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What happens when progressives get their class analysis wrong…


An interview with Michael Albert.

Since Occupy it has become fashionable for progressives to talk about the 1% vs the 99%. This two class analysis, however, has a much longer history. For example, Marxists typically highlight two classes – the capitalist class and the working class – and like Occupy focus people’s attention on the problem with an economic system that runs primarily in the interests of an economic elite – whether it be the capitalists or the 1%. We have seen this kind of analysis during the Bernie Sanders campaign in the US and here in the UK with Momentum – which is the organisation behind Jeremy Corbyn. I want to ask you about this analysis in light of the victory of Donald Trump in your country and Brexit in mine. But before doing that, I was wondering if you could comment on the efficacy of this analysis.

Michael Albert: What the analysis you refer to explicitly says is correct and profoundly important, though sometimes rendered a bit obscure by rhetoric. What the analysis leaves out, however, is also profoundly important and the absence severely undercuts the value of the positive insights.

The correct part is that by virtue of owning the tools and resources that society uses to feed and sustain itself, “capitalists” dominate much of social, political, cultural, and of course economic life. A tiny group of owners profit off others’ efforts. By controlling major centers of power and influence and having vast wealth with which to buy whatever they want, capitalists overwhelmingly determine how everyone lives. To have an equitable, classless economy requires eliminating monopolization of productive property.

What the view leaves out, however, is that capitalists are not the only class that has major relative advantages. Below capitalists, but above what I will call the working class, is what I would call the coordinator class. This group doesn’t benefit from monopolizing means of production, but, instead, from monopolizing empowering roles in the economy. Within capitalist economies, they are a class between labor and capital, but they are also a class that can rule when capitalism is replaced by a predominantly two class alternative, as has been the case with what has been called centrally planned and market socialism – which should both be called, instead, I think, coordinatorism. To have an equitable, classless economy therefore also requires eliminating monopolization of empowering work.

 

I know that this is something that you (and your old friend and collaborator, Robin Hahnel) have been talking about since the 1970’s and yet little on the Left seems to have changed. Could you speculate on why that is? What might be the reasons for resisting the kind of analysis that you have presented? Who might stand to gain by ignoring this analysis?

Sometimes a new viewpoint takes a long time to garner substantial support because it is seriously complicated or even just accessible but quite far from familiar thoughts. But is that the answer in this case?

Consider the claim that if 20% of society monopolizes all the empowering tasks in the economy than that 20% will, by virtue of their monopoly, accrue more confidence and influence than those below, more power than those below, more wealth than those below, and, based on that wealth and power, considerable daily direct control over economic and social life. Put more specifically, consider the claim that doctors, lawyers, engineers, high level managers, and so on, will have due to their position in the economy doing ample empowering work far greater income and influence over social life than assemblers, short order cooks, delivery folks, and so on due to their position doing only disempowering work.

Consider as well the claim that if capitalists are removed by eliminating private ownership of the means of production but we retain the old corporate division of labor and other structures that hand all the empowering tasks to 20% and leave the other 80% with only disempowering, repetitious, and obedient tasks – then the former class will dominate the latter class dictating to rote workers from above.

I maintain that neither claim is particularly complex and that both should be clearly evident from even a perfunctory open minded look at history and current relations. I would also say that while the two claims are incredibly far from the common sense assumptions of members of the coordinator class, they are potentially obvious, sometimes spontaneously and sometimes only when directly raised, to most members of the working class.

If all that is right, then it follows that it probably isn’t only difficulty that prevents this kind of analysis from spreading. But what other factor may be at play?

We all have inclinations and biases stemming from our beliefs and habits, not to mention our outright material interests. These biases and assumptions coming from the behaviors and beliefs our circumstances impose on us impact how we come at issues and problems.

As but one example, if you are white in a grossly racist society, then even if you are sincerely intellectually against racism, nonetheless, the way you have been brought up, the circumstances you inhabit, and very probably the messages you daily receive tend to limit and skew your understanding. You may intellectually and even morally and emotionally reject racism and yet, at some level, nonetheless accept certain of its rationalizations and habits.

