Burying the White Working Class
Date Written: 13/05/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX19522
Liberal condescension towards white workers is code for a broader anti-working class agenda. The white working class is a zombie that doesn't know it's dead. Or if it's not fully zombified yet, its members are all too busy cleaning their AR-15s and posting racist comments on YouTube to vote for a progressive. That is, if they're not already on the Trump bandwagon, which they probably are. At least that's what the Democratic Party wants you to believe.
Somehow liberal pundits have gotten it into their heads that white workers perhaps thanks to Fox Newss racist dispatches are just an aggrieved, pissed off, outnumbered minority. But their particular disgust is just a stand-in for a more generalized anti-working-class politics. No matter how you slice it, the working class while not quite Wes-Anderson-movie-white is really damn white.
While the Economic Policy Institute projects that the US working class will be 49.6 percent non-hispanic white by 2032, 77 percent of all minimum wage (or below) workers today are white. Half are white women, who it should be noted joined young working-class women of color as an enthusiastic core of Sanderss base. And as Tamara Draut shows in her new book Sleeping Giant which stresses the diversity of the new working class 63 percent of all workers without a bachelors degree are still non-Latino white.
Instead of acknowledging the size and importance of this part of the electorate, Democratic Party elites have simply constructed a new narrative to suit their interests a narrative that was on display after West Virginia. Following Sanderss win a significant chunk of the punditocracy came to the conclusion, mostly by abusing the hell out of exit polls, that a vote for the Jewish socialist was actually a vote for white supremacy.
After decades of being told white workers would never support socialism because theyre racist, were now told that they support the socialist candidate because they are racist. Yes, this is where liberals are in the year 2016.
Despite off-the-charts wealth inequality, Democratic Party liberals have been concerned not with an egalitarian reckoning to unite the have-nots against the haves but with inclusion: bringing different interest groups into the professional class while managing everyone elses expectations downward.
This kind of inclusion politics the chance at climbing one of a tiny handful of rickety ladders to the top is the only economic program the Democratic Party mainstream is selling to those not already in the upper tiers.
But as Ralph Miliband put it, access to positions of power by members of the subordinate classes does not change the fact of domination: it only changes its personnel.
Part of the explanation is that unlike with the white working class, many of the hardships workers of color face fit neatly within an acceptable liberal narrative about whats wrong with our society: racism. And when racism can be blamed, capitalism can be exonerated.
Liberals can delude themselves into believing that it is nothing more than the accumulation of individual prejudices stashed away in the minds of powerful white people that has destroyed black and brown communities in Detroit, Ferguson, and Chicagos South Side.
Class stratification, capital flight, and the war against organized labor are thus sidestepped completely. The liberal elite is spared from having to question the fundamental injustices of capitalism.
Unfortunately, the miseries, hardships, and exploitation of white workers dont fit into an easy capital-friendly framework. Liberals then have two options: blame the individual moral failings of white workers or call into question the very nature of capitalism itself.
Guess which one they choose. More and more, liberals just point and scream: racist.