unions once so strong and the backbone of the Left, were corrupted and gradually lost their power. the 'working' blue collar middle class who put their kids through college, owned their own homes, and had a livable pension and social security, and full faith still in capitalism's unwritten social contract: give us your peak working years, and we will keep you comfortable enough.
against this backdrop of (fossil foolish) growth to the power of n, relative affluence swiftly upswinging, shoes on rural childrens' feet, that the american dream was consolidated, and capitalism seen as the gift from god almighty to those lucky enough to be born child to still-ascendent empire. revolution was not in the air... (except in the countries providing resources for the consumercopia at marines gunpoint, safely off the front page).
against this backdrop, the hoary canons of the Left, with its dignified and heroic evocations of class struggle (and the easy to understand, even by the illiterate, axioms of its ideology, ie rich bad, worker good, and the proletariat will overcome evil exploiters in top hats etc) just did not resonate with these children and grandchildren of hardscrabble depression era farmers, teachers, factory workers and church/community organisers that provided the phalanxes of real people power that gave heft to what the Left stood for*. (strikes, strikes and more strikes!) just kidding! most of them had a tv and a fridge and didn't see round the ecological corner, so whay not drink the koolaide with everyone else and praise gawd and pass the remote.
*as seen still sometimes in France, for example.
during the 50's, 60's and 70's 'agitators' were persecuted in america, fbi listed, infiltrated and plain stomped by national guards and pinkerton types. the south's social repression gave way to slightly more racial equality, same drinking fountains, so those of the old Left mostly faded away into academia, where they could enjoy the free speech that their vaunted socialist paradises like cuba and eastern yurp disallowed. the left's work was mostly done, it appeared, there were hard-won labour laws, corporations had some regulation, the courts and jury system were the envy of many other countries.
kids became better educated, more media abounded, foreign reporting, tv, all contributed to baby boomers (and beyond) becoming less parochial, more multikulti-urbanised, better travelled.
no matter how idealistic their parents may have been in the 50's, they saw with their own eyes that capitalism was cooler than the alternatives, the russians traded months of wages for a pair of levis, or a bootlegged cassette of the beatles, while jazz musicians in prague risked incarceration, travelling across the city at night to secret gigs and jam sessions.
seedy. shabby. inefficient. grimy. dull. ineffectual. uncompetitive. drab. kafkan.
this was the multifail narrative the Old Left had to respin as positive socialism for the future or some similar slogan.
the wars mixed up the social classes in the armed forces, and people started to see through the limitations of previous generations caste-like take on status, (not that enough money couldn't blur the boundaries as well!). egalitarianism grew, and the modern stereotype of the latte liberal started to get traction, an educated, info-savvy, instinctive humanist.
the serious dumbing down in education started during reagan years, the incremental saturation of toxic environmental issues, and the slow simmering wave of anger at the skewed and unjust nature of the capitalist war on resources and resource owners started to emerge. the PTB saw that too many educated people were not buying the bullshit, vietnam was the wakeup call, college deferments made education the new class boundary, even more than it always was... during the nixon meltdown there was still the last of the old trust in government to crumble among the younger activists, and with reagan and the bush band only the most benightened of rapturous morans still believed that america was the shining city on the hill, even seen as mirage from the trailer camps. clinton slashed welfare to the poor and pulled the plug on american industry, exporting jobs as fast as importing barrels of oil to pay for all the accoutrements of empire. even relative softly-softlies like carter cared nothing for the negative effects of globalism, as long as 'our interests' were safeguarded.
before tv, personalised googlesearch and cheap travel, families discussed things, childrens' characters were turned on the lathe of mealtime discussions, or gathered round the radio, or sharing the newspaper. deep seated convictions about politics and social status were passed to the children with the bread and gruel, or the pate de foie gras. class betrayal was rare, lines were drawn for even the dimmest to clearly understand.
media going mass(ive) changed that... kids grew up with the full gamut from springer to donahue colliding in the living room, bouncing off the walls, opinions, pov's galore, and the extreme rate of technological change invited new tribalisms and social nexii that were much more alluring that listening to father's tirades against the rich or poor, for that matter. today was a new day and we would make up our own minds, since now we had such a plethora to choose from. so liberals cobbled together a set of values that are not so easy to politicise, respect for the planet, anti-corporation by gut, while blogging about life on our corporate computers. we were't going to meet in basements like the partisans and plot blowing up bridges, we were going to _create _ them, through enlightened rationality and far reaching compassionate metavision.
