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Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

The Right and the Pseudo-Left: Matching Agendas

| 26 Comments

Someone on Facebook linked to this article.  If you don’t want to read it, I’ll quote the headline: “Why aren’t we as universally outraged over Sandra Bland’s death as we are over Cecil the lion?” One immediately finds one’s self asking, “What do you mean, ‘we’?”  According to the article “we” means all of us–but according to the facts given in the article, “we” means news anchors.

Are we supposed to ignore everything we know about the mass media under capitalism, what its role is, who it serves? Of course news anchors want to accent, increase, dramatize, highlight, and expand racial divisions. Racial divisions have been consciously used to keep working people apart in this country at least since the New York Draft Riots during the Civil War. What do you think Jim Crow was about? Hint: it wasn’t there because the Southern elite felt kindly disposed toward the white working class.

Everywhere I’ve looked, I’ve seen outrage–justified outrage–about the illegal arrest and brutal police murder (yeah, sorry, I still don’t buy suicide) of Sandra Bland. So, okay, we know why the anchorman for a reactionary TV Network doesn’t want us knowing how united we feel about this. But why are so many of those who call themselves leftists going along with it? What is their agenda? Why is it so important to the so-called Liberals and the well-trained pets who sit at their left hand that we believe “no one cares”?

Did you know the New York Times–the voice of American Liberalism–did a poll that showed most people believed there had been considerable progress in race relations, and also showed an increase in class consciousness? They released the results under a banner headline that read, “A Broad Division Over Race in US Is Found In Poll: Relations Seen as Bad.” Here is a good analysis of it.

Police murders, income disparity, domestic spying, health care, education, poverty–these things are bringing us together in our anger and hatred for the oppressors. The Ring Wing is quite reasonably doing everything it can to keep us apart. Why is the New York Times? The International Socialist Organization? The authors of the article on The Raw Story?

Because their agenda has nothing to do with eliminating social privilege; it is about expanding the privilege to include themselves–to give the upper middle class a “bigger slice of the pie.” They hate and envy the ruling class, but despise and fear the working class.

My agenda has nothing to do with giving the upper middle class greater social privilege; my agenda is the destruction of all social privilege forever. You can’t do both. What is your agenda? Or, as they used to say in Harlan County, which side are you on?

skzb

Author: skzb

I play the drum.

26 Comments

  1. While I think you underestimate the power of depression in assuming it wasn’t suicide, even if it was suicide, the police should be charged with murder for driving a depressed person to suicide.

    I think the faux left calls itself the left because they have a binary worldview: they know who the right is, so they think they must be the left.

  2. I am one of the pseudo-leftists. Though sometimes I think you have the moral position and I don’t, and I’m just too cowardly to act.

    But I do remember ten or fifteen years ago arguing with two of my brothers over Equal Opportunity Employment and Affirmative Action. He said it was unfair because it gave other people preferential treatment over him for something he had no control over (being born a white male). I pointed out that the real problem was that good middle class jobs for high school educated people of any kind are hard to find. Instead of spending all of their time angry at black and Latino men and all women for having a small advantage over them for jobs that paid $12 per hour, they should wonder why there aren’t enough $20 per hour jobs to go around for everyone.

    We’re children fighting each other over crusts of bread instead of wondering why the man at the table has stacks and stacks of loaves he can’t possibly eat.

  3. skzb

    “…they should wonder why there aren’t enough $20 per hour jobs to go around for everyone.”

    Yes they should. And you should wonder why the capitalists (Democrats AND Republicans, remember) pushed through affirmative action. Might it be exactly so that that white guy would feel that way about blacks and Latinos?

  4. You make me happy. I mean, in a weird way, given the subject. But it still feels like happiness.

  5. This is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t questions. The lion story is something discrete that a lot of people can get their heads around and a specific person to blame. That makes it easy to focus anger.

    Injustices toward blacks (and others) are rampant and nearly everywhere and every day. Each story is “fuzzy” on the details with multiple people to blame as well as a corrupt system. It’s the Jello problem. How to you grab it and do something with it. So while there is plenty of outrage toward racial injustice, there is no good way to focus it at something that has effect.

    There is also outrage exhaustion. A new injustice every day, it seems, wanting your attention and removing the focus from what you were outraged at yesterday.

  6. What David said.

    Outrage is what you do when you can’t do anything about the problem and you want to show that you don’t accept the situation even though you aren’t going to do anything effective about it.

