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The Left/Right distinction is as relevant as ever as corporations gouge profits out of pushing inflation

Apparently, the Left/Right Paradigm is dead. This narrative keeps coming back. In the 1980s, when governments, coopted by corporate lobby groups, went on a privatisation spree, which transferred billions of dollars worth of public assets into the hands of private wealth holders, and enriched lawyers, management consultants etc into the bargain, we were told that we are all capitalists now because our pension funds bought the assets. Joke. Anyway, I keep reading and being told that there is no longer any meaningful distinction between Left and Right, with both falling into the hands of totalitarian discourse. Even so-called progressives advocate that the traditional Left should partner up with the traditional Right (and far Right) to keep ‘centrists’ out of power or to stop governments taking basic actions to protect public health. It is the ultimate victory for the neoliberals to have persuaded the Left that they have more in common with the Right than ever before. This is another example of how duped the Left has become.

In response to last week’s Presidential election, a significant proportion of voters (17 per cent) who preferred Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first-round, transferred their vote to Marine Le Pen (the Far Right candidate) in the second round.

Thankfully, 41 per cent of his vote abstained or turned in blank/invalid ballots, which almost certainly kept her out of the presidency.

Think back to the Brexit vote. Apparently, this was driven by the Right in the UK, but a significant group on the Left also supported the Yes vote.

And what about Covid. There has been a gathering of Left and Right forces opposing government restrictions.

Does all that mean there is no longer any meaningful distinction between these opposing ideological positions?

Or does it mean that after years of being captured by identity politics, many on the Left have forgotten what it mean?

Let’s begin with the Brexit issue, given I was strongly in favour of Britain exiting the European Union and knew full well that a cohort of Tories also supported the Yes vote.

And, note, I would never think that I would have anything in common with a Right-wing ideologue.

The point is not that the two poles of the political spectrum supported the Yes vote. That is a superficial observation that doesn’t get us very far.

The point is that the substance of that support was fundamentally different – with the Tories enraptured by a desire to return Britain back to its glory days (which were?) – a sort of colonial revisionist sentiment.

Perhaps they also thought they could be more neoliberal than the neoliberal EU and kill off workers’ rights etc, even though the EU is busily engaged in that pursuit.

For the Left, the motivation was to escape the neoliberal cabal that the EU has become and generate sufficient scope for a Left wing agenda to be pursued unfettered by European law.

Totally different outcomes sought. Diametrically different.

So in fact the coalescence of the Left and Right on Brexit really highlights how different these opposites are.

I am writing this after reviewing the latest wage data from Europe and also reading a report about American corporations.

The wage data first.

Here is the latest negotiated wages growth up to the December-quarter 2021 in both nominal (blue) and real terms (orange).

There is no upward trend in nominal wages growth and as inflation rises in the last several quarters, real wages are in sharp decline.

Conclusion: wages growth is not driving the inflation.

Profit and price gouging in the UK

I read a Report from the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – The State of UK Competition – April 2022 (published April 29, 2022) – over the weekend.

It provides updated “indicators of the state of competition, including concentration, profitability and markups, and entry and exit.”

And it provides “Improved estimates of concentration that adjust for the effects of international trade and the effects of competing firms having the same owners”.

Why is that important?

It is important because it can help us understand the evolution of inflation and the reason real wages are in decline in the UK.

The Report notes that “The Covid-19 pandemic, the UK’s changing trade relationship with the EU, disruption to supply chains and shipping, and rising energy costs have all brought significant change and upheaval to the UK economy over the past few years.”

But it argues that these disruptions are magnified if industry is not competitive and can exploit the chaos to advance their own interests.

When firms have no threats from competitors they:

… do not face the same pressures to keep prices down; to keep quality up; to operate efficiently; or to innovate.

Who loses?

