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The Woke Elite Have No Clothes

Here’s a genuinely fascinating essay in The Atlantic, by Yascha Mounk, who writes about research showing that overwhelming majorities of Americans hate political correctness.  [1]

It starts like this:

On social media, the country seems to divide into two neat camps: Call them the woke and the resentful. Team Resentment is manned—pun very much intended—by people who are predominantly old and almost exclusively white. Team Woke is young, likely to be female, and predominantly black, brown, or Asian (though white “allies” do their dutiful part). These teams are roughly equal in number, and they disagree most vehemently, as well as most routinely, about the catchall known as political correctness.

Reality is nothing like this. As scholars Stephen Hawkins, Daniel Yudkin, Miriam Juan-Torres, and Tim Dixon argue in a report published Wednesday, “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape [2],” most Americans don’t fit into either of these camps. They also share more common ground than the daily fights on social media might suggest—including a general aversion to PC culture.

You don’t say. More:

If you look at what Americans have to say on issues such as immigration, the extent of white privilege, and the prevalence of sexual harassment, the authors argue, seven distinct clusters emerge: progressive activists, traditional liberals, passive liberals, the politically disengaged, moderates, traditional conservatives, and devoted conservatives.

According to the report, 25 percent of Americans are traditional or devoted conservatives, and their views are far outside the American mainstream. Some 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists, and their views are even less typical. By contrast, the two-thirds of Americans who don’t belong to either extreme constitute an “exhausted majority.” Their members “share a sense of fatigue with our polarized national conversation, a willingness to be flexible in their political viewpoints, and a lack of voice in the national conversation.”

Hmm. If one out of four people believe something, are they really “far” out of the American mainstream? In the report, “Traditional Liberals” and “Passive Liberals” make up 26 percent of the population. Aren’t they part of the mainstream too? Or am I reading this wrong? Here’s a graphic from the “Hidden Tribes” report that shows how they sort us:

change_me

How do the authors define these groups? Here:

Anyway, the story goes on to say that race and youth are not indicators of openness to PC.  Black Americans are the minority group most accepting of PC, but even then, 75 percent of them think it’s a problem. More:

If age and race do not predict support for political correctness, what does? Income and education.

While 83 percent of respondents who make less than $50,000 dislike political correctness, just 70 percent of those who make more than $100,000 are skeptical about it. And while 87 percent who have never attended college think that political correctness has grown to be a problem, only 66 percent of those with a postgraduate degree share that sentiment.

Political tribe—as defined by the authors—is an even better predictor of views on political correctness. Among devoted conservatives, 97 percent believe that political correctness is a problem. Among traditional liberals, 61 percent do. Progressive activists are the only group that strongly backs political correctness: Only 30 percent see it as a problem.

Here’s the heart of it:

So what does this group look like? Compared with the rest of the (nationally representative) polling sample, progressive activists are much more likely to be rich, highly educated—and white. They are nearly twice as likely as the average to make more than $100,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree. And while 12 percent of the overall sample in the study is African American, only 3 percent of progressive activists are. With the exception of the small tribe of devoted conservatives, progressive activists are the most racially homogeneous group in the country.

This, a thousand times:

As one 57- year-old woman in Mississippi fretted:

The way you have to term everything just right. And if you don’t term it right you discriminate them. It’s like everybody is going to be in the know of what people call themselves now and some of us just don’t know. But if you don’t know then there is something seriously wrong with you.

Seriously, read the whole thing. [1] It’s encouraging news.

So, guess who runs most of the institutions in this country: academia, media, entertainment, corporations? Educated, rich white liberals (and minorities who come out of those institutions, and who agree with their PC ideology). They have created a social space in which they lord their ideology over everybody else, and have intimidated everyone into going along with it, out of fear of harsh consequences, and stigma, for dissenters.

Mounk points out that it’s not that majorities believe racism and bigotry aren’t things to be concerned about. They do! It’s that they believe that PC is the wrong way to address those problems.

If you have the time, read the whole “Hidden Tribes” report [2]on which Mounk bases his essay. They reveal something that has actually been brought out by Pew Research studies in the past: that US political conversation is entirely driven by the extremes, while most people in the middle are more open to compromise. It’s not that most of these people are moderates, are centrists. It’s that they aren’t driven by a strong sense of tribalism.

The authors call these “hidden tribes” because they are defined not by race, sex, and the usual tribal markers, but rather by a shared agreement on how the world works, whether they’re aware of it or not. Where individuals come down on these points generally determines where they’ll come down on hot button political and cultural issues (e.g., immigration, feminism):

You shouldn’t assume that most Americans share the same basic values. As the report indicates, there are substantive differences among us. It’s simply not accurate to blame tension over these divisions on extremists of the right or the left who exaggerate them. Though the differences are real, what seems to set the majority-middle apart is their general unwillingness to push those differences to the breaking point.

I want to point out one aspect of the analysis that means a lot to me, as a religious conservative. It’s on page 81 of the report. Here’s a graph recording answers to the question, “How important is religious faith to you?”

Religion is important to almost two-thirds of Americans.The only tribe in which a majority finds it unimportant are Progressive Activists. UPDATE: Sorry, but I misread the graph. Religion is not important to two-thirds of Americans. That’s really depressing. It tells us that religious belief, which is important to almost four in 10 Americans, is something that the rest of the country doesn’t really grok.