    A whole lot of outrage plus $16 will buy you a t-shirt with a picture of Che Guevara. There are capitalists who will happily sell it to you.

    Better to put aside the outrage and come up with some sort of plan. When you’re doing something then every step forward is a victory and every step back is a setback, and outrage doesn’t help. Of course the bad guys will use every sneaky trick they can — what do you expect from bad guys! You don’t get mad at sharks for eating everything they see, and you needn’t get mad at people who do whatever they think helps their short-run interest with no care that their actions are slowly destroying the system they depend on. Look for ways to use their behavior to make a better system.

    OK, people get outraged about Cecil. The media easily manipulates people in the short run. They get outraged about all sorts of things they think they can’t do anything about. If you can find a way to use that, then use it. Or let it alone. Don’t let the media get you outraged about how easily they manipulate people in the short run, unless you enjoy that kind of thing. It doesn’t help.

  7. More children have been killed in school shootings since 2001 than were killed in the bombings on September 11th.

    Time to send in the marines…

    Oh, wait? Gun control is bad?

  8. I am pleased to see, in the UK at least, that the Cecil outrage is spreading to trophy hunters in general. However I, for one, have enough outrage to go round other issues as well and the Sandra Bland case is one.

    Actually I am particularly outraged at how terrifying quick to take offence American cops are. I’ve had a few encounters with the British police – and I’ve always said that if the British police are the best in the world then god help the rest of you – and I cannot imagine them accelerating as quickly and as badly as those in America do. It seems to me that any amount of confusion, or deafness, or slowness (of mind or body) could result in death (to say nothing of blackness). My particular fear would be that my stammer would be interpreted as failure to answer or that some bit of British vernacular would be taken as rudeness, insubordination or even a confession. (For the last I’m thinking of the British nanny who said that she popped the baby on the bed, meaning she gently placed him there and was taken as meaning that she hit the baby). I just don’t know how any of you stand it.

  9. I think that the bi-partisan system is tearing our country apart. There are countless book on this very subject, but my go to reference for this would be here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/11/08/which-of-the-11-american-nations-do-you-live-in/

    We need to stop thinking in this ‘Me vs. them’ mentality. I live in the South. When people ask me if I’m a Republican and I say no, they look at me like I’m something to be hated or pitied. I’m not a Democrat, either. I overheard a woman in the Social Security Office in my city (of all places) lean over and whisper about her own daughter, “I think she’s a Democrat.” Like it’s shameful. When are people going to realize that the only thing our government is out for is themselves? That being said, I neither identify as Left nor Right. I’m always for the betterment of others, as well as myself. Unfortunately, that paints me as either lazy or hypocritical. That’s sad.

    Sorry, rant over. (Also, as an edit: I would like to say that this is in no way pointed at you, Mr. Brust. After reading it, I was afraid that it would be misconstrued.)

  10. skzb

    J. Thomas: “A whole lot of outrage plus $16 will buy you a t-shirt with a picture of Che Guevara.” Hee hee. Nice one. I laughed out loud.

    Emma: Less than three.

  11. The media has long declared itself to be the “Fourth Estate”, an independent oversight of the 3 branches of government, but the combination of corporate for profit management and the temptations of insider access has corrupted the overwhelming majority of it into a slavishly subservient tool of the powerful. Instead of informing the public and holding our govt and society to account, they actively work to sedate their audience or distract it from hard truths like the congealing rot at the top of our socioeconomic structure, usually by divisively playing to people’s fears and bigotries or by intentionally reducing a complex problem into essentially a drunken bar argument performed by a couple of repugnant buffoons “representing” two partial sides of an issue by derailing it into absurdity, which is designed to cause people to either turn away in disgust and disengage or find meaningless amusement in the spectacle.

    Just my two cents on the credibility (or lack thereof) of the news media. 🙂

  12. Jess Haley, maybe I’m quibbling over minutiae but I think you’ve cast your net too wide. Most of the rank and file members of the media are like the rest of the working class – they’re too busy trying to keep a roof overhead and food on the table to challenge the status quo with what they print.

    Ven Crane – while there are 630 executions by cop on record so far this year in the US, and that means there should be 630 murder investigations and probably on the order of 400, 500, or even 630 indictments and prosecutions, there are about 1.2 million full time police in the United States. @skzb believes the whole institution is inherently the arm of the bourgeoisie, and he may be right. But hundreds of thousands of police genuinely believe they’re doing the job “to protect and serve”.