1. Consumers – “higher prices, lower quality and less innovation”.

2. Business – pay higher input prices and can be driven out of markets by predatory firms.

The Report found that:

1. “here was a marked increase in concentration in the years after the 2008 financial crisis … remains above levels seen prior to 2008.”

2. “profitability is higher than before the 2008 crisis.”

3. “average markups have increased since 2008 from just over 20% to about 35%. It also shows that the increase in markup has been higher for the 10% most profitable firms.”

4. “there is evidence that the largest and most profitable firms are able to sustain their strong position for longer than they used to.”

5. “accounting for common ownership materially increases measured concentration in some sectors.”

6. There is also a distributional element – “households on lower incomes are significantly more likely to consume goods and services produced in more concentrated industries.”

So with a limited number of firms dominating markets, the Report found that the “difference between their prices and the costs of producing their goods and services” has risen “from 58% to 82% over the past 20 years”.

This is important when we are trying to understand the current inflationary trajectory.

Concentration in industry makes it easier for firms to gouge profits out of markets via price rises.

The increased concentration of corporate Britain is a significant reason for the current cost of living crisis.

Profit and price gouging in the US

But, of course, this phenomenon is not a British peculiarity.

It is a manifestation of the capitalist system worldwide.

Last week (April 27, 2022), the UK Guardian released a special analysis – Revealed: top US corporations raising prices on Americans even as profits surge – which documented a similar trend across the Atlantic from Britain.

The Report documents how “many of the US’s largest companies” have been:

… enjoying profit increases even as they pass on costs to customers, many of whom are struggling to afford gas, food, clothing, housing and other basics.

1. “filings for 100 US corporations found net profits up by a median of 49%, and in one case by as much as 111,000%.”

2. “Those increases came as companies saddled customers with higher prices and all but ten executed massive stock buyback programs or bumped dividends to enrich investors.”

3. “executives detailed how even as demand and profits rose post-vaccine, they passed on most or all inflationary costs to customers via price increases, and some took the opportunity to add more on top. Margins – the share of sales converted into profits – also improved for the majority of the companies”.

So, while the top-end-of-town feast on improved post-pandemic conditions, they ensure the consumers who buy their products suffer increased material deprivation.

Modern day capitalism.

And the media companies that are similarly concentrated and linked have managed to run a narrative about the poor corporations who are facing massive supply-side disruptions and increased costs etc.

The Guardian investigation revealed quite a different story.

One company that was described as “the latest victim of ever-increasing inflation” actually enjoyed a 62 per cent increase in net profits “between the fourth quarters in 2019 and 2021, its margin widened, and it recently rewarded shareholders with $200m in stock buybacks”.

Meanwhile, they are continuing to hike prices to record even higher profits in 2022.

That is victim hood in the world of capital!

We also learn that:

… recent US commerce department data that shows corporate profits rose 35% during the last year and are at their highest level since 1950. Inflation, meanwhile, rose to 8.5% year over year in March.

The analysis provides many examples of companies using market power to gouge price rises and increased profits and then shifting blame onto the ‘inflationary pressures’.

The reality is that these corporations, in pursuit of their greed to record higher profits, are driving the inflationary pressures.

Economists, such as Larry Summers, are providing a smokescreen for these companies – see this Washington Post report (February 17, 2022) – White House economists push back against pressure to blame corporations for inflation.

It quotes Summers as saying “Business bashing is terrible economics and not very good politics in my view.”

He would say that of course.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that class – labour and capital – is still very much relevant in understand what goes on in the economy.

It also tells me that the interests of capital actively pursue strategies and outcomes that are fundamentally at odds with the material prosperity of workers.

A lowly-paid, precarious female cleaner in a firm run by a female boss on a high salary does not have more in common with her boss than she has with her fellow lowly-paid, precarious male cleaning colleagues.

And a worker who cares about solidarity should never see solace in a political movement or narrative that advocates pernicious treatment of other workers who for reasons beyond their control are forced to flee their country of birth and seek security elsewhere.