It is also true that if you are black in such a society, again, the horrible structures around you are likely to have impacted your beliefs and habits, sometimes quite adversely. The effects of racism on the dominant group, but also on the subordinate group, are real and serious and only dissipate with real effort and especially due to countervailing experiences. The same holds for gender issues, of course, and about race and gender every progressive knows all this quite well, and usually quite directly.

Translate these understandings – which few do – to the realm of class. Add to the situation that while there is considerable progressive attention to the existence of owners and workers, there is almost no attention to the specific existence and role of a coordinator class, much less understanding of the social – not biological – roots of its existence.

As a result, it is commonplace that people of all sorts take for granted that some people are born to make decisions and other people are born to obey. This seems to most observers to be foreordained and written in stone. And this belief, so prevalent it doesn’t even need to be enunciated, is not unlike, a half century ago, most people thinking that women had no capacity beyond serving husbands and birthing children, or that blacks had no capacity for anything other than using muscles and obeying orders.

The class analog is to think that people who assemble things, tend tables, drive busses, carry boxes, etc., have no capacity for doing richer, more empowering tasks, and that those who do richer, more empowering tasks are intrinsically suited to them. The social cause of the class division between the empowered coordinator class and disempowered working class is hidden by an assumption of capacity for the former and lack of capacity for the latter just as the division between Black and white, say, or male and female, has also been thought to be born of different intrinsic capacities and not imposed by contingent structures.

Okay, so, if the misconception that the different circumstances, incomes, and power of the working class on the one hand, and of the coordinator class on the other hand, come from different intrinsic capacities, rather than being imposed by institutions is prevalent, the lack of attention to the contrary idea is no longer so hard to understand.

Proposing the existence and importance of the coordinator class and expecting a serious hearing becomes like telling your associates dogs can talk and expecting them to take time off from all their other pursuits to examine your claim and then support it.

The claim about a third critically important class, in other words, is off the charts for people and not worth any time because to them it appears so utterly ludicrous, for those in or aspiring to be in the coordinator class, and so evidently ghettoized, for those who would otherwise readily understand it.

Of course, the fact that this mindset corresponds to the self image needed by coordinator class members to justify their advantages and feel good about themselves even as they benefit from unjust monopolization of empowering work, and even corresponds to working class members looking for ways to simply survive their disadvantages without exploding into furious anger in a context where options for fighting back are horribly limited, both drive and abet the tendency to rule out such a perspective – just as once in the past, similar mindsets and interests made many people dismiss arguments about the positive capacities of women and minorities as ridiculous.

Likewise, and finally, the fact that the coordinator class occupies positions of power vis a vis media and communications, not just managing the factory floor or arguing legal cases, or doing surgeries, but also controlling what is and what isn’t widely communicated in society means media, and often even progressive media, is overwhelmingly closed for exploring this class issue, partly as a matter of material and social self defense, and partly as a matter of manifesting deep rooted identity serving assumptions.

 

Okay, so how does your analysis relate to current events? What, for example, does it tell us about Brexit and Trump? Why are so many “ordinary” people seemingly turning away from progressive politics?

There are many factors and variables at play, of course. But one pretty simple one which comes into play almost all the time including in these cases, seems to me to be whether progressive politics is believable to working people.

Suppose a mafia boss comes to town and claims he will raise the well being of everyone by his policies if you will only give him free space to do as he chooses. The words taken alone ring wonderful. If he accomplishes what he claims, it will be excellent. But you probably say no, I won’t support the mafia boss, because his fancy rhetoric aside, I don’t trust that he will do as he says. I believe, instead, he will do what the mafia always does as always solely in pursuit of mafia gains.

Okay, so what if a clear cut emissary of a class that daily dominates you in ways that of late have been getting steadily worse comes to town and says he or she will serve not his or her class, or even higher classes still further up, but you. You have grave doubts. What if someone else comes along, and he is really rich too, or even richer, but he is the only other choice and he sounds more like you, he seems to empathize better, and he carries less baggage you are aware of, and his promises seem to you more believable and to go much further. And so on.

The rejection of mildly progressive policies when they don’t register as honest shouldn’t be too surprising. To gravitate toward abstention seems obvious, and has been predominant for ages. To gravitate, instead, toward monstrous views requires further explanation – but not too much more explanation if the monster does a great job of appearing to be other than he is regarding what you take to be central concerns. We have seen that often, too. And if the monster marshals fear and hate effectively that adds to his momentum, of course. And we have seen that too.

