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Performative politics. July 21, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I thought this was very telling regarding the Cruz/Trump spat.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign reportedly signed off on Cruz’s prepared remarks, so it would have known no endorsement was forthcoming—which makes this report all the more interesting:

And a tweet that notes;

Two sources tell me Trump team actively whipped the “boos” at the end of Cruz speech

All performance for Trump, just performance.


1. dublinstreams - July 21, 2016

more of the Trump ‘he meant to do it’ myth


WorldbyStorm - July 21, 2016

But is it? And it reflects abysmally on Trump though there seems little doubt he was well aware of the contents of the speech ahead of time.


2. Dermot O Connor - July 21, 2016

Trump knows exactly what he’s doing.

Which makes it worse, of course.


3. sonofstan - July 21, 2016

Salon reckon is was Cruz starting the 2020 race early..

It wasn’t your typical fiery, right-wing Ted Cruz speech. It was, of course, extremely conservative, hitting all the hot button social issues and jingoistic high notes. But the rhetoric was couched in words like diversity and tolerance and respect. He even gave a nod to gays and Muslims and atheists and honored the family of Alton Sterling (which was met with stunned silence by the crowd.) It was the most “compassionate conservative” speech of the convention, contrasting sharply with the hard-edged, angry verbal violence of the all the pro-Trump speakers. That was not an accident.


WorldbyStorm - July 21, 2016

Wow, I’d missed the bit about Alton Sterling. Cruz is a clever clever guy. A mate of mine at Christmas before Trump really rose saw him as potentially the most dangerous candidate.


4. Dermot O Connor - July 21, 2016

JM Greer predicted (back in Jan, before it was cool) that Trump would win the nomination and very likely win the Presidency. JMG has been one of the very few peak oil / collapse commentators to have been correct over the long term (I’ve been reading him for over 10 years); a much more cautious and long-term view of how events will continue to stair-step downwards over the coming century. He tends to ignore politics, unless, as in 2016, they are germane to long term historical patterns). So when he made that prediction about T, it was pretty bold. Anyway, Greer is no fool.

So in terms of class, Greer divides US classes into 4:

1. Investment (the Occupy so-called 1%, actually the .01%)
2. Salaried (the 20% bourgeoisie, or middle class)
3. Wage class (working class)
4. Poor (welfare recipients)

The Occupy movement was largely led by the Salaried class (or soon to be former members of). Occupy’s primary focus was on identity politics, and the diminution of class in the struggle. And their 1% / 99% binary conveniently tried to erase the fact that 20% of the US population was doing very well indeed, thank you very much. Do not look at the middle class person behind the curtain.

The Trump eruption is largely a battle between classes 2 and 3. And (in spite of the horrors), I for one, cannot wait to see the middle class rubbed in it. There will be that much of a consolation at least. I also agree with Greer that Trump is a very long way from the worst case scenario that the US has to offer (just as Putin is a very long way from the worst case that Russia has to offer).

Greer was one of the first people to notice the eruption of class war into the open, and that Trump was playing this for all it’s worth. I’ve taken this very long post and condensed it into a slightly less very long post – but you’ll understand more from these few paragraphs than from most of the online chatterwaffle, especially that from the US/UK/IRE media classes.

Note also that Cruz has played into Trump’s hands. Greer:

“(Trump has) figured out that the most effective way to get the wage class to rally to his banner is to get himself attacked, with the usual sort of shrill mockery, by the salary class. ”

Thanks Ted, you useful idiot.

From January:


QUOTE: it’s going to be necessary to ask my readers—especially, though not only, those who consider themselves liberals, or see themselves inhabiting some other position left of center in the convoluted landscape of today’s American politics—to set aside two common habits. The first is the reflexive resort to sneering mockery that so often makes up for the absence of meaningful political thought in the US—again, especially but by no means only on the left…

…The centerpiece of most of these insults,…is the claim that he’s stupid. …Trump is anything but stupid. He’s extraordinarily clever, and one measure of his cleverness is the way that he’s been able to lure so many of his opponents into behaving in ways that strengthen his appeal to the voters that matter most to his campaign…

…The second is…the notion that the only divisions in American society that matter are those that have some basis in biology. Skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability—these are the lines of division in society that Americans like to talk about, whatever their attitudes to the people who fall on one side or another of those lines…

…there are other lines of division in American society that lack that anchor in biology…and that some of the most important of these are taboo topics, subjects that most people in the US today will not talk about.

…you can determine a huge amount about the economic and social prospects of people in America today by asking one remarkably simple question: how do they get most of their income? … it’s from one of four sources: returns on investment, a monthly salary, an hourly wage, or a government welfare check…it’s meaningful to speak of the American people as divided into an investment class, a salary class, a wage class, and a welfare class.

