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It must be recognized that economic Class, if we are to move against the corporatism that dominates our political landscape, must be acknowledged as a factor to bring a critical mass of people together to demand change. The fragmentation of class interest has played a significant role in the rise of corporate power and the neo-liberal ideology that supports it.
This excerpt by Michael Hudson writing on Counterpunch:
“A new term was introduced to the English language: Identity Politics. Its aim is for voters to think of themselves as separatist minorities – women, LGBTQ, Blacks and Hispanics. The Democrats thought they could beat Trump by organizing Women for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), LGBTQ for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), and Blacks and Hispanics for Wall Street (and a New Cold War). Each identity cohort was headed by a billionaire or hedge fund donor.
The identity that is conspicuously excluded is the working class. Identity politics strips away thinking of one’s interest in terms of having to work for a living. It excludes voter protests against having their monthly paycheck stripped to pay more for health insurance, housing and mortgage charges or education, or better working conditions or consumer protection – not to speak of protecting debtors.
Identity politics used to be about three major categories: workers and unionization, anti-war protests and civil rights marches against racist Jim Crow laws. These were the three objectives of the many nationwide demonstrations. That ended when these movements got co-opted into the Democratic Party. Their reappearance in Bernie Sanders’ campaign in fact threatens to tear the Democratic coalition apart. As soon as the primaries were over (duly stacked against Sanders), his followers were made to feel unwelcome. Hillary sought Republican support by denouncing Sanders as being as radical as Putin’s Republican leadership.
In contrast to Sanders’ attempt to convince diverse groups that they had a common denominator in needing jobs with decent pay – and, to achieve that, in opposing Wall Street’s replacing the government as central planner – the Democrats depict every identity constituency as being victimized by every other, setting themselves at each other’s heels. Clinton strategist John Podesta, for instance, encouraged Blacks to accuse Sanders supporters of distracting attention from racism. Pushing a common economic interest between whites, Blacks, Hispanics and LGBTQ always has been the neoliberals’ nightmare. No wonder they tried so hard to stop Bernie Sanders, and are maneuvering to keep his supporters from gaining influence in their party.
When Trump was inaugurated on Friday, January 20, there was no pro-jobs or anti-war demonstration. That presumably would have attracted pro-Trump supporters in an ecumenical show of force. Instead, the Women’s March on Saturday led even the pro-Democrat New York Times to write a front-page article reporting that white women were complaining that they did not feel welcome in the demonstration. The message to anti-war advocates, students and Bernie supporters was that their economic cause was a distraction.
The march was typically Democratic in that its ideology did not threaten the Donor Class. As Yves Smith wrote on Naked Capitalism: “the track record of non-issue-oriented marches, no matter how large scale, is poor, and the status of this march as officially sanctioned (blanket media coverage when other marches of hundreds of thousands of people have been minimized, police not tricked out in their usual riot gear) also indicates that the officialdom does not see it as a threat to the status quo.”
Ms. Hungerford clearly has no time for all the silliness po-mo brings to the table.
“Post-modern neoliberalism seeks to dismiss the experience of womanhood by claiming that anyone can choose to be a woman. And, in any case, it claims that we are too diverse to be generalized about. An interesting position to take: the class “women” has no defining characteristic, and yet transwomen know exactly what being a “woman” feels like.
The maxim “trans women are women” means at least three things: first, it means that being raised as girl from birth is not an important or relevant aspect of being a “woman” because one can be a woman without it.
Secondly, it means that having a female body is not an important or relevant aspect of being a “woman” because one can be a woman without it.
And third, it means that to be a “woman” reflects an individual’s desired relation to the social construct “woman,” rather than a description of the physical and/or cumulative experiential realities of female-born (and certain intersex) people as described above.”
