Thursday, March 5, 2020

Super Tuesday Dem Primary Takeaway #1

Who really won Super Tuesday? Not Joe Biden. But those old three forces of American history — the ones which led directly to American collapse. Patriarchy, supremacy, and capitalism.... This was the day America rejected what was probably it’s last and best chance at social democracy.... voters rejected even the most lightweight kind of social democracy possible, which is what Bernie offered.
.....umair haque
--The Day America Rejected Social Democracy and Chose More Collapse
Bernie's not even a real socialist but calls himself one. An interesting, if dismal appraisal of Super Tuesday. I'm working on my own appraisal but the landscape keeps changing ever hour. My socialist friends have eternal optimism, especially Marxists who are sure capitalism will collapse and be replaced by nirvana socialism. So far history says the opposite - but we have time - until the floods followed by us becoming Venus.

I listened to all sides yesterday - the gleeful MSNBC and the sober analysis from still hopeful Bernie sites. Biden people think Trump will kill Bernie and Bernie people (including me) think Trump will kill Biden. I would rather Biden lose to Trump than Bernie because a Bernie loss to Trump would really kill the move to progressivize the Dem Party, so there's a silver cloud in a sense. I disagree with Haque in this sense -- if Biden loses to Trump the left is still alive and building. If Biden were to win he would be so ineffective, the left would still rise. If Bernie were to win he would be undercut by both parties who want to brand him a failure and might be Jimmy Carterized. So my political instinct is that the best case scenario is for Bernie not to win the nomination but come close and show the progressive movement is alive and willing to fight for a takeover of the Dem party - though I'm already seeing signs of left abandonment and talk of third party. Maybe there's some hope with the Democratic Socialists.

Umair Haque lines up with my view - that as capitalism fails we are more likely to get fascism than socialism. Here is one of his conclusions:
Poverty, in other words, causes fascism. Keynes made that great discover a full century ago. Poverty as in deprivation of the basics, which is what Americans suffer. Who else has to ration insulin and education and operations because there’s never enough money to afford what you need? What the?

Electing — or even running — a Biden won’t break the vicious cycle of poverty and fascism that’s at the heart of American collapse. It will only fuel it. Because a Biden, like any good neoliberal, doesn’t think people deserve basic things as human rights, whether healthcare or retirement. You are only worth what you earn. Nobody has any intrinsic or inherent worth. Exploitation becomes the only social law or norm or value left in operation. Bang — American collapse.

Yet that is exactly why a demagogue can come along and makes people — who feel worthless, little, betrayed, angry — feel good and valued again. Biden is the status quo — but in a deep way. In the battle between a failed neoliberalism and an ascendant authoritarianism — how can the former win? It’s a failed neoliberalism that sowed the seeds of authoritarianism, by dehumanizing and violating and abusing people, to the point that they sought to do all that right back to even more vulnerable people. That is how fascism is born, and why “it” happened here in America all over again.
I'll come back to this and focus some attention on the process of endorsement in our own union (UFT/AFT) where Mulgrew went Biden and Randi at the last minute went Warren for show while we know they preferred Biden all along. The idea being floated that Warren might drop out and support Bernie seems ridiculous to me because I see Warren as closer in some ways to Biden -- stories of her being offered VP by both candidates are floating around but I see Klobuchar as being rewarded for her endorsement by Biden but more likely Harris or Stacie for Biden. I see a Nina Turner type for Bernie.

The Day America Rejected Social Democracy and Chose More Collapse

Some (Grim) Lessons From Super Tuesday


Mar 4 · 12 min read




That was quite a wild ride. Super Tuesday.
After all was said and done, in a stunning upset — since he was on the ropes just a few weeks ago — Biden crushed the rest. What does it all mean? I want to quickly distill a handful of lessons. It’s not going to be pretty. Let me say up front that I like Biden. He’s a good guy. He gave a great speech after his win, about the need for character and decency — excellent. But he’s the wrong man for the job of social transformation (I’ll come to precisely why.)
The first lesson goes like this.

This was the day America rejected what was probably it’s last and best chance at social democracy. The contest between Bernie vs Biden is a classic one of center vs left. In this case, the center took a resounding victory. But what is “the center” in America? It’s neoliberalism, of the Obama school — which Biden continues to promise.That is, markets for everything, privatization, deregulation — a theme I’ll return to. And what’s the “left”? It’s barely social democracy — though Bernie’s painted as a socialist, he’s barely a lightweight social democrat, in truth. What’s the difference? Everything.

