Neither left nor right but up

DRAFT

After decades of manifest incompetence, we find ourselves at a junction. Our political parties, two of any consequence, are quivering – but not for the reason popularly cited in the left-liberal press.

Our parties have no reason to be afraid of, say, self-styled Democratic Socialists, a ragtag group comprised of disillusioned Obama millennials and stowaways from the Occupy movement. No reason in particular to be afraid of the spiritual successor to the Tea Party, the MAGA folks, either. Not yet at least.

The parties have no reason to be afraid of these nominally reformist forces, because they’re merely nominal. Both may give very good speeches and attract a large crowd, but when you look to policy, what’s actually being done, it’s underwhelming.

Some figures in these populist sects are just pathological. Trump’s the self-evident case, so it’s worth pressing on to the Democratic Socialist darling (or progressive, so many words, who can even tell the difference?) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx.

From the very beginning, she served as a kind of folk hero for no particular reason beyond having been a waitress for a couple years, one among over two million other Americans. She did utter several nice words and platitudes, staged a couple of brilliant photo ops in front of buildings holding migrant children. She also boycotted a furniture company for delivering mattresses to the facilities; presumably she did so for a reason.

Now she takes pictures and records videos of herself on Instagram and TikTok. She plays video games with her constituents – by which I mean her small donor benefactors, i.e., stylish American youth in general, not the people who reside in New York’s 14th congressional district. One might respond that a politician who develops parasocial, and even parasitical, relationships with ordinary people is demonstrating their commitment to public life, to fulfilling their service as the Tribune of the Plebs. Indeed it can be very exciting to meet a celebrity, particularly a younger one with unmistakeable zeal, even if it’s only through social media. In fact it may be more exciting through the virtual medium: You can share clips, click ‘like’ and ‘subscribe’, post memes, and donate. Besides, online is where all your other friends are anyway.

Crucially, Ocasio-Cortez is not much older than her audience, perhaps she reminds them of a close friend. And she exploits this deformed relationship to channel money into unaccountable private coffers, variously called “bail funds”, “mutual aid funds”, “food pantries”, and so on.

Beneath the nice-sounding rhetoric, these serve a few purposes, perhaps one of which ostensibly “benefits” some other person. The “mutual aid fund” may in fact deliver on their promise of supplying someone’s grandmother with a few rolls of toilet paper. The “bail fund” does what it says on the tin: It bails out people who are arrested at various Democratic-adjacent sanctioned events (calling them “protests” is gratuitous). Of course, none of the messaging lays out what it’s actually for. Contrary to illusions, protestors who are arrested are typically released without bail, unless they commit assault, burn something down, steal something, and so on. Very little of the money dispensed was even recovered; once released from jail and having been refunded their bail, her beneficiaries didn’t return it to the fund but simply pocketed it. Some mutual aid there.

It’s worth taking a step back to look at the broader picture. A politician, or perpetual activist if you like, is raising money primarily from people who she does not represent. For one, as her district is fairly upscale, her ‘more radical than thou’ vernacular just doesn’t quite fit in. It’s not clear just who in her district was demanding a Democratic Socialist. Indeed her ascendence may have only been possible faced with a very particular opponent: a feckless party machine Democrat serving much the same role that Sanders’ foil, Hillary Clinton, did. For another, her fanbase is distributed across the country and across the globe, and is fundamentally unmoored to city or country. Each  is then administered by some unaccountable private group, whether it’s an bonafide NGO or a few kids with dreadlocks and a GoFundMe page. These are essentially charities, and often deeply incompetent ones at that.

By using charities to provide services to (some small portion of) her constituents or admirers, she abdicates her responsibility as an elected official whose ostensible sole function in government is to advocate for and ensure an appropriate allocation of government resources to meet her constituents’ needs.