The true Left position doesn’t discriminate between the sexes or nationalities when defending the interests of all workers.

Marine Le Pen, for example, who some on the Left claim was championing the workers’ interests, sought to impose penury and worse on those she considered to be ‘immigrants’.

No Left person should allow that artificial segmentation of the working class.

What it also tells us is that there is much more to life than Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).

It almost becomes trite to keep insisting in every social media contribution that a currency-issuing government cannot run out of money.

That is obviously true and an important fact for all citizens to understand.

But we have to place the capacities of the state within the political power play and the massively unequal ownership of productive and financial capital.

That reality places serious limitations on what the state can achieve.

It is why I wrote the book (with T. Fazi) – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, September 2017).

There is more to progressive change than just reciting MMT.

We have to understand that the purpose of government in a capitalist society has changed dramatically over the last several decades.

The context – capitalism – (shifting from industrial to financial) is crucial because it introduces class conflict as an organising framework.

In the pre-Neoliberal era of true full employment – after WW2, the government mediated the class conflict.

It was neither pro-worker or pro-capital, and the will of the voters forced it to pursue policies that broadly benefited everyone (sort of).

There was a sense of nation building and a sense of the ‘public’ – in all things, education, transport, health, utilities, etc

The interests of capital (industrial first, then increasingly financial) were always pressuring the government to limit the income going to workers, to repress trade unions, to cut pensions and other income support mechanisms.

But the will of the people ensured the state mediated rather than undertook agency for capital.

Under the neoliberal reconfiguration of the state – agency shifted from mediation to support for capital and that then required a way to suppress the social disquiet that would have accompanied the deteriorating material position of workers.

So all sorts of narratives began to appear:

“we are all capitalists now!”

“There is no working class – just entrepreneurs”

“the unemployed are lazy bludgers”

“Corporations create employment not government”

“We cannot live beyond our means”

And all the rest of the ways in which the coopted forces of government and the media persuaded us that TINA.

Policies then became targeted at redistributing income to profits.

Everything was targeted as a surplus generating space whereas previously there was a clear division between work (generating surplus value) and non-work (our private lives).

For example, football was in the latter category now it in the former. Recreation, family life etc has all been penetrated.

The role of government policy changed.

The justification was couched in traditional ways – the burden on grandkids, etc.

But that was a smokescreen and we are now actively placing burdens on them not via deficits but via downgraded everything.

So the way government and society interact has changed.

That manifests in many ways:

– Unemployment
– Underemployment
– Gig economy
– Education degradation
– Training institutions degraded
– Public infrastructure degradation
– Health deterioration
– Energy price hikes
– Housing unaffordabiliy

And more.

And now we have an inflationary episode being strongly influenced by anti-competitive forces and economists are claiming it was because government support during the pandemic was too generous.

The point is that these manifestations are not random – they are all interconnected – and peoples’ attentions have been rendered myopic to avoid them understanding the causality and the functionality of all those crises in our lives (housing affordability, health etc).

They are functional because they reinforce the class divisions.

The Left used to understand that.

The Right typically sided with capital.

Conclusion

Abandoning that distinction has been suicidal for the traditional progressive political parties.

And I cannot understand so-called progressives that keep arguing that the Left and Right have a lot in common.

My view is that they have zero in common.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2022 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    This Post Has 13 Comments
    1. Bill,

      Does this piece deserve a part 2, to clearly make the distinction between real power and the actual voters. What’s happening with real power and the voters attitude towards it is not to be understated?

      Due to globalism and neoliberalism. The left and right wing voters have very many things in common. Because neither have anybody they can vote for. There has definitely been more of a coming together by the left and right wing voters to try and get a voice.

