A Good Case In Point

“I, Spike Lee Of Sound Mind And Body Will No Longer Wear Prada Or Gucci Until They Hire Some Black Designers”T.I., Soulja Boy, and Others Call for Gucci Boycott After Blackface Scandal: ‘Apology Not Accepted’

I’ve noted arguments by Adolph Reed and Walter Benn Michaels that identity politics as currently practiced in the USA is completely consistent with the logic of capitalist development, rather than a challenge to it.

As Reed said for example:

… race politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature…. As I have argued, following Walter [Benn] Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people.

I could not resist noting Mr. Lee’s courageous statement as a particularly instructive example.

(If you have missed the recent controversy re Gucci’s balaclava knit top turtleneck you will certainly want to catch up.)


From the Black Agenda Report

There just aren’t that many left sites worth reading these days for anything other than know-your-enemy purposes.  One outstanding exception to this, however, is the Black Agenda Report (“News, commentary and analysis from the black left”) which, having apparently resisted absorption by the system, consistently provides a fresh and provocative take on things.

Of course, BAR and I obviously disagree regarding the site’s insistence that any self-defensive movement by middle American whites is necessarily racist and supremacist, however, reading around that one can appreciate the articles’ consistent recognition that the the co-optation of black community leadership by the globalist system represents a betrayal of the real interests of the black working and middle classes and that the “resistance” is a ruling class ploy.

Of particular interest is an article by BAR editor Glen Ford published in July, Russiagate is a Ruling Class Diversion, which I’ve been meaning to discuss since then but, due to my habitual procrastination, am only getting around to mentioning now.

The article begins by reviewing the system’s response to Trump’s election:

Trump’s howling racism was what made Democrats believe he was the ideal candidate for a trouncing by Hillary Clinton, who could be counted on to escalate Barack Obama’s general military offensive and to aggressively pursue TPP and other corporate governance arrangements…. When Clinton lost, the ruling class panicked and resolved to bring down the Orange Menace no matter the cost to U.S. institutions and to the appearance of stability in the very bosom of the empire. The rolling coup was begun.

Mr. Ford correctly goes on to claim, in terms we would not use, that Trump’s movement is fundamentally racial at its core:

Donald Trump proved that his white base is more enthusiastic to support a candidate that affirms white supremacist “values” (yes, that’s what they value most) than they are about maintaining an aggressive military posture everywhere in the world… These same voters were presumed to be the most militaristic cohort in the nation, dependable fodder to elect fire-breathing war hawks. But clearly, Trump’s base — composed of a majority of whites – cares more about white supremacy in the U.S. than waging endless wars abroad. And, they either hate “free trade,” or don’t care enough about it either way to abandon their White Man’s President.

Looking forward, Mr. Ford recognizes that there is no going back for the Republicans or the Democrats:

Trump still retains the support of his white majority. Most importantly, these white supremacists feel affirmed, as “a people,” by his presence, and what they perceive as Trump’s loyalty to them. They are feeling “Great Again.” And they are reveling in their national strength, as a bloc…. This re-energized, aggressively white supremacist, intensely self-aware White Man’s Party will assert its permanent, militant and very large presence in the U.S. political spectrum, no matter what happens to Donald Trump…. and they now hate the Democratic Party in a far deeper way than before, when it was perceived as too concerned with Blacks and other “minorities.”… The “witch-hunt” against Trump is perceived as an elite mob out to lynch the “deplorables” — or, at the least, to decertify them as decent Americans.

As far as the ruling class is concerned, this transformation of the Republican Party into an implicitly white party will force the bulk of it into the Democratic Party, which will essentially become the sole party of the plutocracy.

… the establishment corporate Republicans that Trump crushed in winning the GOP nomination will not win back his followers’ allegiance unless they become more like Trump, i.e. more blatantly white supremacist. Which is decidedly not the corporate way, in the 21st century. Thus, corporate America, wedded as it is to a “diversity” doctrine that means little to the masses of Black people but is a red flag to the White Man’s Party “deplorables,” will be forced to identify more publicly with the Democrats, or pretend to be apolitical.

With a decreasing ability to mobilize the majority of white voters, the Democrats will be forced to increasingly rely on Blacks and other minorities for their electoral numbers, however this, in turn creates significant difficulties for the elites at the top of the Democratic Party, since the minority base would like to see significant economic change.

