Reap the whirlwind

But muh rain­bow co­ali­tion of mar­gin­al­ized iden­tit­ies will smash the kyri­archy as we sprinkle ma­gic di­versity pix­ie dust over every­one and cre­ate a shiny lib­er­al Star­bucks uto­pia. Yes­ter­day was 18 Bru­maire CCXXV ac­cord­ing to the French Re­pub­lic­an cal­en­dar, by the way. Just a happy co­in­cid­ence, I’m sure.

Left-lib­er­al “pro­gress­ives” did this to them­selves. This is ex­actly what re­treat­ing in­to cul­tur­al (i.e., iden­tity) polit­ics, while abandon­ing class as the basis for a so­cially trans­form­at­ive co­ali­tion, gets you. If you make no at­tempt to ap­peal to work­ers qua work­ers, the Right will in­ev­it­ably make in­roads with­in that group. As they in­deed have. So I don’t pity any­one who is ser­i­ously dis­traught by these res­ults. Blame for Trump can­not be laid solely at the door­step of “crack­ers” and hicks; he did sig­ni­fic­antly bet­ter among blacks and Lati­nos than Rom­ney, his Re­pub­lic­an pre­de­cessor.

Most anti-af­firm­at­ive ac­tion shit is totally right-wing, so I will be­gin by say­ing that I in no way share the polit­ics of most people who look to cri­ti­cize it. But it’s ul­ti­mately a cos­met­ic meas­ure, which cre­ates a black and minor­ity bour­geois­ie and polit­ic­al elite (“black faces in high places,” etc.). When coupled with gen­er­al eco­nom­ic stag­na­tion and wage de­pres­sion, grow­ing in­come in­equal­ity and job loss, it’s a re­cipe for re­vanchist ma­jor­it­ari­an back­lash. Edu­cated lib­er­al elites ex­pressed noth­ing but con­tempt for the work­ing poor in fly­over coun­try, whom they vil­i­fied as “one re­ac­tion­ary mass” — i.e., a “bas­ket of de­plor­ables” — of ig­nor­ant ra­cists.

In such an at­mo­sphere, even the slight­est over­ture to the work­ing class was bound to res­on­ate enorm­ously. Here, of course, the ap­peal was made us­ing xeno­phobic and hate­ful rhet­or­ic, ex­ploit­ing long­stand­ing ra­cial di­vi­sions and cap­it­al­iz­ing on deeply-felt anxi­et­ies. Plus, the lack of any ap­peal to the work­ing class by the Demo­crats also meant that poor minor­it­ies were not en­er­gized to vote for them. Smug, latte-sip­ping lib­er­als just res­ted on their laurels, se­cure in their be­lief that vic­tory was as­sured by simple demo­graph­ic shifts. All this while of­fer­ing noth­ing to work­ing blacks or Lati­nos, and prom­ising con­tin­ued war on those parts of the globe from which the refugee crisis first arose.

Feel­ing bad for my all my com­rades in Flor­ida, Michigan, Ohio, Ari­zona, and North Car­o­lina right now, who will in­ev­it­ably be blamed for God-Em­per­or Trump. This dra­mat­ic de­feat really can’t be chalked up to swing state voters, however. Her fate was sealed the mo­ment she was nom­in­ated in Au­gust. Clin­ton’s cam­paign had the air of a coron­a­tion from the start, des­pite al­most los­ing her pre­destined status as party nom­in­ee to a ram­bling old man (and self-pro­claimed so­cial­ist) who no one even heard of be­fore sum­mer 2015. Now it was #Her­Turn; the DNC saw to that.


Not gonna lie: the Schaden­freude of watch­ing all the Hil­lary sup­port­ers cry­ing at her planned cel­eb­ra­tion party was pretty ex­hil­ar­at­ing. It al­most ap­proached the Kan­tian dy­nam­ic sub­lime, in the strict sense of the term — tfw there are forces swirling all around you that could crush you like a bug, but you’re sus­pen­ded in it, and can feel its awe­some majesty. See­ing her long-held pres­id­en­tial am­bi­tions crushed by a blither­ing buf­foon who re­sembles a Chee­to felt like a mor­bid, dizzying, asymp­tot­ic as­cent. Fuck­ing hil­ari­ous. Peals of laughter be­fore the void.

