Friday, March 14, 2014

Boss, Just Make Sure I Get My 50% of 50% of 50%

Thomas Frank interviewing Adolph Reed:

And you use the word “egalitarian.” That’s sort of what’s completely missing today. All of these victories on these other fronts, largely matters of identity politics, and where is the egalitarian left?

Right, and my friend Walter Michaels has made this point very eloquently over and over again . . .  that the problem with a notion of equality or social justice that’s rooted in the perspectives of multiculturalism and diversity is that from those perspectives you can have a society that’s perfectly just if less than 1 percent of the population controls 95 percent of the stuff, so long as that one percent is half women and 12 percent black, and 12 percent Latino and whatever the appropriate numbers are gay. Now that’s a problem.

I agree with those who think the egalitarian left is moribund and unlikely to make a comeback. The identitarian left is predominant, largely, I think, because it's much easier to do politics that way. Take the example from just the other day. Will any of these recent journalism startups amount to a genuine challenge to corporate media? Only time will tell, but at least people like Greenwald and Taibbi are trying to make it happen. The whole venture may end up co-opted and toothless, but either way, having an informed opinion about its progress will, as always, require attention, consideration and effort. An identitarian like Emily Bell, though, already knows, at a mere glance, all she needs to know. It's just a bunch of white men, she sniffs. Nothing positive could possibly come of that. Likewise, there's no need to consider vexing details about Arianna Huffington's business model when all you need to know is that she's a media mogul with ladyparts, so she's a checkmark in the win column!

Much like their "radical" brethren in academia, who are content to rule their petty fiefdoms, the identitarians have a comfortable niche in popular media where they can produce a steady supply of simplistic clickbait. Personally, I think they'd be just as threatened by the possibility of genuine radical change as any conservative, and I suspect they know that, too.