Recognising racism

by John Quiggin on September 13, 2016

Back in 2004, I wrote that

There is only one real instance of political correctness in Australia today and that is that you are never, ever allowed to call anyone a racist.

This was one side of an unspoken agreement among mainstream politicians, the other being that no one would ever make a statement that was overtly and undeniably racist (this was the central content of “political correctness” in its normal usage). Both the use of overtly racist language and the use of the term “racist” in political debate put the speaker outside the Overton Window. The official debate was undertaken in terms of “dog whistle” coded appeals to racism on one side and euphemisms such as “prejudiced” or “racially charged” on the other. The peace was maintained by the fact that the political class as a whole shared a broad neoliberal[^1] consensus in which marginal differences over economic issues were central, and where social/racial issues were primarily seen as a way of motivating the base to vote the right way.

With the rapid rise of tribalism on the political right this tacit agreement is breaking down.

While tribalism (roughly, an identity politics of solidarity with “people like us”) need not, in principle, imply support for racism (I plan more on this soon), the distinction is a fine one, and has broken down completely in practice. There are at least two reasons for this:
* Political tribalism throws up demagogic leaders like Trump, Farage, and (in Australia) Pauline Hanson, whose appeal relies, in large measure on their rejection of political correctness, that is, on their willingness to appeal openly to racism.
* The centrality of migration to current political debate, inevitably bringing race issues to the forefront.

For the same reasons, it seems clear that overt racism is going to be a significant part of politics for the foreseeable future. Individual demagogues like Trump may (or may not) flame out, but the existence of a large base of support for overtly racist policies and politicians is now evident to all, and the agreement that kept this base from having its views expressed in mainstream politics has now broken down.

In response to this it’s necessary to recognise racism as a substantial, if deplorable, political tendency. First, and most obviously, that means abandoning euphemisms, explicitly naming racism and, even more, naming people like Trump and Hanson as racists.

More importantly, identification of policies, parties and politicians as racist needs to be the start of the analysis, not the end. It’s important to recognise that there are different strands of racism, often intertwined in the same political groups, and to distinguish their approaches and potential appeal. To give just a few examples, there’s
* “Scientific” racism epitomized, in the modern period, by The Bell Curve
* “anti-PC” racists, focused on the demand for consequence-free expressions of racist sentiments
* “separate but equal” segregationists, overlapping with
* supporters of racist immigration policies

Even more importantly, it’s important to take racist arguments seriously and respond to them, rather than regarding the fact that they are racist as putting them beyond the pale of serious discussion. As with climate science denial, we might wish that to be the case but it isn’t. On the other hand, also as with climate science denial, there’s no value in engaging with racists.

The problem is to discuss the issue in a way that influences those who can be persuaded, both on the merits of specific issues and on the need to dissociate themselves from racists. That includes people who might be sympathetic to some racist arguments such as “foreigners are stealing our jobs”, but are also open to an explanation of how neoliberalism hurts workers. Again as with climate science denial it also includes professional centrists in politics and the media who need to be pushed out of their preferred position of evenhanded superiority.

There’s lots more to be said on this, and doubtless it will be said in comments, so I’ll leave it at that.

[^1]: As usual, I’m relying on the “three-party analysis” of contemporary politics I put forward here.

{ 179 comments }

1

bruce wilder 09.13.16 at 6:53 am

It may be especially challenging to not-organize the anti-racists as tribalists.

2

Gareth Wilson 09.13.16 at 7:01 am

What if you carefully define racism, measure public attitudes, compare them with your definition, and discover that the majority of the population is racist? That’s not as hypothetical as it sounds – 37% of the UK population voted for Brexit and a majority of the Australian population supports its immigration policies. Beyond identifiying policies, parties and politicians as racist, what about the people?

3

Sam Dodsworth 09.13.16 at 8:35 am

What if you carefully define racism, measure public attitudes, compare them with your definition, and discover that the majority of the population is racist?

Then you’ve realised that you live in a racist society, as do we all. And from that we can start to think about how to address the structural racism that enables and is enabled by the kinds of overt racism that John identifies.

As for what to do – when racism is pervasive there’s a sense in which it doesn’t matter where you start. Challenge assumptions and shift public discourse; draw attention to unjust policies and support better ones; counter the arguments. And (pace John) call out racism where you find it. One small measure of progress that most people don’t like to think of themselves as racist, and can be encouraged to reflect on their views (*).

(*) Something I’m very bad at, which is why you’ll mostly find me sniping around the edges of these conversations when the anger and frustration get too much for me. But it’s very worthwhile when you’ve got the patience and the energy.

4

Gareth Wilson 09.13.16 at 8:51 am

“One small measure of progress that most people don’t like to think of themselves as racist, and can be encouraged to reflect on their views.”

One out of two isn’t bad… Seriously, the response to being called racist is more hardening their opinions and lashing out at their accusers than self-reflection.

5

John Quiggin 09.13.16 at 9:08 am

@2 That’s pretty much the point of the post. My unscientific take is something like the following for a typical developed country

10 per cent of the population are hard-core racists who will vote for a racist candidate whenever such a candidate is on offer
25 per cent are racists, but those outside the hard core will only vote that way if the circumstances are favorable. This is basically Clinton’s basket of deplorables
25 per cent are solidly anti-racist or members of the minority group targeted by racists
The remaining 50 per cent are up for grabs.

6

Pete 09.13.16 at 9:14 am

I think we had this discussion under the Brexit thread, but labelling people as racist is about as helpful as the notion of a “criminal type”: it implies unreformability. It’s the end of a conversation and the start of a fight.

Would it be possible to stick to condemning specific racist acts and racist statements? Otherwise you end up cold-reading people to try to determine whether they are, truly in their heart, racist or right-thinking. And that ends badly.

It’s probably also both more effective and more proper to center nonwhite people in the antiracist campaign. Otherwise you’re left open to the “duelling elites” dismissal.

7

James Wimberley 09.13.16 at 9:15 am

Against the grain of JQ’s sensible reminder that the target of debate on racist beliefs is the undecided middle, I make a counterintuitive argument here that Clinton should address the bigots directly. The political goal would be to counter the widespread though false perception that she’s a cold, snobbish élitist. Writing the draft speech was an interesting challenge.

8

Sam Dodsworth 09.13.16 at 9:28 am

@Gareth Wilson

There are ways to soften the blow but they take patience and energy and can be hard to remember in the heat of the moment. One piece of good advice I remember from Jay Smooth is to say “that thing you said is racist” and not “you’re a racist”. (It’s less well with dogwhistles, though, because one of their functions is to divert criticism into bottomless energy-sink arguments about words.) It’s also important to know when to stop – but as I said, it’s not something I’m good at.

That having been said, there is some value to just saying “that’s racist” or “you’re a racist” as playing to the audience or as simple negative reinforcement. Public discourse is influential because most people have better uses for their time and attention than discussing the arguments of the day, which is why quite subtle shifts can create seismic effects like the decline of religion in the UK, or homophobia in the UK and the States. So getting racists to shut up is a more valuable contribution than it might appear.

9

Gareth Wilson 09.13.16 at 9:33 am

So where do the numbers come from? I’ll admit I don’t have any better data, maybe that’s roughly what developed countries are like. But I’d want to see some evidence of that. It might be useful to look at an issue where we have better data than racism, because people will talk about it more openly. Say you’re German, and are disgusted at the ignorant politicians and bureaucrats who waste public money on homeopathy. You decide to call out homeopathy as the witch-doctor pseudoscience it is, and the consumers of it as either idiots or wilfully ignorant. So you check the 2014 survey data, and find 60% of the population use the stuff. You still don’t know how many of them are persuadable, and the scientific facts haven’t changed. But you do need to change your strategy. Or maybe just give up.

10

Lee A. Arnold 09.13.16 at 10:13 am

I think we ought to broaden it to “haters”.

11

bob mcmanus 09.13.16 at 10:22 am

Well, remembering the 60s and 70s, JQ’s 50% probably just want the evidence and performance of racism off their evening news and out of their neighborhoods. They don’t want to think about it, watch it, confront it, deal with it. (Nixon and the Pentagon learned this lesson about war.) They didn’t want to end racism, they wanted to stop the riots, the marches, the violence, the arguments.

Various institutional measures, token integration, resegregation, welfare reform, co-optation of middle-class minorities, and new methods of repression (the carceral state) made pervasive racism less apparent for a while.

You can’t really represent anti-racism without depicting racism, and that will make the 50% uncomfortable. Cosby or Obama is more like non-racism, the disappearing of racism. Sidney Poitier. 12 Years a Slave>/i> or Selma or the new Nat Turner movie is for the 10-20% who want to see racism so they can affirm their anti-racism.

Trump has answers, overt and implied, for making the “problem” disappear. I have not heard a plan from Clinton and Democrats.

(Of course, in parallel is the apparent end of overt sexism in the election of a woman President and women in high Cabinet positions, etc)

(PPS:No, I am not saying “Stop complaining.” I think I am saying seek things that will make racism less apparent, more positive things than Trumpism, but maybe not obviously anti-racist things.)

One problem of course is that after the last fifty years minorities feel betrayed by universalist programs and want particularist policies. Reparations.

12

bob mcmanus 09.13.16 at 10:56 am

7: Read it. So your big offer to the haters is their right to assemble, speech, and bear arms? With the implied threat that those rights will be taken away if they don’t behave? Not credible.

My offer would be confiscatory taxes on great wealth and income to fund massive infrastructure and government jobs. Probably not credible either.

But worse, I think Clinton’s activist base is in a mode of “our turn” and is not in the mood to sacrifice in order to provide white males jobs.

13

Hey Skipper 09.13.16 at 11:42 am

— supporters of racist immigration policies

I live in Düsseldorf, Germany.

According to that criteria, pretty much everyone supports “racist” immigration policies.

Perhaps there’s more to that than the label “racist” can describe.

14

map maker 09.13.16 at 12:00 pm

Was Brexit a referendum on racism? Is Trump a referendum on racism? No, and no. If you see the world as racism, and try to fit your analysis into a racial context for every problem, from environmentalism, sexism, anti-science, etc., etc., you will find your predictive power very power, but your ability to create amusing explanations very strong!

while you can find some trump voters motivated by things you don’t like, there are a lot motivated by the fact that everyone on this site hates him and everything he stands for, from his career, to his spouse(s), to his children. Call him a Nazi to make yourself feel better, but it won’t change peoples views…

15

Rich Puchalsky 09.13.16 at 12:12 pm

One problem with “tribalism” — one that Michael Berube used to write about — is the basket of attitudes as tribal markers. Argument or opposition often only reinforces a tribal identity. Before the inevitable statement that “the left does it too”, the left’s current package of markers is a pale shadow of the Marx-influenced set that used to be, which even for vaguely left centrists involved fundamental beliefs such as being on the side of the workers and the poor, working towards an eventual utopia, and international identity, and which pretty much gave a correlated set of beliefs on all sorts of minor marker issues. Current left markers pretty much still involve the elitist part of this without any remaining attachment to the base, as evidenced by e.g. what people write here about Brexit or how HRC supporters write about their detractors.

Climate science denial is an interesting case. There are basically two fairly small groups of people who have direct, economic interest in denialism: elites who own fossil fuel assets, and coal miners. All of the rest of the denialist sphere is tribal markings, since of course there is no rational sense in which one can be a climate denialist. How did this become a tribal item? Propaganda from the fossil fuel industries started it off, of course. But that in itself did not set the boundaries of the tribal group within which it flourished. The mass base of the right in the U.S. is historically organized around structural racism, so that’s what set the boundaries of the tribe, and that’s why climate denialism is a tribal marker that almost always exists along with racism as a tribal marker in the U.S. In a sense, climate denialism in the U.S. has force as a tribal marker for racism.

Other issues that are linked in this way: approval of torture, aggressive war, hostility to immigration, disapproval of a social safety net, etc. When you look at this set you start to see why Bruce Wilder writes about the social existence of a common personality type, “the authoritarian followers”, or whatever it’s called these days. Suggested remedies seem three fold: a) making society less precarious in various ways since people who react this way react this way less when they feel less threatened, b) decoupling racism from the package, c) social sanctions against expressions of racism that make people fall in line.

16

James Wimberley 09.13.16 at 12:15 pm

Bob McManus in #12: In my draft, there is no negotiable offer to the bigots. Defending their constitutional rights is simply part of the President’s job description, along with enforcing the laws against hate crimes and discrimination. My argument to the bigots that Trump is not a proper bigot, merely a conman, whom they can’t trust to deliver on their racist agenda, is (I flatter myself) ingenious but is pure theatre that would not sway any votes.

You do not address my main point that anti-racist politicians like Clinton have to find a way of talking to bigots, as they negotiate with ayatollahs (Iran) and insecure god-kings (North Korea). The old consensus that racism lies outside civilised discourse, and should be marginalised by ignoring it, has broken down.

17

Layman 09.13.16 at 12:26 pm

“while you can find some trump voters motivated by things you don’t like, there are a lot motivated by the fact that everyone on this site hates him and everything he stands for…”

There are perhaps 2. Is that a lot?

18

Sam Dodsworth 09.13.16 at 12:28 pm

According to that criteria, pretty much everyone supports “racist” immigration policies. Perhaps there’s more to that than the label “racist” can describe.