      As summarised brilliantly by Thomas Fazi’s what’s needed is a progressive vision of national sovereignty.

      https://socialeurope.eu/needed-progressive-vision-national-sovereignty

      Is it really a surprise when left wing and right wing voters who live side by side, work side by side, have leisure time side by side and who have left wing and right wing voters in the same family. Who all see the complete failure of the neoliberal and globalism economic models and ideology, which are no longer able to overcome their intrinsic stagnationary and polarising tendencies to generate societal consensus or hegemony (in material or ideological terms), and is increasingly unable to deliver benefits even to its core supporters. Who then decide something needs to be done about it.

      Which can quickly develop into which voters are for neoliberalism and globalism and which voters are against. Can in some cases override the left wing and right wing split.

      I’ll give you an example Bill and not Brexit.

      After spending 4 years on right wing blogs trying to spread MMT. Rather than continue to chat in echo chambers. I found out that right wing voters hate globalism and big tech, big Pharma, big energy ( big business in general and monopolies) the banks, the lobbyists, as much as the left.

      It came as a complete shock to me. As I never really spent that much time before getting to know them. I always thought why they voted for the right is they believed in the party message.

      They don’t. A lot of them hate the conservative party and have to do what left wing voters have to do and keep voting for the least worst option as they have nobody to vote for. As an insurance policy to try and keep ” the other lot” out. ” The other lot” that they don’t understand either apart from what has been spoon fed to them by those that like to divide and conquer.

      So left wing voters and right wing voters do have many things in common. Not only are they on the same minimum wage and have the same bills to pay and raise a family. Their way of life has come under attack as the globalist and neoliberal governments have not just become more authoritarian. They are making things tougher for the middle class.

      It reminds me in many ways of Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic supporters. Who despise each other, but have many more things in common than actually divides them.

      Where the right and left wing voters split it is on how to fix things that they are so angry about. At that point that is where the real power steps in and manipulates them via opinion pieces wrapped up as news or written by so called experts. That describe not actually How to fix things, but spread fear of what would happen if ” the other lot” did get in and play on their confirmation bias. So that voting for the least worst option seems a reasonable approach come election day.

      However, things are changing Bill and at a fast pace. Left wing and right wing voters have been played for so long they simply do not believe a word the leaders says anymore. There has been a paradigm shift in voting intentions. Nobody has a clue what it is going to look like. Lord of the flies or Animal farm or something else. They do not believe a word from the mainstream media.

      Now we have Joe Biden’s ministry of truth. The level of historical ignorance, and corporate-serving malevolence required to believe the US Security State is trying to *combat* disinformation — rather than aggressively spread it — is so extreme that no words in the English language suffice to describe it. You have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Unless your name is Julian Assange, in which case you face a gulag for the rest of your life.

      The DHS “disinformation board Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says Biden’s Ministry of Truth will be “safeguarding the right of free speech.” Orwell will be spinning in his grave.

      How does one become an “expert on online disinformation”? Is there some licensing agency or special school one goes to in order to acquire this expertise?

      The magic money tree did NOT cause inflation – How will the “ministry of Truth “score that statement?

      Putin caused the inflation – How will the “ministry of Truth “score that statement?

      Yes, when it comes to real power they have zero in common. Why the neoliberals and globalists found it so easy to claim what they called the “middle ground”. As the majority got ” nudged” by the nudging unit to this new middle ground.

      But voters perceptions have changed. Once they saw the results of the economic policies and learned the hard way what that change actually meant for them. Both Farage and Trump recognised it and took advantage and tapped into the legitimate grievances of the masses disenfranchised, marginalised, impoverished, and dispossessed by the 40-year-long class war waged from above.

      The left wouldn’t even give you a voice and encircled the wagons and stayed with the neoliberal voice and the church of Wren Lewis. Never recognised what was taking place at the national level and treated voters with utter contempt unless they agreed with the laminated script.

      The left need their own version of Farage and Trump or it will be suicide for the left. The voters will run right to find a voice. That’s if they can survive the political triangulation strategy of the liberals. No matter what the liberals do the left get the blame. A new left wing party has to be created to give voters a choice. However, that task is similar to herding a bunch of cats.

