Category Archives: Media

No place for workers

The clip with Shant Mesrobian that Jimmy Dore plays at the end of this video perfectly describes the left in the United States.  The people on the left might say they care about suffering, but what they do says otherwise.  As Mesrobian says, the base of the left is upper-middle-class professionals — the coordinator class.  And the people who own and operate the left are even more upper-middle-class professionals — the crème de la crème of the coordinator class.

Mesrobian says (lightly edited for clarity):

On the strategic question of “Force the Vote,” I think it was a very smart campaign. However, I think the reason for the campaign wasn’t actually — you know, Medicare for all was the hook of the campaign. But the reason why the campaign started, the genesis of that campaign, was simply because the Squad failed to do what they were hired to do, which is to challenge the Speakership. Right? I mean that’s what they were expected to do.

And they failed to do that over two successive cycles. And then Jimmy Dore, very — I think very smartly — did a bit of organizing — better organizing than I’ve seen any actual
organizer on the left do. [Emphasis added.] And he’s not an organizer, he’s a media figure. But he was very smart and very in touch, I think, with what people actually want and he was smart to kind of recognize, okay, they’re going to do this again — they’re not going to challenge Pelosi at all. They’re going to vote right in line with the party establishment, the leadership.

Well, what if we use Medicare for all as a wedge issue, essentially, to activate the actual base and say, “Hey, you need to challenge Pelosi and tell her that if you don’t bring Medicare for all to a floor vote then I won’t vote for you.” I mean, this is a very smart campaign, and what it sort of exposed is that there’s a real rift — I wouldn’t say within the left, but between the left and people who care about things that the left cares about.

I would say that the problem here isn’t really with just the Squad — it’s really with the left in general. I don’t think the left cares about an issue like Medicare for all in the same way that a lot of people at home do. So what I would say is that the left, the professional left — [and] not just the professional left but the base of the left, too — is a very upper middle class professional class set of people. The actual apparatus of the left is an even more rarefied kind of group of people. They’re media influencers, intellectuals. They are academics, NGO activists, that sort of thing.

For them — the left is really more of a sort of an industry and a lifestyle brand. And it has this issue stack, and Medicare for all is somewhere in there, but it’s not really treated as the priority that many people — clearly Jimmy Dore’s audience — see it as. And so I think what Jimmy Dore did was sort of expose that there are a lot of people who care about the left’s issues but don’t actually care about the sort of politics that the left espouses as kind of exemplified by the Squad.

The left is not a working-class left.  It doesn’t represent the working class.  It doesn’t raise the bulk of its funding from the working class.  Its content is neither produced nor consumed by the working class.  If we were going to apply something like Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model to the left, we would say that it would be shocking if the left were anything other than a coordinator-class left.  Interestingly, this also applies to the website — ZNet — owned by one of the guys — Michael Albert — who invented participatory economics.

Also interestingly, Albert is the guy who talks about “non-reformist reforms” — which was exactly what the whole “Force the Vote” campaign pursued by Dore was designed to promote.  Yet, when the chips were down in December and January, ZNet smeared it and carried water for AOC.  Then they ran another article in February from the Democratic-party mouthpiece Intercept smearing it — certainly consistent with Noam Chomsky referring to Medicare for all as “candy.”

So basically, we’re all for non-reformist reforms as long we don’t have to actually do anything to bring them about.  That’s the message.

Chris Hedges says:

“We should have walked out on the Democratic Party in 1994 after NAFTA and stood by the working class. And they know it. Much of my family comes out of that lower working class in Maine. And I have seen their communities and lives – where my grandparents house was in Maine, the bank is boarded up, there was a Methodist church that caught on fire and burned, the town doesn’t have enough money to raze it, so it’s charred embers. There are methamphetamine labs all over the place. That is what the Democratic Party and the self-identified liberal class has done. And that is why they hate (liberals).”