Won­der if we will see any buy­er’s re­morse from the mem­bers of the In­ter­na­tion­al So­cial­ist Or­gan­iz­a­tion who voted in fa­vor of Jill Stein’s mys­tic heal­ing crys­tals. Such Wed­nes­day-morn­ing elec­tion­eer­ing is mis­placed, however, as she wasn’t even a round­ing er­ror in many of the places that Trump won. And John­son siphoned off more Re­pub­lic­an votes from Trump than Stein took Demo­crat­ic voters away from Clin­ton, any­how. Demo­crats still haven’t ex­or­cised the ghost of Nader from 2000, and are still try­ing find any ex­cuse not to look them­selves in the mir­ror.

Van Jones even continued to whip up Mc­Carthy­ite para­noia late last night with his sug­ges­tion that Putin some­how rigged the elec­tion. Trump is just a Rus­si­an pup­pet or stooge, Van Jones in­sisted, a Man­churi­an can­did­ate. He was the op­pon­ent the Demo­crats wanted from the start, though. They used all their me­dia con­tacts to cyn­ic­ally pro­mote Trump’s “Pied Piper” can­did­acy, fan­ning the flames of hate, so that Amer­ic­ans could wake up the next morn­ing the day after the elec­tion con­grat­u­lat­ing them­selves that as aw­ful as Hil­lary was, at least that guy wasn’t go­ing to be pres­id­ent.

Well guess what… You reap what you sow.

Re­gard­less, any ef­fort to or­gan­ize mov­ing for­ward will have to res­ist the tempta­tion to re­build from with­in the Demo­crat­ic Party, which for more than fifty years has been called, with some justice, “the grave­yard of all so­cial move­ments.” The biggest obstacle to real polit­ic­al or­gan­iz­a­tion in the United States since the De­pres­sion has al­ways been the Demo­crats.

I close with these im­mor­tal lines from Marx and En­gels:

Even where there is no pro­spect of achiev­ing their elec­tion the work­ers must put up their own can­did­ates to pre­serve their in­de­pend­ence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their re­volu­tion­ary po­s­i­tion and party stand­point to pub­lic at­ten­tion. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the demo­crats, who will main­tain that the work­ers’ can­did­ates will split the demo­crat­ic party and of­fer the forces of re­ac­tion the chance of vic­tory. All such talk means, in the fi­nal ana­lys­is, that the pro­let­ari­at is to be swindled. The pro­gress which the pro­let­ari­an party will make by op­er­at­ing in­de­pend­ently in this way is in­fin­itely more im­port­ant than the dis­ad­vant­ages res­ult­ing from the pres­ence of a few re­ac­tion­ar­ies in the rep­res­ent­at­ive body.

Regardless of last night’s outcome, I would have posted this last excerpt.


Ad­dendum: My friend Spen­cer Sun­shine pos­ted this note about the “spon­tan­eous” protest marches that have ma­ter­i­al­ized in re­ac­tion to Trump’s elec­tion. He’s pretty much spot on:

I can’t be­lieve people are hold­ing demon­stra­tions today. What in the world is the point? Trump won. Now is the time to es­tab­lish emer­gency re­sponse struc­tures for ra­cist and state at­tacks, and plans for what to do if Trump ac­tu­ally tries to round up Muslims and un­doc­u­mented people. Get real.

Hold­ing demon­stra­tions today just shows that the left is not a polit­ic­al move­ment which aims to change so­ci­ety, but is es­sen­tially a nar­ciss­ist­ic self-help move­ment pro­jec­ted in­to the so­cial realm.

If there are to be any demon­stra­tions held today, they should be demon­stra­tions against the Demo­crat­ic Party. Pro­pos­ing out­right se­ces­sion and with­draw­al from it and the cre­ation of re­volu­tion­ary mass work­ers’ party. Any­thing else is just hys­ter­ic­al lib­er­al­ism. You know most of these people wouldn’t be out on the streets if Clin­ton had won.

