September 25, 2018

The counter-revolutionary distraction of character assassination -- against Thomas, Kavanaugh, or other Reaganites

At first it was mainly delusional liberals who were leading the charge against Kavanaugh, wielding their same ol' ineffective weapons from the arsenal of identity politics. But now that a good number of class-oriented realigners on the Left are joining the pile-on, all while the accusations have become increasingly risible, it's time to look at how pointless and self-defeating these strategies always are -- not only for their short-term failures, but their sapping of energy that could have been devoted to long-term and big-picture changes.

First, how about a quick reality check on the last time that liberals tried to derail a conservative Supreme Court nominee using flimsy allegations of sexual harassment? They failed abysmally when they came for Clarence Thomas in 1991, who has been safely implementing the Reaganite agenda ever since. And because their attacks were personal rather than collective, they resulted in no broader understanding, and no further escalation of goals.

In their framing, only this one individual was the problem, not the entire Reaganite judicial army -- and his disqualifications were said to be of a character nature, rather than stemming from the powerful and wealthy interests whose agenda he would be implementing. So, once his appointment was fait accompli, that was the end of that campaign by the opposition.

The dominant coalition of a historical era rarely has major problems in re-shaping society, across all branches of government, at all levels of government. That's what makes them the dominant coalition. The opposition struggles to achieve even small-scale victories, let alone to defend them against the incessant reactions by the relatively stronger dominant coalition. So, it was a no-brainer that GOP-appointed Thomas would get seated on the Supreme Court in the Reaganite era.

But that doesn't mean the opposition had no chance for advancing their goals -- provided that their attacks were of a collective and political nature, so that even if they failed to derail this particular appointment, they would have built support for blocking similar appointments who would enact a similar agenda, making victories possible in the medium or long term.

While the outcome of the character assassination against Thomas may have been uncertain back in 1991, when they first deployed the strategy, by 2018 it is no longer hypothetical -- it will fail just as spectacularly against Kavanaugh. At least with Thomas, the allegation was that he used his institutional role to get away with harassment of a structural underling. With Kavanaugh, he had no institutional role giving him leverage over the accusers -- just a high schooler or college kid of similar social standing as them. There's no institutional or structural critique behind the allegations against him, and therefore nothing political to be made of them.

Indeed, the liberals and Leftists who are chasing the short-term endorphin rush of piling on have already admitted that they are not seeking a broader change in the make-up of the Supreme Court, the agenda it would enact, the structural changes in society it would pursue, or anything like that.

They're saying, "Look, you Republicans could shit-can Kavanaugh and replace him with any one of a million other Reaganite clones, and it won't make a lick of difference to the outcome of upcoming Supreme Court cases. So please, just give us this one particular scalp, let us orgasm, and then we'll fall into a deep refractory-period slumber, while you appoint Kavanaugh's clone in his place. Deal?"

These are the pleas of a defeated, and defeatist, opposition. When we lose yet again, please just give us a consolation prize rather than total humiliation, and we'll go back to impotently whining instead of collectively organizing against your agenda. This is politics as therapeutic medication of individuals, not politics as wielding coalitional power to shape society.

And that's assuming they even get their scalp! When they do not, they will suffer greater depression from the cognitive dissonance of getting totally humiliated by the dominant coalition, without the innocuous consolation prize that they had so non-threateningly requested.

And yet, the outlook for the realignment of the Democrats -- or whatever party replaces them -- is not hopeless. The reactions to the allegations against Kavanaugh have been far less indulgent among the up-and-coming Congressional realigners like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, or DSA fellow traveler Julia Salazar who is headed to the NY State Senate. Refreshingly, Tulsi Gabbard's Twitter account has not issued a single response piling on against Kavanaugh, which she must see as largely a distraction from her big-picture efforts against corporate oligarchy and globalist militarism.

Sure, they don't approve of him being appointed, and they may have a few token responses against him on Twitter, but they're not singling him out for a scalp while saying go ahead and put any other Reaganite in his place. And they're not droning on and on about the identity politics issue of sexual misconduct among drunken teenagers -- but universal healthcare, ending the Pentagon's failed occupation of the whole world, and other issues relating to class and empire.

I don't read too many Leftist commentators on Twitter, but Briahna Joy Gray and Rania Khalek have also been relatively bored by the Kavanaugh pile-on, and have continued their long-term big-picture focus on class-and-empire issues.

It's hard not to notice that they're women of color, while the Leftists who are hooking MSNBC's Kavanaugh coverage straight into their veins are more likely white and male. (Sex seems more important than race here.) Will Menaker from Chapo Trap House, John Iadarola from The Young Turks, and sadly the Bernmeister himself. It's not a perfect correlation, but the difference is still pretty striking.

