialists? What is the underlying thing that makes all responses to neoliberalism and economic dislocation a racist response rather than a radical socialist response?

Could it be … hmm… racism? Maybe?

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Val 11.08.16 at 3:42 am

WLGR @ 144

I will give you my definition of a ‘brocialist’, based on many years of experience in left wing politics:

– a white male who holds left wing/socialist views, and
– does not fully understand why women and non-white people may sometimes see things differently from him, and
– does not respect us enough to engage in a meaningful discussion without imputing bad motives, lack of intelligence or naïveté to us, or using pejorative labels (like “Clintonite liberal”) to describe us.

Some women now won’t engage in dialogue with brocialists because they know from experience that it is useless https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/02/time-to-hail-hillary-and-face-down-the-testosterone-left

(I’ve seen the denunciations of Van Badham, including the overtly sexist ones, and I think they illustrate the point she is making.)

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ZM 11.08.16 at 6:50 am

Will G-R,

“They’re playing with fire and they know it, but that’s OK to them, because the prospect of contending with a humanist and internationalist anticapitalism frightens them far worse than anything Donald Trump (or Hitler for that matter) could ever dish out.”

Well but this formulation has the exact problem I was pointing out about the Democrats not having any big multicultural policy agenda to counter Trump’s racist loopy policies with —

You are defining your movement as anti-capitalism. This has no policies apart from from saying you don’t like private businesses. Even if you don’t like any private businesses whatsoever, you still need to come up with a positive policy alternative. You can’t even just make them illegal like cigarettes or something, since private businesses are too important to just abolish without any replacement.

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ZM 11.08.16 at 6:52 am

(the government can’t even ban cigarettes, and they would be easier to ban than all private businesses I am pretty sure)

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engels 11.08.16 at 3:34 pm

So a ‘brocialist’ is someone who uses pejorative labels to describe people?

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WLGR 11.08.16 at 8:46 pm

Val, we absolutely agree that gendered and racialized marginalization are bad things that should be combated. A standard response would be that your description works just as well without the words “who holds left wing/socialist views”, and that including those words is a tactic to falsely impugn left-of-liberal discourses as particularly sexist and racist relative to the broader discursive soup of our sexist and racist society (one of the general tendencies of which is that women publicly calling out sexism are often subjected to sexist harrassment, regardless of political affiliation.) This response seems correct as far as it goes, but IMO it doesn’t go far enough: claiming the language of leftist anticapitalism gives us a special responsibility to reject the appropriation of this language on behalf of groups that seek to climb to power and prosperity within a capitalist society by stepping on the backs of others. (The problem isn’t that capital is exploitative in general, it’s that capital is exploiting people like me specifically.) With some exceptions the history of white working-class “leftism” in the West has often followed this pattern, my most oft-cited little example of which is alleged socialist Bernie Sanders’ appeal to US economic nationalism, which should absolutely be rejected as proto-fascist.

That said, First-World feminist/antiracist liberals protesting this kind of rhetoric often seem to ignore that since instability and class conflict (“creative destruction” in more capitalism-friendly lingo) are quite simply how capitalism works, as long as capitalism exists it will always cause some form of immiseration leading to anticapitalist sentiment. So there are two stances we can take toward anticapitalist sentiment: engaging with it in good faith, which means trying to realize its universalist potential against efforts to link it with some form or another of chauvinism and exploitation, or denouncing it as bigoted and chauvinist tout court and throwing in our lot with neoliberal capitalism, which means deliberately granting fascists the powerful booster shot of a monopoly on (superficially) anticapitalist rhetoric. The latter stance as taken by much of the liberal political/media class is inexcusable, not just because at worst it deliberately aids and abets fascism, but because even at best it takes immense and unchecked economic class privilege to imagine that anticapitalist sentiment in a capitalist system could ever be made to disappear.

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WLGR 11.08.16 at 8:53 pm

As an aside, while obviously nobody can ever fully understand their own mind, I like to think I’m just as willing to impute bad motives, lack of intelligence, or naïveté to white men who espouse neoliberal ideology, or use pejorative labels like “Clintonite liberal” to describe them, as I am to women and/or people of color espousing similar views. It seems like it’d be racist and sexist to pretend that only white men can handle real political invective, or to idealize women and/or people of color as unable to act in ways that might warrant such invective. (The Obama presidency and pending Clinton presidency are prominent evidence that promoting women and people of color to high administrative roles in global capitalist society doesn’t inherently make it any less exploitative, or even make its exploitation any less systemically racist/sexist.) But certainly, if or when our political invective becomes racialized or gendered, it should be ruthlessly purged from our discourse and any resulting twaddle about “political correctness” should be dismissed as the reactionary horseshit it is.

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