The Trump phenomena — and the resultant ruling class hysteria — has stolen the corporations’ option to pose as “non-partisan” actors in U.S. politics. They are forced deeper into the Democratic camp, creating further contradictions for the “inclusive” party, which must ultimately answer to a more clearly defined — and also more self-aware – constituency of the “left,” most broadly speaking, if it is to preserve the duopoly.   This other half of the country, slightly bigger than Trump’s white majority base, is composed of a minority of whites, virtually all Blacks, and large majorities of Latinos and other minorities. It is way to the left of the Democratic Party and roiling with economic demands that the Lords of Capital will not, and cannot, fulfill while keeping on the path of a global race-to-the-bottom and deepening austerity, enforced by endless wars.

In order to maintain this unstable bloc of top and bottom against the middle, Mr. Ford tells us, the elites must come up with a diversion, otherwise they run the risk of a fundamental and, to them, unfavorable re-alignment of American politics:

Therefore, there must be Russiagate hysteria — or some other fictitious obsession — primarily to divert the attentions of the “left” half of the electorate, most of which is broadly social democratic (the Black component is the most left-leaning, and peace-oriented). If the duopoly were to collapse, and the various cohorts of the U.S. political spectrum were reorganized along ideological lines, the two biggest parties would be the Trumpist White Man’s party and a social democratic party with a platform to the left of 2016 Bernie Sanders, with the (rightwing) Democrats and establishment Republicans coming together in an avowedly “centrist” party, the smallest of the three. Space would also be created for more radical and libertarian politics.

The ruling class is determined to prevent such a scenario from occurring, and thus needs a permanent, all-consuming diversion. But the Russiagate hysteria — or something else like it — cannot be maintained indefinitely; U.S. political structures cannot withstand such an institutional assault by the ruling class, itself.

As interesting as Mr. Ford’s take on things is, I need to point to several errors.  In the first place, while Mr. Ford correctly sees that corporate America is committed to multiculturalism, he misses the fact that it is precisely the discourse of “anti-racism” and diversity that welds the Democratic coalition together far more effectively than claims of Russian interference.  It is the demonization of the white middle strata that most effectively maintains the power of the Wall Street Democrats via their mobilization of the Black and Latino communities, not “Russiagate” (which is clearly not achieving any real popular traction in spite of the media’s relentless flogging).

Mr. Ford also misses the fact that, when it comes to economic policies, any white populist movement is as likely to espouse many of the sort of New Dealish policies that pass for “socialism” today as is a left movement liberated from the control of the centrist Democrats, especially as even center-right corporate interests decamp to the Democrats.

While Ford is correct that the Trump phenomenon reflects a defensive white movement which, as I’ve said elsewhere, can only be understood in the context of the combination of the arc of Black protest beginning with the death of Trayvon Martin through the events of Ferguson and the growth of Black Lives Matter, he is incorrect to reduce it to that.  Trump’s ability to win, for example, a significant number of Latino votes reflects a parallel and often overlapping civic nationalist impulse spanning racial groups.

As with many on the “far” right, Ford seems to ignore the possibility of the simultaneous growth of a populist civic nationalist movement and identitarian movements, since arguably globalization and the “race to the bottom” he describes are profoundly inconsistent with the material interests of middle and working class Americans of all nationalities.

And so, while I don’t say that it is likely given the reality of racial politics in America, there is at least the theoretical possibility of the development of a plebian anti-globalist/anti-corporate bloc involving various racial/ethnic groups pursuing a policy of economic nationalism in the event of a break-up of the Democratic Party coalition.


(For more on some of the issues raised here, see my Trump as National Bourgeois, 5PT – Nationalism, Tribalism or Identitarianism and On the Left and “Fascism”.)

What’s Left?

Pity the poor left, reduced to shilling for the military, the CIA, the FBI, the foreign policy establishment, the Democratic Party, various Silicon Valley billionaires, and now the “bourgeois press” (as we used to call it when there actually was a left).

For most of the left, this absorption into the system has gone almost unnoticed, however there remain a few individuals swimming (with great difficulty) against the current.

