Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A View of Trump from the Left

I've been writing for a while that if you want to understand the Trump phenomenon you need to grasp that, since the 1960s, the left has abandoned the class politics of the New Deal and replaced it with race and gender politics. No longer would the left blame America for the plight of the suffering working class, therefore more government, but instead it would blame America for the plight of minorities and women, therefore more government.

Moreover, I have suggested, it is a little rich to make the white working class pay for the sins of the slavers and the planters, when most of them were suffering as workers and peasants in Europe at the time of high plantation slavery.

But if you are a liberal, like Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo (H/T Paul Mirengoff), things look a bit different. The passive voice is needed.
TPM Readers are entirely familiar with that the fact that a large segment of the American right is animated by a belief that 'their' world, their America is being taken away from them - this includes everything from declining white racial dominance, having to choose whether you want to hear the phone tree message in English or Spanish, changing cultural mores.
But Eeyore didn't just fall into the water; he was pushed. Starting in the 1960s, liberals decided to stop pushing government policies that benefited the white working class, but instead started developing policies that benefited minorities and women. It wasn't "changing cultural mores" that did it; it was deliberate use of government power by the liberal educated ruling class, on the theory, explicit or implicit, that the white working class weren't going to be reliable Democratic votes in the future.
[Then there] is the appeal to power and force. Trump is the master of GOP 'dominance politics', the inherent appeal of power and the ability to dominate others.
One is tempted to ask: what in the world is Josh talking about? Is he talking about the cunning GOP plan to dominate the universities? The cunning plan to take over the public schools? The cunning plan to dominate the media and Hollywood? The cunning plan to privatize Social Security and thus free Americans from being forced to pay FICA tax and then suck on the government teat in their retirement?

Whatever may be the evils of the GOP it does at least begin with the idea of limited government, the crazy idea that a little less "power and force" from the government would be a good thing. Like I say, the central conceit of liberals is that they are just kindly librarians helping people out with their problems, rather than ruthless authoritarians seizing 30-40 percent of GDP to reward their supporters.
On the radicalized, revanchist right, provocation and transgression of norms isn't simply indulged. It functions as a positive good. It is a feature, not a bug, to use the tech phrase.
No kidding, Josh. I thought that the hit on the right was its slavish attachment to tradition. I thought it was the left that celebrated the smashing of cultural icons, the rolling back of the patriarchy, the dethroning of heterosexual hegemony. And what is the whole culture of left-wing "activism" if not the celebration of provocation and transgression in the service of revolution and fundamental transformation?

All of this goes to show the value of my notion that everyone is sensitive to "incoming mortar rounds" crashing around their firebase. But when "our" troops fire off rounds towards the enemy the result is merely experienced as interesting puffs of smoke a mile or two away.

To a liberal like Josh Marshall the whole left cultural program to devalue the bourgeois family and the free market and limited government, the whole "long march through the institutions," the relentless naming and shaming of "racist!" and "sexist!" at anyone that disagrees with the liberal agenda, the massive resort to regulation and administrative government power, all these are nothing. The real threat is the right's lust for power and force, provocation and transgression, its feeling of declining white dominance.

I will tell you what is wrong here. Josh Marshall cannot think out of the box of his liberal world view. Like hegemons everywhere he assumes that the people are grateful peasants that tug their forelocks when their betters drive by.

He cannot grasp the simple truth that all government is injustice, and all ruling classes eventually provoke a head of rebellion in the people over which they rule. He cannot perform the hardest thing in the world, to put himself in the place of the "other" and imagine how it feels to be on the receiving end of liberal cultural and political power.

But then, what ruling class ever did, until the tumbrils started to roll?

Oh, and by the way, Josh, if the American right is upset right now that "their" world is being taken away, remember how you chaps felt in the high Bush years of the 2000s? If I remember right, you chaps were beside yourself with rage that Bush was stealing the country away from you, starting with the notion that Bush "stole" the election of 2000.

What is it that they say about turnabout is fair play?

No comments:

Post a Comment