Charlottesville and the Politics of Left Hysteria 7

Spot on analysis.

The Current Momemt

The murder of an anti-fascist protestor (and the less-noted deaths of two National Guardsmen) at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia has gripped the United States and many observers elsewhere. It has revived claims about the rise of a “fascist” threat in the West. This is simply hysterical, and symbolises the US left’s incapacity for reasoned political analysis, particularly since the election of Donald Trump.

The most striking aspect of the left’s hysteria over Charlottesville is its failure to understand that it won the US culture wars, not the right. By any reasonable measure, American attitudes have become steadily more liberal over time. A summary of opinion polling since the 1970s shows a “sweeping, fundamental change in norms regarding race”, with steady declines on practically every key measure of racism. Surveys on attitudes towards women reveal an identical decline in sexism. More belatedly, a similar transformation happened in attitudes towards LGBT people. Two-thirds of Americans now support gay marriage, up from just 40 percent in 2009, suggesting that campaigners for equal rights now find themselves kicking at a largely open door. The membership of vile organisations like the Ku Klux Klan has collapsed, from a peak of three to six million in the 1920s to around 6,000 today. Only 10 percent of the US public admit to supporting the “alt right” (only 4 percent “strongly”, while 83 percent say it is “unacceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views”. Too high and not high enough, one might say. But the fact is that the far-right is a lunatic fringe.

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7 comments

  1. The ironic thing is that right now should be the Left’s moment and they’re totally blowing it. Class divisions are the widest they’ve been in a century, people are tired of constant war, there is widespread support for reforming the criminal justice system, and the sitting Republican president is one of the most unpopular in history. But what does the Left want to focus on? Tearing down statues, transgender bathrooms, hate speech…This stuff is having the effect of pushing ordinary liberals and leftists to the right, and pushing ordinary conservatives and libertarians to the extreme right. Totally idiotic from a tactical point of view.

    I am just as disdainful of right-wing culture war hand wringing (“OMG! Tranny bathrooms!!?? What is the world coming to?”) as I am that of the leftist variety. I’m basically on the far left on most issues except the PC/SJW/Antifa nonsense. The problem is that the far Left nowadays is nothing but the PC/SJW/Antifa nonsense. A serious left opposition would be criticizing US foreign policy/war policy, the current state of class divisions, and the various features of the police state. Instead, the left is mostly indifferent to foreign policy, lukewarm on class issues, and interested in the police state only for purposes of race-baiting.

    The mainstream Democratic Party oriented Left is awful on war, economics, and constitutional rights, so they have to constantly push the identity politics stuff in order to have a constituency. Nowadays, it’s all just about getting even with whitey, men, Christians, or whomever. They’ve sold out to the neoliberal corporatists, arms manufacturers, and carceral state on every other issue of substance. It is true there still people on the far left that are interested in class issues (e.g. the “fight for $15” movement) but that stuff is more on the margins, and usually combined with an even more extreme PC than what is found in the left of center.

  2. “The ironic thing is that right now should be the Left’s moment and they’re totally blowing it.”

    The left is a high-low alliance so they’re not so much blowing it as they are working plan-B. Their plan-A was getting enough voters through the border with Hillary to shut down their political rivals for good at the national level. The alternative is to keep hysteria high enough while their rivals are in power that any attempted course-correction on this demographic victory are viewed as ultra-authoritarian instead of what they are: totally obvious, mundane, and necessary maintenance of a coherent civil society.

    “But what does the Left want to focus on? Tearing down statues, transgender bathrooms, hate speech…This stuff is having the effect of pushing ordinary liberals and leftists to the right, and pushing ordinary conservatives and libertarians to the extreme right.”

    This is premised on a few assumptions, the majority of which I think are sound. First, whites are political/moral tribalists by nature and most can be gaslit into staying with the left or at-least not joining the right by sheer force of perceived unpopularity. Secondly, non-whites and sexual minorities are hyper-tribal and require constant attention from the left in order to maintain a powerful political arsenal. Third and finally, what the leading edges of conservative or libertarian voters do is immaterial. The former hardly ever vote left and the latter are not numerous enough to swing anything.

    Ergo, the current strategy is a holding pattern. Keep the base riled up and angry such that every election is a crusade or pogrom against the heathens. Do so at the expense of people whose demographic future has already been written off by the majority of politicians and media left and right. It’s not exactly a safe bet, but it’s the safest bet they have if they want to remain on the longer-term course they plotted decades ago in post-Amnesty California (a wild success, transformed from a red state to a blue fortress in less than a generation).

    “I’m basically on the far left on most issues except the PC/SJW/Antifa nonsense. ”

    To understand the alt-right (and the rest of the world outside the progressive west) requires being able to pass an ideological turing test for someone with an identity above and beyond the modern atomic individual and his desire for material gratification and self-actualization.

    “A serious left opposition would be criticizing US foreign policy/war policy, the current state of class divisions, and the various features of the police state.”