It’s a savvy move, given the partisan gridlock that is sure to frustrate progressive ambitions for the next century or so. Why bother with it, when you can play-act giving people stuff and collect the praise. And it’s perfect because since you’re not working through Congress, you won’t upset Nancy Pelosi (or “Mama Bear”). In fact, you can take play-acting to a new level by engaging in minor, typically frivolous public disputes with Democratic leadership to signal to your supporters that you’re fighting the good fight.

Look beneath the surface, however, and you quickly realize that Ocasio-Cortez and “the Squad” are the best thing to ever happen to the establishment Democrats in decades. The party can develop apolitical talent, celebrity politicians in the most literal sense, send them all the youthful attention they desire, give them a bit of verbal free reign, and cultivate them as shepherds leading disaffected young Democrats (or Democratic Socialists or Progressives or Communists or whatever the label du jour may be) back to their home in the Democratic Party.

In the far less organized Republican Party, we see a similar fissure expanding that threatens to separate the populist Trump base and the generic corporatist GOP hobbling and bobbling forward since Ronald Reagan. Perhaps Josh Hawley represents the future of the former sect, while a Marco Rubio fits within the latter category, hanging on by a thread until he joins neoconservatives like Bill Kristol in the Democratic Party. The populist flavor may become authentic and realized, or it may serve as the counterpart to the Squad, a mere exercise in branding. It’s too soon to say.

Within that context, it’s important to recognize the challenges facing the Democratic Party and its very foundation. Foremest, minorities are leaving the Party, which is disastrous given their central tactics require patronizing minority voters as if they are owed them, and leaving them empty handed. It remains virtually                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          keaiavm that Trump lost support from white men in 2020, and made up a nice chunk of the balance by recruiting new minority votes. Given strong Latino support, it’s believed to be the most diverse Republican Party in seventy years. The progressive narrative simply does not account for this, and indeed predicts the opposite.

This shake-up is also reflected in the substantial hollowing out of working class support, Democratic leadership being more than willing to trade workers for easier constituencies. Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was proven correct in essence when he observed that “[f]or every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

It didn’t pan out in 2016, but it did most recently, and will help them remain competitive moving forward. Any discussion as to whether they “should” do this, and so on, is largely besides the point. The lines are drawn, even if faintly, and the neoconservatives and their liberal allies who advocated a policy of perpetual warfare for decades, resulting in the deaths of perhaps two million people, have a welcoming home within the latest iteration of the Democratic Party.

These political realignments have again perhaps broken through the surface, requiring some media management, and reared their heads during this pandemic, which has been an absolute boon for corporate interests and the political and media elites.

A veritable project of massive income stratification has transpired: a robbery of the sick and depleted. Trillions of dollars have been distributed upwards, and what’s more, you can’t blame Trump. It’s the bipartisan Washington consensus.

That last bit is important. We all witnessed Trump pushing for a $2,000 stimulus check, well above the $600 proposed by Congress, and pushing to cut pork. He even threatened to effectively defund the military and bring our troops home.

He was thwarted in all this by Senate Republicans (a different party from House GOP and Trump) and, despite pretenses, by Nancy Pelosi and the Squad. The $2,000 “stand-alone” bill excitedly promoted by the latter, among others, was predicated on the passage of the prior pork-infested bill, quite explicitly rebuffing Trump’s request for a simple bill. A bill that’s actually stand-alone as professed.

And even independent of its content, its merits or demerits, Pelosi attempted to pass the poison pill bill with unanimous consent, effectively dispensing two poison pills in one. One vote against the bill would kill it, so naturally it was set it up to fail. When it did fail, leadership and the new Democratic Socialists turned to Twitter and a feckless news media to launder the story that Republicans killed grandma, thereby activating the base and turning them out for the mission critical Georgia run-off elections.

The sole reason for these complications and delays, the expiration of crucial financial benefits, all of it, is that Democrats won with a senile old man that no one particularly likes and it would be deeply embarrassing to have an earth-shattering repeat of 2016. You can’t give Trump a win like that right before an election.

