14 votes

The second defeat of Bernie Sanders

22 comments

  1. [5]
    gpl
    Link
    Seems like this more or less boils down to the argument that "If the establishment supports the revolution, it's not a revolution". Whether or not that is the case, it doesn't seem to be relevant...

    Seems like this more or less boils down to the argument that "If the establishment supports the revolution, it's not a revolution". Whether or not that is the case, it doesn't seem to be relevant because I would argue the establishment is not on board with the protesters. Of course there are high profile instances of those in power paying lip service to people in the streets (BLM murals painted on streets, Congresspeople marching with protesters, etc), but in concrete terms neither the Republican nor Democratic bill in Congress goes nearly as far as the people who built this movement want. Retraining, chokehold bans, and the like are pretty much meaningless when it comes to actually reforming policing, and indeed in many cases of Black men being killed these policies were already in place locally. The only big positive step I see in the Democrat bill is ending the transfer of military equipment to police departments. For a protest movement of close to 25 million people (saw this estimate floated), that is a paltry concession from the "establishment on board".

    I am a cynical conservative, so you can dismiss this as the usual reactionary allergy to the fresh air of revolution. But it’s also what an old-guard leftism, of the sort that Bernie Sanders attempted to revive, would predict of a revolutionary movement that has so much of the establishment on board.

    Indeed, I will likely be dismissing this as the usual reactionary allergy to the fresh air of revolution from Douthat. I'm just surprised he didn't somehow shoe-horn Church culture wars into this article too.

    21 votes
    1. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      While ignoring that the entire point of a democratic system of governance is to absorb revolutionary sentiments into the formal power structure so you can bring change without, necessarily,...

      Seems like this more or less boils down to the argument that "If the establishment supports the revolution, it's not a revolution".

      While ignoring that the entire point of a democratic system of governance is to absorb revolutionary sentiments into the formal power structure so you can bring change without, necessarily, needing to go through some nightmarish sequence of coups and reigns of terror.

      This is a heads you lose, tails I win situation he's setting up. If "The Revolution" is violent it's bad. If it's utopian and infeasible then it's naive and not to be taken seriously. But if it actually manages to do anything then it's bad because. . .why? People seem to be into it? It has broad-based appeal? It's popular? What? What's the problem Ross!?

      You see the same line of argument on the Left a lot where anything anyone does to improve society somewhat is a "distraction" from the fundamental need to overthrow Capitalism whatever. Those guys, it seems, are the only revolutionaries Ross Douthat will abide. The ones who throw lots of shade while not doing anything, which is unsurprising.

      Now, under these strange coronavirus conditions, we’re watching a different sort of insurgency challenge or change liberalism, one founded on an intersectional vision of left-wing politics that never came naturally to Sanders. Rather than Medicare for All and taxing plutocrats, the rallying cry is racial justice and defunding the police. Instead of finding its nemeses in corporate suites, the intersectional revolution finds them on antique pedestals and atop the cultural establishment.
      And so far, as my colleague Sydney Ember noted last week, this revolution has been more unifying than Sanders’s version

      Wow, so the reflexively iconoclastic, nearly octogenerian antique out of the 60s didn't fully embody the political sentiments of his largely under-30 political base? I'm shocked!

      12 votes
    2. [3]
      tempestoftruth
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure you actually disagree with the point he's making? I think Douthat would agree that the establishment is performing anti-racism but not practicing it (which is what I understood your...

      I'm not sure you actually disagree with the point he's making? I think Douthat would agree that the establishment is performing anti-racism but not practicing it (which is what I understood your point as).

      Chuck Schumer will take a knee in kente cloth, but he isn’t likely to pass a major reparations bill, the white liberals buying up the works of Ibram X. Kendi aren’t going to abandon private schools or bus their kids to minority neighborhoods. And in five years, it’s more likely that 2020’s legacy will be a cadre of permanently empowered commissars getting people fired for unwise Twitter likes rather than any dramatic interracial wealth redistribution.

      I read that as being similar to your line of "those in power paying lip service," but not actually supporting the movement with legislation or structural reform. I don't mean to put words in your mouth, though. Just my thoughts.