    The left still disingenuously talks about foreign policy, but given the above observations about their base, foreign policy isn’t something that offers a particularly great return on investment. Anyone smart enough to care about foreign policy knows Obama and Clinton were on the same trajectory as Bush with respect to doing Likud and DoD bidding.

    “They’ve sold out to the neoliberal corporatists, arms manufacturers, and carceral state on every other issue of substance.”

    I’d only ask when you thought they weren’t sold out to these interests. Wealthy plutocrats have always been nominally “leftist,” in their social politics particularly. Such social liberalism was used to justify nearly every war of aggression the US took part in from the Civil War onward.

    • I don’t really disagree with much of the analysis you’ve outlined above. But where do you see the alt-right going from here? What do you think the alt-right will do in the future? And what would you want the alt-right to do?

      It has always seemed to me that as the Left becomes more powerful, and more extreme, the various components of the Right would venture to counter that with identity politics of their own, and extremism of their own. Hence, the rise of the alt-right. But I’m not convinced of the likelihood of significant political success for the alt-right in the future.

      For example, the religious right has never been able to put prayer back in school or ban abortion, which are probably much more popular causes than white nationalism. The evidence shows most white Americans, and perhaps a majority of other ethnic groups, favor some kind of limitations on immigration, including stricter limitations than what we have now. But favoring immigration restriction is not really the same thing as the alt-right or white nationalism. Do you think that will change?

      • I think you’re still putting too much emphasis on ideological categories. Alt-right has socialists and hoppean libertarians under the same roof. They’re not very ideological in the traditional political sense. It’s more of an ethnic self-defense league and will probably continue to operate as such. I couldn’t advise them precisely on what to do because I’m not familiar enough with their intra-ethnic politics, but the gist of it would be to find common ground with all their factions sufficient to get some kind of civil rights movement going before they’re politically eclipsed by this neoliberal janissary force.

        Political left and religious right are old nomenclature. They’re increasingly irrelevant as they are now folding into either the neoliberal vanguard or the dissident self-preservation camps. Immigration is just one part of the evolving tribal self-defense politics that’s going to come out of the white population as they become aware of their second-class status.

        • Well, one thing that I do find very interesting is that everything that was once definitively “American” (i.e. the white, middle class, Christian WASP identity) is in a state of decline. Not only will whites be just another minority in a generation or so, but Christianity is also declining even as atheism and non-Christian religions are growing. The middle class is being hollowed out by a range of factors as well.

          The point being that very soon I don’t think their will be anything even remotely approaching what it means to be “American.” and the attacks we see on Confederate memorials will likely commence against historic American monuments as well. In fact, the concept of “America” will probably mean very little to anyone, and everyone will instead identify with whatever “tribes” they belong to. Race is obviously a part of that, but so are a range of other things (for instance, I think eco-freaks will likely be an important tribe unto themselves in the same way that sexual minorities and racial minorities are now). I know you discount the role of ideologies, but it seems that people will ultimately transfer their loyalties to all kinds of things, race included, but also political, economic, religious, cultural, subcultural, criminal, etc affiliations.

          I actually think white nationalism will grow as these changes continue, but I don’t know that it will resemble anything that’s going on now or from the past. I’ve long suspected WN in the future would probably look more like the kinds of identity politics you find on the Left, and I think that will be true of other groups associated traditionally with the Right as well (e.g. whites, males, conservative Christians, social conservatives, cultural traditionalists, ethno-preservationatists, libertarians, gun owners, tax protestors,etc.). Society will simply be a collection of fragmented and competing interest groups. which is more or less how it is now anyway.

          • Americanized peoples of the middle and working classes were displaced as a matter of policy to make room for more efficient exploitation of imported labor. Christianity was a more recent victim of this process as the Churches of the lower classes were slow to adopt the politics of latent hostility to their members. Non-affiliation is growing as these former Christians leave what is effectively a redundant institution teaching much the same values as their public schools or television.

            Americanism is in it’s final days, though I doubt the nomenclature itself will be discarded any time soon. It is presently being re-defined into a more global-ideological-corporatist idea, but the details are still in flux. Neoliberals will jokey one another to define it’s more precise context after they win this present battle against reactionary self-defense among the legacy Americans.

            While some ideological tribes will persist, particularly among the upper class. They will be nothing compared to the powerful ethno-political interests that will consume the bulk of the public’s attention. Environmentalism is a distinctly white upper-middle-class confession. As such, the evisceration of the white middle class will severely cripple the power of the environmentalist movement, perhaps collapsing it into a reactionary position (as it was in the mid-20th century, more popular among fascists and monarchists than the liberals or left). Religious affiliation is another meaningful and powerful affiliation; however, with the exception of Islam, it is not historically powerful enough to be trans-ethnically influential.

            White nationalists won’t be allowed to engage in identity politics traditional to the left, nor will they be allowed to instantiate themselves on the liberal right. Society, increasingly fragmented, is increasingly united against them. And once they are eliminated, the political paradigm will be wholly unrecognizable to those who view politics through the lens of ideology as all remaining non-elite political constituencies will be part of avowed ethno-political blocs.

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