In person, it can sometimes be tough to jump right into a debate with someone who adamantly defends the status quo, someone who uses extensive bourgeois ideology and “common sense” to defend the capitalist mode of production. We all naturally get frazzled because it’s an uphill battle trying to win people over, away from the safe ideology they’ve grown up absorbing. Not only that, but there’s also a whole set of ideas and facts (noted in the above picture) that probably need to come together for someone of that nature to arrive at socialism. Trying to condense all of the above facts into quick little soundbites is a super uphill battle, and I wish there was some way we could have this process made easier for the lot of us.
Most capitalism-apologists rely on a few basic ideological points, each of them off-base. Here are eight of perhaps the most important:
Capitalism is about voluntary exchange and it’s pretty much any economic activity that doesn’t involve the state
Capitalism is the end of history and the pinnacle of human development
Capitalism is the same thing as markets
The state is antithetical to the interests of the capitalist class
Socialism is when the government does stuff; the more stuff the government does, the socialister it is
“Small government” and anarchism imply laissez-faire capitalism
There can only be top-down control of the economy by a bunch of separate capitalists (private capitalism) or top-down control of the economy by a concentrated state apparatus (state capitalism)
Imperialism is caused by corrupt politicians, disconnected from an economic system that demands endless growth and capital accumulation among elites
I feel like the above picture covers most of these ideas in a very quick way and puts them to rest; further elaboration on each of the points is necessary of course, but that’s to be expected. Destroying these bullshit claims ought to be of paramount importance if you ever find yourself in some kind of political argument with a cappy.
All being said, I can totally understand if there are those of you who just have no fucking interest in debating cappies. It’s a draining, disheartening process. Avoiding debate can be a self-care tactic, honestly. I generally only recommend it if you think there is any chance of converting them – if they’re running around in expensive suits handing out Cato Institute newspapers, then our arguments about capitalism being a particular historical development rooted in bloody conquest will probably have little to no effect whatsoever. There are, however, plenty of working-class and middle-class people who may be much more receptive if you meet them where they’re at, point to history, and commit some time and energy to talking to them about the topic; usually this works best with people you already know.
Any further input on this topic is encouraged and appreciated.
This isn’t to say we’re in a police state, a term that’s often misused…But perhaps we have entered a police state writ small. At the individual level, a police officer’s power and authority over the people he interacts with day to day is near complete. Absent video, if the officer’s account of an incident differs from that of a citizen -even several citizens- his superiors, the courts, and prosecutors will nearly always defer to the officer. If other officers are nearby, there are policies in place -official and unofficial- to encourage them to back one another up. Even if the officer violates the citizen’s rights, the officer is protected by qualified immunity…
…We have passed laws and policies that have elevated police officers above the people they serve. As Tim Lynch of the Cato Institute has written, you could make a good argument that police should be held to a higher standard than regular citizens. And you could make a good argument they should be held to the same standard. But its hard to conceive of a convincing argument that they should be held to a lower one. But that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Systems governed by bad policies and motivated by incentives will produce bat outcomes. Today, laws, policies, and procedures select for personalities attracted to aggressive, antagonistic policing; isolate police from the communities they serve; and condition police officers to see the people they serve -the people with whom they interact every day- as the enemy. We shouldn’t be surprised when cops then begin to see a world divided between cops and their families, and everybody else.
Perhaps most distressing of all, not only does the military continue to provide surplus weapons to domestic police agencies, but thanks to the Department of Homeland Security grants, military contractors are now shifting to market resources toward police agencies. Worse, a new industry appears to be emerging just to convert those grants into battle-grade gear. That means soon we’ll have powerful private interests, funded by government grants, who will lobby for more government grants to pay for further militarization -a police industrial complex. It’s a threshold that will be difficult to un-cross.
No, America today isn’t a police state. Far from it. But it would be foolish to wait until it becomes one to get concerned.
Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko
The order forces the Department of Homeland Security to publish a weekly list of all crime “committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honour any detainers with respect to such aliens.”
The list will also include details of so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to hand over immigrant residents for deportation.
The order claimed the measures were needed to “ensure the safety and territorial integrity of the United States” and on signing the order, Mr Trump read out the names of US citizens who were murdered by illegal immigrants.”
What kind of person says something so detached from reality?
Why, Brink Lindsey, Vice President of research at the Cato Institute.
(Before I go on, let’s dispense with this objection: “Woods, you purist, why are you attacking fellow libertarians?” There are many possible answers to that question. But my response is: before you criticize me for defending Ron Paul, please forward me the letter of outrage you sent to Brink Lindsey. No double standards allowed.)
Heaven knows why Ron Paul is supposed to be a “xenophobe.” We are spared Lindsey’s deep thoughts on the subject.
But isn’t it a bit rich that Lindsey, a guy who supported the preposterous Iraq war that killed countless people for no good reason, should be calling other people xenophobes?
My enemies are whoever my government (which does not lie to me about foreign affairs – why, that’s conspiracy talk!) tells me they are. That doesn’t sound like a xenophobic principle at all!
Even if Ron were a xenophobe, if I lived in a country in the crosshairs of the U.S. I think I’d rather be facing someone who just called me nasty names, as opposed to someone who actually wanted to drop bombs on me.
Then he’s upset that Ron hasn’t supported various trade agreements. Why, only a conspiracy theorist could oppose them!
Brink, just so you know, when the International Trade Organization was floated in the late 1940s, it was the free traders like Philip Cortney, who was a friend of Mises, who led the opposition. His book The Economic Munich explained why the whole approach of these bureaucratic agreements had to be rejected. Wilhelm Ropke opposed the ITO for the same reason.
So now we’re not allowed to like Wilhelm Ropke, either. (Take notes, people. By the end, you’ll be left with Lindsey and his 12 friends.)
Then Lindsey writes, “The libertarian movement had an ugly illiberal streak long before Ron Paul. It’s been there from the get-go.”
This declaration links to an article on Murray Rothbard’s support for the Dixiecrats and states’ rights. This is supposed to be so obviously evil as not to require elaboration. Why, libertarians should favor one gigantic jurisdiction! That will be super for liberty! Whatever could go wrong?
We commemorate the Armenian genocide today. I don’t think it would be correct to say the Armenians were particularly enriched by living under a centralized regime.
In attacking Rothbard in this way, Lindsey is also condemning the great Frank Chodorov, who also supported states’ rights (which is just a shorthand term, obviously), as did Felix Morley, whose work was published by Liberty Fund, where evidently nobody thought: “This man’s views are not allowed.”
We’re going to have to chuck an awful lot to satisfy the delicate Brink Lindsey.
Political decentralization has been a fairly constant theme in libertarian thought, and indeed F.A. Hayek once said that liberty was more likely to flourish in small states.
Meanwhile, nobody pauses to note that Ludwig von Mises himself praised Rothbard to the skies – and I think I’ll take that endorsement over the 21st-century virtue-signaling of Brink Lindsey, whoever he is.
Rothbard, whose scholarly output (in the days before the Internet!) surpasses that of the entire staff of the Cato Institute, is ignored or demonized by Cato and the Koch orbit. They much prefer the tamer Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek. (No, I’m not denying those men’s merits, so resist the urge to lecture me.) Mises is tolerated sometimes, but he’s pushing it.
Since Rothbard is an actual libertarian, he’s not easily pigeonholed. You’d never guess from reading Lindsey that Rothbard favored the release of Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers.
Or that he criticized Judge Julius Hoffman for his ridiculous treatment of Bobby Seale (the other co-founder of the Black Panthers). Or that he denounced the arrest of H. Rap Brown.
