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View Diary: In defense of 20-something progressive bloggers like myself (132 comments)

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  •  Yes and no. The new (0+ / 0-)

    left's politics was primarily geared to white collar workers around issues of social identity.  While the advances in abstract equality were certainly welcome, this politics was catostrophic for the left because it basically split and factionalized the population, diminishing the power of the left over all.  We've been struggling with this electorially since Reagan.  White workers and middle class people no longer felt they were represented by the democratic party because economic justice and politics was taken off the table.  What we need is a politics that melds issues of social politics with a robust populist economic politics.

    •  No and yes. (0+ / 0-)

      I don't disagree w. your assessment of "what we need" but, at the same time, the 'old left' democratic party of the late 60/early 70s had a lot of problems too.  I don't see a President Scoop Jackson as setting too progressive a tone.  Huge swaths of the official democratic party were supporting the Vietnam War and even the diarist points out that the New Dealers were basically able to hold their coalition together through excluding blacks.  Factionalism does suck, but I think the blame lies as much with old labor's pointed refusal to accomodate women, gays, ethnic minorities, etc. as it is with the new left's focus on identity.

      It was the blue collar democrats who voted for Regan in droves.

      •  The question would (0+ / 0-)

        be that of why they voted for Reagan in droves?  They did so because they had increasingly been abandoned by government.  Insofar as they'd been abandoned by politics they turned to reactionary social issues and voted on those grounds.  We like to ask "what's the matter with Kansas?" and smugly suggest that these people are voting agaonst their own interests, but where both basically endorse the same destructive economic philosophy there's no longer a set of interests belonging to politics.  As a result, all politics becomes about social issues, with the two parties using different sets of social issues to manage the population while more or less pursuing the same economic policies.  I agree with your points about women and other minorities, but also believe we undercut ourselves by not melding this politics with economic politics.  This is above all tragic because economic struggles are at the heart of so many of these other struggles yet they are also deeply off the radar.  For example, struggles for racial equality should he every bit as much issues about class stratification and how this plays out in minority communities as it is a critique of irrational prejudices.  We get much discussion of the latter but not the former.  Why not?  Not only does class inequality and injustice intensify racist passions, but it is also one of the primary mechanisms by which minority oppression and inequality is maintained.  It's thus insane that we have next to no robust discussion of class inequalitty and economic injustice within the democratic party.  The question is who benefits from the absence of such a discussion?  The answer is obvious.  Not only does the absence of such a discussion effectively divide the possibility of leftist politics by pitting groups against each other, it also insures that economic injustice goes unanalyzed and addressed within our political system.

        •  It seems we (0+ / 0-)

          agree on the present moment and what we would like to see going forward but, in reference to the past, I would ask you what is the set of issues that the goverment "abandoned" these people on in the 70s?  What need of the white blue collar worker wasn't addressed in order to focus women's libbers and the Rainbow Coalition?  I'm not trying to sound snarky, I'm really asking.  You had bad inflation under Nixon/Ford and a gas crisis under Carter but were those things just not dealt with?

          •  Increasingly we saw an abandonment (0+ / 0-)

            and assault on unions, coupled with rising deregulation of the economy, privatization, and outsources.  This trajectory started in the 70s and reached it's completion under Clinton, becoming the reigning orthodoxy of both parties.  Both parties turned to cultural politics, while sharing more or less the same economic politics.  From the standpoint of white workers and the middle class, this signalled that the democratic party was a party that no longer represented them, but was instead a party devoted to the interests of minorities alone.  As a consequence, we began to see the rise of conservative religiosity (if government does nothing for them, then only god can save them) and the politics of racist and sexist resentment began to intensify in response.  This made democratic politics all the more difficult because it increasingly foundnit couldn't produce large enough coalitions to achieve victory.

            To be clear, I believe the victories we've had in the domain of cultural politics have been absolutely vital.  However, I also agree that this politics, on the left, has reflected the biases of the privileged, being a largely university educated driven politics.  This demographic largely lives a more or less stable economic life.  For this reason, economic politics was not on their radar and it was easy to see everything through the lens of cultural politics, as if it's culture that determines everything.  Remarking that labor was largely sexist and racist misses the point and is a largely culturalist interpretation of what happened over the last forty years.  Had democrats been supporting this demographic I don't believe they would have fleed from democrats as they did.  The tragic mistake (which has also heen extremely damaging to women and African Americans) was for the democratic party to embrace neoliberalism.  It's failure has consisted in not linking economic struggles to these cultural struggles and to provide a unifying ground for the interests of these disparate groups.

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