Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Bubble-think and the ultraleft

Peter Turchin has a phrase, the 'overproduction of elites'.
"Elite overproduction generally leads to more intra-elite competition that gradually undermines the spirit of cooperation, which is followed by ideological polarization and fragmentation of the political class. This happens because the more contenders there are, the more of them end up on the losing side. A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions."
He writes:
"The youth cohort in Europe, those in their 20s and 30s, are the highest educated in the history of humanity – and there are not enough jobs that would use their skills. History shows that the overproduction of youth with education credentials is a sure sign of political turbulence to come."
Ed West (The Spectator blogdescribes what these elites believe:
"More widely, in political discourse and culture, warm, fluffy notions about human nature are favoured over depressive realism. From a very young age children are read books and shown films that teach the message that we are all basically good and just like us, and then the more intelligent ones are sent off to universities where conservatism has been frozen out."
It is sometimes thought that the chic-radicalism of the bien-pensant is politically represented by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and the hard left. But this isn't really true: the Marxist left privately characterises bubble-think as petit-bourgeois, a utopian worldview in which everyone is 'nice' and there are no more victims. Petit-bourgeois utopians aren't known for letting the class structure of society trouble their righteous little heads.

Whatever Corbyn may himself believe (who knows?) the hard left supporting him are in no doubt that the way forward is not to manage or prettify capitalism but to destroy it, replacing it with a 'democratic, centrally-planned economy under the control of workers' councils'.

The Marxist position on the EU of the Capitalists is Brexit; the EU is to be replaced by a post-capitalist socialist Europe.

The Bubble  is firmly Remain, as they identify with their pan-European elite tribe (as Ross Douthat observed).

The Marxist left is a highly-ideological minority which for tactical reasons hides its differences with bubble-leftism. This has been the strategy for decades: the expectation is that as the crisis of capitalism develops, the faux-leftists will become amenable to Marxist ideas, swelling the ranks of the Revolutionary Party.

It seemed to work for Lenin, back in 1917.


The non-Corbynistas in the PLP, what we used to call 'The Labour Party', are no less bubble-thinkers. The Tristram Hunts and Chuka Umunnas are not unfamiliar with Hampstead and Islington. It's just that they have a sense that managing a capitalist economy does impose some constraints over generalised niceness, equality of outcome and punching-up: decisions necessarily make enemies.

And what about the real proletarians, those millions of workers - mostly outside London - who really are working class and who recognise neither their identity nor their interests in Corbyn politics, or leftist or neo-Blairite bubble-think?

I suggest those Labour policy-makers not in thrall to bubble identity-politics might think a bit about a manifesto for them (here's an idea).

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