UPDATE.2: Argh! Some of you point out that the error has to be in the graph itself, because the numbers don’t add up if you say that religion is unimportant to two-thirds of Americans. So I’ve restored the original.

According to the study:

Strong identification with religious belief appears to be a strong tribal marker for the Devoted and Traditional Conservatives, and an absence of religious belief appears to be a marker for Progressive Activists.

Guess which tribe runs the culture-making institutions in our society (e.g., major media, universities, entertainment)?

I am reminded of something one of you readers, a conservative academic, wrote to me once: that you feel safe because your department is run by traditional liberals, who don’t agree with you, but who value free and open exchange of ideas. You are very worried about what happens when those people — who are Baby Boomers — retire, because the generational cohort behind them are hardcore left-wing ideologues who do not share the traditional liberal view.

This just in from Reuters: [3]

Hollywood has been at the forefront of the political resistance to President Donald Trump, using awards shows, social media and donations to promote progressive positions on issues from immigration to gun control.

Now, the entertainment industry is using its star power and creativity to support down-ballot candidates in the Nov. 6 elections. Down-ballot races are typically state and local positions that are listed on voting ballots below national posts.

This approach is part of the way Hollywood is rewriting its script for political action following Trump’s shock election in 2016.

I can’t blame anyone for advocating for their political beliefs in the public square. But these are among the most privileged people on the planet. They are Progressive Activists — and they are massively out of touch with the rest of the country, though they have massively more cultural power to define the narrative than their adversaries.

Here’s another interesting factoid from the report:

Progressive Activists are unique in seeing the world as a much less dangerous place than other Americans. For other tribes, the differences are much smaller. On average, 14 percent of Americans view the world as generally safe and nonthreatening, while among Progressive Activists almost three times as many people hold this view (40 percent). This figure is especially striking in light of Progressive Activists’ deep pessimism about the direction of the country (98 percent say it is going in the wrong direction) and their emotions toward the country (45 percent say they currently feel “very” scared about the country’s direction).

Think of the psychology of this! How can they feel that the world is “generally safe and nonthreatening” while at the same time be “very” scared about the direction of the US? The answer, I think, is that in their own lives, they feel secure. And why not? Remember this from Yascha Mounk’s essay on this study:

So what does this group look like? Compared with the rest of the (nationally representative) polling sample, progressive activists are much more likely to be rich, highly educated—and white. They are nearly twice as likely as the average to make more than $100,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree.

Economically, educationally, and racially, Progressive Activists are the most elite group in the country. 

Look at this amazing fact:

First, notice that one out of three African Americans think that people are too sensitive about race, the same percentage of Traditional Liberals who do. A solid majority of Hispanic Americans believe that, and nearly three out of four Asian Americans believe that. Sixty percent of Americans overall agree with this viewpoint. Who rejects it overwhelmingly? Progressive Activists — the rich, educated white people who control academia and media.

Note well that majorities are not saying that racism isn’t a problem (81 percent agree that we have serious problems with racism), only that there is too much emphasis on it. Do you get that? They’re saying that racism is a serious issue, but it has been disproportionately emphasized relative to other serious issues. On bread-and-butter issues like college admissions, Progressive Activists are far, far removed from everybody else, even Traditional Liberals:

The numbers are similar on gender issues. Progressive Activists are radically far apart from the views of most Americans. No wonder the media can’t understand why everybody doesn’t agree with them that Brett Kavanaugh is a sexist monster.

Finally, the last chapter of the study focuses on what its authors call the “Exhausted Majority” — Traditional Liberals, Passive Liberals, Politically Disengaged and Moderates:

The four segments in the Exhausted Majority have many differences, but they share four main attributes:

– They are more ideologically flexible

– They support finding political compromise

– They are fatigued by US politics today

– They feel forgotten in political debate

Importantly, the Traditional Conservatives do not belong to the Exhausted Majority, while the Traditional Liberals do. The key difference lies in their mood towards the country’s politics. While the Exhausted Majority express disillusionment, frustration, and anger at the current state of US politics, Traditional Conservatives are far more likely to express confidence, excitement and optimism. As such, the Traditional Conservatives hold a meaningfully different emotional disposition towards the country that aligns them more with the Devoted Conservatives.

That’s really interesting. Having read the detailed descriptions of the various tribes, I fall more into the Traditional Conservative camp, but I am much more pessimistic about the country’s politics than TCs in this study. What accounts for that? Is it:

a) I spend a lot of time looking at the cultural fundamentals and trends, especially regarding religion, and believe that the optimism of Traditional Conservatives is irrational; or

b) I spend a lot of time reading and analyzing the mainstream media, including social media, and therefore overestimate the power and influence of Progressive Activists

I’d say the answer is probably 80 percent a) and 20 percent b). I believe my fellow Traditional Conservatives (like the Devoted Conservatives to our right) believe that things are more stable than they actually are.

Anyway, if you have the time, I encourage you to read the entire report.  [2] It’s basic point is that neither extreme of left and right speak for the majority of Americans, though their stridency, and the nature of media to emphasize conflict, conditions most of us to think that things are far more polarized than they actually are.

