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Old 03-04-2019, 02:41 PM   #1
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Socialism!

we're all taking about it, it's going to be thrown around so long as Sanders and AOC are breathing, and it's going to take center stage in the 2020 campaign. this intensely entertaining, observant article digs deep into Brooklyn to find the Tecate-loving heart of America's growing socialist ranks.



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Until very recently, it wasn’t that socialism was toxic in a red-scare way. It was irrelevant, in a dustbin-of-history way. But then came Bernie Sanders’s 2016 candidacy, then the membership boom of DSA, then the proliferation of socialist cultural products like Chapo, and then, finally, the spectacular rise of Ocasio-Cortez.

The politics of the socialism that they helped revive isn’t always clear. Stripped of its Soviet context and cynically repurposed by conservative partisans, the word had lost its meaning by the time it got hot again. For some DSA grandees, like NYC chapter co-chair Bianca Cunningham, socialism means a planned economy that replaces market capitalism. “It means we own the means of production. It means we get to run our workplaces and our own government,” she says. But that is unusual. For Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, and most of their devotees, it’s closer to a robust version of New Deal liberalism — or, perhaps, Northern European social democracy.

Still, among New York’s creative underclass — cash poor but culturally potent — it feels like everything but socialism is now irrelevant. “I’ve noticed that there’s a kind of baseline assumption in the room that everyone is a socialist,” says Brostoff. “And if they’re not, it’s because they’re an anarchist.” Coolheaded Obaman technocracy is out; strident left-wing moral clarity is in. And while this atmospheric shift is felt most acutely among the left-literary crowd, it’s also bled into the general discourse, such that Teen Vogue is constantly flacking against capitalism and one of the most devastating insults in certain corners of the internet is to call someone a neoliberal.

The word socialism has become a kind of blank canvas on which young leftists project their political desires. The reason to call it socialism, the lefty journalist Kate Aronoff has said, is because people are calling it socialism. At least in Brooklyn, and the spiritual Brooklyns of America, calling yourself a socialist sounds sexier than anything else out there, without necessarily advocating anything too risky.

[...]

Many socialists distance themselves from Chapo, which for many embodies Bernie-bro machismo. But its zero-sum politics and caustic nihilism — the exact inverse of the Establishment-liberal Pod Save America—have set the tone for socialist discourse, especially in contrast to the pieties of the identity-politics left, the righteousness of the #resistance, or the smug wonkishness of Vox. As a result, its enemy isn’t so much Trumpism as the gauzy liberal triumphalism — like the Broadway musical Hamilton — that papers over the indignities of American life. Anyone who feels otherwise is clinging to an outmoded West Wing fantasy of American politics.

In this way, socialism is as much a repudiation of crash-era capitalism as it is of postrecession liberalism. The Democratic Party, which gave us the New Deal, had long ago lost its working-class soul. Democrats promoted valuable causes — gun control, combating climate change — but rarely challenged the economic elite. As n+1 editor Nikil Saval wrote, liberalism had become a “politics in which government cravenly submits to corporate power and cultural debates distract from material needs.” He cited examples: “The chief executive of Patagonia being hailed as a leader of ‘corporate resistance to Trump’ or Chelsea Clinton’s accusing Steve Bannon of ‘fat shaming’ Sean Spicer.”

The race to the left was stoked by an attitudinal shift in the young, mainstream press. Before it was sued out of existence by a revanchist libertarian billionaire, Gawker Media embodied the arch, ironic sensibility of New York’s online-media ecosystem. Now its alumni earnestly proselytize labor unions. (“Peace to the Denver teachers on strike today. America is with you,” tweeted Gawker alum Hamilton Nolan recently.) Across the industry, editorial staffs of a number of publications, including this one, have unionized.

Meanwhile, the magazine Jacobin — named for the insurgents who led France’s murderous Reign of Terror during the Revolution — has only grown in influence since its 2010 founding, popularizing socialism for a wider audience (“Are Workers the ‘Gravediggers’ of Capitalism?”; “Eight Marxist Claims That May Surprise You”) and elevating a new generation of leftist voices. But Twitter — a medium that structurally encourages moral grandstanding, savage infighting, and collective action — is where young socialism lives.


as someone who always understood himself as liberal, as progressive, even a part of the left-literary crowd , these people are strange to me and i find them very unappealing. i worry about their potential influence in 2020.
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Old 03-04-2019, 07:02 PM   #2
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I can't say I would necessarily love some of the folks depicted in the article, but the increased awareness of socialism (even if it's in a bit of a beaten down form, looking towards Scandinavia today is not the same as looking at it as it was in the 70s) is most certainly a good thing - especially if many these days are more or less immune to redbaiting.
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Old 03-05-2019, 02:10 PM   #3
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"Caustic nihilism" is such a bizarre descriptor that betrays a total misunderstanding of what we are actually after (we meaning those on the left; I am not a member of the DSA). I find the attitude that the system is something we cannot change and that can only be tweaked here and there, that there is always going to be a baseline of homelessness and poverty and people dying from unaffordable medical costs, that there is always going to be the necessity for foreign war to maintain American empire ... that feels way more nihilistic than a group of people who wholeheartedly believe we have enough resources to save everyone.

