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Re: Abortion rights: Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize! – Communist Party USA

sartesian@...
 

On Sun, Jun 26, 2022 at 03:17 PM, <gilschaeffer82@...> wrote:
What's the cart and what's the horse? For more than thirty years, the ideological and political goal of the Russian Social-Democrats was to establish a democratic republic, the same goal as that of all the parties of the Second International. Then in 1918 the Bolsheviks shut down the Constituent Assembly. Whether that action was right or wrong given their conditions, it was the agitation for a Constituent Assembly over the previous thirty years that formed the ideological core of the revolution. Your formulation implies that since we now know that terror will be necessary, we can dispense with the demand for democracy. As Rosa Luxemburg said in her criticism of Lenin and Trotsky in "The Russian Revolution," we shouldn't make a virtue out of necessity. Our conditions are different than the Russian conditions of famine and war. I think your appeal to terror is a dead end and we should still demand democracy.
1. I'm not "appealing" to terror.  I'm pointing out unless your constituent assembly has the force behind it to break up the dominant economic relations, the property forms, the ancien regime will retake state power by use of terror. So, advocating for democracy, or a constitutional convention absent those organizations of class militancy is the dead end.  

2. The question has a couple subsets: can an appeal or "demand" or "program" for democracy that is abstracted from a class organization for power become a successful intermediary moment for the triumph of that class power?  does an appeal to democracy that does not identify the conditions of labor that require new organs of a new class power to "actualize" that democracy, while at the same time identifying the class relation supporting, upholding, requiring the existing, historical, and persistent institutions that suppress democracy, actually have any chance of even pushing through a reform?  In short can you advocate a constitutional convention without attacking the wage relation,  private  ownership of the MOP, and the current economy's need to drive down the cost of labor?  I think any effort that ignores those issues is going to wind up in the dead end.

3. Let's be a little bit clear about the Russian Revolution: the demand for a constituent assembly was attached to the reality that Russian empire was not a bourgeois constitutional order.  Thus the nature of the "telescoped" revolution brought that issue forward, and ever so briefly.  Trotsky always, and Lenin after the February revolution advocate, agitate, for "All Power to the Soviets."  That answers the question about horse and cart.  To represent the organizing principle of the Russian Revolution as the demand for the constituent assembly ignores what actually occurred.  There was no CA.  The organization of soviets posed the issue of class-based power; a constituent assembly tries to obscure that with the trappings of a formal democracy which leaves everything as it is.  The CA was an impossibility. Impossible for the Provisional Govt to organize because of the class struggle.  Impossible for the revolution to allow as the organ of state power, the soviets, had already made the CA obsolete before birth.

4. Now if we want to agitate around the USSC decision, then we have to link it to the conditions of labor, the need of the bourgeoisie to facilitate, bring into being, and ultimately rely on, the convergence of reactionary forces-- religious, police, military, anti-immigrant, voter suppressing, anti-labor legislating to maintain the domination of its order.  If you don't link the abortion issue to 1) women entering the labor force after WW2  2) the growth off single parent wome headed households  3) the higher poverty rates of those households 4) the benefit capitalism can obtain by driving women into lower paid jobs and even out of the labor force and into either a reserve army or back into domestic servitude where their labor is barely compensated.   


NYT: MAGA Voters Send a $50 Million G.O.P. Plan Off the Rails in Illinois

Bradley Mayer
 

Aka, Their Oligarchs and Ours or, How Lesser Evil Promotes Greater Evil.  In case the notion that the Democrats' current hopium is to run against Trumpists is somehow made up.  It ain't.  Excerpts:

"Mr. Bailey rose to prominence in Illinois politics by introducing legislation to kick Chicago out of the state. When the coronavirus pandemic began, he was removed from a state legislative session for refusing to wear a mask, and he sued Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, over statewide virus mitigation efforts. Painted on the door of his campaign bus is the Bible verse Ephesians 6:10-19, which calls for followers to wear God’s armor in a battle against “evil rulers.”
 
"He is the favored candidate of the state’s anti-abortion groups, and on Friday he celebrated the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade as a “historic and welcomed moment.”"
...
"Unprecedented", indeed: 

"Mr. Bailey has been aided by an unprecedented intervention from Mr. Pritzker and the Pritzker-funded Democratic Governors Association, which have spent nearly $35 million combined attacking Mr. Irvin while trying to lift Mr. Bailey. No candidate for any office is believed to have ever spent more to meddle in another party’s primary."
...
Looks like oligarch Pritzker, who funds an entire "Governors Association", has it in the bag for the Democrats:

"Public and private polling ahead of Tuesday’s primary shows Mr. Bailey with a lead of 15 percentage points over Mr. Irvin and four other candidates. His strength signals the broader shift in Republican politics across the country, away from urban power brokers and toward a rural base that demands fealty to a far-right agenda aligned with Mr. Trump.
...
Meanwhile, Mr. Bailey seems to believe that "land masses" have emotions, and can vote.  Given the structure of the US Federal institutions, Bailey can be excused for this belief:

"“The rest of the 90 percent of the land mass is not real happy about how 10 percent of the land mass is directing things,” Mr. Bailey said in an interview aboard his campaign bus outside a bar in Green Valley, a village of 700 people south of Peoria. “A large amount of people outside of that 10 percent don’t have a voice, and that’s a problem.”
...
"The onslaught of Democratic television advertising attacking Mr. Irvin and trying to elevate Mr. Bailey has frustrated the Aurora mayor, whose campaign was conceived of and funded by the same team of Republicans who helped elect social moderates like Mark Kirk to the Senate in 2010 and Bruce Rauner as governor in 2014. Their recipe: In strong Republican years, find moderate candidates who can win over voters in Chicago’s suburbs — and spend a ton of money.

The NYT blandly reports that it's a battle between two of "our" regional Illinois capitalist oligarchs.  Indeed the Trumpist-promoting Democrat oligarch, Pritzker, is more accurately described as an American "continental oligarch".    An oligarch not afraid to represent himself directly in office.  Think Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, "President of Ukraine".  instead Kolomoisky is under US sanctions, no doubt imposed by the oligarch Pritzker's party!

"Kenneth Griffin, the Chicago billionaire hedge fund founder who is the chief benefactor for Illinois Republicans, gave $50 million to Mr. Irvin for the primary alone and pledged to spend more for him in the general election. Mr. Griffin, the state’s richest man, will not support any other Republican in the race against Mr. Pritzker, according to his spokesman, Zia Ahmed. Mr. Griffin announced last week that his hedge fund and trading firm would relocate to Miami.
 
"While Mr. Irvin, a longtime Republican who has nevertheless voted in a series of recent Democratic primaries in Illinois, expected an expensive dogfight in the general election, he is frustrated by the primary season intervention from Mr. Pritzker, a billionaire who is America’s richest elected official."
...
Enter oligarch Richard Uihlein, stage far right.  Uihlein's capital is pretty small potatoes, but he is an heir to the Schlitz brewing fortune:

"The primary race alone has drawn $100 million in TV advertising. Mr. Pritzker has spent more money on TV ads than anyone else running for any office in the country this year. Mr. Irvin ranks second, according to AdImpact, a media tracking firm.
 
"Far behind them is Mr. Bailey, whose primary financial benefactor is Richard Uihlein, the billionaire megadonor of far-right Republican candidates, who has donated $9 million of the $11.6 million Mr. Bailey has raised and sent another $8 million to a political action committee that has attacked Mr. Irvin as insufficiently conservative."
...
Indeed, oligarch Pritzker looks to match his continent-sized capital assets by stepping up into the continental game:

"Mr. Pritzker’s motivation to help Mr. Bailey in the primary may be informed not only by his desire for re-election but also by what many see as potential aspirations to seek the White House himself. Last weekend he addressed a gathering of Democrats in New Hampshire — a stop only those with national ambitions make in the middle of their own re-election campaigns."  No doubt followed by the Clinton playbook of promoting the most rightwing candidate on the Republican side, against whom the Democrat is "sure to win", just like in 2016! 
 
The Trumpsters, who appear from the NYT photos to be the party of chunky old rural white men, make clear that they've heard the call to go "RINO hunting":

"“Whether or not Darren and I win the general election, if we can at least get control within our own party, I think long term we have an opportunity to be successful,” Mr. DeVore said at their stop in Green Valley.
 