-Hungerford, E. 2013,
Canadians finally have decided that being in the vanguard of international Neo-liberal community isn’t so shit hot after all. The whole free markety/trickle-downy charade was looking dilapidated and tired; the fear-stick had been applied to the public, with such magnitude and frequency, that suddenly Conservative ideology seemed retrograde even quaint. How engaging are the grand policy strategies of “GWB-lite” after ten years of living the Conservative dream?
We should give the Harper government full marks for stretching those ideological skid-marks of neo-liberal ideology out as far as (they) he did. The hard sell on Neo-liberalism had to go, and off it went, with Canadians giving the Liberal party of Canada a firm mandate and majority to… well… not be the Conservatives.
This is what worries me the most. Like the two business class parties in the US, the federal PC’s and Liberals in Canada both offer oligarchy approved governance styles. The main difference is that the Liberals like to use lube while buggering the public trust, while the Conservatives use a handful of sand. Our social system was savaged by the Liberal government of the 90’s under false pretenses – this same government also approved NAFTA – the free investors agreement – that has been savaging our domestic economy since its inception. Is being sold down the river wistfully by a hand-wringing government ‘forced to make the tough decisions’ any different than one that outfits the public with lead boots and kick off the docks?
Comparing the election wins of Obama and Trudeau reveals similarities that, for progressive voters, ought to inspire some trepidation. Hope and Change may inspire the imagination, but implementing actual societal change is *hard* and given the political realities of the situation. I really want to believe Justin Trudeau when he says, “the old Canada we knew and loved, is back”.
When he gets us out of the Trans Pacific Partnership – the latest free investor agreement and curb stomp to the domestic economy – I might start to believe him.
I thought we had a plan. The plan was that we were going to give the NDP a crack at the levers of power because the other two parties have both repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to Neo-liberalism and the destruction of the rights of Canadians.
But look at the polls as of October 11th, there be the NDP in their usual third place because the segment of the population that votes has decided that more of the same is going to be frakking awesome.
It looks like the Liberals are going to get in as the minority government. The same ones that voted for the disenfranchisement and removal of personal liberties of all Canadians; you remember that
bill Law C-51?
Hey, whatever right? Let’s see if we can do a Trudeau-mania part 2 and relive those heady days of the 70’s. Woohaa.
I’m almost done with Sorrows of Empire so I will stop deluging the blog with quotes, but I cannot forgo Johnson’s explanation of the mutating monster that Neo-liberalism is. I’d like to reproduce the entire chapter because it is that good, but instead we’ll look at how insidious neo-liberalism is when it comes to being critiqued by the intelligentsia residing in centres of Western power.
“It is critically important to understand that the doctrine of globalism is a kind of intellectual sedative that lulls and distracts its Third World victims while rich countries cripple them, ensuring that they will never be able to challenge the imperial powers. It is also designed to persuade the new imperialists that “underdeveloped” countries bring poverty on themselves thanks to “crony capitalism”, corruption, and a failure to take advantage of the splendid opportunities being offered. The claim that free markets lead to prosperity for anyone other than the transnational corporations that lobbied for them and have the clout and resources to manipulate them is simply not borne out by the historical record. As even the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a former director of research at the World Bank, has come to acknowledge, “It is now a commonplace that the international trade agreements about which the United States spoke so proudly only a few years ago were grossly unfair to countries in the Third World… The problem [with globalists is] … their fundamentalist market ideology, a faith in free, unfettered markets that is supported by neither modern theory not historical experience.
There is no known case in which globalization has led to prosperity in any Third World country, and none of the world’s twenty-four reasonably developed capitalist nations, regardless of their ideological explanations, got where they are by following any of the prescriptions contained in globalization doctrine. What globalization has produced, in the words of de Rivero, is not NICs (newly industrialized countries) but about 130 NNEs (nonviable national economies) or, even worse, UCEs (ungovernable chaotic entities). There is occasional evidence that this result is precisely what the authors of globalization intended.
In 1841, the prominent German political economist Friedrich List (who had immigrated to America) wrote in his masterpiece, The National System of Political Economy, “It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of combing up after him.” Much of modern Anglo-American economics and all of the theory of globalization are attempts to disguise this kicking away of the ladder.