I honestly don’t see it. Not liking immigrants and wanting fewer of them around is an archetypal racist position. But, as I’ve said, we live in racist societies that value white people over not-white people and locals over foreigners so it’s not at all surprising that racist attitudes should be prevalent.

19

F. Foundling 09.13.16 at 12:50 pm

OP
>While tribalism (roughly, an identity politics of solidarity with “people like us”)

Rather roughly indeed. By definition, solidarity is inevitably with someone with whom you have something in common, which means that they are ‘like you’ in some way.

20

Sebastian H 09.13.16 at 12:53 pm

“25 per cent are racists, but those outside the hard core will only vote that way if the circumstances are favorable. This is basically Clinton’s basket of deplorables”

(note I’m taking this as a speculative number).

Assuming it is true, part of the reason we were supposed to trust the elites to run the economy was that they would keep us out of the zone where the racist appeals would seem favorable.

That leads to Sam Dodsworth’s kind of comments. The economic concerns of the ‘racists’ have been so deeply marginalized that he can’t even imagine them. (The answer is something like immigrants may be good for GDP as a whole but they may hurt certain people’s ability to get jobs which may cause those people to be unhappy with immigrants in completely foreseeable ways. Further, you rarely get to vote on narrow topics like immigration, they are usually bundled with globalization topics or parties that are or are not allied with globalization interests. Globalization as carried out by nearly all the modern states has definitely left behind very large swathes of the population.)

21

Layman 09.13.16 at 1:18 pm

“Assuming it is true, part of the reason we were supposed to trust the elites to run the economy was that they would keep us out of the zone where the racist appeals would seem favorable.”

Other than ‘the elites’, who would one choose to ‘run the economy’? The uneducated? The morons? I realize that a substantial minority are invested in the idea that proud ignorance is what we need, but are you one of them? If not, what’s the point of this ‘elites’ formulation?

22

Sebastian H 09.13.16 at 1:26 pm

The point is to draw attention to the fact that it isn’t nearly as much of a mystery once you see the mismanagement of globalization as a selfish failure of governance rather than some sort of shrug the shoulders hey it’s a force of nature.

23

Layman 09.13.16 at 1:41 pm

@ Sebastian H, how has globalization been mismanaged? By whom? How could it have been better managed, by whom, when?

24

the wesson 09.13.16 at 2:31 pm

Please recognize that the new right is not just racist but anti-Enlightenment.

The equality of man, and the value of rationality and tolerance are all under attack.

Check this out:
https://attackthesystem.com/2016/09/05/the-rise-of-the-radical-right-the-alt-right-neoreaction-and-the-trump-campaign/

Summary:
The truth is, that, the Alternative Right is simply a less intellectual counterpart of its lesser-known ‘Neoreactionary’ and European New Right forerunners. I will largely pass over the European New Right as this article is describing the Alt-Right in relation to Trump. The neoreaction, its adherents being known as part of the ‘reactosphere’, is a body of thought that is largely based on the rejection of Enlightenment principles (hence its alternative name the ‘Dark Enlightenment’) and on the endorsement of anti-Enlightenment principles; namely:
Radical Traditionalism
Political Authoritarianism
Ethnic Nationalism
Traditional Catholicism
Rejection of Feminism
Rejection of Liberalism

25

Marc 09.13.16 at 2:37 pm

@23: By taking seriously the concern about, say, de-industrialization and the impact that it could, and did, have on working class families. Or trying to figure out the impact of immigration on poor and working class people in the receiving country, rather than relying on ideology or averages. Or designing policies that could effectively buffer the impact on affected people.

But it is easier to dismiss them as an undifferentiated and unreformable mass.

26

Watson Ladd 09.13.16 at 2:41 pm

What about the tribalism of black people? Only one political figure has ever been called a race traitor in my lifetime, and his race wasn’t white.

27

the wesson 09.13.16 at 2:55 pm

Black tribalism: If you undergo violence and your survival is threatened as the result of your skin color, you are going to line up with your “tribe”. Point being, this “tribe” is somewhat the result of being Other in a society. If you don’t get to be part of Us (blissfully unaware that you’re even a separate group), you’ll have a need to join a tribe.

White nationalists think tribally too, but it’s alarming in their case because white people aren’t actually cut out of power and resources and aren’t the Other, so what it actually means is that they are whipping up a fear of “white genocide” in order to feel good about some future (presumably authoritarian) actions aimed at wresting control back.

It’s funny (but not) that white-nationalists are doing what they can to make themselves the Other.

Oh and I think you will find plenty of race traitor name slinging on the alt-right.

28

AH 09.13.16 at 2:59 pm

Not sure what ‘”separate but equal” segregationists’ means, but housing segregation is one of the largest problems facing blacks in the US. It is driven by attitudes against the expansion of low income housing by middle class whites, the vast majority who would not be considered racist.

Say you have a 8 house suburban street. The problem is not the 2 guys who voted for trump, the problem is the 7 people who voted for the anti-affordable housing local democrat.

Good recent piece in the New Times on this issue:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/opinion/campaign-stops/can-hillary-manage-her-unruly-coalition.html?_r=0

29

Sebastian H 09.13.16 at 3:04 pm

Layman I’m not sure I have the answers about exactly which ways it was mismanaged. I’m not one of the financial elite. But diagnosing failure doesn’t require that I know how to fix it (though it does imply that I think they were at least partially fixable). It is possible to argue that they weren’t fixable, but that severely undercuts your argument about the importance of elites so I don’t think that’s what you mean.

my thumbnail sketch is something like:

Allowed leverage to get out of control;
Set up structures to allow financial firms to capture much larger portions of the profits;
Failure to mitigate the downside for the displaced

30

bruce wilder 09.13.16 at 4:07 pm

Layman @ 23: There’s was that whole “savings glut”, housing bubble, deindustrialization leading to global financial crisis thing in the first decade of the 21st century in the U.S. And, in Europe, the Euro depression affecting Portugal, Italy, Spain and Greece — especially Greece. I don’t know what you call what has been going on in Eastern Europe. An astute observer might connect economic globalization to the de-stabilization of the Middle East, Thailand, Venezuela, Ukraine.

31

Jim Harrison 09.13.16 at 4:09 pm

For many Americans, being anti-racist means saying you’re anti-racist. The majority of the white population accepted that they can’t use the N word, that they have to claim to believe that black people are not biologically inferior, and so forth, and they were content with that deal. After all, most of ’em were familiar with the drill since they have lots of practice at giving lip service to other Sunday truths they don’t actually hold on weekdays. Anyhow, the governing syllogism is this:

Racists are bad people.
I’m not a bad person.
Therefore I’m not a racist.

Clinton’s basket-of-deplorables remark didn’t bother the Stormfront types, but it upset a lot of the others because it was a violation of the truce that’s been in place since the 60s. Part of the reason that the rules of decent public speech, i.e., political correctness, are so hated now by the Trump supporters is because they are being called upon to go beyond merely verbal adherence to anti-racism and to confront what they actually believe and what that says about them. If they’re going to be required to walk the walk, the Hell with talking the talk.

32

Layman 09.13.16 at 4:33 pm

@ bruce wilder, Sebastian H, Marc

I suppose my point was that globalization is more or less like a force of nature; and that, combined with automation, the devaluation of labor seems more or less unstoppable. It’s hard for me to come up with a set of policies which in practice would have prevented the flight of good-paying manufacturing jobs to cheaper labor regimes. Note that this was happening even domestically before globalization really kicked in, e.g. the non-union lower-wage car manufacturing industry in the Southeast. What policies would have prevented the flow of manufacturing jobs to cheap-labor regimes, and then to automation?

@ bruce, the GFC is certainly a good example of mismanagement, but it seems to me it isn’t a ‘globalization management’ failure. It’s a failure of the domestic management if capital.

@ Sebastion H, same comment.

@ Marc, make some policy suggestions. Capital controls? Tariffs? Large transfer payments to the displaced? Regulating the labor compensation share of productivity? What did you have in mind?

33

someguy88 09.13.16 at 4:33 pm

I have no idea how it works in Australia. But in the context of the US the idea that ‘you are ‘never never allowed to call anyone a racist.’ is so obscenely offensive that I have to fight off a tribalistic urge to align my self with racist scum. In America progressives and liberals call anyone who disagrees with them on any issue racist. Hilary just called 1/2 of Republican voters racist. I doubt it is that many but it is possible that she is right. But the idea that ‘You are ‘never never allowed to call anyone a racist.’ in context of the US is so utterly noxious and wrong as to defy words. I mean JFC .

The natural human reaction to is align your self as far away as possible with the people who say such complete nonsense. Don’t allow a knee jerk reaction to liberal and progressive slander make you side with scum.

34

Layman 09.13.16 at 4:44 pm

“I doubt it is that many but it is possible that she is right.”

The polling data indicates she’s right.

“Don’t allow a knee jerk reaction to liberal and progressive slander make you side with scum.”

And if it isn’t slander?

35

Yankee 09.13.16 at 4:56 pm

Neoliberalism is about letting foreigners steal our jobs. Leftists think in terms of universal solutions just like the globalists, but I’m worried about the destruction of my local community right here in (eg) downtown rural Oregon.

36

Bob Zannelli 09.13.16 at 5:13 pm

I think Quiggin is accurately describing what we are seeing in this most dangerous election. Even if Trump is defeated by Hillary I rather doubt the GOP is going to stop bringing forward monsters as presidential candidates. If one doubts this look at the clown car he was riding before he won the nomination. Engaging with the democratic process isn’t a very popular suggestion around here, but in my view that’s what leftists must do. The tea party has a huge effect on the GOP, leftists need to do the same to the democratic party. But that’s not enough, just producing a highly polarized political process isn’t go to get the desperately needed change, the GOP must be destroyed. Ideally a civil political process could develop from some future split in the democratic party between centrists and leftists- after the GOP party becomes defunct. However, I admit the odds aren’t good for this to occur, but changing demographics may make this outcome possible.

37

someguy88 09.13.16 at 5:17 pm

Layman,

No idea how it works in Australia. None. But in the context of the US the idea that ‘you are never never allowed to call anyone a racist.’ is a contemptuous liberal conceit of the highest order. We agree on that? Right? Once we agree on some small shared portion of reality we can move and I can explain why your comment was so obnoxious but we if cannot even agree on small slice of reality it is pointless to even continue the discussion.

38

Rich Puchalsky 09.13.16 at 5:27 pm

Marc: “By taking seriously the concern about, say, de-industrialization and the impact that it could, and did, have on working class families.”

This isn’t a new problem. Left-liberals, and later even neoliberals, had a whole basket of policies that were supposed to address this. For left-liberals, it was some combination of supporting unions, raising the minimum wage, having the Fed fight unemployment rather than only inflation, possibly even radical-for-liberalism stuff like reducing the work week. For neoliberalism, examples are many of Bill Clinton’s early speeches and maybe some blog posts of Brad DeLong — things like education, retraining, and heightened social / financial support for regions that were heavily affected by their dominant industries going away. Essentially, the losers from global trade were supposed to be compensated out of the funds that everyone in general got by trade making everyone in general more wealthy. That, of course, never happened.

I’m not going to go into “but what policies would actually have worked?” because it’s the wrong question. Policies that worked would never have been implemented, because the power relations involved meant that the soft neoliberals’ supposed plans to compensate the losers were never going to happen no matter what form they took. But don’t pretend that nothing could have been done or that people didn’t think that something should be done.

39

Anarcissie 09.13.16 at 5:28 pm

May I point out that ‘changing demographics’ is a racial idea? That is, it’s an assumption that because people belong to a certain ‘race’ they will vote a certain way. I would not count on that. At one time people of Irish, Italian and Jewish (Ashkenazi) descent were not considered White in the US. Then after awhile they became White. And after that some of them even became Republicans. This can easily happen to those of the many Latin American flavors as well.

Generally, I think the idea of race is going to go away because it’s simply worn out. Even far-rightists accuse each other and of course leftists of racism. The idea of tribalism might have some mileage left in it, though.

40

Layman 09.13.16 at 5:28 pm

“…and I can explain why your comment was so obnoxious…”

Which comment did you have in mind?

41

Layman 09.13.16 at 5:33 pm

Rich P: ‘I’m not going to go into “but what policies would actually have worked?” because it’s the wrong question.’

And the right question is a secret…?

42

Rich Puchalsky 09.13.16 at 5:37 pm

Here’s an example of what happens in the U.S. when you call someone a racist. Paul LePage, the present governor of Maine, said at a town meeting that drug dealers in Maine “are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty; these types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.” He then made some further comments and a Democratic State Representative said that the governor’s remarks were racist (actually, I believe that he said they were “racially charged”.) Of course, they really are racist remarks by any definition.

Governor LePage left a voice message on the Representative’s voicemail saying “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. You want — I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son of a bitch, socialist cocksucker. You — I need you to just fricking — I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.” He later added that “I wish it were 1825 and we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you… I would point it right between his eyes […]”.

43

Lee A. Arnold 09.13.16 at 5:40 pm

That “basket of deplorables” remark was a smart move.

44

Patrick 09.13.16 at 5:44 pm

Rich Pulaskey- I have literally no idea what possible point you think you are making. Are you claiming that “specific racists get mad when you call them out personally as racists” is evidence that in America you can’t call anyone racist? Don’t you think that might unreasonably expand the list of “things you can’t say in America?”