For me, the best news in the entire report is learning how sick and tired most Americans are of political correctness. It’s not that most people believe there aren’t serious problems in the country having to do with race, sex, immigration, and so forth. It’s that people are tired of the Progressive Speech Police stalking around like Saudi imams with sticks in hand, whacking anyone who fails to observe strict pieties. As Yascha Mounk says in his piece about the report:

The gap between the progressive perception and the reality of public views on this issue could do damage to the institutions that the woke elite collectively run. A publication whose editors think they represent the views of a majority of Americans when they actually speak to a small minority of the country may eventually see its influence wane and its readership decline. And a political candidate who believes she is speaking for half of the population when she is actually voicing the opinions of one-fifth is likely to lose the next election.

Yes. And — drums please — that has a lot to do with how we got Trump.

UPDATE: Reader JG:

The report is good news. But I agree with you Rod, that it’s hard to be really optimistic. The reason is a somewhat more specific application of your explanation a). While Americans are tired of the vitriol in the national media/politics, and while that is overwhelmingly due to the dominance of the woke elite in our cultural institutions, my pessimism is that most people tacitly support the basic values of the woke brigade, while being put off by their disgusting tactics (even though their tactics flow directly from their vision of the world).

For example. I cannot understand baby boomers who say it’s ok to be gay, that’s the way you were born, but draw the line at trans or intersectionality. If there is such a thing as biological men and women and that defines what sex you must identify as, why is it not true that biology defines attraction, since, biologically, men are supposed to be attracted to women and women to men? If gay people transcend their biology in their attraction, why can’t a trans person transcend their biology in identity? To hold to one ‘biological’ position but not the other is inconsistent. Thus, baby boomers who are ‘traditional liberals’ in the sense of being cautious and pro-gay etc still support the basic assumptions of the woke: that biology can be transcended by personality.

Another case: It is normal in my church for new couples to put off having children to whatever age (pick a number) then dump them in childcare when they do arrive, and even build childcare facilities to dump them in (because you gotta have Christian options available for all the Christians who want to work to pay for the childcare, you know). The reason is that they see the central goods in life to be the same as the secular people around them: money (and possessions) and work (doing what you enjoy doing without the interference of family). Our church preaches against the prosperity gospel, but never mentions the worship of goods that is present in the congregation. It’s not that I’m being legalistic (you gotta have kids or you’re disobeying the Law of God) or promoting worshiping the family (I have experienced the problems with that first-hand), but rather that the *norms* in our Christian culture are the same as the secular culture (apart from, you know, say traditional marriage). Thus, the values of the woke progressives (where work and market is the centre of life) are implicit in even a traditional/devoted conservative Christian church.

Or another, softer, instance: why do churches with conservative values nevertheless imitate our therapeutic popular music, and seek to recreate the casual, pop-drenched atmosphere of the mall? In doing so, they sing the gospel according to “The Shack” (God conforms himself to whatever you need him to be) and the gospel according to the mall (you will be complete if you own this) every single week, even though on paper, they don’t support either of those things. The woke elite assumes we are, at our core, emotive, individualistic beings: it is up to us to determine who we are and what we want; conservative church music/atmosphere supports that idea.

It is for reasons like these that I think you and James KA Smith (despite his disagreements with you, I think he is in furious agreement with you) are correct. Conservative churches are bewildered by such things as a 60% popular vote for same sex marriage in Australia (70% turnout overall). We must exegete our culture, and consciously incarnate our faith: we can no longer assume a broadly Christian ethos. But that is exactly what conservative Christian churches seem to be doing.

126 Comments (Open | Close)

126 Comments To "The Woke Elite Have No Clothes"

#1 Comment By Jonf On October 12, 2018 @ 4:40 pm

Thrice a Viking: the elite are a tiny, tiny class who can all fit on the top of the social pyramid. If You’re talking about millions and millions of people, they aren’t elite because that’s far too many people for them all to have real power. I agree that many people a bit farther down the pyramid, but still near the top, may think they have power, but they don’t. They’re just self-important flunkies of those above them. To repeat myself, legends in their own mind.

#2 Comment By cka2nd On October 12, 2018 @ 4:48 pm

Phillip in TN says:

“’committed progressives all, are against rampant SJWism.’”

“I want to know how progressives consider SJWs different from themselves.”

The short answer is that committed progressives include folks who are focused much more on economic issues and foreign policy issues than the most militant SJW folks. And that includes on the campuses, where I would imagine that there is not a ton of crossover between BDS (Israel) folks and SJW, or SJW and those organizing graduate assistant unions, supporting contracted out cafeteria workers in their efforts to get living wages or organize unions, and pressuring the university and its sport teams about the third world sweatshops that churn out State U’s sweatshirts and the Nike, etc. sneakers their athletes wear. That’s my guess, at least.

#3 Comment By Harve On October 12, 2018 @ 5:17 pm

Thrice A Viking says:

“But many self-styled progressives could scarcely care less about the Dismal Science, instead focusing on such things as LGBT issues, sexual harassment, and cultural appropriation.”

1. Economics is hard.

2. The right is ideological. Most of the left is issue focused.

If one is gay, it’s hardly a mystery why ones basic civil rights might loom large.

