Who, elsewhere, will confront the rising tide of right-wing authoritarian politics?
April 20, 2023
By exceptionalizing his origins, he exceptionalizes himself.
J. D. Vance Changes the Subject
The point was that middle-class radicals had to engage in struggle from where they stood already.
You Don’t Want to Know This?
November 16, 2022
Mike Davis’s Specificities
Repetitious and reductive appeals to the universal never satisfied him
The US working class was forged, for Davis, through its compounded historical defeat, which gave it a distinctive contradictory, battered, and lumpy form that could not be evened out through appeals to abstraction. Most importantly, the cycle of defeat and accommodation had separated the official labor movement from the Black working class, which he saw as the only possible “cutting edge” for socialist politics.
September 9, 2022
Middle-class radicals had to engage in struggle from where they stood already.
On Barbara Ehrenreich
December 12, 2020
We Live in a Society
Organization is the entire question
Political speech does not find individuals as points on an economic grid, directing them toward the party or politician whose platform matches their abstract preferences. It finds them, instead, embedded in particular lifeworlds. And if class processes form the basis of political action, they still must become manifest through the organization of social life, which in turn becomes meaningful as culture. This goes some way toward explaining how so many people could vote for Trump and his party, even as large majorities endorse progressive policy goals in surveys and ballot initiatives.
Coronavirus and Chronopolitics
The young are trying to save the old
It is important to understand that chronopolitics is nothing more than the political and cultural modality in which class conflict in recent decades has appeared: the conflict between generations is not fundamental but is rather the outcome of specific historical developments, which have turned age into the medium of conflicts flowing from the relations of property. But this does not make generational conflict superficial, any more than the mediation of class through race makes race superficial. There is a genuine divergence in life chances and social power along the lines of age.
March 23, 2020
Coronavirus and Chronopolitics
What matters now is the balance of authority in everyday life—between young and old, worker and boss
Social distancing is an unquestionable necessity and act of solidarity, demanding our fullest commitment. Still, more than submission is needed now. Unemployment is spiraling rapidly, but the displaced—especially the young—can be enlisted through public spending and planning to take on the creation of emergency housing friendly to social distancing and quarantine; cleaning and sanitizing public facilities, most of all transit systems, groceries, pharmacies, and health care institutions; tending to the children of the frontline workers.
October 10, 2019
A sociological designation turned into an epithet and hurled like a missile
In the early years of the 20th century, the professions emerged in their modern forms, establishing uniform standards of practice and conduct in all these fields. The new professionals were in general politically progressive, seeing their purpose as the renovation of American democracy and the modernization of conditions of work and life, in keeping with the momentous social and technological changes that had remade the world. Early on, they tended to imagine themselves as the antagonists of capitalists, not workers—or at least as brokers between the two. Social control, the production of rationalized plebeian behavior, was necessary for democracy to function, and might even gradually transform into socialism—the apotheosis of the principle of social rationality.
June 20, 2018
Workers Full of Poems
On Eddie Sadlowski, 1938–2018
Sadlowski embodied the wish for organized labor to wake from its postwar slumber and again throw its weight behind a great movement for a different country, as it had done in the 1930s and before. The AFL-CIO had shamefully backed the Vietnam War; Sadlowski opposed it and denounced the growth of “the weapons economy”—of which steel was very much a part. Many of the unions in the federation, including the USWA, had dragged their heels at best on racial integration of their workplaces; Sadlowski called for strengthening the union’s civil rights apparatus, attracting the support of Jesse Jackson and members of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. Much of organized labor met environmentalism with hostility; Sadlowski dissented. “It’s one hell of a thing for me to say—we just don’t need any more steel mills. We don’t need that kind of industrial growth, at the expense of what the environment should be.” He followed the thought where it led: “Enough with the car!” What more radical claim could a blue-collar worker make about postwar society than to doubt the automobile?
Capitalism is eating its young. It’s only feeding us avocados to fatten us up first.
Not Every Kid-Bond Matures
November 6, 2017
Not Every Kid-Bond Matures
Millennial habits so often mocked and belittled in the press are the survival strategies of a demographic “born into captivity.”
The summation Kids These Days gives us is harrowing: here is a generation hurrying to give in to the unremitting, unforgiving commodification of the self. Malcolm Harris predicts a future of debt servitude, confinement for the “malfunctioning,” worsening misogyny (though his gender analysis is less coherent than the rest of his argument), and total surveillance. Millennials, that is, are the first generation to live in the dystopia to come.