What would have been different if Sanders had run in the U.S. instead of Clinton? I think the main thing would have been that far more people – on all sides – would have believed he meant what he said. Which, indeed, I think would have been true. With Clinton, far fewer people thought she meant any of the progressive stuff, so much fewer that in certain states, she lost, and as a result she lost the overall electoral college election. Again, lots of variables were operating, but one, which was clearly visible I think, was many voters’ justified distrust of and even anger and hostility toward the coordinator class and its culture and dismissiveness. To have that be the lying emissary of progressive politics causes the latter to lose legitimacy by the association.

This has been occurring for a long time, especially in the US., but elsewhere too. Left ideas can reach into diverse communities, yet not as much into working class communities – and this analysis says one reason for that could be that class conscious anti coordinatorist working communities find the left off putting precisely and sadly, often accurately due to its coordinatorist dismissiveness toward working people.

 

Are the current structures of progressive organisations in line with the kind of values and goals we espouse? What does this say about the current structures that dominate progressive political organisations? How might we organise in a way that brings about the changes we say we want?

I think to be in line with our most worthy values our institutions would need to be feminist, anti racist, anti authoritarian, and anti classist, not just in words, but in their very definition and structure. This is both so they would lead toward our full goals, but also so they would appropriately respect and involve all potential allies in the present, not alienate and exclude or mistreat them.

We have tried very consciously and with considerable though not complete success yet to pursue racial and gender parts of that agenda, but we have been rather poor about the class parts of that agenda, most often not even trying. Too often our efforts still utilize internal divisions of labor and also decision making methods that are coordinatorist and that thus say to workers, this movement really isn’t about your liberation. It elevates others above you. It leads somewhere you don’t desire to go, and it treats you as subordinate along the way.

Without offering a book on the subject, it seems to me the answer to how to organize more successfully is to do so in ways that foreshadow and are consistent with attaining feminist, anti racist, self managing, and classless goals.

Let me add one last comment. Trump elected. People wonder why, what went wrong. People, including serious leftists, offer answers. Almost without exception the answers point to faults and failings of others then the person offering them.

Consider a serious activist who has been active for a decade or two or five. Which such activist says, well, our feminist work, our anti racist work, our peace work, our ecology work, or, most of all, our anti corporate, anti capitalist work, has not successfully reached far enough…we have not done our job well enough? Pointing at mainstream parties, at mainstream media, at segments of progressives other than ourselves as cause of the recent horrors, all has some logic, to be sure. But what about admitting that something about our radical approaches, our radical words, our radical styles, our radical organizations has prevented our affecting huge numbers of working people even enough so they wouldn’t support vile insanity, much less enough so they would be by now actively participating in and leading progressive and revolutionary agendas? And yet, if we want to win, aren’t our own choices where we need to look most closely for what we can change to do better?

26 Comments

    • Clive Ray December 18, 2016 4:30 pm 

      Yes. Familiar with Lakoff’s ideas of framing debates. But the Right has so totally framed the debate that the Left go around trying not to think of a ‘Clinton’ and she just keeps popping into their head. So much so that they actually want her for president. As if the Right would be losing if we foist Clinton on ourselves.

      If this ruse works then the US will truly be split in two: Clinton voters versus Trump voters plus non-voters. It will be ugly and there will be martial law.

  1. doroteo arango December 17, 2016 8:47 pm 

    Michael Albert says that…

    ‘The social cause of the class division between the empowered coordinator class and disempowered working class is hidden by an assumption of capacity for the former and lack of capacity for the latter…’

    Sure that is true, but isn’t that because we have a WORLD class society dominated by the capitalists who in turn have favored castes of people that they use to maintain their own control over society?

    I mention the WORLD class society because just because capitalism was overturned for a time in certain impoverished regional areas in the 20th century, most of human society remained dominated by world capitalism. And those anti-capitalist regimes that existed (and continue to exist in places like Cuba) were in opposition to world capitalism and remained subjected to a nonstop war against them.

