dem loss: analysis anyone?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 8 07:33:39 MST 2002


Mike Friedman wrote:
> The democratic party has been shifting to the right for three decades,
> now... that's not news. But, some analysis of how current hegemonic
> political culture played itself out in these elections would be useful.

It is important to recognized that bourgeois politics in general has
been shifting to the right. If a Republican Party candidate now ran for
president with the same platform as Richard Nixon's in 1970, he'd be
denounced as a traitor to the party. Back in the early 1960s, nobody
like Reagan would have been taken seriously as a national leader but
every Republican President since Reagan has followed in his footsteps.

The only possible explanation for this phenomenon is that the capitalist
system requires a meaner and stingier regime both domestically and
internationally. What's driving this is fundamental changes in the
capitalist economy that have been explained in great detail by Robert
Brenner and Harry Shutt, whose Zed book "The Trouble With Capitalism" is
indispensable.

Basically you have intense competition between big blocs of capital for
a dwindling market. Under these circumstances, you will find the ruling
classes of the key countries whipping their country into spartan,
competitive machines armed to the teeth with little room for niceties
such as universal health care or a guaranteed job.

The opening salvo in this war on the working class was--in my
opinion--the coup against Allende in 1973. The regime that was imposed
on the Chilean people became a model for the 3rd world and for the USSR
as well. In short order, it also became the model for advanced
capitalist countries as Thatcherism and Reaganism became the standard.

The decline of manufacturing jobs--hence leading to an erosion of its
traditional progressive base--and the shift to the right from its
corporate benefactors transformed both the Democratic Party in the USA
and European social democracies, especially the British Labor Party,
into lite versions of the Thatcher-Reagan system.

This dynamic is virtually identical to the one that took place in Europe
during the rise of fascism. The party of the right becomes more
extremist, more self-confident, more ambitious. The party of the left
cowers in the presence of its opponent and urges voters to choose the
lesser evil. Of course, faced with desperate conditions the voter will
often choose the party that seems resolved to provide a systemic answer,
especially when it is framed in populist demagoguery.

We are nowhere near that level of crisis today, but we are certainly
moving in that direction. We also have our lesser-evil parties and
individuals today who are frozen like deer in the headlights of the
reactionary car barrelling down the highway.

The left intelligentsia is pathetic. With the ultraright intelligentsia
becoming more and more emboldened by each victory at the ballot box, we
find our "spokesmen" lashing out at the radical movement for being
"anti-American" in a version of hard cop and soft cop. This is the price
we have to pay for the postmodernist victory in the left academy.
Desperately afraid of putting forward "oppressive" metanarratives, it
avoids putting forward the one solution that can solve the intractable
economic and social crisis of the 21st century: socialism.


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