Socially Awkward

I can’t get over how socially awkward people around here are. Today at the farmer market I saw a girl of about 11-12 years of age point to garlic scapes and ask what they were. The mother didn’t know. I did, though, and I told the girl that these were flowers that grew on garlic plants.

I swear to God, the mother and the daughter couldn’t have acted more scandalized had I said, instead, “Here are $2. I want to buy your daughter for purposes of sexual slavery and human trafficking.” I feel bad for people because it can’t be easy to go through life if you are so bad at sociability.


Klara has been at home with me for a week, and she really misses other kids. Today at the farmer’s market, she wouldn’t leave until she got a chance to walk up to every kid there and wave, smile and babble at them. And there were MANY kids. She’ll be so happy when she gets back to her little friends at the daycare. It’s super cute to see how she is drawn to the company of other tiny human beings.

Principles and Emotions 

One of the weapons of neoliberalism is destroying the public space by inundating it with the private. For instance, people begin to confuse the feelings they experience when seeing cute photos of a politician hugging puppies with an intellectual position on his political agenda. 

The way one can resist this is by refusing to be seduced into abandoning principles in favor of emoting over personalities. If you are against the abuse of workers by employers, it shouldn’t matter that an abused employee has an unappealing personality, sports an ugly haircut, or reminds you of a high school teacher you hated. All that should matter is the principle. 

Examples of Cool Capitalism

If you ask any of the earnest progressive academics whether they support the neoliberal precarization of labor, destruction of worker rights and the subjugation of workers’ leisure time to corporate needs, they will unanimously exclaim that no, of course not. 

And then they go on Facebook and celebrate these very same things because they provide a cute opportunity to virtue-signal. (Example: their celebration of the firing of the hapless Yelp reviewer from Yale).

This is what McGuigan terms “cool capitalism.” Capitalism seduces you into relinquishing your rights by making you feel cool and accomplished for doing it. (Example: people who answer work emails at night and on weekends because they feel productive and sophisticated doing it). 

A New Reason to Care

For the longest time, Democrats held many of their voters with two issues: abortion rights and gay marriage. To me these were always the central issues that automatically turned on a passionate and unconditional support for the party. 

And then progress – technological in one case and moral in the other – solved these issues. A party is no longer urgently needed to advance them. My emotional attachment – and clearly not just mine if we look at the results – evaporated. 

We keep hearing that the Democrats abandoned their working class base and are working solely for the benefit of educated professionals. I’m an educated professional, but I’m not seeing what it is that the party is offering me. An opportunity to pay higher taxes to open more diversity offices? No, thanks. 

Coasting on nothing but the fact that the opponent is even worse is a doomed strategy. Yes, people are too nauseated by Republicans to switch sides. But they aren’t showing up for the Democrats too enthusiastically either. 

Abortion and gay rights were clear specific goals. Something equally clear, concrete and emotionally potent needs to be found.