      His point about old-guard leftists and what they would have predicted about this situation is absolutely true. Past experience informs us that radical potentiality is reclaimed by the establishment through rhetoric and performative "action" but not genuine social change towards a more equitable distribution of power and resources. I suppose the difference is that conservatives like Douthat actively want the establishment to reclaim radical movements, because they want to maintain the status quo; leftists want the opposite, but they understand the power imbalance at the discussion's national level is far too skewed towards the establishment to expect any other outcome (or at least they might understand it that way).

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        gpl
        Link Parent
        I guess I feel that Douthat is unfairly equating the policy demands of the protesters with the policy proposals by the establishment "elite". He says stuff like: Whereas my point is that the elite...

        I guess I feel that Douthat is unfairly equating the policy demands of the protesters with the policy proposals by the establishment "elite". He says stuff like:

        But right now, their revolution’s conspicuous elite support

        Whereas my point is that the elite are not supporting the "revolution. He seems to point this out to make the point that the actions by the establishment are hollow cultural signals, but then equivocates and says that this "revolution"

        has so much of the establishment on board

        So it seems to me that he's having his cake and eating it too. The establishment by and large is not addressing the movement's demands of police reform, defunding abolition, etc. Douthat seems to acknowledge these more radical claims exist:

        Yes, serious critics of structural racism have an agenda for economic as well as cultural reform. But that agenda isn’t what’s being advanced: Chuck Schumer will take a knee in kente cloth, but he isn’t likely to pass a major reparations bill, the white liberals buying up the works of Ibram X. Kendi aren’t going to abandon private schools or bus their kids to minority neighborhoods. And in five years, it’s more likely that 2020’s legacy will be a cadre of permanently empowered commissars getting people fired for unwise Twitter likes rather than any dramatic interracial wealth redistribution.

        To me this just seems like someone who hasn't got a good pulse on the feeling on the ground. Go to any protest (of which there are still many!) and you'll see signs with specific "radical" demands: defund and invest in communities, end qualified immunity, abolition! It absolutely is the agenda being pushed by the movement of people out in the streets.

        I feel like I'm not being clear here or that I can't articulate what I mean. But I do think I disagree with him at least over whether the establishment supports the "revolution", which I definitively think it does not.

        8 votes
        1. thundergolfer
          Link Parent
          You're completely right, and it is clear I think. He's collapsing the protestors in the streets and the woke-corporate elites together when it suits his point. Douthat chooses to ignore the voices...

          You're completely right, and it is clear I think.

          He's collapsing the protestors in the streets and the woke-corporate elites together when it suits his point. Douthat chooses to ignore the voices and the radicalism of those on the ground so that he can focus on the unseriousness of the elites and dismiss the movement. "Twitter mobs" are more of a concern to Ross, and so he gives a typical conservative warning about cancelling and firings.

          But they aren’t out to dissolve Harvard or break up Google or close The New York Times;

          "they" being whichever part of this diverse movement Douthat wants for his point to land. It's also weird and dumb to suggest that the radicals are out to "dissolve" a prestigious university or "close" a prestigious newspaper. As if that's even remotely possible or useful to a radical left.

          8 votes
  2. vord
    Link
    I'm 100% in the camp that the various establishment groups worked (not necessarily coordinating mind) to tank Bernie's campaign. His policies almost exclusively were about dismantling abusive...

    I'm 100% in the camp that the various establishment groups worked (not necessarily coordinating mind) to tank Bernie's campaign. His policies almost exclusively were about dismantling abusive power structures in favor of helping the majority. These problems have been around for decades, and because they are still around, it's fairly obvious that the people in power have little incentive to fix them.

    I would implore everyone to review this issues page which was posted near the beginning of his 2020 campaign, and was also a big part of his 2016 campaign.

    How much talking head time, or articles in print or on the net outside of leftist circles, was dedicated to that topic in 2016 or 2020? I don't recall much, if any. Because it's a lot harder to smear those things as 'bad policy' than taxes on the rich, M4A, and free college.

    It's weird how in 2016, when Bernie gave Hillary a run for her money in a solo campaign, the tables turned in 2020 there were 30 candidates running, turning almost every debate into a total shitshow. That I saw a ton of coverage about candidates that were almost assuredly unviable from day 1.