-Chalmers Johnson, Sorrows of Empire. p.262.
So really, colonialism by any other name… I’m so glad we’ve progressed so far.
We have truly breached new moral ground, made the world a safer place (for oligarchic capitalism), and ensured the continued well being of right class of people.
For more on ‘ladder kicking’ see Cambridge’s Ha-Joon Chang and his post on this very topic.
Well you know it is important when Al Gore is in the house:
“Al Gore says there’s a “powerful voice” speaking out about climate change: Mother Nature.
Gore, citing “striking” examples of extreme climate-related conditions, said while scientists have long agreed climate change is real, the real environmental challenges facing people will drive change.”
What you don’t see is the changes being made to our global system of economics and trade that will actually do something to move the planet away from the lovely CO2 oven outcome that we’re building for ourselves. One of the key aspects of the problems surrounding controlling global warm is the compartmentalization of the climate talks and the trade talks.
“Not that there was any question about which side would win should any of the competing pledges to cut emissions and knock down commercial barriers ever come into direct conflict: the commitments made in the climate negotiations all effectively functioned on the honour system, with a weak and unthreatening mechanism to penalize countries that failed to keep their promises. The commitments made under trade agreements, however, were enforced by a dispute settlement system with real teeth, and failure to comply wold land governments in trade court, often facing harsh penalties.
In fact, the hierarchy was so clear that the climate negotiators formally declared their subservience to the trading system from the start. When the U.N. climate agreement was signed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, it made clear that “measures taken to combat climate change, including unilateral ones, should not constitute… a disguised restriction on international trade.” (Similar language appears in the Kyoto Protocol.)”
-Naomi Klein. This Changes Everything p. 76 – 77.
So even back in the day we were being screwed over by capitalism (shocked). The notion that we can’t restrict trade in order to preserve our biosphere has underwritten almost every climate agreement the world has put forward. And that is the problem – moving goods all over the globe is carbon intensive and for the necessary work to start in tackling climate change the fundamental economic principles of neo-liberal capitalism and trade need to be rewritten.
So until you see a climate conference that includes the WTO, IMF, and World Bank be prepared for nothing more than important words and no real change in the system.
I’m starting to like CounterPunch more and more. Go read the full article at their site as it is insightful and though provoking.
“As part of the national mythology many Americans, and likely nearly all liberals and progressives, accept the premise that policies designed to boost the fortunes of the already wealthy might be misdirected, but not outright destructive to their interests. After four years of unwavering support for America’s plutocrats and malignant acts toward their economic victims in every actual administration policy—witness his continuing call to cut social insurance programs while 20 million people remain un and under-employed as corporate profits and financial markets soar, Mr. Obama’s faithful retain the belief he is working in ‘their’ interest. In contrast, Mr. Chavez faced a ruling elite in Venezuela with a long history of taking all of the social resources they could get away with taking and there was never the pretense that allowing oligarchs (and / or the U.S.) to put social wealth in their own pockets benefited ‘everyone.’ Put another way, Mr. Chavez effectively articulated this point to those to whom it wasn’t already clear.
Venezuela’s oil wealth may have made this point more clearly visible, but no more true than it is in the U.S. today. Nature didn’t give Barack Obama the ‘right’ to murder U.S. citizens (or anyone else) without trial or evidence—a policy conspicuously against the interests of all who lack the social power to resist it. This point is likely well understood by those who have historically been on the receiving end of coercive (captive) state power—people of color and various permutations of the poor and dispossessed. The economic elite who have so benefited from Mr. Obama’s policies clearly don’t see themselves and their families as potential targets of the state’s newly ‘legitimated’ right to murder. To the extent economic class provides the dividing line between the giving and receiving ends of this power, the relation between it and wealth concentration is made visible. And it is this very line Mr. Obama has helped to so clearly demarcate.”