Bernie lost because Americans rejected social democracy, en masse, in a collective wave of opposition to such an idea. Sure, he won California, which kept him competitive. But nearly everywhere else, voters rejected even the most lightweight kind of social democracy possible, which is what Bernie offered. Let me shade in the differences. Socialism: nationalizing industries like energy, healthcare, transport, finance, publicly managing them, building great public institutions, like a National Healthcare System. Social democracy — extending existing public institution, as in “Medicare For All.” Even that was too much for Americans, who preferred a return to yesterday’s status quo — capitalism by way of neoliberalism, in short, via Biden.

Now let me shade in that picture even more. It’s too generalized, so let’s break down some differences between social groups.

Young people talk a big game online, but they don’t turn out to actually effect political transformation — and so their side loses. It’s tragic, but counting on them is a mistake. Young people massively disproportionately support Bernie, and relatively old people, Biden. But young people didn’t turn out nearly enough to put Bernie over the finishing line. Turnout was lower than 2016, in most places, amongst the young. Don’t you think that’s bizarre? Dangerous? I do. After all, it’s young people who suffer the brunt of a collapsing America — they’ll never retire, can’t afford to move out, have less sex, no savings, lower incomes, fractured relationships, lower happiness, skyrocketing suicide rates, dismal futures.

Why didn’t young people turn out? Why don’t they…ever? After so loudly and bombastically supporting Bernie…online? One theory is that it’s harder for them to vote. So what? This is the most crucial election of a lifetime. So here’s another, I think better theory, which you won’t like. It has everything to do with alt-leftism. In the alt-left’s hierarchy of what matters, gender pronouns count more than genocide. The most important thing in the world is Twitter mobbing some celeb over their choice of politically incorrect turn of phrase — and “cancelling” them. That’s what they’ve been taught by their professors, their cultural figures, intellectuals. But when identity politics is the only politics — why bother turning out for the real thing?

That’s not just an idle speculation, by the way. It’s exactly what we saw in Britain. Young people support Corbyn online — but when it came time to vote…they didn’t. Bang — landslide for the conservatives. Precisely the same dynamics were at work: alt-leftism, that taught young people Twitter mobs and gender pronouns and identity politics matter most, and everything else comes a distant second. Like, for example, actually…voting.

Whether or not you agree with my interpretation, the point remains — young people didn’t turn out. And that cost Bernie the win. That’s a bleak point. Because the less young people vote, the less capable a society is of change, renewal, transformation. And America’s young appear to have simply given up on the idea of ever having a functioning society again.
That brings me to my next point.  

The politics of hostility and aggression don’t work for the left. I like Bernie. He’s passionate, I’d say — not hostile. But his supporters? At least a very vocal fringe? Hostile barely begins to describe it. But that’s become true of the left at large: it’s been subsumed by the alt-left’s belief that the way to bring about social change is through aggression, brutality, and hostility. Hence, cancel culture, endless Twitter mobs, policing people for thoughtcrimes like “misgendering”…conducting ideological purity tests…attacking your own side..all while not caring very much about basics like healthcare.

What this Super Tuesday shows beyond any doubt is that the politics of hostility as practice by the alt-left’s fringe on more or less everyone else — Twitter mobs, attack groups, cancel culture, shaming, and so on — don’t work. They alienate, not attract. They make people roll their eyes and walk away. Infighting and attacking one’s own side do not build a coalition. When the people doing it are mostly young people who won’t vote anyways, it’s doubly a recipe for electoral disaster. The politics of hostility should be a non-starter — aggression and shaming and mobs are tactics of the right. When the left employs them, it has given up on its fundamental values. What can it win? When I say that, people think I’m making some abstract theoretical point. But I’m speaking pragmatically and plainly. Nobody much is motivated to vote for your side by Twitter mobs over Captain America’s intersectionality and so forth. It’s just student politics — at its dumbest and worst. The left wins through love — and Bernie failed that test, precisely because his supporters are too often hostile, not gentle and loving and kind. Who wants to belong to a group like that?

That brings me to my third point. It’s not just Bernie supporters who failed the test of coalition building, though.

Americans don’t really care about what they say they care about. If you ask Americans what they care about most, they’ll say, by a large majority, healthcare. But guess what? Among voters who said healthcare mattered most…Biden won over Bernie…despite offering the bare bones of a healthcare plan at all. What the? Do you see the point? Americans simply don’t care about…what they say they care about. They renege on the promises they make to pollsters — and when it comes time to actually vote, they seem to be frightened and cowed into perpetually choosing exactly what they say they won’t.

