Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fake Protest vs. Real Change

"The brutal way in which America's hardest-working folks were historically forced to internalize the values of a gangster capitalist class continues to elude the left, which, with few exceptions, understands not a thing about how this political and economic system has hammered the humanity of ordinary working people."

                    -----Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting With Jesus

The voters are speaking, and the urge-to-change is more evident on the political right than the so-called left. The Democrats are divided between the DLC and the Sandernistas over the issue of whether or not to revive and expand the New Deal, aka the "nanny state." The right is increasingly unified behind a USA-First agenda, which has no necessary conflict with a social democratic form of governance, though one wouldn't know this from the deep hostility that divides the Sanders and Trump campaigns.

The Democratic primaries are a contest between "socialist" Sanders and Wall Street's Clinton, while on the Republican side voters are united in contempt for all establishment candidates. In short, the GOP base has escaped the control of party elites - hallelujah! - whereas the Democrats continued to be a house divided against itself.  So what do these independent-minded Republicans want? If we count the Cruz and Trump voters together based on their similar stances on immigration, it is clear that a large GOP majority wants (1) a border wall, (2) deportation for those here illegally, and (3) less immigration in the future.

This is a message the Republican establishment, the Clintonistas, and those feeling the Bern can't bear to even hear, much less intelligently do something about. In their minds, the immigration-phobes can only be motivated by racism, an ignorant and hateful unwillingness to welcome the great unwashed to America's shores, which is supposedly what our "nation of immigrants" should always be prepared to do. Never mind that real wages have been in stagnation or decline for a large majority of American workers for decades, and that white working class males are dying younger than their parents did due to the accumulated effects of outsourcing and mass immigration:  "Diversity" is self-evidently wonderful, and the more poor uneducated people there are here, the better.

It is deeply unfortunate that immigration is discussed as a racial rather than a class issue. For the plain fact is that the growth imperative behind capitalism is uprooting hundreds of millions of people all over the world and depositing them in alien surroundings, occasioning fear and resentment in communities that experience their presence as a loss of local control. As the world heads for a human population of ten or twelve billion, even a low growth rate - two or three percent - promises to deliver a forced diversification of human communities in the next few decades that will be simply unendurable, no matter what people's personal attitudes about ethnicity and race may be. In short, the owners of the system need perpetual mass immigration on an ever expanding scale, but the workers who sustain the system cannot indefinitely endure falling wages, rising underemployment, and endemic ethnic conflict stemming from capitalism's permanently rootless existence. Something has to give.

At the moment Donald Trump is the prime beneficiary of voter anger at Washington's acquiescence in the cheap labor economy, as his criticism of job-destroying free trade treaties is hitting home with laid-off blue collar workers. Apparently lost on anti-Trump protesters is the fact that Bernie Sanders and Trump have a very similar message for these workers: Washington elites don't care about you and have let you down. Unfortunately, however, there is no chance at all of the two candidates' constituencies finding common ground, as identity politics trumps class consciousness at every turn. Recently, the most militant Trump opponents have somehow convinced themselves that insulting Trump supporters and invading their rallies is the best way to get political traction for their cause. The predictable consequence is that they get their lights punched out, while Trump the shameless remains unshamed (He just recently assured the world on national TV that he has a big penis. How likely was a shaming strategy going to work with him?)How this is supposed to expand the ranks for progressive reform is anybody's guess.

Meanwhile, the liberal ideology of victimhood becomes ever more absurd. A New Jersey Board of Education recently punished a child for criticizing vegetarianism to a vegetarian classmate because overtly disapproving of vegetarianism is bullying! Beware of "microaggressions," which lead directly to genocide.

Or how about the brave social justice warriors at UC Davis, who days ago accused the campus student government of "fat shaming" and "culturally appropriating the traditions of the Japanese people" for renting out two sumo suits for an annual campus block party.

“My overall impression is that this conversation is in itself an expression of white-supremacist anti-Asian structural racism,” student Scott Tsuchitani told The California Aggie. “Asian Americans are treated as mute, hapless victims, devoid of agency, a.k.a. the ‘model minority’ stereotype. That is what is being re-inscribed by this conversation.”

Student Phil Jones, shocked at the student government's insensitivity towards overweight students on campus, demanded financial reimbursement for the emotional distress.

Such is "protest" in our degraded era. Right now, Trump, the demagogic master of reality TV, is more than up to the challenge posed by the perpetually aggrieved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It’s a Selection Not an Election: It’s All Theater of the Absurd Ad Naseum!

...just FYI.