    What happens in times of war then? Martial law and military mindsets tend to prevail, and this in fact is what Michael calls the ‘rule of an empowered coordinator class’. Others have called it the rule of a bureaucracy. I simply would call it the continued rule of capitalism worldwide over us.

    • avatar
      Mark Evans December 17, 2016 9:42 pm 

      Hi Doroteo,

      “I simply would call it the continued rule of capitalism worldwide over us.”

      What would you call it if there remained a class division, like the one described by Michael, but there were no private owners of the means of production?

      • doroteo arango December 17, 2016 10:02 pm 

        You posit a hypothetical situation that really has not ever existed wordwide, Mark. Stalin’s USSR combined with Mao’s China did not in anyway bring about ‘no private owners of the means of production’. Far from it!

        Both China and the USSR existed with a continual war by world capitalism against them, yet It seems like many anti-capitalists don’t seem to fully realize the implications of that, and instead they want to rush off and construct some grand battle against what they call ‘coordinators’. However a peaceful loving egalitarian society cannot be constructed in war zones. It’s silly to blame the miserable conditions that exist in these WAR situations on supposed ‘coordinators’ being a supposedly newly rising class of authoritarians.

        • avatar
          Mark Evans December 17, 2016 11:09 pm 

          My point is about reasoning not historical facts.

          You say “that is true” of Michael’s description of class division. My question to you is, what would you call a system that had such a class division but no capitalists?

          P.S. Can you please put me in touch with the “many anti-capitalists” who are keen”to rush off and construct some grand battle against what they call ‘coordinators’”.

          • doroteo arango December 17, 2016 11:54 pm 

            Can you ask Michael Albert for that info you want instead of from me, Mark? If you can see what I am getting at ///

            ‘Can you please put me in touch with the “many anti-capitalists” who are keen”to rush off and construct some grand battle against what they call ‘coordinators’”.’

            One of the biggest ironies of them all, is that the person who most wants to coordinate against ‘coordinators’ seems to be the very coordinator of this ZNet website himself! Kind of darkly funny if I might say…

            And seriously though, Mark, all societies will have leaders within them, and those that tend to be less so. That’s true of the animal world as well as the human one. Why make up a pejorative name for leaders by calling them ‘coordinators’? And even try to call them a separate social class? Why?

            I am not against ‘coordinators’/ aka leaders per se, but simply want them not to be bought and paid for money and want them not to be made into wage slave overseers by the capitalists.

            One of the most interesting aspects, too, of your rise of the …’coordinators’ are supposedly a separate class… theory, is that it parallels that of the theory that something called ‘state capitalism’ was created by the overthrow of the Czar. This was done so that many anticapitalists could then also call the enemies of their own national capitalist classes their own enemies, too. Very convenient in a way…. to collaborate with your own capitalist rulers against their supposed enemies abroad, one might say. You can then go on to think of Stalin as being supposedly a fascist just like Hitler as well.

            Che wanted all people to act differently than they tend to do so under the domination of world capitalism. It is not an easy task as sadly he found out the hard way. But perhaps you think of him as being merely a ‘coordinator’, Mark? Just curious about that? Of course many hold to the idea that Che’s associate, Fidel Castro, was also a supposed evil member of the ‘coordinator class’ as well, and a horrible dictator besides…. Is that what you might also think to be the case? I am curious about that?

            • avatar
              Mark Evans December 18, 2016 9:01 pm 

              I don’t understand your attitude, Doroteo.

              I asked you the question because it was in response to what you wrote and I am interested in what you think. But if, for whatever reason, you don’t want to answer then you, of course, do not have to reply.

              Your comment about “One of the biggest ironies of them all” is, I am afraid, completely lost on me. I don’t see what is ironic, dark or funny about that.

              As for your other comments, they seem to be based on a misunderstanding of Michael (and Robin Hahnel’s) argument. You seem to think that coordinators is a synonym for leaders – but it is not. Neither does being coordinator class automatically make a person “evil” anymore than being working class makes a person good. What is important is not what class a person is in but what they advocate and organise for.

              My concern about Leninism is not the individuals you highlight but the organisational form that they typically adopt – namely democratic centralism. It is the internal dynamic generated by this form of organisation that makes Leninism an ideology of the coordinator class.