Ju­dith But­ler pre­dict­ably offered up the aca­dem­ic coun­ter­part to the act­iv­ist re­sponse of scan­dal­ized lib­er­als. Someone in a group I’m in pos­ted the fol­low­ing ex­cerpt from But­ler’s “State­ment,” pub­lished earli­er this morn­ing on the e-flux web­site:

The word “dev­ast­a­tion” doesn’t come close to the wide­spread feel­ing of the mo­ment among those I know… Who is this angry and nul­li­fy­ing pub­lic who would rather be ruled by a mad man than a wo­man? Who is this angry and ni­hil­ist­ic pub­lic who blames the dev­ast­a­tions of neo­lib­er­al­ism and de­reg­u­lated cap­it­al­ism on the Demo­crat­ic Party can­did­ate?

Pre­sum­ably the same pub­lic that saw her hus­band pass NAF­TA and re­peal Glass-Steagall, with her out­spoken ap­prov­al and sup­port. The same pub­lic that then saw her go on to praise the TPP as “the gold stand­ard” of trade treat­ies. Any­way, I di­gress. But­ler con­tin­ues:

We have to think now about pop­u­lism, right and left, and miso­gyny — how deep it really goes. For bet­ter or worse, Hil­lary is iden­ti­fied with es­tab­lish­ment polit­ics. But what should not be un­der­es­tim­ated is the deep-seated rage and an­ger against Hil­lary, par­tially the res­ult of a rank miso­gyny and the re­vul­sion against Obama, fueled by long sim­mer­ing ra­cism. Trump has un­leashed pent up an­ger against fem­in­ists, figured as cen­sori­ous po­lice, against mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, viewed as a threat to white priv­ileges.

Chalk­ing wide­spread dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion up to ra­cism, pure and simple, is clearly mis­taken. The rust­belt and sun­belt voters who swept Trump in­to of­fice last night are many of the same who helped elect Obama eight years ago. If these people were all ir­re­deem­able ra­cists, they would have nev­er voted for a black pres­id­ent. Many of them did so twice. At­trib­ut­ing the pub­lic’s an­ti­pathy to­ward Hil­lary to sex­ism ig­nores that wo­men didn’t turn out in big num­bers to sup­port her. Fifty-three per­cent of white wo­men voted for Trump.

Demo­crat­ic pun­dits nev­er even en­ter­tained the idea that the re­jec­tion of Hil­lary might have had something to do with her polit­ics, rather than the fact she’s a wo­man. Was the only reas­on that Thatch­er was so re­viled due to her gender?

15 thoughts on “Reap the whirlwind

  1. Bang on. Thanks Ross.

    I would add that I see no intellectual capacity on the left in either the UK or US that suggests that the advance of the right will be turned back. Corbyn has nothing to say that anyone can understand, and the Democrats, as you say, are broken.

    Dark times.

  2. Oh yes and we said the same when Modi was elected Prime Minister of India in 2014; then too we witnessed the sublime tears of the democrats.

  3. Sadly, without the very unifying effect of long moribund trade union and progressive left movements of yore, the fractured identity-based opposition to the horrors to come will fail. We, the working masses, divided into so many sub-groups with so many sub-agendas, have failed to appreciate the age-old mantra of the powerful elites, that is the more divided your underlings, the easier it is to rule. I am a “G” (and a cis), I suppose just an ingredient in the LGBT2-SQQA alphabet soup, now being even further subdivided and fighting over our spicy new pronouns.

    In the meantime, that very elite is now united as never before, holding the presidency, the Senate, the House, and soon enough the Supreme Court, all to be aided and abetted by the media, once they finish huffing and puffing about the very man they provided with hundreds of millions worth of free publicity.

    We may be seeing the last breath of life of America’s so-called democracy, Itself born out of slavery, teething on the corpses of its native peoples, coming of age with a civil war and imperial expansion under the rubrics of manifest destiny and American exceptionalism.

    Speaking of mantras, Hillary and Obama this morning are crowing about the nature of the world’s greatest democracy in the greatest country in the world and that, really, we are all on the same team – giving these great pacifiers to the masses who have been sucking on such delusions for generations while having their diapers stolen from under them.

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  8. Ross, thanks for this. I really couldn’t agree more and might I say, you’re writing is just wonderful.

    What’s the reaction that you get when you raise these critiques of IDpol? How do you cope with the scolding? It’s something I’m really intellectually struggling with right now. Also, can you recommend any places where I can find more leftist critiques IDpol? I found a brilliant one this week from the Situationist writer Ken Knabb.

    Thanks for your work,

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