[Marxism] Still more thoughts

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Wed Nov 3 10:33:31 MST 2004

Fred Feldman argues that:

> So they are sticking with Bush.  But don't get caught up in the mandate,
> the New Popular Bush and all that jive (Today's New York Times launches
> this inevitable, running-on-automatic campaign.  His problems are not

The problem is, the ruling class doesn't appoint the president. Why was Bush
elected for a second term by people who have diametrically opposed interests
to his? I think an earlier point made by Feldman provides context, but not a
specific explanation:

> The United States and the working class is tremendously affected and
> partly shaped by the inpouring of profits from the colonial world that
> shape the society and affect all layers of all classes.  They shape the

This is certainly an element of the "consent of the governed" that the U.S.
Bourgeoisie has engineered. I don't think the imperialist profits argument
bears on the particular choice of candidate, since both represent
imperialist profits (although Bush might be perceived as more capable of
assuring this wellspring...). Keep in mind that workers in the U.S.,
particularly in the "hinterlands" haven't fared very well over the past
decade and a half, or more. I'm not talking about the minority of unionized
workers, but the "Walmart" majority. If you drive through areas like
Detroit, or Pittsburgh or sections of upstate New York or large parts of the
South, these areas are long-term depressed. E.P. Thompson wrote about a
period of long-term social crisis in English history in his The Making of
the English Working Class, a period in which millenarian religious sects
proliferated, offering solace to the dispossessed beset by profound social
and economic crisis. Something similar is at work with Bush's re-election.

Mark Lause writes:
> George W. Bush won the election by consistently and cynically catering
> to the ignorance and superstition of the American electorate, while John

The question is, what resonates with this largely working class electorate
when Bush caters to these themes? I've argued before that a very simple
concept is useful here. Ariel Dorfmann, former cultural minister in the
Allende government and author of How to Read Donald Duck, wrote a short
pamphlet while working with the Sandinistas, in which he coined the term
"cotidianidad," loosely translated as "everyday-ness." He pointed out that
the CIA and its collaborators in Chile managed to fracture this sense of
everyday stability and security, helping to destabilize the Allende
government. Dorfmann argued that the CIA was attempting something similar
with its "Psy-Ops" program in Nicaragua. And the reverse process forms part
of the hegemonic process of the U.S. rulers. Even more than promises of
health care, education or jobs, the theme of security and stability in a
turbulent, crisis-ridden world resonates with these voters. The Bush team
plays this card well. That is the meaning of the return to "family values,"
the victim blaming, etc. Imperialist profits play a role, but mainly
ideologically. While the illusory security offered by Bush hearks back to
the relative benefits derived from imperialist profits, these workers are
receiving a dwindling share of such surplus value. Their baseline isn't the
standard of living in impoverished nations, but their own previous standard
of living. 

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