‘Something will crack’: supposed prophecy of Donald Trump goes viral Reply

This is an interesting article from 2016, published immediately after the Trump election, which references some of the criticisms of the Left that were raised by the postmodernist philosopher Richard Rorty in the 1990s. Rorty’s prediction was that by abandoning class politics in favor of cultural politics, the Left would push the working classes to the Right, as the working classes would come to recognize the Left as cultural enemies, and as unwilling to defend their economic interests.

I started noticing the same thing during the 1990s as well. But my “solution” was the polar opposite of Rorty’s. Rorty wanted to turn back the clock to old-fashioned liberalism of the New Deal era. Whereas I, then and now, wanted to move to a much further left position, i.e. a revolutionary left that recognizes neoliberals as the primary enemy, that understands that the “right-wing” represents a dying traditional elite and traditional culture, that rejects the statism of the Marxist Left, and that recognizes PC as a “left-wing of the middle class” ideology that is a fundamentally anti-working class and anti-revolutionary position.

An authentic revolutionary libertarian-left would not be about demanding more favors from the state or creating or more state activities (such as “single-payer healthcare” or “Green New Deal”). Instead, it would be about eliminating all state actions (from the county level to the international level) that undermine the self-determination of the poor and working classes (from zoning laws to the IMF and World Bank). Further, an authentic revolutionary libertarian-left would be unreservedly anti-imperialist (including opposition to so-called “humanitarian intervention” or “human rights imperialism”). The appropriate position on “social issues” for a revolutionary libertarian-left is the traditional anarchist one, i.e. individual sovereignty, free associations, voluntary communities, decentralized pluralism, bottom-up federalism and mutual aid (and not “political correctness,” “cultural Marxism,” “totalitarian humanism,” “progressive stacking,” or other crap.)

Richard Rorty wrote in 1998: ‘The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for.’


Richard Rorty wrote in 1998: ‘The nonsuburban=electorate will decide that the system has failedand start looking around for a strongman to vote for.’ Photograph: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

Americans trying to unpick the phenomenon of Donald Trump have turned to a late left-leaning academic, who predicted that old industrializeddemocracies were heading into a Weimar-like period in which populist movements could overturn constitutional governments.

In 1998, the late Stanford philosopher Richard Rorty published a small volume, Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America, that described a fracturing of the leftwing coalition that rendered the movement so dispirited and cynical that it invited its own collapse.


In the days after Trump’s electoral college victory over Hillary Clinton, passages from Rorty’s book went viral, shared thousands of times on social media. Rorty’s theories were then echoed by the New Yorker editor David Remnick in an interview with Barack Obama and essay on his presidency, and taken up across the internet as an explanation for Trump’s success.
In the book, Rorty predicted that what he called the left would come to give “cultural politics preference over real politics”. This movement would contribute to a tidal wave of resentment, he wrote, that would ricochet back as the kind of rancor that the left had tried to eradicate.
Rorty suggested that so long as “the proles can be distracted from their own despair by media-created pseudo-events, including the brief and bloody war, the super-rich will have little to fear”.
But as democratic institutions began to fail, workers would begin to realize that governments were “not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or jobs from being exported”, Rorty wrote. They would also realize that the middle classes – themselves desperately afraid of being downsized – would not come to their rescue.
“At that point,” Rorty wrote, “something will crack.”

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