The plan forward from all this is unclear. Democratic voters are largely in total denial concerning a variety of issues: fantastic tales of Russki infiltration of the Executive, the reason for Trump’s victory, their likability, and future prospects. Beyond mere ignorance, they seem to have taken a suicide pact.

They have minimal power across the country at local and state levels of government. Erstwhile celebrity politician, Barack Obama, enabled these losses, completely gutting the Party for quick cash. And in any case, the Democratic Party did so little of note during those golden years, beyond increasing the real costs of healthcare to the average American and kicking people to the curb under the financial crisis.

Similarly the utopian left or progressive faction of voters, again understood as little more than than a branding exercise, seem intent on self-destruction. After spending several months marching, destroying property, burning down poor minority neighborhoods, and turning public opinion against police reform — substantially under the banner of police abolition — the gas tank ran empty and prospects of significant reform seem slim. If there’s one thing that the left does well, it’s to render unpalatable perfectly popular and uncontroversial political positions as police reform.

As to abolishing the police – which might work for you if you’re a white kid in suburbia – it represents another abdication of their responsibility to those they profess to support. The vast majority of black Americans do not support police abolition, quite like every other demographic outside the collegiate aspirational elite. As it turns out, violence is a problem in many poor communities and cities, and people don’t want to be at the mercy of drive-by shooters and the like.

The prominent movements and organizations behind these efforts — whether it’s BLM, the left-liberal NGO complex, or guilty billionaires — are all bankrolled to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, substantially deriving from private organizations like the Ford Foundation, rather ironically the namesake of the famously anti-Semitic industrialist.

Beyond appearances, they’ve achieved very little materially, though it all functions well as an advertisement for Nike or McDonald’s or other ‘progressive and forward-thinking’ companies. It’s a wonderful distraction from politics, serving to propagate some sense of moral victory until we arrive back to planet Earth and Democratic votes are needed.

Prominent and well-funded activist organizations promote a distorted platform including such popular efforts as “abolishing the nuclear family”, which were it to transpire would constitute perhaps one of the most evil, polarizing, and eventually alienating acts in human history. Most people outside the fervent activist set, which is perhaps no more than five percent of the population, rightly perceive it as sociopathic.

Similarly, the orgiastic celebration of prostitution among the activist set – sanitized, as is their wont, using the obscene neologism “sex work” – consists largely of randy middle-class women shooting pornography on OnlyFans part-time. We used to smoke pot and go to punk shows for

The most vulnerable, the desperately poor women who work the streets, almost universally addicted to hard drugs, they’re the counterpart to Trump’s “forgotten people”.

More generally, the most fundamental principle in left or progressive doctrine is
identity politics, which functions much as “abolishing the family” might. Polarize people on the basis of immutable or protected characteristics like skin color, sex, religion, and sexual orientation, and organize them to take a trip to the polls in a single-file line. When Joe Biden proudly said with gusto, “If you don’t vote for me, you ain’t black”, the entire left-liberal apparatus either feigned ignorance, rolled their eyes, or became a little upset for a couple days.

There were no organized efforts to frustrate his candidacy or exact a penalty for a sentiment whose entrenched racism, the use of human being as a racialized instrument to achieve power, is well beyond the clumsy and often profane

, wherein privileged whites adopt the language of a Malcolm X or Angela Davis, who you will recall functioned as useful idiots for the FBI, in part COINTELPRO, to divide and neutralize the serious and effective civil rights movement.

And it worked.

King was assassinated, and never got to fulfill his ultimate dream of a cross-racial, cross-gender movement for working people. Now he’s routinely mocked for “respectability politics”, which means he wanted to prioritize justice over acting out some adolescent and idealist fantasy where no one cares how you dress or act.

Much of his work was simply destroyed in the process, and so-called “anti-racist” or “intersectional” doctrine (which is nothing but rebranded post-structuralism/post-modernism from the 1970s) provides a cover for corporate and state interests to keep the races at each other’s throats, as they look down upon us as if at a Gladiatorial match.

