The Real Split

On the conservative side, there is the vast majority of politicians who are the typical neoliberal fanatics believing in “wisdom of markets” and obsessed with wiping out the last sad remains of the welfare state. And there seems to be a nascent tiny faction that has started to wonder whether neoliberalism (aka fluidity or globalization) is as great as we are constantly told there is.

On the liberal (progressive, lefty, Social Democrat, etc) side, the split is between the rah-rah admirers of neoliberalism (think Hillary or Obama) and the folks who refuse to believe that the last 50 years happened at all (think Bernie or AOC). They don’t consciously support liquid capital but their refusal to acknowledge that it exists, as well as their insistence on acting as if we were still in the solid state of capitalism, make them useless in the fight against neoliberalism.

This is the real political split right now. Everything else is empty and distracting verbiage. I’m an idealist, so I always hope that the Left will wake up and go back to its roots of opposing the excesses of capitalism. In order to do that, it will first have to notice that the capitalism today is not that of 1969. This isn’t happening right now but maybe one day it will.

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16 thoughts on “The Real Split”

  1. You tried to cover a lot of ground here, using few words, most of which seemed to be jargon. I failed to gain any information or insight. It’s like you wrote it in your sleep, or I read it in a dream. Sorry.

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    1. Yes, the post is aimed at those who have been following my discussions of Zygmunt Bauman’s theory for the past couple of years.

      I’m a scholar. Sometimes I write posts pertaining to my field of scholarship.

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  2. However: it was 50 years ago that the nation state looked more like protection from the ravagings of corporations and capital than it does now, and also 50 years ago that the nation state seemed to be expanding rights and freedoms for those inside it, not contracting them. And the powerful nation states were defending colonialism, engaging in imperialism, and so on.

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      1. So why/how rely on it and not on international organization instead? 25 years ago I had nostalgia for the nation state but it has kind of dissipated by now. To take the case of the U.S., it has really changed its character, was never very perfect but once it put in the Patriot Act and a few other things after 9/11/2001, it no longer aspires to be what it used to claim to do in terms of political vision, even.

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        1. The only powerful and effective organizations on the global level are the IMF, the World Bank, and their political wing, the EU. All they do is dismantle the welfare state. I’m not seeing any entity that could even want to try to stop this process.

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          1. I am of course thinking international labor, environment. But yes, only countries, or confederations of countries, can effectively stand up to IMF et al at this time

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            1. Confederations of countries don’t have mechanisms to create powerful emotional attachments from people. In the absence of those, they don’t have a source of legitimacy. We have already seen how rabidly the EU pushed austerity and dismantled welfare to please capital.

              As for labor, if it has been eviscerated within a single industry in a single country and can’t organize even in these conditions, what can it do internationally? Obviously, nothing because it has no political power.

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          2. BUT U.S. has chosen to become a nation-state that serves and does not contest these entities. And the T-man is part of that — his nativist tizzies are just for show

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            1. It’s not just the US. The transformations in the nature of capital have weakened the nation-state everywhere. Of course, in many places it was very weak to begin with.

              What interests me is why there is no progressive or liberal or whatever force that even acknowledges that this is happening. All that we hear is the plan to return to the 1950s, tax the very rich to the gills, and pay for welfare with the proceeds without a shadow of recognition that the changes in the nature of capital made that utterly impossible.

              The problem isn’t that Trump is bad. The real tragedy is that he has absolutely no opposing force that is not extremely subservient to big capital.

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              1. I’m not convinced it actually has. I’m in a state that subsidizes corporations — the opposite of taxing — and could tax them, they’d still make a profit, and no they would not be in a position to leave. It’s for ideological reasons they don’t. And we could have income tax and property tax, and I could even afford them if I got decent pay / benefits.

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              2. I thought there’d been and was a lot of discussion about all of this, albeit not loud enough and not in the mainstream, but I have been trying to figure out why the changes were so hard to see or how they got obscured. I don’t think everyone really realizes where they are except those who think it’s good. I’ve got 2 graduates I am watching, I mean B.A.s of mine. One is miserable because of living week to week and one has decided it is paradise and that if they don’t like it enough it is because they have not embraced the entrepreneurial spirit enough. I am just wondering how long they’ll think it is paradise . . .

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          3. “All they do is dismantle the welfare state”

            they only try to dismantle the parts that are about people’s dignity as citizens, they’re all for shoring up destructive ideas like UBI or any program that lowers social cohesion and social trust and increases intra-group hostilities

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