    That Bloomberg entered the race at the last minute, and conveniently used tons of money to build a ground game and run attack ads, subsequently handing his votes and infrastructure to Biden who was lacking, esp in the staffing.

    14 votes
  3. [3]
    ubergeek
    Link
    As a card carrying socialist, the article is mostly correct. Sanders did focus way too much on the class struggle, without bringing intersectionality in, and I don't know why. Sanders has always...

    As a card carrying socialist, the article is mostly correct. Sanders did focus way too much on the class struggle, without bringing intersectionality in, and I don't know why. Sanders has always led the way in actions, with intersectional politics.

    10 votes
    1. vord
      Link Parent
      I think this might be due to two factors: Bernie knew he was a long shot, both in 2016 and 2020, but saw this as a good way to jump-start a more progressive movement on the national stage. In many...

      I think this might be due to two factors:

      1. Bernie knew he was a long shot, both in 2016 and 2020, but saw this as a good way to jump-start a more progressive movement on the national stage. In many ways, that seems to be working. We've got a lot more progressive representatives now than we have in the last ~20 years.

      2. He was getting a lot less press coverage relative to everyone else, even if polling higher than many of those candidates. I think one telling point was how much Warren and other candidates were prodded about their support of Medicare for All, while very little coverage focused on Bernie, despite the fact that it was his bill that all these other candidates were supporting. In light of that lesser coverage, by keeping his campaign focused on class, it means that the coverage he did get was harder to hide the class issues.

      6 votes
    2. NaraVara
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I don't know about that. He was nominally on the side with racial or queer issues, but he was always pretty class reductionist throughout his career. He did a lot of learning over the 2016...

      Sanders has always led the way in actions, with intersectional politics.

      I don't know about that. He was nominally on the side with racial or queer issues, but he was always pretty class reductionist throughout his career. He did a lot of learning over the 2016 campaign and got much better at it over the process and but campaign was always staffed people who were less good than he is.

      3 votes
  4. moocow1452
    Link
    I'm not 100% in agreement with the article, but it does paint a interesting picture of why the cultural fault lines are being drawn the way they are.

    I'm not 100% in agreement with the article, but it does paint a interesting picture of why the cultural fault lines are being drawn the way they are.

    4 votes
  5. [11]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    I agree with this article. After that killing, it has been laid bare among the general left that racism remains prominent, can't be ignored and any attempts to avoid it after now are impossible....

    I agree with this article. After that killing, it has been laid bare among the general left that racism remains prominent, can't be ignored and any attempts to avoid it after now are impossible. While I think the class war message will remain and keep fighting from the sidelines, identity politics and specifically race-based discrimination will no longer be dismissed unless the left somehow becomes superpragmatists and learn to hide their power level like the far-right/neo-nazis.

    2 votes
    1. [10]
      vord
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I wholeheartedly disagree. Identity politics is a dangerous game that divides far more than it helps. In fact, if you look at the left-ish (with respect to Bernie's policies in particular), you'll...

      identity politics and specifically race-based discrimination will no longer be dismissed

      I wholeheartedly disagree. Identity politics is a dangerous game that divides far more than it helps.

      In fact, if you look at the left-ish (with respect to Bernie's policies in particular), you'll notice that while the message is primarily about class, there are also tremendous policies to end discrimination and stop racism. Because the two go hand in hand.

      Identity politics are inherently exclusive. If someone does not identify with that particular identity, it will be harder to garner their support. The black community has so many grave concerns, but I've also seen serious sexism and homophobia coming out of that same community. I've seen racism and sexism coming from within the LGBTQ community.

      My sister-in-law said to my wife "I'm glad I don't have any cis-male white friends." And that's the problem with identity politics: I'm firmly in support of inclusion and equality, but so many identity groups are actively hostile against me simply because I'm a white straight man.

      It's so easy with identity politics to form in-groups and out-groups, where the in-group is much too small to garner massive support. This is fundamentally why class is more important than identities (with respect to politics).

      The class struggle is about destroying the patriarchy...the one that persists and still shows signs from our early slavery days.