The narcissism of small differences is manifest in all this. As wage gap narratives, often totally reductive and mythological, emphasize that college educated white women make 90c on the white man’s dollar, Jeff Bezos amasses a fortune in which he can purchase 1.5 million average American homes any time he likes.

Any serious attempt to grapple with this — and secure meaningful and material gains for all Americans — will require a substantially pared down platform targeted universally, that is without resorting to profane identity politics. Ideally, it should be limited to demands for a $15 federal minimum wage, universal single payer healthcare, increases in social security benefits, and re-establishing and modernizing labor unions. It should also naturally include sane and almost universally supported police reform, including demilitarization, prosecution of crooked cops, and repealing qualified immunity to ease personal liability restrictions that protect dirty cops.

It will also involve, crucially, hiring more police officers not fewer. This would drive progressives apoplectic but after a few seconds of reflection, you see it would vastly reduce burnout and enable police to develop actual relationships with their communities.

Or you can say ACAB and subject vulnerable people to rampant crime while you’re in your ivory tower. Abolish them and we can have a totally unaccountable private mercenary force. Maybe Bezos will start AmazonCops.

The advantages of this simple platform? The issues with an exception or two are incredibly popular across the board: whites, minorities, Democratic voters, Republican voters, MAGA, DSA, Bernie Sanders voters, virtually everyone.

And they work.

So, which way will it be? Do we stick to a strategy that hasn’t worked, and has never worked? They’ve been trying since Berkeley in the 60s.

Or we can move beyond left and right — stick to what will materially benefit all workers, the poor, and the middle class — and go up.

Socialists and Progressives are the Granola Bars of Neoliberal Candy

The dynamic between our political factions, in terms of their material effects on reality, are perhaps best illustrated by two candy companies, one who sells candy by contriving a tale about its wholesomeness, and another who sells candy by appealing to how naughty it is. The average granola bar may be absolutely identical in nutritional value to the most indulgent seeming candy bar, while the two target markets or audiences are deeply polarized.

No matter what they intend (to be healthy or extravagant), they get the same thing (processed sugar).

Similarly, when it comes to politics there is very often no necessary connection between what people say or intend, and what they receive even if they’re successful in winning their demands.

A person need not imagine what would actually happen if they got what they wanted. Hence the saying, “be careful of what you ask for”.

To see this in vivid color, let’s consider the priorities of DSA, the leading socialist organization in the United States. According to them, the most pressing matters are:

  • The Green New Deal
  • Medicare for All
  • Electoral Strategy
  • Labor Commission

At the semantic level, “Green New Deal” is a terrible name for group of policies that are supposed to be indispensable to planetary survival. No matter how they feel about the underlying policy itself, roughly half the country does not look fondly upon the New Deal.

But it doesn’t matter. While it’s been raised in Congress, not one person believes this has any chance of being passed whatsoever. Not one of even its most ardent supporters is that delusional.

That leaves us with three:

  • Medicare for All
  • Electoral Strategy
  • Labor Commission

Medicare for All, or universal single-payer healthcare, is similarly very unlikely to be passed. Not one of even its most ardent supporters is that delusional.

But even if it were passed?

About half of the population is insured by their employer; this expense would immediately be borne by the taxpayer. With the benefit applying universally, by definition, there is no reason to expect employers will be incentivized to raise wages in turn.

About a fifth are covered by Medicare as it stands, so they’re unaffected. About a quarter buy their own private health insurance.

It seems that about 5% to 10% are uninsured, mainly owing to prohibitively high cost.

So, the immediate issue could be addressed by increasing the poverty threshold, opening up access to Medicaid and other essential social services. And all without unnecessary additional corporate subsidy (or upward wealth consolidation).

Instead, again, they’re focused on policy that may be a very good idea in abstraction, but in practice will probably have a marginal impact on most people, perhaps save them a few bucks. Many of the very poorest are already covered. The middle class may stand to make a little more in wages to compensate but probably not. Health insurance companies will lose, but virtually every other company will win, if care isn’t taken in its execution.