"And David Smith, the executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, an anti-abortion organization whose political arm endorsed Mr. Bailey, said the G.O.P. race was about excising the party’s moderate elements.
 
“This primary,” he said, “has got to purge the Republican Party of those who are self-serving snollygosters.”"

Snollygoster gee wiz, something ain't right here in River City!   Meanwhile Democrats tell progressives "don't get too radical!" while they materially aid the radical Right.  Democrats in risky high stakes gambles with our world's future!

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/26/us/politics/illinois-governor-bailey-irvin-pritzker.html


Re: Abortion rights: Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize! – Communist Party USA

gilschaeffer82@...
 

My point is primarily about our ideology and publicly stated goal, not particular tactics or the current state of political affairs. Everything we can say about how bad things are in this country right now or how bad they are likely to get could have been said about Russia in 1900 times ten or a hundred. Still, the first plank of the Program of the RSDLP was for a democratic constitution, a program that was not changed before the revolution.  Demanding a democratic constitution has nothing to do with following the procedures of the existing Constitution for amendments. The purpose is to explain that the Democratic Party's appeals to "defend our democracy" are hollow and disingenuous. That is the beginning of creating a truly independent ideology and organization capable of challenging the universal falsehood of our political system.


The Guardian on a New US Civil War

Farans Kalosar
 

Stephen Marche opines that the Rubicon has already been crossed, and that it's all over but the shooting.  Of course this Canadian is promoting his novel; still, it isn't far-fetched after the Neo-Nazi triumphs in the Supreme Court recently and the rollbacks they are certain to inflict ASAP on LGBTQ rights and civil rights in general.  Is this the deluge?  

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jun/26/second-civil-war-us-abortion


Re: Abortion rights: Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize! – Communist Party USA

Farans Kalosar
 

On Sun, Jun 26, 2022 at 03:17 PM, <gilschaeffer82@...> wrote:
What's the cart and what's the horse? For more than thirty years, the ideological and political goal of the Russian Social-Democrats was to establish a democratic republic, the same goal as that of all the parties of the Second International. Then in 1918 the Bolsheviks shut down the Constituent Assembly. Whether that action was right or wrong given their conditions, it was the agitation for a Constituent Assembly over the previous thirty years that formed the ideological core of the revolution. Your formulation implies that since we now know that terror will be necessary, we can dispense with the demand for democracy. As Rosa Luxemburg said in her criticism of Lenin and Trotsky in "The Russian Revolution," we shouldn't make a virtue out of necessity. Our conditions are different than the Russian conditions of famine and war. I think your appeal to terror is a dead end and we should still demand democracy.
Going straight to a constitutional convention--if that were possible--might unleash all sorts of gimmick-crazed all-American Gee Whiz bullshit that would hand a victory to the forces of the right.

Some reforms that might be passed short of that: abolition of the Electoral College, federal supervision and authentication of the vote in all states, abolition of large political donations by wealthy individuals and corporate entities.  

There is no need for the so-called states to be anything but administrative divisions of the federal government with a degree of regional autonomy.  States' rights is a nonsense.

Much could be accomplished if agreement could be achieved on a few simple points like the above.

None of this is achievable, unfortunately, without the country's having to go through the probable neofascist triumph in the upcoming midterm elections.  If that is bad enough, the constitution (as a body of practice)  will fail completely, if hit hasn't done so already,  and we may be de facto in a state of civil war.  In any case, Clarence Thomas and his fellow Nazis on the Supine Court have announced their program, which they will carry out unless physically prevented from doing so.

Some have suggested a general strike, or series of general strikes.  This would be good. More so-called "mobilizations (i.e. big demonstrations) can't hurt, but they have to go beyond what we saw around the George Floyd murders and avoid the anarchist bs about occupations creating a revolution. The big demos of living memory all appealed to a constitutional body of practice that the current Supreme Court has now utterly destroyed.

I really feel that some form of armed resistance--as unlike the antifa/BlackBloc nonsense as possible--may be called for.  A fat lot anyone my age could contribute to that, alas--even with the assistance of Comrade Mossberg and his friends, supposing that one could actually fire the shotgun without breaking something. Still, there is no reason why this has to be an either/or.  A movement can defend itself against unofficial terrorism and state violence and still advance democratic demands, QED.  in effect, it appears that "we" now have little choice in the matter, as the die appears to have been cast and some form--probably a very weak form, but nonetheless immensely dangerous and destructive of neofascism appears to be all but unavoidable.


Re: Counterpunch: Slavoj Zizek Does His Christopher Hitchens Impression

Ken Hiebert
 

I realize that not everyone will be as interested as I am in what Trotsky said more than 80 years ago.  But for those who are interested, my remarks below.

Slavoj Zizek is  of secondary interest to me so I had not followed this thread until I saw a contribution from Marv. 
Starting with his objection to the remarks of Bradley Mayer, I can say that even while I tend to be on the same side as Bradley, his declaration of crossing a political Rubicon doesn’t do much to advance the discussion.  On a list like this it strikes me as an unnecessary rhetorical flourish.

On the substance of Marv’s remarks, I think he is wrong.  He says, "When Trotsky proclaimed his support for Ukrainian self-determination, it was was conditional on that struggle being led by the socialist proletariat.”  I don’t see any evidence for that.

I read two articles by Trotsky, first the one that Marv cited.  (For some reason the link in Marv’s article did not work for me.  Let’s see if the links below work any better.)

Secondly I read a follow up article written three months later.

Here are some extracts from the second article.

"And in order to achieve this, one must not shut one’s eyes to the growth of separatist tendencies in the Ukraine, but rather give them a correct political expression.

"The Thermidorian reaction, crowned by the Bonapartist bureaucracy, has thrown the toiling masses far back in the national sphere as well. The great masses of the Ukrainian people are dissatisfied with their national fate and wish to change it drastically. ii is this fact that the revolutionary politician must, in contrast to the bureaucrat and the sectarian, take as his point of departure.


"The Kremlin bureaucracy, tells the Soviet woman: Inasmuch as there is socialism our country, you must be happy and you must give up abortions (or suffer the penalty). To the Ukrainian they say: Inasmuch as the socialist revolution has solved the national question, it is your duty to be happy in the USSR and to renounce all thought of separation (or face the firing squad).
What does a revolutionist say to the woman? “You will decide yourself whether you want a child: I will defend your right to abortion against the Kremlin police.” To the Ukrainian people he says: “Of importance to me is your attitude toward your national destiny and not the ‘socialistic’ sophistries of the Kremlin police; I will support your struggle for independence with all my might!”


“"The barb of the slogan of an independent Ukraine is aimed directly against the Moscow bureaucracy and enables the proletarian vanguard to rally the peasant masses. On the other hand, the same slogan opens up for the proletarian party the opportunity of playing a leading role in the national Ukrainian movement in Poland, Rumania and Hungary. Both of these political processes will drive the revolutionary movement forward and increase the specific weight of the proletarian vanguard


"Piling one dire accusation indiscriminately on top of another, our critic declares that the slogan of an independent Ukraine serves the interests of the imperialists (!) and the Stalinists (!!) because it “completely negates the position of the defense of the Soviet Union.” It is impossible to understand just why, the “interests of the Stalinists” are dragged in. But let its confine ourselves to the question of the defense of the USSR. This defense could he menaced by an independent Ukraine only if the latter were hostile not only to the bureaucracy but also to the USSR. However, given such a premise (obviously false), how can a socialist demand that a hostile Ukraine be retained within the framework of the USSR? Or does the question involve only the period of the national revolution.


* * **

So, looking at the extracts above I see Trotsky saying " I will support your struggle for independence with all my might!”
I don’t see any conditions attached to this declaration.  And I don’t see any limit on what kind of independence he would be willing to support.

And further, he says,  "...how can a socialist demand that a hostile Ukraine be retained within the framework of the USSR? “  
I think his reference to a “hostile Ukraine” could include a Ukraine that is not governed by socialists.

