Thomas B. Edsall diagnoses ‘declining social status’ as the pressing American Problem. Political Skeptic contemplates the question.

Mr. Edsall writes a nearly 3,ooo word essay, that finds ‘declining social status’ as ‘the’ explanation for the present political crisis. Exacerbated by the ‘Populists’ of both the ‘Radical Right’ and ‘Left’: the ‘as if ‘ here is that somehow the ‘Centrists’ have an answer, to the Political Apostacy of those two extremes. While pretending that that ‘Center’ isn’t what it is, an alliance between the New Democrats/Neo-Liberals and the Neo-Cons, with the Respectable Republicans, in disguise as the once Blue Dog Democrats. Some brief illustrative quotation from this ‘Centrist Agitprop’:

Scholars are now rectifying that omission, with the recognition that in politics, status competition has become increasingly salient, prompting a collection of emotions including envy, jealousy and resentment that have spurred ever more intractable conflicts between left and right, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.
Hierarchal ranking, the status classification of different groups — the well-educated and the less-well educated, white people and Black people, the straight and L.G.B.T.Q. communities — has the effect of consolidating and seeming to legitimize existing inequalities in resources and power. Diminished status has become a source of rage on both the left and right, sharpened by divisions over economic security and insecurity, geography and, ultimately, values.



Gidron and Hall continue:

The populist rhetoric of politicians on both the radical right and left is often aimed directly at status concerns. They frequently adopt the plain-spoken language of the common man, self-consciously repudiating the politically correct or technocratic language of the political elites. Radical politicians on the left evoke the virtues of working people, whereas those on the right emphasize themes of national greatness, which have special appeal for people who rely on claims to national membership for a social status they otherwise lack. The “take back control” and “make America great again” slogans of the Brexit and Trump campaigns were perfectly pitched for such purposes.

Mr. Edsall has assembled a coterie of Academic Experts, that might put a Cecile B. DeMille Biblical Epic to shame, in all its cinematic hyperbole. His attempt at completeness, as the-in-order-too of silencing potential critics.

But for all the various quotations from these Experts, Mr. Edsall’s polemic fails utterly to address the vexing question of Neo-Liberalism, and it’s forty year dominance, in the economic/political life of America and Europe. And its toxic effects, on populations afflicted with the failures of this Utopianism-that might just be the cause of this anxiety about a ‘declining social status’. Not to speak of low wages and jobs lost to this failed economic/political ideology.

Mr. Edsall doesn’t even consider the possibility of such. Occupy Wall Street was representative of not just disenchantment with Neo-Liberalism. but a full scale rebellion, crushed by Bloomberg and Obama. And the publication of Piketty’s book “Capital” were the political events that were the aftermath of the Market Crash of 2008. Read the reception of Piketty’s book in The Economist, the short review . And the opportunism of Obama and his ‘lets put this behind us’ and the Neo-Liberal garbage of Simpson-Bowles!

Mr. Edsall his essay with this political kitsch:

These forces in their totality suggest that Joe Biden faces the toughest challenge of his career in attempting to fulfill his pledge to the electorate: “We can restore the defining American promise, that no matter where you start in life, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. And, in doing so, we can restore the soul of our nation.”

Trump has capitalized on the failures of this American promise. Now we have to hope that Biden can deliver.

Political Skeptic

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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