Sunday, May 14, 2006

May Day! May Day! The Sadly, No!elementropy Half-Assed Wankery Wonkery Edition

Note - This is a several days late and thousand dollars-short version: I didn't get it done in time to post at S,N!, and it turns out it wasn't good enough to post anyway. So into the dump here it goes. Why wasn't it done in time? Because on May Day, I was doing the Safety Dance around a May Pole -- it's my way of showing solidarity with the protestors.

Today is protest day! Yippie! Hopefully, Latino MLBers will join in the festivities by not walking on the field -- that'll prove the point to the baseball-loving wingnuts, at least.

Also, today is the Greatest Socialist Day Ever. Which means, among many other things, that Glenn Reynolds will have the prime opportunity to play the ol' A.N.S.W.E.R. card by which he'll try to tar the whole pro-immigration movement as America-hating Stalinists. 'Cause that's just the kind of asshole he is. But is there a general connection between the socialist (the good kind) movement and the pro-immigration movement? Maybe. Hopefully. But not yet. But before I get to that analysis, I'd like to offer to do my minor part in showing solidarity with both by blogging this post in a completely half-assed fashion: half as much research, coherence, and good taste as my usual pathetic standards. There! Like a good socialist, I've, by posting this hunk of crap, looted the readership capital earned by Brad, Gavin, Seb and Travis's hard work; and by only giving this post a single-buttocked effort, I've met halfway the stipulations of joining today's general strike. Don't say Retardos can't multitask.

Anyway, on with it. I feel very ...well, alienated when it comes to the immigration issue, not about to side with the wingnuts but not very willing, either, to join in with my usual comrades -- which scares me, because in this country, in the last few years, those who've looked to find equal enemies on their Left as on their Right are often the biggest dirtbags around. It's not an ideological place I'm used to, and I'm trying trying to find my way home, as it were.

Against the Left, I think that at some point immigration can be overdone. I don't know if we're at that point now, but I am certain that in theory the point exists. If I'm hearing right, the Left doesn't believe such a point exists. Also, the concerns of the working class are real. Posts like this piss me off:

Another common misperception is that increased immigration has had a negative impact on wages for lower-skilled U.S.-born workers.


As Krueger writes, if we are serious about helping low-income workers, we need to act now on measures that can have a much larger impact, like “an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, an increase in the child tax credit, a boost in the minimum wage, and increased job training.”

When the working class has friends like neoliberals, it doesn't need enemies. Shit. For one thing, a glut of labor does deflate its wages; for another, fix the fucking safety net, enact those protective measures, before you demand that the working class not resent its losses. People do lose their jobs to illegals and people's wages are being depressed by a glut of labor, provided by illegals, in specific job sectors. To ask that the affected people not resent the beneficiaries of their losses, both guilty (employers who pocket the difference -- "pass the savings on to consumers", my ass) and innocent (the hard-working illegals who took the jobs) is just too much. It's callous, immoral, and stupid fucking politics. But that goes without saying, for one can detect the stench of "Decent" Leftism in some of the pro-immigration arguments: much like when the "Decent" Left whored themselves out to the conservatives on the Iraq issue, knowing that they'd never have to enlist in the military to actually fight their precious war, so too do they whore themselves out to the conservatives on the immigration issue as they callously disregard the ever-squeezed working class's concerns, knowing that they'll never lose their place in journalism or some other white-collar endeavor to an illegal.

Insult to injury to the working class is the racism strawman, which is like the mirror-image of Glenn Reynolds's blanket-smears coming from the other side. Not everyone against full Amnesty is racist, though some absolutely are. But maybe I'm coming at this from a different direction, so let me explain. The charges of racism that the Left carpetbombs the anti-immigration side with (instead of precision bombing where it is needed: precisely on the Minuteman movement), strikes me as very redolent of what the neoliberals have said to the middle-class victims of globalisation: their old argument that American textile workers, globalised out of their jobs and not very happy because of it, were somehow seething Sinophobes or that American techies, victims of grim transnational efficiency, somehow were racist against Indians. Those arguments were crap, total smear jobs, circulated by idiots and whores. They were also accompanied by patronising calls for "increased job training", nevermind how that is supposed to be done with a regime in charge that ideologically regards as repugnant such government-funded training.