Something tells me Lindsey didn’t know any of this. The sum total of his knowledge appears to be something like:
ROTHBARD BAD AND MEAN. RON PAUL ALSO MEAN. WE NICE. BOMBS, YES, BUT MOSTLY NICE.
Oh, and I nearly forgot:
ONLY A CRAZY PERSON DOESN’T TRUST OFFICIAL PENTAGON STATEMENTS. THESE PEOPLE ARE JUST TRYING TO KEEP US SAFE.
Lindsey, meanwhile, has favored a strategy he calls “liberaltarian.” The left shares some of our views, so let’s hook up with them instead of with the right!
I think we can all see how that’s been going.
Meanwhile, Ron Paul pops out of nowhere and generates a massive youth movement, gets kids reading Mises and opposing war and central banking, and Lindsey goes berserk.
War and central banking are about the last two issues Lindsey wants discussed. The very heart of the empire? Forget it. Let’s make libertarianism about prostitution and abortion, discussion of which poses not the slightest threat to the regime.
And whoops – I shouldn’t have said empire just there. Only a crazy person would use a word like that.
When the chips are down, you can count on folks like Lindsey to stand with the establishment, jointly denouncing heretics. As in:
NEW YORK TIMES: Is this Brink Lindsey?
BRINK LINDSEY: Why, hello, Mr. New York Times reporter, sir. Before we continue, let me assure you, sir: I’m a libertarian, but I’m not like those bad people you don’t like. They’re really awful and dangerous people. They haven’t imbibed p.c. morality at all. I’m not like them, trust me!
Also, I make sure to confine myself to trivial issues you in the media don’t really care that much about.
Oh, by the way, I want to join forces with you! Have you heard of liberaltarianism? I know you folks on the left agree with me on some things, and I know you’re just dying to –
Right-libertarian 2012 me:
*always wears an ill-fitting tux to barely-formal social gatherings; regularly drinks vitamin water while watching Cato Institute videos; perfected the art of the Tom Cruise soulless smile; watches V For Vendetta and The Matrix ritualistically; thinks "socially liberal, fiscally conservative" is an argument; username "Rational_Classical_Liberal" on AtheistNexus.org; drinks shit alcohol, avoids weed*
Left-libertarian 2016 me:
*face 40% more gaunt, caused by the sobering realization that 80% of all political philosophy and media is really just bourgeois propaganda; wobbly-lumberjack-male-witch aesthetic; bubbling with frantic ADHD/depression-ridden ideas related to alienation, praxis, and capitalist contradiction; drinks at least two large cups of coffee a day; cultivates a sick-ass pagan altar with a cattle skull and a Karl Marx bust; is going to buy a hobbit house with a small library of leftist literature; smokes quality-caliber weed, avoids alcohol*
Could you clearly explain what the term neoliberalism actually means? Because it is used so often to describe such a variety of things but always in a vague manner
Neoliberalism, as I and others talk about it, is a broad ideology that really started becoming popular in political, economic, and governmental circles in the 1970’s and reached its peak in global popularity in the 1980’s. It describes the political paradigm we are in right now, the political conditions of modern society. As the name suggests, it calls for a revitalization of the classical liberal view of economic policy. Concretely, this means free trade, low taxes, deregulation, privatization, and balanced budgets.
This post is going to shortly explain the neoliberal story as it took place in America. I only mention the experiences in other nations at the end for brevity, relevance to my followers and I, and because I don’t understand them as well as I understand America’s.
Neoliberalism emerged as a reaction to the Keynesian welfare state politics that had become popular in the West. In the 1970’s, the American economy was experiencing a phenomenon called “stagflation”- simultaneous stagnation and inflation- that the old-school Keynesians who had been the dominant group in American economics had believed to be impossible for any extended period of time. In the intellectual gap their failure left, economists like Milton Friedman made the case not only for a different approach to monetary policy in order to solve stagflation, but also for the idea that many forms of governmental involvement in the economy being harmful. Others, like James Buchanan, made the case to the economics profession that government bureaucrats acted in selfish self-interest, not the public interest, and thus that policy prescriptions should be much more cautious in calling for governmental solutions to economic issues.
