I came across this recent statement from a leftist activist. The comments below were made as part of a wider argument that opposition to PC is nothing more special pleading by reactionaries who merely want to be exempt from criticism, which is the standard leftist reply to criticisms of “wokeness.”
No that’s the thing: the right won near-total political power & they still can’t be happy because they lack cultural hegemony. They wanted power by any means & now they have it & it’s ashes in their mouths b/c they get no respect, everybody despises them, it’s their monkey’s paw.
These comments are a perfect example of someone who comes close to scoring the winning touchdown and drops the ball as the last second. The USA is certainly a “far-right” nation in the realm of foreign policy (a Romanesque uber-imperialism). The US class system has moved past mere center-right neoliberalism toward a full-blown right-wing plutocracy of the kind found in pre-modern and contemporary “Third World” societies. The US has the largest police state of any country that is a formal democracy, and the highest incarceration rate of any nation (with the possible exceptions of China and North Korea, two outright totalitarian regimes). If you define “right-wing” as retrograde authoritarianism (as most leftists do) then, yes, the right has “near-total political power” in the US.
Within this context, PC culture is often presented by its proponents as an honorable effort to stand up on behalf of the historically or contemporarily marginalized and oppressed in the favor of overwhelming reactionary authoritarianism, with “wokeness” being a glimmer of light in a sea of tyranny. But have these folks ever considered the question of how it is that, if the wider society is so retrograde, PC culture has taken root in core institutions so easily (see James Lindsay)?
Who would our “woke” friends guess might have made the following statement?
“Women make up one half of society. Our society will remain backward and in chains unless its women are liberated, enlightened and educated.”
One might think these are the words of some gender studies professor. Actually, it’s a quote from Saddam Hussein. Why would Saddam, not exactly a liberal guy, make such a statement? Because he knew that to have a modern industrial state, it is not possible for half the popular to be illiterate and unemployable. Advanced industrial-technological states require skilled workers, managers, bureaucrats, technocrats, technicians, professionals, scientists, consumers, students, and taxpayers. An authoritarian state also needs soldiers, policemen, and prison guards. A formal democracy like the US needs voters, clients for state services and public sector agencies, and constituents for political parties and lobbyist groups.
Where are all of the bodies needed to fill these positions going to be found? Obviously, by integrating more and more previously excluded or marginalized population groups into ruling class institutions, including both domestic populations and those imported from elsewhere. But how does a state maintain control over a society that is increasingly diverse and fragmented into quarreling groups? By establishing institutional policies that compel assimilation while loudly proclaiming fidelity to multiculturalism (that’s how they did it in the USSR as well), buying the loyalty of different groups through political bribery or a spoils system, and criminalizing or sanctioning those who oppose compulsory assimilation (Singapore, a semi-fascist country whose flag is modeled on that of the British Union of Fascists, also has strict “hate speech” laws).
Totalitarian humanism merely reflects the ideological needs of a postmodern, postindustrial, cybereconomy-driven technocratic state that seeks to maintain hegemony in globalized economic order in which it is the senior partner. “Rainbow Statism” is merely an expression of these needs of the power elite.