Those who are interested can read the article for themselves.

ken h


Re: Counterpunch: Slavoj Zizek Does His Christopher Hitchens Impression

Marv Gandall
 

Me: The policy was predicated on the unshakeable conviction that capitalism would not recover from the war and that the FI was destined to lead the impending world revolution. As we know, that turned out to be a fever dream
Mark: So would it make sense to question the policy today given this change of historical conditions?
 
------------------------------------------------
 
It’s not only how far removed the working class is from power and how far removed socialism is from the working class that has rendered the policy utopian. The technology and tactics of war have also changed. Drones, missiles, and other long-range and unmanned weaponry have reduced the need for conscript armies and, where troops on the ground are required, US imperialism is able to project its military power by equipping and training foreign proxy forces, as presently in Ukraine.
 
Instead of cheering on US client states and their proxy armies, the socialist left in the US and in its subordinate allied countries should be educating their publics about US imperialism and its alliance system, which interests it defends, and how it goes about defending them.
 
With respect to Ukraine, and recognizing that you and others on the list generally accept the dominant narrative that the war is a consequence of Putin’s imperial ambitions, my starting point would be Mearsheimer's latest contribution - a factual debunking of that narrative which refocuses responsibility for this catastrophic and dangerous conflict where it properly belongs. That Mearsheimer belongs to the so-called “realist” school does not in itself invalidate his analysis.
 


Re: Abortion rights: Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize! – Communist Party USA

gilschaeffer82@...
 

What's the cart and what's the horse? For more than thirty years, the ideological and political goal of the Russian Social-Democrats was to establish a democratic republic, the same goal as that of all the parties of the Second International. Then in 1918 the Bolsheviks shut down the Constituent Assembly. Whether that action was right or wrong given their conditions, it was the agitation for a Constituent Assembly over the previous thirty years that formed the ideological core of the revolution. Your formulation implies that since we now know that terror will be necessary, we can dispense with the demand for democracy. As Rosa Luxemburg said in her criticism of Lenin and Trotsky in "The Russian Revolution," we shouldn't make a virtue out of necessity. Our conditions are different than the Russian conditions of famine and war. I think your appeal to terror is a dead end and we should still demand democracy.


Re: Counterpunch: Slavoj Zizek Does His Christopher Hitchens Impression

Les Schaffer
 

I'd caution against inferring "attitude ... on this list". (***)

I will grant you there is a vocal minority of subscribers (***), with Brad at one extreme with the treason thing, taking a tough stance against groups that are not sufficiently supportive of the Ukrainian working class. But as Anthony stated in the MODERATORS' STATEMENT last week, all are welcome. meaning -- among other things -- that the moderator(s) will not allow this kind of talk to dominate the forum as a kind of litmus test for participation.

my hope is that rather than fearing the list, you contribute to the discussion.

Les


*** i just did an analysis of all posts to Marxmail from Jan 1 through June 22, 2022. The vast majority of posts are submitted by less than 5% of the subscriber base. Specifically, about 5% of the subscriber base post more than five articles a month (on average). About 10% of the list posted ALL the emails in that period.


On 6/26/22 10:24 AM, Roger Kulp wrote:
Bradley Mayer wrote:

.... [les snipped] ... a red line of treason to leftism, socialism, anti-imperialism, the proletariat, Marxism, and social revolution, period, tout court. 
How's that?  ... [snipped again]

I mostly lurk on this list, but I have also been a member of the PSL for several years. Given the attitude towards the PSL on this list, I learned early on to keep my mouth shut about my membership.


Re: Counterpunch: Slavoj Zizek Does His Christopher Hitchens Impression

Mark Baugher
 

On Jun 25, 2022, at 8:27 PM, Marv Gandall <marvgand2@...> wrote:

You could advise them to join their respective militaries and work towards the overthrow of their officers and the ruling class, drawing on the model of revolutionary sgitation successfully conducted by Bolshevik organizers in the Czarist army and navy.
IIRC, this was an about-face from the WWI policy of the left wing of the Socialist Party of America.

In fact, this was the essence of the Proletarian Military Policy adopted by the SWP and other sections of the Fourth International during World War II.

https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/icl-spartacists/prs2-pmp/swp-pmp.html
Also during the Vietnam War, but only when induction was unavoidable: What good is a US antiwar activist in jail or in Canada? Might as well accept induction and agitate among GIs. Of course, the Leninist cadre might face the ethical conundrum of having to kill people fighting for their nation's independence or risk getting fragged by the cadre's own troops for endangering their lives.


The policy was predicated on the unshakeable conviction that capitalism would not recover from the war and that the FI was destined to lead the impending world revolution. As we know, that turned out to be as fever dream
So would it make sense to question the policy today given this change of historical conditions?


The pacifist line, whether we care to admit it or not, has had somewhat more success While antiwar activists have initially been subjected to ostracism, beatings, and jail for the reasons you suggest, war weariness often sets in at a certain stage and gains them a sympathetic hearing, including to some extent within the armed forces. We saw this in our lifetime in both Vietnam and Iraq.
I don't know about incidents in Iraq, during the second or the first invasion. Both were fought by a much different military than Vietnam or WW II: There were no draftees, far fewer US war casualties and far more civilian ones in the Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. This reality is an enormous problem for mobilizing against forever warfare. Conscription gives a population at least some control over the military.

I don't expect to see revolts in the Ukrainian military so long as homes and loved ones are directly threatened by Russian troops. Russians might, if the tide of war turns against them. They're fighting an unjust war, tolerable only while winning. Like the US in Vietnam. Also, after the Kyiv fiasco, the esteem for Russian generals is likely very low among Russian troops. That's my guess anyway.

Mark


Re: Abortion rights: Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize! – Communist Party USA

Andrew Stewart
 

Yes but the Russian Revolution of 1917 was borne of several unique matters that are absent our moment. First, the 1917 Revolution picked up from where the 1905 revolution left off by recreating the Soviets from 12 years before. Second, Tsarism was imploding in real time due to the combination of the autocracy reaching its pinnacle of calcification combined with a destructive war that had decimated the population. Third, the level of organization by the Russian Left within the military was substantial (by contrast, the American military has been substantially infiltrated for decades by the Evangelical Right, incubating a proto-fascist officers corps with tremendous power and influence over our national conversation). Finally, there were other motivations for the Revolution besides Marxism. Many Russians were looking to see Russia finally experience what America and France had with their 18th century revolutions, ushering in not so much a proletarian revolution as a liberal democratic Russified expansion of the Enlightenment. Many peasants were looking to see the final vestiges of serfdom to be sloughed away. And many minorities (Jews, Tartars, Ukrainians, et al) wished for the end of their oppression and the opportunity for self determination. In fact, it becomes quite clear in the second of Isaac Deutscher’s trilogy about Trotsky that these inclinations rapidly were deemed “counterrevolutionary” once the Civil War was over and, sad to say, even Trotsky was a willing participant in that business.

As for the strategy of using the courts, yes, this is true, though it bears mentioning why exactly this failed. The problem was specifically that liberals and a significant section of the Left fundamentally misunderstood that the Warren and Burger Courts were the exception rather than the rule for the Supreme Court. It was quite understandable that our side came to think that the Progressive narrative of historical advance applied to American institutions. In other words, the narrative line advanced by our mass media and the broad consensus of historians was that the US is moving forward towards a more perfect union and that the Judicial branch was going to maintain a centrist orientation that would prevent the Executive and Legislative branches from going too far to the left (case and point the SCOTUS decisions that invalidated portions of the New Deal) or the right (obviously the attempt to end the protection of abortion care). That has been manifestly disproved in the past few days and we need to understand why. One reason is that the Right successfully coopted organizing strategies of the New Left, using things like direct action and entryism to take over the entirety of the Republican Party, which at one point in recent memory had a sizable liberal wing that had been pro choice and Keynesian. Another is the absence of the Soviet Union, which influenced geopolitics in a progressive direction, something that is hinted at clearly in the Brown v Board decision and declassified documents showing concern by the federal government over the way that Jim Crow apartheid was providing a powerful propaganda tool to the Socialist Camp. Finally, the evisceration of the trade union movement and other progressive sources of countervailing power has allowed the Right to push the envelope so far beyond the previously respected boundaries of acceptable behavior. 