      The left uses the phrase 'More female oppressors!' to joke about how identity politics focus so much on having black/female/gay CEOs or presidents, as if that will somehow fix the root of the underlying problems our society has.

      Yes, it is a travesty that black folks are disproportionately imprisoned and killed by the police. Is it really a genuine improvement to transition to 'equally imprisoning and killing all races in equal amounts'? I realize that isn't the goal of BLM, but by calling it a 'black issue' and not a class issue, it ignores the elephant in the room about why it is a black issue.

      Disarming/de-funding the police is far more important than having them take training to recognize racial bias. Because the fundamental problem isn't that they target black people more often than white people, it's that they're permitted to kill and imprison indiscriminately.

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        moonbathers
        Link Parent
        No one who's out protesting is excluding white people from joining them and every one of them will acknowledge that the police treat white people terribly too. Defund the police isn't "defund the...

        No one who's out protesting is excluding white people from joining them and every one of them will acknowledge that the police treat white people terribly too. Defund the police isn't "defund the police in nonwhite areas", it's defund the police everywhere. Black Lives Matter is called what it is because it was started by black people and all they're saying is "stop killing us and treat us like you treat yourselves". We're elevating their voices right now because they are extremely disproportionately the targets of police brutality.

        Identity politics is a meaningless term used to dismiss people or positions you don't like, and saying class is more important than identity is basically the same as saying all lives matter. My existence as a trans woman is identity politics, is part of a culture war, is secondary to the class struggle. Racism, sexism, and homophobia from minority communities doesn't dismiss the concerns those groups have about being treated equally, lord knows there are plenty of anti-capitalists who completely ignore the perspective of anyone who isn't a white man.

        Class is not more important than identities, or LeBron James wouldn't have had his house vandalized with racial slurs, or Sterling Brown wouldn't have been arrested by seven cops, or Judge Curiel wouldn't have been accused of having sympathy for Latin American immigrants just because he's latino himself. Torii Hunter's $171 million career earnings didn't stop him from experiencing racism from Red Sox fans to the point that he had clause in his contract that said he couldn't be traded to Boston.

        I'm doing alright for myself financially but I could have been fired for being trans until last Monday. The gay/trans panic defense is still legal in forty states, including the one I live in. My paycheck isn't going to help if someone assaults or kills me.

        I'm not gonna tell you there aren't people who dislike white men, since you've experienced it yourself, but saying class is fundamentally more important than identity is ignoring the very real concerns people have about how they're treated because of their appearance. I'm a socialist myself but dropping all sort of advocacy for equal rights for minority groups and enacting socialism isn't going to fix racism or sexism or any sort of discrimination. We need people to advocate for those groups because much like economic change, social change isn't going to happen on its own.

        13 votes
        1. [3]
          vord
          Link Parent
          But it's not about the people who are protesting, as they recognize the problem. It's about the people who aren't protesting, the ones who all of a sudden care about social distancing. The people...

          No one who's out protesting is excluding white people from joining them and every one of them will acknowledge that the police treat white people terribly too.

          But it's not about the people who are protesting, as they recognize the problem. It's about the people who aren't protesting, the ones who all of a sudden care about social distancing. The people who unwittingly spout 'All lives matter' or 'I support the police' because that's what they relate with. Yes, fixing that bigotry is very important. But getting that positive change is more immediately important, especially when people's lives are at stake.

          Identity politics is a meaningless term used to dismiss people or positions you don't like.

          I disagree. It is a specific term, which is not to dismiss or discredit. The vast majority of the left is 100% behind the same policies that various clusters of identity groups do (and if they claim they don't, they're likely not leftists at all, just douchbags trying to discredit the left). Identity politics refers to placing identity over unification in the specific context of politics.

          Every one of those issues you listed that needs resolved isn't just an identity issue....well maybe the Curiel one, but even that could be a libel issue...if it wasn't because he was Latino they would have found something else. Harassing/threatening/killing others, unjust dismissal from work, and disproportionate response from police are broad social issues that need resolved. Yes, the identities listed suffer (much) worse for them, because of the bigotry.