45

Patrick 09.13.16 at 5:45 pm

Sorry about the name misspell. My fault for arguing with auto correct and not re-checking my spelling.

46

someguy88 09.13.16 at 5:45 pm

Rich Puchalsky,

There you go an anecdote of an actual racist being called a racist and denying it is proof positive that anyone who gets called a racist and denies it is an actual racist. It is also good evidence that ‘that you are never, ever allowed to call anyone a racist.’ because up is down and down is up and I just don’t understand that because I have a lizard conservative brain.

47

RichardM 09.13.16 at 5:49 pm

But in the context of the US the idea that ‘you are ‘never never allowed to call anyone a racist.’ is so obscenely offensive that I have to fight off a tribalistic urge to align my self with racist scum.

That’s what not allowed means; you don’t get arrested if you say it, but you also don’t persuade anyone. The only enforcement mechanism needed is people’s rejection of a message phrased that way.

48

someguy88 09.13.16 at 5:55 pm

RichardM,

Yes yes of course. Careful semantic and proper parenthetical reading of anything your side says will reveal that whatever your side says on any given day is 100% correct. But how do we get a simpleton such as myself to understand that? I suggest that we yell very loudly at me that I am racist simpleton.

49

Patrick 09.13.16 at 5:58 pm

“You won’t persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree but there are plenty of people who already agree and will praise you for saying it” is poorly summarized as “you can’t say that in this country.”

Come on. I can’t be the only one who hears phrases like this and immediately starts applying them to other political statements to see if they fit. When your right wing relatives claim you can’t even talk about Christian Values anymore in this country, does anyone here parse that as “well, you definitely can, and lots of people you know will praise you for it, but you won’t convince anyone who disagrees with you.”? I don’t. I roll my eyes when I hear things like that and give them a hard time about it.

…does anyone here other than me even have conservative relatives they’re on speaking terms with?

50

bruce wilder 09.13.16 at 6:14 pm

Layman: globalization is more or less like a force of nature

Certainly, it is remarkably convenient to the powers-that-be if you think that.

Racism, historically, has been mobilized as an organizing principle, a rationalization for the institution of slavery, the institution of Jim Crow segregation, conquest and genocide of Native Americans and so on. In its details, racism often had as a feature a political consolation prize for the lower rungs of the economic hierarchy: e.g., in the plantation South you might be poor white trash, your interests neglected by the state, but you were better than the negro; all your resentments could be vented on someone a couple rungs down the social and economic ladder.

So, now we have the spectacle of both a tribalist racism and a pseudo-tribalist anti-racism and they both organize their thoughts to enable expression of their passionate if petty and irrational resentments while ignoring the increasing parasitism of elite power and wealth.

The narratives may differ across the divide. The racists are told a simpler story: the system is rigged, the Chinese are stealing your jobs, the stupid liberals think they are better than you, those people are taking advantage of the secret welfare system, things would be fairer if they were simpler — flat tax!, and so on.

The anti-racists are trained in a more abstract narrative. Cosmopolitans like us are better humans. Globalization and technology are impersonal forces; the key to a better future is more education. The racist tribalists must be opposed in all things and they will block all the good things our good leaders want to do so we have to settle for the politically practical.

The extremities of political polarization are associated with extremities of economic inequality for a variety of reasons that come down to, because it works to reinforce economic domination by elite predators or parasites as the case may be.

51

Manta 09.13.16 at 7:10 pm

1) I think one problem in the OP is that it doesn’t address “what is racism”.
For instance, some commenters here seem to say that any restriction on immigration is racist.

2) I think that the fact that the “neoliberal consensus” broke down is a GOOD thing, as is the fact that “racist ” views are finding a political representation.
To be clear: I don’t like many of those views, BUT others citizens have the right to have their position represented as much as I do: an system where a sizable chunk of the population is not represented is not a (fully) democratic system.

3) A bit off topic, but I would be curious to hear about other people view on French politics. In particular, I would like to hear some evidence that Le Pen (ie.e, her policies) is more racist than Sarkozi or the Socialist in power now (my opinion is that she is not, but I would like to have the opinion of someone more knowledgeable).

52

Rich Puchalsky 09.13.16 at 7:24 pm

I think that the point of my last comment was fairly obvious: it was the first sentence “Here’s an example of what happens in the U.S. when you call someone a racist.” It goes back to JQ’s OP “This was one side of an unspoken agreement among mainstream politicians” etc., and this anecdote was particularly noteworthy because it’s a contemporary anecdote about politicians at the highest level of state government.

Of course there’s going to be a flood of disingenuousness: “I have literally no idea what possible point you think you are making”, “up is down and down is up” etc. That’s part of the pattern too, as is the sudden inability to understand metaphors and even mildly hyperbolic statements.

People who are interested in more about this anecdote can Google it. But it’s noteworthy that a) media presented it as a weird thing, or series of weird things, that the governor said but studiously kept the description of his remarks as racist as a contested claim between the governor and the representative, b) there was a local counter-protest to support the representative but it was in favor of “civility”, i.e. that the governor who wrong to say bad swear words, not against racism, c) it hasn’t seemed to make the governor any more or less popular as far as I know.

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Manta 09.13.16 at 7:27 pm

Rick, so you are saying that a person can very much say “you are racist” and not lose any of his prestige?
Or you mean “the racist word doesn’t have the magic power that it should have”?

54

someguy88 09.13.16 at 7:37 pm

Rich Puchalsky ,

JFC. Good point I must be a lying racist because WTF I seemed to disagreed with you. OMNG.

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Rich Puchalsky 09.13.16 at 8:12 pm

“Good point I must be a lying racist because WTF I seemed to disagreed with you.”

I didn’t write that or even imply it. But you’re sure having a lot of fun falling on the fainting couch and pretending that that’s what I meant. Strangely enough I think that your reaction is an object lesson in what happens when people actually do call people racists.

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Manta 09.13.16 at 8:18 pm

Rich, if you improve and clarify your argument enough, maybe you can make it a wrong argument.

57

someguy88 09.13.16 at 8:18 pm

Rich Puchalsky,

Again lets start with small shared slices of reality.

‘Of course there’s going to be a flood of disingenuousness: “I have literally no idea what possible point you think you are making”, “up is down and down is up” etc.’

You very strongly, actually F that you called me a liar, implied that I was lying. When we can agree on that we can move on and I can explain how you implicated that I was racist.

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Rich Puchalsky 09.13.16 at 8:25 pm

I wrote “Here’s an example of what happens in the U.S. when you call someone a racist” and you wrote that I was claiming that it was proof positive of something that you disagreed with. Of course you’re a liar.

As for whether you’re a racist, I kind of strongly suspect that based on the 88 in your nym, but that’s OK. I’m used to talking to racists.

59

Manta 09.13.16 at 8:25 pm

Layman @32

“Globalization is more or less like a force of nature”

Not really: it took a long and concerted political effort to bring all the free trade agreements. Surely e.g. NAFTA and the EU are not the result of a force of nature.

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Patrick 09.13.16 at 8:33 pm

Again, the fact that the person you called racist gets mad about it is a poor argument in support of the contention that there’s some sort of gentleman’s agreement that our political elites don’t call each other racist. I don’t know what kind of world you’re hoping for, in which “you are a racist” is met with equanimity. The polite assent of the accused is not required for society to reject someone’s words or behavior. And just as I reject conservative efforts to claim cultural malaise by interviewing minority convicts and highlighting everyone they find who refuses to accept responsibility for their actions, I reject similar claims from the left. I have a fairly neutral rule here- I expect a reasonable percentage of people who do things they shouldn’t do to also refuse to accept responsibility for having done them, and I see that as a human flaw universally held by everyone, not as evidence that the specific culture, race, ideology, or whatever held by the guilty party is corrupt.

But props for implying that LePage is somehow getting off easy on this six week old scandal that has his own party threatening to censure him, the democrats talking about amending the state constitution to recall him, and the insanely unpopular LePage himself publicly bouncing back and forth between considering resignation and insisting that he’ll fight to the bitter end.

Nothing good EVER comes from getting out the calipers and cherry picking out specific sub components of the overall reaction to a scandal in order to argue that per your no doubt very objective measurements outrage is 17% lower than you’d prefer, so there’s something wrong with our culture.

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someguy88 09.13.16 at 8:55 pm

Rich Puchalsky,

Beautiful. Truly. Words fail. If you didn’t exist racists would invent you as strawman to tear down. Unfortunately you and yours are common.

62

Layman 09.13.16 at 9:28 pm

@ Manta

“To be clear: I don’t like many of those views, BUT others citizens have the right to have their position represented as much as I do: an system where a sizable chunk of the population is not represented is not a (fully) democratic system.”

This strikes me as quite badly wrong. Do flat-earthers have a right to have environmental policy reflect their wrong world-view? And do you mean to say that whenever I disagree with a government policy, I have been denied representation in government?

“Not really: it took a long and concerted political effort to bring all the free trade agreements. Surely e.g. NAFTA and the EU are not the result of a force of nature.”

Yes, this is what ‘more or less’ means. I don’t mean to say that it is precisely a force of nature, akin to the strong atomic force. What I do mean to say is that the process by which labor rates globally will tend to converge is inexorable, and I’m hard pressed to come up with ideas on how you’d stop it. It was happening before NAFTA or the EU. It was happening even domestically. Furthermore, the process by which automation essentially destroys the earning power of manufacturing labor is even more inexorable. There are no good manufacturing jobs to bring back. There are no good manufacturing jobs to protect. They’re gone. They are not anywhere, or soon will not be anywhere. And this was always going to be the outcome.

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someguy88 09.13.16 at 9:29 pm

Rich Puchalsky,

Also from

Me-> Good point I must be a lying racist because WTF I seemed to disagreed with you.

You->I didn’t write that or even imply it. But you’re sure having a lot of fun falling on the fainting couch and pretending that that’s what I meant. Strangely enough I think that your reaction is an object lesson in what happens when people actually do call people racists.

To you one minute later ->

Of course you’re a liar.

As for whether you’re a racist, I kind of strongly suspect that based on the 88 in your nym, but that’s OK. I’m used to talking to racists.

JFC . But I am the liar. OMNEG.

64

John Quiggin 09.13.16 at 9:37 pm

Someguy88. ” Hilary just called 1/2 of Republican voters racist.” You’ve missed the point completely. As I said in the post, which advisedly used the word “deplorable”, the tacit agreement is breaking down.

If you want to show that it never existed, just post some pre-Trump links to statements by mainstream Democrats (say, members of Congress) about mainstream Republicans in the form “X is a racist”. Otherwise, nothing further from you in this thread please.

Watson Ladd, nothing further from you in my comments threads, please.

65

Manta 09.13.16 at 9:41 pm

“Do flat-earthers have a right to have environmental policy reflect their wrong world-view? ”

No, but they have the right to have some representatives fight for their views.

“And do you mean to say that whenever I disagree with a government policy, I have been denied representation in government?”

Again, no: the majority decides. It’s the distinction between the legislature (where every view should represented, more-or-less proportionally to the number of citizens holding it) and the executive.
In other words: if 30% of citizens like policy X, and 0% of representatives like it, then there is a breakdown of democracy: but that doesn’t mean that X should be the government policy.

66

Manta 09.13.16 at 10:00 pm

“about mainstream Republicans” but Trump is NOT a mainstream Republican: both him and his Republican opponents claim the opposite.
(For instance, Bush and Romney were quite mainstream).

67

Layman 09.13.16 at 10:00 pm

Manta: “No, but they have the right to have some representatives fight for their views.”

So, in your view, a system which fails to produce representatives willing to fight for discredited ideas is by definition not democratic? Really?

“It’s the distinction between the legislature (where every view should represented, more-or-less proportionally to the number of citizens holding it) and the executive.”

In such a system, there need be no representatives at all; and representatives of the minority view (being of necessity in the minority per your rules) would always lose, rendering their ‘representation’ a meaningless pro-forma exercise. This is of course aside from the small problem of the impossibility of a representative arguing equally for all the views of his or her constituents, which views could not possibly by uniform and consistent across all the members of the constituency.

I think you’re confused.

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Manta 09.13.16 at 10:03 pm

“So, in your view, a system which fails to produce representatives willing to fight for discredited ideas is by definition not democratic? Really?”

Of course it isn’t: what is discredited and what is not is the realm of politics.

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Layman 09.13.16 at 10:09 pm

“Of course it isn’t: what is discredited and what is not is the realm of politics.”

Flat-earthism has only been discredited by political thinking? There are no facts or non-facts absent a political ideology?

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Manta 09.13.16 at 10:12 pm

And anyway we are not discussing about scientific ideas (what is true or false), but about ethics (what is right or wrong), so, even granting you arguendo that scientifically unsound ideas should not be represented (or maybe that the government should have no business in deciding what is true and what is false), my original point remains: in a democratic system, if good chunk of the population likes a certain policy has the right to have its representatives fighting for that policy.