My ultimate argument is that trying to pinpoint the problem on a singular matter or strategy simply avoids the hard conversation about how this is the culmination of multiple failed tactics in a multitude of arenas.  


Labor Should Tell the Fed to Take a Hike | Branko Marcetic | Jacobin

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 


Re: How to get involved in the mass mobilizations erupting after Roe overturned

Mark Lause
 

We got where we are by deferring to the Democratic officeholders.   The priority needs to be mass mobilizations, get the majority sentiment into the streets as much as we can.  As a corollary to that, we should be prepared to assist in the active resistance to more draconian efforts of the more idiotic state governments to go after women who seek abortions and those who assist them.



Re: Counterpunch: Slavoj Zizek Does His Christopher Hitchens Impression

Roger Kulp
 

Bradley Mayer wrote:

Beg to differ.  Without carring any brief for Zizek, it is clear that those of us who stand in solidarity with Ukraine have been, are, and will do precisely that!  Why?  Because, whether our opponents stand openly with the Putin regime as with the PSL, the Becker Bros., etc., or objectively (if not in their own minds) stand with the Putin regime by making demands that the Ukranians not accept weapons from NATO while being invaded, or stop fighting and negotiate "peace at any price" while under invasion and occupation, these all have crossed a political Rubicon, a red line of treason to leftism, socialism, anti-imperialism, the proletariat, Marxism, and social revolution, period, tout court. 
How's that?  Because these are subjectively, objectively or both, now in open league with the world-wide Far Right Putin fan club.  These are now junior partners in a world wide Brown "Populist" alliance. Whether they care to recognize it or not. It is just that some don't want to look too closely over their Right shoulder at their new Brown comrades, say in the shape of the CPRF-United Russia-The Duginist "Eurasianist" Russian Far Right, for just one prime example.  They are all on the same side! 

I mostly lurk on this list, but I have also been a member of the PSL for several years. Given the attitude towards the PSL on this list, I learned early on to keep my mouth shut about my membership. I have also followed Brian Beckers' podcasts, even before I joined the party. I can tell you for certain the brothers Becker are not Putin fans, or Putin apologists. I would sugest you listen to recent episodes of Brian's podcast "The Socialist Program", for clarification on his, and the party's, position. My own position on Ukraine is slightly to the left of the party's, and would greater support for the communist/socialist resistance in both Russia, and Ukraine. 


Re: Video: Oakland protest against Supreme Court ruling

Bobby MacVeety
 

I’m an abolitionist: abolish the Supreme Court, the Senate, and the electoral college. Then abolish the constitution. I could keep going.


On Jun 26, 2022, at 9:35 AM, John Reimann <1999wildcat@...> wrote:


Here is a video of the protest in Oakland against the Supreme Court's ruling.
The large turnout on only a few hours notice shows the huge potential for a new movement of youth and workers. In future articles, Oaklandsocialist will examine what immediate demands can be raised and where it can go from here. Among other things, we should consider demanding the impeachment of Barrett, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh for lying under oath – perjury. That demand does not mean accepting the undemocratic role of the US Supreme Court (and the entire federal judiciary); it means helping to expose its political nature.
https://oaklandsocialist.com/2022/06/26/video-oakland-protests-supreme-court-anti-abortion-ruling/

--
“Science and socialism go hand-in-hand.” Felicity Dowling
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook


Re: Abortion rights: Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize! – Communist Party USA

sartesian@...
 

On Sat, Jun 25, 2022 at 02:05 PM, <gilschaeffer82@...> wrote:
The lesson of the reversal of the advances made during Reconstruction is that the fight for democracy has not been won. Of course, words on paper don't guarantee anything. Only organized political power can make words a reality, but the words are important as a statement of the goal of organization. Fight to win and enforce a democratic constitution.
I think the lesson of the defeat of Congressional Reconstruction is that without specifically, explicitly, targeting and breaking up the property of the old regime, restoration, albeit modified, will be achieved through the use of terror.  I think the other lesson of Reconstruction, pre-reversal is that progress follows the use of force.

The history of the Russian Revolution indicates that calls for a constituent assembly are quickly eclipsed by actual events, and are dropped as soon as practical, and by necessity.


Re: there-is-a-major-rift-dividing-the-white-working-class-and-democrats-are-clueless-26-Jun-2022

Bobby MacVeety
 

Yes, the Democrats are clueless. Perhaps this analysis can show them more compelling promises to break if they can cling to power.


On Jun 26, 2022, at 8:48 AM, Michael Meeropol <mameerop@...> wrote:


If this has already been sent to Marxmail, I apologize.  I think this analysis is REALLY REALLY GOOD and worth some serious discussions...  

Mike

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Michael Meeropol (via Google Docs) <mameerop@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26, 2022 at 8:45 AM
Subject: there-is-a-major-rift-dividing-the-white-working-class-and-democrats-are-clueless-26-Jun-2022
To: <mameerop@...>
Cc: <putnamprogressives@...>, <take18ny@...>, <longhaulny@...>


Michael Meeropol attached a document
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Michael Meeropol (mameerop@...) has attached the following document:
Dwight tells me the first version did not get through. Hopefully this one will
there-is-a-major-rift-dividing-the-white-working-class-and-democrats-are-clueless-26-Jun-2022
Snapshot of the item below:

 

TH E BI G I D EA

There Is a Major Rift Dividing the White Working Class — And Democrats Are Clueless

There’s an important social and economic divide that drives working-class whites that progressive elites mostly miss — to their political peril.

J.D. Vance greets supporters during a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on April 23, 2022 in Delaware, Ohio. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Lisa R. Pruitt is Martin Luther King Jr. professor of law at the University of California, Davis. She is writing a book about what the experience of migrating from the working class to the

chattering class can teach us about contemporary political divisions.

Ever since J.D. Vance became the Republican Senate nominee in Ohio, 

journalists and pundits have been preoccupied with how Vance’s politics have shifted since the 2016 publication of his memoir, Hillbilly Elegy. The book brought Vance fame and a platform that he used, among other things, to criticize Donald Trump. Since then, Vance’s positions on polarizing issues like immigration

have lurched to the right and he sought — and won — Trump’s endorsement. Vance now also dabbles in conspiracy theories and has taken on a belligerent, Trump-like tone.

What the pundit class isn’t talking about, however, is an important consistency between 2016 author Vance and 2022 politician Vance. In his memoir, Vance pitted two groups of low-status whites against each other—those who work versus those who don’t. In academic circles, these two groups are sometimes labeled the “settled” working class versus the “hard living.” A broad and fuzzy line divides these two groups, but generally speaking, settled folks work consistently while the hard living do not. The latter are thus more likely to fall into destructive habits like substance abuse that lead to further destabilization and, importantly, to reliance on government benefits.

Vance has not renounced that divisive message. He no doubt hopes to garner the support of the slightly more upmarket of the two factions—which, probably not coincidentally, is also the group more likely to go to the polls. While elite progressives tend to see the white working class as monolithic, Vance’s competitiveness in the Ohio Senate race can be explained in no small part by his ability to politically exploit this cleavage.

As a scholar studying working-class and rural whites, I have written about this subtle but consequential divide. I have also lived it. I grew up working-class white, and I watched my truck driver father and teacher’s aide mother struggle mightily to stay on the “settled” side of the ledger. They worked to pay the bills, yes, but also because work set them apart from those in their community who were willing to accept public benefits. Work represented the moral high ground. Work was their religion.

We lived in an all-white corner of the Arkansas Ozarks, so my parents weren’t fretting about the Black folks Ronald Reagan would later denigrate with the “welfare queen” stereotype. They were talking about their lazy neighbors. They called these folks “white trash,” the worst slur they knew.

Though Vance described this divide in Hillbilly Elegy, readers unfamiliar with the white working class may not have picked up on it. Vance’s beloved grandparents, Mamaw and Papaw, represented hard work. Papaw had a steady job at the Armco steel mill—one good enough to draw him and hundreds like him out of the Appalachian Kentucky hills to Middletown, Ohio. Indeed, it was such a good job that Mamaw could

stay home and take care of the kids. Though they were crass and unconventional by polite, mainstream standards, Papaw and Mamaw’s work ethic positioned them in the settled working class.

