The Hypocrisy of the Rich and PMC in Complaining About What They Created
The United States is an oligarchy, and it pretty much has been since the late 1800s when businesses grew to be massive in size (railways, steel, oil) while the US state was still very small. Hamilton had attempted to install an oligarchy in the late 1700s, but this was fought back and US politics during most of the 1800s was a result of the fight between oligarchy and democracy – which was lost for good at the end of the nineteenth century. Between the 1930s and 1970s there was a compact between the oligarchs and the working class to more equitably share the dividends of a growing economy and increasing productivity, but that was thrown away by the rich from then on and the US is probably more an oligarchy now than it was in age of the Robber Barons.
The US is now a neoliberal hellscape unless you are rich, or a member of the courtier class – otherwise known as the “PMC”: Professional, Managerial Class. The PMC and the PMC wannabees (e.g. social science major baristers, precariat “post-docs” and “unpaid interns”) are referred to as “left-wing” by those on the right, but this is highly misleading and self-serving to the right. The PMC are generally “progressives”, a very American/Anglo phenomenon for relatively wealthy PMC types who want to “fix” capitalism to make it more “human” without changing any of the political-economic fundamentals. Such types ooze “empathy” while not doing a thing to change a system which so massively benefits the rich against the poor. Or they mimic left-wing concerns to “sheepdog” the working class into the elite-managed Democratic Party and then roll over when cheated once again out of real power and continue to produce faux left-wing performativity rather than real action. The real left-wing, those that want to implement at the least a mixed economy and separate the rich from the levers of state power were vanquished long ago through the actions of Pinkerton agents, state militias, Red Scares, unAmerican committees, and Hoover’s FBI gestapo.
The hellscape is better known as laissez faire for the poor and handouts and bailouts for the rich. To be a courtier in such a system has become increasingly stressful as neoliberalism has spread to all tentacles of US society, producing a precarious existence for those that were previously more comfortable. For academics for whom there was already control through the disciplining of the tenure process, grant process (begging for money from rich people’s foundations and state-bureaucracy directed grant bodies) and the proclivities of journal editors, the screws have been tightened. The ongoing reduction in tenure-track positions has turned many post-docs into perennial teenagers, never able to gain the receding carrot of security and decent pay and benefits. Even after winning the tenure fight, academics are faced with receding grant budgets (unless it’s for the optimization of Empire management and propaganda) and even the possibility of losing tenure. For the progressive groups that won the battle for LGB rights there was also the need to find a new cause to keep the foundation funding gravy train going, no new cause meant looking for another position. In the media, PMC “journalists” can become multi-millionaires by parroting elite progressive propaganda (and right-wing nonsense, but nothing outside those two narratives), while the number of journalists with working class backgrounds dwindled through the operation of such things as the elite-university education cost barrier (e.g. the Columbia journalism degree at US$70,000 per year plus New York living expenses). The BLM, MeToo and Trans rights movements have been weaponized as instruments of intra-PMC struggle, class exclusion, class division and position creation. Intersectionality seems to have come to include everything but class in many discussions, serving more to divide than bring together as identities proliferate; making it more acceptable to rich donors and foundations.
Ellen DeGeneres is an extremely rich white woman whose sexuality is the only thing that she shares with poor lesbian white women or poor lesbian black women. She has more in common with ex-President GW Bush, but this is obscured by progressives, BLM activists and gender theorists who do not acknowledge the political-economic centrality of class within US society. In such an environment one of the greatest Black US philosophers, who happens to be a real socialist, can be denied tenure without a whimper from his fellow academics (Cornell West) while those that espouse that all white people are racist (a great way to divide the working class!) and claim colour as the central driver of US history (a great way to “forget” about the indigenous genocide and class struggle) are rewarded. Those leaders that strove for a working-class rainbow coalition in the past had their lives ended prematurely by bullets (Martin Luther King, Fred Hampton) or had their careers sidelined (Jesse Jackson).
When identities such as working-class black lesbian woman are defined and claimed, the working-class piece becomes belittled and that class divided. Such identities perfectly match the individualistic neoliberal faith, where community does not exist, and it is everyone for themselves (unless you are rich and/or fully compliant PMC). Academics and activists need to ask themselves why corporate America and the US state have been so ready to embrace BLM and trans-rights etc. Is it because they are truly progressive, or is it because they offer wonderful performative “progressive-washing” opportunities, and even more ways of disciplining those that stray from “acceptable” norms of behavior? Arguments that “math is racist” or that Black children live in a sub-culture that impedes “white” learning play perfectly for an elite that is happy to co-opt a few safe Black and other “minorities” (Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Susan Rice, Rachel Levine, Pete Buttigieg) into the elites while leaving the rest (as with the working class in general) to uneducated poverty. The right-wing have also learnt this trick, as is so apparent with the elite-apologist Thomas Sowell and of course the afore said Condoleezza.
