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21st Century Labor Movement?

I’d never have believed this would be a “conservative” position a decade ago. Yet this makes sense to me in terms of where the boundaries are looking to be reforming:

Conservatives should spend more time thinking about what it would mean to build effective 21st-century labor unions or guilds. Republican leaders often defect because woke concerns function as a way to signal class status. Conservatives need to find ways to nurture a new leadership class that isn’t crippled by status anxiety. The working class is less tied to woke pieties than the managerial class, and finding ways to increase their political agency would defang woke nonsense. 

Tech monopolies can’t truly be fought without fighting their anti-American labor practices. Republicans spent a year fundraising off the threat of tech censorship, and then as soon as the election was over they rewarded big tech with cheap labor. A new labor movement could help curb immigration, reform the H1-B1 program, and lessen offshoring, while encouraging strategic manufacturing in America. New labor movements must also divorce the white-collar workforce from the university wherever possible. Most colleges are a total joke, and there are plenty of well-paying white-collar jobs with fancy titles that could be done by a 19-year-old. It’s time to end the charade. These are already popular issues among the populist Right, but it’s important to stress how they help cultural fights. 

From the point of view of political strategy, this is difficult to argue with. Without wealthy donors, a political movement has to rely much much more on grassroots organization, and labor unions were good at that.

But a 21st century labor movement will look different than the 19th and 20th century labor movement. How it will look different is an interesting question.

From the Internets

From a comment on social media:

You know, it would probably help put a lid on all this Q-Anon bullshit if our social betters could do everyone a favor and actually stop touching kids.

I’d say I couldn’t agree more, but I can, since it’s my comment. I’m sure once they let our sniffer-in-chief back out among the people, it’s not going to get any better.

It Was Radical for Its Time. Probably Still Radical Even in Ours

Increasingly, Americans are rejecting America. Including this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Instead, we’re moving quickly to another foundational ideal, by another author:

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others

Or to put it another way, the idea was that if we helped the China get rich, its single-party state would adopt our liberal values. But that’s not what’s happening. We’re adopting their illiberal values.

Is Social Media Creating Mass Delusions?

I’d like to think I’m pretty grounded, but the pandemic has honestly opened my eyes to a number of realities that have made me deeply uncomfortable. It’s been eye opening. The first is that a lot of people I’ve had considerable respect for struggle with reality as times get more difficult. This probably goes double when the pandemic has limited in-person interactions. I’ve been fairly present at my club during all this, at some risk to myself, but even life there has been seriously hampered by the inability to meet and gather in person. Work life, which is a lot of people’s only interaction, is also suffering. I’ve noticed that extroverts are suffering considerably more than introverts. Someone at my club commented at the beginning of all this, when I asked him how he was doing: “Great! I’ve waiting all my life for social distancing.” I might not be quite that stoic, but I’m faring better than most, from what I can tell. But with many people around me going stark raving mad, I can’t be completely sure. I’m probably not the best judge of myself.

This article struck me, because it touches on mass delusion. Bitter and I were discussing over dinner whether we’ve gotten a brief taste of what the world would be like if all anyone had was social media. Every other national institution we’ve relied on for years are in a holding pattern. Still there, but not moving forward.

… I’ve been saying for years in this space that the Woke Left is awakening demons that it cannot control. If you are on the Left, and you can’t see this, then you are as deluded as the QAnon crackpots who live in their own reality.

This fits what I see. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for rational voices to be heard, as our nobility enable absolute madness, on both sides of the aisle, exploiting the madness in order to remain in power by stretching the post-WWII order to its breaking point. Division pays, if you want power, and disarmament is hard when no one is talking to each other. It’s easier to whip up hate among the crazies than to try to find a new center.

Sameness and Flatness

I came across this article on Friday that spoke of flatness being an overriding value of Silicon Valley.

Because this cohort insists on sameness and purity, they have turned the once-independent parts of the American cultural complex into a mutually validating pipeline for conformists with approved viewpoints—who then credential, promote and marry each other. 

If the introduction sounds like quackery to you, I think it is, but this is one of the better written examples I’ve read about the complaints of the deplorables. Wretchard the Cat has more today.

Today, as Rana Dasgupta argues in Harper’s, the Western middle class including those with gender studies and critical theory degrees — especially them — are the new unemployables, made redundant by cheap Chinese and robotic labor. The only way to make the destitute Woke feel good about themselves is to let them look down on the Deplorables.