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Asteele 09.13.16 at 10:14 pm

It’s was inevitable that the elites would preside over a globalization process that would impoverish the poor and middle class, and give them all the money. Also, would lower their taxes, and pass laws to protect corporations, and allow them to spend unlimited money in political campaigns, and make it impossible for new industries to unionize etc…

72

Jim Harrison 09.13.16 at 10:25 pm

Unless Wonder Woman will let us borrow her lasso, it will be pretty hard to say for sure; but I’m guessing that a majority of Americans are racists in the sense that they think:

1. Races are biological facts.
2. Black and Hispanic people are genetically inferior to white people.

The trouble with the old arrangement in which decent people don’t make overtly racist statements or accuse others of being racists is that it makes it almost impossible to contest genuinely racist beliefs since anti-racist discourse is heard as yet another request not to admit what everybody knows or thinks they know. A lot of people never seriously entertain the possibility that white and black people are pretty much on a par as a matter of fact even if they think it is virtuous to go along with what they take to be a pious sentiment. There’s a price to be paid for the enforcement of taboos. I guess if you’re a tremendous optimist you can cope that the emergence of self proclaimed racists will at least make it possible to have a discussion about race that is about things rather than words. I’m not that optimistic.

The same problem comes up in re fascism. The thing remained very appealing though the horrors of World War II made the word radioactive. It worries me a bit when Trump is described as a fascist, not because he doesn’t fit the bill very well but because instead of harming Trump, we may just help rehabilitate fascism itself, even or especially among putative liberals who’ve been treating Carl Schmitt as a deep thinker for a long time now.

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Layman 09.13.16 at 10:26 pm

“…in a democratic system, if good chunk of the population likes a certain policy has the right to have its representatives fighting for that policy.”

This is akin to saying representatives must be automatons, else they deprive their constituents of their rights. Again, what are they for? Also, it ignores the obvious objection I made earlier, that of the impossibility of any representative adequately representing the conflicting views of his/her constituents.

74

Manta 09.13.16 at 10:37 pm

“What are they for? ”
They are to REPRESENT their constituents: not to advance their own personal interests or ideas or prejudices, but the interests, ideas (and prejudices) of their constituents.

” that of the impossibility of any representative adequately representing the conflicting views of his/her constituents.”
Sure, an exact matching is impossible: but a big mismatch is undemocratic.
If you want, perfect democracy doesn’t exist, but different systems can be more or less democratic.

75

Layman 09.13.16 at 11:24 pm

“Sure, an exact matching is impossible: but a big mismatch is undemocratic.”

Ah. So the failure of very small minorities to gain representation of their views is not undemocratic; while the failure of slightly larger minorities to gain representation of their views is undemocratic; and it is left to the representative to draw the line and effectively decide whose rights to violate. Or is there an outside regulator of some kind?

76

Rich Puchalsky 09.13.16 at 11:27 pm

Manta: “in a democratic system, if good chunk of the population likes a certain policy has the right to have its representatives fighting for that policy”

I have no idea what country Manta is from, but so much for any idea about limits on what the government can decide to do. If a majority wants extermination squads, then majority rules I guess.

Patrick: “Nothing good EVER comes from getting out the calipers and cherry picking out specific sub components of the overall reaction to a scandal”

Here’s what happened: I posted an anecdote which I introduced by saying “Here’s an example of what happens in the U.S. when you call someone a racist” — a completely true sentence, and relevant because political reactions to politicians calling each other racist was in the OP. All of the rest of the comment was a factual description of this incident and the comment had no conclusion. You, and a guy who has 88 in his nym (Neo-Nazis use the number 88 as an abbreviation for the Nazi salute Heil Hitler) both freaked out for different reasons and insisted that that I must be doing a, b, and c.

That a,b, and c is on you. I think that a lot more is revealed by your reaction than by anything that I wrote. someguyHH did a classic fainting spell over “you called me a racist” (in the process, lying about what I wrote), and you did a classic liberal scolding thing.

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None 09.13.16 at 11:50 pm

Rich Puchalsky@52 – “Of course there’s going to be a flood of disingenuousness: “I have literally no idea what possible point you think you are making”, “up is down and down is up” etc. That’s part of the pattern too, as is the sudden inability to understand metaphors and even mildly hyperbolic statements.”

Nicely done, Rich.

78

Aidian 09.14.16 at 1:24 am

Important if tangential point about racism: I’d suggest that anyone who has significant exposure to mainstream western culture is racist to some degree, if only on an unconscious level. (This is also likely true of non-western cultures, but I can’t speak to them with any confidence).

American culture is so steeped in racist assumptions and subtexts — when it’s not just over or euphemised — that it’s impossible to escape. I’d suggest I’m less unconsciously racist then most white guys, not because of any merit on my part but simply because I was raised in a subculture with considerably less immersion in mainstream culture than most people.

————

That said, I reject the notion that being in favor of restricting immigration means one is racist. I’m in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration and reducing legal immigration because it’s a subsidy to employers and the affluent that comes at the expense of the working class.

In a perfect world, the proletariat would be united across borders and colors and all that and we’d march arm and arm to smash the exploitive structures of modern capitalism. When that happens, I’ll be cool with open borders. But right now, my people are hurting, and they shouldn’t have to take another blow to their standard of living and just hope it works out in the long run.

Yes, that opinion is tribalism at its most basic. It falls short of the ‘universal altruistic hedonism’ I once identified as an ideal ethical system.* But it sure isn’t racist.

——————–

Finally — love the site and the reasonable and informed discussions — i’ve bee reading you for a while and it’s the first time in years I’ve regretted not going to grad school :)

*yes it sounds sort of insipid, in my defense, I made that identification during an intro to philosophy class during my 1st semester at a junior college in far Northern California. Mine was one of the more reasonable, reasoned, and, um, sober, belief systems to be promulgated during that class….

79

Bob Costas 09.14.16 at 2:06 am

Identity politics for me but not for thee.

80

js. 09.14.16 at 4:22 am

10 per cent of the population are hard-core racists who will vote for a racist candidate whenever such a candidate is on offer
25 per cent are racists, but those outside the hard core will only vote that way if the circumstances are favorable. This is basically Clinton’s basket of deplorables
25 per cent are solidly anti-racist or members of the minority group targeted by racists
The remaining 50 per cent are up for grabs.

One honest question about this. The (non-Hispanic) white population of the US is 60-65% of the total (I think). Are (some of) these numbers supposed to be a subset of that? Or is the idea that the 25% “racists” are somehow divided up among the white, brown and black people? To put the point in another way, what’s the underlying theory of racism?

81

js. 09.14.16 at 4:34 am

I suppose my point was that globalization is more or less like a force of nature; and that, combined with automation, the devaluation of labor seems more or less unstoppable.

Layman — I’m generally on board with your comments, but this seems rather wrong. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Roosevelt Institute’s Rewrite the Rules, but it’s very good. (Bruce Wilder types presumably hate this shit. After all, most of the RI people are cautiously rather optimistic about Clinton.) But anyway, it’s quite detailed, and it’s targeted at precisely the idea that the sort of economic dispensation we’re seeing is a force of nature.

82

js. 09.14.16 at 4:40 am

Oh, I meant to add. Distinguishing this kind of thing from white resentment, which is what’s actually driving this election, is crucially.

Alright, check back in a while. Hope it’s a long while!

83

John Quiggin 09.14.16 at 5:03 am

@80 This is casual empiricism, not theory. My observation from a lot of elections is that an openly racist party can get 10 per cent of the total vote in most countries under a wide range of circumstances. Obviously, that 10 per cent is derived from the dominant group, so it’s a larger than 10 per cent share of that group as you say. Looking at the US, if registered Repubs are 25 per cent of the population, the 40 per cent of them who preferred Trump to any of the other primary candidates give you the 10 per cent order or magnitude estimate. The correlations aren’t perfect (not all Trump fans are racists, and not all racists are Trumpist Repubs) but the errors probably cancel.

84

ZM 09.14.16 at 5:23 am

From the OP: “The problem is to discuss the issue in a way that influences those who can be persuaded, both on the merits of specific issues and on the need to dissociate themselves from racists.

That includes people who might be sympathetic to some racist arguments such as “foreigners are stealing our jobs”, but are also open to an explanation of how neoliberalism hurts workers.”

I think this is a good point. There are some pretty nasty racists you would want to disassociate yourself from entirely, but there are some people who express racist sentiments and are decent people but maybe uneducated or prejudiced or something.

One of Pauline Hanson’s speechwriters lived in the Shire I live in, I haven’t seen him around for a while so he might have moved. I never talked to him on the subject of race or immigration, but he was a decent person and generous in some regards and like Brett Belmore who used to comment here married a woman from Asia, I think after he stopped working for Pauline Hanson but I am not entirely sure.

I am not always the best with tactfulness myself, but on the point of changing people’s minds I heard some good techniques at a conference for Rural Australians for Refugees in Bendigo by a journalist who was involved with the Believe In Bendigo campaign (for non Australians this was a campaign responding to anti-Islam sentiment relating to planning permission being granted for the development of what will be the first Mosque in Bendigo, anti-Mosque people took this as far as the High Court which found the Mosque development could go ahead).

He said that you need to listen to people, you can’t just expect them to listen to you, you have to be ready to engage in dialogue and listen to them as well.

He also said that only focussing on things you disagree about is a bad communication strategy if you are engaged in advocacy for a cause, you should identify principles and values and ideals.

For instance one value you might have if you are against racism is what we call in Australia “the fair go”, and because this is a value shared by the majority of people in Australia the people whose minds you are trying to change probably share this value with you. If you identify a value you share, its easy to have dialogue about something that’s a controversial subject since you have a degree of solidarity even if you are trying to change someone’s mind.

85

Manta 09.14.16 at 7:55 am

Layman @75
“So the failure of very small minorities to gain representation of their views is not undemocratic; while the failure of slightly larger minorities to gain representation of their views is undemocratic; ”

No: quite simply, the larger the mismatch, the less democratic is the system. It’s not a binary measure, (democratic/undemocratic) but a degree (less/more democratic).

86

TM 09.14.16 at 8:19 am

Layman 62: “I don’t mean to say that it is precisely a force of nature”

Then better not say it. You started that subthread on the wrong foot, imho.

87

TM 09.14.16 at 8:24 am

Manta 65: The US does indeed not have proportional representation. There are no Greens, only one socialist in Congress. But there are quite a few Tea Partiers and other representatives of the radical right in Congress and some state legislatures are controlled by the radical Right. So what exactly is your point?

88

Collin Street 09.14.16 at 8:34 am

Identity politics for me but not for thee.

Identity’s for minorities, though. I don’t need identity politics: I’m normal, a straight white guy, and I want normal things. I don’t need or ask for special treatment.

89

Manta 09.14.16 at 8:35 am

Rich Puchalsky @76
“Manta: “in a democratic system, if good chunk of the population likes a certain policy has the right to have its representatives fighting for that policy”

I have no idea what country Manta is from, but so much for any idea about limits on what the government can decide to do. If a majority wants extermination squads, then majority rules I guess.”

How did you move from my sentence to your conclusion is a mystery to me.
To be clear: 1) you can reach your conclusion about ANY form of government: if the government wants extermination squads, then there will be extermination squads.
2) many countries have a constitution prescribing what the government can and cannot do; in particular, implementing “death squads” is usually against said constitution.
For instance, if the majority of the population wants to introduce the death penalty, there should be a large chunk (ideally, the majority) of representatives pushing for the death penalty: but if the constitution forbids it, they will have to change it first (and the latter usually requires more than a bare majority).

Layman @73
““…in a democratic system, if good chunk of the population likes a certain policy has the right to have its representatives fighting for that policy.”

This is akin to saying representatives must be automatons, else they deprive their constituents of their rights. Again, what are they for? ”

For many issues most people don’t have a particular preference, or only a slightly preference: there the representatives have quite a bit of freedom.
For many other issues, most people have only a generic wish of reach some kind of goal (e.g.: “more money” or “less crime”) and leave their representatives to advocate the policies that would reach those goals.
And finally, often compromises need to be reached (you see it every time, when different parties govern together and each has to sacrifice part of its program).

However, the OP describes ” The peace was maintained by the fact that the political class as a whole shared a broad neoliberal consensus in which marginal differences over economic issues were central, and where social/racial issues were primarily seen as a way of motivating the base to vote the right way.”
This strikes to me as undemocratic by design: a way to ignore the wishes and interests of a good chunk of the electorate.

90

Layman 09.14.16 at 11:58 am

js: “I’m generally on board with your comments, but this seems rather wrong. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Roosevelt Institute’s Rewrite the Rules, but it’s very good.”

Thanks. I’d support pretty much their entire platform, and certainly it would be a dramatic improvement for workers and the economy. That said, I don’t see anything there which prevents the loss of good-paying jobs to lower-wage labor regimes and then, ultimately, to automation. It is this loss which is, I think, inevitable; and this is why I think solutions of the form “bring back the good jobs” or even “retrain people for the good jobs” are largely fantasies and never produce the desired result. Even many service jobs will eventually fall prey to automation – note that machines, not people, flip burgers at many fast-food restaurants these days.

TM: “Then better not say it. You started that subthread on the wrong foot, imho.”

Viewing globalization as distinct from neoliberalism – encompassing the devaluation of labor through tapping lower-cost labor markets, not the political steps taken (or not taken) to mitigate the impact – how would one have stopped the former? I agree that mitigation of the fallout could be vastly improved, but that’s not the question I’m asking.