          To cure bigotry, you must first get a bigot to escape their bubble. You can't do that with identity politics, because as a bigot they'll automatically be dismissive of those politics because they see it not as leveling the playing field, but as giving that identity an unfair advantage. You have to embrace bigots, to befriend them and let them learn for themselves the error of their ways. Love > Hate and all that. That is not to say you should tolerate bigots. When they say and do stupid bigot things, you should call them out on it.

          With respect to discriminatory firing....employers can still do that in many states regardless of that court ruling. It's called at-will employment, and so long as your employer doesn't do something stupid like say to your face or in writing 'I'm firing you because you're trans', they can just dismiss you with no justification. I'm going to leave with a quote from my employee handbook.

          Unless otherwise covered by a collective bargaining agreement or written contract with fixed terms of employment, all <employer> employees are what the law terms “at-will” employees, and nothing in this <policy> changes their “at will” employment status. An at-will employee may end his or her employment at any time, for any reason, with or without notice to <employer> with or without cause. Likewise, <employer> may terminate an at-will employee at any time, with or without notice, for any reason, with or without cause. Further, an at-will employment relationship with <employer> does not create an express or an implied agreement for continued employment for any period of time.

          If that's not a class issue, I don't know what is.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            moonbathers
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            No, the phrase identity politics is used a vast majority of the time to dismiss people advocating for equality, whether because of racism or because they think class is more important. Even if we...

            No, the phrase identity politics is used a vast majority of the time to dismiss people advocating for equality, whether because of racism or because they think class is more important. Even if we agree on policies, by saying class is more important than race or gender identity or sexuality you're ignoring the concerns that those minority groups have. You do that in the comment that I replied to:

            Identity politics are inherently exclusive. If someone does not identify with that particular identity, it will be harder to garner their support. The black community has so many grave concerns, but I've also seen serious sexism and homophobia coming out of that same community. I've seen racism and sexism coming from within the LGBTQ community.

            All most of us are asking for is to be listened to. Placing unification over identity is telling us all lives matter, it tells me that my desire to be treated as compassionately as cishet white people are and tells people of color that their desire to not be killed by cops, segregated, and treated as lesser that we aren't important. Just because people in those groups are sometimes hypocritical doesn't mean their pleas for compassion should be ignored.

            None of those examples would have happened if the people involved were white. Maybe someone still vandalizes LeBron James's house, but it wouldn't be a racial slur. Sterling Brown doesn't have the cops called on him in one of Milwaukee's notoriously racist suburbs. Curiel would have had some other bullshit thrown at him, sure, but probably something less insidious than the history of racism on this continent. Torii Hunter is the victim of regular heckling (which can still be vicious), but not racial slurs. Their wealth had no positive impact on what happened to them.

            At-will employment is a class issue, and employers can and will find ways to fire LGBT people they don't like, but being able to fire someone because they're LGBT is another avenue of keeping us down, and it has absolutely been used. It may not have been cited as often as no reason at all, but that doesn't mean we should ignore it.

            Class consciousness does not fix these issues. Rich people are racist to other rich people. People of all stripes are racist and having a more economically just society isn't going to magically fix it. Poor racist people aren't going to be less racist just because they have more money. We need these advocates for equality.

            Edit to remove a sentence that was confrontational

            6 votes
            1. vord
              Link Parent
              We (being genuine leftists and not trolls), are most definitely not ignoring or dismissing these concerns. We advocate to fix those problems and celebrate when they are. But the left also is not...

              Even if we agree on policies, by saying class is more important than race or gender identity or sexuality you're ignoring the concerns that those minority groups have.

              We (being genuine leftists and not trolls), are most definitely not ignoring or dismissing these concerns. We advocate to fix those problems and celebrate when they are. But the left also is not afraid of critizing from the further left, and thus seems to be infighting to many closer to the center/right who can't see the spectrum.

              BLM is reasonably interpreted as shorthand for 'Black lives matter as much as white lives do, stop fucking killing and otherwise abusing us, you fucking racist pigs.'

              Those of us saying that class is more important are really trying to convey:

              Identity issues are the symptom. Class is the cause. Bigotry is so prevalent to this day because of it, as the powerful will use the pre-existing bigotry as a tool to gain power, and it works because reforming bigots is hard. Slavery was justified because of class, that the heirarchy was (is?) roughly Rich -> Poor white -> Black (and others mixed in , including Irish/Italian/Chinese/Japanese/Leftists at one point or another) -> Native Americans. Women often seen as lesser relative to men within those higher groups.

