well then, alright

so winant is leaving salon (to pursue a phd in american history!), which makes me sad. because while sometimes there were failures (yesterday’s post on whitman was problematic), his articles were usually good and occasionally, like today, even great:

How is a party that is the devoted servant of corporate power still not only viable, but reliably able to win large chunks of the working-class vote?

The question to ask here is if you are a white member of the working class — the demographic type around whom this debate swirls — what can you do to gain more control over your life? Because that’s what politics is: people getting organized, or not, to control their lives. What are the weapons of this weak group?

So that leaves you without tools to forthrightly conduct class politics in public. You’ve got no hope, and it seems almost foolish to dare to try. What’s left? Well, if you’re white, you can fall back on racism; if you’re a man, you can oppose gender equality. … It’s uncomfortable to think this way about egalitarian movements like feminism and the pursuit of racial equality. Obviously, nobody on the left should renounce gender equality or civil rights just because these ideas have produced enmity among a certain group that we might otherwise find sympathetic. But we also shouldn’t allow ourselves to slip into condescension, to imagine that people are just bigots and fools, tricked into opposing their own self-interest. They are participants in politics just like everyone else. Even the citizen who doesn’t vote at all is saying something about politics. The fact that some methods of political participation don’t make sense to liberals doesn’t mean that they don’t make sense at all.

seriously, click through and read the whole thing. it’s similar to things i’ve thought/written in the past, except much, much better.

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2 comments
  1. fauxpopuli said:

    “Griffith Rutherford Harsh V?” I want to pop that guy one just for GPs. Even his NAME is fucking pretentious. I guess it’s not polite to say so but personally if a parent raises a couple kids that turn out to be obnoxious, entitled bullies it makes me question their… let’s say “leadership.” I don’t really feel like he went overboard. Also he didn’t really get into it, but Whitman on the campaign trail has been the picture of bullying entitlement. I mean she acts as though she’s above talking to the press, up to and including that incident where she fucking *called a press event* and then when they showed up went “Uh, what are you doing here? Go away.” and refused to give them any time.

    Oh right, sorry. I got distracted by the Whitman link…

    Anyway, yeah don’t you hate this kinda thing? You discover a band right before they break up, a tv show right before it goes off the air, or in this case… etc. At least he’ll be back, and for you the added bonus is the next time around he’ll be focused on history.

    That is a good piece, though let’s be honest: both parties are devoted servants of corporate power. I’m getting pretty tired of being asked to pretend otherwise, by winant or whomever.

  2. slimlove said:

    oh, for sure. i just find it super annoying when liberals talk shit or condescend to the poor little people who are just too stupid to realize they’re being taken in by the republican elites. especially if these same liberals are part of the cult o’ obama, yknow? like, first of all, these people aren’t stupid just because they’re political goals are different from yours. and second, your party is just as fucked up and deluded, okay, so sit down and shut up.

    as for whitman: look, i’m not a fan. for so very, very many reasons. but my problem with the post is that he spends 75% of it talking about how whitman and her kids are probably elitest bullies; fine, if you want to argue that, go right ahead, and he does acknowledge that a lot of this is built on hearsay and allegations. but then, this:

    “This is important because Whitman’s entire campaign is built around her class privilege. She can’t stop talking about it, though obviously she uses different words to describe it. Whitman is constantly talking about applying her CEO savvy to run California like a business. Her campaign introduced her to voters with TV ads about her time as an executive. “People who worked with Meg Whitman trust her to lead,” says one ad. A former colleague testifies, “Meg knew what she was doing.” She has an ability, says another, “to figure out what the right thing to do is.””

    Whitman, in other words, is running on her class position. (And she’s spent $91 million so far. She’ll almost certainly break the record for self-funding by November.) It’s literally the centerpiece of her campaign: as a really rich lady, she has access to secret knowledge about how to fix the broken state government. I see a new campaign slogan: Meg Whitman 2010 — Putting Californians in Their Place.”

    for me, this is a bit of a rhetorical stretch. the quotes he cites aren’t about her class position – not specifically, and not even implicitly, in my view. despite the fact that she’s pouring ungodly amounts of money into this campaign, her platform is that *as a businessperson* she has secret knowledge, not as a rich person. and the distinction may be fine, but it’s certainly there. plenty of people in this country–plenty of very wealthy people in this country–are in business, but came from modest or humble positions. i think he’s overreaching to conflate the language of class and the language of business here. if anything, in our current political environment, i think whitman is trying to dodge talking about class. she’s willing to spend money, but not to talk about it, because i don’t think the average voter really wants to consider that this woman can afford to blow $91M on a fucking political gamble.

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