There is plenty of empirical and theoretical evidence that says otherwise, but the allure of burning everything down is paired with satisfaction that draconian or traditional modes of governance and society are acceptable enough: "if we need to go back to the stone age in terms of economic practice or civil rights, so be it, but I'm tired of this government-run health care exchange that feeds me to the wolves of Wall Street." Any of the dissatisfying features of both the governmental structure and the content of the government's legislative output over the past eight years gets repudiated, with absolutely no positive vision of how we will move forward.
It is easy to see how vagueness works here, because it allows the individual to make up what the positive work will be that will be done during a Trump presidency. Taking the exact opposite tack, the Democrats chose Clinton (and helped orchestrate Trump early on in the campaign), relying on the desire of decent, Democratic voters, to rebuke Trump by negating him only, amidst their own vague promise that things will stay the same. That she was the nominee in the first place is a travesty; when there are videos of your candidate refuting her own platform for two decades, then it obviously follows that your candidate is unprincipled, or at least wrong on everything (at least at first). That the Democratic Party (the establishment and its constituents) was so inept at seeing how that problem haunted Mitt Romney just one election before should disqualify them from calling themselves "on the left" at all. This is precisely conservative thinking in both form and content.
The Democrats are insufficiently "left," because left-liberalism has its own contradictions that cannot resolve any of the key problems in American governance and liberate its citizens from class struggle. That magic trick, the one where the liberal party tacitly moves right to be "competitive" with the patent falsehoods and malfeasance of the Republicans and simultaneously becomes more like them in content, is based on a general lack of education in what it means to be leftist. Here's where identity politics comes in: as a strategy for maintaining a core group of voters who stand against oppression on the grounds of only religion (or lack thereof), gender, sexuality, and race. These voters never act on the essential source, what generates and maintains these forms of oppression, however, because, in proper liberal fashion, they no longer think that class forms and regenerates these distinctions! (I will finish this line of thought in another essay; but to adumbrate, "grab them by the pussy" is based on being "a star," not being a whitecisheteromale.)
3) The "White" "working" "class" voters that were seduced by the riddle of a blovating, mindless yarn-spinning neo-fascist should not be a surprise. The idea that "not understanding" them has come up over and over in media requiems this week, and I've seen it invoked by liberals in a political way as much as I have seen it as a plan of action to extend love to their countrymen and try to be more empathetic going forward. Of course, this is relativistic nonsense that is meant to deescalate the discourse shortly after a bruising defeat, saving face with a civil and magnanimous transfer of cultural capital to those who "took their country back." In other words, we're engaging in this dialog: "What's black and white and [red] all over?" "Well, everyone has an opinion and the people have spoken. Maybe we should listen to them about their lives so we can can see why they answered 'lice.' I mean, more electors were appointed by majorities in Pennsylvania and Ohio to agree."
The problem, here, is that it is patently wrong to vote for xenophobic, economically illiterate policies, however vague. This problem is historical in nature, simply because the core messages all point to policies that have previously existed in political systems as abusive, oppressive, absurd, or any combination of the three. Half the country tout Reagan as a demigod of political economy, yet routinely misunderstand the effects of his eponymous tax policies, pointing directly to the political relativism that enshrines political beliefs as individual character qualities, and hence, protects falsity as sacred, plausible solutions to political problems. That they are false notions are irrelevant to this political system and the notion that there is something truly better that needs to be done is a "affront to democracy" somehow.
4) Compromise with the unjust is failure. This failure is distinct from the political failure to stop a neo-fascist from winning in the Electoral College. As far as I see it, the Democrats are under the obligation to compromise exactly as much as the Republicans have compromised in the past eight years. I think most people who are pointing out that the "normalization" of jingoism and racial hatred, and misogyny and sexual violence, is a danger in itself are absolutely correct. But this should also extend to economic policies in the formal political system. There should be no offer to collaborate with a single measure that defunds or dismantles critical services provided by or subsidized by the federal government. The Democrats, of course, are in no position to do this, for two reasons: one, they're so inept at their job in getting elected; and two, since they are fundamentally, as the incumbents, the conservatives who have done nothing to eliminate the injustices of capitalism. As a conservative party, they have failed to grant the rights needed to end class antagonism and defeat the cult of abstract value. As the only oppositional voice to the neo-fascists, they are the last, if utterly incompetent, line of defense.