              Anyway, if you are genuinely interested in understanding the issues raised in the interview then I would suggest you go back and do some more reading around the coordinator class.

              • doroteo arango December 19, 2016 1:20 am 

                I think that your answer here illustrates exactly what I have been saying in my replies to you which are pretty damn clear really.

                ‘It is the internal dynamic generated by this form of organisation that makes Leninism an ideology of the coordinator class.’ … you mistakenly assert.

                So, you and Albert go on to subscribe to a theory that helps you in your supreme anti-communist/ anti- marxist battle against ‘Leninism’. You nice folk have even invented a class that you then go on to claim that ‘Leninism’ leads! Voilà! The coordinator class must be stopped from gaining any future coordination! Leninism is the theory of the new coordinator class that wants to oppress us!, and this you scream out nonstop.

                However I don’t see your giant new class as even existing in the least. What I do see is that a particular form of militant marxist organizational theory, created in wartime conditions in WW1 Russia, is simply something you despise from your relatively safe settings now here inside today’s current US government headed up, Western imperialist hegemony.

                You and Albert are on a grand crusade against a particularly maladapted organizational strategy of the past, when it is used in our modern day situation inside places like the US, Britain, France, and Germany, Today it is still used only by some rather minute number of really thickheaded and short sighted marxists in totally fossilized form, that supposedly (in their own heads) always works and is written into stone as some sort of organizational scripture, as to what must be always done to ever win against the capitalist class. Like in capitalist militaries, their ‘Leninism’ is a top down authoritarian model of how to defend marxists from repression against them.

                You are aghast that such militant top down structure might even ever be thought necessary though. However in many war time situations it actually is. That’s exactly why in places like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan et al, talk of an imaginary new class of so-called ‘coordinators’ really is never ever heard. Too much discussion can quickly lead to having you and your family members’ heads cut right off.

                So it is utterly appalling to you that anticapitalist radicals might ever coordinate. To do so is to merely be leading a new and horrible class that makes the capitalist class out to almost be protectors for us all from these evil and deadly coordinators. Death to Leninism!, you do scream.

                This theory of the coordinator class really is as absurd as I have framed it out to be. Class struggle anarchism of the past is now simply turned into an academic led sort of Left Social Democracy discussion club, and hence we get people like Albert and Chomsky now urging us to vote ‘the lesser of 2 evils’ here inside the USAl How very Social Democratic of them.

                The theory of the supposed dangerous coordinator class is as limp and fantastical of all reality as is Right Winger Ayn Rand Thought, which is simply always battling for an imaginary capitalism that is only ever actually visualized inside their own rather empty heads.

                We need good coordinators in our struggles against capitalism. Without good leadership we will win nothing, in fact. Leaders of our movements for change from capitalist world domination do not make up a separate social, economic, or even political class. They simply are people that coordinate.

                • avatar
                  Mark Evans December 19, 2016 5:33 pm 

                  I still think you are misunderstanding the coordinator class argument, Doroteo. But even if you did understand the argument but still found it “absurd”, “limp” and “fantastical” that would be okay with me as, for all kinds of reasons, I do not expect everyone to agree with it. There is, therefore, no need for all the attitude – we can just agree to disagree.

                  That said, I do think that you really ought to be able to directly answer simple questions – like the one that I put to you. For me, your dancing around only raises suspicions that you are more interested in promoting ideology than seeking truth.

                  I also think that your counter argument needs to be logically consistent – and I assume that you agree. However, earlier you said “Sure that is true” of Michael’s account of “The social cause of the class division between the empowered coordinator class and disempowered working class…” And yet, in your last comment, you said that we have just “invented a class”. Clearly, the analysis cannot be true and invented at the same time.

                  • doroteo arango December 20, 2016 12:44 am 

                    Mark, in my opinion there will always be differences between people in abilities and desires, even if opportunities ever were to be made more equal between us all. Some will want mainly to do more complex tasks while others will not, as was true even way before humanity became divided into separate economic classes. But why make those doing more complex tasks are ‘more empowered’ work out to be a separate class? That would entirely change the meaning of what economic class actually means.