In this milieu of neoliberalism, the ongoing attack on the regulatory state, and privatized health care, trans rights become a free-for-all and PMC battleground. In other nations, with state health care and a much greater respect for the regulatory state and a little bit more democracy (e.g. Finland) more balanced discussions are possible. In the US, a right-wing group that wants to remove a woman’s rights to control their own body can make a documentary about trans rights that asks a question that the vast majority of Americans consider they know the answer to “what is a woman?”, and shows the PMC up as at best a bunch of mealy-mouthed fools. A Democratic Party (part of the two-headed elite managed political hydra) that is busy with its attempted progressive top-down passive revolution allows the right-wing to claim a position held by the majority of the working class; no wonder so many working class and minority voters are leaving this PMC party that derides them. The brutal academic cancelling of Professor Roland Fryer, whose research tended to show that Black children are more than capable of handling a “white” education when given the right academic environment and expectations, is an example of the weaponization of MeToo. The fact that one of the most economically and professionally successful demographics in the US is the Nigerian immigrant community is a fact not acknowledged by his academic opponents that misused their academic positions of power (overriding the recommendations of the university’s complaints process). The reaction of the PMC to the recent Johnny Depp trial is also indicative of its Marie-Antoinette level obliviousness to external reality and majority opinion.
As the PMC doubles-down on identity politics and the rights of children too young to know whether or not Father Christmas is real, and that have “invisible friends”, to make irreversible decisions about their bodies (hormone therapy is not reversible, especially if it cancels puberty), destroying their appeal to the broad working class that is the majority of Americans, the economic destitution of that working class continues, power continues to be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the US military and intelligence community is unleashed across the globe, and US weapons and money are supplied to actual Nazis in the corrupt oligarchy that is Ukraine. At the same time, the progressives argue for the very censorship and state intrusion into citizen’s personal lives and beliefs that they used to fight against, together with the Imperialist “humanitarian” intervention that serves as the propagandist fig leaf for US aggression. Even Orwell could not have envisaged some of the twists, turns and intellectual yoga of the PMC. Next the US will be intervening to save trans rights (while carefully ignoring the medieval hellhole of Saudi Arabia of course); but Vanity Fair already got there as they state that “The Fight for Ukraine Is Also a Fight for LGBTQ Rights”. Tell that to the 10,000+ dead civilians in the Donbass shelled by their own government for the past eight years, a shelling which the US M777 howitzers seem well suited for! Perhaps President Putin should learn a trick and search out the LGBTQ+ victims of the Ukrainian army shelling?
For the rich, women will always have the right to abortion as young “Jennifer” gets to have an extended “vacation” in Paris and comes back sans embryo. The genius of the rich in the US, and their PMC courtiers, is to co-opt whichever groups and ideologies that allow for the disruption of working-class solidarity. For so many years it was racism and also homophobia, then the abortion issue was added to allow Republicans and Democrats to argue over a cultural question that did not threaten the underlying political economy. When racism and homophobia became no longer acceptable, even the dog-whistling kind, anti-racism took its place alongside trans rights; again, with no discussions of underlying political-economic questions. A very selective anti-racism that doesn’t include the rights of Amerindians and Palestinians. At a time when the general US population is at its least bigoted in history, new divisive means must be found. It is notable that when Democratic parties had super majorities, as under the first two years of Obama’s term, abortion rights were not enshrined into law, just like union rights and single-payer healthcare. The former was too useful as a Democratic Party rallying cry, the latter two kept outside “acceptable” politics. At the same time Obama was bailing out the rich financiers and speculators who had crashed the economy, getting good at killing black and brown people around the world as he himself professed, and supporting the growth of the fracking industry that he himself celebrated, while undermining the Copenhagen climate conference. There were lots of Hope dollars and support doled out for the rich and fossil fuel industry, while no real Change.
So, the rich will keep arguing over the very issues which they and the PMC have created or keep open, while studiously ignoring their own guilt and obvious answers; while the Rest are kept down. It’s the basis of neoliberalism, create a problem then profit from it while not fixing it. Most of the US economy depends upon not fixing the obvious problems, and the two-headed political hydra desperately needs “cultural” issues to argue about and help shepherd the American people away from their own interests. Manufactured false consciousness is the core job of the PMC, that is what courtiers are for! While neoliberalism eats the very society and ecology upon which elite wealth is dependent. The elite may be clever, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t also be stupid and short-sighted.