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Neo-Dum and Neo-D

Keen excerpt of the day from Stop Me Before I Vote Again (from What Matters by Walter Benn Michaels):

Although the occasional claim that the election of President Obama has ushered us into a post-racial society is obviously wrong, it’s fairly clear that the country that’s just elected a black president (and that produced so many votes for the presidential candidacy of a woman) is a lot less racist and sexist than it used to be.

[H]ow we are to understand the fact that we’ve made so much progress in some areas while going backwards in others. And an almost equally obvious answer is that the areas in which we’ve made progress have been those which are in fundamental accord with the deepest values of neoliberalism, and the one where we haven’t isn’t. We can put the point more directly by observing that increasing tolerance of economic inequality and increasing intolerance of racism, sexism and homophobia – of discrimination as such – are fundamental characteristics of neoliberalism. Hence the extraordinary advances in the battle against discrimination, and hence also its limits as a contribution to any left-wing politics.

...American universities are exemplary here: they are less racist and sexist than they were 40 years ago and at the same time more elitist. The one serves as an alibi for the other: when you ask them for more equality, what they give you is more diversity.

So, remind me again how much difference swapping Rs for Ds is going to make? The health care debacle, insurance company bailout, the propaganda for a permanently higher rate of unemployment, the continued housing crisis, the utter failure to regulate, let alone break up, the big banks, and the consolidation and rationalization of Bush's authoritarian gains make the answer to that question quite clear:

Almost none. Thanks, "progressives"!

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Submitted by jm on

"...the areas in which we’ve made progress have been those which are in fundamental accord with the deepest values of neoliberalism, and the one where we haven’t isn’t."

Another way to characterize this is as outsourcing in order to reduce cost. Rich white men are increasingly employing women and non-Caucasian males to execute their agenda. The fact that this represents real social progress of a sort helps postpone the (expensive) social unrest that would otherwise erupt as a result of the economic inequality.


"So, remind me again how much difference swapping Rs for Ds is going to make?"

What are you, some kind of megalomaniac?

Submitted by jawbone on

Maybe "health insurance corporate bailout" might tie it more closely to the bankster bailout and to the increasing role of Corporatism in the Dem Party.

Corporatism has always been clear in the Repub Party -- the party of Big Bidness. But it's still kind of shocking, even to someone like myself who's looked closely at what's happening, that, damn, our DEMS have been so deeply infected by Corporatism.

But getting bailout out there, tied to the Senate/Obama Plan is a strong step forward in messaging.

(If the wording has been there, I'm sorry I missed it. The idea has clearly been here and in lots of other lefty blogs.)

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

increasing intolerance of racism, sexism and homophobia


We have total intolerance of racist speech. Not so much racist action.

The sexism has gotten worse. W.O.R.S.E. This seems to be a very hard concept for people. A generation or two ago there wasn't an industry around sexualizing girls. (I do mean girls, as in kids, as in 10 year olds.) A huge majority understood that control over reproductive choices was essential to women's human rights, as opposed to a bare majority now. Violent porn wasn't something perfectly ordinary everybody could joke about. Wages are still stuck at around 70% of men's pay. People like Larry Summers, who say flat-out that "girls can't do math" are fine for national office. In Ye Olde Days, they thought so, but you were supposed to be polite enough to keep quiet about it. There are more women in Congress, but they still can't stop the Health Insurance Bailout Bill from depriving women de facto of abortion rights. It's right back to the 1950s. Except that then "polite society" treated women with more respect, and women treated themselves with more respect.

Increasing intolerance of homophobia: that one is sort-of true, largely because we were starting from zero and have reached the low double digits on a scale of 1000.

So, no, the country is not really less bigoted than it was. The bigotry has shifted. Sometimes it hides better. The only thing that's really changed is that many more people are now convinced they're less bigoted.

How is it surprising that better lies don't amount to real progress?

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

Via Feminist Law Professors, Susan Douglas has an essay "Girls Gone Anti-feminist" on some of the themes in her book Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work is Done.

Enlightened sexism is feminist in its outward appearance (of course you can be or do anything you want) but sexist in its intent (hold on, girls, only up to a certain point, and not in any way that discomfits men). While enlightened sexism seems to support women’s equality, it is dedicated to the undoing of feminism. In fact, because this equality might lead to “sameness”—way too scary—girls and women need to be reminded that they are still fundamentally female, and so must be emphatically feminine.

Thus, enlightened sexism takes the gains of the women’s movement as a given, and then uses them as permission to resurrect retrograde images of girls and women as sex objects, still defined by their appearance and their biological destiny.

Consequently, in the age of enlightened sexism there has been an explosion in makeover, matchmaking and modeling shows, a renewed emphasis on breasts (and a massive surge in the promotion of breast augmentation), an obsession with babies and motherhood in celebrity journalism (the rise of the creepy “bump patrol”), and a celebration of “opting out” of the workforce.

Feminism thus must remain a dirty word, with feminists (particularly older ones) stereotyped as man-hating, child-loathing, hairy, shrill, humorless and deliberately unattractive lesbians. More to the point, feminism must be emphatically rejected because it supposedly prohibits women from having any fun, listening to Lil’ Wayne or Muse, or dancing to Lady Gaga, or wearing leggings. As this logic goes, feminism is so 1970s—grim, dowdy, aggrieved and passé—that it is now an impediment to female happiness and fulfillment. Thus, an amnesia about the women’s movement, and the rampant, now illegal, discrimination that produced it, is essential, so we’ll forget that politics matters.