Further, how does one prevent cheap labor and automation from creating a large, permanent jobless class in developed countries?

91

Manta 09.14.16 at 12:09 pm

Layman @90
A possible solution is to bring back protectionism: high tariffs on imported goods.
It wouldn’t solve the problems due automation, but it would “prevents the loss of good-paying jobs to lower-wage labor regimes”.

Notice that, unlike free trade, it wouldn’t need the cooperation of other states to do it: it’s only a matter of political decision not to do it (again, the “neo-liberal consensus” of the OP).

92

M Caswell 09.14.16 at 12:33 pm

“Further, how does one prevent cheap labor and automation from creating a large, permanent jobless class in developed countries?”

A vastly stronger labor movement for the service sector.

93

Pete 09.14.16 at 12:34 pm

@Manta high tariffs on imported goods absolutely does require the cooperation of other states, with whom you’ve agreed not to do that and who will now retaliate against your export industries.

This is the Brexit problem.

94

Manta 09.14.16 at 12:35 pm

Pete@93:
you are saying that they will retaliate implementing protectionist measures too? Good for them.

95

Manta 09.14.16 at 12:44 pm

Pete @93,
you are showing my point that globalization is not a “force of nature”, but a political choice: the choice e.g. to favor certain industries at the expenses of other;
and to favor capital at the expenses of labor

96

Bob Costas 09.14.16 at 1:15 pm

@Collin Street 88

Identity is for your ingroup. Your ingroup gets special treatment. When the outgroup wants the same special treatment, you throw a tantrum.

97

Bob Costas 09.14.16 at 1:16 pm

And no, “but MY ingroup deserves special treatment!” is not an argument.

98

Layman 09.14.16 at 1:20 pm

Manta: ‘It wouldn’t solve the problems due automation, but it would “prevents the loss of good-paying jobs to lower-wage labor regimes”.’

Except there are lower-wage regimes within the United States. This is why manufacturers move from one state to another, seeking to drive down labor costs. This is precisely what auto makers did (and do), opening new plants in right-to-work lower-wage states. This reduces their labor costs and gives them leverage to further reduce labor costs at existing plants in higher-wage states. So overall wages decline to match that of the lowest-wage regime in the country. Unless you’re planning a tariff war between Alabama and Michigan, I’m not sure how you aim to stop that.

99

Layman 09.14.16 at 1:36 pm

@ Manta, an example. This auto plant in Alabama was paying a $9.70 starting wage (with no benefits!) and a maximum wage of $15.80. These workers unionized (good for them), but there are plenty of other places with people who would take those jobs. Maybe West Virginia? Louisiana? Mississippi?

http://peoplesworld.org/fed-up-with-walmart-wages-alabama-auto-parts-plant-goes-union/

100

Lee A. Arnold 09.14.16 at 1:36 pm

International trade should be alleviated by smarter policies than protectionism.

Protectionism will reduce the long-term growth in the standard of living, in favor of short-term ephemeral gains in labor income, in order to protect the system of private ownership upon which the use of money depends. The final end of that logic is that we should REDUCE the standard of living so that everybody will be compelled to work, because that results in the “right kind of people”*. That is crazy.

It is probably just smarter to demote the idea that you should have to work for a living, rather than re-instantiating finance capitalism in a domestic or more localized form of political economy.

Of course, artificial intelligence and robotics are quickly developing to the stage of development in which everyone in all locales is capable of producing just about anything. So the issue of globalization is likely to be obviated anyway.

(* most of whom appear to be sniveling knuckleheads, we might add)

101

efcdons 09.14.16 at 1:40 pm

Layman @98

“Except there are lower-wage regimes within the United States. This is why manufacturers move from one state to another, seeking to drive down labor costs. This is precisely what auto makers did (and do), opening new plants in right-to-work lower-wage states. ”

You gave an example of one thing we could do in your comment, not allow “right to (not) work” laws. We already have lots of protectionist measures that decrease the ability for southern states to compete on their ability to compete on providing the most low cost, rights-less, compliant labor. We just need to make them stronger (which Obama has done to an extent).

We have a nation wide minimum wage and overtime law. We have nation wide occupational health and safety laws. Nationwide union organizing rights. Nationwide anti-retaliation and whistle blowing laws to protect people who assert their rights.

Southern states will (and do) lobby furiously against strengthening the laws. But we have a greater ability to force these laws on them rather, more than with international low cost labor centers.

102

Layman 09.14.16 at 1:49 pm

“It is probably just smarter to demote the idea that you should have to work for a living, rather than re-instantiating finance capitalism in a domestic or more localized form of political economy.”

Completely agree. We should be prepping for the post-work economy.

103

Sam Dodsworth 09.14.16 at 1:57 pm

Popping back in because I came across this on twitter:

https://twitter.com/AtLes69/status/775851809919340544

“A detached, philosophical aversion to seeing racists as enemies exposes your proximity to the threat, not your commitment to nuance. If racism is merely a moral ill, disconnected from actionable violence or political organization, then goodness & redemption are important. But this is, as it has always been, a fight, with lives in the balance, and survival is bought not through our persuasiveness but their defeat.”

104

Rich Puchalsky 09.14.16 at 2:12 pm

Manta: “How did you move from my sentence to your conclusion is a mystery to me.”

Your sentence ignores centuries of liberal political theory. If a majority of citizens wants something manifestly bad — e.g. extermination squads — then the function of their representatives is not to mindlessly represent them and demand extermination squads and hope that some kind of constitutional or legal limit will prevent those squads from actually happening. No constitutional or legal limit can hold for long against popular opinion in a democracy, because the legal system isn’t a machine: it’s run by people. Representatives are supposed to to be elected elites — leaders or specialists, whatever — who know enough about the system to not run it off the rails. They are supposed to explain to their constituents why what they want is bad and if necessary refuse to carry it out. If their constituents won’t be educated and replace the representatives until they find someone who will do it, well the slide into capture of a democracy by demagogues is always possible, but that’s a failure mode, not a success of democracy.

105

Rich Puchalsky 09.14.16 at 5:04 pm

Well, I’m a Jew and I’ve never heard anything special about the number 8 outside of Kabbalah which applies meanings to pretty much all numbers, but I’m glad that you disavow this particular meaning for your nym.

As for the rest, since I never wrote anything that you claimed that I wrote, I can hardly retract it. I gave a non-conclusionary example that I presented as an example: you had a fainting spell. That’s an annoying trait but quite characteristic of what happens in America whenever race is discussed.

106

Hey Skipper 09.14.16 at 5:05 pm

107

efcdons 09.14.16 at 5:16 pm

Hey Skipper @108

I don’t know if you were being sarcastic (it’s hard to tell on the internet), but check out the comments. And these are comments made using peoples’ facebook profiles i.e. it’s not anonymous trolls but real people who don’t mind if people know their views on US race relations.

108

Hey Skipper 09.14.16 at 5:39 pm

efcdons:

I am being sarcastic. There is very strong tendency among progressives to see the right (whatever that is) and conservatives as the same thing. There is also a strong tendency to award anyone who disagrees with some odious label designed to first demonize, then ostracize.

The intent of the link, and my mild sarcasm, is to suggest that reflexive accusations of “racist” based merely upon party label, or some perceived direction along the political spectrum, may not have much basis in fact.

109

Rich Puchalsky 09.14.16 at 5:55 pm

You lied about what I wrote, and you still are — you claimed that my example somehow was a claim that you were a racist. So your lying is proven and not really up for discussion. Plus you’re still posting here after being told that unless you’re going to back up a claim substantively, nothing further please, so your current hissy fit is just a distraction from your refusal to either back up your claim or follow the blog poster’s rules.

And really I think that your nym is probably bait too. It’s been pointed out more than once that it has a common alt-right meaning: you could just change it for some other nym but this way you get to act even more scandalized when people point it out.

110

None 09.14.16 at 6:08 pm

Heh. Rich Puchalsky is really getting to the racists. This is great fun.

111

F. Foundling 09.14.16 at 6:18 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 104

> If a majority of citizens wants something manifestly bad … then the function of their representatives is not to mindlessly represent them … If their constituents won’t be educated and replace the representatives until they find someone who will do it, well the slide into capture of a democracy by demagogues is always possible, but that’s a failure mode, not a success of democracy.

Well, you could say that when X (in this case, democracy) does something ‘manifestly bad’, that’s a failure and not a success of X (in this case, democracy). That’s almost tautological. That doesn’t mean that it thereby stops being X (in this case, a democracy), and it may be the case that being X entails the ability to potentially do something ‘manifestly bad’. Having control of your legs entails the ability to jump out of the window.

>If a majority wants extermination squads, then majority rules I guess.

Well, it does rule. In the end of the day, however unpleasant that thought may be, there is nothing to prevent extermination squads besides, well, people’s not wanting extermination squads. Even, say, the US constitution can be changed to permit extermination squads, if the public votes for that; there is nothing in the system to preclude that. Hell is, or may be, the other people – not only in democracies, but in all human societies. Such is life.

112

John Quiggin 09.14.16 at 6:40 pm

Someguy, you’re permanently banned from Crooked Timber. I’ll be deleting all someguy’s comments, and interactions since I imposed the threadwide band, so please, no more troll feeding.

113

Rich Puchalsky 09.14.16 at 6:52 pm

F. Foundling, we could have a more in-depth talk about democracy and its discontents if it was more on-topic. Suffice it to say that there’s a long tradition of rejecting democracy in favor of consensus that’s pretty much invisible (because mainstream political theory has been reduced to “democracy is good”), but consensus has its own discontents in the area of getting anything done. As far as I can figure out the basic problem is that the various possible solutions do not scale, and that as society has expanded in scope and communicative power people have persistently scaled up their governmental arrangements past the point where they worked. So e.g. in America we have a supposedly all-important election that really is quite important, and there is nothing that anyone can really do to affect it other than two candidates and their inner circle of maybe ten staffers and / or super-wealthy funders.

114

Matt 09.14.16 at 6:56 pm

Protectionism will reduce the long-term growth in the standard of living, in favor of short-term ephemeral gains in labor income, in order to protect the system of private ownership upon which the use of money depends. The final end of that logic is that we should REDUCE the standard of living so that everybody will be compelled to work, because that results in the “right kind of people”*. That is crazy.

It is probably just smarter to demote the idea that you should have to work for a living, rather than re-instantiating finance capitalism in a domestic or more localized form of political economy.

Of course, artificial intelligence and robotics are quickly developing to the stage of development in which everyone in all locales is capable of producing just about anything. So the issue of globalization is likely to be obviated anyway.

The empirical evidence doesn’t seem to unambiguously support the bolded part. I agree that going back 50 years in terms of American protectionism would not bring back nearly as many American factory jobs as people might assume from remembrances of 1966. But I think that the dislocation caused by loss of domestic manufacturing jobs would have been less severe if it had just been automation paring those jobs rather than automation plus successive waves of trade liberalization.

I also agree that we can see the end of the age of mass employment from here. The thorny political problem — I suspect — is that automation/AI/robotics are not going to “quickly” eliminate 95% of labor force participation. I expect it to happen over decades, a bunch of little sharp drops with relative plateaus in between. A sharp drop when truck driver jobs go away and then a slowly declining plateau until the next significant employment category is ready for elimination, for example. The problem with this prolonged whittling is that it makes solidarity harder to build. If an overwhelming majority of voters saw their job automated away over 4 years the political response in favor of the newly unemployed would be easy to mobilize. If it happens over 40 years then it’s easier for politicians and voters to keep reaching for the same tired ideas about retraining, education, work ethic, and merit.

115

Manta 09.14.16 at 10:00 pm

To what Foundling said @111 I would add that deciding what is “manifestly bad” (in the public sphere) is precisely one of the basic tasks of politics.

116

Manta 09.14.16 at 10:07 pm

Moreover, even if someone believes in some kind of absolute morality (so that “death squad” would be intrinsically bad), there is no reason to think that a politician’s moral compass would be better (or worse) than the moral compass of a random citizen.

If the majority of people think that X is good, it is more likely that X is good than not, and that those who thinks that X is bad are wrong (assuming arguendo that “X is good” can make sense in absolute terms, which is not my position).

117

bruce wilder 09.14.16 at 10:53 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 113: . . . various possible solutions do not scale, and that as society has expanded in scope and communicative power people have persistently scaled up their governmental arrangements past the point where they worked.

There’s the kernel of a vitally important insight there. Growth, scale, centralization.

It is interesting that racism / anti-racism is experienced as a block or obstacle to managed collapse.

118

Z 09.15.16 at 8:14 am

Uncharacteristically, I think I am in compete disagreement with the OP. As I see things, here is what is happening.

Affluent western democracies are becoming more and more unequal and more and more socially rigid, but not poorer. In these conditions, everyone will strive for the top and even a minuscule advantage (such as belonging to the historically dominant group or benefiting from familial solidarity in terms of financial and educative capital) can mean a great deal. A domino phenomenon then happens: first, recent immigrants (the weakest part of the society) will be plagued by social problems (poverty, unemployment, lack of proper education and-specifically in the US-lack of health care); then anyone even marginally above them will try to maintain this distinction, the disappearance of which has now become objectively synonym with social hell; then anyone marginally above those will try to maintain this distinction ad lib to the very top.