And no one thinks any of this will happen anyway.

That leaves us with:

  • Electoral Strategy
  • Labor Commission

Here and there, a DSA backed candidate is elected. Whether this has anything to do with DSA, its endorsement, or even salient political issues is unknown. Assuming it has to do with political issues, that the politician won because of the DSA endorsement, and the politician to faithful to DSA priorities, all the criticisms here stand.

In that sense, if you do support DSA, then backing their electoral strategy does make sense. If you make some very generous assumptions.

And the general picture is set anyway: They’re out to elect Democrats. One can judge AOC and the squad’s rhetoric as of late to determine whether they serve primarily to agitate within the Democratic Party for change, or to simply agitate conservatives (and shepard Democrats).

Finally, there’s the labor commission. The only unions of any influence, or are really substantial in number, are the public unions. These are largely teacher and police unions.

Here one should consider the peculiar nature of public unions. If the public is the employer, why aren’t they in charge of raises, benefits increases, and working conditions through their elected representatives? Are we simply allowing them to abdicate more of their responsibilities to uncountable bureaucracy? In any case, the kinds of pressures intrinsic to the labor and capital relationship are simply not present in state-subsidized employment or sinecure.

But no matter what, the police unions won’t be on board. Not simply because self-styled socialists don’t have cops in their social circles, but because the self-styled socialists want their very abolition!

And anyone involved in energy or construction for similar reasons.

Now, assuming this is all false or dubious, and socialists manage to join and organize amid union members. I take it they’ll be influencing members politically. Like getting them to vote to endorse Sanders instead of Clinton. But then again, they already did that and got vetoed by union leadership. Are we expecting DSA to infiltrate union leadership?

And even if this all works, they’ve achieved only their electoral strategy as previously discussed in a more cumbersome and circuitous manner.

In addition to these “priorities”, a couple other mainstays of DSA deserve consideration. These remain in the form of the working groups:

  • Abolition Working Group
  • Immigrants’ Rights Working Group

The first apparently seeks to abolish prisons and the police, which is immensely unpopular (perhaps over 90% are opposed). It’d be reckless and utterly destroy high crime areas that are often also the most impoverished. It’s advocates can never really muster a clear picture of an alternative; usually it amounts to the pretense that, say, a rape victim will have the opportunity to chat with their rapist at some community meeting circle, in lieu of their imprisonment.

And finally the Immigrants’ Rights Working Group, which may lead you to believe it’s about ensuring immigrants aren’t subjected to forced labor, sex trafficking, and unjust detention. No, it wants to abolish all mechanisms of immigration control and enforcement. Contrary to its objections, though consistent with the explicit views of others in the same political circles, this amounts simply to open borders policy. Historically, and at the present, the fiercest advocates of the open borders position are right-wing libertarians and free marketeers.

The more desperate people you bring in, the lower you can pay people. I apologize if I sound ungenerous to the corporations, or appear deeply cynical, but I don’t believe corporate interests are in favor of open borders or wide-open immigration for reasons pertaining to human rights, diversity, or broadly distributed economic benefit.

And again, no one thinks that ICE will be abolished. A few may think open borders will be enacted and some believe that current immigration levels are too high. Some want walls, others don’t. Some want more immigration.

Those are the views that make up the context of the discussion that DSA wants to enter and be a part of. It can’t be emphasized enough how ineffective this will prove.

Okay, I lied. There’s one more issue: Minimum wage.

Minimum wage increases have won at the ballot across a number of states and cities, often more than doubling the current minimum wage. Most economists – and it’s not very close – believe this will result in increased unemployment.

And it’s intuitive. McDonald’s can’t pay $15 per hour to people assembling burgers if those burgers are still a few dollars. But if the burgers were to cost much more, the entire appeal would be severely reduced. Some middle ground is found with increases to burger price (impacting largely the poor) and increased automation. People lose their jobs and new ones of the same kind aren’t being created. They have to retrain to survive, by definition, but essentially no government resource enables this.