If one is female, things like sexual harassment, reproductive autonomy, and job equity might be important.

If you understand what global warming is going to do to things human and non-human that just might propel you to action.

If one is a student with little life experience and time on ones hands, cultural appropriation might seem like an actual thing.

Phillip in TN says:

“I want to know how progressives consider SJWs different from themselves.”

SJW isn’t an agreed upon thing, it’s an amorphous label. When I see some student or prof. getting overwrought about something I look at the specific issue and evaluate it before judging.

A large part of the problem is that while serious venues on the left usually ignore these things unless they impinge on due process or academic freedom, venues on the right tend to cherry-pick for snow-flakery and then use poorly formed slippery slope arguments to roil the audience.

The best course would be for you to familiarize yourself with things left by exploring things that are actually on the left. There are blogs and sites that range from center-left to Marxist – explore a little. You will never understand the left through a right polarized filter.

Sam M says”

“Right now, environmental issues are some of the most partisan when it comes to political polling. Have been for a long, long, time. And I think it’s fair to say that the discussions about global warming and sustainability are pretty divisive.”

When I became interested in environmental issues several decades ago I discovered that most conservative takes are based on ideological priors and outright deception. A couple of examples:

I recall an article by Anthony Lejeune in National Review in the late 1960s wherein he wrote as he flew over Lake Erie that the possibility of mere humans polluting such a large body of water as ridiculous.

I was on a local radio program with a chap who asserted that the feds had closed access to millions of acres of public land. I asked what lands. Dead silence for quite a few seconds so I helped him out. “Did you mean the Escalante?” “Yes, Yes,” he said. “No,” I replied. “I was just there, and the roads are wide open.”

In the 1950s conservative and the auto industry ridiculed the absurd notion that cars and residential incinerators could be involved with smog and, as with global warming, it wasn’t the role of government to do anything.

For the sake of corporate profit we ran a decades long experiment on the effect of lead on children.

Conservative funding and “first prinsiples” makes honesty on environmental matters impossible. Global warming is an existential issue where the conservative position is driven by short term corporate profits and an ideological straitjacket on the role of government.

#4 Comment By mdc On October 12, 2018 @ 5:50 pm

[NFR: But the HR departments are often bastions of Progressive Activism. Businessman Republicans don’t care about this stuff, deep down; they just want to conform to “best practices” — which, in corporate America, means non-stop diversity training. — RD]

The HR department works for the boss.

[NFR: My point is that the bosses either don’t care, or are so eager to embrace trends within their industries that they empower this stuff, because they know for damn sure it will never affect them. Besides, it’s what their social and professional class embraces, and one should never, ever underestimate the power of peer pressure. — RD]

#5 Comment By Sam M On October 12, 2018 @ 5:50 pm

Siarlys,

“If they have any, it will probably some primitive pagan animism, but they likely won’t be alive to practice it.”

Paul Erlich called. He wants his prediction back.

Also: Fracking!

#6 Comment By Harve On October 12, 2018 @ 8:55 pm

Sam M says:

“Paul Erlich called. He wants his prediction back.”

Sam, get to know the Rule of 72. Paul’s strategy was stupid and anyone who uses long term population projections to predict medium term prices of an arbitrarily chosen basket of commodities is a fool.

That being said, check out the population growth rate in the middle of the twentieth century. It actually hit 2% a couple times. A two percent growth rate doubles about every 36 years. That is unsustainable over any extended period of time. Ten doublings is a thousand.

That works out to a small room per person. Oh, and then there is the matter of water. Any animal can exceed the carrying capacity of its environment.

What happened is that improving economies, education (esp. women), and various government programs dropped that rate. I was traveling through India in the mid 1980s and village after village (lots of villages) had “sex clinic” signs where birth control was available.

(Yes I’m aware of problems early on and Mao was demented)

#7 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 12, 2018 @ 11:18 pm

Credit where credit is due. Harve makes an excellent presentation on planetary population and carrying capacity. And yes, Mao was demented. Sometimes the man who can organize a revolution and carry it to victory is NOT the man to organize the post-revolutionary economy. And he was senile by the time he called for the Cultural Revolution.

Fracking has given us some breathing room, at a price. When people in rural Pennsylvania can turn on their faucet, light a match, and see flames, its not as cheap as the market tells us. But it beats coal on several counts, it breaks our dependence on Saudi Arabia, and the technology for solar, wind, and battery storage, is advancing exponentially.

NFR: My point is that the bosses either don’t care, or are so eager to embrace trends within their industries that they empower this stuff, because they know for damn sure it will never affect them.

As the Industrial Workers of the World always said, “Fire your boss.” I know, easier said than done, but capitalism is at the root of this “woke” stuff.

Most of the left is issue focused.

The left by definition is class focused. If you are focused on issues, you are a liberal.

#8 Comment By JG On October 13, 2018 @ 2:54 am

The report is good news. But I agree with you Rod, that it’s hard to be really optimistic. The reason is a somewhat more specific application of your explanation a). While Americans are tired of the vitriol in the national media/politics, and while that is overwhelmingly due to the dominance of the woke elite in our cultural institutions, my pessimism is that most people tacitly support the basic values of the woke brigade, while being put off by their disgusting tactics (even though their tactics flow directly from their vision of the world).