At the same time, businesses began to be more aggressive in asserting their interests in politics. This development was prompted in part by soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. writing a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1971 arguing that “the American economic system is under attack” from progressive critics of big business, and that the business community should fight back. A number of conservative and libertarian think tanks and advocacy organizations were created and expanded in order to make the intellectual case for “freer” capitalism, including the Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1974), and the American Enterprise Institute (founded in 1938 but became influential during the 1970′s).
Take all of these trends, throw in increased public skepticism of government after Vietnam and Watergate, and you have a recipe for fundamental political change.
Between the economic disarray, the public distrust, and both intellectual and financial support for an alternative to post-war welfare statism, a new ideology became dominant in the political sphere. This ideology was encapsulated by Ronald Reagan, who summed it up perfectly with his famous quote: “in this current crisis, government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.”
That’s is standard conservative fare today, but we forget how radical both that message and Reagan himself were at the time. I’ve noted before that, even at the time of his election, Reagan was seen by some as too far right to win. The last (elected) Republican president before him, Nixon, created the EPA, OSHA, and a number of other progressive programs. He also called for healthcare reform even stronger than Obamacare, and an expansion of welfare, the latter of which was the inspiration for the Earned Income Tax Credit, passed shortly after he left office. Parts of Nixon’s economic agenda (but not many other parts of his agenda, I should note) were noticeably left-wing, so much so that one journalist at the time noted that he left the Democrats having to resort to “metooism.”
But Nixon was simply responding to political pressures from the left, the same pressures that had forced LBJ’s hand with civil rights legislation and the war on poverty. In the late 1970’s, those pressures began to be outweighed by increasing pressure from businesses in the direction of neoliberalism. This started under Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the cautious deregulation of airlines and the trucking industry. However, it was Reagan who truly delivered the neoliberal agenda in America and institutionalized it into government.
The Reagan era also saw the start of the growth in importance of campaign donations. Republicans had not only a strong base of think tanks to provide them with a network of intellectual support, they also had far more donations from the corporate interests they were serving. Congressional Republicans beat their Democratic counterparts in campaign expenditures in every election year from 1976-1992.
Traditionally, Democrats had relied on unions as a critical source of both campaign donations and organizational support. With union strength declining (thanks, in part, to attacks by the Reagan administration), the Democrats were being totally outgunned. Recognizing that the game has changed, a number of Democrats (including one Bill Clinton) joined together in the Democratic Leadership Council with the stated goal of dragging the Democratic Party to the right and boosting campaign contributions. They succeeded. When Clinton eventually won the presidency, he cemented neoliberalism as the law of the land by making it clear that the Democrats would not challenge the fundamental new doctrine of limited government involvement in many parts of the economy, and as a result made the Democrats competitive again. (Read Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson’s “Winner-Take-All Politics” and Thomas Ferguson and Joel Roger’s “Right Turn” for more on this issue).
Instead of challenging the entirety of Reagan’s assertion of government as problem, Clinton espoused a “third way” ideology: in his second inauguration, Clinton said that “Government is not the problem, and Government is not the solution. We—the American people—we are the solution.” Though he made concessions to left-liberal voters with things like mild tax hikes on the wealthy, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Family Medical Leave Act, he continued the neoliberal march of rolling back progressive achievements through the deregulation of Wall Street, conservative reform of welfare, NAFTA, and gutting public housing.
Clinton himself was aware of the way that American politics was moving to the right, and he was sometimes frustrated with it. Allegedly, he once entered a meeting in the Oval Office complaining:
Where are all the Democrats? I hope you’re all aware we’re all Eisenhower Republicans. We’re Eisenhower Republicans here, and we are fighting the Reagan Republicans. We stand for lower deficits and free trade and the bond market. Isn’t that great?
