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The weblog description is a misquotation from Steve Aylett's Indicted to a Party: What to Do, Who to Blame.
The weblog title links to the "No Country Redirect" version, for whatever that might be worth.
May 04, 2016
Again with the class thing

But the definition of “working class” and similar terms is fuzzy, and narratives like [Donald Trump’s candidacy being a “working-class” rebellion against Republican elites] risk obscuring an important and perhaps counterintuitive fact about Trump’s voters: As compared with most Americans, Trump’s voters are better off. The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data. That’s lower than the $91,000 median for Kasich voters. But it’s well above the national median household income of about $56,000. It’s also higher than the median income for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, which is around $61,000 for both.
I suspect he may be right but, without wishing to get all Marxian on you, absent any demographic breakdown of actual class, rather than income level, the claim that the working-class support of Trump is a myth (as the FiveThirtyEight post's title states) remains un-demonstrated, at least conclusively. Are Trump's supporters more likely to be self-employed, or small business types, than wage-earners (however better paid)? Do they represent labour, or capital? Because, historically speaking, it's true Trump's kind of nativist pitch does tend to play best with the petit bourgeois (in the Marxian sense). A person's class is often (yeah, yeah, not always) related to their sense of self, who they consider the In group and who the Other, and whether they have a tendency to punch downwards when feeling threatened. Confirmation that this is about the "local notables" yet again, and again giving the lie to the usual anti-worker prejudices of decent liberals, would be nice to see, but I fear we will never know. The surveys analysed do not ask the class question, of course, because the US media does not believe such a thing exists, hence the educated guessing Mr Silver must engage in based on income levels.

May 01, 2016

Regardless of who leads it, the professional-class liberalism I have been describing in these pages seems to be forever traveling on a quest for some place of greater righteousness. It is always engaged in a search for some subject of overwhelming, noncontroversial goodness with which it can identify itself and under whose umbrella of virtue it can put across its self-interested class program.


You can find dozens of examples of this kind of liberal-class virtue-quest if you try, but instead of listing them, let me go straight to the point: This is not politics. It’s an imitation of politics. It feels political, yes: it’s highly moralistic, it sets up an easy melodrama of good versus bad, it allows you to make all kinds of judgments about people you disagree with, but ultimately it’s a diversion, a way of putting across a policy program while avoiding any sincere discussion of the policies in question. The virtue-quest is an exciting moral crusade that seems to be extremely important but at the conclusion of which you discover you’ve got little to show for it besides NAFTA, bank deregulation, and a prison spree.

This book is about Democrats, but of course Republicans do it too. The culture wars unfold in precisely the same way as the liberal virtue-quest: they are an exciting ersatz politics that seem to be really important but at the conclusion of which voters discover they’ve got little to show for it all besides more free-trade agreements, more bank deregulation, and a different prison spree.


The other great diplomatic initiative during Hillary Clinton’s years as secretary of state was to recast the United States as the world’s defender of women and girls....

Like so many of the administration’s high-minded initiatives, this one turned out to be pretty mundane: the Hillary Doctrine was concerned largely with innovation, with foundations and private companies who would partner with us to do things like “improve maternal and child health,” “close the global gender gap in cellular phone ownership,” “persuade men and boys to value their sisters and their daughters,” and “make sure that every girl in the world has a chance to live up to her own dreams and aspirations.”

Above all, the Hillary Doctrine was about entrepreneurs. It was women-in-business whose “potential” Hillary Clinton wished to “unleash”; it was their “dreams and innovations” that she longed to see turned into “successful businesses that generate income for themselves and their families.”


Among other things, the Hillary Doctrine helps us understand what Hillary really thinks about the all-important issue of income inequality. Women entrepreneurs as the solution for economic backwardness is not a new idea, after all. It comes directly from the microfinance movement, the poverty-fighting strategy that has been pushed by the World Bank since the 1990s, and Hillary’s idea brings with it an entire economic philosophy...

It was all so simple. While national leaders busied themselves with the macro-matters of privatizing and deregulating, microlending would bring the science of markets down to the individual. Merely by providing impoverished individuals with a tiny loan of fifty or a hundred dollars, it was thought, you could put them on the road to entrepreneurial self-sufficiency, you could make entire countries prosper, you could bring about economic development itself.

What was most attractive about microlending was what it was not, what it made unnecessary: any sort of collective action by poor people, coming together in governments or unions. The international development community now knew that such institutions had no real role in human prosperity. Instead, we were to understand poverty in the familiar terms of entrepreneurship and individual merit, as though the hard work of millions of single, unconnected people, plus cellphones, bank accounts, and a little capital, were what was required to remedy the third world’s vast problems. Millions of people would sell one another baskets they had made or coal they had dug out of the trash heap, and suddenly they were entrepreneurs, on their way to the top. The key to development was not doing something to limit the grasp of Western banks, in other words; it was extending Western banking methods to encompass every last individual on earth.


These ... sentiments ... suffer from one big problem: microlending doesn’t work. As strategies for ending poverty go, microlending appears to be among the worst that has ever been tried, just one step up from doing nothing to help the poor at all... It doesn’t empower women...; it makes them into debtors. It encourages people to take up small, futile enterprises that have no chance of growing or employing others...

There’s a second reason the liberal class loves microfinance, and it’s extremely simple: microlending is profitable. Lending to the poor, as every subprime mortgage originator knows, can be a lucrative business. Mixed with international feminist self-righteousness, it is also a bulletproof business, immune to criticism. The million-dollar paydays it has brought certain microlenders are the wages of virtue. This combination is the real reason the international goodness community believes that empowering poor women by lending to them at usurious interest rates is a fine thing all around.
You can find another extract from Listen, Liberal!, Thomas Frank's recent book on the DPUSA's transformation from a party of the working majority to that of moneyed technocrats, here, and his recent Guardian piece on Bill Clinton's crime bill also refers. Or you could just buy and read the book like I did, you cheap bastids.

The image is from here as re-tviited by Nick Mamatas. Oh, and great minds sorta think alike.

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