drwex (drwex) wrote,

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The center cannot hold


Interesting read from Think Progress's Ned Resnikoff. It's kind of a deep exploration of how white nationalism came to be a dominant theme in this election and to some extent around the world. The theory, if I have it right, is that racism has always been there. Agreed. I've long said Trump was a symptom, not the problem itself.

But racism (the theory goes) can be subdued by peoples' self interests and particularly their economic self-interests when it appears everyone is getting ahead. This sort of self-interested centrism is labeled Third Way (presumably neither right/left nor liberal/conservative) and was kind of the consensus view from Clinton through Bush and into Obama. But when people (feel that) they are not getting ahead then racist tendencies move to the fore, and Resnikoff argues that an ideological vacuum and misapprehended economics have led to a collapse of this centrist ideology.

In its place we get authoritarian white populism, but not a typical right-wing sort. Instead you get a mix of ideologies from typical left (protect welfare state) and typical right (greed is good) - what they call "welfare chauvinism" mixed with "market nationalism". Both feature an "us first" twist that appeals to people who feel that free markets and free trade aren't benefiting them (they're right) and who feel that the government is unfairly favoring minorities and non-citizens (they're wrong).

So generally I'm nodding along with this - you should read it to get all the background and details I'm leaving out - and I come across this:
Under no circumstances should [supporters of pluralist democracy] back away from its commitment to pluralism. The aim of white nationalism is to destroy the multiracial democratic state, and any attempt at compromise will only bring it closer to that goal. People of color, women, LGBT people, and members of other marginalized groups are not a liability to the resistance against Trump; they are its leaders.

Which I sort of agree with - as I've written, I reject compromise with this brand of fascist ideology. And I certainly want to retain a movement that connects with the communities that make up a pluralistic society, including city dwellers, rural inhabitants, people of all ages and education levels. Marginalized groups are an important part of that coalition.

But if we (white dudes) are going to expect those under attack to lead the counter aren't we shirking our responsibility? I believe that Trump and Trump-ism (which I'll continue using as a shorthand for this kind of white nationalism, even though I realize it's a multi-country problem) is a white dude problem. We made this mess - why should we expect the people most hurt by it to lead the clean-up?

And just in case you'd forgotten how the whole thing went, here's Yeats's The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth, at http://drwex.dreamwidth.org/939265.html. You can comment here or there.
Tags: politics
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