                    Did Marx ever call slave overseers that the slave owner class used to control the chattel slave class a separate economic class in their own right? No he did not, because they were merely employees of the property owners, as so as are all the so-called ‘coordinators’ who are still today employees under the thumb of the capitalists, not rulers over much anything.

                    If one country manages to temporarily overthrow capitalism inside their NATIONAL territory, that does not mean that ‘coordinators’ are now converted into a new property owning class of some sort. ‘Doctors, lawyers, engineers, high level managers, and so on’, as Michael mentions as being more empowered ( ie ‘coordinators’) than mere wage slave grunts at the gadget factory, do not suddenly become a new ruling class.

                    Mark, you have accused me of…
                    ‘For me, your dancing around (Doroteo) only raises suspicions that you are more interested in promoting ideology than seeking truth.’

                    I am not dancing around here but being absolutely clear. You asked me originally…

                    ‘What would you call it if there remained a class division, like the one described by Michael, but there were no private owners of the means of production?’

                    So to be perfectly clear, Workers will always be divided into different groups, some with more empowering positions than others. Some with more complex work than others have. Workers will not ever be uniformly the same doing uniformly the same things. These divisions are not ‘class divisions’ though. They are task/ work divisions, which is something completely different from a ‘class division’.

                    You go on to say also…
                    ‘There is, therefore, no need for all the attitude – we can just agree to disagree.’

                    True, and my contrarian attitude was not so much against you are Michael holding a different idea or other than my own regarding how we might see or understand divisions in current class society, but in how the …State Capitalists and/ or Coordinators are a separate class… theories seems to so steadily slide into a sort of Left Social Democratic position as well. That I have a big problem with. Marxists are not mere theorists FOR a supposed ‘coordinator’ class that doesn’t even exist. To say such makes you sound like the Right Wingers that claim to be for Liberty and such, as they create wars, death squads, and chaos and destruction worldwide.

                    • avatar
                      Mark Evans December 20, 2016 11:31 am 

                      You are, of course, entitled to your opinion Doroteo but your “more complex” argument has nothing to do with the coordinator class. After all, complexity does not necessarily correlate with empowerment. Neither does your point about “differences between people in abilities and desires”. That is actually an old argument against the ideal of equality that has been addressed numerous times – perhaps best by Tawney in 1931 and Chomsky in 1976.

                      You finish your first paragraph by saying, ” That would entirely change the meaning of what economic class actually means.” And begin the next with, “Did Marx ever…” I do not understand why you think this is a good argument to make here. It sounds much more like a religious (faith based) assertion than anything else.

                      You then go on to say, “If one country manages to temporarily overthrow capitalism inside their NATIONAL territory, that does not mean that ‘coordinators’ are now converted into a new property owning class of some sort.” This is a good example of your misunderstanding of the coordinator class argument. You see, the source of economic power for the coordinator class is not property ownership but rather the monopolisation of empowering tasks (a feature that is also instituted in the democratic centralist party / state).

                      I still do not think that you have directly answered my simple question. Rather, you have misconstrued it based on your faulty assumptions about the coordinator class argument and then presented what you think is an “absolutely clear” reply.

                      As for your final paragraph, I do not understand it at all. However, I do think that there are some interesting overlaps between libertarian left and libertarian right wing critiques of Marxism-leninism. Perhaps that is what you are thinking of. If so I would want to point out the important fact that, despite this commonality – which I do not see as problematic, these two groups obviously advocate for very different kinds of social organisation.

  2. Elizabeth Marxsen December 17, 2016 8:25 pm 

    Also, some people are lazier than others and its easier to let someone else lead than to do so oneself. How is this to be addressed? Either by laziness or by habit lots of people choose to follow rather than to lead. Its not even a matter of leading, sometimes people would rather let others do their thinking for them than think for themselves. It spills into the workplace and its one of my greatest frustrations at work – watching people blindly accept authority and the status quo.

  3. Elizabeth Marxsen December 17, 2016 7:28 pm 

    Based on nothing but experience and intuition and absolutely no scientific evidence, I feel that people naturally tend to prefer to actively manage themselves. I think our society and its institutions foster authoritarianism and blind obedience. But how do you change adults people who have been raised to defer to authority and not question.