From that perch, Vance’s grandparents harshly judged neighbors who didn’t work. They even judged their daughter, Vance’s mother, Bev. Though she’d trained for a good job, as a nurse, Bev’s drug use and frequent churn of male partners led to the instability associated with the “hard living.” Indeed, at one point Vance uses that very

term to refer to his mother: “Mom’s behavior grew increasingly erratic,” Vance writes. “She was more roommate than parent, and of the three of us — Mom, [my sister], and me — Mom was the roommate most prone to hard living” as she partied and stayed out ‘til the wee hours of the morning.

Given the childhood trauma associated with his mother’s behavior, it’s perhaps not surprising that Vance came to emulate his grandparents’ judgmental stance toward the hard living. This is illustrated by his condemnation of shirking co-workers at a warehouse job and those who used food stamps (SNAP) to pay for the groceries he bagged as a teenager. (It seems that Vance also inherited his family’s pugilistic tendencies, which have come in handy with his conversion to Trumpism; words like “scumbag” and “idiot,” which readers of Hillbilly Elegy can easily imagine coming out of Mamaw’s mouth, have become staples of Vance’s campaign vocabulary).

Ultimately, of course, Vance traveled far from his modest roots to graduate from Yale Law School and become a venture capitalist. For this success, he credited the hard work and boot-strapping mentality he learned from his grandparents. What Vance didn’t credit — not explicitly, anyway — were the structural forces that benefitted him and his grandparents. For Vance, these included an undergraduate degree from an excellent public university (Ohio State) and opportunities in the military. For his grandparents, these included that good union job at Armco Steel—even as Papaw complained about the union. (A significant faction of workers believe that hard working people like themselves don’t need unions, that unions simply protect slackers from hard work. My own father’s pet peeve was unionized loading dock employees whose generous breaks delayed getting his truck loaded or unloaded and thus back on the road earning money. The naming of “right-to-work” laws plays to this mindset.)

Like Vance, settled white workers tend to see themselves living a version of the American dream grounded primarily — if not entirely — in their own agency. They believe they can survive, even thrive, if they just work hard enough. And some of them are doing just that. Because they lean into the grit of the individual, they tend to

downplay structural obstacles to their quest to make a living, e.g., poor schools and even crummy job markets, just as they downplay structural benefits. They also discount “white privilege” because giving skin color credit for what they have achieved devalues the significance of their work. This mindset is also the reason that when Obama said in 2012, “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” the remark landed so badly among the settled working class. They’re not accustomed to sharing credit for what they have — perhaps especially when they don’t have much.

Vance and my parents are mere anecdotes, yes, but scholars have documented the phenomenon they represent. Kathryn Edin of Princeton University, Jennifer Sherman of Washington State University and Monica Prasad of Northwestern University have studied folks like them in both urban and rural locales. What “settled” and “hard living” express as cultural phenomena, Edin and colleagues express quantitatively as the second-lowest income quintile dissociating from the bottom quintile — the very place from whence many had climbed. Edin described that disassociation as a “virulent social distancing” — “suddenly, you’re a worker and anyone who is not a worker is a bad person.”

Journalists have also brought us illustrations of the settled working class. Alec MacGillis did so in a 2015 New York Times essay, introducing us to Pamela Dougherty of Marshalltown, Iowa, a staunch opponent of safety net programs. As a teenaged mother who divorced young, Pamela’s own journey had been rocky, and she had benefitted from taxpayer-funded tuition breaks at community college to become a nurse. But at the dialysis center where Pamela worked and where Medicare covered everyone’s treatment regardless of age, she noticed that very few patients had regular jobs. Pamela resented this. She thought the patients should have “hoops to jump through” to get the treatment, just as she’d had to keep up her grades when she was getting assistance with college. She thought they should have some skin in the game.

Atul Gawande brought us a similar tale in a 2017 New Yorker article about whether health care should be a right. He introduced us to Monna, a librarian earning $16.50 an hour in Athens, Ohio. After taxes and health insurance premiums were deducted, Monna was taking home less than $1,000 a month, and her health insurance annual deductible was a whopping $3,000. It was her retired husband’s pension, military benefits, and Medicare — all benefits considered earned, not handouts — that kept them afloat. In spite of this struggle, Monna didn’t support health care as a right because it was “another way of undermining responsibility.” Noting that she could quit

her job and get Medicaid for free like some of her neighbors were doing, Monna explained that she was “old school” and “not really good at accepting anything I don’t work for.”

Exit polls from 2016 also reflect this division, with the lowest-income voters supporting Clinton—and therefore safety-net programs associated with Democrats— by the greatest margin, 53 percent to 41 percent over Trump. It was folks earning $50,000 to $99,000, those who depending on region and family size might be considered settled working class, who preferred Trump by the greatest margin of all income brackets — 50 percent to 46 percent.

This dynamic shifted a bit by 2020, when exit polls showed Trump garnering the greatest level of support from those earning between $100,000 and $199,000. This may suggest an improvement in the circumstances of the settled working class, or that the lack of empathy for those who don’t work is creeping up the income ladder. By 2020, those in the $50,000 to $99,000 bracket may also have begun feeling the vulnerability associated with those a rung beneath them, particularly during the pandemic, causing them to lean Democratic. Meanwhile, folks in the higher income group may have become increasingly judgmental — and more beholden to Trump as they saw their 401K accounts gain value during his administration.

As important as this divide is to understanding working-class whites — and in spite of national publicity by big-name scholars and journalists — coastal and urban progressives often seem oblivious to it. This may be because few have any meaningful interaction with either faction of the white working class. Outsiders struggle to grasp the significance of this class war that rages within our nation’s broader class war.

But this war within a war animates a lot of voters. It also drives a lot of policy decisions, including work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps (SNAP) imposed by red state governors and legislatures, just as the Clinton administration did for welfare (TANF) a quarter century ago.

Whenever I talk about this settled working class mindset to folks in my coastal progressive world, I get two responses. The first is an assumption that these folks are simply racists whose sole motivation is to deny benefits to people of color. The second response is that they are irrational, even delusional, not to see that they are

vulnerable — that they might someday need public benefits, too, given the way precarity has not only crept up the socioeconomic ladder, but also outward and into a growing number of communities left behind by the knowledge economy.

Indeed, it’s true that many in the settled working class would benefit from big structural government interventions like single-payer health care, universal pre-K and other childcare supports, greater investments in education and broadband. They would also benefit if higher taxes on the wealthy paid for these interventions. That many white workers don’t see it this way leads to the oft-heard assertion that working-class whites vote against their own interests.

But both of these progressive responses further alienate folks with strong identities as workers, those hanging on to a version of the American dream that places the individual squarely in the driver’s seat.

First, going straight to allegations of racism is incendiary and infuriating to the folks being labeled “racist.” They tend to define that term narrowly, referring to people who say the n-word or explicitly endorse white nationalism. (Academics label this cohort “old-fashioned racists” to differentiate from the many broader definitions that now dominate public discourse.) Many of these folks know they don’t use overtly racist terms or believe in white supremacy. But just as those oriented to work tend to discount the significance of beneficial structures in their own lives, they also tend to discount the force of structural racism in others’ lives.

Plus, an assumption that these white workers are thinking only in terms of the “welfare queen” stereotype fails to consider that most of the non-workers who people like Pamela and Monna know are almost certainly white folks. After all, they live in Marshalltown, Iowa and Athens, Ohio — virtually all-white burgs. Ditto my folks in the Arkansas Ozarks.

I’m not saying that no one in the settled working class has racist impulses; some do. I am pointing out their tendency to harbor class-based animus toward anyone who doesn’t work, regardless of skin color. Bias based on race and bias based on class are not mutually exclusive, and it can be easier to assume that racial animus is at work when in fact, it’s classist or cultural animus directed at those on a lower economic or social rung. As the late cultural critic Joe Bageant expressed it, “what middle America loathes … are poor and poorish people, especially the kind who look and sound like they just might live in a house trailer.”

Depending on your politics, this is not a flattering image of the settled working class. But it is the reality political candidates are facing when they seek their votes—and J.D. Vance knows that. So does his Democratic opponent Tim Ryan, also a product of white working-class Ohio.