              Not to go all Godwin on this, but Nazis rose to power by getting support for their actions by intertwining bigotry against Jews with a class war: 'those rich Jews who own everything are ruining your lives'.

              Bigots do the same thing today: they intertwine bigotry with class war rhetoric (remember drain the swamp?), because class warfare works. Poor folks of all stripes hate the system in various ways and desperatly want it fixed, and will believe almost anyone who suggests they will.

              The fundemental difference between the left and the right, is that the left is advocating for and trying to make genuine progress on class issues, and is 100% inclusive in solving identity issues as a part of the process. The right will use bigotry and pay lip service to progress, and actively reverse it once handed power.

              Vote blue no matter who was an incredibly offensive thing to be spouting before a primary season even began. Because it was basically being addressed to the perpetually ignored left, almost as a threat, to say 'we don't need to listen to your concerns either, because the alternative is basically Hitler and no other party is viable.' And they're right (although without ousting Republicans from the Senate I don't have high hopes), which is the worst part. Because we have no hope of lasting change until the Republicans party is fully ousted from power, and also a fair number of the former-Republican Democrats.

              3 votes
      2. [5]
        viridian
        Link Parent
        I will forever hold that the greatest master stroke of the American capitaled class is the complete and utter replacement of class politics and class based enfranchisement, with demographics...

        I will forever hold that the greatest master stroke of the American capitaled class is the complete and utter replacement of class politics and class based enfranchisement, with demographics politics and demographic based enfranchisement. A demographics war can rage on ceaselessly, with the in-groups, out-groups, and non aligned parties shifting fluidly to suit the changing needs of well capitalized agents, all while serving as a divisive buffer between the various demographic groups who together make up the huge majority of the population.

        I think I'm far more pessimistic than you most days, because I don't see class consciousness bubbling up in the people who most need and benefit from it any time soon. Every faction has currently been gifted nearly perfect enemies to fight and perfect events to reinforce each person's own attachment to the in-group, and outrage at the out-group.

        I wish I could help people change their minds, or at least be open to the prospect, but modern rhetoric is just too efficient at reinforcing whatever a given person's poison is.

        6 votes
        1. [4]
          thundergolfer
          Link Parent
          Maybe so, but socialists may just need to complete a replacement at the elite level in order to hugely improve things. It isn't impossible that the top 10% of society become dominantly socialist,...

          I think I'm far more pessimistic than you most days, because I don't see class consciousness bubbling up in the people who most need and benefit from it any time soon.

          Maybe so, but socialists may just need to complete a replacement at the elite level in order to hugely improve things.

          It isn't impossible that the top 10% of society become dominantly socialist, and come to control the elite managerial positions in key institutions. This is a generalisation of a key political strategy of the USA Democratic left, which is seeking to replace comfortable right-wing Democrats with leftists (think AOC and recently Jamaal Bowman).

          Politics is maybe the simplest institution to take over though, as it is the most open to democratic influence, but the mass media industry, the military, and corporate American generally? Those will be tricky.

          1. [3]
            viridian
            Link Parent
            Build an elite left wing political body seems like it would only exacerbate the problem, rather than trying to solve it. Worker trust and union power are both at an all time low, and having folks...

            Build an elite left wing political body seems like it would only exacerbate the problem, rather than trying to solve it. Worker trust and union power are both at an all time low, and having folks like Cortez serving as the voice of an American socialist movement allows the movement to be curtailed from all directions. Unlike Sanders she's at least as big into the demographics game as she is the class game, which I see as a pretty fundamental issue.

            1. [2]
              thundergolfer
              Link Parent
              Exacerbate which problem? The 'lack of class consciousness of the working class' problem?

              Build an elite left wing political body seems like it would only exacerbate the problem, rather than trying to solve it.

              Exacerbate which problem? The 'lack of class consciousness of the working class' problem?

              1. viridian
                Link Parent
                Yes, as the current examples of such a body seem to be counterproductive.

                Yes, as the current examples of such a body seem to be counterproductive.