New readers get confused because I criticize liberals but then espouse what they believe to be “liberal” values. So, let’s get one thing straight–the left and liberals are different–but this fact is routinely obfuscated.
As the Biden administration takes shape this distinction will become more apparent especially when it becomes crystal clear that liberals despise the left. Biden’s presidency looks set to be worse than Obama’s in every way. This dynamic has only become more pronounced as the Biden administration staffs up with corporate and Wall Street drones. And, of course, the corporate media is enabling them. The New York Times is warning of the pressing danger of the Biden administration conceding too much to “the far left” at a time when progressive politicians have reportedly already been ruled out as candidates for cabinet positions due to concerns of appearing to be too far left, and when members of the Biden camp are already waving off demands from progressives using the phrase “we don’t negotiate with terrorists“.
There will be a backlash against this by the right, who will portray all of it as socialism, or something. And of course the corporate media will play along because that’s what they do. Also, they hate the left more than liberals do.
I probably should unpack my definition of liberal. Liberals, I believe, are an inauthentic opposition that secretly apes the feral elite that rule us. They cheered when the service economy was introduced, and lectured us on the glories of a “new economy” when production and manufacturing were eviscerated. They embraced rather than battled corporate culture, big money and its worship, and have fully internalized meritocracy as education became a luxury. In the process liberals have become the technocratic class who run our global institutions. Their job, for which they are so richly rewarded, is to justify our increasingly unequal world.
Thomas Frank wrote a whole book on the phenomenon entitled–Listen Liberal–but the concept still seems to elude many astute commentators.
Moreover, the takeover of the Democratic party by liberals starting with the Clinton administration has left the party trending towards becoming a party of the educated professional class alone. In the process working-class Americans were ignored with the rational that they had nowhere else to go. This has given large chunk of the population the idea that Democratic elites don’t like them very much and that their policies don’t do much for them. This is also why the Republican party is poised to represent the working-class. Go figure.
To hide their malfeasance liberal intellectuals substituted identity politics for a class based critique of our political economy. Liberals taught us to identify ‘as women,’ ‘as a gay,’ ‘as trans,’ ‘as a Jew,’ ‘as a Latino,’ ‘as a Black.’ We’ve practically learned to fight each other instead of coming together. In the process instead of identifying Wall Street, the military/industrial/complex, corporate media propaganda and Silicon Valley as our true enemy liberals embraced them. This reached a fevered apotheosis during Russia-gate when liberals celebrated the CIA and FBI as hero’s. This follows a pattern going at least to 2016 and the aftermath when liberals refused to examine why why Trump beat Hillary Clinton. The reality, far too troubling for most liberals to admit, is that Trump proved popular because a lot of the problems he identified were true, even if he raised them in bad faith himself and had no intention of doing anything meaningful to fix them.
The problem for us is that liberal elite have lost the ability to offer up incremental reforms after 40 years of drinking neoliberal Kool-aid: where a self-regulating market should rule society. Because this is impossible, it amounts to saying that governance should be bold and aggressive only if it is protecting market institutions. A financial crisis means banks should get bailed-out and their executives suffer no jail time even when they rob us blind, but any stimulus package should be timid. Health-care reform should be small, Byzantine and operate through market structures. Social welfare should only occur through a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, and a “workfare system” that require people to work to obtain benefits.
This is a very dangerous moment. With Trump, while he might have had dangerous tendencies, he was inept, clueless and lacked the sort of Beltway acumen to be a true despot. The next right-wing politician who seizes on the disgust for liberal malfeasance will be a lot more competent. It is absolutely imperative that the US left fight like never before to make sure it’s more of a leftist backlash than a rightist one, or things will get very ugly very quickly. If we don’t take the fight to liberals, the right will. If you don’t seize control of the dominant narrative, the right will. This is guaranteed.
Our milieu is similar to the Weimar Republic where liberal malfeasance set the table for the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. The public is losing its trust in the democratic process and democratic institutions. Poverty and public unrest is spiking. The corporate media is becoming more and more detached from larger segments of the population. Amidst all of this, Wall Street is booming.
This is what happens when the very wealthy stop having a stake in the outcome of a country’s future. Having long ago stopped investing in America, they stop bothering with unifying national legends, too, letting long-simmering divisions rise. Essentially, the political class is accepting the inevitability of culture war, and urging it on, as something preferable to populist revolt.
At this stage our goal should be to oppose liberals while forging a true working-class coalition between those on the right and those on the left. We have much in common including the need to avoid the sort of divide and conquer traps used by liberals to fracture unity.
Update: Matt Taibbi explains one of the reasons why liberals despise the left.
“The Blue Apparat has always despised Bernie and his various precursor movements far more than it hated Republicans, and for good reason. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Clintonite hacks in cushy Washington sinecures who would have retained their spots in the event of a loss to Trump. A Sanders win would have put them all out of the politics business for a while.”