For example. I cannot understand baby boomers who say it’s ok to be gay, that’s the way you were born, but draw the line at trans or intersectionality. If there is such a thing as biological men and women and that defines what sex you must identify as, why is it not true that biology defines attraction, since, biologically, men are supposed to be attracted to women and women to men? If gay people transcend their biology in their attraction, why can’t a trans person transcend their biology in identity? To hold to one ‘biological’ position but not the other is inconsistent. Thus, baby boomers who are ‘traditional liberals’ in the sense of being cautious and pro-gay etc still support the basic assumptions of the woke: that biology can be transcended by personality.

Another case: It is normal in my church for new couples to put off having children to whatever age (pick a number) then dump them in childcare when they do arrive, and even build childcare facilities to dump them in (because you gotta have Christian options available for all the Christians who want to work to pay for the childcare, you know). The reason is that they see the central goods in life to be the same as the secular people around them: money (and possessions) and work (doing what you enjoy doing without the interference of family). Our church preaches against the prosperity gospel, but never mentions the worship of goods that is present in the congregation. It’s not that I’m being legalistic (you gotta have kids or you’re disobeying the Law of God) or promoting worshiping the family (I have experienced the problems with that first-hand), but rather that the *norms* in our Christian culture are the same as the secular culture (apart from, you know, say traditional marriage). Thus, the values of the woke progressives (where work and market is the centre of life) are implicit in even a traditional/devoted conservative Christian church.

Or another, softer, instance: why do churches with conservative values nevertheless imitate our therapeutic popular music, and seek to recreate the casual, pop-drenched atmosphere of the mall? In doing so, they sing the gospel according to “The Shack” (God conforms himself to whatever you need him to be) and the gospel according to the mall (you will be complete if you own this) every single week, even though on paper, they don’t support either of those things. The woke elite assumes we are, at our core, emotive, individualistic beings: it is up to us to determine who we are and what we want; conservative church music/atmosphere supports that idea.

It is for reasons like these that I think you and James KA Smith (despite his disagreements with you, I think he is in furious agreement with you) are correct. Conservative churches are bewildered by such things as a 60% popular vote for same sex marriage in Australia (70% turnout overall). We must exegete our culture, and consciously incarnate our faith: we can no longer assume a broadly Christian ethos. But that is exactly what conservative Christian churches seem to be doing.

#9 Comment By Harve On October 13, 2018 @ 3:31 am

“But many self-styled progressives could scarcely care less about the Dismal Science, instead focusing on such things as LGBT issues, sexual harassment, and cultural appropriation. That makes your post seriously misleading.”

That you lump LGBT issues and sexual harassment with a hobby horse like cultural appropriation merely shows that you have no real understanding of the former two.

(BTW, perhaps the best analogies with SJW is back in the day when civil rights workers were labeled “outside agitators” and when Dixie Lee Ray insisted that “conservationists” were good but “environmentalists” were bad. The current “mob” meme also comes to mind. Our conservative friends do love their labels.)

Siarlys Jenkins says:

“Harve knows that. He revels in it. He thinks the meaning of the word socialism changes every time a new person is born, because nobody remembers history and everyone writes their own meaning for words. And if he cares about the working class now and then, it has a distinctly patronizing flavor.”

Some people can walk and chew gum at the same time. Focus can change because circumstances can change. Ideologies merely exist to justify power. Conservatives are in thrall to the dead hand of the past – the left shouldn’t have that problem

I assume that folks who obsessed over Tacos and pronouns as sophomores will mature in their concerns as they age. Meanwhile I’m more interested in them registering and voting then me engaging in virtue signaling to and making common cause with those who would end the republic.

Siarlys , I’m not sure what your beef is. Socialists have always disagreed. The trick is knowing when to fight things out and when to form a popular front.

One of problems the left has always had in the United States is the conservatism of significant elements of the working class. Recall that reactionary dinosaurs like Meany and Brennan put “anti-communism” ahead of workers interest. PATCO endorsed Reagan. Racial issues have always afflicted organizing in the south and the north as well. Not idealizing something and patronizing it are two different things.
.
Meany attacked McGovern and Nixon paid labor back by vetoing the minimum wage bill. That part of the working class will vote Republican, get screwed over, and come back for more. Republicans are itching to destroy Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid but your workers will still wave their MAGA hats and vote Republican.

The working class would benefit greatly from the governance either one of us would prefer but it’s pure fantasy believing anything is going to get a significant number of those voters back. Time and human mortality is the only thing that cures that problem.

Meanwhile we go where the votes are and we don’t replay Weimar. If the Right still holds all the levers of power after November, they will control the census. If they control the census they control the next decade.

With the current Supreme Court they will be free to continue and accelerate voter suppression.

Meanwhile too many Democrats in the Congress still don’t get that they are dealing with a Leninist movement – it’s still the 70s for them. The Party is shifting to the left. You got a better plan then doing what we can to accelerate that shift?

#10 Comment By Rob G On October 13, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

“The right is ideological. Most of the left is issue focused.”

Too funny. Fact is, they’re both ideological, but neither side wants to or is honest and self-critical enough to admit it.

