Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Why the democrats cannot be progressive

Color me unsurprised: Dem campaign chief vows no litmus test on abortion, via PZ Myers, who says,
I have this crazy idea that America really needs a political party that supports labor, women, and minorities, and that is dedicated to helping all people rise up. It should favor causes that improve civil rights and distributes power widely and works on making America better, rather than claiming it is already the best. It ought to have a platform that states clearly that it wants to promote the general welfare and strengthens every level of society, and that encourages greater autonomy of individuals, no matter how poor or wealthy they are. [emphasis added]
Sadly, it really is a crazy idea, mostly because of the emphasized passage above. The fundamental rule of capitalism is don't fuck with rich people's money. Don't take it, don't tax it, don't fine them. Don't enact policies that will substantially transfer income or wealth to the undeserving poor (i.e. not obscenely rich).

We tried this once. In the early 1930s, the rich people lost all their money. The professional-managerial class stepped in, took state power, and fixed the economy by actually giving money to poor people. The PMC made it very difficult for the capitalist class to get their money back and restore their relative economic power. The PMC has made a lot of egregious mistakes, especially the Vietnam war, but it's pretty clear that the capitalist class is utterly incompetent at political rule and cannot manage a national economy more complicated than that of the 1820s, much less a global economy.

But they did not destroy the capitalist class. Both Lenin and Mao discovered that destroying the capitalist class is a very difficult task, which they failed to complete.

It might have been possible to destroy the capitalist class in an already-industrialized country such as the United States, but again, as we saw in mid 19th-century Europe, that too is a difficult task: the capitalist class has a lot of power and no scruples: they're willing to kill hundreds of millions of people not only to keep their power but also just to make an extra buck. How do honest, moral revolutionaries confront such monstrosity without becoming monsters ourselves?

So one cannot really blame the PMC for blinking. They thought they could make a deal with the capitalists: let us run the state, do what needs to be done to keep the economy from failing and the people from revolting, and you get to keep running the businesses, make reasonable money, and live in comfort. Faced with an angry mob whom the capitalists feared might take up torches and pitchforks, the capitalists agreed, but when the mob dispersed, the capitalist class was having none of it. They didn't want to suffer egregious oppression under the boot-heels of the professional-managerial class: they wanted their money back. All of it. And more. And they'll get it.

Both the Democrats and Republicans were caught off-guard by Trump and Sanders. Trump won the Republican nomination because the Republicans knew he wouldn't get in the way of the capitalist agenda; Sanders lost precisely because he would have been a little bit progressive, and the capitalist class would not stand for it. But they didn't take Sanders seriously enough early enough, and he got close to winning the Democratic nomination; he might have defeated Trump. The capitalist class will not make the same mistake twice, and the Democratic party is eagerly helping, pushing the line that socialism is sexist and racist.

The professional-managerial class — and the PMC's Democratic party — still cannot comprehend that the capitalist class wants all the power, no matter and damn the consequences. Fiat justitia ruat cælum. The PMC keeps making concessions to the capitalist class, but the capitalists don't want a bigger piece of the pie, they want to be the ones cutting the pie and handing out slices.

But why should we expect Democrats to comprehend the capitalist class's will to power? There are only two alternatives — give up and commit political suicide or foment revolution — both unthinkable to those who have more than a minimal stake in the system. (It's easy for me to contemplate revolution; I have nothing to lose either way: I'll be dead before the capitalists completely ruin the university system.)

The Democratic party as an organ of the PMC died with the election of Trump. The professional-managerial class will never wield any political or economic power, and the Democratic party will probably be tasked with destroying the intellectual and political legitimacy of socialism. But even the slightly less assholy capitalists are still politically and macroeconomically incompetent, and they are about to crash the global economy so hard that the global financial crisis and lesser depression of 2007 to present, the Long Depression, even the Great Depression look like mild downturns. The capitalist class knows their enemy, and they will not allow the professional-managerial class to save them from themselves.

So everything is about to collapse, the relatively smart and well-educated people in the PMC can neither halt nor help recover from the collapse. Marx's prediction is about to become true: society will become divided between the capitalist class (and their now-subservient minions in the PMC) and the working class.

However, the working class can be dominated, at least for a while. They will go to war and die by the millions, tolerate near-starvation, material deprivation, and disease, they will submit to the most brutal authoritarian rule. Remember that the German people never revolted against the Nazis, and that even after the most brutal deprivation, the Bolsheviks took power only because of Lenin's intellect and will; without Lenin himself, Russia would have devolved into chaos. (Mao is a little more complicated.)

And we probably will. After Trump, le déluge. I am completely convinced that the Sanders-Warren wing of the Democratic party that is at least condescendingly charitable towards the working class has zero chance of taking state power after Trump (or Pence, if Trump resigns or is impeached and convicted). Regardless of who is president, we will have a capitalist Republican Congress, and a majority of Republican state governments; the president will either be a Republican or an ineffectual Democrat. Just a few more Republican (or Blue Dog Democratic) state governments and the capitalist class can amend the Constitution; they will be sure to do so. (See e.g. Hungary.)