In July 2016, Senator Chuck Schumer suggested Democrats could ignore this constituency. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania,” he said, “we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

Schumer’s strategy proved a notorious disaster for Democrats, and it’s not a gamble the party can afford to repeat in 2022 or 2024. If anything, white workers look more critical than ever to a winning Democratic coalition, as more Latinos drift into the Republican column.

It thus behooves Ryan and other Democrats to consider carefully how to communicate with a voting bloc they once took for granted.

President Biden talks more about jobs and the working class than President Obama did, but generic job talk may no longer be getting through to workers given the shifting image (and reality) of Democrats as the party of elites and intellectuals. The sad truth is that coastal progressive condescension toward workers has become second nature to many Democrats, so much so that they don’t realize they’re doing it.

Take the issue of higher education. Wider, more affordable access to college is absolutely critical to our country’s future, and I’m a grateful poster child for how it can propel working-class kids up the socioeconomic class ladder. But elite preoccupation with higher education (never mind elitism within that sector) sends a signal that getting a college degree is the only way people succeed and make contributions to our nation. By implication, everyone else is a loser. What the credentialed class often conveys— whether or not they intend to—is that if workers were smart and ambitious enough, they’d have degrees and careers like ours. But many in the settled working class never aspired to go to college. They nevertheless look to their work as a source of dignity, identity, and pride.

Ryan, Vance’s Democratic opponent, gets this. He recently tweeted “Say it with me: you shouldn’t need a college degree to get a good job and live a good life.”

When Trump said he “love[d] the poorly educated,” the credentialed class cringed. They assumed no one would want to be labeled as such and, indeed, that no one would want to be poorly educated (read to mean having little formal education). But folks without college degrees — even folks without high school diplomas — heard Trump’s comment as affirmation. He was happy to be associated with them, and Trump’s warm embrace was a salve on a deep, festering wound. Trump’s comment was also a rare one that did double duty in speaking to both settled and hard-living factions of the white working class.

But Trump also found a way to speak specifically to the settled working class, those with strong identities as workers. The “again” part of “Make America Great Again” brings to mind a time when their jobs provided greater economic security—as Papaw Vance’s steel mill job had—and also a time when blue-collar workers felt broadly respected. For workers displaced or fearing displacement, Trump named various external culprits (aka structural challenges)—unfair foreign imports, immigrants, regulation. He also offered solutions, e.g., tariffs, a border wall, less red tape, though he didn’t deliver on all of his promises. Trump didn’t save coal jobs, but the American steel industry did benefit from his tariffs.

Democratic solutions to worker travails will mostly differ from those proposed by Republicans, of course, but Democrats can fruitfully borrow a page from how Trump communicated with workers. First and foremost, tell workers that they and their labor are seen and appreciated. A key theme of 2016 election coverage was that many working-class white and rural voters felt overlooked. Tracie St. Martin, a union member and heavy construction worker who supported Trump, summed up the disgruntlement, “I wanted people like me to be cared about. People don’t realize there’s nothing without a blue-collar worker.” (St. Martin, of Miamisburg, Ohio, was quoted in a ProPublica story reported by MacGillis aptly titled “Revenge of the Forgotten Class.”)

The more specific Democrats’ affirming messages, the better. Democrats should go beyond broad “jobs” platitudes and say workers’ names—that is, the names of their vocations: steelworkers, yes, but also stylists, caregivers, police officers, machinists, and food service workers.

Our nation got better at seeing workers—especially certain categories of workers—in the early days of the pandemic. As we collectively waxed poetic about shelf-stockers and truck drivers, I recalled the pride my whole family felt in the mid-1970s when the trucker song “Convoy” topped both pop and country charts and the movie “Smokey

and the Bandit” glamorized the work that truckers do. Of course, that was long before we started thinking in terms of two Americas, one blue, the other red, before we started putting down one group to build up the other. To many of us—white folks anyway— America felt more like a commonwealth back then.

Needless to say, I’m not suggesting that it’s within the Democratic Party’s power to deliver another 1970s-style love fest for truckers or any other blue-collar constituency. But the broad, mainstream dignity associated with workers in that earlier era is something for Democrats to aspire to in their messaging.

The ongoing labor shortage is all the more reason Democrats should keep telling blue collar workers of all races that they are valued—and all the more reason to mean it. Our nation badly needs carpenters, electricians, plumbers and the full array of blue collar workers who are going to help us overcome our national housing shortage and actually reconstruct our infrastructure. Politicians like Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speak more often than most about job training for workers like these, as with her Skills Investment and Skills Renewal Acts (co-sponsored by Ben Sasse); others should follow her lead.

There’s other low-hanging fruit. When Democrats talk about investments in childcare, they should talk about it as not only good for the children, but good for the parents—a way to keep them in the workforce and off public benefits.

Finally, Democrats need to channel the can-do spirit of workers themselves and lead with solutions. When politicians belabor the structural challenges to which solutions are supposed to respond, some in the white working class hear government making excuses. When work is your religion, too much emphasis on what’s keeping you from making a living sounds like apostasy.

For them, the most important thing is simply to get to work. A close second is living in a country that values their work—along with a paycheck that reflects both that value and their dignity as workers.

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Video: Oakland protest against Supreme Court ruling

John Reimann
 

Here is a video of the protest in Oakland against the Supreme Court's ruling.
The large turnout on only a few hours notice shows the huge potential for a new movement of youth and workers. In future articles, Oaklandsocialist will examine what immediate demands can be raised and where it can go from here. Among other things, we should consider demanding the impeachment of Barrett, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh for lying under oath – perjury. That demand does not mean accepting the undemocratic role of the US Supreme Court (and the entire federal judiciary); it means helping to expose its political nature.
https://oaklandsocialist.com/2022/06/26/video-oakland-protests-supreme-court-anti-abortion-ruling/

--
“Science and socialism go hand-in-hand.” Felicity Dowling
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook


there-is-a-major-rift-dividing-the-white-working-class-and-democrats-are-clueless-26-Jun-2022

Michael Meeropol
 

If this has already been sent to Marxmail, I apologize.  I think this analysis is REALLY REALLY GOOD and worth some serious discussions...  

Mike

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Michael Meeropol (via Google Docs) <mameerop@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26, 2022 at 8:45 AM
Subject: there-is-a-major-rift-dividing-the-white-working-class-and-democrats-are-clueless-26-Jun-2022
To: <mameerop@...>
Cc: <putnamprogressives@...>, <take18ny@...>, <longhaulny@...>


Michael Meeropol attached a document
Unknown profile photo
Michael Meeropol (mameerop@...) has attached the following document:
Dwight tells me the first version did not get through. Hopefully this one will
there-is-a-major-rift-dividing-the-white-working-class-and-democrats-are-clueless-26-Jun-2022
Snapshot of the item below:

 

TH E BI G I D EA

There Is a Major Rift Dividing the White Working Class — And Democrats Are Clueless

There’s an important social and economic divide that drives working-class whites that progressive elites mostly miss — to their political peril.

J.D. Vance greets supporters during a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on April 23, 2022 in Delaware, Ohio. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Lisa R. Pruitt is Martin Luther King Jr. professor of law at the University of California, Davis. She is writing a book about what the experience of migrating from the working class to the

chattering class can teach us about contemporary political divisions.

Ever since J.D. Vance became the Republican Senate nominee in Ohio, 

journalists and pundits have been preoccupied with how Vance’s politics have shifted since the 2016 publication of his memoir, Hillbilly Elegy. The book brought Vance fame and a platform that he used, among other things, to criticize Donald Trump. Since then, Vance’s positions on polarizing issues like immigration

have lurched to the right and he sought — and won — Trump’s endorsement. Vance now also dabbles in conspiracy theories and has taken on a belligerent, Trump-like tone.

What the pundit class isn’t talking about, however, is an important consistency between 2016 author Vance and 2022 politician Vance. In his memoir, Vance pitted two groups of low-status whites against each other—those who work versus those who don’t. In academic circles, these two groups are sometimes labeled the “settled” working class versus the “hard living.” A broad and fuzzy line divides these two groups, but generally speaking, settled folks work consistently while the hard living do not. The latter are thus more likely to fall into destructive habits like substance abuse that lead to further destabilization and, importantly, to reliance on government benefits.

