Episode 56: Jacobin’s “Autopsy Report”: We Could Have Told Them So (and We Did)
The anti-neoliberal “left” has long argued that it can win over much of Trump’s white-nationalist base by offering economic populism and social-democratic programs. Yet in a new analysis, reminiscent of the 2013 Republican “autopsy report,” Jacobin magazine reveals survey results that found “no evidence at all that people wanted democratic Socialists or their policies” and little evidence that campaigns like that of Bernie Sanders can energize “working-class non-voters.”
In this special Thanksgiving/Hanukkah episode of RFH, Brendan and Andrew wonder whether the Jacobinites will choose to ignore their own advice. The co-hosts think it is too little, too late in any case. They also say “we could have told them so” and “we have told them so.” They then support this last contention with encore presentations of excerpts from RFH episodes of the past two years. The excerpts deal with the motivations of Trump’s base and whether its support for Trump is a revolt against neoliberalism; the implosion of the Sanders campaign; the Black Lives Matter uprising’s repudiation of Jacobin’s color-blind populism; and why the anti-neoliberal “left” has difficulty learning from its mistakes.
(Owing to the nature of this special ep., it contains no distinct current-events segment. Links to source material discussed in the encore excerpts can be found in the text descriptions of the episodes from which the excerpts are drawn.)
Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.
We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.
Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.
This episode is a very interesting recap and vindication of MHI’s insistence that we must confront reality “with sober senses”. It also seems to bear out Lenin’s adage that the truth is always concrete.
Whether Trump voters in the abstract say they like free health care or whatever social democratic inducement that Jacobin believes is going to be effective to pull them away from Trump, the reality is that the visceral racism, misogyny and authoritarianism is more decisive in determining who they will vote for. The so-called “left” can delude themselves that all working-class people will vote in their own economic self-interest when given a chance to, meaning that social democracy will eventually win the day, if those policies are communicated in a clear and appealing way.
The flip side of that, in the eyes of the Jacobin/anti-neoliberal left, is that black voters in the US are more likely to support a Sanders-style social democracy, since they will be the main beneficiaries. This was contradicted by black voters heavily backing Biden’s candidature for the Democratic nomination for president.
The concrete reality is that issues of race, women’s rights etc are decisive, both for those who experience oppression because they are part of those discriminated-against groups, and also those who are themselves racist, misogynist etc. If we don’t directly confront the issues of oppression and the denial of equal rights to certain groups of people, then we will not be able to achieve the working-class unity that is essential for a real movement for fundamental change. The truth is that economic issues should not be counterposed to cultural ones for those who see themselves as progressives. The cultural issues which used to be called “rights based” (civil, women’s, LGBTQ) movements are critical for being able to have a united working class to address the economic structure of society.