Monday, August 24th
In the new revolution, progressives fight against, not with, the poor
The old, transformative alliance between the intelligentsia and the poor has been broken by the intelligentsia itself
Succint Paragraphs, as selected fby yours truly:
The 21st-century revolution pits the educated, western-oriented, socially liberal, economically neoliberal urban middle class against the economically egalitarian, socially traditionalist rural poor. The green armbanded protesters – again, on the right side – against Ahmadinejad's election "victory" in Iran were urban and liberal, the president's supporters rural and conservative. As the BBC's John Simpson noted in the streets of Tehran, the two big differences between the 1979 and 2009 uprisings were the presence of women and the absence of beards.
The sedimentation of this new fault line would be a disaster for the left. Like the Russian revolution, all of the great progressive campaigns of reform in the 20th century – from the international campaign for the Spanish Republic via the American New Deal and the European postwar welfare state to the American civil rights movement and women's liberation – grew out of an alliance between the progressive intelligentsia and the poor. That alliance was betrayed in Russia when Stalin turned on the intelligentsia in the Great Purge of the 1930s, as Mao Zedong did in the Cultural Revolution of the late 60s.
But today, the alliance is being undermined by the intelligentsia itself, here as well as elsewhere. Proclaiming old left-right divisions as out of date, progressive thinkers posit a raft of new fault lines – liberty versus authority, secularism versus religion, free speech versus censorship, universalism versus multiculturalism, feminism versus the family – all of which are cast in forms that put the progressive middle class on one side and significant sections of the poor on the other. The pro-war belligerati wrap themselves in borrowed progressive banners and set about cementing a new barrier between freedom and equality. Abandoned and berated, sections of the non-white poor turn to religious fundamentalism and parts of the white poor to the BNP.