Don’t read that as a condemnation — it’s an observation. People are complex. It’s not as simple as imagining they’ll reliably “vote” for what they “prioritize.” The human mind isn’t that naive. The minute you step into that voting booth, things change. Your anxieties and fears and worries take over. Maybe you make an impulsive decision. Maybe you just can’t bring yourself to do the thing you know is wise, smart, intelligent. That brings me to my next lesson.

I’ve been cautioning for months now — years — that America becoming a social democracy is going to be much harder than most think, probably impossible, at best improbable. It’s not just about voting — but a profound and deep moral transformation, a permanent change in values. What does that mean? Well, in not choosing social democracy, Americans are also expressing a certain set of values. They’re saying they don’t care if their neighbors have healthcare, retirement, education, childcare, and so on. They’re saying that brutality and cruelty are OK with them. They’re putting selfishness first. They’re saying they’re indifferent to their neighbours’ ill health, poverty, suffering, despair. Yes, really. What else does that “vote” really mean?

In that context, it’s not too hard to see how Biden won. These are the same old American values that have always been. Americans don’t like it when I say that — and yet it’s easy to observe. America’s the world’s most individualist, materialistic, violent society, by a very long way — it always has been. Nobody else has bombed half the world, invaded country after country, or lionizes capitalism and Wall St as saviors to every social problem — the rest of the world finds all that bizarre and weird.

Values don’t change easily, or swiftly. They change slowly — and step by little step. It’s true, for example, that young people don’t like capitalism, so they like Bernie. But it’s truer that they’re still wrapped up in selfishness and narcissism — like gender pronouns matter more than everyone having healthcare — so they just…don’t vote. It’s true that older people understand their society is failing — but it’s truer to say they’re still afraid of actually trying to change it, when it comes to actually cast that vote. Those old values persist, in other words, of selfishness and cruelty and brutality. And because they persist, Biden came out on top.
That brings me to my next point.

America’s probably incapable of real change, lasting transformation. How — honestly, how — can it be possible that the vast majority of Democrats preferred Joe Biden to Bernie or Liz? Let’s take a look at the facts American life. The average person lives paycheck to paycheck, half of Americans work low-wage jobs, nobody much has decent healthcare, retirement, childcare, incomes have flatlined for half a century, 75% of Americans struggle to pay basic bills like housing and food, the average American will live and die in unplayable “debt.” What the? In that context, you’d think that people would back an expansive social contract — like one of social democracy.

Think about it this way: what else could it possibly take? American life expectancy is falling at this point — unique among rich countries (except for it’s junior partner in collapse, Britain.) Americans are literally dying younger and younger as a consequence of their failed society — as well as getting poorer, unhappier, angrier, and more isolated every year. What else could it possibly take?
The answer to that question is: probably…nothing. There’s no level of indignity Americans won’t suffer. They are willing to be degraded and dehumanized and abused in any way, whatsoever — as long as that horrible “socialism” doesn’t come anywhere near them. They’re willing to be martyrs for capitalism, at this point, dying young. What’s the difference between that and a jihadi, really? Sure, that’s blunt. But is it false?

That, by the way, is why Bernie probably lost — he branded himself as a socialist, even though he isn’t remotely one. Americans instinctively react violently against any mention of the term, unable to think it through — and so when it came time to actually vote…Bernie’s support simply vanished, and was nowhere to be found. In the polling booth, instinct and impulse override reason and logic and though. It was a huge mistake for Bernie to brand himself as a socialist — it energizes the kinds of nasty Bernie fans everyone’s walked away from since they were annoying in college, but it alienated everyone else.

That brings me to my last point. Who really won Super Tuesday? Not Joe Biden. But those old three forces of American history — the ones which led directly to American collapse. Patriarchy, supremacy, and capitalism.

Liz Warren — the best candidate by far, the one with a thoughtful and intelligent plan for everything — had a dismal showing. Why? Because patriarchy’s against her — and patriarchy effectively controls America’s thinking classes, it’s pundits and columnists and so on. There’s a reason why all those folks — Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Ezra Klein — are mostly bros: patriarchy. But bros protect bros. The band of brothers exists to defend its own. And so Liz was demeaned and insulted and mocked and ignored and erased. Instead of Americans being educated that she was the better candidate by far. And because Americans take their cues from elites and pundits — no matter how much they say they don’t — they rejected her, instead of thinking things through for themselves. Patriarchy cost America the best candidate it had in this election — the kind of leader who comes along once in a lifetime.

