As ithers see us

Every day I read the oddest descriptions of people with political beliefs more or less like mine. The Guardian has posted a screed from "labor reporter" Hamilton Nolan decrying the signs that yet another evil billionaire is taking an interest in politics, in this case Jeff Bezos, who recently reacted irritably to the White House's theory that inflation can be tamed by increasing taxes on the rich. Nolan clearly agrees with the White House on this rather than with Bezos, since he casually proposes that "Bezos could mitigate inflation’s damage by giving his own employees a raise." There's no limit to the absurd pronouncements on inflation's causes and cures by people who think that largesse from the state or employers will be anti-inflationary. Nor is it surprising that Nolan instinctively concludes, from an observation that stimulus checks can lead to inflation that harms people most who have the least income, that anyone who notices and decries the inflation must have wanted people who needed stimulus checks to starve to death in their jobless lockdowns.

So far, then, this is standard stuff--it's awful when rich guys espouse conservative or even moderate political views, because we want them all to act like George Soros--but I bring it up because of his caricature of the traditional parties, in which the Republicans are only slightly more insidious than the centrist Democrats. He refers to "the classic rich-guy belief that nobody poorer than himself should be in charge." Could he be aware at all that the classic rich-guy belief is probably that nobody other than himself, poorer or otherwise, should be in charge of his own wealth? Otherwise, classic rich guys these days throw their political influence solidly behind not only Democratic initiatives but solidly progressive ones.

"The big-picture impact" of a Bezos political sally, Nolan fears,
would be to add a huge weight to the neoliberal side of the party’s scale, a powerful force trying to tilt the party away from its recent tiptoes towards progressivism, and towards the vision of the Democrats as the sober new corporate-friendly counterweight to the psycho Maga capture of the Republicans.
The mad dash toward a list of politically toxic positions within the Democratic party over the last few years appears to him in the guise of some timid tiptoes towards correct thinking. I assume this is because he focuses almost exclusively on "labor" issues instead of the pink-haired screaming agenda, but in the face of polls establishing that voters are riveted on inflation and the economy as the mid-terms approach, I'm not sure converting a tiptoe toward Marxism to a full-throated mob charge is the winning formula he hopes for. Again, though, my purpose here wasn't so much to ridicule his views as to highlight how odd are his views about his opponents.

Union-busting, in Nolan's view,is
a great example of what could be the new vision of the Democrats: not the slick operators trying to arbitrage corporate campaign donations, but rather the party of labor, the party ready to take seriously its own rhetoric about the dangers of rising economic inequality. The Democratic response to the rise of crazies on the right does not need to be to simply try to woo Republican donors away; instead, the Democrats can become the actual populists, the ones who side with working people against the power of capital. (The Republican version of populism, which mostly means “being prepared to wear a John Deere ballcap while you say racist things”, pales in comparison.)
In these phrases, along with the view of "the psycho Maga capture of the Republicans," should I see myself? I'm accustomed neither to John Deer ballcaps nor racist pronouncements. Who knows what the word Maga stirs up in hearts like these? Could it possibly have anything to do with what a real Trump supporter values about him? When I speak, can someone like Nolan hear anything but "racist, racist, racist," even when as far as I can tell I'm nowhere near anything of the sort?

Nolan's problem, in part, is that working people aren't buying his line. Possibly they no longer react well to framing the struggle of working people against the elites in terms of labor vs. capital. Increasingly they see their elite opponents as pointy-headed Marxists in faculty lounges and supercilious newsrooms.

In the meantime, though I'd love to see someone with Bezos's resources become an asset on the philosophical Right, it seems like a long shot.


David Foster said...

Entrepreneur/VC Marc Andreessen has been doing some interesting tweets about the importance of free speech and the threats against it...not much in the last couple of weeks, though, must be busy with his day job.

David Foster said...

Speaking of Marc A, here's an interesting post from a new partners at the Andreessen Horowitz VC firm:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

At the center, they don't really believe that wealth is ever created. If one person has something, it means some other person does not. Thus if you have many things, it must mean you could only get there by taking them from people poorer than yourself.

I swear, it's unshakeable.

Texan99 said...

They sure know how to manufacture power, though, and how to avoid sharing it "equitably."

Dad29 said...

Increasingly they see their elite opponents as pointy-headed Marxists in faculty lounges and supercilious newsrooms.

Don't forget the Chamber of Commerce types who moved jobs to Red China and the wackdoodle Greens who raise the price of fossil fuels to force 'mericans into golf-cart "cars" and to live in dark and very sweaty houses.