We have a new bourgeoisie, but because they are very cool and progressive, it creates the impression that there is no class conflict anymore. It is really difficult to oppose the hipsters when they say they care about the poor and about minorities.
But actually, they are very much complicit in relegating the working classes to the sidelines. Not only do they benefit enormously from the globalised economy, but they have also produced a dominant cultural discourse which ostracises working-class people. Think of the ‘deplorables’ evoked by Hillary Clinton. There is a similar view of the working class in France and Britain. They are looked upon as if they are some kind of Amazonian tribe. The problem for the elites is that it is a very big tribe.
— Christophe Guilluy. This seems exactly right to me. The “cool and progressive” left has chosen sexual self-definition as its only real cause, its version of the Civil Rights movement, and has less than zero interest in the economically marginal. Indeed, it maintains its own character as cool and progressive by creating an ecology of consumption that depends on the economically marginal remaining that way. Social justice warriors not only aren’t interested in but are positively appalled by the specter of economic justice. For our elites — nominally Left, nominally Right, nominally Centrist, it’s crony capitalism all the way down.
The abandoned working-classes-and-below have responded to this state of affairs by saying, in effect, “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down.” (“You think you got it all set up / You think you got the perfect plan.”) That takes different forms: marching on Paris, say; or electing a blustering ignoramus President of the United States. Some of these are better than others, but none of them is genuinely constructive, none of them stands a real chance of altering the neoliberal social order. And that’s because nowhere has a leader emerged who possesses the combination of charisma and shrewdness to channel the frustrations of the economically marginalized into a meaningful program of reform — or revolution.
Such leaders also take different forms: Nelson Mandela was one, and so was César Chávez, and so was Lenin. It is possible that the union of the global neoliberal order and the big media companies — which serve as the Ministry of Amnesia for that order — will be able to prevent the emergence of such a leader. But I don’t think so. I believe that eventually and somewhere such a leader will arise. And when that happens the cool and progressive Left will be so, so screwed.
However, I suspect that if it happens here so will I.