But he didn’t really do anything to slow the process. Most of the Democratic Party accepts their role doing nothing more than,
to borrow a phrase from Roberto Unger, “to put a softer face on the agenda of their conservative opponents.” They’re there to make things a bit better for the little guy here and there, but never to fundamentally shake up the political-economic system in any way. This is why people will refer to many Democrats as neoliberals even when they don’t literally advocate for a “free market.”
As a result, the Republicans continued to push further right under the leadership of Newt Gingrich. The Democrats started to dig their heels in and push back a little for the first time during the later part of the George W. Bush administration as his (and the wars’) approval ratings sank, and they now seem to have stabilized more or less. An increasingly loud progressive wing of the party continues to push for the type of reforms that would have been center-left in the 1960’s, but the party establishment is now fine just holding on to ideological territory to the right of where it was several decades ago.
With the establishment of both parties accepting neoliberal ideology, it achieved status as what Antonio Gramsci called “cultural hegemony”: because the most powerful class of America accepted it as fact, it was instilled into the American consciousness as “common sense” that can’t be seriously challenged. Ex.) “You want to raise taxes to pay for universal healthcare? That’s ridiculous, everyone knows taxes need to be cut, even the Democrats want tax cuts for the middle class!,” “Everyone agrees there’s too much regulation today,” etc.
But things are changing. What we’re seeing now in this election is the collapse of neoliberalism’s hegemony. Republican elites took neoliberalism being their root organizing principle for granted while running campaigns utilizing dog whistle racism (that’s a whole post in itself), never realizing that they were attracting a base of voters who hated immigrants a lot more than regulation. The Republicans have drifted so far to the right that unabashed nationalists like Trump can now take the lead of the party, even though he’s running on racist xenophobia and protectionism that are in conflict with neoliberal ideals. The Tea Party was the first hiccup, and Trump is the new one. The GOP’s electoral strategy is coming back to haunt them.
Even during their neoliberalization, the Democrats always had a left-wing occupied by social democrats who wanted to continue the progress that was abandoned in the late 70’s. They were empowered by both opposition to the Iraq War late in the Bush era and the subsequent economic crash that occurred as a result of neoliberal deregulation of the finance sector. Obama ran as a semi-progressive but governed as a standard Democrat who wanted no fundamental changes (Obamacare instead of single-payer, Dodd-Frank instead of reshaping the finance system, etc.), leaving progressive disappointment and frustration to rise to the surface again once a primary was held to determine who would be the Democratic candidate after Obama. Thus, the Bernie phenomenon.
I think that the collapse of neoliberalism is embedded in the formula of neoliberalism itself, very similar to Marxist views about how capitalism creates its own life-threatening crises (which, I should clarify, I don’t believe). Neoliberal globalization results in devastating deindustrialization in blue collar parts of America, leaving a class of people unemployed and feeling totally forgotten by their government, especially since government aid to the poor is often seen as shameful in a hyperindividualist neoliberal environment. This prompts an inevitable political reaction. The center-left (ex. Clinton) and center-right (ex. Jeb Bush) sing the praises of neoliberal globalization, the left (ex. Sanders) vigorously attacks the “neoliberal” part, and the far-right vigorously attacks the “globalization” part (ex. Trump). If you can’t tell, my position on the left leaves me disliking neoliberalism and believing that the far-right’s disdain for all forms of globalization is a distraction and misidentification of the root issue, using foreigners and people of color as scapegoats.
A number of other industrialized countries have underwent neoliberalization on roughly the same time frame and are now experiencing similar backlashes: The U.K., neoliberalized under Thatcher, now has UKIP, Jeremy Corbyn, and social democratic Scottish nationalists. France has the National Front. Germany has the AfD and Pegida. New Zealand has New Zealand First. Sweden has the Sweden Democrats. Spain has Podemos. Neoliberalism was pushed on much of Latin America through the “Washington Consensus” doctrine of the U.S. government and international finance organizations like the IMF, leading to a revitalization of Latin American left-populism in many countries.