We will have a wave of nationalistic patriotism supporting some big war, perhaps against the Middle East, perhaps against Russia. We will have food rationing, gas rationing, medical rationing, and the working class will tolerate it. At least for a while. No one can predict what will happen then: we could all die, a socialist utopia might emerge, or anything in between.

7 comments:

  1. The capitalist class may have been bad, but like you said (if I understand you correctly) they've been out of power since long, long before I was born.

    What's missing from your analysis is the fact that the technocratic-managerial class have been a bunch of grabby little vultures, a bunch of pulley-operating piranhas who have pushed others down to raise themselves up ever since I was born, and no doubt before. (Not all of them, but most.) The mid 2010s is when the American People finally started using the political system to do something about them.

    And it was the American People, not the capitalists, who voted them out.

    I actually predict an American Golden Age of prosperity, not gloom and doom, especially if the technocratic-managerial class is fully removed from their ivory towers of power and influence.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The capitalist class may have been bad, but like you said (if I understand you correctly) they've been out of power since long, long before I was born.

    Well, I have a more complicated story: the capitalist class lost state power in the 30s, but they retained economic power, and retook state power in the 80s.

    [T]he technocratic-managerial class have been a bunch of grabby little vultures, a bunch of pulley-operating piranhas who have pushed others down to raise themselves up ever since I was born, and no doubt before.

    I don't think this is true. Your unfortunate experience in the university system was almost completely unknown before the 1980s. Under the PMC, college was relative inexpensive and hard to get into. The capitalists, who undermined the university system, are responsible for your experience.

    The mid 2010s is when the American People finally started using the political system to do something about them.

    And it was the American People, not the capitalists, who voted them out.


    A minority of the people, and in favor of the explicitly pro-capitalist Republican party, and the actually fascist Trump.

    I actually predict an American Golden Age of prosperity, not gloom and doom, especially if the technocratic-managerial class is fully removed from their ivory towers of power and influence.

    I think you are sadly mistaken. Only the technocrats can make capitalism work; without their influence, capitalism will crash and burn. Which, as a socialist, I don't find objectionable.

    Dustin, I urge you to think with your head, not with your gut. Grasp the actual historical situation; don't rely on propaganda. Treat even what I say not as Truth, or even as truth, but as a guidepost for your own investigation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Larry, I didn't vote for Donald Trump in November and I think he's a giant fraud perpetrated on this country.

      Delete
    2. Good to know! It's still true that for all the technocrats's flaws, the capitalists are destroying them at their own peril. Only the technocrats can make capitalism work.

      Part of my socialist critique of capitalism, indeed a big reason I became a socialist/communist is that I know that capitalism cannot work without technocrats in control of the state, but capitalists also cannot tolerate technocratic rule.

      Delete
    3. Larry, the "student loan path" happened to some people I know. It seems to be the most common "pitfall path" so it's the one I mentioned in detail rather than my own personal path. My own personal path is a bit more complicated. In 2009 I was told to go back to university, to graduate school, by my father after undergraduate did not result in a job (I graduated during the 2008 crash -- that was part of the problem.)

      Graduate school actually DID result in a job, faster than I thought actually, however the demands of my PhD research group plus my job's research group became more and more, and eventually my physical body was unable to keep up.

      In mid 2014, after one too many 80-100 hour work weeks of extremely intense work, I was hit with long-term health problems that I still have not recovered from today (although I'm way better than I was). I had never had serious health problems in my life before, and was known for being especially hale and hearty. The health problems, which began occurring before I even hit 30, are what made me feel that I just went and threw my life away.

      I lost my employment (which was with the University Civil Engineering dept, actually) and just barely held onto my PhD candidacy (in Computer Science) with the skin of my teeth.

      I shouldn't have called university a "sinkhole", that was said in anger. I'm still here, actually. I'm going to be a paid employee even again once we get our grant and I can get paid for doing the PhD work I'm already doing for just 40 hours a week without having to do 80 hours a week (i.e., another 40 working for another department or another employer).

      Delete
  3. I'm sorry to hear about your health problems, and pleased that you seem on the mend.

    I'm getting a Master's degree in Economics right now, and you couldn't get me to touch a PhD candidacy with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole.

    The egregious exploitation of graduate students, especially PhD students, is abominable.

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    Replies
    1. "The egregious exploitation of graduate students, especially PhD students, is abominable."

      Larry, yes, a man died who was part of our PhD research team a few years ago (this is from before my own health problems). He died at only 43, from cancer. I am convinced that his cancer was caused and/or exacerbated, at least in part, by the incredible stress and workload that was placed on him. He was one of the smartest people I ever knew in my whole life.

      Delete

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