Radicalism is on the rise in American politics

Another article by Kotkin that is consistent with my own analysis of domestic US politics as well. Domestic US politics at present can be divided into four basic factions:

The Dominant Faction. Centrist neoliberals representing the rising techno-oligarchy, Wall Street and Kotkin’s “new clerisy” embedded in the managerial class, academia, and the media, and represented by politicians like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The Rising Left-Progressive Faction. The left-leaning sectors that are a rising force in the Democratic Party as described by Kotkin in the article below.

The Declining Republican Establishment. The odd alliance of the traditional WASP American plutocracy, right-wing Zionist billionaires, and right-wing Trokskyist neocons that dominated US politics during the George W. Bush era.

Trumpian Populist-Nationalists. Elements within the elite who oppose both the dominant faction and the Republican establishment, and who prefer a more Reaganesque approach to economic policy and a Nixonian/Kissingerian realist approach to foreign policy, that is primarily interested in countering the rise of the Eastern axis in international relations. To understand the populist-nationalist “base” that supports this faction, one need only read Marx’s 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon or my own critiques of “movement conservatism” (see here and here).

By Joel Kotkin

Orange County Register

The Republican Party’s road to the 2018 mid-terms looks increasingly like Pickett’s Charge, the Confederate assault on fixed Union positions that marked the high-water mark for the southern cause. After achieving its greatest domination of elective office in 80 years, the GOP seems likely to get slaughtered.

As at Gettysburg, bad generalship, an unpopular, clumsy Donald Trump, constitutes one cause for the imminent Republican decline. But the officer corps is also failing, as the congressional delegation seems determined to screw its middle class base in favor the remnant of those corporate plutocrats who finance their campaigns and the Goldman Sachs crowd to whom Trump has outsourced his economic policy. Steve Bannon’s support for demagogues like Roy Moore can only further weaken the party’s appeal, rapidly turning much of the business community, out of sheer embarrassment, into de facto Democrats.

Only one thing can save the Republicans from themselves: the Democrats. Although they have shown remarkable unity as part of the anti-Trump resistance, the Democrats themselves suffer deep-seated divisions. Most critically they are moving left at a time when more voters seek something more in the middle. Certainly this progressive tilt has done little to reverse their own declining popularity; public approval of the party has sunk to the lowest levels in a quarter century.



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  1. A few other helpful works from Kotkin:


    This book, from 2010, provides a good overview of trends in terms of demography, economic development, and culture. A problem with it is that Kotkin doesn’t incorporate his own class analysis into the book as much as he could have, and he also fails to address the growing political fractiousness in the USA. My guess is that he suspects growing class divisions will work themselves out through economic growth and technological development, and that the pendulum will swing back from the current polarized political climate towards the center. He may be overly optimistic.


    This work is 25 years old but is fairly prescient. Kotkin argues that even as traditional states and national borders break down, “tribes” based on other characteristics like ethnicity, religion, and culture may reemerge as a transnational form of social organization. Kotkin’s analysis is very consistent with the fourth generation warfare analysis of the ongoing process of people transferring their primary loyalties away from their national states and towards non-state entities.


    A good discussion of the role of cities in economic and cultural development. A helpful work for pragmatic anarchist proponents of the city-state system like ATS.

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