Theoryposting | Introduction | 1/? 

Okay, so I’ve been bandying this theory thing around in my head for a little bit. I wanted to post it for leftist folks who have other kinds of lived/theory experiences. It’s a lil in the weeds, might be a bit depressing, but take comfort in the fact that more likely than not I’m way off the mark. Still. I think it’s a useful train of thought to follow through to sharpen the way we think about power.

Theoryposting | CW's | 2/? 

CWs for entire thread: Revolution, USPol, EUPol, fascism, pandemic, theory, Marxism, policy bros, left-liberals, potential Warren apologia, rich people, gentrification.

Theoryposting | CW's at top of thread | 3/? 

So the basic thought is that the revolution is:
a. going to happen
b. soon,
c. be not at all what basically anybody on the left hopes. I’ll explain what I mean in a moment, but first some disclaimers.

Theoryposting | Disclaimers | CW's at top of thread | 4/? 

I’m basically trying to think dialectically along the lines of Hegel & Marx here, but it’s worth noting that most of my sources are second-hand. I’ve read a bit of Marx, some Engels and basically no Hegel (I’m a masochist but not that much of one). Most of my knowledge of dialectics comes from late night Wikipedia binges, YouTube videos, a Jacobin habit I can’t quite kick, and a smattering of more ‘respectable’ Marxist-Feminist literature.

Theoryposting | Disclaimers | CW's at top of thread | 5/? 

I’m also definitively influenced by my ~~material position~~ here. I’m white, born and raised in the US, well educated, and the daughter of wealthy left-liberal parents. The future I’m speculating here is one from which I would almost inevitably benefit. So I guess apologies if I sound too excited for this not ideal future. Smushing the twin brainworms of liberalism and whiteness is an ongoing process.

Theoryposting | Disclaimers | CW's at top of thread | 6/? 

Finally, this theory is US-centric, though I think there are parallels internationally, especially in Europe. I’d be happy to have somebody tell me I’m entirely wrong because every trend I’ve considered falls apart in the face of third world scrutiny.

Theoryposting | Bernie etc. | CW's at top of thread | 7/? 

Alright, let’s get started. I’m going to be pulling together a whole bunch of stuff here, but let’s start with the defeat of Bernie Sanders in the 2020 democratic presidential primary.

Theoryposting | Bernie etc. | CW's at top of thread | 8/? 

Jacobin has a semi-decent writeup of the ways in which different parts of the center-left and left crowds are reading Bernie’s loss. I’m particularly interested in what the Vox crowd is saying. (

Theoryposting | What is Vox News? | CW's at top of thread | 9/? 

For those of you who don’t know, Vox is an American web-journalism outlet which is written by and for left-liberal millennials. A lot of their authors have or had ties to Democratic Party Institutions like think tanks. Notably they’re the most ‘socialism-curious’ of nominally mainstream media outlets, and this has become more apparent during The Pandemic. Hold that thought. We’ll come back to it.

Theoryposting | What Left-Libs think | CW's at top of thread | 10/? 

So Vox’s line is that Bernie’s theory of class politics is busted. He tried to use leftist policies to appeal to working class whites, but identity is king now. Working class whites vote for conservatives because their identity is bound up in conservatism, which overrides material interest.

Theoryposting | What Left-Libs think | CW's at top of thread | 11/? 

Upper-middle class liberals (especially young ones) are moving further left and voting against their material interests because their identity is bound up in social liberalism, but they still trust the Democratic Party as an institution and aren’t really into revolutionary politics, which is why they were turned off Bernie.

Theoryposting | How the SocDems Respond | CW's at top of thread | 12/? 

Jacobin’s response is ‘okay, maybe identity matters a bit, but working class power is still what’s needed to force the hand of the capitalist class.'

Theoryposting | How the SocDems Respond | CW's at top of thread | 13/? 

I honestly appreciate their willingness to push away from class reductionism and even pure materialism, while still being clear on the way in which class analysis is necessary to build power. I agree think that political ideology isn’t determined only by material position, but, as we’ll see, Jacobin maybe should have been a little more materialist here.

Theoryposting | How the SocDems Respond | CW's at top of thread | 14/? 

For that, let’s take another line of criticism of the left-lib's: Elizabeth Warren basically tried exactly the approach that Vox recommends: she courted the Democratic party, constructed a coalition of well-educated left-liberals, like my parents, and did far worse than Bernie.

Theoryposting | Materialism? | CW's at top of thread | 15/? 

But here’s the thing: I can see why Vox was blinkered. Hell, the head editor himself noted that almost everyone in his social circle was voting for Warren. Vox’s newsroom is filled with upper-middle class, well educated people and they’re all moving in some direction, and that direction seems to be left (kind of).

Theoryposting | Materialism? | Hadestown Spoilers? | CW's at top of thread | 16/? 

There are other examples of some kind of ascendency of something resembling leftism among the well-educated. The most popular thing on Broadway, which is not exactly a bastion of working class art, right now is Hadestown, an explicitly socialist musical where Orpheus and the working people of Hadestown almost get free from the evil capitalist king of the underworld through the power of song and solidarity.

Theoryposting | Materialism. | CW's at top of thread | 17/? 

But here’s the thing: even if one person’s ideology isn’t only determined by class or even the whole of their material position, if a whole bunch of people of a similar class status are stampeding in one political direction then perhaps it’s a good idea to put our materialist glasses on, because that sure suggests something material-y is going on.

Theoryposting | Ugh, she's talking about Marx. | CW's at top of thread | 18/? 

So let’s get Marxist.

Theoryposting | Marx, summarized poorly | CW's at top of thread | 19/? 

Marx believed that the world proceeded according to a material dialectic: in every era there are two classes, and the conflict between them structures the reality of that era. Eventually, the tensions become too great, revolution occurs, and a new dialectic is put in place.

Theoryposting | Marx, summarized poorly | CW's at top of thread | 20/? 

Marx got some of his theory from Hegel, who believed in similar things, except for Hegel, the conflict was between ideas. Each era had a Thesis and an Antithesis. Eventually, when the tension became too great, a new idea, a synthesis would emerge and then produce a new dialectic.

Show newer
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Eldritch Café

Une instance se voulant accueillante pour les personnes queers, féministes et anarchistes ainsi que pour leurs sympathisant·e·s. Nous sommes principalement francophones, mais vous êtes les bienvenu·e·s quelle que soit votre langue.

A welcoming instance for queer, feminist and anarchist people as well as their sympathizers. We are mainly French-speaking people, but you are welcome whatever your language might be.