It’s probably necessary to point out explicitly here that these classes aren’t identical to the divisions that Americans like to talk about. That is, there are plenty of people with light-colored skin in the welfare class, and plenty of people with darker skin in the wage class. Things tend to become a good deal more lily-white in the two wealthier classes, though even there you do find people of color. In the same way, women, gay people, disabled people, and so on are found in all four classes, and how they’re treated depends a great deal on which of these classes they’re in…

…I want to focus on the political dimension, because that’s where they take on overwhelming relevance as the 2016 presidential campaign lurches on its way…over the last half century or so, how have the four classes fared?

…three of the four have remained roughly where they were. The investment class has actually had a bit of a rough time…Still, alternative investments and frantic government manipulations of stock market prices have allowed most people in the investment class to keep up their accustomed lifestyles.

The salary class, similarly, has maintained its familiar privileges and perks through a half century of convulsive change…people whose income comes mostly from salaries can generally afford to own their homes, buy new cars every few years, leave town for annual vacations, and so on…

…the welfare class has continued to scrape by pretty much as before, dealing with the same bleak realities of grinding poverty, intrusive government bureacracy, and a galaxy of direct and indirect barriers to full participation in the national life, as their equivalents did back in 1966.

And the wage class? Over the last half century, the wage class has been destroyed…The catastrophic impoverishment and immiseration of the American wage class is one of the most massive political facts of our time—and it’s also one of the most unmentionable. Next to nobody is willing to talk about it, or even admit that it happened.

The destruction of the wage class was largely accomplished by way of two major shifts in American economic life. The first was the dismantling of the American industrial economy and its replacement by Third World sweatshops; the second was mass immigration from Third World countries. Both of these measures are ways of driving down wages—not, please note, salaries, returns on investment, or welfare payments—by slashing the number of wage-paying jobs, on the one hand, while boosting the number of people competing for them on the other. Both, in turn, were actively encouraged by government policies…both of them had, for all practical purposes, bipartisan support from the political establishment.

…Both parties, despite occasional bursts of crocodile tears…have backed the offshoring of jobs to the hilt. Immigration is a slightly more complex matter; the Democrats claim to be in favor of it, the Republicans now and then claim to oppose it, but what this means in practice is that legal immigration is difficult but illegal immigration is easy. The result was the creation of an immense work force of noncitizens who have no economic or political rights they have any hope of enforcing, which could then be used—and has been used, over and over again—to drive down wages, degrade working conditions, and advance the interests of employers over those of wage-earning employees.

The next point …. is who benefited from the destruction of the American wage class. It’s long been fashionable in what passes for American conservatism to insist that everyone benefits from the changes just outlined, or to claim that if anybody doesn’t, it’s their own fault. It’s been equally popular in what passes for American liberalism to insist that the only people who benefit from those changes are the villainous uber-capitalists who belong to the 1%. Both these are evasions, because the destruction of the wage class has disproportionately benefited one of the four classes I sketched out above: the salary class.

…Since the 1970s, the salary class lifestyle sketched out above—suburban homeownership, a new car every couple of years, vacations in Mazatlan, and so on—has been an anachronism…

The only way for the salary class to maintain its lifestyle…was to force down the cost of goods and services relative to the average buying power of the salary class. Because the salary class exercised (and still exercises) a degree of economic and political influence disproportionate to its size, this became the order of the day in the 1970s, and it remains the locked-in political consensus in American public life to this day. The destruction of the wage class was only one consequence of that project…

…every remedy that’s been offered to the wage class by the salary class has benefited the salary class at the expense of the wage class. Consider the loud claims of the last couple of decades that people left unemployed by the disappearance of wage-paying jobs could get back on board the bandwagon of prosperity by going to college and getting job training. That didn’t work out well for the people who signed up for the student loans and took the classes… so a great many former wage earners finished their college careers with no better job prospects than they had before, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt burdening them into the bargain. For the banks and colleges that pushed the loans and taught the classes, though, these programs were a cash cow of impressive scale, and the people who work for banks and colleges are mostly salary class.

Attempts by people in the wage class to mount any kind of effective challenge to the changes that have gutted their economic prospects and consigned them to a third-rate future have done very little so far. To some extent, that’s a function of the GOP’s sustained effort to lure wage class voters into backing Republican candidates on religious and moral grounds…

There’s a further barrier, though, and that’s the response of the salary class … to any attempt by the wage class to bring up the issues that matter to it … when this happens in the public sphere, the spokespeople of the wage class get shouted down with a double helping of the sneering mockery I discussed toward the beginning of this post. The same thing happens … in private… try this experiment: get a bunch of your salary class friends together in some casual context and get them talking about ordinary American working guys. What you’ll hear will range from crude caricatures and one-dimensional stereotypes right on up to bona fide hate speech. People in the wage class are aware of this; they’ve heard it all; they’ve been called stupid, ignorant, etc., ad nauseam for failing to agree with whatever bit of self-serving dogma some representative of the salary class tried to push on them.

And that, dear reader, is where Donald Trump comes in.