We understand why liberals of both sexes and all races are piling on -- libs don't care about fundamental change, and just want a small concession to make them feel less pathetic in their defeat.

But the Left should be rising above that. The fact that guys on the Left are still so drawn into the pile-on suggests a personal rather than collective motive -- they see Kavanaugh as the womanizing jerk from Hollywood movies who has monopolized the means of reproduction, leaving them sexually frustrated. Or if it turns out he was a virgin during his youth, he's still the smug preppy frat boy type who they have to engage with for male-male status competition, and they'd rather not have to compete on "stereotypically masculine" dimensions that frat boys are into.

They've been good at ignoring the distractions of Mueller-gate, having learned their lessons from the pointlessness of the Valerie Plame Affair. But now there's a more personal appeal to joining the powerless Centrist hysteria du jour -- venting about those fucking frat boys!

Whatever it is, Leftist guys need to get over it and help out their women with the big-picture work of realignment, instead of retreating into their comfy man-caves where they feed their personal spite addiction all day long.

Related posts:

Fight SCOTUS pick on populist grounds, not abortion or other liberal identity politics issues, especially since the Reaganite Supreme Court has enshrined abortion, flag-burning, pornography, and gay marriage -- all things that the Founding Fathers had intended to flourish, and that were originally sanctified in the Constitution. The Reaganites are libertarian experimentalists, not conservative traditionalists, so fear-mongering about them using the state to regulate personal choices has always been crying wolf, and normies tune it out by now.

Kavanaugh ruled in favor of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in union-busting campaign by management. There was a way to tie the individual record of Kavanaugh into the broader Reaganite agenda, and Trump's personal benefits from Kavanaugh's rulings, in a way that would call the president's bluff on being a working-class friendly Republican realigner.

11 comments:

  1. hellfireclub9/25/18, 3:22 PM

    It seems also driven by the fact that #metoo needs a gentile scalp to help the coalition hang together. It's getting mighty obvious who's been doing the #metooing.

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  2. Trying to scalp people over "youthful indiscretions" (as GW Bush put it) does seem like a sign of hyper-competitive elite (and wannabe elite) behavior. As Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton indicate, it was the early 90's when this stuff started to really seize "mainstream" (as permitted by elites) culture.

    To most non-elites, though, the Kavanaugh thing is all a big waste of time. Everybody goofs off when they are kids. Who cares? It's really draconian and unfair to insist on trawling a person's entire personal life in search of salacious material.

    Also, it's way too easy for elites to be clawing at each other for reasons of obvious career and status advancement, as opposed to leading a genuine reform movement which would help commoners and reduce incentives to attain elite status (but as the Reaganites have taught us, the worst thing in the world is discouraging "hard work" via Progressive taxes, labor protections, and large social programs ).

    And more elites going after Kavanaugh for him being a defender of the neo-liberal order would put too much attention on how corrupt elites are, and how little accountability there's been.

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  3. The lib freak-out over Kavanaugh is like the con freak-out over Kagan, as though being a Jewish lesbo makes someone a far-left radical -- rather than a corporate elite-friendly mediocrity.

    Or the freak-out over Obama being a crypto-Muslim or born abroad -- where did that go? If anything, it got him re-elected. (Trump being a birther was a liability if anything during 2016, where he won on his attacks against NAFTA, imperial over-reach, and open borders.)

    You can't build a dominant coalition on the basis of a seething hatred for blacks, nor on the basis of a seething hatred for frat boys. You just come off as unhinged, but more importantly, bereft of a larger vision and program that masses of normies would want to enlist to fight for.

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  4. Hyper-competitive elites will be more drawn to personal attacks than collective attacks, since the war for social status is at the individual level. Maybe a unit including your spouse / nuclear family, but that's about it.

    If that's the mental schema for combat that comes from your everyday life, then that's what will transfer over when you get into political mode. Which individuals piss me off the most, what are their individual weaknesses, and how can I exploit them to maximally humiliate those individuals?

    It's not really about identifying the shared interests of a group that's in power, identifying who else shares your own interests, and deciding whether to join the in-power group or form in opposition to them, building broader coalitions if necessary, and so on and so forth.

    That's the mental schema for combat that comes from an everyday life that is collective -- nuclear units in a neighborhood pooling resources for a common goal, uniting against City Hall to get that bridge repaired that serves your neighborhood, etc.

    This is a major reason why realignment will take longer during a hyper-competitive period like now or the Civil War era, compared to the New Deal or Reaganite transitions.

