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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Swine Flu / The Economy

What's your take on the media? Pick one.

The swine flu:

  1. is a distraction from the failures of capitalism - which are solvable with collective action.
  2. we're all jonesing for the apocalypse.
  3. the inevitable consequences of farming and/or slaughtering animals - which also accounts for diseases like the bird flu and HIV.
  4. I caught the sniffles at the last tea-bagging rally I went to. Should I be worried?

Speaking of tea-bagging rallies, a commenter on my previous post suggested that it would be a waste of effort to try to connect with the people at these things because of massive disagreement on issues. I think that the masses on the left and the right actually have quite a bit of populist rage in common: why are my taxes going to bankers?! What differs is largely our answers to that question and out ideas how to fix it. There are those who will be swayed by a fascist argument. Many of those people, though, are not stupid, just misinformed. The fascist argument is the only one that they've heard.

Some of the people at the tea rallies have a hard time giving coherent answers to journalists' questions. Similarly, many people at the G20 rallies also had trouble formulating a coherent answer. Part of the reason for this is because the frames and assumptions for the questions are trying to obscure rather than enlighten. They're asking the wrong questions. Here's the answer to the right question: We on the left and the right are all similarly angry that people with too much power and no accountability decided to use all of our resources and wealth as play money in a giant game and now we're facing artificial shortages and the folks that caused all this get to keep all the money they stole.

When the economy gets fucked, we're in a precarious situation not just economically, but also due to the danger of fascism. If we want to feel superior to people being recruited to fascism, we're doomed. That's not a reasonable strategy. People will be radicalized by the economy. There will be a surge of power on the very far right. Lefty smugness is enabling to fascists. If we want to limit this, we need to be talking to people about why our solutions are going to be better for them.

Anti-capitalists are actually correct, which ought to be a serious advantage. But our smugness is dressed up classism and we need to get over it or we've got no answers, just more status-quo.

1 comment:

Nick said...

What about the ethnic-chauvinist component, though?

You could argue all you want in West Virginia, for example, but consider that my stepmom's family still won't invite my dad or us kids over for the holidays after 19 years. It doesn't leave me optimistic about an ethnic outsider's chances of winning a contest that, in the absence of rational debate, is fundamentally based on identification and trust.

On the positive side, the descendants of original Puritan British colonists (in the end, isn't that the the unifying factor for the otherwise-fractious American Right?) have slipped from majority to mere plurality within our own lifetimes. As Obama's VA and NC victories demonstrated, a well-organized minority coalition can now wield electoral power even inside the formerly-homogenous old Confederacy.