Since the New Left of the ’60s, Leftist political movements have been appropriated from the workers by bourgeois academics and made playthings of extreme self indulgence for privileged, pampered students rather than the life and death struggles of workers.
In the early stages of this appropriation, the ’60s and ’70s, we students were mindful of this and mindful of our own bourgeois privilege and entitlement and we would have never DREAMED of trying to define ourselves as society’s or the world’s primary victims or supplanting the workers’ concerns with our own luxurious and relatively frivolous concerns in primacy of importance as lefty students so self indulgently do today. When one of us ever thought we were having a hard time the others would bring them down to earth saying something like, “My heart is BLEEDING for you, the South Vietnamese surely send you their sympathies!”
The U.S. is, because of its “exceptionalism”, a much less socialist society than other technologically advanced nations and the authority of Left orthodoxy here, powerful and overarching as it is, is limited to the cultural realm and doesn’t extend to political economy. It is, therefore, in actuality a tool of business elites to divert atention away from economic injustice and preoccupy the public with concerns about “diversity”, e.g., Hillary Clinton obsessed about gender neutral bathrooms, for example, but wouldn’t mention TPP and while Barack Obama campaigned for passage of the treaty right up until the 2016 election day, or, Condaleeza Rice was Secretary of State, Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court, Barack Obama is President so everything is alright in America, we have just society because the ruling class is becoming diverse.
A new political phenomenon has thus emerged, the right-left hybrid of cultural left and economic right in one if its forms as corporate Democrats, showing concern for diversity – which is, in many ways, essentially a fetish and preoccupation of bourgeois “leftists” and the bourgeois academy – and ignoring or giving low genuine priority to economic concerns about jobs and issues of free trade and illegal imigration – that are real concerns of workers who then naturally vote for a Donald Trump.
This also comes from the era of the New Left or new student Left of the ’60s that took up issues such as racial justice, and later, issues of other identity groups rather than workers’ issues of economic or class justice.
In the early period of the New Left, the 60s and ’70s Western Society and the U.S. were largely middle class societies with a large blue collar middle class predominating. Labor was very strong, and very corrupt. It had very much become “part of the problem”.
What poverty there was in the U.S. was largely race based, that is, it was largely the result of racial discrimination. Thus the liberation movements of the ’60s and ’70s were mostly about racial justice rather than class justice and a class consciousness and sense of class struggle never developed in the U.S. after WW II.
So then, the new, student Left, being apropriated, as it was, from the workers by bourgeois academics, ceased to be represented by, and therefore, ceased to speak for the workers. Perhaps signified most formally by the “Love It or Leave It” march down Broadway in New York by “hard hats” (the contemptuous, n-word perjorative for “worker” used by supposedly leftist students of that period in some derisive allusion to the workers’ lack of formal education and life of hard work in its stead) in 1972, the workers in the U.S. greatly diverged from, and even opposed, the New Left and the Left in general.
This was in marked contrast to Left movements in other parts of the world, even in the Western World. In France, for example – where the Left was also heavily represented by students but also kept partnership with the workers and always placed the workers ahead in primacy and didn’t try to eclipse workers’ leadership and concerns with those of students – in 1968, 10 million workers came out in a general strike in solidarity with students, a thing that would’ve been unimaginable in the United States in that period.
Meanwhile, after a time, the abandonment of workers and their issues by the Left had its time bomb effect, some years and decades hence, upon the Left’s prospects in the United States. The racial and other issues of group identity taken up by the U.S. Left instead of workers’ issues, that later came to be known as “identity politics”, came to be charachterized by very apparent reverse racisms, reverse sexism, heterophobia and other reversed chauvinisms in Left movements and subculture and came to be seen as defining the Left, gave rise to the “Alt Right” phenomenon whose membership is significantly comprised of ex lefties who experienced instances of “reverse discrimination”, as it were, and censorship or repression from self appointed, academic lefty authorities who presume to know better what’s good for everyone than anyone does themselves (and certainly better than do the “unwashed” – i.e., lacking in pleasant, bourgeois manners – masses of the workers) and who seem preoccupied with concerns of their own “comfort” and “emotional safety” to the apparent eclipsing in priority of other, more materially urgent, workers’ concerns and thus now has a divisive effect upon society and the working classes and is used by corporate Democrats to divide the blue collar classes for their conquest by big business just as more frank racism and other, more frank anti group politics are by the Republican Right and to the same effect.
The triumph of business over workers occurs regardless of whether, red or blue T-shirts are worn and regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans win an election. You had, in the 2016 election, the blue collar worker voting Republican for Trump (and Bernie, who got robbed like the rest of us by corporatists in the primaries) with Rust Belt workers who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and 51% of all union households, nation wide, for Trump and business owners and investors voting for Hillary.
The Democrat-Republican dichotomy is thus no longer relevant and must be replaced with worker-business definitions and dichotomies. For a strong workers’ movement to resurge it is necessary for the academy, if it genuinely cares about justice for workers and workers’ primacy and a worker controlled society – or if it doesn’t (and, of course, it doesn’t) – to yield its primacy and relative status and control of society and it’s presumptious, self declared leadership of any past, present or future workers’ movements. Arm chair Marxists have only a supporting role, if that.
The academy, however, that has by now infiltrated most all manifestations of the Left, even the remnants of it like the community organizing and labor Left which, until as little as 5 or 10 years ago, were still in the genuine control of workers and affected community members (and which this writer, therefore, used to call the “Adult Left” – as opposed to the “Adolescent Left” of the petulant, pampered and self indulgent academy), will not give up it’s patrimonial class hegemony over and class exploitation of the workers that is effected in it’s determined iron grip of control and self assumed leadership over any ostensible worker’s movement and that commonly uses Leninist vanguardism as its model – if also often without many of Leninisms original intentions – without being defeated in a fight or struggle, as with any class hegemony or class exploitation.
That fight need not be bloody, however, it need not even be very openly confrontational, it could be simply a rehijacking by the workers, but it must be determined.