      That’s if you still believe a democracy exists. If you can find any push back from this war with Russia on the now 1600 TV channels to choose from. It would be great if you could let me know. Just point out one Western TV channel Bill, that will do to give me a little bit of hope.

      Also, isn’t it obvious by now that Jean-Luc Mélenchon will end up powerless like Bernie and Corbyn and finish up by doing a book tour, or is that just me being Cynical ?

      Let’s ask the disinformation board of the new ministry of Truth they’ll know.

    2. Dear Bill, so as to maximise benefits for the community, would you please provide a suggested voting pattern for the Senate ballot for the May election.

    3. That manifests in many ways:

      – Life expectancy declining
      – Unemployment
      – Underemployment
      – Gig economy
      – Education degradation
      – Training institutions degraded
      – Public infrastructure degradation
      – Health deterioration
      – Energy price hikes
      – Housing unaffordabiliy

    4. Dear Derek Henry (at 2022/05/02 at 12:37 pm)

      I think you miss the point. Of course, the Left has ‘things’ in common with the Right – like we all breathe air.

      But I was talking in ideological terms. And no matter how you want to spin it – the Right is characterised by an approach that holds that the anxieties of some people (say, ‘locals’) can be attenuated by increasing the insecurity and well-being of other people (say, ‘immigrants’).

      In my view, the Left would never hold that view and should never seek to ‘partner’ with that view.

      They are diametrically opposed views of humanity and the class struggle – and of, personal dignity.

      best wishes
      bill

    5. The distortion of the right/left divide comes from US imperialism (super imperialism as Michael Hudson put it).
      Since more than one hundred years ago, the US has been pushing its agenda on everyone else, while keeping for itself a double standard (we can see this, as they accuse the Russians of war crimes in Ukraine, while trying to extraditate Julian Assange from Britain, who denounced US war crimes in Iraq).
      The empire utters to the colonies: what we say is the truth, so obey without asking why (there are even caps on sale that have the verb “obey” on the forehead). If someone opposes the creed, it must be disposed of right away.
      But then, there was this thing called “democratic socialism” (Labour parties in some places), that had a lot of public support and that might ruin the empire’s plans.
      So, they had to contaminate those parties with what we call nowadays blairites (or clintonites if you wish), backed by massive doses of corporate money.
      They didn’t fail (how can money fail?), and we got now these parties who have nothing in common with the left, except for the name.
      Some people, like the French and the Greeks, have kicked them out power, but money is flowing to the media to keep the non-liberal-left alternatives off the primetime.
      The French people have this habit of insubmission and they almost took J.L. Mélechon to the second turn of the presidential election.
      I can tell you how a lady from the Portuguese socialist party, who has been a MP for many years, and got in second place in the last presidential election, has expressed her dislike for Mélechon in social media: it’s just too much for them, as someone chalenges their purported monopoly of the “left”.
      They use to say “nobody tells us lessons on socialism”. Maybe “lessons” is a new name for money.

    6. “(there are even caps on sale that have the verb “obey” on the forehead)”

      This puzzles me. (I don’t know how relevant, or not, this can be.) “OBEY” as a graphic on mass-market high-fashion items has been around for at least eight years. I don’t know who put it there, I don’t know who bought it, I don’t know what they thought about it, were they being ironic, or what? But it’s been around.

    7. I love this discussion. But I wish to add another couple of elements. Perhaps the linear thinking at the base of the so-called left-wing continuum is part of the problem. Ideology is one thing but values and reality perception are something that also need to be incorporated. And that is where the left and right have some overlap. It seems to have become a complex vicious identity conflict to use the term from David Peter Stroh in his book Systems Thinking for Social Change.