Vance has not renounced that divisive message. He no doubt hopes to garner the support of the slightly more upmarket of the two factions—which, probably not coincidentally, is also the group more likely to go to the polls. While elite progressives tend to see the white working class as monolithic, Vance’s competitiveness in the Ohio Senate race can be explained in no small part by his ability to politically exploit this cleavage.

As a scholar studying working-class and rural whites, I have written about this subtle but consequential divide. I have also lived it. I grew up working-class white, and I watched my truck driver father and teacher’s aide mother struggle mightily to stay on the “settled” side of the ledger. They worked to pay the bills, yes, but also because work set them apart from those in their community who were willing to accept public benefits. Work represented the moral high ground. Work was their religion.

We lived in an all-white corner of the Arkansas Ozarks, so my parents weren’t fretting about the Black folks Ronald Reagan would later denigrate with the “welfare queen” stereotype. They were talking about their lazy neighbors. They called these folks “white trash,” the worst slur they knew.

Though Vance described this divide in Hillbilly Elegy, readers unfamiliar with the white working class may not have picked up on it. Vance’s beloved grandparents, Mamaw and Papaw, represented hard work. Papaw had a steady job at the Armco steel mill—one good enough to draw him and hundreds like him out of the Appalachian Kentucky hills to Middletown, Ohio. Indeed, it was such a good job that Mamaw could

stay home and take care of the kids. Though they were crass and unconventional by polite, mainstream standards, Papaw and Mamaw’s work ethic positioned them in the settled working class.

From that perch, Vance’s grandparents harshly judged neighbors who didn’t work. They even judged their daughter, Vance’s mother, Bev. Though she’d trained for a good job, as a nurse, Bev’s drug use and frequent churn of male partners led to the instability associated with the “hard living.” Indeed, at one point Vance uses that very

term to refer to his mother: “Mom’s behavior grew increasingly erratic,” Vance writes. “She was more roommate than parent, and of the three of us — Mom, [my sister], and me — Mom was the roommate most prone to hard living” as she partied and stayed out ‘til the wee hours of the morning.

Given the childhood trauma associated with his mother’s behavior, it’s perhaps not surprising that Vance came to emulate his grandparents’ judgmental stance toward the hard living. This is illustrated by his condemnation of shirking co-workers at a warehouse job and those who used food stamps (SNAP) to pay for the groceries he bagged as a teenager. (It seems that Vance also inherited his family’s pugilistic tendencies, which have come in handy with his conversion to Trumpism; words like “scumbag” and “idiot,” which readers of Hillbilly Elegy can easily imagine coming out of Mamaw’s mouth, have become staples of Vance’s campaign vocabulary).

Ultimately, of course, Vance traveled far from his modest roots to graduate from Yale Law School and become a venture capitalist. For this success, he credited the hard work and boot-strapping mentality he learned from his grandparents. What Vance didn’t credit — not explicitly, anyway — were the structural forces that benefitted him and his grandparents. For Vance, these included an undergraduate degree from an excellent public university (Ohio State) and opportunities in the military. For his grandparents, these included that good union job at Armco Steel—even as Papaw complained about the union. (A significant faction of workers believe that hard working people like themselves don’t need unions, that unions simply protect slackers from hard work. My own father’s pet peeve was unionized loading dock employees whose generous breaks delayed getting his truck loaded or unloaded and thus back on the road earning money. The naming of “right-to-work” laws plays to this mindset.)

Like Vance, settled white workers tend to see themselves living a version of the American dream grounded primarily — if not entirely — in their own agency. They believe they can survive, even thrive, if they just work hard enough. And some of them are doing just that. Because they lean into the grit of the individual, they tend to

downplay structural obstacles to their quest to make a living, e.g., poor schools and even crummy job markets, just as they downplay structural benefits. They also discount “white privilege” because giving skin color credit for what they have achieved devalues the significance of their work. This mindset is also the reason that when Obama said in 2012, “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” the remark landed so badly among the settled working class. They’re not accustomed to sharing credit for what they have — perhaps especially when they don’t have much.

Vance and my parents are mere anecdotes, yes, but scholars have documented the phenomenon they represent. Kathryn Edin of Princeton University, Jennifer Sherman of Washington State University and Monica Prasad of Northwestern University have studied folks like them in both urban and rural locales. What “settled” and “hard living” express as cultural phenomena, Edin and colleagues express quantitatively as the second-lowest income quintile dissociating from the bottom quintile — the very place from whence many had climbed. Edin described that disassociation as a “virulent social distancing” — “suddenly, you’re a worker and anyone who is not a worker is a bad person.”

Journalists have also brought us illustrations of the settled working class. Alec MacGillis did so in a 2015 New York Times essay, introducing us to Pamela Dougherty of Marshalltown, Iowa, a staunch opponent of safety net programs. As a teenaged mother who divorced young, Pamela’s own journey had been rocky, and she had benefitted from taxpayer-funded tuition breaks at community college to become a nurse. But at the dialysis center where Pamela worked and where Medicare covered everyone’s treatment regardless of age, she noticed that very few patients had regular jobs. Pamela resented this. She thought the patients should have “hoops to jump through” to get the treatment, just as she’d had to keep up her grades when she was getting assistance with college. She thought they should have some skin in the game.

Atul Gawande brought us a similar tale in a 2017 New Yorker article about whether health care should be a right. He introduced us to Monna, a librarian earning $16.50 an hour in Athens, Ohio. After taxes and health insurance premiums were deducted, Monna was taking home less than $1,000 a month, and her health insurance annual deductible was a whopping $3,000. It was her retired husband’s pension, military benefits, and Medicare — all benefits considered earned, not handouts — that kept them afloat. In spite of this struggle, Monna didn’t support health care as a right because it was “another way of undermining responsibility.” Noting that she could quit

her job and get Medicaid for free like some of her neighbors were doing, Monna explained that she was “old school” and “not really good at accepting anything I don’t work for.”

Exit polls from 2016 also reflect this division, with the lowest-income voters supporting Clinton—and therefore safety-net programs associated with Democrats— by the greatest margin, 53 percent to 41 percent over Trump. It was folks earning $50,000 to $99,000, those who depending on region and family size might be considered settled working class, who preferred Trump by the greatest margin of all income brackets — 50 percent to 46 percent.

This dynamic shifted a bit by 2020, when exit polls showed Trump garnering the greatest level of support from those earning between $100,000 and $199,000. This may suggest an improvement in the circumstances of the settled working class, or that the lack of empathy for those who don’t work is creeping up the income ladder. By 2020, those in the $50,000 to $99,000 bracket may also have begun feeling the vulnerability associated with those a rung beneath them, particularly during the pandemic, causing them to lean Democratic. Meanwhile, folks in the higher income group may have become increasingly judgmental — and more beholden to Trump as they saw their 401K accounts gain value during his administration.

As important as this divide is to understanding working-class whites — and in spite of national publicity by big-name scholars and journalists — coastal and urban progressives often seem oblivious to it. This may be because few have any meaningful interaction with either faction of the white working class. Outsiders struggle to grasp the significance of this class war that rages within our nation’s broader class war.

But this war within a war animates a lot of voters. It also drives a lot of policy decisions, including work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps (SNAP) imposed by red state governors and legislatures, just as the Clinton administration did for welfare (TANF) a quarter century ago.

Whenever I talk about this settled working class mindset to folks in my coastal progressive world, I get two responses. The first is an assumption that these folks are simply racists whose sole motivation is to deny benefits to people of color. The second response is that they are irrational, even delusional, not to see that they are

vulnerable — that they might someday need public benefits, too, given the way precarity has not only crept up the socioeconomic ladder, but also outward and into a growing number of communities left behind by the knowledge economy.

Indeed, it’s true that many in the settled working class would benefit from big structural government interventions like single-payer health care, universal pre-K and other childcare supports, greater investments in education and broadband. They would also benefit if higher taxes on the wealthy paid for these interventions. That many white workers don’t see it this way leads to the oft-heard assertion that working-class whites vote against their own interests.

But both of these progressive responses further alienate folks with strong identities as workers, those hanging on to a version of the American dream that places the individual squarely in the driver’s seat.

