29 November 2008

Mistargeting

Call me a Marxist if you like (in fact, I prefer you do), but I think we have to re-orient ourselves to the idea that successful memes are always based in real, socio-physical-economic causes. People don't start hating X group of people over there for no reason - Hitler his own self couldn't have convinced Germans to go on an official anti-semitism spree, if there hadn't been a tradition of resentment of rich Jewish "usurers" going back to the Middle Ages. (Imagine how many votes he would have won with an argument that die Samoanen sind unser Unglück, although you could possibly get a hearing for that in some parts of New Zealand today.)

So, let's concretise this: the "black masses" (as 19th century Russian bloggers called them) of the rural peasantry / semi-proletarians, and the urban liberal "chattering classes", have been sworn mutual enemies way back to the days of the Enlightenment and possibly beyond. When an American rural conservative curses out the "faggots", I think you'll find in many cases they're not actually thinking about teh buttsecks (although in others I'm pretty sure they are... long and hard, if you catch my drift), they're thinking about a self-important, privileged, urbanised and (as they'd see it) parasitical "cognitive elite", living large off the proceeds of exploited factory, farm and call-centre labour. To bring 4chan back into it again, think carefully about what those people mean when they use "gay" or "faggot" as an insult. It more or less means what British or Australian slang means by "wanker", which is why the gay press sometimes see "extreme homophobia" in teenagers where it's not.

(This in turn feeds into a meme where straight sex is a necessary social glue - an "investment" in the future of society, as it were - whereas gay sex is seen as a purely "consumption commodity", a frivolous luxury. The Protestant work ethic has much more in common with the Protestant sex ethic than we might have thought.)

And you'll find that liberal Islamophobes (as opposed to conservative Islamophobes motivated by ideas of imperialist self-interest) will talk about the aforementioned conservative underclass of their own country in exactly the same way. For example, one Northern Irish blogger who I do like to read has the habit of referring to the hard-core Unionist minority as "the Prodiban". The "ignorant religious peasants are our enemy" meme not only justifies imperialism abroad, it encourages the kind of condescending attitude to everyone who doesn't drink lattés and watch The Daily Show which has led to the complete and utter isolation of the liberal Left from the lives of real people - and thus led to the ascendency of working-class and rural conservatism.

Meanwhile, while all this are going on, our real common enemy - the capitalist and rentier overclass - giggle maniacally at watching the latte-drinkers and the black-eyed-pea eaters beat the shit out of each other, and yell "DANCE, MY PUPPETS, DANCE!!!"

I'm not saying we should make the mistake that Tim Wohlforth made when he ran Gerry Healey's branch office in America in the early '70s, of declaring "the working class hate faggots, hippies and women's libbers, and so do we!!!" The solution must be to build UNITY between the faggots, hippies, women's libbers, workers, and oppressed ethnic and religious minorities. The unity of the blue-collar and the white collar workers - the old GDR logo of the hammer and compass had the right idea behind it, despite the nastiness of that particular effort at "socialism in half a country". The theory is that if the white-collar liberal left can start presenting concrete material program for change to blue-collar conservatives, perhaps the presents of faggots, hippies and moooslims in the former's ranks will cease to be the wedge issue that it is today.