An interesting example of the agonies endured by some in an effort to maintain an independent position can be found in the introduction to a 2015 article by Paul Street republished yesterday at CounterPunch: Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People.

Street’s article is now prefaced by a groveling, paragraphs-long apology for daring to take a critical stance toward what any leftist once recognized as one of the pillars of the system:

I detest the malignantly racist, sexist, narcissistic, and authoritarian pathological liar and bully Donald Trump on many different levels, and I share none of his sick world view, but the corporate media really is, well (to use Trump’s recurrent phrase), “the enemy of the people.”

Here below is an essay I first published (on the venerable radical Website ZNet) in the late summer of 2015…. It was written from a Marxist and international socialist and anti-imperialist perspective and not at all from a Trumpian, white-nationalist standpoint.

He goes on to wring his hands over what he calls

… recent bizarre developments. “Liberal” CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, the Washington Post and much of the rest of the corporate news establishment are standing up against Trump in defense of blood-soaked U.S.-imperial spy-masters, surveillance chiefs, liars, and assassins like former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper – and in defense of the supposedly noble imperial project that these and other current and former top U.S. intelligence and military operatives on Herr Trump’s security clearance “Enemies List” have long “served” in pursuit of what CNN and MSNBC talking heads absurdly call (no joke) “speaking truth to power.”

And, just in case you didn’t realize that, yes, he hates Trump too:

Of course, nobody should confuse my position (supported with references to brilliant left media and propaganda critics like Alex Carey, Ed Herman, Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Robert McChesney, and Stephen Macek)in 2015 (no different in any fundamental way from my position today) with that of white-nationalist thugs like Trump and Sean Hannity.

No, an enemy (in this case Trump) of some of our enemies (Brennan, Clapper, and much of the rest of the U.S-imperial establishment) is not necessarily our friend or ally. But that hardly means that everything this (truly hideous) enemy (Trump) says is false… or that we on the Left need to reflexively and absurdly jump to the defense of imperial criminals at the instigation of that (well, yes) “enemy of the people” the U.S. corporate and so-called mainstream war, news, and entertainment media.

What is shocking about Street’s argument is not it’s critique of the media, which is typical stuff – or at least once was:

Consistent with its possession as a leading and money-making asset of the nation’s wealthy elite, the United States corporate and commercial mass media is a bastion of power-serving propaganda and deadening twaddle designed to keep the U.S. citizenry subordinated to capital and the imperial U.S. state.

No – the shocking thing is that for the left, publishing this now requires paragraphs of apology and qualification.

On the Death of the Left

The evidence of the death of the Left is all around us. You can see it by the fact that on campus being left-wing means having blue hair and thinking a man can become a woman by having an operation.Brendan O’Neill

From Back to Enlightenment values: An interview with Brendan O’Neill by Chris Mansour at Platypus Review. O’Neill is the editor of sp!ked “Britain’s first online-only current-affairs mag… a metaphorical missile against misanthropy.” With roots in the British new left (its predecessor was Living Marxism) sp!ked has moved far from its Trotskyist origins towards an idiosyncratic libertarianism and is now “a fan of reason, liberty, progress, economic growth, choice, conviction and thought experiments about the future, and not so big on eco-miserabilism, identikit politicians, nostalgia, dumbing down and determinism.”

The magazine has played a particularly positive role in its defense of “freedom of speech with no ifs and buts,” particularly in the UK, where the prevalence of speech codes and aggressive no-platforming by the left make US universities appear to be bastions of tolerance. (See, for example, its Free Speech University Rankings for 2018.)

Overall, sp!ked is one of those things you just have to keep reading, libertarian or not.

On 2017

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive

2017 seemed to open with such possibilities that it is difficult to see the year as anything other than a disappointment as it draws to a close. As 2017 began, Trump’s accession to power seemed to show that anything is possible, while alt.x movements achieved a prominence undreamed of even just a year before.

How different things seem today as the year comes to an end. The nationalist wing of the Trump regime has been utterly vanquished, while the administration has moved away from a commitment to the issues that attracted our support in the first place.

Meanwhile, the anti-system right, which, in spite of being the target of a concerted campaign to silence it, went from success to success in the early months and middle of the year, now seems to have run out of new ideas in its efforts to move from the internet into “real life”.