One reason I’m reducing my presence on Facebook is that it promotes a weak thinking and discourages real discussion. The correct cultural understanding of social media is that it is a dinner table: meaning politics is not something to be discussed. It’s always kind of been boorish behavior in ideological mixed company to assume everyone else wants to hear the (usually) dumb shit going through your head. But there it all is on Twitter and Facebook. I quit Twitter years ago and did not miss it. Twitter is a toxic witches brew, and the sooner we purge it from the earth the better off humanity will be. I felt it was turning me into an awful, shallow person.

I am soon to largely quit Facebook (except for pages I manage, including this one). The only thing that’s kept me on there is that it’s a great way to keep in touch with family and distant old friends. But not really. My experience on Facebook is that people on the left will spew their politics to you on a regular basis, as if no one should disagree, then berate you if you dare to argue. I’ve even had family do this!

No one wants to think about anything. Everything is simple, black and white, one-dimensional sameness. People on the right have been quiet for a while if they were thoughtful. It’s largely the clueless boomers on the right that keep sharing shitty memes all day and spewing vapid political nonsense. The primary difference between the left and right on Facebook is on the left, it’s the educated who are spewing vapid political nonsense.

If we’re to come to a new political consensus, it will take serious discussion and honestly. But Facebook is no place to have that conversation. But neither will moving to platforms like Gab and Parler going to help either.

An Astute Observation

As much as I hate linking into Facebook, this is too good to pass up:

As a part of the ongoing back and forth with Michael Saladino, I posted a comment that seemed to resonate with us both. I thought I’d problem it and see what other folks think of it.”

Let me present a hypothesis. The ‘front-row kids’ have a coherent, articulatable worldview – which is reassuring and which cements their internal cultural alliance. That worldview has policy/action outcomes which – so far (key point) – have worked relatively great for those who can get over the wall and join the front-row crowd.

They are also those _charged with_ developing the consensus worldview (what Habermas calls ‘communicative reason’). The _problem_ is that the worldview developed is one that has cast adrift everyone outside the wall, and is now busily working to make the wall as high as possible.Why? Because the model doesn’t work in the real world.

So they build a huge pool of people who checked the boxes on joining the front row team, but there aren’t enough chairs any more. This gives us three groups:

A. Folks comfortably in the front row (or who are confident that by scrambling they can stay there);

B. Folks trying to get into the front row, and realizing that there aren’t enough chairs and the wall is impossibly high;

C. Folks who aren’t front-row (note that this doesn’t mean poor) who no longer have a coherent worldview that _they can relate to_ to latch onto.

Group C is in the midst of Millenial (as in thousand-year) craziness as the social and mental structures they depended on splinter. So they are ripe for all kinds of crazy shit.

Group B is the group that has historically launched revolutions – we oughta watch what they do very carefully.

Group A is just trying to hang on long enough to cash out and buy the house in Sun Valley. They are increasingly abandoning their duty of care for their fellow citizens.Note that I see this in my European friends as well as my US friends…it’s not Trump that splintered things.”

More “Seen on the Internets”

Any time I have the urge to use Facebook, I’m just going to post it on here. Might be a lot of drive by, but I used to do that a lot:

One unintended consequence of crushing speech on the right is that sane righties lose the ability to talk lunatics out of crazy. Back in the old days, I had many conversations talking sense into conspiracists from Rothschild to contrails. They listened to me because I’m credible in a way CNN is not. Now, instead, I shut up. I fear we’re about to embark on an unfortunate experiment to rediscover why, precisely, free speech has for 300 years been considered a bedrock necessity for a civilized society.

This is absolutely true. I do not see the value in driving people deeper and deeper into the fever swamps.

Also, I see this as fundamentally true:

November’s election revealed that the class realignment of our two parties is solidifying. Democrats have increasingly emerged as the party of upscale suburbs, of Silicon Valley and Hollywood and Wall Street, of the owners of capital and the professionals who service them. The GOP, meanwhile, is trending toward a multiracial working-class party, preferred by those who generally make their living by toil. . . .

The big donors are abandoning the GOP, so they won’t have much choice. I have to level with you all, I never thought Trump was any savior. He made a lot of unforced errors. The big thing Trump saw and exploited was that the coalition had shifted. I think he’s a talented self-promoter, which is how he managed to win the White House with no prior political experience. But I don’t think he was going to build a movement that wasn’t centered around himself.