Also recall that during the Portgate debacle that it was the Stupid Center, largely comprised of neoliberals (like, say, Tom Friedman) and "moderate" conservatives (like David Brooks) who sided with Bush against the superwingnuts and the Real Left in favoring the deal with Dubai -- on the grounds that it was "xenophobic" (euphemism for racist) to do otherwise. For neoliberals, Free Trade was more important than national security; now it's more apparent than ever that Free Trade and nearly-Free Labor are more important than the well-being of the American working class -- to disagree is to be "racist". The difference is, the Real Left saw through the bullshit of the former, but has been blinded to the latter.

Anyway, these are my biases. But maybe I'm wrong -- paying too much attention to Left Blogistan's active endorsement of the pro-immigration protests. Immanuel Wallerstein's glasses may be less foggy: he explains that the anti-immigration side is Populist, mostly right-wing and xenophobic but not totally so. And the pro-immigration side is comprised of:

two quite different groups. There are the business elites who welcome migrants in the belief that this enables them to keep wage rates down. And to some extent they are right. They thus want migrants to have the right to enter and to work. But they are not anxious that migrants have political rights, which would enable them to fight for higher remuneration. The second group is quite the opposite. It is composed of the targeted groups plus those on the left who favor increasing, not decreasing, social and political rights for the migrants.

He goes on to argue that the American Left has merely observed the pro-immigration demonstrations, much like the French Left merely observed the November rebellion of its country's Muslim underclass. Again, the former goes against my observations, but then maybe I haven't been looking at it clearly. Then, when the French government tried to exercise its own brand of neoliberal "reform" (which was, as is common, actually a reactionary rather than progressive measure) of repealing part of the French right to a job, the Left and the immigrant-underclass actively made common cause, and enough perhaps to stop the government's action:

As soon as the CPE was enacted, there was a major reaction - from the students, from the trade-unions, and yes, from the ghettos. The public demonstrations have been massive. The political struggle is in progress, but it seems likely that the government will be forced to back down. However, what is truly important about what's going on in France is that a backlash about the rights and economic opportunities of migrants has escalated into a backlash about neo-liberalism and its impact on the whole of the population. This means that the issue of concern primarily from a minority of the population has been transformed into an issue that concerns the majority of the population. What happened in France may well occur in the United States.

And that would be nice. A synthesis of social democracy and migrant concerns. The real elephant in the room with regard to America, immigration, and the working class is not racism but NAFTA, that gruesome gift of Clintonoid neoliberals that keeps on giving and giving in so many ways, from the disposession and subsequent diaspora of the Mexican peasant class, to the "giant sucking sound" of American jobs being vacuumed from the country. If Wallerstein is right, and I hope that he is, then the pro-immigration neoliberals might ultimately be the useful idiots in the demise of their most awful creation. And that would be sweet. So, in this light, I have to say I'm all about "Amnesty: Fuck Yeah," and if I could sing the Internationale in Spanish, I would.

PS -- Be sure this May Day to visit Lenin's Tomb. Also, read this obituary of the great John Kenneth Galbraith, of whom the Times helpfully relates the neoliberal opinion:

J. Bradford DeLong wrote in Foreign Affairs that Mr. Galbraith's lifelong sermon of social democracy was destined to fail in a land of "rugged individualism." He compared Mr. Galbraith to Sisyphus, endlessly pushing the same rock up a hill that always turns out to be too steep.

Sisyphus. Nice touch there. I think he means that it's pointless to try for a fair society -- which is all you really need to know about neoliberals.

PPS -- Very old quote, from pre-Sith Christopher Hitchens responding to the goody-goody plastic face of neoliberalism which belies its cold cold heart of racing-to-the-bottom laissez-faire:

[N]eoliberals seem to see the United States as a sort of family. They employ the word we a lot, as in "our" industry, "our" military, and "our" political process. As I was moved to say at their conference, a family is collectivist as a society and socialist as an economy. It reveres the individual but it operates, approximately, on the principle "from each according to his or her ability and to each according to his or her need." If these socialist values are good enough for the rearing of American children, why are they not good enough for American society? The fact that no panelist answered my tiny question suggest to me that neoliberals have, at best, only the cowardice of their convictions.