Others just have their hours docked. Maybe still others benefit.

The effect is probably analogous to removing the lower rung of a ladder. Simply ban jobs that are “worth” less than $15 per hour, and re-shape them until they are valued at that amount. Anyone who doesn’t fit is discarded.

Without accompanying expansion of the safety net, it’s not really clear that increasing the minimum wage by that magnitude under these conditions is a net benefit. But we’ll see.

Summary

To summarize, if the DSA were wildly successful and implemented all its policies overnight, the vast majority of the public would be placed on a new healthcare plan. The expense would be substantially transferred to the taxpayer from employers in over half of cases. It is not clear that employers will compensate their workers for this in the form of higher salary. Therefore, the employee may simply lose additional money when the public healthcare tax is assessed with nothing extra to compensate for it.

And it almost definitely won’t happen.

The Green New Deal definitely won’t happen, if the word “definitely” has any content at all.

DSA endorsements might have an impact on who’s elected, but there’s really no reason to think so. Anyway there’s no mechanism or even desire to hold any elected officials accountable for anything whatsoever. And they espouse the outlined policies and little else, and so are subject to those criticisms.

They’re organizing some of the few more privileged union members that still exist to vote for candidates they’d vote for anyway, and for issues that they agree with anyway, in fields where socialists have virtually no organic presence.

They’re apt pursue immigration policy that would negatively impact working class wages. Their increases to the minimum wage may just increase unemployment and exclude people in marginal poverty ever so gently from the social safety net.

And don’t get me started on advocating for student loan forgiveness on the eve of tens of millions of probable foreclosures and evictions.

Add it all up, and what’s referred to as progressivism and socialism is today simply the granola bar of neoliberalism. It sounds healthy and wholesome, but in reality, it’s as healthy as a candy bar. Underneath words, it’s the same thing. Maybe worse.

More jobs would be outsourced, more people kicked out of work, social services like the police abolished, wealth redistributed from the working class to corporations in the form of publicly subsidizing what was an employment benefit without compensation, and still more wealth redistributed upwards in the form of selective debt cancellation like universal student loan forgiveness.

Here you have the establishment’s dream. And if these supposedly socialist or progressive policies, rhetoric, and aesthetic aren’t adopted almost wholesale by the Democratic Party, there are only a couple possible reasons:

  • They’ve determined that while it may be very popular in some quarters, it turns off more people. And the self-styled radicals will vote Blue anyway.
  • They’re arrogant and stupid. (Entirely possible.)

Once you accept all this, and in effect, see the common interests between the major political parties, and those who function only to corral the misguided into and even accelerate their adjacent political party, you begin to see the set of political possibilities expand – and expand well beyond these artificial and fairly arbitrary political lines that were drawn so many years ago.

Let’s make something of it.

The Political Factions

There are two approaches to studying politics. It can be construed as the study of superficial appearances and self-professed ideology; or it can be construed as the study of the actual effects of a group’s actions, and its role in the broader system. Both approaches are perfectly reasonable and have their purpose, but the latter approach is almost never taken.

Rarely do we concern ourselves with what the consequences of a group’s actions actually are; we are typically content with knowing their intentions and finding our identity in alliance or opposition. If one’s primary concern is in effecting political change of some sort, rather than in historical preservation or cultural studies, then it’s difficult to imagine a greater error.

Let’s suppose that the most influential portion of the electorate is comprised of several apparently warring factions. A fairly exhaustive list of activist factions is as follows:

  • Progressive Democrats
  • Socialists
  • Anarchists
  • Communists
  • Greens
  • Neoconservatives
  • Populist Republicans
  • Libertarians

The first thing to notice is just how many factions exist on the “left” side of the spectrum (five), while about half as many exist on the “right”. They’re the boutique grocery that sells table salt in various forms from various countries: good for consumer choice, terrible if you’re looking to dominate the market.