    It also suggests that the core of the realignment will come from places that are relatively less hyper-competitive, and relatively more communal -- the good ol' Midwest. Already proven to be the most fertile ground for the Bernie campaign in 2016.

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  5. This also halts realignment on the Right, as they waste time on character defense to counter-act character assassination.

    Kavanaugh is a corporate globalist Bushie, not a populist or anti-globalist. Reaganite status quo all the way -- no sign that he's going to be the next "switch in time that saved nine".

    And yet the MAGA-tards are pretending like this guy wants the US out of NATO, Afghanistan, Syria, etc., wants to kill NAFTA or the WTO, wants to deport the tens of millions of illegals and slam the doors shut in the future.

    He defended the cheap labor lobby by thwarting illegals from joining a union -- siding with the employers of illegals, rather than sticking them with the costs of their choices. You hire illegals, you pay the costs. He might as well say the minimum wage doesn't apply to illegals either -- they can invade by the tens of millions, work for 50 cents an hour, never be covered by a union, not be eligible for employer benefits like healthcare. When that's your competition as an American worker, there goes your standard of living.

    And he has the "nation of immigrants" tripe in one of his decisions.

    Just another traitorous corporate globalist.

    But the conservative populists won't be talking about that, and demanding a populist or anti-globalist to take Kavanaugh's place. They're locked into defending Kavanaugh against these laughable witch hunt fanfic stories about the evil world of preppies and frat boys.

    Big missed opportunity to demoralize them or even peel some away, by showing how much the GOP is still pushing the Reaganite status quo that their own voters rejected in the 2016 primary.

    Instead, the debate has degenerated into: "Genocide the frat boys, or not?"

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  6. Ted Kennedy's attacks on Bork were policy focused but mostly on cultural issues not on Bork radical Anti-Trust views that ended up being adopted despite is nomination being blocked.

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  7. https://vimeo.com/49397310

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  8. Abby Martin vs. Robbie Martin is an interesting contrast, since they're siblings with shared politics and personalities, and host a Leftist podcast together (Media Roots Radio). Only major difference is sex.

    Abby hasn't tweeted anything about Kavanaugh, only responding to Ari Fleischer's complaints about the incivility of the accusations by saying he's in no place to complain after championing the Iraq War. Even this confirmation comes back to imperialism for her, not to genociding the frat boys.

    Robbie had been ignoring the confirmation battle most of the time, except when they televised the testimonies today, and he went off about jock rapists in tweet after tweet. Kavanaugh's defiant voice and face set off the anti-frat guys, confirming in their minds that he's just another smug preppy rapist.

    This is as close of an experiment as we can get -- not just shared personalities, politics, and generation, but 50% shared genes -- and the guy is way more emotionally invested in this than the girl.

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  9. "Nerds vs. jocks" is not a political platform. Just a re-statement of which elite sectors of society control the two major parties during the Reaganite era -- Dems representing informational industries, and the GOP representing the material industries.

    Trying to make "nerds vs. jocks" relevant in 2018 is only intensifying the status quo, rather than up-ending it.

    Realignment requires radicalizing the jocks and frat dudes who aren't in the 1%, and seizing wealth and power from the nerdy tech elites.

    It was a sign of doom for the war-mongers during the Vietnam era when the Left stopped blowing off the members of the military, and started to join the military to organize against the war and imperialism from within. Not in a pandering, paternalistic way, but sincerely appealing to their interests, and showing how little they were served by the over-extended empire.

    We'll know the Left is serious this time around when they drop the cultural clash between the jock tribe and the nerd tribe, and manage to peel off guys who joined a frat thinking it would lead to a normal prosperous life and family, slam into the reality of our top-heavy de-industrialized shithole economy, and want to channel those social team-building skills from their frat days toward loosening the 1%'s grip on wealth, which has prevented them from getting what they thought would be the benefits of frat membership.

    Do Leftists think the New Deal was supported only by legions of nerds, bookworms, and lib-arts majors? Or by more normal guys who were physical and corporeal types? Take a look at the maps from the New Deal elections and guess.

    For that matter, who do the members and leaders of Hezbollah resemble? (Pick any other such Leftist or anti-imperialist army.) Not a bunch of nerds who complain that the physical guys only score more with girls than they do due to outright rape.

    Division of labor: nerds and jocks need each other to act collectively toward their shared material interests -- against the nerds and jocks on the other side.

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  10. Habakkuk Mucklewrath10/1/18, 8:34 AM

    "a far-left radical -- rather than a corporate elite-friendly mediocrity."

    Remind me the difference?

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  11. It's like libs calling Jeb Bush a far-right radical.

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