“You will never understand the left through a right polarized filter.”

Yet you seem to be perfectly happy in attempting to understand the right through a left one, as your broadbrush comments about the right demonstrate.

#11 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 13, 2018 @ 12:35 pm

Some people can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Non sequitir. And most of the human race can reason a little better than Jerry Ford. That’s a low blow, but for the moment, I’m stooping to your banal, self-admiring level.

I assume that folks who obsessed over Tacos and pronouns as sophomores will mature in their concerns as they age.

Hopefully. We all grew up some. But they might need a brick to the head to get there. Meantime, I’m not sure I care if they vote in their current mental state.

One of problems the left has always had in the United States is the conservatism of significant elements of the working class. Recall that reactionary dinosaurs like Meany and Brennan put “anti-communism” ahead of workers interest. PATCO endorsed Reagan. Racial issues have always afflicted organizing in the south and the north as well.

I’ve lived through most of that. And PATCO got its own brick to the head, didn’t it? I grew up in a northern midwest city full of conservative blue-collar families. I also discovered, contrary to the common liberal assumptions, that a lot of blue-collar wards would turn out for George McGovern over Scoop Jackson, Edmund Muskie, or Hubert Humphrey. It takes some work, it takes talking to people, not patronizing them. Some of us got to be very good at it.

I also know some history (before my time) of union efforts that succeeded in organizing across racial lines in the south, even in the 1930s. Amalgamated Meat Packers for one.

The working class would benefit greatly from the governance either one of us would prefer but it’s pure fantasy believing anything is going to get a significant number of those voters back. Time and human mortality is the only thing that cures that problem.

There you are SOOOOO wrong. You haven’t spent a morning driving a bus and heard an old white blue collar worker say “A guy like you? Driving this bus? How can you afford to vote Republican?” My unscientific poll driving my route in 2008 told me that older white blue collar Roman Catholic families were enthusiastic for Barack Obama. Even an old Polish couple I can think of.

Meanwhile too many Democrats in the Congress still don’t get that they are dealing with a Leninist movement – it’s still the 70s for them. The Party is shifting to the left.

“The Party is shifting to the left.” You sound like a communist raised Roman Catholic I fell out with years ago. Neither she nor you have the slightest idea which way “left” is. They Party is circling a maelstrom and doesn’t know how to go anywhere but “with the flow.”

But you did do a great job refuting Sam on global population.

#12 Comment By Harve On October 13, 2018 @ 3:41 pm

Rob G says:

“Too funny. Fact is, they’re both ideological, but neither side wants to or is honest and self-critical enough to admit it.”

Both-siderism may be personally satisfying but at this stage is simply suicidal.

“Yet you seem to be perfectly happy in attempting to understand the right through a left one, as your broad brush comments about the right demonstrate.”

And yet here I am reading TAC.

Siarlys Jenkins says:

“Hopefully. We all grew up some. But they might need a brick to the head to get there. Meantime, I’m not sure I care if they vote in their current mental state.”

Bricks may induce brain damage. Then we get more people voting for folks like Stein and Nader. As a practical matter elections are about persuasion and at this time I see more ponies with students then certain cohorts of the white working class.

That you use “if” as opposed to “who” is destructive. When the danger is from the right, nit-picking (not to mention bricking) the left isn’t productive.
This may be of interest:

[4]

There may have been successes here and there in the South but the overall picture for unionization was and is bleak. Recall that racist and anti-union conservative southern Democrats that made Taft-Hartley possible over Truman’s veto.

“They Party is circling a maelstrom and doesn’t know how to go anywhere but “with the flow.”

Back in the 1960s and 70s there was a serious debate on the Right on taking over the Republican Party as opposed to going with a new party. Bill Rusher wrote a book on the topic. Takeover and purge RINOs won and here we are.

Presidential systems with first past the post elections are going to resolve to two major parties and any ‘third” parties are a waste of time and energy.

We are currently in a situation when the right can only rule as a minority. Putting together majorities where possible using a less then perfect party and working to move that party in the right direction can happen in the same time frame.

Conservatives learned from Lenin and Stalin (of course it helped that they had a number of ex-Reds in their formative years). They worked with what they had and were willing to smash norms when necessary. You got a better way?

#13 Comment By cka2nd On October 13, 2018 @ 3:55 pm

Harve says: “The right is ideological. Most of the left is issue focused.”

Siarlys Jenkins says: “The left by definition is class focused. If you are focused on issues, you are a liberal.”

I have a more catholic definition of “the left” that includes progressives who are more focused on issues other than class, as long as they are at least open to supporting class-based appeals or campaigns, for instance, left black nationalists, socialist feminists and at least some eco-feminists and left environmentalists.

Harve says: “Ideologies merely exist to justify power. Conservatives are in thrall to the dead hand of the past – the left shouldn’t have that problem.”

Rob G says: “Too funny. Fact is, they’re both ideological, but neither side wants to or is honest and self-critical enough to admit it.”