    The shame of it is the tens of thousands of psychopaths and rapists and probably hundreds of thousands of racists use the rest of the police as cover for their actions. The equally big shame is that the rest of the police don’t repudiate the criminals in their ranks.

  13. Federal police: 120,000
    State & local police:900,000 sworn officers, either full or part time
    Corrections officers: 450,000

    Population of the United State; 320,000,000

    Does the country really need one armed watcher for every 200 of us? And, if it does, is that really about protecting and serving?

  14. I was careful not to write that they protect and serve, only that they themselves believe that is why they are police.

    But how do you draw the line?

    Maybe the fundamental problem that’s so hard to fight in capitalism is that the sum of the system is soul-crushing and amoral but only an incredibly tiny percentage of the individual actors in the system are knowingly and willingly evil. The rest of us are just trying to pay the bills, give our family a good standard of living, and if we’re lucky have a retirement plan other than “work until I die”. So we can point to police and Goldman Sachs employees and Bernie Sanders and corrections officers and middle managers at Walmart as part of the problem, but almost none of them are willfully evil.

    P.S. I got about a hundred pages into The Revolution Betrayed and found a lot that made sense, but some of what Trotsky wrote is incomprehensible to me… then I found out my e-reader (Google Books) for the PDF was silently truncating pages. No wonder the first few chapters made sense and then the book was totally insane – I was getting mismatched sentences and missing paragraphs on every single page. I guess I’ll use some other PDF viewer.

  15. skzb

    Mike S: Ugh. Frustrating!

  16. Mike S, I agree in general, but wonder why Bernie Sanders is included in your list? He seems to be fighting the good fight.

  17. Bernie Sanders is attempting to mitigate the damage done by capitalism, but even though he uses the term ‘socialist’ he’s definitely not attempting any fundamental changes to our political and economic system (equal ownership of the means of production by all citizens, an end to corporate or government bureaucracy as we know it). So arguably he’s as much an instrument and defender of capitalism as my local police officers, the manager at my grocery store, or me at my traditional white collar job.

  18. I don’t think (short of an armed revolution, that will not happen) that the fundamental change you talk about can happen. Sanders and Warren are trying to reverse some of the excesses of capitalistic power. Unfortunately, this will be a long slog. I give them credit for their positions and for persistently trying. Supporting them would be going the right direction, at least.

    A socialist utopia is not possible in this country nor do I particularly think I would work for that goal. If the “system” can be made fair to the common people, I don’t care what you call it. Theoretically, it is easier (and less painful) to change an existing system than it is to throw it away and start from scratch. When we are done, you can call it socialist if that makes you happy.

  19. skzb

    I call him Bernie “As Trustworthy as SYRZIA” Sanders.

  20. Well, reporting here in the City of London, from the heart of the global financial markets, I notice that the latest requirement for top dog status requires a building with a sloping roof with grass growing on it. Sadly, as yet, there are no mountain goats, but no doubt at some point it will happen.

    This is the latest aspect of conspicuous consumption; they may be capitalists, but they are green capitalists. Given the degree of air pollution here in the City I welcome it, but I’m not relying on it, given the history of conspicuous consumption…

  21. skzb

    God. There is something so sick about that.

    Although, you know, I’m all in favor of mountain goats.

  22. Hey, what else can they do with their billions to impress the little people.

  23. Of course you are in favour of mountain goats. This is the year of the goat and you are (according to some astrologers) a goat. In fact, your comment about your affinity for mountain goats is irrefutable evidence that astrology is simply not a pile of Taurus faeces.

  24. It seems to me the media agenda is already well-adapted to a socialist paradise. Presumably, even in such a paradise, there will be individuals doing stupid and petty stuff for no particularly good reason. And so they get shamed, no-one imitates them, and the status quo of no-one doing that thing persists.

    The only difference is instead of the boring underlying socioeconomic exploitation being ignored as boring, it just won’t exist.

    The same applies to identity politics; in an economically ideal world, the fact that some people will no doubt sometimes say hurtful things will literally be the worst problem that exists.

    Some people are just ahead of the curve…

  25. The problem with idealistic bodies of government and the way of life in the world is people. People ruin everything. That’s why our next president should be the cat running for office. (That is a very, very real thing. Google Limberbutt McCubbins.)

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