And I'm curious about your highlighting of the quote from Saval, because that to me seems a very apt description of the current state of the Democratic Party. I've seen it framed as this elsewhere: they'd rather focus on increasing the percentage of women on the board of directors than helping the much larger number of women with unstable jobs and crippling healthcare costs. And that's not 100 percent true in every case, to be sure, but it definitely rings true in how many chose to frame both their priorities and their measure of results.
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Old 03-05-2019, 02:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
as someone who always understood himself as liberal, as progressive, even a part of the left-literary crowd , these people are strange to me and i find them very unappealing. i worry about their potential influence in 2020.
donald trump and the GOP would like to thank you for doing exactly what they were hoping you'd do.
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Jerry Dunk View Post
And I'm curious about your highlighting of the quote from Saval, because that to me seems a very apt description of the current state of the Democratic Party. I've seen it framed as this elsewhere: they'd rather focus on increasing the percentage of women on the board of directors than helping the much larger number of women with unstable jobs and crippling healthcare costs. And that's not 100 percent true in every case, to be sure, but it definitely rings true in how many chose to frame both their priorities and their measure of results.
This is a true point but really has little to do with the Democratic party. It's mostly driven by the fact that politically active feminists are by and large white, educated, professional and mostly well-off women. For this cohort, which for better or worse I'm extremely familiar with, issues like Board and executive gender quotas, diversity and inclusion initiatives at the corporate level are driving factors and there is almost always a failure to understand that most women are struggling to raise kids, find decent work, pay their mortgages and so on. To them, whether you have 20% or 40% of women on a board of directors is as helpful and useful as reading Tolstoy.
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:21 PM   #6
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This is a true point but really has little to do with the Democratic party. It's mostly driven by the fact that politically active feminists are by and large white, educated, professional and mostly well-off women. For this cohort, which for better or worse I'm extremely familiar with, issues like Board and executive gender quotas, diversity and inclusion initiatives at the corporate level are driving factors and there is almost always a failure to understand that most women are struggling to raise kids, find decent work, pay their mortgages and so on. To them, whether you have 20% or 40% of women on a board of directors is as helpful and useful as reading Tolstoy.
I think the "mostly well-off" is the most important thing, and a primary driver of the former three items. And certainly that is not limited to women. The overall point, which you and I seem aligned on, being that the are insulated from the real concerns. Policy discussions are had with corporate donors, lobbyists, and think tank wonks. These are not people who are dealing with these issues on a day-to-day basis.

Ocasio-Cortez has done a very good job of weaponizing this point, in ways that people probably did not even think about it. She has time and again noted that, by not having to court donations from corporate donors, she does not have to waste time taking meetings with them, which allows her to spend way more time meeting with constituents. Most politicians do not have the time because it is spent fundraising, or shaping policy with those who have the funds.
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:54 PM   #7
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It's obvious 2020 is going to be about the evils of "SOCIALISM" and the "tyranny" of the Green New Deal. What's absolutely infuriating, is most Americans are in favor of many of the policies brought forth by the left wing including the DSA. It's just that socialism as a word has so much stigma behind it, some people (mostly boomers and older Gen X) immediately freak out. Those of us with no real memory of the Cold War don't have that baggage. I'm a young Gen Xer and my only memory of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall coming down.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:18 PM   #8
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donald trump and the GOP would like to thank you for doing exactly what they were hoping you'd do.


i'm happy to work with these folks. my sense is that they find a mere liberal such as myself part of the problem.

what Trump and his thugs want is a repeat of 2016, with a fractured left that results in their winning the presidency as they did in 1980, 2000, and 2016.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:32 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by trojanchick99 View Post
It's obvious 2020 is going to be about the evils of "SOCIALISM" and the "tyranny" of the Green New Deal. What's absolutely infuriating, is most Americans are in favor of many of the policies brought forth by the left wing including the DSA. It's just that socialism as a word has so much stigma behind it, some people (mostly boomers and older Gen X) immediately freak out. Those of us with no real memory of the Cold War don't have that baggage. I'm a young Gen Xer and my only memory of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall coming down.
A quote today yesterday from Brad DeLong, a Clinton alum:
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“Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy,” DeLong notes. “And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No, they fucking did not.”
The right will call everything Democrats do socialism, and find a way to whip up the frenzy to get their people out to vote, regardless of how much the Democrats cater to the right and center. The number of voters on the Republican side is pretty constant. The variable is the Democratic candidate and how many people they get to the polls.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:33 PM   #10
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And I'm curious about your highlighting of the quote from Saval, because that to me seems a very apt description of the current state of the Democratic Party.

i highlighted it because it seemed important to the article, was not intended as either praise or criticism.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:38 PM   #11
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i'm happy to work with these folks. my sense is that they find a mere liberal such as myself part of the problem.

what Trump and his thugs want is a repeat of 2016, with a fractured left that results in their winning the presidency as they did in 1980, 2000, and 2016.
I do find liberals do be a big part of the problem, and your "happy to work with these folks" message rings hollow on the heels of "I worry about their influence."