“I totally get that hatred. They continue to speak out of both sides of their mouth. They continue to speak that traditional feel your pain language of liberalism while putting the knife in the back of these people. So the hatred for the Democratic Party is far fiercer because there was a time when organized labor mattered. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“I live in Princeton. They are all mostly liberal Democrats. They have no relationships with people who have been victimized by this system. For them, it’s all an abstraction.”

Instead, Albert and Chomsky carry the Democrats’ water.  Jimmy Dore really is the only true left in the United States.  The guy who invented parecon — which is absolutely completely correct theory and really is both a necessary and sufficient condition for the liberation of the working class — is such a fraud.

If the left won’t fight, why have a left?

Lambert Strether writes:

“Joe Manchin Mocked Bernie’s $15 Minimum Wage Bill at Lobbyist Event” [Jacobin]. Of course Manchin, but also this: “[Sean] Kennedy, who previously served in the Obama White House as a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, has become the public face of corporate opposition to a $15 minimum wage.” • Thanks, Obama!

This is why the left is terrible.  Blaming Obama for Bernie’s fecklessness?  What’s next?  Calling Jimmy Dore a troll?

At least people like Manchin and Obama know what they want and aren’t afraid to fight for it.  The left is like the alcoholic family that can’t stop making excuses for Dad’s three-martini lunch.

It must be nice to live in a house worth over $650,000.

A rose by any other name

The left doesn’t need a revolution and, deep down, doesn’t really want one. So why do they spend so much time telling you how awful everything is?

Partly, it’s what gets them paid. I’m not saying they’re money grubbers. Most of them could make more money on Wall Street, in medicine, in the private sector somewhere, or some such. Of course, then they wouldn’t own and operate their own businesses, and it’s nicer to work for yourself than to work for someone else.

But when you run a business, you need money. You need customers. And you don’t get customers by telling people things they don’t want to hear. If you want to make money, you have to tell people what they want to hear. People like hearing how bad everything is, because there’s no personal challenge in that.

Everybody agrees the world sucks. If you try to propose solutions, everything will just devolve into big fights because no one can agree on anything. It’s more lucrative to just say over and over that global warming is killing the planet, that corporations screw people, that the United States is a purveyor of death — whatever.

But the people who own and run the left, and the people whom the left attracts, are in agreement about what kind of world they would most like to live in, if they had the power to bring it about: They want to overthrow the capitalists.

The number one priority of everyone on the left is the preservation and enhancement of their class privileges. This is true of the right as well, but the difference is that the right is honest about it. I don’t mean the left is lying to you. I mean the right is honest with themselves about what they want and what they’re trying to accomplish.

But the left tells you how much they love the working class, and deep down they really believe it. They’re not lying to you: They really do think they love the working class. If God himself were to administer a lie-detector test to everyone on the left and ask them if they really cared about ordinary working slobs, they would pass easily because in their heart of hearts they really do love the people who take out their trash.

But that love stops as soon as it causes the slightest inconvenience to their persons. They might “love” the working class, but as soon as there’s the barest suggestion that everyone should pitch in and do their fair share of grunt work, the “worker-loving” left bares its teeth.

The left has no interest whatsoever in any kind of world where it might have to get its hands dirty. The left has no interest in a world where everyone does their fair share of picking the cotton. And if you press the left on this, they will destroy you.

The left doesn’t want a revolution because what it really wants, deep down, is a Soviet-style economy where workplaces are owned by the state (that is, where the capitalists are gone as a class) and where it (the left) runs the society. However, the left knows it wouldn’t do to say this out loud, because this would be deeply unpopular with the working people the left keeps trying unsuccessfully to organize.

The left will fight to the death to resist any revolution where it cannot control the terms of the debate. Since this is an impossibility, the left instead refuses to discuss or consider revolution at all.

Basically, whenever you encounter a lefty, just ask them if they’re willing to do their fair share of shit work. Ask them: If cotton must be picked, shouldn’t we all do our fair share of picking it?