Why did American reject social democracy so furiously, so vehemently, with such a wall of opposition? The answer lies in supremacy. Centuries of supremacy — which then became Cold War thinking — told them anything collective must be bad, evil, intolerable, since some people are not really people at all. Slavery’s toxic legacy is that it made it impossible for Americans to really value or develop public goods. The ruling mentality continues to be: “I won’t pay for their healthcare, retirement, education! Those dirty, filthy people! They’re not like us!” That’s what the choice to reject a decent healthcare or retirement or childcare plan — like Bernie and Liz offered, but Biden doesn’t — really says. There’s no other serious or thoughtful interpretation that can be made. Americans don’t want social democracy because supremacy tainted their values, limited to zero how much they are literally willing to invest in each other in simple, hard, dollar-amount terms — and still does. It’s sad — but it’s also lethally real and shatteringly self-evident. The amount most Americans still want to invest in each other is what it’s always been: precisely zero.

What does that actual dollar-figure amount mean, in sociopolitical terms?
What do Americans (really) want? Capitalism, basically. More, harder. They might not say it or think it or know it. But that’s what they’ve chosen, in choosing Biden. But Biden doesn’t have a plan for any of America’s glaring deficits — the fact that it has no functioning social systems at all, whether healthcare, retirement, childcare, elderly care. He simply doesn’t care very much, because, like most of America’s neoliberal elites, the idea is simply to “let the market sort it out.” Hence, stocks surged.

The market will sort out issues of public goods and social systems — in a predatory way. It will create artificial shortages — and then charge people through the nose to access what little they can. Hence, Americans pay the world’s highest prices for drugs. “Retirement” is something you pay Wall St a fortune to “manage” a “401K” for — and never really get. “Education” is something that comes with crippling “student debt.” Healthcare is something that causes “medical bankruptcy.”

That mistake is why Americans plunged into lives of newfound poverty, of vicious precarity in the first place: capital taking over what should have been public goods. Why the middle class imploded, and became the new poor. The working class and old poor became the left-behinds. That implosion of a society’s prosperity was then the direct cause of a surge towards a demagogue — people fled towards him because he promised them they’d be Great Again. They felt safe and loved and valued and protected in his strong arms — from the anxieties and fears of becoming poor, alone, abandoned, neglected — and all they had to do, he said, was hate the subhumans, who were responsible for their plight, and wish violence upon them. Many of America’s desperate and newly poor took that bargain.

Poverty, in other words, causes fascism. Keynes made that great discover a full century ago. Poverty as in deprivation of the basics, which is what Americans suffer. Who else has to ration insulin and education and operations because there’s never enough money to afford what you need? What the?

Electing — or even running — a Biden won’t break the vicious cycle of poverty and fascism that’s at the heart of American collapse. It will only fuel it. Because a Biden, like any good neoliberal, doesn’t think people deserve basic things as human rights, whether healthcare or retirement. You are only worth what you earn. Nobody has any intrinsic or inherent worth. Exploitation becomes the only social law or norm or value left in operation. Bang — American collapse.

Yet that is exactly why a demagogue can come along and makes people — who feel worthless, little, betrayed, angry — feel good and valued again. Biden is the status quo — but in a deep way. In the battle between a failed neoliberalism and an ascendant authoritarianism — how can the former win? It’s a failed neoliberalism that sowed the seeds of authoritarianism, by dehumanizing and violating and abusing people, to the point that they sought to do all that right back to even more vulnerable people. That is how fascism is born, and why “it” happened here in America all over again.

Super Tuesday carries all those lessons. They will, I fear, go unlearned. But when has America ever been a country that wanted to really know itself?
Umair
March 2020

3 comments:

  1. Ukraine facts will destroy Biden. The media and all of the candidates tried to make it a none issue. With Biden probably winning the nomination
    it is now inevitable that the whole story will emerge.

    ReplyDelete
  2. if you want to defeat Trump and Trumpismo, you must first defeat the #McResistance TM, the fake opposition that far prefers Hair Furor's reelection to a Bernie Sanders taking over the Democratic Party.

    These fakers are enriched by Trump one way or the other. If they win a factional fight against him, they're back in office, which as Obama showed is now largely about laying down markers to collect on after you've left office. If they lose to Trump (which they certainly will with Biden), they continue making bank by using him as a fundraising foil. Trump has been a gold mine for the #McResistance TM, i.e. CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, et. al. but if Bernie wins, that grift is over.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The establishment by backing Biden have handed 2020 to Trump. Joe is obviously failing, but the media cover for him.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.