For large segments of the population, the “separate but equal” (separate from blacks, immigrants, blue collar workers…) shtick has become (not unreasonably) a survival strategy again to the very top, and it is too easy to blame some variants of this move before carefully evaluating how typical your neighborhood in terms of economic and educative dynamism. Once social groups barely above recent immigrants start growing, some politicians will cynically offer them a discourse which can be accurately summed up as “We hate dynamic élites has much as you do, we will ensure that you survive this cut-throat social competition or at least we will ensure you that you come on top of the few below you” (Crooked Hillary/Make America Great Again/the wall respectively).

Simultaneously, there is a general international reversion towards national divergence, so that there is some (broken clock style) accuracy in nationalist policies which boiler-plate internationalist policies nowadays lack.

In that context, pointing out the racism of policies favored by the social group referred above and of the politicians defending them seems to me to be particularly ill-advised. The relation these people entertain with others-as expressed by their actions, not their words-seems to me to be no more problematic than the one entertained by the educated, internationalist élite like you or me: they are doing whatever they can in an extremely competitive environment which promises only hell to the losers, just as we do, and in which they correctly recognize that they start with a serious disadvantage. As for the politicians, pointing out their racism when they are obviously only cynically playing with it (I don’t believe that Trump or Sarkozy are themselves sincerely racist) is bound to turn accusations of racism into some sort of “enemy of the international élite” badge to be worn with honor.

Point out that Trump policy proposals are vacuous or absurd, that building a wall doesn’t stop anyone and (conservatively) costs 20 billion dollars, that deported 11 million people cannot be done without major, dreadful consequences to every aspect of social life, that most of his CV ended up in economic and moral failure, that his policies will do worse than nothing for schools, hospital, public transportation… in fragile neighborhoods. On the positive side (which I favor), advocate tirelessly for policies that promote the social inclusion of everyone. Everyone. Freely admit that such policies will cost a great deal to the top 10 or even 20%, so in particular yourself, and embrace it.

But call him a racist, and his supporters will ask you if you would like to see your grand-children live in southern LA or Flint (or the functional equivalent in any other country), and what will you answer then?

119

Z 09.15.16 at 8:23 am

Well, the first sentence of my previous comment is a stupid exaggeration. I agree about the description of the previous status quo, that it stemmed from a broad neoliberal consensus and that this consensus has now been broken with the terrible consequence described in the OP: absurd, authoritarian, racist policies are here to stay. Trump might be the first, not the last. And I agree that “it’s important to take racist arguments seriously and respond to them, rather than regarding the fact that they are racist as putting them beyond the pale of serious discussion“. So in the end, I think my disagreement is that I believe that labelling policies and politicians are racist will be counterproductive exactly for that reason.

120

TM 09.15.16 at 8:24 am

Mnata, care to answer 87?

121

John Quiggin 09.15.16 at 9:18 am

@119 Given the need to respond to racist arguments, using euphemisms to hide the fact that they are racist seems misguided to me.

122

TM 09.15.16 at 11:24 am

Interesting, relevant:

“With little fanfare, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed historic legislation that would expand overtime pay for California farmworkers. Assembly Bill 1066, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzalez (D-San Diego), calls for a phase-in of new overtime rules over four years beginning in 2019. It would lower the current 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour day by 2022. It also would phase in a 40-hour standard workweek for the first time. The governor would be able to suspend any part of the process for a year depending on economic conditions. …

Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers union, said he was grateful to the lawmakers who voted for the legislation and to Brown for “making a tough decision like this and changing the course of history.” AB 1066 “would give license to farmworkers in other states fighting for the same thing,” Rodriguez said. “I’m crying tears of joy after so many years that farmworkers have worked so hard to win a significant victory like this that will dramatically change their lives.” The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established minimum wage and overtime standards, but excluded all agricultural workers, the majority of whom at the time were African American.”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-updates-brown-signs-historic-legislation-1473710835-htmlstory.html#10;

123

TM 09.15.16 at 11:24 am

[Sorry]
Interesting, relevant:

“With little fanfare, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed historic legislation that would expand overtime pay for California farmworkers. Assembly Bill 1066, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzalez (D-San Diego), calls for a phase-in of new overtime rules over four years beginning in 2019. It would lower the current 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour day by 2022. It also would phase in a 40-hour standard workweek for the first time. The governor would be able to suspend any part of the process for a year depending on economic conditions. …

Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers union, said he was grateful to the lawmakers who voted for the legislation and to Brown for “making a tough decision like this and changing the course of history.” AB 1066 “would give license to farmworkers in other states fighting for the same thing,” Rodriguez said. “I’m crying tears of joy after so many years that farmworkers have worked so hard to win a significant victory like this that will dramatically change their lives.” The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established minimum wage and overtime standards, but excluded all agricultural workers, the majority of whom at the time were African American.”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-updates-brown-signs-historic-legislation-1473710835-htmlstory.html#10;

124

Z 09.15.16 at 12:44 pm

John @119, I don’t recommend euphemism, I recommend not making the same post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that non-hardcore racists who nevertheless support racist policies make.

Let’s look at concrete examples. By and large, people who show some support to Trump’s proposal to build a wall or Sarkozy’s proposal to “ban all sign of religious appartenance in schools, universities, administrations and workplaces” do not belong to the 10% hardcore ultra-right actually racist constituency. They don’t want to live in neighborhoods with a high proportion of illegal immigrants or of practicing muslims, mostly not because they are extreme xenophobes but because these neighborhoods also have extremely high unemployment rate, crumbling infrastructures and failing schools. So of course they mistake the consequence for the cause (because I trust it goes without saying that I don’t believe that the failing schools are failing because of immigrants and veiled women), but labelling them as racist or xenophobic because they react to the marker does not help either. Especially since in all fairness, people like you or I can go on with our daily lives as if these problems mostly did not exist thanks to our social position.

That said, beside the rather materialist account above, I think it is undeniable that the weakening of the egalitarian sentiment among western polities is accompanied by the growing strength of explicitly anti-egalitarian ideologies. The alt-right is its reactionary incarnation in the US, but I believe it would be a significant analytical mistake to believe that there are no progressive avatar.

125

Lee A. Arnold 09.15.16 at 1:20 pm

Matt #114: “The empirical evidence [on protectionism] doesn’t seem to unambiguously support the bolded part… The problem with this prolonged whittling [of mass employment] is that it makes solidarity harder to build.”

“Not unambiguously” — that is always a good adverb!

The empirical evidence of the 20th Century is that, in most cases, protectionism accelerated the increase in the standard of living in developing countries, but if and only if there is continuing external trade with a (more developed) economy that will buy the exports.

Reverting to protectionism on both sides when developed, might decelerate growth in the standard of living on both sides, because it reduces access to the innovations of creative individuals on both sides. I would agree that this is ambiguous, however. One reason is that in economics the positive statement (trade is good) doesn’t necessarily prove the negative (no trade is not good).

Another reason is that it is always true that 1) one side can take or steal the other side’s ideas, and produce the good or service on its own (if it has access to the physical resources necessary to the particular good or service. See: development economics in the 20th Century.)

2) It is also now increasingly true that, from #100 above, “artificial intelligence and robotics are quickly developing to the stage of development in which everyone in all locales is capable of producing just about anything. So the issue of globalization is likely to be obviated anyway.”

I appended that, because I happen to agree with you on the point that protectionism may NO LONGER reduce the long-term standard of living, as both prior theory and prior evidence would appear to indicate. (On the politics of this, if Trump wins the U.S. election, his supporters may eventually feel vindicated because his protectionism won’t cause noticeable harm.)

On the “prolonged whittling”, we might look at the kinds of things that are happening, and could suggest the length of time it might take for widespread, mass acceptance of technological unemployment. There is an easy way to categorize these new developments, supply-side and demand-side:

Supply-side: Robotization will end physical work.
Supply-side: Artificial intelligence will end rote inductive intellectual work (i.e. most of the remainder of the labor of a business firm).
Demand-side: Social connectivity (internet, smartphones) completes most of human need, therefore reduces economic demand, and it consumes a lot of time.
Demand-side: Household info-search, downloadables & desktop 3-D printers have started to obviate the need for trade of human labor expertise, e.g. service-people etc.

Some of this is already here, and I think that the rest of it may come faster than we expect. A recent study showed that 40% or more of present white-collar jobs may be replaced in 20 years by artificial intelligence, from clerical to telemarketing.

That leaves pure human creativity for the supply-side, but a scarcity of attention on the demand side, because every individual has only so many waking hours to engage in consumption. Are we going to compel people to do things that nobody else wants?

What it comes down to is less and less employment opportunity in tradable goods and services. (“Tradable” here = both domestic + international.) No one will be any less creative, but most people will be lucky to have even a tiny niche market to sell to.

I think that we are quickly coming to the historical point where we will be compelling people to work — to be the “right kind” of people — largely to support the existing system of private money-creation and property & asset ownership.

Some of the economists’ favorite sayings, such as, “resources are scarce… there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch… wants are infinite… incentives matter…”, are being seriously amended or becoming canards.

So when is everybody going to wake up? The era of Nobody Needs to Work Anymore will be a change in basic psychology. The idea that you need to work to be a human being has been handed down to us from the millennia of traditional hierarchical societies. It needs time to change without wrenching and violence.

The intervening, 250-yr. reign of classical and modern economics — including Marxism and socialism — has not challenged this. This reign of economics may become seen as a “brief” historical passage that appeared, and thrashed about, on the way to something that doesn’t need to build solidarity because solidarity will be a fait accompli. So “prolonged whittling” may be the best course on the menu, and will make “building solidarity” unnecessary.

(On the politics of this, it could well be that if Trump wins, his tribalists can beat their tom-toms and thrash about less violently because they think they have the upper hand, and so finally force themselves into accepting reality.)

126

TM 09.15.16 at 1:38 pm

“to believe that there are no progressive avatar.” Sorry, what are you saying?

127

Rich Puchalsky 09.15.16 at 1:38 pm

JQ: “Given the need to respond to racist arguments, using euphemisms to hide the fact that they are racist seems misguided to me.”

The counter to this, currently, is the hissy fit defense. “How dare you call me a racist”, etc. It’s used by politicians as in the example above, it’s used by commenters here in these threads, including by supposedly left commenters who happily accuse everyone else but can’t stand to see their own prejudice pointed out.

It’s generally a pretty successful defense. People assume that two people in a heated argument are equally to blame and just want them to stop.

128

Manta 09.15.16 at 2:03 pm

@124
“By and large, people who show some support to … Sarkozy’s proposal to “ban all sign of religious appartenance in schools, universities, administrations and workplaces” do not belong to the 10% hardcore ultra-right actually racist constituency”

Given the fact that Sarkozy’s proposal is being implemented by a socialist French president (and that this Sarkozy is not hardcore ultra-right), this is spot on.

129

Z 09.15.16 at 2:27 pm

TM @126 I think you understood (though maybe you completely disagree). I am saying that I believe that anti-egalitarian ideologies and sentiments are not exclusively the reflex of material conditions and changes thereof and are not exclusively found on the reactionary side of the progressive/reactionary ideological spectrum. To me the converse would be surprising, as I believe that defiance or even hostility to equality (and conversely the desire of more equality) are largely pre-ideological dispositions so should not be especially correlated with abstract ideological stances (I realize that these are controversial opinions).

I did not (and still do not) want to say much more because 1) it would require some space and I have already written too much 2) it is off-topic and 3) it is bound to be an unpopular opinion here on CT (few people, especially identifying with the left, view their preferred ideologies as hostile to equality) and I don’t enjoy thread-derailing Internet fights. I’ll write something more about it if the topic ever comes up more clearly on CT.

130

Matt 09.15.16 at 5:03 pm

Some of this is already here, and I think that the rest of it may come faster than we expect. A recent study showed that 40% or more of present white-collar jobs may be replaced in 20 years by artificial intelligence, from clerical to telemarketing.

I’m emphasizing may here because I worry about the other case; what if the rest of it keeps coming, but over decades? IMO that’s the worse scenario because because the technologically unemployed could be slow to win political recognition/power, and would suffer in the meantime.

There are reasons to suspect that physical work won’t go away all at once. Some tasks can’t be performed by robots yet because we lack working software of any kind for the task. Others have software solutions that are almost there but the software doesn’t run fast enough yet. Others have software that seems about fast enough but the rate of mistakes isn’t low enough yet. Some need better sensors; others different sensors; others better actuators (more powerful, or more precise, or more gentle…); others better energy storage. Some tasks seem like they might be solvable with today’s computing, sensors, actuators, and energy storage but nobody has yet found it a viable business proposition to put in the work to stitch all the necessary parts together. Since the regular cadence of Moore’s Law is over, and the parts of these systems other than computing power didn’t have a Moore’s Law driving predictable advances in the first place, I rather expect a bunch of incremental advances over a prolonged period. That’s opposed to e.g. a company releasing the All Purpose Physical Labor Bot in the year 20xx and everyone who had a physical job becoming unemployed shortly thereafter.

I expect that the mass employment era will be over by the 22nd century, if we don’t first suffer a catastrophic end to industrialized civilization in general, but I really don’t know how declining employment will play out. And I am emphasizing how it might be gradual rather than sudden because I think that scenario may make for trickier politics — similar to how global warming is a harder political challenge than kinds of pollution that have immediately visible bad effects.