First, going straight to allegations of racism is incendiary and infuriating to the folks being labeled “racist.” They tend to define that term narrowly, referring to people who say the n-word or explicitly endorse white nationalism. (Academics label this cohort “old-fashioned racists” to differentiate from the many broader definitions that now dominate public discourse.) Many of these folks know they don’t use overtly racist terms or believe in white supremacy. But just as those oriented to work tend to discount the significance of beneficial structures in their own lives, they also tend to discount the force of structural racism in others’ lives.

Plus, an assumption that these white workers are thinking only in terms of the “welfare queen” stereotype fails to consider that most of the non-workers who people like Pamela and Monna know are almost certainly white folks. After all, they live in Marshalltown, Iowa and Athens, Ohio — virtually all-white burgs. Ditto my folks in the Arkansas Ozarks.

I’m not saying that no one in the settled working class has racist impulses; some do. I am pointing out their tendency to harbor class-based animus toward anyone who doesn’t work, regardless of skin color. Bias based on race and bias based on class are not mutually exclusive, and it can be easier to assume that racial animus is at work when in fact, it’s classist or cultural animus directed at those on a lower economic or social rung. As the late cultural critic Joe Bageant expressed it, “what middle America loathes … are poor and poorish people, especially the kind who look and sound like they just might live in a house trailer.”

Depending on your politics, this is not a flattering image of the settled working class. But it is the reality political candidates are facing when they seek their votes—and J.D. Vance knows that. So does his Democratic opponent Tim Ryan, also a product of white working-class Ohio.

In July 2016, Senator Chuck Schumer suggested Democrats could ignore this constituency. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania,” he said, “we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

Schumer’s strategy proved a notorious disaster for Democrats, and it’s not a gamble the party can afford to repeat in 2022 or 2024. If anything, white workers look more critical than ever to a winning Democratic coalition, as more Latinos drift into the Republican column.

It thus behooves Ryan and other Democrats to consider carefully how to communicate with a voting bloc they once took for granted.

President Biden talks more about jobs and the working class than President Obama did, but generic job talk may no longer be getting through to workers given the shifting image (and reality) of Democrats as the party of elites and intellectuals. The sad truth is that coastal progressive condescension toward workers has become second nature to many Democrats, so much so that they don’t realize they’re doing it.

Take the issue of higher education. Wider, more affordable access to college is absolutely critical to our country’s future, and I’m a grateful poster child for how it can propel working-class kids up the socioeconomic class ladder. But elite preoccupation with higher education (never mind elitism within that sector) sends a signal that getting a college degree is the only way people succeed and make contributions to our nation. By implication, everyone else is a loser. What the credentialed class often conveys— whether or not they intend to—is that if workers were smart and ambitious enough, they’d have degrees and careers like ours. But many in the settled working class never aspired to go to college. They nevertheless look to their work as a source of dignity, identity, and pride.

Ryan, Vance’s Democratic opponent, gets this. He recently tweeted “Say it with me: you shouldn’t need a college degree to get a good job and live a good life.”

When Trump said he “love[d] the poorly educated,” the credentialed class cringed. They assumed no one would want to be labeled as such and, indeed, that no one would want to be poorly educated (read to mean having little formal education). But folks without college degrees — even folks without high school diplomas — heard Trump’s comment as affirmation. He was happy to be associated with them, and Trump’s warm embrace was a salve on a deep, festering wound. Trump’s comment was also a rare one that did double duty in speaking to both settled and hard-living factions of the white working class.

But Trump also found a way to speak specifically to the settled working class, those with strong identities as workers. The “again” part of “Make America Great Again” brings to mind a time when their jobs provided greater economic security—as Papaw Vance’s steel mill job had—and also a time when blue-collar workers felt broadly respected. For workers displaced or fearing displacement, Trump named various external culprits (aka structural challenges)—unfair foreign imports, immigrants, regulation. He also offered solutions, e.g., tariffs, a border wall, less red tape, though he didn’t deliver on all of his promises. Trump didn’t save coal jobs, but the American steel industry did benefit from his tariffs.

Democratic solutions to worker travails will mostly differ from those proposed by Republicans, of course, but Democrats can fruitfully borrow a page from how Trump communicated with workers. First and foremost, tell workers that they and their labor are seen and appreciated. A key theme of 2016 election coverage was that many working-class white and rural voters felt overlooked. Tracie St. Martin, a union member and heavy construction worker who supported Trump, summed up the disgruntlement, “I wanted people like me to be cared about. People don’t realize there’s nothing without a blue-collar worker.” (St. Martin, of Miamisburg, Ohio, was quoted in a ProPublica story reported by MacGillis aptly titled “Revenge of the Forgotten Class.”)

The more specific Democrats’ affirming messages, the better. Democrats should go beyond broad “jobs” platitudes and say workers’ names—that is, the names of their vocations: steelworkers, yes, but also stylists, caregivers, police officers, machinists, and food service workers.

Our nation got better at seeing workers—especially certain categories of workers—in the early days of the pandemic. As we collectively waxed poetic about shelf-stockers and truck drivers, I recalled the pride my whole family felt in the mid-1970s when the trucker song “Convoy” topped both pop and country charts and the movie “Smokey

and the Bandit” glamorized the work that truckers do. Of course, that was long before we started thinking in terms of two Americas, one blue, the other red, before we started putting down one group to build up the other. To many of us—white folks anyway— America felt more like a commonwealth back then.

Needless to say, I’m not suggesting that it’s within the Democratic Party’s power to deliver another 1970s-style love fest for truckers or any other blue-collar constituency. But the broad, mainstream dignity associated with workers in that earlier era is something for Democrats to aspire to in their messaging.

The ongoing labor shortage is all the more reason Democrats should keep telling blue collar workers of all races that they are valued—and all the more reason to mean it. Our nation badly needs carpenters, electricians, plumbers and the full array of blue collar workers who are going to help us overcome our national housing shortage and actually reconstruct our infrastructure. Politicians like Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speak more often than most about job training for workers like these, as with her Skills Investment and Skills Renewal Acts (co-sponsored by Ben Sasse); others should follow her lead.

There’s other low-hanging fruit. When Democrats talk about investments in childcare, they should talk about it as not only good for the children, but good for the parents—a way to keep them in the workforce and off public benefits.

Finally, Democrats need to channel the can-do spirit of workers themselves and lead with solutions. When politicians belabor the structural challenges to which solutions are supposed to respond, some in the white working class hear government making excuses. When work is your religion, too much emphasis on what’s keeping you from making a living sounds like apostasy.

For them, the most important thing is simply to get to work. A close second is living in a country that values their work—along with a paycheck that reflects both that value and their dignity as workers.

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Re: Abortion rights: Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize! – Communist Party USA

Bobby MacVeety
 

Thanks for your cogent and insightful analysis, of course, the US and Chile are not equivalent. I am noting that the process of SCOTUS, interpreting the intentions of white bourgeois slaveholders 250 years ago, is a dead end for democracy and specifically right now, for the rights and personhood of over half the population. Clearly, reform under the current document worship regime has failed.


On Jun 25, 2022, at 9:05 PM, Andrew Stewart <hasc.warrior.stew@...> wrote:

Chile has a significantly different socio-political reality from ours. Their Constitutional Convention was essentially part of a much longer process seeking to undo the tremendous harms of the Pinochet era, which is rightfully and correctly construed as an instance of Yankee imperialism negating their national sovereignty and imposing upon them a Monroe Doctrine regime of terror. By contrast the forces that are responsible for the 50+ years of efforts to reverse the gains of the Warren-Burger Courts are deeply rooted and indigenous social phenomena within our settler-colonial society. The largest (nominal) socialist organization in the USA is DSA and they have only really grown to this size over the past five years (and furthermore are utterly marginal within the larger US polity in contrast with what the Right has built). Chile by contrast has a long-standing multi-party inter generational Left that has been building this momentum for 50 years. If any parallels are to be drawn, it would be a contrast between how the Chilean Left REBUILT itself after Allende died while the US Left wilted away while the Right rebuilt itself after the implosion of Nixon and Watergate. Only part of this would be truly attributable to the fact that the US has a Federalist system that is at once hyper-centralized AND simultaneously de-centralized whilst Chile has a Westminster-style parliamentary system.

1841 - 1860 of 19461