March 30, 2019

Where is the love? «Watershed Moment on the Mall» by Bill Martin

Bill Martin writes at Counterpunch (excerpts):

«… reductions that have become extreme in this period: science to technology, art to entertainment, love to sexuality, and politics to power.  All of these reductions are inherent in capitalism (as Marx argued long ago, regarding the reduction of all qualities to quantity), but in postmodern capitalism the reductions become both extreme and commonplace, nothing to even think about anymore.  This is a world where “judgment,” in the Kantian sense, becomes merely wanting or not wanting, there’s no question of analysis or understanding.  To use the Buddhist term, there’s no question of “discernment.”

«The reduction of real politics to mere power machination, which I also call anti-politics, gives rise to virulent hatred as the immediate go-to position when the opportunity arises.  The Washington Mall incident is a watershed in that it solidified the “immediate go-to” stance of the IdPol Left, both in the hatred and the sheer opportunism that was in evidence in this moment. …

«The problem is that, even those institutions that are created to give expression to the creative unfolding of human autonomy can come to stand in for this autonomy; thereby, people come to serve the institutions rather than the other way around.

«In pre-modern times in the West, this was mainly a problem of the Church; in modern times this is the problem of the State.  It seems entirely likely that the problem is especially difficult in the case of the secular state, because then there is not even the presumption of some transcendent basis for values, laws, or the workings of the state apparatus.  Now add to this a “politics” built around nothing more than mere interests and groups defined by the interests of identities, and the result is the sort of noxious brew we know today.

«What had been a fragmentary array of grasping human animals becomes weaponized for the sake of the powers and interests that operate within the State.  Indeed, the efforts of the Democratic Party and the IdPol Left have amounted to an institutionalization of self-righteous hate …

«To summarize, what we are seeing is human grasping ever-more completely molded to the power imperatives of postmodern capitalism.  In “The Fourth Hypothesis,” I argued that we are not seeing, with the Trump Disruption, anything like the truly political response (not reaction) that is needed; perhaps, though, we are seeing a possible bridge, or set of bridges, toward this response.  These possible bridges are what the immediate hateful response is aimed at shutting down: don’t even think for a moment that there is an alternative to neoliberal globalism—in fact, don’t even think, don’t ever think, period.  Just give full reign to your hate, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re not one of the deplorables.

«(Of course, for white males, your facial expression, your posture, or anything, really, may turn you into a deplorable and an object of hatred at a moment’s notice.  Whatever, that’s cool.) …

«[T]he ruling forces in U.S. society have embraced Identity Politics, as the best way of presenting a “liberal, democratic” cover for neoliberal, finance-capital centered, globalist capitalism.  The “left,” congealed behind the anti-Trump movement and, in reality, the Democratic Party (whatever the left may say or tell themselves), has fallen hook, line, and sinker for this ideology.  In its media and other manifestations, among ordinary people, this ideology appears most often in a merely “reactive” form, and in fact is quite often outright reactionary.  There is no emancipatory content to it whatsoever. …

«Tucker Carlson spoke to those who would pronounce judgment on the Covington boys from on high:

‘What’s so fascinating about all these attacks is how inverted they are. These are high school kids from Kentucky. Do they really have more privilege than Alex Kranz from Gizmodo? Probably not, in fact probably much less. They’re far less privileged in fact than virtually everyone who has called for them to be destroyed on the basis that they have too much privilege. Consider Karen Swisher, opinion columnist from the New York Times. Swisher went to Princeton, Georgetown, and Columbia. She’s become rich and famous by toadying up to tech CEOs. … Is she more privileged than the boys at Coventry Catholic high school? Of course she is. Maybe that’s why she feels the need to call them Nazis, which she did, repeatedly.

‘So what’s really going on here? It’s not really about race. …

‘This is about people in power protecting their power, and justifying their power by destroying and mocking those weaker than they are. Why? Simple. Our leaders have not improved the lives of most people in America. They can’t admit that, because it would discredit them. So instead they attack the very people they’ve failed.

‘The problem with Kentucky, they’ll tell you, isn’t the bad policies that hurt the people who live there. It’s that the people who live there are immoral because they’re bigots. They deserve their poverty and opioid addiction. They deserve to die young. That’s what our leaders tell themselves. And now that’s what they’re telling us. Just remember: they’re lying when they do.’ (Tucker Carlson Tonight, opening segment, 1.21.19) …
«[P]ower either destroys or assimilates what is outside of it, unless prevented from doing so. What seems unprecedented, though, and yet now “typical” and normalized for our “New Egypt” (Weber), totally-administered society (Adorno), society of the spectacle (Debord) is that neoliberal power now has well-ordered career tracks for leftists of various kinds, though especially for those who have attached their leftism or supposed radicalism to various “identities.” …

«Some new kinds of radicalism came out of this diversification, and much of that has been good, too, but there has also been an important element missing in this scene—“diversity” here meant gender, race, and sexuality, but not class.  Indeed, just as the rise of the diversity bureaucracy parallels the rise of the new administrative class in the university, the rise of a more diverse faculty and student body parallels a reinforcement of the existing class structure. This is of course not surprising, since it is one well-established imperative of “higher” education to maintain class structure and to create barriers to any shifting of this structure.