He attracted the loyalty he did because he positioned himself to be seen as fighting for the deplorables, when no one else would. If change is going to come, it will probably come from someone who understands the DC machine, and knows how to dismantle it.

Self Awareness

At what point, when you’re trying to prevent people from reading books, do you not begin self reflection and start asking. “Are we the baddies?”

The Great Crackdown

The most insightful observation of the past four years was that China is not importing our liberal values: instead we are importing their authoritarian values. I see this everywhere now that it’s been pointed out.

The tech monopolies aren’t even bothering to couch their censorship anymore. They’ve had their Reichstag fire, and now that they have nothing to fear.

I’ve thought the past four years Trump and the GOP weren’t doing nearly enough to curtail the tech monopolies. They’d call the oligarchs in for hearings, make them a little uncomfortable, but took no serious anti-trust action or started enforcement of the laws against anti-competitive practices, or even bothered to use campaign finance laws. The Dems have always been very effective at using government as a weapon, but the GOP frankly sucks at it, and I don’t notice that Trump was any good at it either.

My current internal debate is whether quitting social media is just giving in, and we wouldn’t do better to move communications to a lower profile and to trusted networks of people. I think I will greatly curtail my personal activities on social media. I cannot quit totally since I manage pages.

I will be focusing on traditional community building locally. I will try to get the blog back to some base level of activity, because the network of bloggers used to be a great tool for us before social media came along. We used to do just fine without the tech monopolies. It’s time to route around their censorship. We should stop trying to make another Facebook or Twitter. That is playing by their rules, and the network effects and anti-competitive practices of big tech make that an impossible prospect now. We need to focus on federated services and building networks they can’t shut down.

We need an open source movement for social media. Microsoft’s monopoly on the operating system was brought to an end by the first wave of open source technology. We need a second wave to commoditize the tech monopolists into irrelevance.

Where Does It End?

Good conversations are being had among the sensible, but for the most part no one is backing away from the precipice we find ourselves at. My more fever swamp righty sources spent the better part of the day saying the cosplay revolutionaries were Antifa trying to make MAGA look bad. Once that was thoroughly debunked, they switched to “no riot at all.” Some are even suggesting that Ashli Babbit who was shot dead by Capitol Police isn’t really dead, and it’s all a false flag op. It’s classic: “my team can never do wrong.” I see more and more people descending into Q-anon bullshit. People who should know better. I see more and more lefties descending into their own fever swamps, where they are the anti-racist saviors who will defeat fascism. This is all a lie. None of this shit is real. Instead of trying to understand what drove Trump supporters to Trump, are doubling down on shaming the deplorables for supporting white supremacy.

This will not fix a damned thing, and will only make things worse.

Trump was often his own worst enemy. Historically, leaders who bring about political realignments are politically talented, but total lunatics. Think of Napoleon as being the archetype of this. Met his Waterloo and ended up in exile, but he changed the entire political landscape of Europe for generations. FDR might be the rare exception who was successful at effecting a long realignment but managed to not be a complete lunatic.

Would be change agents often their success is short lived because their own megalomania defeats them. Trump had that in spades. His strength was in media, which I think he has a very strong instinct for. But when it came to political survival, and moving the ball forward, he wasn’t able to carry much over the finish line. He almost certainly revealed the possibilities of a coalition that is more diverse racially, and more working class. I hope someone comes along who can carry that coalition forward who has fewer self-destructive tendencies than Trump. But that’s liable to be an insider, and I don’t think that coalition would tolerate someone on the inside.

Trumpism is not fundamentally an economic grievance, though economics is downstream from that. It is a deficit of dignity. The anger over politicians and elites who seem to care more about people in other countries than they do Americans here at home, that don’t care about the decay of small towns and cities due to job flight, that want to solve the problem by offering Universal Basic Income, which will only make the dignity deficit worse.

All it takes is a little respect, and maybe accepting that it’s better to pay extra for some things to ensure other Americans can make a decent living and provide. Maybe every election shouldn’t be about owning the “libturds” or the deplorables. Maybe we could agree that politicians are generally horrible people that shouldn’t be trusted with a lot of power. Maybe we can accept that we do actually need police reform in this country. Or that if Congress wants to make something illegal, it should have to pass a law, rather than having most of our laws made by people who are unaccountable.

But one thing is for sure, if we double down on hating our political opponents, calling them names, and descending farther down into the fever swamps, conspiracy theories, and thinking half of your fellow Americans are flaming racist xenophobes, this is going to end very badly.

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