There are exceptions of course: Australia, weirdly enough, doesn’t have as much far-right or far-left activity as the other nations, as far as I’m aware. Mexican politics don’t have very strong far-right and far-left forces either right now, though the Zapatista movement was undoubtably the type of response I’m talking about. Russian politics are odd enough that it’s kinda hard to determine whether what’s going on there is the result of their neoliberal shock therapy after the fall of the USSR or not.
Regardless, the only countries where neoliberalism has had serious economic success are nations with authoritarian political systems that can suppress dissent: neoliberalism was forced upon the people of Chile under the brutal rule of Pinochet, and China underwent large scale economic liberalization under the brutal rule of Deng. For all of the other problems that may have occurred, both resulted in astonishing economic growth. Regardless, these experiences seem to directly conflict with the classical liberal argument of a strong correlation between a laissez-faire economy and political democracy, at least at all points on the curve.
This post is already way too long, and I’ve probably tried to cover too much, but the concept of neoliberalism is so important to understanding our modern world that I feel like all of this is important to cover.
An alarming portion of Americans support such discriminatory policies against refugees and Muslim immigrants. We spoke to David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute — an American libertarian think tank — and Robert McKenzie, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, to shed light on five key misconceptions used by anti-immigration proponents to stoke fear of Muslims among the American people. Read more
Did you know that (according to the conservative CATO Institute) from 1975-2015 not a single act of terrorism was committed by a Muslim from ANY of the countries listed in Trump’s Muslim ban?
Did you know that Trump’s ban only includes certain Muslim nations, while others (specifically ones like Saudi Arabia and Turkey) where Muslim terrorists HAVE come from but in which Trump has business interests, are excluded from the ban? Did you know there have been almost twice as many people killed by white supremacists since 9/11 as Islamic jihadists?
This is not about making our country safer, this is about dividing our country and increasing hostility toward the United States from abroad. Why would he provoke other countries? Because that will justify further isolationist and violent measures on Trump and Bannon’s part in the not-distant future.
He is creating an authoritarian regime right before our eyes and he has the full backing of ~30% of the population and more than half of our Congress.
Update @ 4:14pm ET 1/28/17 (via CNN):
“Iran says it will ban all US citizens from entering the country in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, according to an Iranian Foreign Ministry statement published on state media Saturday.”
“The US decision to restrict travel for Muslims to the US, even if for a temporary period of three months, is an obvious insult to the Islamic world and in particular to the great nation of Iran,” the statement said.
“Despite the claims of combating terrorism and keeping American people safe, it will be recorded in history as a big gift to extremists and their supporters.”
Update: 8:50pm 1/28/17 (via ACLU & Mother Jones):
A federal judge in Brooklyn just issued an emergency stay against Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from certain predominantly Muslim countries, temporarily allowing people who have landed in the US with a valid visa to remain.
* Made up more than 53% of all women stopped by the New York City police in 2013. Meanwhile, black residents as a whole make up 27% of the city’s total population, according to the 2010 census.
* Face an outsized dual threat of sexual and police violence, according to a report by U.S. Department of Justice’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. More than 8% of reported police misconduct is for sexual assault, according to the CATO Institute.
* Are criminalized early in school. Black girls made up 28% of the student body population during the 2011-2012 school year, but were 90% of all girls expelled that year.
* Are highly likely to be killed by an intimate partner. In fact, intimate partner homicide is one of the leading causes of death for black women ages 15 to 35, the Dallas Morning News reports.
* Only earn, on average, 64% of what white men earn for the same sort of work.
* Constituted 63% of all women diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. in 2013 and have an HIV prevalence rate that’s nearly three and a half times higher than that of white women.
* Were the fastest growing segment of the juvenile population in youth detention centers between 1985 and 1997, according to AAPF.