now everyone has their own tv, laptop, iphone, etc, this kind of passing down the torch in families is largely a thing of the pre-mo past, i think. the state-in-your-face vibe of the UK is not so different than the stasi in yer bed, but by degree. right and left seem to both go for that.
so class these days may be ever so slightly fairer than the aristocratic days, where blood outweighed money by a far greater factor, but mostly the two became espoused in unholy matrimony, where now uberbankers indulge themselves like princes of the universe.
the lottery mentality, a by turns hilarious then sinister spinoff of capitalism, bagan to seriously take hold amongst all classes in america, gambling others' money, whether through 'financial instruments' for the rich or behemoth casino credit complexes for the rest became the national pastime.
this is why the new lefty or 'liberal' has not read trotsky, and why he/she is more likely to do a bit for the international working proles by buying fair trade coffee, and a prius. heck his grandpaw's share dividends in IBM kept him from the poorhouse, tell me again you want to undermine the greatest invention since the wheel? (money for nothing, cheques for free)
the old have always mocked the young, and vice versa, however i feel sorry there has to be so much differentiating going on.
the beauty of the modern left, and most of the reason for its political powerlessness, is its resistance to groupthink, and its love for democratic discussion (ad nauseam). this makes for pillowfight politics, and waffling, racked by factionalism, circular firing squad coalitions with odd bedfellows.
a pizza, as they say in italy.
so class has its pitfalls as a rallying cry, i see libertarians as extreme as black blockers, i see centrist corporations benefitting from both socalled left and right, more right, and all the way to just before tiny ron paul archipelago.
the right have no scruples about groupthink, they thrive on it. in their hands it becomes the heavy club of caveman politics, and it enables them to focus and marshal their forces to appear much more numerous than i suspect they actually are, (though it doesn't take many to make an mighty mess of things).
the ron paul crowd are partly correct in their understanding of how deep and unconstitutional the scam of government has become, and the loathing for washington bubble, federal reserve and lying media can easily find its exact reflection in a stereotypical lib blogger for example, though they share no warm fellowship feelings.
teabaggers, even in the full grip of their own medi(c)ated dementia, are at least showing up in the public square and saying they want change, though most hate obama for the kind of change he talks about, and aren't really sure what glenn beck's vision of 21st C. america will boil down to, once/if it comes. jackboots and bibles pretty much sum it up, methinks, with a copy of the constitution to cry on.
at the end of the day politics seems to breed division; just like with religions, arguments spawn theories, counter theories, and it's all fine and intellectually engaging to discuss these things, the distinctions betweem 10 and 15 degrees left or right or up or down, whatever, but what made the old Left noble was its universality, the concept that the worker was as worthy of respect as the owner, and that rights were accorded according to ethics and social justice, creating a social pact, workers of the world unite... and that we would all feel a lot better having said discussions if we knew that all were fed and sheltered, all tucked in and kumbaya'd first.
capitalism has paid its best and brightest to destroy that, and now we showed the way to the chinese, all bets are off. ask them what 'lefty' means, or liberal, or rightwing...
no one likes hypocrisy but hypocrites. we are all more or less in hock to a polluted, immoral, ecosuicidal groupthink that supposes that the present is the only 'thing' to be concerned about.
lefties should wake up and realise who their real enemies are, instead of turning on each other, as the divide and conquer thing has worked too long and well for the dividers.
and for those who aren't attracted to the strange world of politics and its cult-and-thrust of poisonalities, all of this can be shortened to one question.
where is tomorrow's energy going to come from?
and that's why what J. is doing for the environment, the people, the image of banking as true social asset (pace chris!), is more important that any spurious and misleading argument such as the left is so prone to, with the noblest, all good intentions, surely. Italy's left includes Bettino Craxi! energy unites us all...
we want to be able to continue the luxury of democratic discussion, as we find here daily. we identify and skewer our real enemies, and that's great.
one windmill is worth a whole bunch of political tracts or litmus tests of True Leftiness, is what i'm so longwindedly saying...