No, Rob G, Harve has a point, and its a real problem for the left. There is a very wide strain of anti-intellectualism, anti-ideology and anti-theory on the left, and has been for a very long time. Any of us “sectarian” or ideological leftists who have spent time organizing in coalitions or individual-based groups (as opposed to organization-based united or popular fronts) have dealt with it. I don’t know if its uniquely American, but it certainly feels like a combination of our two American traditions of pragmatism and anti-intellectualism. That lack of a theoretical basis on such a wide scale encourages, I think, the kind of emotional self-gratification (whether through virtue-signaling or small-group direct action) and short-term thinking that usually makes all that action and heat and movement ineffective in the not so long run. Now, this anti-theory strain can be dishonest, because it does seem to go along with a preference for non-hierarchical structures – “None of us are leaders. We are all leaders.” is bullcrap; leadeship ALWAYS happens, and better it were openly acknowledged and voted on then built around a semi-secret clique – and loose and uncritical organizational methods – “Well, if you don’t like the flier, just do one yourself!” – that I have, perhaps wrongly, characterized as an amalgam of anarchism and 70’s feminism, but more in their practice than in any conscious ideology. ACT-UP! was the pinnacle of this kind of organizing, in my opinion, and it’s been all downhill since then.

Honestly, while I think my sense of the current popularity of Intersectionality may be inflated by how much attention the Right (or at least Rod and TAC, to be honest) pays it, it does seem to have become the most popular theoretical lens through which fairly broad sections of the left – mostly the cultural and social left, but not exclusively – tries to make sense of the world since so many progressives and leftists turned to various forms of Marxism in the 1970’s, be it Maoism, Trotskyism, Euro-Communism, Third Worldism, Socialist Feminism or Democratic Socialism. Interestingly, while intersectionality may have been birthed by black feminists, it seems to have really captured wide swaths of the liberal academy and then spread from there in a symbiotic relationship with “Diversity, Inc.” in the corporate and governmental sectors, whereas the turn to Marxism in the 70’s was a reaction against the failures of reforming American society, capitalism and foreign policy, and specifically, the failure of achieving that reform FROM the academy, as students. And yes, yes, that was followed by the Marxist “March Through the Academy,” by many an ex-activist, and a few activists, but that came several years later, after a lot of those would-be revolutionaries saw their dreams crushed and the “real world” crashing in.

Sorry, this comment was longer than planned, but Harve is RIGHT that much of the left is not ideological, and he is WRONG in thinking this a good thing.

#14 Comment By cka2nd On October 13, 2018 @ 4:09 pm

Harve says: “…it’s pure fantasy believing anything is going to get a significant number of those voters back.”

Siarlys Jenkins says: “I grew up in a northern midwest city full of conservative blue-collar families. I also discovered, contrary to the common liberal assumptions, that a lot of blue-collar wards would turn out for George McGovern over Scoop Jackson, Edmund Muskie, or Hubert Humphrey. It takes some work, it takes talking to people, not patronizing them. Some of us got to be very good at it.”

I’m with Siarlys here. I can’t remember what the issue was that drove militant feminists from New York City to travel to Idaho to campaign around in the early 1990’s, but they did, and they specifically targeted areas for their door-to-door canvassing that had been written off by the professional consultants. “Too conservative, too working class and poor, too “backward” the feminist and/or queer pros said, but the punk grrlz thought differently, and sure enough, they found an audience more than willing to listen to them, and I think the final results (I believe it was for some ballot measure) bore them out, with many more votes than expected cast for their side from the areas that the militants had worked in.

On a larger scale, the desperate fight to save unions and some semblance of workers control over their workplaces that characterized most of the 1980’s saw remarkable transformations in some of those workers – a Hormel meatpacker from Minnesota admitting to a crowd in NYC that he had often used the “N-word” in the past, but did so no longer because of the solidarity he had gotten from black workers all over these United States – and in the relative success of Jesse Jackson’s 1988 campaign for the Democratic nomination fro president. Jackson marched on thousands of picket lines between 1984 and 1988, and ended up getting nearly seven million votes and coming in second in that race. Who’s to say that a concerted attack on Social Security and Medicare can’t see a similar shift on the ground? Striking teachers in three or four different red states have shown that such a shift might not only be possible, but could be closer than we think, especially with the right – that is, Left – leadership.

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 13, 2018 @ 5:42 pm

at this time I see more ponies with students then certain cohorts of the white working class.

That’s typical of people who want a pony. Students are not a particularly stable or influential force, although they can flatter themselves when nobody tells them its time to turn in. What’s needed to mobilize the working class is a program that appeals to workers, as workers, in their innate conservatism, which isn’t per se such a bad thing. Culture wars do not impress, and also do not generate significant progress for humanity.

#16 Comment By Harve On October 13, 2018 @ 8:42 pm

Guys, I’m hearing a bunch of anecdotes of insufficient number to constitute data. If the white working class was the key to anything Bryan would have beaten McKinley and Joe Hill would have died of old age. We didn’t crush the Republican Party in California by trying to change minds in Bakersfield.

We can share all sorts of kumbaya stories but Trump will still be president and we will still have a Constitution that favors minority rule. We need to expand the base not push on a string. The WWC get to benefit if we win and that’s fine but they won’t get us there.

Recall that 25 years after Taft-Hartley union members and leaders were going for Nixon and Wallace.

