The Smirking Class as Vanguard of History 

The Smirking Class as Vanguard of History 

When the 2016 midterms finally cooled and solidified, you looked back on them and might have seen countless bright signs of a Democratic triumph.

Somehow, even the losses were like victories: the thundering concession-speech of Stacy Abrams was far less “concession” than denunciation of Republican tricks and a thrilling model of political rage and resolve. Cheaters ruin the game and redeem their victims from unfair defeat without themselves winning in the moral, real and complete sense: Her so-called loss was every bit as unfair as when Sen. Bernie Sanders “lost”  to Mrs. Hillary Clinton and her rich friends in the last presidential primary, also because of numerous dirty tricks including voter suppression.

Passing over all bipartisan evils, consider that the fresh Democrats in Congress will stand in Trump’s way and block what they can of Republican excesses. This is one sure thing we can say about all of them. If Trump-nausea is really the lynchpin of Democratic unity at the present time, there was at least this excuse for when the TV talked up their party’s good showing in the new House of Representatives.

But something drowned out in the Democrats’ triumphal coverage of the midterms is this important reality; this crucial distinction that’s apparently lost on some media-people: Being queer or female or of uncommon ethnicity isn’t what “progressive” means. Diversity itself, while valuable and laudable, isn’t necessarily progressive.  A more diverse or inclusive Congress is not “progressive” in the way that wanting to break the Wall Street system and give freedom and power to working people is “progressive.”

There were too many smirking hot-takes to count, but I recall that one deemed the election to Congress of its first openly bisexual female member a laudable benchmark of American “progress.” I don’t deny that it’s progress of a kind, for as you’d say, “this increases visibility and reflects the growing inclusion and acceptance of bisexual women in society, confronting their erasure even in queer and queer-allied communities.” Well, thank goodness. We all grow in freedom when any little category of people, however niche, grows in freedom. But we can’t just stop and just leave it there — because marginalization, visibility, erasure, affirmation etc. are issues of a concretely different type than issues of work, time, wealth, and actual material freedom.

More children’s books in the library concerning bisexual female characters will increase general “visibility” of that group. Some authors get paid to write books for just such purposes. This is progress of a kind, and sincerely aims at justice, of a kind. It also might be an abuse of literature, some people think, but anyway it’s matter of literature, and less directly, a matter of people’s sex lives — these days, it’s not enough that so many people will spend their precious money and free time in pursuit of recreational sex, but they’ll base their political priorities and “identity” on the same. As far as that goes, “visibility and erasure” of sexuality are felt to mean, “life and death.” But what about a decent livelihood and plenty of free time, compared to a soul wasted to fatten the Parasite? That also is felt as a matter of “life and death,” and felt by all who work, and it’s felt in ways that don’t depend on literature or well-funded human rights campaigns or constructed “identity” because it’s just the real world in front of your eyes.

So it shouldn’t surprise us when the Moneypower on Wall Street, that diabolical force behind all that keeps American workers and their families from a life of power and freedom, pushes huge sums of money into myriad kinds of “social justice.” This is why far too much “social justice” is against the progress toward our kind of justice; against the dream of a living wage or a longer weekend, of forcing down the cost of medicine or housing or both.

A filthy-rich heiress or gay hedge-fund manager has an obvious dog in the fight to liberate women and LGBTQIA+ respectively. You’ll find such people in Democratic circles. They are the donor class in control of the party. To involve themselves in “social justice” moneyed people can feel like they’re making the country better — and indeed they are, in their small way, but that’s beside the point: The point and the problem is that this kind of “progressive” politics cleaves like a leech to the dream of real-life progress for all of us; that the parameters of too many little expressions of “social justice,” whatever their ideal, ignore the fact that money is still master.

There are moneyed allies plenty to help you fight the patriarchy; to fight every form of intersectional privilege that human beings can ponder aloud — every form but one: economic privilege. The billionaire, as such, can love every kind of justice except economic justice, because the billionaire wouldn’t survive it.

Economic justice is incompatible with the Moneypower, that system of systems enslaving the multitude and deforming the world.

There are many in Washington, DC who value semantics over material realities or the health, prosperity and freedom of real families and communities. For them, a more expansive definition is all that’s needed to transform a “Blue Splash” or even “Ripple” into a beautiful “Blue Wave.”

Paul Adams Shepard
Writer, political analyst and cultural critic (USA)


February 2020
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