The New Old Left

The hardest thing to grasp about History is the pace of change.  The academic guild, it goes without saying, doesn’t bother trying, which is why questions like “Why was there no viable Socialist movement in America?” are still on the minds of so many professors (yes, there is an entire discipline called “Labor History” and yes, it is as excruciating as it sounds). To the layman, it’s obvious — Europeans were ok with being “the Proletariat” because of their millennium-long experience being “the Peasantry” — but as History professors have never met anyone outside the 1%….

Technology, though, has managed to proletarianize America fast enough to give Karl Marx a woody down in Hell.  Our proles may not seem beaten down and oppressed — as you may have noticed, their self-esteem is excellent — but look at the way financial companies can unperson you for your politics.  Hell, Netflix, Disney, et al are trying to unperson the entire state of Georgia for passing that abortion bill.  When corporations can effectively boycott their own consumers, Global Finance Capitalism is truly triumphant.

Which is why folks in Our Thing should give Onkel Karl’s scribblings another look.  Marxism is the world’s most successful just-so story.  Not least because it rings so true to life — Global Finance Capital really does control every aspect of your existence.  We’ve replaced the noblesse d’épée with the noblesse d’blue checkmark, but the Twitterati have more power than a medieval monarch could dream of.  When some blue-haired, nose-ringed persyn who can’t even figure out what pronoun to call xzhyrself today can ruin your life on a whim because xzhey stumbled across your Facebook page, the phrase Fiat justitia ruat caelum — roughly translated, “burn this entire motherfucker down!” — becomes wonderfully current.

The problem with Marxism — besides contingent falsity, of course — is that it doesn’t account for differences in culture.  Marxist “culture” (the wonderfully named proletkult, which describes every single thing you see and hear these days) is a slurry of several kinds of lowest common denominator.  We’d have to find a way to modify Marx’s teachings to accommodate social and cultural factors… a kind of national Marxism, if you will… but I’m sure someone somewhere has thought of all that.

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