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Commentary on Unmair Haque’s “The Despair of the American Working Class is Real”

The Despair of the American Working Class is Real

Haque does a good job of outlining the deeds of the far right and the effects on its minions, many of whom are cutting their own throats. But one must also ask, why the supposedly Left-wing party, the Democrats, has NOT effectively fought the revived traditional fascism of Trump and his supporters (or its antecedents in the GOP over the past forty years). Fascism is, after all, Capitalism’s response to its inherent contradiction, subsequent crisis and ultimate failure in democratic societies. Fascism is the jettisoning of liberal democracy for authoritarian dictatorship, sold to the masses on the basis of ultra-nationalism, xenophobia, and racism. All because the economic system cannot both continue to extract wealth fast enough to please those it serves AND distribute enough crumbs to keep the masses happy. FDR’s response, regulating Capitalism, limiting the power of the economic royalists, and beginning the process of placing a social democratic floor beneath the general population, widely regarded as “saving Capitalism from itself,” would still be a far saner program, with a much better chance of being “sold” to the voters because it has a track record of success.

Unfortunately, the coordinated response of the economic ruling class against the New Deal has been even more successful. One of the more effective tactics, left out of both the Powell Memo and this critique from Haque, was that they began buying Democratic politicians wholesale in the 1970s and now own the entire neoliberal corporate wing of the party. Other names it goes by are “Third Way,” and “New” Democrats. ” They have effectively sold a plurality of Dem voters a similar, equally self-destructive “story”, one contrary to the progressive values most of the base still hold. One of denial and delay in acting on those values, tied to a bogus issue of “electability.” It will lead to exactly the same place as the GOP’s “story”. “Story,” in both cases is a euphemism for lies.

They attempt to save face by pointing to a supposed middle way. One where a slightly larger (perhaps up to 20% of the population vs 10% in the GOP’s version) group of servants and lackeys of the economic royalty will be allowed to survive with at least some dignity intact and, gasp!, entrance to that group will be open to minorities and others targeted by the the old-style Fascists. Left unsaid is that the vast majority of the entire population will face declining living standards, precarity, and descent to a permanent underclass. It still includes Social Darwinism, trickle-down economics, and austerity among its tenets. It shares, and so could not challenge the core belief of Reaganism, “[t]hat everything in the economy and society should be private, and nothing should be public.” But the oppression will be distributed equally, no-longer with an outsized basis in race. Their program was described by Sheldon Wolin as “Inverted Totalitarianism.” The illusion of democracy with the results of fascism. Whether they succeed or the outright fascists do, the results for the average person will be largely the same. Neoliberal elected Democrats work for the same sorts of people, if not precisely the same individuals, that GOP politicians do. Which is why they are ineffective opponents of outright fascists and spend most of their energy trying to stop the growing progressive movement, which is increasingly becoming one of Democratic Socialism and not simply a revival of the New Deal. “It is only collectively that a working class can enjoy the basics of modern life”

The sad fact is that FDR’s New Deal was the Middle Way between Socialism and Capitalism. In attempting to split the difference between it and the fascists, the neoliberal Dems have self-compromised to the point where their program, with its decided lack of an appealing vision of a positive future for most, cannot garner the overwhelming mass support it would need to triumph. So they resort to the same sorts of doublespeak and lies as the GOP, such as calling Biden a new FDR, the BS that corporate tax cuts will improve the economy for workers, and that we can train and educate our way to full employment in a broken system. They rely on the same jingoism and empty patriotism, creating enemies abroad to divert the public from its real enemies here at home. Echoed by the Democratic half of the imbecilic pundit class (as with our politicians, in service to the oligarchy not the public) that Haque (as Hedges, Frank, and others before him) disparagingly describes.

Yet, if the moronic communications I receive from the Washington State Democratic Party are any indication, they will continue their failed strategy of running against Trump and Trumpism without providing any actual alternative to, or even addressing, the failure of our system that so many are living with. And all the while the collapsing health of the natural world and globalization’s side-effect of increased demand for global economic justice both point to the fact that we must now go much further than FDR’s program.

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