«Again, there is a great deal to talk about here, but for present purposes let us leave it that the diversity bureaucracy, with Title IX and similar administrative offices at its head, has come into existence to manage this new state of affairs, and in a way that actually coopts a great deal of “left” and even “radical” rhetoric of the Sixties, but bends this rhetoric to the maintenance of the neoliberal State and economy.

«The role of State Feminism is crucial here, and we might characterize this non-emancipatory “feminism” as what gets us from Simone de Beauvoir to Hillary Clinton and beyond. …

«Mao Zedong enunciated the idea that revolutionaries need to base themselves on the politically advanced, win over the middle, and isolate the backward. … Who are “the advanced” and “the middle” today? That is a really tough question. What may not be as tough is to identify “the backward.”  Certainly, on the “right,” or among “conservatives,” there are some people who are hardened racists, misogynists, homophobes, and even “fascists” (to the extent this last term makes sense without a mass fascist movement).  I think there are fewer of these hardened reactionaries than the IdPol Left likes to think, and I mean “likes” here in the sick sense in which this “Left” goes on about racism, fascism, etc.  They do like the idea that there are great many hardened and hateful reactionaries out there, especially among the “white working class,” because it justifies what the IdPol Left is about: hating most people, hating the working class, thinking most people are stupid, thinking they themselves are so bloody smart, thinking they are part of some sort of “Resistance” or “anti-fascist movement.”  In their own self-righteous dogmatism and self-aggrandizement, then, I would say the Democrats and the IdPol Left are the backward of this moment.

«This world is topsy-turvy, we cannot rely on the conventional categories of “left” and “right,” etc.  And we have to be especially wary of career- and academic-leftists (and Hollywood-types) who are overly interested in increasing their own power, prestige, visibility, or paychecks, and where their ideologies and even personas are shaped by these interests.

[[[[ o ]]]]

«It’s a resistance that needs “fascists” to make sense of itself. Nothing good will come of it. …

«The overriding theme here, in this whole question of the Washington Mall incident, and in addressing these comments, has to be the readiness of those who presently identity as left to have hate and vitriol as their immediate go-to reaction when it comes to anything they disagree with. …

«[R]eal politics comes from an affirmation that is not simply the negation of a negation.  Yes, the latter is in play, and has to be dealt with, but the affirmation of a creative human act (whether it be in politics, science, love, or art) has to exceed the work of the negative. …

«The IdPol Left (and Hillary Clinton’s noxious “Love trumps Hate” bullshit and the way all the Dems got fired up by it) vastly overestimates—for their own purposes—the amount of hate involved in motivating the so-called “right” and the deplorables.  This is just self-justification for the IdPol Left and liberals to hate even more in return. …

«That the IdPol Left needs “fascism” and “white supremacy” in order to make sense of itself, and that a white male who has been bullied by other white males in his life has an emotional reaction to what he thinks he sees in the face of a white 16-year-old boy is not a basis for understanding anything in the world today.  Indeed, these sorts of reactions ought to make anyone interested in an actual, critical examination of things question this liberal and left narrative.  It’s the sort of need for fascism and these feeling-based reactions that have made the left dupes of the Democratic Party.

«Of course there is real white supremacy in this world, in this society.  But I think there is far less of it in actual white people than what the IdPol Left narrative claims. There is resentment that has been intentionally stirred up in many white people, especially white working-class people, by both the IdPol Left and a handful of truly racist agitators, for their own purposes.  There are many people from the working class who have had it with being told they are deplorable and worthless and simply shit, and now they seem to be told this not only by privileged white liberals and other privileged professionals and academics, but also by this so-called “left,” such as represented by my former Kasama comrades.  Who does all of this serve?  It would be very hard to show that this serves any emancipatory purpose whatsoever. …

«But what good and decent person has the immediately hateful reaction that so many liberals and leftists did toward Nick Sandmann? —and, by the way, it seems that overwhelmingly, the people who had this reaction are themselves white and middle class.»

In this series:
The Christine Blasey Ford Episode: State Feminism, the Worthless “Left,” and Liberal Delusions
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
Watershed Moment on the Mall