* Made up 36% of all girls in residential youth detention facilities as of 2010.
* Are disproportionately represented in the rates of murder faced by transgender women.
* Experience eviction at quite high rates. Take Milwaukee, for instance: Black women there represented 9.6% of that city’s population, but 30% of evictions.
* Start businesses at six times the national average, according to the Center for American Progress, but are denied many small business loans and federal contracts.
* Are more likely to die of breast cancer than any other racial group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The reasons are complex, but include the fact that black women experience delays in diagnosis and treatment.
* Are the only group whose unemployment rate remained stagnant at 10.6%, while the overall rate for workers in the United States dropped from 7.2% to 6.1% between August 2013 and August 2014.
* More than a quarter of black women live in poverty, despite making up a larger portion of the workforce than white and Latina women.
You're more likely to be killed by your own clothes than by an immigrant terrorist
Trump’s ban on travel from six Muslim majority countries, temporarily reinstated by the Supreme Court on Monday morning, is supposed to stop terrorists from getting in to the US. A September report, from Cato Institute analyst Alex Nowrasteh, is one of the most sophisticated attempts to investigate this question. What it found was striking: The number of immigrants who commit terrorist attacks is astonishingly tiny. Read more
Trump rode to office, in part, as a crusader against political correctness who wasn’t afraid to tell harsh truths and offend people. But Donald Trump himself has been known to take criticism poorly.
To his fans, this isn’t a contradiction: Trump, especially now that he’s president-elect, really does deserve deference in the name of patriotism. It’s a phenomenon that Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute has labeled “patriotic correctness”: a brand of right-wing hypersensitivity that gets just as offended by insults to American pride and patriotism (like protests against the president-elect or “The Star-Spangled Banner”) as any college activist gets over insults to diversity.
Unsurprisingly, participants in “patriotic correctness” tend to have a lot of ideas about how American history ought to be taught, and are greatly sensitive to attempts to change traditional American-greatness curricula to emphasize the participation of marginalized groups, or to portray the Founding Fathers as anything less than one-dimensional heroes. Hamilton, by race-bending the Founding Fathers and having them speak in an idiom associated with the streets, is the kind of cultural remix they don’t appreciate. (Even though, ironically, Hamilton has itself been criticized for failing to address the founders’ moral complicity with slavery.)
The night after Pence attended the show in New York, the production in Chicago was interrupted during the first act by an outburst from an audience member. Apparently, he’d been incensed by the line “Immigrants: we get the job done”; two songs later, he stood up and shouted “Our side won! Our side won! F*** anyone who didn’t vote for Trump, you don’t belong here!”
The audience member was arrested, but it’s not impossible to imagine that future outbreaks of “patriotic correctness” will happen at Hamilton performances now that it’s been identified as a battleground in the culture wars.
During the presidential campaign, a special performance of Hamilton was held for donors to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda recorded a PSA encouraging Latinos to vote. And Miranda and fellow original cast member Renée Elise Goldsberry performed a version of the song “Ten Duel Commandments,” with rewritten pro-Clinton lyrics, at a Clinton fundraiser that totally earned the cliché “star-studded”: Everyone from Julia Roberts to Lena Dunham appeared.
After Clinton’s defeat, this sort of “celebrity liberalism” is one of the many, many things that’s come in for recrimination. The Clinton campaign’s use of cultural figures to encourage young people to vote has been used instead as evidence that the campaign was out of touch with the needs of most American voters, particularly those in the white working class. Dunham has become one poster child for out-of-touch “celebrity” outreach — Hamilton is the other.
There’s a reason for this: Hamilton’s mass popularity has bred a backlash, mostly centered on how hard it is to get a ticket and the corollary belief that since not every fan of the show has seen it, the rest must be pretending (a belief that only makes sense if you believe that it’s less than authentic to like a show based on its soundtrack).
