Friday, September 10, 2010

Everything's Wrong

Buried within an important story about the Fourth Amendment's further spiral down the toilet is this perhaps more important story -- or rather, the start of one:

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month's decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people's. The court's ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night.

Judge Kozinski is a leading conservative, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, but in his dissent he came across as a raging liberal. "There's been much talk about diversity on the bench, but there's one kind of diversity that doesn't exist," he wrote. "No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges, or as state judges for that matter." The judges in the majority, he charged, were guilty of "cultural elitism."

Neither are any truly poor people put forth for political office, nor are any poor people likely to be journalists, professional activists, political delegates, academics, or... indeed, BLOGGERS (hence the sadly few but righteous sneers at the "creative class" in 2008, and the many hysterical reactions thereto). The power and information structure of this country -- or, more to my point, the portion of society which has historical claim to looking after the interests of the poor -- is now totally incapable of advancing the agenda of the poor and working classes. This is why the Democratic Party is hostile to populism, and the Republican Party (especially its Tea Party adjunct) is careful to use it only cynically, in thorough bad faith. Or put another way:

The real not that the rich have become liberal. It's that American liberalism itself no longer feels the need to espouse an economic agenda that is decidedly different from that espoused by conservatives. Economics has been surgically removed from the realm of politics and transplanted into a technocratic robot that is run by the Federal Reserve and its acolytes. At least for the time being, most liberal politicians don't seem to miss it.

Populism is boxed and the poor, working, and (now, increasingly,) middle classes will continue to be shafted by the supposed "Working Man's Party", the Obama Administration, the liberal intelligentsia [sic], the activist organizations, and the blogosphere because the Democratic base refuses to hold people accountable -- by which I mean, it refuses to fire, shun, abandon, or "purge" the very same elements that have abused it for so long.

What to do? Well, unless you're comfy class cultural elitist, emigration's probably not a possibility. But there are alternatives, no doubt futile but perhaps worth something and I don't mean for spite value: Primary Obama. Vote Green -- or whatever left third party you're able to. Divert whatever resources possible from orgs that advance social liberal agendas to those that emphasize leftwing economic solutions and the class issue, and if you catch any shit for that from the cultural elitists remind them that the first best way to solve the "isms" everyone cares about (but they monomaniacally) is to stop pissing on the poor whose "culturally retrograde" element (a minority they take care to mistake for the whole) they fear and loathe so much that they elevate it above every other concern; for instance, support unions. Complain to editors and producers about wingnut and Sensible Liberal pundits and writers. Stop advancing the careers and prestige of bloggers who have demonstrated a pattern of hostility to the left -- a rule of thumb would be anyone who supported the Iraq War and anyone who critiques populism from the right (incidentally, these are often the same people, isn't that right, Matty Yglesias?); also, anyone who reaches immediately for the fallacy of undistributed middle -- iow, who characterizes your aim of accountability as an urge for purity control, or anyone who characterizes a left-of-neoliberal economic agenda as "communist".

And then there is this, which a desperate populist might strategically support, at least as a bluff. For years now, the politically liberal branch of Academe has made common cause with the Wealthy Criminal Class, both consciously and literally (in the sense of economics departments) and unknowingly and figuratively (in the sense of sneering at the working class's cultural tastes -- or alleged lack thereof, and in the sense of fearing and loathing the working class's social conservatism). Tenure is middle class welfare. Since so many tenured "liberals" have, for reasons of culture or reasons of economic wingnuttery, helped the right wing destroy the the social safety net, it's only fitting that the poor, who have been paying the price, should return the favor: "You supported taking away my welfare, now I'll support taking away yours."