Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Imagining "No Left Left" in the US

Over at This Week, sorta-centrist Damon Linker is writing, after the Israeli elections, that "There is no left left in Israel." Says he:
Center-left social democratic parties have been in sharp decline in recent years across the Western world. But nowhere has the collapse been more stunning than in Israel, whose founders and ruling class for the first 30 years of the country's existence were very deeply linked with the labor movement. Labor has been in retreat ever since the collapse of peace negotiations with the Palestinians in 2000. But its showing on Tuesday was truly astonishing: With 5 percent of the vote, the Israeli Labor Party is now less than two percentage points away from failing to clear the minimum threshold (3.25 percent) for winning seats in the Knesset. The party is approaching the possibility of extinction.
Oh no! How could that be? Never mind.
[The left] exists now primarily in the minds of the right — as an existential threat, a sort of suicidal impulse toward surrender to Israel's many blood-thirsty enemies that must be resisted at all costs.
Sounds delicious to me, but what do I know?

But "It Can't Happen Here," to coin a phrase. Or could it?

Of course, it makes sense that "social democratic parties have been in sharp decline in recent years" because, after all, the average voter is no longer a "woiker," of eternal memory. The average chap or chapette is an office worker, or a retail worker. He or she is no longer a factory worker that experiences the world in class terms. In fact today's average person probably owns a home -- in partnership, of course with the bank -- and a car and expects the kids to go to college.

So what? Well, I suspect that despite the effort of today's ruling class to panic us all into either climate crisis or intersectional crisis, the fact is that most people want a government that keeps the trains -- or rather the jobs -- on time, and the mortgages available and the SUVs on the dealer's lot.

On this view, the woke left in the academy and the media is a frantic effort to keep the old system going, and the more it seems like Trump is winning the more frantic the woke left gets.

Or what about the House Judiciary Committee hearings yesterday on “Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism." Huh? What is all this about? Maybe, as the Zman suggests, it is just
that our political class is simply consumed with rage to the point where they are defined by it. Who they are is entirely dependent upon how much they hate heritage America and native stock Americans.
There is the notion that, ever since World War II, the western elite has been obsessed with a "never again" attitude towards Nationalism. Because Hitler. And now the whole anti-nationalism culture is starting to break up. There is, after all, a "the Russians are coming" aspect to the ruling class marginalization of nationalism, as in "the fascists are coming." Really, you mean like those tiki-torch bearers of Charlottesville? The horror of peaceful protest Walmart-style?

Look, all politics is based on some version of "the Russians are coming." It might be "the capitalists are coming" if you are trying to scare the pants off the workers. It might be "the patriarchs are coming" if you are trying to scare the pants of women. It might be "the lynchers are coming" if you are trying to scare the pants off blacks.

The problem for our ruling class is that Trump has opened a pretty useful front with his Make America Great Again, where he is doing quite a good job of scaring the pants of us deplorables with "the illegals are coming," not to mention "the Chinese are coming" to take our jobs.

Hey what's yer problem ruling class? You've had a pretty good run with "the capitalists are coming" and "the racists are coming" and "the sexists are coming" and "the homophobes are coming." You think your game is going to last forever?

The point about all these political memes is "if it takes." If it takes, then you get to win the election and pass out the goodies to your supporters. If it doesn't take, then it is time for you to think again, and find some other meme to scare the pants off the voters.

But you can imagine that any ruling would get into a fine old rage when the good old memes don't seem to be working any more. How dare the peasants do a thing like that!

I always like to use the World War I notion of the next Big Push. That's how they represented the Battle of the Somme and Passchendaele. Quite so, chaps. Only they were bloody useless and stupid, the products of minds without a strategic vision. And they killed off a generation of young men. Anyway, what on Earth were the European nations doing having a Great War?  To do what, exactly?

Yeah. So these days our ruling class is obsessed with another Big Push to stamp out White Nationalism, or Hate Speech, or whatever. Because they don't have any better ideas.

But what, dear leaders, does White Nationalism and Hate Speech have to do with the concerns of the average person, who is probably more interested in jobs, the price of health care, and the ruinous cost of college?

Nothing, but politicians gotta politick, and what the ruling class has succeeded in doing, over the last century, has been dividing people first by class and then by race and gender.

Obviously that works until it doesn't work.

As I say, humans are tribal, and so politics is all about which tribes we are going to be this week. Tribes can be anything: nations, families, races, religions, language speakers. The only question is which tribal notion is going to win the election this week.

Now I would love a world in which there is no left left in the US. But, I have to say, there is no telling if the replacement will make me yearn for the good old days when lefties ranged across the Earth like the dear old dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs seem pretty cute to us moderns; but I wonder what life was like with those chaps romping around needlessly. It might very well have been nasty, brutish, and short.

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