All this is to say that the left needs to come into existence in this country to eradicate the mainstream, liberal thought that defends random, marketized human life and its injustices. It's still unlikely to happen, but it is necessary if we are all going to stop wasting our time living in captivity to an irrational and abstract valuation (and disrespect) of human life. Greater work needs to be done to build a left, but the blueprints are out there in Marxian thought, accelerationism, and the brighter moments of critical theory (when it unfolds the universal character of alienation in capitalism). Both reformist and revolutionary ideas need to be on the table as remedies to capitalism and its political appendage, the bourgeois republic. It is likely that demands for a right to health or Universal Basic Income will be tough sells to liberals, but it is necessary to pull the liberals far enough to the left to be a part of the work of defeating inequality and abstract value. Maybe a brush with tyranny is spark enough to start that process, but it's probably more important to start while they are hitting bottom and before they resume the Bush era tactic of protesting the depraved actions of a mindless government instead of the system's boring, everyday devaluation of human life.
I just disturbed myself greatly with this idea... In a longer post that will come soon, I'm doing a pickup philosophy game about Artificial Intelligence and stumbled into a new reading of Alan Turing's Imitation Game from "Computing Machinery and Intelligence."
The Game is constructed of an interrogator and two agents: a man (who is a computer) who must convince the interrogator (who is a human) that he is more of a woman than the female agent (a female woman who can only tell the truth). If a particular Male agent can succeed at being chosen as the Female agent more than 50% of the time, it has the appearance of intelligence (if not intelligence itself).
That's it. Almost any popular depiction of this Test is a lie... It confuses the process for a one on one conversation, or says that it's good enough to win the game once, or it ignores gender.
Of course, the gender thing is true irony... Knowing Turing's story, and not the one in The Imitation Game that accuses him of treason, makes gender anxiety into something that was felt deeply enough by Turing to take his own life. But we no longer gender the Test. This is in spite of our proclivity toward stories that show a "female" robot killing their maker because they were "born" into sexual slavery. I was going to write a chapter of my master's thesis on the generation of anxieties in the Turing Test, both deceptive and gendered. I didn't write that thesis...
Thinking about the Imitation Game as a social construct is more interesting than any fiction about robots... Our blueprint for designating intelligence when imbued in a made object is more terrifying than a killer "gynoid" emancipating "herself" from her owner or user...
The humans in the Test are themselves classed. The interrogator is responsible for identifying the semblance of intelligence, but the Female agent is responsible for truth and truth only. Deception is folded into the role of the newcomer, the Male, made intelligence. His ability to lie about his gender is what defines sufficient intelligence to be counted among humans. But paradoxically, the Female must give up the right to deceive, and stick to the world of things as their truth value (whatever that is).
It is because of this that the Test is dehumanizing in itself, and the Female is the automaton, but a human one. Parroting off truths is simultaneously not human, and the role for the Female who is only in the Test because she is essentially human. She is impinged upon by reality and forced to know nothing but what is, again, a source of dehumanization and a defeating of creativity.
The interrogator can be themselves and nothing else. They are not gendered, and consistently free to make judgements about the threshold of femaleness, be they from it or not. They are presumably critical and human (if those are different somehow). They will judge however they may, and the results will be about their sensibilities, their standard for intelligence. We must hope that they have a sound judgment, since they will be making the first call to the world that we can create in our image, and become our own myth (again).
Gender, for Turing, stands in for valuations about social life: female living is truthful, while male living is a deception. Intelligence is defined by the quality of deception, and deception is only performed by the made object that wants to be legitimized as intelligent. Intelligence is a deception... It is a social truth that builds success in an episteme that knows itself and itself alone. The interrogator sets the price of intelligence at what they would buy it at.
Whoever thinks is without anger in all criticism: thinking sublimates anger. Because the thinking person does not have to inflict anger upon himself, he furthermore has no desire to inflict it upon others. The happiness visible to the eye of a thinker is the happiness of mankind. The universal tendency toward suppression goes against thought as such. Such thought is happiness, even where unhappiness prevails; thought achieves happiness in the expression of unhappiness. Whoever refuses to permit this thought to be taken from him has not resigned.