131

Michael Sullivan 09.15.16 at 6:43 pm

JohnQ @5: “10 per cent of the population are hard-core racists who will vote for a racist candidate whenever such a candidate is on offer
25 per cent are racists, but those outside the hard core will only vote that way if the circumstances are favorable. This is basically Clinton’s basket of deplorables
25 per cent are solidly anti-racist or members of the minority group targeted by racists
The remaining 50 per cent are up for grabs.”

My experience, alas, suggests that a decent chunk of your 50 percent aren’t really up for grabs, but lean pretty hard toward supporting racism (the system) by being much more concerned about accusations of bigotry than about bigotry, by being willing to support overtly bigoted candidates “for other reasons” and not letting KKK level public statements be a disqualifier. At best these people are up for grabs only after enough people have converted to make actual anti-racists close to a majority.

And even for the 30-35% who might actually be up for grabs now: The problem is that racism is the system, and when you have a systemic problem — as they used to say in the sixties — those who are not part of the solution, are part of the problem. It’s a premise in the anti-racist community that we *all* have problematic attitudes, unconscious biases and behaviors, and blindnesses and that it is our responsibility to admit them, work them out, and be accountable to each other. On the on hand this *can* descend into a hostile, defensive call-out culture. On the other, where it’s *supposed* to go, and often does is a place where saying something (action, speech) is racist is a call to rethink, reboot, recant, apologize if necessary and clear away more culturally programmed cobwebs from our system. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s ridiculously hard to do, and it’s *very* easy to hear a criticism of something you said or did being racist or from privilege as an accusation that you belong in the 25% of deplorables or even the 10% hard core white supremacists, that’s you’d hang out at cross-burnings and cheer them on.

I think you’re absolutely right in your OP, because we need to move on from “racism” being something we only apply to the cross-burners and lynchers, but something that we use to describe *everything* that supports the system that advantages whites and disadvantages everyone who is not white. And the hard part of that, is that a lot of people who are our natural allies (liberal/progressive/left/up-for-grabs) still have a lot of unexamined privilege and race issues, and little to no patience for anti-racism, and a love for derailing anti-racist criticism.

I am hopeful for the long-term, but I think there is a *very* long and difficult road to progress.

132

Michael Sullivan 09.15.16 at 6:51 pm

Collin Street @88: “Identity’s for minorities, though. I don’t need identity politics: I’m normal, a straight white guy, and I want normal things. I don’t need or ask for special treatment.”

The whole point of privilege analysis is that as a straight white man in this culture you (and I) don’t *need* to ask for special treatment, because we automatically *get it*, without having to ask.

In fact, we so take it for granted, that we tend to talk about the instances where it’s *not* there as examples of “special treatment” for minorities.

133

Rich Puchalsky 09.15.16 at 7:31 pm

Michael Sullivan: “On the other, where it’s *supposed* to go, and often does is a place where saying something (action, speech) is racist is a call to rethink, reboot, recant, apologize if necessary and clear away more culturally programmed cobwebs from our system.”

I think that’s a model that has failed. People pretty flatly don’t do it (#notallpeople but maybe 99.9% of people).

Structural anti-racism is historically and traditionally effective. We’d do more against racism by reforming our carceral and police systems than any amount of virtuous rethinking.

134

Manta 09.15.16 at 7:31 pm

Michael Sullivan @131
Correct me if I misunderstood you, but you are saying that
1) whoever doesn’t care about racial problems is racist
and 2) those some people are not “up for grabs”, cannot be convinced to vote for the policies you favor

About 1) it’s simply a question of semantics (what does “racist” mean?), so there is no point of arguing with it (different people will give slightly different menaing to a word).
But 2) seems quite misguided to me: just like they are willing to support bigoted candidates “for other reasons”, they can be also willing to support non-bigoted candidates “for other reasons”.

135

Manta 09.15.16 at 7:35 pm

And for ones I fully agree with Rich @133: facts, not words. Reforming the system to be more equitable is easier and more effective than trying to change people (and it’s already difficult enough).

136

John Quiggin 09.15.16 at 7:49 pm

Z@124 We seem to be in furious agreement. That’s pretty much what I said about “immigrants stealing our jobs”

@132 I’m pretty sure Collin Street’s comment was ironic, but he omitted the necessary alerts.

137

bruce wilder 09.16.16 at 4:26 am

RP @ 131: We’d do more against racism by reforming our carceral and police systems than any amount of virtuous rethinking.

Until very very recently, the only viable strategy to get political attention from the political and legal system for problems with our police and carceral system has been to make a case that racism is involved, which conveniently is always true.

But now the charge of racism apparently carries with it the implication that a personal transformation or social cleansing is required (“rethink, reboot, recant, apologize if necessary and clear away more culturally programmed cobwebs from our system”)

I think the program of making racism taboo was somewhat successful historically, but it is hard to see the present program as something achievable or even useful.

138

TM 09.16.16 at 7:53 am

137: really what is that supposed to mean? That #BLM shouldn’t draw attention to racism in the carceral and police systems because it implies “social cleansing” (iow they are the real racists)? I have accused you of demagoguery before and I was right.

139

dax 09.16.16 at 11:51 am

I think a better division of racism is in terms of facts and values. So there’s

1/ Fact racism
2/ Value racism

Fact racism is what the Bell Curve is about: the claim that blacks have lower IQs or are less intelligent than whites. These are facts (albeit for the claim of intelligence, not a very clear one, since the notion of intelligence is not very clear). They make claims about the world. Presumably these kinds of facts are false. At least I, a non-specialist, dismiss them out-of-hand and am not really interested in hearing the arguments for.

As for value racism, there is a further split. Some of value racism comes from a racist fact and a non-racist value. For instance, from the racist fact “Blacks are less intelligent than whites” and a non-racist value, you can get a racist value. If you believe either “More educational resources should be devoted to the most intelligent” or “More educational resources should be devoted to the least intelligent” (both value statements, but neither racist), you will either infer the racist values, “More educational resources should be devoted to whites” or “More educational resources should be devoted to blacks.” I’ll leave these subsidiary racist values to one side, because they depend on racist facts, which as I said I am skeptical about.

There are however racist values which do not depend on racist facts. These are axioms, which for simplicity I’ll put as, “I don’t like them.” Cosmopolitans like myself don’t have this value, but some people (JQ’s tribalists?) clearly do. Axiomatic values can’t be argued, although their consequences can be. I tend to be an unusual cosmopolitan because I have a certain tolerance for tribalists.

For one thing I am related by marriage to tribalists whom I have to acknowledge are better people than me, although they are – here I’ll use the word – racists. They are warm and generous to a fault, although of course not to everyone. But they hate the English with a passion, they really do.

You see they live in the French Alps, in an area where 50 years ago “foreigner” still meant someone from the next village over. But in the past 20 years with the advent of cheap flights and laws making the English more comfortable owning property abroad, the English have immigrated into the area, bought up many of the houses, and become a sizable part of the population. This had made the locals uncomfortable, because their way of life is under threat. They used to think of the mountains as theirs; they had a sense of ownership. That’s slipping away, as they sell, one house at a time, to the English.

Now in an American context this family could well be considered one of the deplorables. Moral condescension, however, needless to say, is not how to win their vote. You’re not going to get them on your side by calling them names because their axiom values are different from your axiom values. You *might* be able to win their vote if you can argue about the consequences of their values, e.g. by arguing that the English bring some benefits to the community, and so forth.

So in general I think trying to argue against axiom-value racism is ill-advised. You have to argue against the consequences. That is, if someone wants to hate blacks, let them. You can even try to be their friend. But in order to have a civil society, where we’re not killing everyone, we need to have certain ground rules – of non-discrimination and so forth. That’s where – the only place – you can reach common ground and where you should concentrate your effort.

140

Layman 09.16.16 at 12:24 pm

bruce wilder: “But now the charge of racism apparently carries with it the implication that a personal transformation or social cleansing is required…”

And how is this different than before?

141

Rich Puchalsky 09.16.16 at 12:31 pm

dax above gives a completely strange example, in which people moving into a community and buying up the houses and causing ill feeling is not a fact, but rather leads to a fact-less “axiom” that the racists just don’t like those people. It’s like a satire of how cosmopolitans dismiss the concerns of everyone lower class than they are as bad cultural values.

You might say that the “racism” (in scare quotes because I don’t think that you can really be racist against English people rather than xenophobic) consists of taking what individuals do and applying it to a group of people. But in this case it really isn’t what one or a few individuals did. It’s a community whose values are being threatened by what amounts to the effect of a group of people. It takes pretty strong middle-class individualism to treat this as all individuals..

Perhaps the community should be empowered to defend its values by not permitting more than a certain amount of its houses to be bought by outsiders. But oh no that’s xenophobia, that’s going against cosmopolitan freedom of movement e.g. the freedom of wealthy country middle class people to buy up whatever they want anywhere.

142

TM 09.16.16 at 1:12 pm

“These are facts. Presumably these kinds of facts are false.”

The better term is factual claims.

143

TM 09.16.16 at 1:28 pm

“It’s like a satire of how cosmopolitans dismiss the concerns of everyone lower class than they are as bad cultural values.”

And why do you think the non-English inhabitants of the French Alps are “lower class”?

“Perhaps the community should be empowered to defend its values by not permitting more than a certain amount of its houses to be bought by outsiders.”

Under EU law, member states cannot discriminate by nationality concerning the purchase of real estate but they still take measures for example against speculative buying. Denmark doesn’t allow “outsiders”, i. e. people who haven’t lived in Denmark for at least 5 years, to buy vacation homes. France could take similar measures.

144

TM 09.16.16 at 1:34 pm

Supposedly there are 200,000 Brits in France, .3% of the population. I’m sure most of them don’t own property in the French Alps. But question a xenophobe’s claim that “outsiders” are “threatening their way of life” and you have outed yourself as an elite cosmopolitan disdainful of the lower classes.

145

Sebastian_h 09.16.16 at 2:31 pm

TM there is a lot of question begging in assuming xenophobe. Let me sketch out an argument. It isn’t one I totally buy into but it has the virtue of being no less logical than most political arguments, and pretty close to what the people on the other side were actually saying.

1. I had (or my parents had) pretty good jobs 25-35 years ago. They weren’t great but they weren’t awful and I could expect a good living from them.

2. The security of that was threatened at about the same time as different globalization efforts were pushed through by the cosmopolitan politicians. This made me and people like me nervous but we were to,d that it would help the UK in the long run.

3. Our jobs (this is the tribal our, it means me and/or the type of people I know) got less secure, our pay never went up, and we saw that your pay went up as you bought our houses out from under us and as the influx of foreigners bid the prices of houses up to help push us out.

4. all of the major UK parties support this dynamic and none of them think we are important enough to slow any of it down, or to address how we are getting hurt before moving forward.

5. Immigrants from even poorer places understandably want to come here. This bids our pay down which you benefit from but we don’t. So we understand why you want immigrants, it lets you pay us less.

6 you have constantly assured us that 5) would lead to better lives for us and it hasn’t. We’ve given you 30+ years to prove that the progressive version of trickle down would work and it hasn’t.

7. We don’t believe you anymore.

8. When presented for the very first time this generation with a vote to resist going even further forward in this dynamic we took it. You said it would hurt the UK but you can’t be trusted to go beyond your personal interests in saying that (see 5,6,7).

Does this have less explanatory power than “they are all racist”? I don’t KNOW that this is how they think, but it is a lot of what many/most of them say.

146

Layman 09.16.16 at 3:02 pm

@ Sebastian H, I’d say the error is right about here: “3. Our jobs (this is the tribal our, it means me and/or the type of people I know) got less secure, our pay never went up, and we saw that your pay went up as you bought our houses out from under us and as the influx of foreigners bid the prices of houses up to help push us out.”

The third-way neoliberal economic approach would have produced your income stagnation even in the case of no immigration at all. Your potential wage gains were not transferred to stupid foreigners, they were transferred to executives and investors. The foreigners who make more money than you do, do so not because they are foreigners, but because they are worth more income than you are, or are luckier; but if they didn’t exist, it would be some local person making more than you because he or she is worth more than you, or luckier. In fact, there are such local people making more than you for good reason, or for luck! You just don’t see those people because you’re too busy whining about the brown people, who (to you) stick out like sore thumbs.

147

TM 09.16.16 at 3:12 pm

“your pay went up as you bought our houses out from under us and as the influx of foreigners bid the prices of houses up to help push us out”

This complaint is addressed to whom? British retirees bying houses in the French Alps (re 139)? Polish workers living in the UK? Russian oligarchs buying prime property in London? It matters which of these (or somebody else altogether) you are referring to. Your “argument” makes no sense without specificity, which in my experience is always lacking when these kinds of arguments are offered.

148

Sebastian H 09.16.16 at 3:27 pm

“Your “argument” makes no sense without specificity, which in my experience is always lacking when these kinds of arguments are offered.”

The argument is that it is both the Polish workers AND the Russian oligarchs. It is additionally the cosmopolitan countryman who are profiting off of the Polish workers and deals with the Russian oligarchs.

The crux of the argument is “you promised we would do better under pursuing globalization, we haven’t, therefore we don’t believe you anymore”.

149

TM 09.16.16 at 3:32 pm

The Polish workers promised what to the British? This is confusing.