The left is not trying to liberate the field slaves, nor does it have any interest in doing so. The left wants to liberate itself, but it is incapable of being honest with itself about this fundamental fact about itself. That’s what separates it from the right: The right embraces its classism, racism, and sexism; the left pretends (and in fact really believes) it has transcended all these things.

It’s not that the function of a left isn’t needed. It’s that the left as it presently exists (and has always existed) will never accomplish any of the things that it suggests to people it’s trying to accomplish. The left will never stop global warming, win Medicare for all, eliminate sexism and racism, or whatever. The left will never do any of these things because it’s priority isn’t any of these things.

The left’s only priority is itself, no matter how much it tries to pretend otherwise.

The left is the overseers.

If capitalism is the virus, “solidarity” can’t be the cure. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Capitalism is way of organizing economic activity. Every society has an economy. An economy is producers making stuff, consumers using that stuff — and an allocation mechanism that mediates the transfer of stuff from producers to consumers.

Solidarity is not a way of organizing economic activity. It’s a value that says that I should care about you and you should care about me. It’s an admirable value, and any good economy should propel it rather than squash it. But it’s not an economic system.

You get no argument from me when you say capitalism is the virus. But if you’re going to be anti-capitalist — which I certainly am — then you have to get serious thinking about what you’re going to replace it with.

In particular, you have to think about allocation. Everyone on the left wants to overthrow capitalism. There’s no shortage of people on the left who will tell you how bad it is. For its replacement, they will talk in vague generalities about “socialism” or some variation on this theme.

But the question of allocation has to be confronted. Capitalism uses market allocation. Socialism uses either markets or central planning. In markets, prices are set competitively and solidarity is systematically destroyed. In central planning, the entire society becomes inexorably authoritarian; that is the logic of central planning.

Suppose I give you a magic wand, and you can create any kind of world you want with it. What kind of economy do you create? In your vision of how an anti-capitalist economy should function, how are resources allocated? That is, how does stuff made find its way from producers to consumers? You can’t be anti-capitalist without grappling with this question.

The reason the left refuses to grapple with this question is because it’s a deeply-classist, coordinator-class left. The left is not a working-class left. That’s why, 30 years after the introduction of the formal mathematical model of participatory economics, the left still ignores it.

In the same way, say, the New York Times acts like Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model of the media doesn’t exist, so too does the left act like parecon doesn’t exist. The left will acknowledge the existence of participatory economics at the same time the media acknowledges Manufacturing Consent: never.

The only revolution the left is interested in is one in which it, the coordinator class, is in charge. The left wants to overthrow the capitalists, and install themselves as the new ruling class. I’m not saying they’re doing this consciously. They essentially never are. That it, they’re not self-aware or in control of their actions.

But the people on the left are the children of the coordinator class. They grew up at the ends of cul-de-sacs. They world view is inherently managerial. They’re not duplicitous curs who are cynically trying to manipulate the working class in order to get their way. They’re generally good people at heart.

But they think like coordinators, because they are coordinators. So their reflexive world view is one in which they have freed themselves from the yoke of capitalist-class rule. They are the overseers who know perfectly well how to run the plantation on their own, but still must answer to the plantation owner. Their ideal world is one in which the plantation owner is gone and they can manage the operation on their own, without having to answer to the big man in the big house. But they have absolutely no intention whatsoever of ever getting out into the fields under the hot sun and doing their fair share of picking the cotton.

Picking the cotton is working-class work. Smart, educated coordinators have a reflexive revulsion to the idea that this work should be shared equally. Again, this isn’t because they’re bad people — it’s because they grew up on cul-de-sacs, and it’s just how they see the world.

The left is a coordinator-class left. It’s not going to help the workers pick the cotton, ever. That’s why it won’t and can’t even acknowledge the existence of parecon. And that’s why it’s reduced to saying stupid bullshit like “capitalism is the virus, solidarity is the cure.”