The man is brilliant. I mean that without the smallest trace of mockery. He’s figured out that the most effective way to get the wage class to rally to his banner is to get himself attacked, with the usual sort of shrill mockery, by the salary class. The man’s worth several billion dollars—do you really think he can’t afford to get the kind of hairstyle that the salary class finds acceptable? Of course he can; he’s deliberately chosen otherwise, because he knows that every time some privileged buffoon in the media or on the internet trots out another round of insults directed at his failure to conform to salary class ideas of fashion, another hundred thousand wage class voters recall the endless sneering putdowns they’ve experienced from the salary class and think, “Trump’s one of us.”

The identical logic governs his deliberate flouting of the current rules of acceptable political discourse. Have you noticed that every time Trump says something that sends the pundits into a swivet, and the media starts trying to convince itself and its listeners that this time he’s gone too far and his campaign will surely collapse in humiliation, his poll numbers go up? What he’s saying is exactly the sort of thing that you’ll hear people say in working class taverns and bowling alleys when subjects such as illegal immigration and Muslim jihadi terrorism come up for discussion. The shrieks of the media simply confirm, in the minds of the wage class voters to whom his appeal is aimed, that he’s one of them, an ordinary Joe with sensible ideas who’s being dissed by the suits.

Notice also how many of Trump’s unacceptable-to-the-pundits comments have focused with laser precision on the issue of immigration. That’s a well-chosen opening wedge, as cutting off illegal immigration is something that the GOP has claimed to support for a while now. As Trump broadens his lead, in turn, he’s started to talk about the other side of the equation—the offshoring of jobs—as his recent jab at Apple’s overseas sweatshops shows. The mainstream media’s response to that jab does a fine job of proving the case argued above: “If smartphones were made in the US, we’d have to pay more for them!” And of course that’s true: the salary class will have to pay more for its toys if the wage class is going to have decent jobs that pay enough to support a family. That this is unthinkable for so many people in the salary class—that they’re perfectly happy allowing their electronics to be made for starvation wages in an assortment of overseas hellholes, so long as this keeps the price down—may help explain the boiling cauldron of resentment into which Trump is so efficiently tapping.

It’s by no means certain that Trump will ride that resentment straight to the White House, though at this moment it does seem like the most likely outcome. Still, I trust none of my readers are naive enough to think that a Trump defeat will mean the end of the phenomenon that’s lifted him to front runner status in the teeth of everything the political establishment can throw at him. I see the Trump candidacy as a major watershed in American political life, the point at which the wage class—the largest class of American voters, please note—has begun to wake up to its potential power and begin pushing back against the ascendancy of the salary class.

Whether he wins or loses, that pushback is going to be a defining force in American politics for decades to come. Nor is a Trump candidacy anything approaching the worst form that could take. If Trump gets defeated, especially if it’s done by obviously dishonest means, the next leader to take up the cause of the wage class could very well be fond of armbands or, for that matter, of roadside bombs. Once the politics of resentment come into the open, anything can happen—and this is particularly true, it probably needs to be said, when the resentment in question is richly justified by the behavior of many of those against whom it’s directed.

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WorldbyStorm - July 21, 2016

Good point re the dynamic persisting with or without Trump.


gendjinn - July 22, 2016

Michael Moore said something similar on Bill Maher last night:

Moore: “It might have sounded crazy to us, but to millions and millions of Americans, this was music to their ear,” Moore responded. “We’ve been sitting in our bubble, having a good laugh at this total … shit show, but the truth is that this plays to a lot of people that he has to win to become the next president … I’m sorry to be the buzzkill here so early on, but I think Trump is gonna win.”

Now that it’s Clinton v Trump as the nominees it’s nowhere near the Democratic blowout I would be expecting for a generic Dem vs generic Rep. I would be concerned that there are embarrassed voters lying to pollsters about their intention to vote for Trump.

Trumps acceptance speech is certainly playing to the strategy Dermot describes.


Dermot O Connor - July 22, 2016

Handy page for keeping track of the polls. And the polls are definitely tightening.


Bear in mind also that when given a 3rd and 4th party choice, Clinton loses 2 to 3%. I know people who are voting Green or be damned, they are not going to vote for the lesser of two evils. They’ve had it with the donkey-show.

Another factor is the ‘shy tory’, or shy Trumpy. A lot of people are not going to admit to voting for him, but once in the booth, it’ll be “fuck it, I cannot stand to look at that harpie of a woman for the next 8 years”.

Between Shy Trumpy & the smaller party deficit, you can probably add 5% to Trump’s numbers.


gendjinn - July 23, 2016

The shy Trumpy vote has me concerned alright. Probably have to wait until Sept to get some good, accurate polling data but even then it will be an unseen error.

Also, I suspect Trump may encourage long time non-voters back to the booth, perhaps enough to throw off the LV models the pollsters have built up.


5. Michael Carley - July 22, 2016

Possibly germane to the Trump comments, when I saw the Black Panthers documentary in one of Tony Benn’s mobile cinemas at Tolpuddle last week, there was mention of an outfit called the Young Patriots, a white, mostly Appalachian, left group which was in talks with the Panthers. There seems to be very little published about them, but they seem to be a fascinating possibility for a left response to the issues Trump is now campaigning on, that came to nothing in the end. More here, but I’d be interested if anyone knows anything more.


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