Sunday, June 22, 2014

Notes on the new populism

Classic left wing parties are missing the boat today, almost to the point of irrelevance,  because the traditional "working class", which was their power base, has been largely fragmented and is now practically powerless as the enormous "reserve army of labor" that globalization provides means that the worker´s principal weapon, withdrawing their labor, is no longer effective, increasingly even in skilled or jobs requiring higher education: if an American legal assistant is expensive, get an Indian lawyer in India to do the paperwork at a tenth the price per hour. But this has a certain "death spiral" effect.

The"killer contradiction" today is that while workers are no long needed more and more consumers are. Globalization has also brought on overproduction, a glut of consumer goods flood the markets.

How are unemployed or underemployed formerly middle class people, brought up on the idea of their right, even duty to consume, consume? Credit? Been there, done that.

So the real "revolutionary protagonist" today is the
enormous, but increasingly declass√© and naturally resentful middle class that was created before globalization. Some sort of populism,  "us against the one-percent" is the only possible progressive game in town now. 

The challenge is to keep this populism international, progressive and not nationalistic-racist, reactionary etc. 

That is why Thomas Piketty work, "Capital in the Twentyfirst-Century" is a great help, especially among statistic loving Americans, in building objective political consciousness in the middle class for this struggle, which is really just beginning. DS

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