by David Broder published in Jacobin
Read original on Jacobin's website
Broderick reviews several books and theories that ...Show description
Posted 594 days ago
This article started out really strong at first, talking about the "reverse strikes" in Italy in the post-war years of surging unemployment. Going out to fix roads that the state is failing to do is ingenious, but it is specific to the struggles of that place and time. A "reverse strike" wouldn't work so well in America today, where there is very low unemployment but people are overworked and underpaid in part-time jobs. Nobody has the time to go out after work to participate in reverse strikes.
And after that, I kind of lost what Broder was trying to say here. It's clear he is talking about the class "dealignment" of modern political parties, but I couldn't follow his reasoning. It seemed somewhat scattershot, quoting data in Norway and Denmark and then Brazil without a clear reasoning to propel the piece forwards.
Summarizing Picketty makes sense when he says "the vote for conservative, pro-business parties is held together by material interest, whereas the Left is built around cultural values that are essentially minoritarian." This is true of the modern world, but again, I didn't feel any actual response to the argument. It seems that Broder lamented this surely, but I was left with this hanging idea without anything to go off of.
Could it be so bad that this is the case? Could it not mean that Western democracies have achieved some sort of economic stability that the Left now turns to crucial social concerns? Working 70 hours in a coal factory is very different than the general work we do today. I of course agree with the idea that joining forces with center-Left capitalists means that the socialist project could never be achieved, but maybe that's alright. Personally, when I look at the communities around me, social injustice seems to take precedence of economic inequality. I know those two things are intertwined, but lamenting the increase of education on the Left because of class-dealignment seems like a weird thing to complain about.
Maybe I understood this piece wrong, though, which I'm pretty sure I did. Hopefully somebody can explain it a little clearer.