  4. Rick Goodman December 17, 2016 6:15 pm 

    While I remain depressed, this article is helpful. I am trying to examine myself, and what I thought was helpful, useful, and progressive. I am glad for Znet and Z Magazine.

  5. avatar
    Paul D December 17, 2016 4:49 pm 

    Clive,

    You seem to envision the workings of government as the work of one single person. Much more importantly are the quite skilled individuals he is filling his cabinet with. So a few corrections are on order:

    Trump will not engage in military withdrawal, he promised to greatly build up the military months before the election. He targets will largely be the same – with the exception of Russia, where he will joining Putin is committing even greater atrocities around the globe.

    Trump is installing a cabinet heads of, by and for the extractive fossil fuel industry. He will be very good for their industry.

    Trade deals have typically had many vile provision that have little to do with trade and must be resisted. But the impact of trade deals on the working class has been wildly exaggerated. The steel mills and mines that supported them in my region were closed and their operations moved overseas 10 years before NAFTA. The biggest factor in the loss of fortunes of the US worker is the complete crushing of organized labor unions in – and this has nothing to do with trade deals, or Canada would not still have a 35-40% unionization rate – unchanged from the 1970s – compared to the US, where it declined to 6% today.

    Trump will not incite social revolution, there are zero examples of this happening, except possibly of a decades-long time scale. On the short-to medium term, Trump is going to wildly popular – dollar-a-gallon gasoline, and great amounts of pride and swagger. Everybody will have the same low wages and long hours – but nobody will notice that anymore. France, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere, the galvanizing a working class behind a demagogue has this as worked every time through history. The left has never found a successful strategy to fight it.

    • avatar
      Paul D December 17, 2016 4:55 pm 

      And furthermore, Znet never “supported” Hillary Clinton, they supported the strategic voting for Clinton in key states in order to prevent a Trump victory – and their view that Trumps election must be prevented at all costs was backed by lots of historical examples.

      Maybe this is hard for you to understand, but a vote is a vote – it does not necessarily imply “support” (i.e. an oath of allegiance) to anyone – it is something one does to produce a result.

      • Clive Ray December 17, 2016 5:18 pm 

        Paul

        But this strategy was to ensure a Clinton victory over Trump (even at the expense of trashing the perceived support of third parties). This was de facto support for Clinton.

    • Clive Ray December 17, 2016 5:44 pm 

      Paul

      Of course Trump will not engage in military withdrawal. He will do pretty much everything Clinton would have done. But the media would have covered for her – they’ll find it very difficult to cover for him and his administration.

      The best news to my mind is that Trump’s win was the media’s loss. Just as with Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit and the Italian referendum, the establishment media failed to sufficiently manage public perception.

  6. Clive Ray December 17, 2016 2:08 pm 

    There is clearly a lot of sense to what Michael says in this article which – I would have thought – has always been fairly obvious to the majority 79%.

    And, yes, Sanders’ claim to be on the side of the 79% was credible; and Clinton could not mask her support for the 21% – try as she would; and Trum’s claim to stand for the 79% is – at best – dubious. But given that the choice offered to the electorate was between Trump and Clinton, Trump was by far the better option for the 79% for the following reason.

    A Clinton presidency of policies designed to benefit the 1% at little cost to the 20% would have been totally consistent with her campaign position, so it would have meant another four years of business as usual: saying one thing and doing the opposite on climate change, immigration, social welfare and military intervention. (Let’s assume that her obsession with little red buttons didn’t get the better of her.)

    A Trump presidency not involving military withdrawal and trade agreement withdrawal would not be consistent with his campaign position. And Trump, unlike Clinton and Obama, is not a consummate liar – he is an inept liar. Trump is basically a loose cannon more likely to do even his fossil fuel-industry allies’ interests more harm than good.

    Fortunately, enough of the 79% saw this to deny Clinton the presidency that the 21% were convinced they could foist upon the rest of the world.

    All this seems clear to me. What is still not clear is why Znet supported Hillary Clinton. Trump will incite social revolution; Clinton would have continued to forestall it.

