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."

Eat It, Brad DeLong*

IOZ is articulate on a subject near and dear to me:

Every farmer I've known, and there are a lot of them in Western PA, has loved farming and sacrificed greatly in order to keep farming despite the best efforts of state-subsidized industrial agriculture to deprive them of their vocation. The idea that families gave up their farms because "manual agricultural labor sucks" is laughable. The fact that your evidence of this is dubious publicity stunt designed to highlight the no-duh truth that people habituated to a certain level of income will refuse to work rather than accept work paying them too far below their accustomed wage is indicative that you don't know what the fuck you're talking about. The whole sordid history of neoliberal intervention in the "developing world" is the decimation of subsistence economies, in which peoples produce locally most of what they need (subsistence doesn't necessitate "poverty," except to Nice Liberals and World Bank officials), via economic, environmental, and actual warfare, and the subsequent forced replacement of self-provision with economies of consumtion, in which people leave "manual agricultural work" for the sweat shop and the rural farm for the urban slum. The idea that you chalk these things up to individual choice rather than appreciating how they are necessitated by political and economic context only displays that it is you who holds the romantic notions, and the fact that any fifth-grader with a half-read copy of his Steinbeck can see the glaring flaws at the heart of the notion that agriculture stinks and it's great to get people off the farm and on the road ought to embarrass you.


*By Brad DeLong I do mean the personally decent but ideologically execrable blogger/economist/free trade-enthusiast. But I also use "Brad DeLong" as an ankle-biting (at least to him, I hope) synecdoche to personify the type of cultural elitist Democrat whose "libertarianism with a human face" political economy, ethnocentrism (hypocritical at that: they love to accuse non-fans of their preferred policies of bigotry to the third worlders those policies make miserable but allegedly more wealthy), relative wealth (by which I mean personal insulation to the economic stresses their preferred policies have put on their less-fortunate countrymen) and total intolerance of anyone to their political left has, due to this type's total hegemony among the Democratic Party, utterly destroyed its ability to pursue the populist agenda needed to restore this country.

Why does the Democratic Party in general and the Obama Administration in particular suck? "Brad DeLong"!

Why has "social democracy" been so dumbed-down that it now means little more policy-wise than a progressive income tax and increased education spending? "Brad DeLong"!

Why does America not make anything any more? "Brad DeLong"!

How did the terms "leftist" and "liberal" get so diluted that they now mean, basically, "anyone who isn't a bigot -- at least, based on gender, ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation; beating up the lower classes is okey-dokey -- and who also agrees with the no-duh fact that Donald Luskin and Jonah Goldberg are stupid fucking idiots"? "Brad DeLong"!

Why does the Democratic elite constantly kick the Democratic base in the teeth? "Brad DeLong"! Why does it politically kiss the collective ass of the Wealthy Criminal Class at every opportunity? "Brad DeLong"! Why does it constantly search for a "good faith" opponent on the right with whom it can compromise -- or to whom it can cave -- but at the same time demonize, stonewall, or betray everyone to its left? "Brad DeLong"!

Why are desperate immigrants from Latin America pouring into our country? What happened to their countries' economies? "Brad DeLong"!

Why are western companies moving their manufacturing base to China where goods are made in working conditions somewhere between those of 19th century Dickensian squalor, the Gulag, and some Nineteen Eighty-Four nightmare? "Brad DeLong"! Have you seen the pollution in China? What kind of ecocidal nutbag would want to help export our basest model of production and consumption, the most wasteful on Earth, to a country of two billion people? "Brad DeLong"!

Why is 2010 gonna be a disaster for the Democrats? "Brad DeLong"! Why is the Tea Party able to gain the sympathy of so many economically-shafted Americans whose welfare it obviously will not improve? "Brad DeLong"!

Etc. Etc.