      I would argue that the human condition has always required that there be a balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the community or collective. That tension has existed for centuries — perhaps throughout human life. It is like the wolf pack too. The alpha male and female get priority even in unions and progressive political parties. Should we call it a left-right continuum? The protests for so-called “freedom” seem to exemplify that point of view. I know progressives and right-wingers acting together on that. But that is not taught coherently in schools or universities.

      Since WWII and Roosevelt’s New Deal, a concerted effort to augment individual rights over community rights has been taking place around the world. That American version of libertarian values underpins the neoliberal age of austerity in which we have been living for 50 years.

      I came to this realization after reading The Crisis of Democracy by Crozier, Huntington and Watanuki reporting on the Trilateralists meeting in NYC under the chair of David Rockefeller in 1973. They basically said that expectations are too high because there was an excess of democracy and people were too well educated (I am with Twain who said not to let schooling interfere with education).

      It was confirmed for me after reading Democracy In Chains by Nancy MacLean who did a deep dive into the libertarian racists writings of James McGill Buchanan and how the Koch bros funded his work. David Koch was the vice-presidential nominee for the USA Libertarian party. McGill won the faux Nobel Prize in 1986 for his Public Choice notions and he was pals with Friedman who won the same faux Nobel prize in 1976.

      Here is a thought experiment. If you had more money/credit than god what would you do? Add to that the Koch bros (now one) establishing of the Atlas network around the world to pump out libertarian and neoliberal ideas.

      And then there is the role of mythology and beliefs. Humans are NOT logical thinkers. We get a notion or develop a theory and then reify it. It lodges in the survival part of the brain as an archetype or as George Lakoff called it a FRAME.

      As Bill and other MMTers like Kelton and Wray have pointed out, people then look at budgets, money, spending, debts and deficits through the lens the reified theories form in the brain to respond to stimuli from the environment. Science attempts to dislodge those bad lenses and examine the reified beliefs but as Gregory Lester has pointed out in his classic article in Skeptical Inquirer in Nov-Dec 2000, I believe, called Why Bad Beliefs Don’t Die, changing beliefs is very hard to do because they become part of the person’s survival schema.

      So for me, it is hard to perceive the so-called left-right continuum as a valid construct underpinning that particular archetype.

      The values of libertarianism are: Money trumps life and the Means of life (see the late Professor Dr. John McMurtry’s works especially Value wars: The Global Market versus the Life Economy from Pluto Press). Profits trump people. Corporations trump democracy, community and public interests.

      Conservatives used to believe in preserving life and the means of life beyond the unborn. Some of them were progressive in the past but the libertarian values and neoliberal paradigm swamped them and I fear the so-called left.

    8. Yes we can hear the gears of the corporate propaganda machine as it desperately uses this opportunity to weave yet another tangled web. The active participation of national broadcasters, politicians, and central banks in the effort demonstrates the extent of the capture of the narratives.

      These later stages of the pandemic, the Omicron phase, are strange times. Everything looks like it should be back to normal unless you are one of the “essential workers”, forced to work through, and who have suffered repeat infections over the past two years, despite multiple vaccinations. In that case it’s still a disaster and may remain so for quite some time. A wage increase will do little to entice someone suffering long covid or other damage done by the virus, to return to work.

      But workers are replaceable aren’t they?

      Then we hear the talking heads on the news speak of the need for more workers trained for the high end of the technology sector, to fill all the coming new positions supporting the automation of those low end jobs, and then of course the UBI comes up, necessary as it is, to supply the government dole needed to sustain the vision, were those still participating in production are going on like nothing has happened these past few years, driving electric vehicles, shopping, etc..

      The thought of spending my last couple of decades watching children and grandchildren live the reality of a world dominated by those fools, makes me feel ill.

      It’s good to see that what is happening is a slow revival of the left. Many workers have recently taken a renewed interest in organizing unions or taking the unions they are already in far more seriously.
      This is the sort of thing that can grow into a political movement over time.