The people criticizing Clinton’s celebrity outreach (mostly people to the left of the Democratic Party mainstream and urging it to return to economic populism) are also, in many cases, the people who’ve been making the most incisive critiques of not only the phenomenon but the show itself.
To them, Hamilton’s “hard-working immigrant makes good and creates a bank-friendly financial system” narrative (while it’s borrowed from hip-hop tropes about making it rich) is a perfect illustration of how liberalism has used racial diversity as a distraction while selling out to financial capitalism. And the production itself — portraying wealthy slaveholders as people of color, to appeal to people who can afford to shell out four figures for a single ticket — embodies liberal hollowness.
Of course, to date this has mostly been a debate on the left side of the aisle. Hamilton hasn’t come in for conservative backlash before this past weekend. But it helped set up the battle lines that were drawn after Pence’s attendance: that Hamilton, regardless of its racial diversity, is a symbol of a Democratic cultural elite too busy patting itself on the back for being inclusive to care about real Americans.
Over the eight years of the Obama administration, America has become used to having a “cool president.” Barack and Michelle Obama love Hamilton — and since many fans of Hamilton are also fans of the outgoing first family, the connection only serves to reinforce the coolness of both.
But now, for the first time since 2004, we have a culture industry that’s aligned with the out-of-power party — and that is on record criticizing, strongly, the man who won a majority of electoral votes. That opens up the culture industry to accusations of elitism — of being ensconced in coastal bubbles and overplaying the hand given by their wealth and power to think they have something to say to real America.
But this is complicated, in 2016, because the candidate supported by the culture industry also won the popular vote — and won strong majorities among nonwhite voters, in particular. So while the culture industry represents an economic elite, it can also — like Hamilton does — display a kind of “real America” that the incoming administration doesn’t: a racially diverse one.
Hamilton is the perfect illustration of this. It’s a smash hit because it brought virtuoso hip-hop to Broadway — making it something that affluent theatergoers can pat themselves on the back for liking because it has “street cred,” while winning a genuine mass appeal that most Broadway shows don’t.
And Donald Trump, for his part, is much less firmly aligned with one side in these culture wars than, say, George W. Bush was. Yes, his supporters are extremely prone to “patriotic correctness.” But he himself lives in Manhattan — and is reportedly trying to stay there, at least part time, after assuming the presidency.
That sets up Trump and his administration for a lot more clashes with the creative class and cultural celebrities. And both sides, continually, will have a claim to truly speak for the people.
“The Skittles Twitter account hasn’t tweeted in 20 hours, but Skittles
parent company Mars tweeted out a statement in the wee hours of the
morning, saying that people are people and Skittles are candy:
The thought experiment Trump Jr. proposed has its roots in racist,
nationalist alt-right sites, and has been thoroughly debunked. As an
American, your odds of being killed by a refugee are 1 in 3.64 billion,
according to the Cato Institute. In previous iterations, the meme used
M&Ms as an example. They were changed to Skittles as a “subtle”
reference to Trayvon Martin, the black Florida teenager who was carrying
a bag of the candy when George Zimmerman shot and killed him.”
SMH, Just Like his evil father, Donald Trump, Jr. is a horrible person.
Rather than calculating a hypothetical amount that a single person could receive by enrolling in every benefits program (like the Cato Institute report did), this infographic shows how many people are lifted above the federal poverty line by various federal programs.
Today, China abandoned its 35 year-old one-child policy.
Based on the now debunked threat of overpopulation that was popularized by Stanford University scholar Paul Ehrlich, the communist government subjected the Chinese people to forced sterilizations and abortions. Many new-born babies were either killed or left to die.
Today, the Chinese population suffers from a dangerous gender imbalance that favors boys over girls at a ratio of 117:100, and a demographic implosion that threatens future economic growth and prosperity.
The one-child policy is a reminder of what happens when governments are allowed to interfere in deeply personal decisions of individual citizens and their families.