Saturday, May 26, 2018
FAKES upon FAKES: Why the Left has Become So Completely Daft
I was chatting with a new friend on Facebook and he threw out the question of why the American left has in weird ways gone “so far left” but in other ways has become so disconnected from the actual working class. He was trying to figure out Marxism’s role in this shift.
Well, I’d been watching this transformation for years and have a basic explanation. My answer:
So, what happened to the American left? What has made it into basically a fake left with nothing going for it but cheap identity politics and authoritarian urges? Why has our left given up fighting for average working Americans and instead taken to screaming 24/7 about a constantly expanding menu of supposed racial, gender, sexual “victim” groups--screaming in such illiberal ways besides?
A lot of people are asking these questions, because in fact none of it makes much sense. Until you look at where our left came from. Then it makes all too much sense. Pathetic and ridiculous sense.
Our current left was born (stillborn I’d say) from the convergence of two trends. It's crucial to look at them both in tandem as a kind of historical ONE-TWO punch. As follows:
1) In the middle of the 20th century, Marxist thinkers hatched a strategy called "the long march through the institutions". We in America are now seeing something like the belated results of this strategy.
The "long march" doctrine arose when it did because Marxist intellectuals realized that, contrary to Marx's predictions, the Western working class was not in fact organizing itself for revolution, but was rather, in their view, being easily seduced and misled by the glittering toys of mass culture and the dreamy promises of capitalist ideology. Their solution: to focus efforts on a slow takeover of the professions, especially education, media, and other areas with mass influence. As this takeover would require some time, they dubbed it “the long march through the institutions”, with a nod to Chairman Mao. They theorized that once leftists had enough control of these institutions, they could then forge a revolutionary consciousness in the masses, and then an actual revolutionary movement. This "long march" thinking is one of the reasons that so many hard-core leftists starting in the post-war period were content to become academics. They could tell themselves they were seeding the ground. The Frankfurt School thinkers, with their Marxist cultural criticism, offered a bridge over which would-be revolutionaries could walk themselves into academia.
In fact the strategy has ultimately borne fruit, although a different fruit than originally intended. What happened? Orthodox Marxism was increasingly debunked. So that in the intervening decades the work of all those "left" professors shifted focus to cultural analysis: Foucault, structuralism, the postmoderns--thinkers in all these movements set their sights on something other than economic warfare. The issue du jour became more one of identity warfare--all the marginalized “victim” groups, whether sexual or racial or whatever. So that when the French intellectual movements of the 1960s crossed the Atlantic in a big way and infected American universities, the results were predictable. No more was the focus on supporting the American working class in general: rather everything was suddenly feminism, African-American studies, post-colonialism, gay and lesbian rights, racism racism racism. And in fact the main base of the Democratic Party, the huge number of white working class Americans, itself suddenly became suspect, especially if those white working Americans also happened to be Christian. Marxism as an economic philosophy being defunct, these identity squabbles became the supposed new revolutionary battleground. And note: though Marxism itself was left behind, the authoritarian ethos of Marxism was retained. For most of these academic Lenin wanna-be's, of course, there is little worth supporting in our Constitution, with its protections of free speech and religious liberty. They want none of it, because they want to direct what people are to say and think.
This, in short, is how our professoriat and all the media shills that echo it came to abandon economics as the basis of its progressivism. In the US, the shift in academic focus slowly shifted the whole idea of what it means to be "left-wing". Basic bread-and-butter issues became secondary to sexual/racial politics.
Then this deeply entrenched new “leftism” met up with a parallel development occurring in the Democratic Party, as follows.
2) The Democratic Leadership Council, created in the mid-1980s by Bill Clinton and cronies, pushed the party toward an explicit embrace of big business. In my view, the DLC was the beginning of the end of the Democratic Party as a party of working people, though sadly it has taken decades for the American working class to realize just how badly they've been sold out.
The DLC is the origin of what we see today: a Democratic Party just as beholden to Wall Street and corporate CEOs as the old GOP ever was.
But note: When the Democratic Party stopped fighting for working folks in the 1990s, when they abandoned the American working class for the CEOs, they knew they still had to show they were fighting for SOMETHING. They still needed some banner to wave to claim their left-wing cred. Voilà! The banner was there on offer from the children of "the long march through the institutions". The Democratic Party just needed to pretend it was fighting for the identity dignity of all the supposed victim groups. Note also that doing so would not require them in any significant way to break ranks with Wall Street or the big corporations. They could screw over the mass of the working class (those white folks in flyover country) while getting all emotional in their speeches about things like transgender bathroom passes and the “rights” of illegal immigrants.
The Democratic Party thus found a pseudo-revolutionary movement it could meld with: all the SJW morons that now swarm our academies and publish in rags like Slate and Salon and Vox. The Democratic Party has thus become a fake left party in the same way that our academic leftists are for the most part fake Marxists. Both have abandoned the hard bread-and-butter fight for the relative comfort and glitz of identity squabbles. Lady Gaga couldn't be happier.
What happened in 2016 is thus pretty clear. Enough of the American working class, especially the white working class, had finally seen the Democratic scam for what it was. Fortunately, they switched to Trump in protest against both the corruption of the establishment GOP and even more so in protest against the fake leftism of their former party.
That's my quick take on why the American left is what it is. Interbreed fake academic Marxists with a fake Democratic Party and you get what we see today: a double-fake movement of screaming little Stalins of all flavors and dyed hair colors. Their mantra stems directly from their academic programming: "You're a racist! You're a homophobe! Down with the patriarchy! Die, bigot! Transphobe! End white supremacy! Racism racism racism!" And this in a country where gays and lesbians can live their lives as they choose, where more women are graduating university than men, and where a white-majority population twice elected a black man as president. Read the pages of our left-liberal press and these SJW -isms are virtually all that is talked about. You can follow one or another of these rags for a month straight and you will not find a single article about the struggles of working Americans in general, because, see, too many of those working Americans, being white and/or Christian, are seen as hateful bigots who need to be sent to gulags for ideological training. And that's not a joke. It is to me absolutely believable that these people, if empowered, would set up gulags in which to imprison their identity enemies.
Hopefully hardworking Americans will continue to realize how fake and how toxic this new left really is and will keep voting it out of power.
My own strategic analysis, to speak most generally, is that our Constitution and what remains of our traditional culture are under concerted attack by myriad forces and that the only political movement capable of defending them is the populist right.
You can search more on "the long march through the institutions" and the Democratic Leadership Council if you like. But perhaps, S., you already know plenty about these two fatal pincers of the shabby claw that is our fake American left.
My novel A Taipei Mutt is now in print. The Asian capital unmuzzled.