I am not happy to work with liberals who are dismissive of the left. I'll vote for them when I have to, just as I did when I voted for Clinton in 2016, but the policies they support and their inability/unwillingness to reckon with the significant role they played in getting us to where we are make discussing politics with liberals a nightmare anymore.

The Democrat lost in 1980, 2000, and 2016 for a number of reasons, but number one in each case was that they ran a candidate who people did not want to vote for because they did not stand for things people thought would help them. Jimmy Carter ushered in modern liberal economic policies (I mean that pejoratively), Al Gore was completely uninspiring and showed what happens to Bill Clinton's platform when his overstated charisma is taken out of the equation, and Hillary Clinton insisted against all odds that the previous eight years had been a wild success everyone should be happy with and vote for more of.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:39 PM   #12
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i highlighted it because it seemed important to the article, was not intended as either praise or criticism.
Thanks for clarifying! I think it's an interesting comment, and I was unsure of the intention so I thought it best to ask.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:42 PM   #13
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The right will call everything Democrats do socialism, and find a way to whip up the frenzy to get their people out to vote, regardless of how much the Democrats cater to the right and center. The number of voters on the Republican side is pretty constant. The variable is the Democratic candidate and how many people they get to the polls.



Democrats need to do the following:

1. get black voters to the polls in PA, MI, WI, and OH; latino voters to the polls in NV and AZ
2. win the winnable center, like they did in 2018 by focusing on health care
3. run a candidate who tells a compelling and hopeful story -- Trump is about doom and fear, the candidate must be the opposite of that; s/he who tell the best story wins ("American carnage" somehow became more compelling than "stronger together")

2018 is how you win. they beat the GOP by +9 points. it was a crushing defeat for Trump and the GOP. that's the playbook -- Trump isn't GWB, he makes many, many Americans in the center and even the center-right deeply uncomfortable. this is the group that may want lower taxes, but they find Trump deplorable (think ATL suburbs).

i agree that the reddest states are lost, and i actually spend a decent amount of time deep in Trump country every year. this is the group for whom abortion and guns and now health care and taxes are cultural issues tied to their growing understanding of white identity.

the kids in Brooklyn -- who i drink with on the weekends -- aren't going to do any of this. and if they show up again with tape over their mouths sobbing and protesting at the convention in 2020, then they can move to Venezuela.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:49 PM   #14
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I do find liberals do be a big part of the problem, and your "happy to work with these folks" message rings hollow on the heels of "I worry about their influence."

I am not happy to work with liberals who are dismissive of the left. I'll vote for them when I have to, just as I did when I voted for Clinton in 2016, but the policies they support and their inability/unwillingness to reckon with the significant role they played in getting us to where we are make discussing politics with liberals a nightmare anymore.

The Democrat lost in 1980, 2000, and 2016 for a number of reasons, but number one in each case was that they ran a candidate who people did not want to vote for because they did not stand for things people thought would help them. Jimmy Carter ushered in modern liberal economic policies (I mean that pejoratively), Al Gore was completely uninspiring and showed what happens to Bill Clinton's platform when his overstated charisma is taken out of the equation, and Hillary Clinton insisted against all odds that the previous eight years had been a wild success everyone should be happy with and vote for more of.

and this is an easy story to tell when you have no evidence of anything. tell me how well Left (not liberal) candidates have done in Democratic primaries, let alone a general election. and tell me again how the 19990s and the Obama years were miserable failures in which nothing good happened. there's a lack of understanding, to me, of exactly what kind of country this is, how vast it is, how culturally distinct it is, and how change that comes incrementally is change that lasts -- like the ACA. that's how the Democrats won in 2018.

the razor-think margins of victory in 2000 and 2016 by the GOP demonstrates that the Democrats lose when they don't have an impossibly charismatic candidate and succumb to their narcissism of small differences.

as for "where we are" ... by many, many measures (in fact, most measures), the world is a better place than it was in 1980. of course liberal economic policies aren't perfect. of course we have vast problems. of course we are feeling the effects of those left behind by globalism and it must be addressed. but i find the sweeping statements of MISERABLE FAILURE to be about as compelling as when it's presented by the Right, which is to say not at all.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:02 PM   #15
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You see, I thought this was all relatively reasonable most of the way through. I was going to comment that this formula probably eeks out a win in 2020, even if it does not take the Senate, and that my concern would be longer term and about the viability of building a coalition with more half-measures that will be looked at as the only logical result of Democrats in charge. And then I got here:
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the kids in Brooklyn -- who i drink with on the weekends -- aren't going to do any of this. and if they show up again with tape over their mouths sobbing and protesting at the convention in 2020, then they can move to Venezuela.
And then, it's just like, what am I supposed to do with this? This is the dismissive attitude I'm talking about. Looking at people who are trying to organize, trying to fight against a political reality that is increasingly brutal to everyone below a certain level of earning, criticizing American foreign policy ... and saying they're crybaby sore losers too naive to understand the world. It doesn't personally offend me, in the sense that I feel attacked or I'm angry with you. Rather, it makes me feel defeated that we have any hope of working together. And it's not me who is the problem here, it's you.
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