Without looking any further at specifics in ideology or aesthetics, you see that the “left” has seemingly dealt itself an enormous handicap. We can examine in greater detail how the various groups differ and overlap, but from a materialist approach, these are substantially artifacts. One either leads to a vote for the Democratic candidate, or against the Democratic candidate.

Greens usually vote against the Democratic candidate, voting for the Green candidate. In a two-party system as ours, this signals dissension to the more closely aligned major party (the Democratic Party). Socialists usually vote for the Democratic candidate in the end; this signals assent.

The Democratic Party, or any body, has no incentive whatsoever to convert the converted. The act of voting carries with it the extinction of one’s influence: Any negotiations and concessions are to occur prior to act of voting, for the same reason that you negotiate a salary before accepting a new job.

Accordingly, the Greens are in a much better position (in spite of their minuscule numbers) to influence the Democratic Party’s self-professed ideology than the Sanders’ wing. And so, you see this in the rhetoric surrounding climate change and environmental concerns broadly. Very little has to do with economic class, as any political power accumulated by socialists, or the Sanders’ wing, was simply surrendered.

If you’re going to vote for a group irrespective of whether they take up your program, they’re not going to take it up. They’re not going to do so, for reasons ideological and otherwise. Why do work if you don’t need to?

Libertarians are in roughly the same position of Greens, and similarly have an under-appreciated influence on mainline Republican politics.

The very largest activist factions on the other hand – progressives, socialists, right-populists – irrespective of their rhetoric, simply ensure that voter antipathy does not lead voters to defect from their affiliated parties. Call them outreach programs for the disaffected.

And even in the case of rhetoric, there’s a clear incentive to shape it to conform to party needs. If you’re going to ask your political allies to vote for a particular candidate or party, you’ll lose all credibility if your rhetoric is just completely out of step. Accordingly, in practice, socialists sound simply like New Dealers or social democrats. Right-populists in many instances like yesterday’s moderates. Perfectly within the mainstream of either party, but almost hellbent on relinquishing any sort of potential influence.

Whether you construe this as a failure on their part, or actually success in executing their implicit function, is an interesting question but irrelevant to a description of how the political system actually works.

Another way to extract influence, performed in conjunction with voting against the party who you hope to shape, is to form coalitions with your functional equivalent on the other “side”. Strategically, nothing could be so beneficial as to pair socialists with right-populists so they may safely vote against their respective parties without risking the spoiler effect. Properly executed, you’d have a careful, step-by-step dismantling of the parties through mutual disarmament.

But that simply doesn’t exist. Again, whether you construe this as failure or success simply doesn’t matter much.

The major parties are forever set to win as long as this status quo arrangement holds, no matter the rhetoric, and actual policy and its effects will be whatever they will be. As the parties adopt an attitude of “Why work if you need to?”, and do so perfectly rationally, the activist factions would do well to consider the same question.

That is, the activist of today might ask themselves whether their absence would produce more good than their presence. Whether the would-be voter sitting on their hands on Election Day is acting more faithfully and rationally than the radical who believes Joe Biden or Donald Trump care about whatever quaint reservations they had while pulling the lever.

New Politics

On this blog I’ll look at the differences between political tribes, the difference between one’s self-identified political ideology (or some label) and one’s actual effect or function, and the contradictory allegiances and beliefs of today’s political tribes.

The confusion in our political arrangements may present an exciting and rare opportunity to refactor our politics, and there are various attempts to do so, whether by the self-styled “post-left”, progressives, socialists, populist Republicans, class-first leftists, alt-right, Silicon Valley libertarian futurists, and so on.

Or they may paralyze us and become a source for further dysfunction.

Are these factions in their current form stable or even coherent? What do they have in common and how do they differ? To what extent are they novel or mere rebranding?

These are a few of the topics I’ll write about. Stay tuned and subscribe!


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