      They may not have realized it yet, but a political shift to the left is also in the best interest of the corporate elite, as is the implementation of the job guarantee rather than the UBI.

      Bill, I can no longer agree that a turn away from “identity politics” is an imperative, it’s not really an impediment to the effort but a necessary part of it. There is a lot of micro scale research and education needed to create the conditions necessary for a shift left, and much progress has been made.
      One only has to look at all the attacks on the teaching of critical race and gender theory, etc.. in academia being driven by conservative right elite elements who have been reduced to the recycling of old and tired narratives to sustain the kinds of politics they traditionally use to distract their usual followers from the real issue of class division. You have to admit though that they are still getting some mileage out of attacks on tiny minorities like the transgender folks who make up a whopping 0.33 % of the population.

      It was the conservative right politicians who started the identity politics fight , but the left will finish it, and then they’ll lead the charge against class division, because those with the most at stake in identity politics are the very ones most harmed by it.

    9. The Rise of Corporate Profits in the Time of Covid, DT Cochrane, 6 April 2022
      https://www.taxfairness.ca/en/resource/report-rise-corporate-profits-time-covid

      “in 2021 corporations brought in unprecedented levels of profit largely by increasing what they charge for their goods and services. This allowed corporations to almost double profit margins in 2021 to 16%, compared to the 9% average for 2002 to 2019.

      ***

      When corporations choose to raise their prices in order to boost their profit margins, they drive up inflation.

      The profit margin for FIRE companies was the highest for 2002 to 2019, and the sector had the largest percentage point increase in 2021, rising to 21.8% from an average of 14.4%. However, the profit margin of service & retail almost tripled, rising from an average of 4.4% through 2019 to 11.1% in 2021.”

    10. @J Christensen
      Tuesday, May 3, 2022 at 3:38
      … snip …

      [q]It was the conservative right politicians who started the identity politics fight , but the left will finish it, and then they’ll lead the charge against class division, because those with the most at stake in identity politics are the very ones most harmed by it.[/q]

      I hope you meant “the very ones most harmed by class division and class war by the rich.”

    11. @ Steve_American
      That’s most certainly what was meant!

      Left wing identity politics has been a necessary reaction to the irrational speech of those who are allowing the politics on the right hand side of the elite machine to exploit their bigotry and fears of the other, all the result of ignorance, in ways harmful to all but those doing the exploiting.
      The collateral damage resulting from the left taking sides with targets of right wing jabs, is that they become falsely projected as representing “the left”, when in fact such minority groups are normally just about as politically diverse as any random sample of the population. As such the right has created a straw man and that is important to bear in mind.

      I gave the transgender example as among the several minorities routinely exploited, to illustrate just how much leverage or fuel such a very small target of derision can supply.

      Identity politics as a tool to combat the bigotry is necessary and effective in the long run, as demonstrated outside the US, but somewhere in there should also be a concurrent effort to counter this form of misrepresentation of the political leanings of target minorities, which is being used as a distraction from the larger issue we know is at hand.

      Roe v Wade seems set to change the channel yet again.

    12. Thanks for this piece. Very interesting.

      I never understood the left’s support for Brexit because to me exiting the EU always meant putting the cart before the horses, and just seemed to increase the pressure of the yoke of the British version of neoliberalism. A neoliberalism that didn’t even have to negotiate with the rest of Europe. I still think that.

      I wonder if you have any views on how Putin’s Russia fits in the world’s left/right dialectic. I’ve noticed that in the wake of the Ukrainian “special operation”, an awful lot of red flags have been taken down the lofts, dusted down and proudly paraded around Eastern Europe. I’m fascinated by the symbolic aspects of mass politics (I cried when they threw Colson’s statue in the river, hahaha), I think the image of the Ukrainian babushka with the soviet flag, uttering the words “my parents died for this flag” is here to stay. Surely all this is going to create interesting problems for capitalist Putin, or not?

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