And yet, it is more accurate to critique the unreality of the expectations than the actual progress of events. They should remind us of all of the obvious things that we missed in the thrill of victory – that moving forward is not so easy as it might have appeared one year ago, that we are a small and weak movement, that our enemies will fight us every step of the way with every means at their disposal, and that we have a very long road ahead of us indeed.

With that in mind, let us value the very real gains of 2017  – mainly the qualitative metapolitical shift in the nation’s political discourse – and look forward to building on that for a productive 2018!

Good News All Around

I’ve been otherwise engaged the past few weeks and so have been neglecting my posting, in spite of the fact that lots of good things have been going on.

Across the Atlantic, the German elections and the extremely strong showing of the Alternative für Deutschland shows us the the wave of European national-populism continues to rise.

Meanwhile, here at home the victory of insurgent GOP senatorial candidate Judge Roy Moore over establishment favorite Luther Strange, in spite of Strange’s backing by Donald Trump himself, shows the essential strength of the populist revolt independent of the president.  If there it is anything that will keep Trump remotely honest, it will be developments like this.

Finally, the growing NFL protests, due to their inescapable presence at the heart of America’s favorite pastime, will certainly help prevent the deplorables from slipping back into business-as-usual passivity, especially in light of the demobilizing effect of Trump’s betrayals.

Over the decades since we fled into the suburbs we lived in a state of denial, drugged by the the mass entertainment complex, the comforts of hyper-consumption and the general peace and tranquility of whiteopian life, while the demographic and political balance shifted against us.  It is only the the increasingly aggressive actions of our enemies over the past decade or so that have led us to begin to accept the reality of our situation and the need for our own resistance.

Just as the spate of riots and Black Lives Matter-inspired protests between Fergusson and the 2016 elections undoubtedly played an enormous role in mobilizing the Trump base and arguably made difference between victory and defeat (indeed, I think that the Trump candidacy itself might not have happened at all without middle America’s response to the growing arc of protest which can be traced back to Trayvon Martin) the disrespect and fundamental hostility toward the traditional American nation and its history shown by the players and the craven and cynical connivance in this on the part of the owners can only be a salutary goad to our movement’s base.


From James Petras – “Who Rules America?”

There’s a challenging new article from long-time left scholar James PetrasWho Rules America? The Power Elite in the Time of Trump available on his website as well as The Unz Review, analyzing the unraveling of the Trump presidency.

After an interesting analysis of the various contending blocks within the elite and the defeat of the Economic Nationalist wing represented by Steve Bannon, Petras concludes:

Trump had already lost on all accounts. The ‘final solution’ to the problem of the election of Donald Trump is moving foreword step-by-step – his impeachment and possible arrest by any and all means.

What the rise and destruction of economic nationalism in the ‘person’ of Donald Trump tells us is that the American political system cannot tolerate any capitalist reforms that might threaten the imperial globalist power elite. [Emphasis in the original]

He goes on to indict the left:

Writers and activists used to think that only democratically elected socialist regimes would be the target of systematic coup d’état. Today the political boundaries are far more restrictive. To call for ‘economic nationalism’, completely within the capitalist system, and seek reciprocal trade agreements is to invite savage political attacks, trumped up conspiracies and internal military take-overs ending in ‘regime change’.

The global-militarist elite purge of economic nationalists and anti-militarists was supported by the entire US left with a few notable exceptions. For the first time in history the left became an organizational weapon of the pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-Zionist Right in the campaign to oust President Trump.[emphasis added] Local movements and leaders, notwithstanding, trade union functionaries, civil rights and immigration politicians, liberals and social democrats have joined in the fight for restoring the worst of all worlds: the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton policy of permanent multiple wars, escalating confrontations with Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela and Trump’s deregulation of the US economy and massive tax-cuts for big business.

He closes with a very faint optimism:

We have gone a long-way backwards: from elections to purges and from peace agreements to police state investigations. Today’s economic nationalists are labeled ‘fascists’; and displaced workers are ‘the deplorables’!

Americans have a lot to learn and unlearn. Our strategic advantage may reside in the fact that political life in the United States cannot get worse – we really have touched bottom and (barring a nuclear war) we can only look up.