#17 Comment By JonF On October 14, 2018 @ 7:34 am

Re: Who’s to say that a concerted attack on Social Security and Medicare can’t see a similar shift on the ground?

Any even halfway serious attack on middle class entitlements will be shut down pretty quickly. Remember when George W Bush proposed a very modest program of private retirement accounts replacing, I think, just 2% of Social Security, and Congress, despite a lopsided GOP majority, got an earful from the voters and promptly dropped the idea as if it were radioactive poo.
This is why the GOP is resistant to any sort of universal social program like the ACA let alone a more comprehensive health care reform, because they know such things become sacrosanct when they benefit everyone. As long as something is just a “poor program for poor people” it’s liable for the chopping block since the recipients can be portrayed as the undeserving poor, lazy moochers.

#18 Comment By JeffK On October 14, 2018 @ 7:45 am

@Harve says:
October 13, 2018 at 3:31 am

“Republicans are itching to destroy Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid but your workers will still wave their MAGA hats and vote Republican.”

Could not have said it better.

#19 Comment By Mwing On October 14, 2018 @ 1:17 pm

I agree with whoever said, it’s manners if you like it and PC if you don’t. No surprise eighty percent of people are against something when the term is perjorative. Kind of like asking, do you like cults. To most people “cult” means by definition a religious group that is unhealthy for and exploitive of its members. For me, PC means those people who say, well, you shouldn’t enjoy this ir that artist because the person once said-did something offensive. And of course I’m against that.

#20 Comment By Rob G On October 14, 2018 @ 2:14 pm

“The left by definition is class focused. If you are focused on issues, you are a liberal.”

True as far as it goes, but maybe a little too neat. There’s a fair amount of overlap in today’s “progressivism,” which mixes the remnants of post-60s liberalism with cultural leftism. Progressives have an underlying ideology by which they pick and choose between issues.

“And yet here I am reading TAC.”

Good. I hope it helps.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 14, 2018 @ 4:00 pm

There’s a fair amount of overlap in today’s “progressivism,” which mixes the remnants of post-60s liberalism with cultural leftism.

True enough. The confusion is not merely a product of the imagination of right-wing trolls looking for a convenient epithet.

Basically, in the 60s classes of people who would more likely have been traditional liberals or even conservatives were drawn into some real social issues, dabbled with Maoism and various strains of Marxism, and for the most part continued with their education and their careers, while longing to remain somehow “progressive” as their incomes rose and they bought nice houses in beautiful suburbs. It made for a very curious perspective and rhetoric. Culture war issues are appealing, because you can feel politically virtuous pushing them, without actually upsetting the economic order that made Google, Apple, Amazon, as well as the Koch Brothers and Kerr-McGee. Its the old Doonesbury cartoon about the iron worker who has read some French philosophers explaining to Mark Slackmeyer (the archetype student radical) about “the will to FEEL proletarian.” Its also why people got into the habit of supporting the revolution furthest away from home (e.g. South Africa).

#22 Comment By Rob G On October 15, 2018 @ 7:05 am

“Culture war issues are appealing, because you can feel politically virtuous pushing them, without actually upsetting the economic order that made Google, Apple, Amazon, as well as the Koch Brothers and Kerr-McGee.”

Indeed. Both today’s progressives and mainstream conservatives have their reasons for ignoring (or at best cherry-picking) such writers as Lasch and Berry. They’re just different reasons. Hell, on the right even old school conservatives like Kirk and Weaver are mostly left out of the conversation. As I heard someone put it a few years ago, if you mention Kirk to today’s conservatives they’re going to think you’re referring not to Russell but to James T.

#23 Comment By MARK SCHONFRUCHT On October 15, 2018 @ 12:21 pm

Percentages are statistics. They do not reflect reality. The 8% who own the media and educational structures have a vastly exaggerated influence over all the other sectors that make up your 100%. So the tiny proportion of extremist liberals box well above their weight, and probably represent closer to 50% of an unknown constituency. Most people, after many years of indoctrination (at least 3 generations), cannot even discriminate between the part of their minds that they regard as “free” and the other part, which they also regard as free. There is no especial problem with ignorance, but when a man is ignorant of his ignorance then he is condemned to live in pertetual darkness. This is the other 80% that you speak of.

#24 Comment By JonF On October 15, 2018 @ 1:20 pm

Mark Schonfrucht, if the media’s influence is so great, how did Donald Trump even get out the gate, let alone into the ovOval Office? Heck, even the conservative media was mostly opposed to him. Apart from True Believers who let their brains be force fed by Fox or MSNBC with things they already believe, the average person is a good deal more resistant to such things than you think.

#25 Comment By Joey D. On October 15, 2018 @ 1:29 pm

“Why are conservatives so paranoid and skeptical of science and academia are they just dumb?” the ‘scientists’ disingenuously ask themselves while literally labeling everyone right-of-center as a wingnut.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 15, 2018 @ 8:24 pm

Mark Schonfrucht, if the media’s influence is so great, how did Donald Trump even get out the gate, let alone into the ovOval Office?

Trump was a great story. It sold. Media covered the amazing fact that Trump was winning primary after primary, and talked about it ad nauseum. There is an old adage among publicity experts that even hostile coverage is good coverage — as long as it keeps your name in front of the public.