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Interesting question.  The US is home to some of the largest social movements in the Western World, yet the US is also the farthest behind in terms of actual gains for the working class, women, and minorities.  How does this work?  describes the situation in the US and proposes that one of the key concepts missing from the American polity is a party, or even a politic that can bring people of the lower classes together to bargain for their interests collectively.  In other words, there is no real socialist option or ideological umbrella to foment behind in the political arena.  Most certainly there are groups and popular movements, each with individual muscle, but more strikingly evident, a lack of sinew and connective tissue to bind these various groups together in the polity.

This situation in which the progressive forces in the US are atomized is no mere accident.  The ruling classes have made it their project to remove socialist language and though from political discourse precisely because of how powerful class consciousness and solidarity are.  The success of the ruling classes venture is evident and brought to light by Navarro:

Moreover, the American business and conservative class, aware that the division of victims favors the victimizer, supports such division, hindering and impeding the transversality of such movements and showing great hostility toward the socialist project, which uses the concept of social class as the starting point of such transversality. This project—the alliance of the popular classes against the ruling class—is the most feared, since transversality would allow a union of actions that would weaken the ruling classes’ ability to exploit the rest of society. When the 1984 presidential candidate Jesse Jackson (whom I had the honor to advise) presented himself as the candidate of the black minorities, the New York Times (the voice of the political and media establishment) wrote an extremely laudatory editorial. Four years later in 1988, when he presented himself as the working-class candidate in the Rainbow Coalition, which united all races and genders of the working class, the same newspaper wrote an editorial accusing him of “wanting to destroy the USA.” When, in the last primaries of 1988, journalists asked Jesse Jackson how he was going to win the vote of the white worker from Baltimore (an industrial city), he answered: “by making him see that he has more in common with the black worker, for being workers, than with the owner and manager of the company, for being white.” Jesse Jackson won the primary of the Democratic Party in Baltimore and almost won nationwide, despite the enormous opposition and hostility of the political and media establishments, including the apparatus of the Democratic Party. More recently, during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the socialist candidate Bernie Sanders emphasized the need to unite the “working American families” in a coalition that cuts across identity differences. He almost won the primaries, despite the opposition of the Democratic Party apparatus (including the opposition of the feminist movement NOW, which supported Hilary Clinton as its favored candidate).

Following the rise of so-called populism based on identity causes, it is important to underline this point. Promoting populism with its great diversity of anti-establishment movements, celebrating such diversity without any criteria in terms of transversality that can unite such movements, is to reproduce what has happened in the United States, the country of social movements (except for the socialist movement) where the left (and women and the minorities) is enormously weak.

 

feminism-is-radical-notion-button-0362“If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.” – Lawrence Lockman, Republican and elected official in the United States of America.

Link

Shamelessly plagiarized from Wikipedia:

The Second Bill of Rights was a proposal made by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944 to suggest that the nation had come to recognize, and should now implement, a second bill of rights. Roosevelt did not argue for any change to the United States Constitution; he argued that the second bill of rights was to be implemented politically, not by federal judges. Roosevelt’s stated justification was that the “political rights” guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” Roosevelt’s remedy was to create an “economic bill of rights” which would guarantee:

  • A job with a living wage
  • Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
  • A home
  • Medical care
  • Education
  • Recreation

Roosevelt stated that having these rights would guarantee American security, and that America’s place in the world depended upon how far these and similar rights had been carried into practice.

How different a political landscape we would be faced with today if FDR has lived.  Would we see the Plutocracy that is in full bloom currently in the US?  Perhaps, but I think that the enormous divisions that exist in American society would be significantly less and more people would feel like they were part of the system rather then victims of it.

President Obama should take heed of FDR’s words and make them his second term platform.   Adopting such a progressive goal, I think, would take the bitter taste out of so many progressive’s mouths.

The Second Bill of Rights TV address to the American people in case you missed it.

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