I feel a mixture of disgust and pity for progressives who actually believe they are leftists despite enjoying every advantage of class dominance. …and not only enjoy this dominance, but work to extend and maximize their class domination, which of course, includes noisily and ostentatiously diverting attention from their own grotesque class privilege by hyperfocusing on petty identitarian trifles.
It never occurs to them to wonder how it could be that their “left-wing” politics are not only approved of in the workplace — but increasingly “left-wing activism” is actively celebrated, even compelled, by the largest, wealthiest, most powerful capitalist institutions — the exact ones they harmlessly claim to wish to dismantle. Until the day of reckoning comes, though, they’ll work their asses off, sacrifice their happiness, their children to win their boss’s approval and win that promotion and pay raise.
Progressivism is not leftism.
There is no longer any mainstream left.
Apologies to Gertrude Stein, but there is no left left.
There are only classes which have formed around different industry sectors, which have developed cultures, ideologies and justifications for seeking hegemony.
These classes have no need nor desire to mobilize the masses. This is why democracy has grown unresponsive to citizens. They don’t need citizens. Instead, they mobilize their own products, resources and wealth to maximize their power and establish social and cultural hegemony. The political goal is to maximize the power of the hyperwealthy owners the means of production in these industry sectors (which produce not only products and services, but also culture, information, attitudes). A secondary goal, more a means than an end, is to deputize those who serve the owners of these means of production, and trickle them petty power over those who refuse to toe the ideological line.
For whatever reason, these industries are at odds with one another, and have become existential threats to one another. There is no longer an invisible hand of the market, but, rather, multiple hands, each benefitting one market and undermining the other. These hands have clutched into fists. What we are now experiencing is the impact of invisible fists upon the invisible bodies in which we all, as employees of various kinds, are incorporated.
People, in general, are really, really bad at thinking about how they think. They prefer to just focus on what their current way of thinking — the one they were trained to use in college — presents to them as real and true and good, and just let their logic crank out conclusions by its own rules. They think this thought by acquired logic is “critical thought”, but this is mere ratiocination. Critical thought challenges precisely the logic — the ideological underpinning — that produces conclusion. One of our more engrained ratiocinative habits is interpreting conflicts in terms of opposition. If some movement opposes another movement that is called “right-wing” obviously the opposing movement must be opposite: left-wing. If a movement opposes another movement that is called “evil” obviously the opposing movement must be the opposite: good. If a movement opposes another movement that is called “self-interested” obviously the opposing movement must be the opposite: altruistic.
This is plain dumb. Two entirely self-interested, ruthless, ideologically-deluded, hard-right movements can oppose one another, without either being opposed in principle to the other. And either or both of them can develop ideological images of themselves as idealistic, altruistic, principled champions of the common folk.
In my view, precisely this has happened. Both major factions seek hegemony. Both suspect they can pull it off and have grown increasing aggressive toward the other, using wealth, state power and whatever institutions and infrastructure they control as leverage. Both have developed myths to romanticize participation in their conflict. Both are utterly full of shit. But both movements are amply stocked with well-intentioned, intellectually-suggestible, obedient souls who have bought it all and taken it all to heart. They are the expendable cannon fodder of warring industrial sectors who imagine themselves glorious angel warriors battling over the fate of Heaven.
It’s self-interest all the way down, sahib — especially when people start striking altruistic poses. People care about “the other” only as justification for taking and exercising power.
We could call this situation sector sectarianism. Or maybe sectorianism?
I’m a realist. I don’t blame people for wanting to have both power and good conscience. But I also cannot respect it, nor can I play along with it. I find it all embarrassing. Self-respect, not goodness, forbids participation in this tragicomedy of self-righteousness. And people who fall for it on either side are less interesting and respectable, which makes the world a duller, lonelier place. I’ve lost friends to this nonsense, and by that, I mean friends have ruined themselves with this nonsense. I mourn the loss, and despise the body-snatched political puppets who now occupy their bodies and names.