    • Z3k3@ndZ@mi December 18, 2016 4:54 pm 

      Hello Clive,

      I assume when you say ZNet supported Hilary Clinton you don’t mean we liked her – of course, since you know that that is utterly ridiculous – but merely that we wanted her to win over Trump, which is in fact quite true. You, in contrast, seemingly wanted Trump to win, thinking that Trump’s winning would as you say “incite social revolution.” I only wish you were even remotely correct about that prediction. Obviously if Trump winning over Clinton was a faster path toward fundamental social change, and wouldn’t involve mammoth offsetting costs, as you believe, your desire for him to win would be sensible. Trouble is – it is incredible to me that you would have believed that at any time earlier, much less that you still believe it. And yet I know you are not alone. Having taken that stance earlier, or other ones like Clinton is worse however bad Trump is, or who cares, or just build the Greens everywhere (even at the cost of the entire Green program), and so on, at least some people now are doubling down on their earlier stances instead of having misgivings about them, or, more aptly, feeling horrified that they fell into such perspectives.

      If you said, Trump being elected would engender more dissent, quickly, I would agree.

      But about that, what if, as is sadly highly likely – lots of that dissent, maybe most of it, will be about preventing disasters (quite sensibly) and getting back to a more sane situation under – wait for it – Democrats? Then as argued by some, and ignored by so many, Trump’s victory is not going to be a faster route to major change, but a hiatus, hopefully not too long, during which there is major added hardship and losses, before we get back to roughly where we would have been if Clinton had won.

      Suppose we callously ignore the gigantic and perhaps even world crushing and certainly devastating for diverse constituencies harm that Trump will do. Apparently, sadly, a lot of people think ignoring all that or dismissing it as trivial, or something, is a perfectly sensible and morally sound way to approach social relations – and even a perfectly sensible way, for that matter, to gain support among precisely the suffering constituencies, another befuddling fact about current views. But anyway, even if we did set all that aside, inhumanely and strategically ignorantly too, there would still remain an immense irony. Which is that under Trump, whatever dissent and resistance and organizing there is will ultimately be about opposing Trump. The main leadership and the implicit and very often explicit direction will be toward well, clinton like, obama like, at best sanders like policy – unless people of the left against all the odds find ways to imbue the anti Trump energy with pro liberation desires, which, I should add, would have been the agenda of everyone progressive, had Clinton won. I will of course try to do that. Indeed the We Stand statement now promoted all over Z is an example. But look around across alternative media at the discussion, the focus, the content and see if you don’t see what I see, Trump Trump Trump – but little about anything beyond Trump, and beyond Clinton and even beyond Sanders. Irony of ironies, it is the lesser evil advocates, mainly, I suspect, who are trying to generate a forward looking impetus…

  7. Elizabeth Marxsen December 17, 2016 1:47 pm 

    Its been my experience at work that some people seem to prefer a passive rather than a coordinator role. Its frustrating to observe. Do you think this is something that is nurture or nature? If learned, do you think it can be undone? Whether inborn or learned should it be discouraged?

    • avatar
      Mark Evans December 17, 2016 9:16 pm 

      Hi Elizabeth,

      My experience at work is the same as yours. In fact, I myself often under perform at work. Why do I and others do this?

      One answer, as you say, is that we are naturally more passive than the higher performers. The other answer, as you also point out, is that it has to do with socialisation. So institutions not genes.

      As far as I know, nobody knows which answer is right. That said, we do know from history that institutions are very powerful and therefore do suggest a position on this issue. Also, consider what happens if we assume that this passivity is part and parcel of the make-up of say 80% of the population. What happens then?

      • Elizabeth Marxsen December 18, 2016 1:11 pm 

        I think the “nurture” side has to be eliminated as a factor first. Until our schools and corporations stop encouraging blind obedience to authority we’ll not be able to isolate a “nature” factor. Failure to ask questions is at the root of ALOT of the evil we see going down.

        • Elizabeth Marxsen December 18, 2016 1:14 pm 

          I hesitate to even foster blind obedience in my dog and that’s why she’s….wait for it …. chewing my shoe as we speak. Later!

          • avatar
            Mark Evans December 18, 2016 8:22 pm 

            I think we basically agree Elizabeth – that is unless your foot is in the shoe, in which case you really should let your dog know who us boss!

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