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Fighting one fight but ignoring the other… US liberalism… July 10, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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On the day a new SCUSA member is appointed it is not necessary to construct a hierarchy of issues to find some agreement with the following, Janan Ganesh from the FT by way of the IT writing at the Supreme Court of the United States and arguing:

The erosion of economic rights is a simpler business than the culture war. Deregulation can be done from the bench without much fuss or even attention. The issues are too obscure, the losers too dispersed and ill-organised. And the prize – a court redolent of the Gilded Age, when it ruled for property rights over labour – is too large for conservatives to resist.

And:

Last month, the court ruled against mandatory union dues for public sector workers. A month earlier, it upheld limits on workers’ class-action suits against employers. From the next justice, conservatives expect a tighter construal of government powers under the Clean Air Act and the Fair Housing Act.

And a great point here too:

None of these things are totems. Next to the showdowns over sex and race, they will struggle to rouse the same protest crowds. But their cumulative effect matters. Even without a court reversal of Obamacare, the material life of some Americans could become more precarious over time.

And he notes that of this mix of ‘cultural revanchism …[and] and the quiet grind of deregulation’…
Liberal vigilance to the first should guard against it. The second threatens to pass without a fraction of the same noise.’

But then listen to any given assembly of many US liberals and one will discover that on economic issues they are much less exercised than they are on social issues. That’s fine, but it does underscore the precariousness of labour rights and the sheer lack of interest in protecting them. And as always it’s not that progressives and leftists need to do either or, but rather both need to be upheld and fought for. Not just one. But then given that liberalism in the US has always tended to the incompletely and partially attached to economic issues where is the great surprise? Perhaps the truly remarkable thing is that given the Democrats appear much of the time like Fine Gael with trade union links that anything was achieved before…

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1. EWI - July 10, 2018

Not appointed yet! Just nominated.

And someone who feels that Presidents can’t be indicted.

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WorldbyStorm - July 10, 2018

Spot on! My bad.

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2. Dermot O Connor - July 10, 2018

As mentioned before, I live in Portland Oregon, ground zero of American ‘Liberalism’.

Most US liberals would drink their own diarrhea rather than think of class / economics. They are obsessed with race / identity to a degree that is now well in the realm of mental illness. The idea that you can do more to combat racism or sexism via a direct attack on economic grounds does not and will not occur to them.

Their mindset is that of a liberal: all social events are seen as the cumulative result of individual actions; free Enlightenment rational actors acting in their own self interest (18th century hogwash, of course). Hence the incessant obsession with focusing their ire on individual villains – and every week produces a new baddie who can be excoriated with hashtags on twitter.

Note that corporate america LOVES this liberal identitarian garbage: they’re the first to use it in order to signal their virtue…because using liberal idpol allows them to maintain business as usual, while continuing to gouge workers and the planet.

You should see the look on the face of liberals here when I start talking. It’s like they’ve met someone from another planet. “What, liberalism is the ideology of corporate america? Does not compute”.

I recently returned from 3 days in San Francisco, ground zero of the tech bubble. You wouldn’t believe the homeless situation there. Most streets in the city are lined with tents or shuffling derelicts. But the liberal people there barely talk about it, they’re more focused on issues of ‘social justice’ around race/ethnicity, sex, etc etc etc.

Which won’t do any of them much good 10 or 20 years from now when they can’t afford a dentist.

Sure, you’ll hear the occasional slogan from the liberals about ‘structural racism’ or ‘structural racism’ or some other post modern culture war cliche, but every time they man the barricades, it’s to attack some lone individual transgressor. Always they attack the man, they never take a shot at goal.

I don’t know what % of US libs do talk about class / economics, but would hazard a guess that it’s about the same % of Irish who vote for PBP/Sol.

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3. Gerryboy - July 10, 2018

@ Dermot O’Connor You’ve spotted the slick corporate sponsorship of identitarian ‘issues’ in US society, and you’ve called out the individualist rather than communitarian sentiments behind the voting actions of American liberal voters. Liberalism has changed from its 19th century British social improvement ethos when it stood for universal franchise, trades union rights, improvements in wages and working conditions, a kinder social attitude towards children, freedom of religious belief, universal basic primary schooling, and pensions for retired manual labourers. Here’s a topic for a summer school in Ireland: What has happened to liberalism?

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Dermot O Connor - July 10, 2018

Gerryboy – yes, afraid so. And the Guardian has become the party of War, desperately trying to destroy as mild a figure as Jeremy Corbyn.

I probably wrote this before, but there was a recent interview with mega-liberal Morgan Freeman in which he said that people in the rustbelt should “get on the bus”. In other words, leave what little they know (friends & family) and throw themselves on the liberal enclaves on the coasts. The similarity to Norman Tebbit’s “On yer bike” would have been lost on his american audience, but the fact that absent identity politics, there is no difference between the ‘liberal’ hero Morgan Freeman and a 1980s Thatcherite bullyboy is telling.

One of the regulars at the coffee shop up the street is a working class Montanan, regards himself as liberal, but he can’t talk about things without reducing them to individual vices and virtues of the people who have succeeded or failed. It’s the Horatio Alger myth – just work hard, by gummee, and you too can succeed, my boy. Bollocks of course when you think of the reality of 10 million people competing for 6 million jobs. There will be 4 million unemployed people, regardless of their personal qualities. More and more, liberals can’t see this. It’s all about the person, not the class.

Liberalism (or the vocal identitarian wing of it at any rate) seems focused on a vicious authoritarianism, obsessed with policing language and signs, and destroying anyone who uses one of the ever growing list of Forbidden Words. That their language policing and identitarianism doesn’t but a single potato on the plate of the poor doesn’t bother them an iota…but then again, as most of these ‘liberal’ types are middle to upper middle class, I expect that their prime motive is the protection of their own class privilege (by rendering it invisible behind a screen of idpol).

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4. dermot - July 11, 2018

One more point on liberalism (and the liberal obsession with meritocracy): were I to talk to an individual in the rust-belt, someone with ambition or someone feeling trapped by that place, I’d give that individual the same advice that Tebbit & Freeman gave: MOVE.

It’s OK advice for an individual, it’s catastrophic advice for an entire class. Great quote from Roy Hattersley (of all people); guess he still had some red blood left in him:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/24/labour2001to2005.news

“Tony Blair discovered a big idea. His destiny is to create a meritocracy. Unfortunately meritocracy is not the form of society which social democrats want to see. … A Labour government should not be talking about escape routes from poverty and deprivation. By their nature they are only available to a highly-motivated minority. The Labour Party was created to change society in such a way that there is no poverty and deprivation from which to escape. … The certain knowledge that the Conservative Party would be a worse government than Labour is not enough to sustain what used to be a party of principles. … At this moment Labour stands for very little that can be identified with social democracy”

Roy Hattersley

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