150

TM 09.16.16 at 3:48 pm

What keeps baffling me is how often commenters on CT implicitly assume that people who are narrow-minded, xenophobic, unwelcoming towards outsiders must be “lower class” (Rich). Do you guys – Rich, Sebastian etc. – ever stop to consider where you got these condescending stereotypes of the poor? And do you really believe that the rich are broad-minded, tolerant cosmopolitans?

SH you also baffled me by taking a story of French villagers with anti-English sentiments as an explanation of Brexit. And if you truly believe that an “argument” that lumps together Polish workers with Russian oligarchs is likely to yield a plausible explanation of British anti-EU sentiment – well where to begin. Should I point out that Russia isn’t in the EU? I don’t think there’s any sense in which your tale of the destructive effect of cosmopolitanism is amenable to rational discourse. Fascists have always known that cosmopolitanism is the greatest threat to the survival of the nation, coherent explanations were never required.

151

bruce wilder 09.16.16 at 3:49 pm

Better indoor plumbing, TM, something Britain has needed for centuries. If only Eastern Europe had better dentistry on offer as well.

152

bruce wilder 09.16.16 at 3:53 pm

cosmopolitanism can also bring very high London rents, TM, which may be more immediately relevant to some

153

Sebastian_h 09.16.16 at 3:58 pm

TM, you just assume they are racist and refuse to listen if they want to talk about anything else. Is that stereotypical assumption more or less helpful?

154

Layman 09.16.16 at 4:06 pm

Sebastian H: ‘The crux of the argument is “you promised we would do better under pursuing globalization, we haven’t, therefore we don’t believe you anymore”.’

This is understandable, blaming the leaders. It’s the ‘blaming the immigrants’ bit which mystifies.

155

bruce wilder 09.16.16 at 4:12 pm

I expect the divide on Brexit came down to worldview, with authoritarian followers mostly leave and cosmopolitans mostly stay. And, yes authoritarian followers are prone to expressions of racism.

That does not mean that the economics — the terrible poverty in England and resentments against the wealth of London — were not factors driving such an alignment.

The authoritarian who blames his plight on the Latvian cannery workers down the street rather than the posh Tories in their London clubs are not any worse economists than the cosmopolitans who blame the inevitability of impersonal forces of globalization.

156

Sebastian H 09.16.16 at 4:17 pm

“This is understandable, blaming the leaders. It’s the ‘blaming the immigrants’ bit which mystifies.”

See “5. Immigrants from even poorer places understandably want to come here. This bids our pay down which you benefit from but we don’t. So we understand why you want immigrants, it lets you pay us less. ”

I take it that even that sentiment counts as ‘racist’ under the rubric discussed. Is that right?

I’m not saying that there aren’t some racist immigrant bashers who hate immigrants for being immigrants. Of course there are. Lots of them even. But they aren’t the majority of even the side you don’t like. I suspect that people who believe 5 are a lot more common than the people who want to beat immigrants up. Which is good, because the problems of 5 can be addressed through the political system.

They haven’t been because not enough of the political elite gives a shit, but that is a different issue.

157

bruce wilder 09.16.16 at 4:21 pm

I do not see why blaming the immigrants should mystify. The political attitudes of authoritarian followers derive from a life experience of low status dependence and fear of the unfamiliar. The follower clings to membership and its privileges. The immigrant (a non-member) can challenge that. And, it is not crazy to think the immigrants are affecting wages.

158

Layman 09.16.16 at 4:37 pm

I may be wrong, but I think Germany has a higher rate of immigration than does the UK, and I think Germany has stronger wage growth and higher wages than does the UK. I think France has rates of immigration comparable to the UK, with higher wage growth and wages than the UK. It almost seems as if there are other causes to consider…

159

Manta 09.16.16 at 8:37 pm

Layman @154

What is to understand? The “leaders” implemented globalization (which at lest in EU includes free flow of capital, goods, and people); some of the people who got worse are rejecting it, including the immigrants who came with it.

160

Manta 09.16.16 at 8:47 pm

RIch @141
“It’s a community whose values are being threatened by what amounts to the effect of a group of people.”

That is what every mainstream anti-immigration party I’ve ever heard about claims: that the values of the relevant community is being threatened by an influx of foreigners.

161

Layman 09.16.16 at 8:55 pm

Manta: “What is to understand?”

Why people blame immigrants for their economic plight when their economic plight has little to do with immigrants? Do you mean to say that they are right to blame immigrants, or do you mean to say that they are wrong but the wrong reaction is in your view understandable?

162

Sebastian H 09.16.16 at 9:06 pm

What do you mean ‘blame’? Is it ‘blaming’ to suggest that you want to stall further expansions of immigration and globalization until the government figures out how to mitigate or better spread out the costs? The problem here seems to be that essentially all expressions of concern about how immigration and globalization plays out gets filed under ‘racism’.

163

Manta 09.16.16 at 9:07 pm

I mean that free movement of people, capital, and goods are presented as one package by the leaders, and are rejected as one package by the people who got worse because of it.

If you don’t agree they are one package, and think that you can have one without the others, then you have a quarrel with the EU leaders, not with me.

164

Michael Sullivan 09.16.16 at 9:20 pm

“But now the charge of racism apparently carries with it the implication that a personal transformation or social cleansing is required (“rethink, reboot, recant, apologize if necessary and clear away more culturally programmed cobwebs from our system”)”

Only if the goal is become less racist, or anti-racist.

And yes, I really believe that. On the one hand, I’d agree that this model descends into call-out BS too often. But I’d also say that the majority culture has conflated “racism” which is the system, with bigotry and prejudice, which are what happens in people.

There needs to be a way to talk about words and actions that support the racist system but that are *often* uttered by people who don’t have any conscious bigotry. We (those who are not hard-core white supremacists) have braced ourselves so hard against being racist, that to hear the word, suggests that we go out and lead cross-burnings. But as Jay Smooth says “I don’t have to see into your soul to know you shouldn’t have said that thing about the watermelon”. Micro-aggressions are real, and if we can’t call them what they are and find ways to get well-meaning people to stop using them, they won’t ever go away.

It seems to me that it’s very difficult to make further inroads against structural racism until the population as a whole becomes more anti-racist, less racist. There are a near majority of people in the US who have basically convinced themselves that racism isn’t a big deal anymore, or at least that accusations of racism are a *much* bigger problem than actual racism.

Given this environment, what is your suggested way forward?

165

Manta 09.16.16 at 9:28 pm

Michael Sullivan @164
I am not from US, so I probably cannot say much about what the US population thinks.
But, as anybody else that has paid some attention, I know for instance that there is a staggering amount of people in prison in US: you don’t need to “solve” racism to solve that problem: countries that (AFAIK) are no less racist than US don’t imprison so many people.
Conversely, making prison population more balanced (i.e., less black, more white) would not be a significant improvement (IMHO).

166

Collin Street 09.16.16 at 9:30 pm

I mean that free movement of people, capital, and goods are presented as one package by the leaders, and are rejected as one package by the people who got worse because of it.

Well… it is a package. If capital can move but labour can’t it’s kind of obviously bad, no?

167

Manta 09.16.16 at 10:07 pm

Here you go, Collin Street, being racist and all…

168

Collin Street 09.16.16 at 10:35 pm

Here you go, Collin Street, being racist and all…

I don’t see any discussion of capital controls in the brexit discussions.

169

Layman 09.16.16 at 10:37 pm

Manta: “I mean that free movement of people, capital, and goods are presented as one package by the leaders, and are rejected as one package by the people who got worse because of it.”

Yes, that’s what you mean, but is it correct? Are stagnating wages in the
UK caused by the free movement of people, capital, and goods? Or are they caused by the destruction of unions, the financialization of the economy, the systematic diversion of the fruits of productivity gains away from labor and to capital, coupled with a government fiscal policy which refuses to step in and provide demand in the wake of a recession, for purely ideological reasons? All of which you would have gotten without a single immigrant?

170

Layman 09.16.16 at 10:42 pm

Sebastian H: “What do you mean ‘blame’? Is it ‘blaming’ to suggest that you want to stall further expansions of immigration and globalization until the government figures out how to mitigate or better spread out the costs?”

‘Blame’ is a pretty simple word. If immigration doesn’t actually cause the problem, then stalling immigration won’t solve the problem. Conversely, if your proposed solution to the problem is stalling immigration, then you must ‘blame’ immigration for the problem. Either that, or you’re addled.

171

John Quiggin 09.17.16 at 1:21 am

I thought I covered all of this fairly well in my post about Brexit https://crookedtimber.org/2016/06/26/tribalism-trumps-neoliberalism/

172

Collin Street 09.17.16 at 2:23 am

All of which you would have gotten without a single immigrant?

Compare-and-contrast australia and japan.

[but respect is a positional good.]

173

Sebastian H 09.17.16 at 2:28 am

JQ, you did a good job about it in that post. I think however that the package-like set of neo-liberal programs complicates the importance of the racism charge. Essentially the same people voted for the EU in an earlier iteration. What changed probably wasn’t racism.

174

Igor Belanov 09.17.16 at 9:32 am

@ bruce wilder

“I do not see why blaming the immigrants should mystify. The political attitudes of authoritarian followers derive from a life experience of low status dependence and fear of the unfamiliar. The follower clings to membership and its privileges. The immigrant (a non-member) can challenge that. And, it is not crazy to think the immigrants are affecting wages.”

I think the categorisation of ‘authoritarian follower’ is a useful one, but the way it is described here is much too-one-sided. In the UK, and I suspect elsewhere in the world, there are just as many fairly affluent middle-class people who fit the category of ‘authoritarian follower’, and because they tend to vote more have a greater influence on national politics. The common ground between the rich and poor authoritarians has little to do with ‘low status dependence’ and more to do with attitudes to social issues like crime and punishment, ‘culture’ and a distrust of metropolitan life.

I’m sure some feelings of economic resentment fed into the anti-EU mood, but I think the vote to leave was based on a very inchoate opposition. In essence, I think the underlying reason for the leave vote was simply that most people took it as a referendum on their national identity, and chose to vote for the flag. This is not surprising given the lack of reasonable debate on the issues involved, and the fact that most of the facets of EU membership, such as the single market, movement of people, regulations on business, are still up in the air for the foreseeable future. Like most nationalist movements, the cluster of anti-EU voters represent an unstable cross-class group who are almost begging to be manipulated by conniving politicians.

175

Rich Puchalsky 09.17.16 at 6:18 pm

Igor Belanov: ” In the UK, and I suspect elsewhere in the world, there are just as many fairly affluent middle-class people who fit the category of ‘authoritarian follower’”

OK, I’ll see if a different approach works. Pretty much everyone agrees that there hasn’t been a cultural swing in favor of racism becoming more respectable, so why is there a change in political outcomes? If there’s a change — and we want to reverse that change — then we have to look at the people at the margins.

If there are middle-class racists (and no cultural change that made racism more respectable), then they were middle-class racists before and will remain so after. They exist, but they are not the drivers of change in electoral outcomes. Likewise upper class people are too few to have any direct effect (their money has an effect, but let’s leave that out for now.)

So who is changing? Authoritarian followers, if you believe the relevant research, become more authoritarian the more frightened they are and the more out of control their lives feel. This can produce an electoral swing in the people just below the middle class — the precariat — through the poor. It does not mean that upper class racists do not exist. It means that they do not produce the change that we see.

In the U.S., this is related to terms like “the GOP base”. The GOP base includes a whole lot of middle to upper class people. But they voted for the reactionary right before, during, and after current events. And they are not, in themselves, numerous enough to win a national election. The question is: how does the GOP pick more than the base, which it needs to do in order to win.

176

Igor Belanov 09.17.16 at 7:05 pm

In the UK middle-class ‘authoritarian followers’ have had an impact on events. They have formed a significant part of the electoral support that UKIP has gained over the past 10 years, and they are form the backbone of the substantial readership that gives right-wing media like the Daily Mail much of its propaganda platform. These people were once Tories, and their effect on the party and its leadership is such that they were an important cause of Cameron having a referendum on EU membership in the first place. These ex-Tories have been the ‘drivers of change in electoral outcomes’, and people who ‘become more authoritarian the more frightened they are and the more out of control their lives feel’ are not restricted to the poorer sections of society. The typical far-right voter is not an ill-educated, unemployed layabout, despite the stereotype.

The only seats UKIP have won or come close to winning in the UK parliament have been in the South-East, despite all the fuss about them potentially supplanting Labour in many of its ‘heartlands’. There is a reason why elderly, comfortable, traditional true-blue Clacton has provided UKIP with its only current MP.

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David Heasman 09.17.16 at 7:15 pm

Clacton isn’t comfortable, it’s multiply deprived and very poor. And very white.

178

Igor Belanov 09.18.16 at 8:14 am

Most seaside towns have some degree of ‘multiple deprivation’ and are ‘very white’, yet not all have such a strong UKIP vote. My point is that an awful lot of traditional Tory voters had to switch to UKIP in order for them to win the seat. These are not usually very poor people.

179

TM 09.19.16 at 9:39 am

What is evident here is the unapologetic BS-character of the anti-cosmopolitan blame game (which was already old when both the Nazis and Stalin made use of it), and the compatibility between some versions of left radical rhetoric and reactionary ideology.

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